Tag: Slavery

CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice Debuts Online Archive on Slavery in New York

(image from “Slavery In New York” ed. by Ira Berlin and Leslie M. Harris via amazon.com)

via jbhe.com

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York, has announced the establishment of the New York Slavery Records Index, an online archive of slavery records from 1525 until the end of the Civil War.

The new online archive includes more than 35,000 records. The index includes census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certifications, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents and many other sources. Include are 1,400 birth certificates of slaves and more than 30,000 records that list the names of slave owners in New York. Also included are more than 500 advertisements seeking the capture and return of enslaved New Yorkers.

Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College, said that “this vast, public database will serve as an important research tool that will support information-based scholarship on slavery in New York and across the nation. The launch of this index marks a significant contribution to understanding and remembering the country’s history of slavery and advances the college’s mission of educating for justice.”

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/02/john-jay-college-of-criminal-justice-debuts-an-online-archive-on-slavery-in-new-york/

Other resources on Slavery in New York:

New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan

A History of Negro Slavery in New York

New York and Slavery: Time To Teach The Truth

Interactive Maps Chronicle Frederick Douglass in Maryland

Originally posted on #ADPhD: Lawrence Jackson’s course on Frederick Douglass covered by Hopkins Hub: “For Jackson’s class, the time in Maryland before that escape commanded the most interest—Douglass’ formative years, before he became the world-famous abolitionist, orator, and writer. Students in the graduate English seminar “Mapping Frederick Douglass” researched and visited regional sites of significance…

via DIGITAL/BLOGROLL: Interactive Maps Chronicle Frederick Douglass in Maryland — goodandblack

BOOKS: “Never Caught” Tells Story of Ona Judge, Enslaved Woman who Escaped and Defied President Washington

512y-xth0ilarticle by Jennifer Schuessler via nytimes.com

MOUNT VERNON, Va. — The costumed characters at George Washington’s gracious estate here are used to handling all manner of awkward queries, whether about 18th-century privies or the first president’s teeth. So when a visitor recently asked an African-American re-enactor in a full skirt and head scarf if she knew Ona Judge, the woman didn’t miss a beat.

Judge’s escape from the presidential residence in Philadelphia in 1796 had been “a great embarrassment to General and Lady Washington,” the woman said, before offering her own view of the matter.“Ona was born free, like everybody,” she said. “It was this world that made her a slave.”

It’s always 1799 at Mount Vernon, where more than a million visitors annually see the property as it was just before Washington’s death, when his will famously freed all 123 of his slaves. That liberation did not apply to Ona Judge, one of 153 slaves held by Martha Washington.

But Judge, it turned out, evaded the Washingtons’ dogged (and sometimes illegal) efforts to recapture her, and would live quietly in New Hampshire for another 50 years. Now her story — and the challenge it offers to the notion that Washington somehow transcended the seamy reality of slaveholding — is having its fullest airing yet.  Judge is among the 19 enslaved people highlighted in “Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon,” the first major exhibition at Mount Vernon dedicated to the topic (it runs through 2018, check link above for details).

She is also the subject of a book, “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge,” by Erica Armstrong Dunbar.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar, the author of “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge,” at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Va. (Credit: Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times)
Erica Armstrong Dunbar, the author of “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge,” at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Va. (Credit: Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times)

Most scholars who have written about Judge’s escape have used it as a lens onto Washington’s evolving ideas about slavery. But “Never Caught,” published this Tuesday by 37 Ink, flips the perspective, focusing on what freedom meant to the people he kept in bondage. “We have the famous fugitives, like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass,” Ms. Dunbar, a professor of black studies and history at the University of Delaware, said in an interview in Mount Vernon’s 18th-century-style food court. “But decades before them, Ona Judge did this. I want people to know her story.”

Research on slavery has exploded in the two decades since Mount Vernon, Monticello and other founder home sites introduced slavery-themed tours and other prominent acknowledgments of the enslaved. “Lives Bound Together”  was originally going to fill one 1,100-square-foot room in the museum here, but soon expanded to include six other galleries normally dedicated to the decorative and fine arts, books and manuscripts.

An installation about Ona Judge, often referred to by the diminutive Oney, in the exhibition “Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” (Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times)

The exhibition makes it clear just who poured from the elegant teapots and did the backbreaking work on the 8,000-acre estate. But integrating the harsh reality of slavery into the heroic story of Washington — “a leader of character,” as the title of the permanent exhibition across from the slavery show calls him — remains unfinished work, some scholars say. Continue reading “BOOKS: “Never Caught” Tells Story of Ona Judge, Enslaved Woman who Escaped and Defied President Washington”

Georgetown University to Offer Preferred Admissions Status to Descendants of Slaves Sold in 1838 to Save Institution

Georgetown University in Washington, seen from across the Potomac River. The institution came under fire last fall, with students demanding justice for the slaves in the 1838 sale. Credit (Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times)

article by Rachel L. Swarns via nytimes.com

Nearly two centuries after Georgetown University profited from the sale of 272 slaves, it will embark on a series of steps to atone for the past, including awarding preferential status in the admissions process to descendants of the enslaved, officials said on Wednesday.

Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, who will discuss the measures in a speech on Thursday afternoon, also plans to offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat.  

In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order.  So far, Mr. DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released on Thursday morning. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference.

To read full article, go to: Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past – The New York Times

Samuel Burris, Conductor Of Underground Railroad, to Receive Much-Belated Pardon from Delaware Governor

Underground Railroad conductor Samuel Burris (image via delawareonline.com)
Underground Railroad conductor Samuel Burris (image via delawareonline.com)

One of history’s most poignant heroes is finally getting justice after he was tried as a criminal for freeing slaves as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

According to ABC News, Delaware officials have announced their plan to pardon Samuel Burris, who was convicted for leading many enslaved people to freedom in the 19th century.

Gov. Jack Markell will posthumously pardon Burris, a free Black man who was convicted in 1847 for helping enslaved peoples escape. Burris was caught and punished by being sold back into slavery for seven years, but was eventually paid for and set free again by a Pennsylvania anti-slavery society.

He left Delaware after laws were enacted that would place people like Burris under a death sentence for freeing slaves.

He continued to help free an unknown number of slaves until his death in the 1860s.

Robert Seeley, of Havertown, Pennsylvania, and Ocea Thomas of Atlanta, Georgia, confirmed the news after getting personal calls from Gov. Markell. Thomas is a relative of Burris’, while Seeley reached out to Markell for the pardon in light of a recent clemency to three abolitionists in Illinois.

ABC News reports:

Seeley says he’s been working with Markell’s office but that the governor can’t issue a pardon in Hunn and Garrett’s cases because they were tried in federal court, not state court. He says President Barack Obama would need to pardon them and that he plans to continue to work on a pardon in their case.

“Even if it comes out to be a proclamation or a declaration or not an official presidential pardon, so be it. We’ll see what we can do,” Seeley said, adding there is “a lot of red tape.”

“[Burris] Is a victory. It brings honor to the Burris family and it brings justice for Samuel Burris and his descendants. It’s making a wrong a right finally,” Seeley said.

The pardon will officially take place on Nov. 2, the anniversary of Burris’ conviction. A historical marker will also be unveiled in Kent County the same day.

article via newsone.com

LeVar Burton, Will Packer Produce “Roots” Remake to Air on History, A&E and Lifetime Next Year

rootscover“Roots” is returning to TV next year as a big-ticket event series production to air across History, A&E Network and Lifetime next year.

Producer Will Packer and LeVar Burton, an original “Roots” cast member, are shepherding the project with Mark Wolper, son of the original producer of the 1977 ABC miniseries, David L. Wolper.

Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald and Charles Murray are on board to write the new rendition of the saga of Kunta Kinte, which follows his capture in Africa as a young man through his enslavement in colonial America. “Roots” is based on Alex Haley’s landmark novel of the same name.

Actor/Producer LeVar Burton
Actor/Producer LeVar Burton

“My career began with ‘Roots’ and I am proud to be a part of this new adaptation,” said Burton. “There is a huge audience of contemporary young Americans who do not know the story of ‘Roots’ or its importance. I believe now is the right time to tell this story so that we can all be reminded of its impact on our culture and identity.”

The original eight-part miniseries was a sleeper megahit for ABC that aired over consecutive nights in January 1977. There’s no word yet on how many hours the new “Roots” will run.

A&E Networks execs said producers will work closely with historians and other experts to incorporate new information about the historical period uncovered since the original book and mini were released.

“Kunta Kinte began telling his story over 200 years ago and that story went through his family lineage, to Alex Haley, to my father, and now the mantle rests with me,” said Wolper. “Like Kunta Kinte fought to tell his story over and over again, so must we.”

Said Packer: “The opportunity to present one of America’s most powerful stories to a generation that hasn’t seen it is tremendously exciting. Contemporary society needs this story and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

article by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com

REVIEW: BET’s “The Book of Negroes” Miniseries is a Compelling Look at a Slave’s Journey

As a handsome period miniseries, “The Book of Negroes,” which premieres tonight on BET and continues through Wednesday, is a first for a network whose original offerings have often seemed something less than ambitious. That the miniseries is Canadian-made, based on a novel by African Canadian author Lawrence Hill, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jamaican-born Canadian director Clement Virgo, is noteworthy but does not diminish the moment. What would PBS be without the BBC?

The series’ provenance does mean that, as a story of slavery and escape from slavery, it differs in substance and theme from American tellings. The road here, which begins in Mali in 1761 and ends in London in 1807, runs through snowy Nova Scotia (by way of South Carolina, New York and Sierra Leone); in its recounting of the American Revolution, from the black (and Commonwealth) perspective, the British are better than villains and the colonists not quite heroes.

“The Book of Negroes,” which refers to a historical ledger of colonial African Americans granted freedom by the British for their help in the war, is itself a paean to names, words, storytelling and literacy, as containers of the past, organizers of the present and keys to the future. Its heroine is Aminata Diallo (Aunjanue Ellis, “The Help”), the bright, independent child of bright, independent parents; she has been trained as a midwife but dreams of being a jeli, or griot, an oral historian of her people.

The first hour, which follows Aminata from Mali to South Carolina, is the series’ most original and compelling. It’s powered by a deep, serious and at surprising times sweet performance by Shailyn Pierre-Dixon, now 11, who plays the young Aminata. The scenes in which she is captured and hustled on her way, through one strange experience after another, toward American slavery, have a sharp-focus dreaminess to them, a kind of horrible beauty. With little exposition, seen as they are from the point of view of one lacking words or context, they feel less played than lived through.

As the series progresses and history moves more swiftly by, its points are made more explicitly; the ironies float on the surface. (Colonial white Americans describe themselves as “slaves” to the British.) For some characters, the story arcs, whether of sin and redemption or of just desserts finally served, are fairly mathematical — sometimes at the expense of an emotional payoff. The story stays novel enough, nevertheless, and the understated tone of the production and performances keep the drama grounded. Hill and Virgo catch the ordinariness even in the awfulness — the creepy dailiness of the business of slavery, and the capability of those who profit from it to regard themselves just and even tender people. In the same way, to the opposite effects, they allow their protagonists daily lives and love; they are not victims all the time.

At the same time, “The Book of Negroes” is an adventure story, a straight-up classic romance. Lyriq Bent plays Chekura, Aminata’s longtime love interest.

The heroine’s fearless and clever character, the self-knowledge and self-possession her tormentors lack, and her gift for survival are fixed from first to last. She is sometimes thwarted but never altered. If this makes “The Book of Negroes” less psychologically complex than it otherwise might be, there are real pleasures and comforts to be had from it.

“The most capable woman I’ve ever seen,” New York innkeeper Sam Fraunces (Cuba Gooding Jr.), of Fraunces Tavern fame, calls her. (There is an old tradition, without much scholarly support, that Fraunces, who was nicknamed Black Sam, was of African descent; in any case, Hill goes with it.) Aminata holds on to her name; she trades slap for slap; no one can tell her what to do. She asks George Washington (a bit of an officious boob in this rendering), “Do you think the Negro will one day have his freedom like you Americans?”

“I’m afraid the general must be on his way,” his flack responds.

review by Robert Lloyd via latimes.com

Jordan Anderson, Freed Slave who Penned Sarcastic Letter to Old Master After He Was Asked Back to Farm Pictured for 1st Time

Jordan Anderson
Scathing: Former slave Jordan Anderson wrote a satirical letter in 1865 to his old master after he was asked to return to work for him.

The photograph, scratched and undated, is captioned ‘Brother Jordan Anderson‘. He is a middle-aged black man with a long beard and a righteous stare, as if he were a preacher locking eyes with a sinner, or a judge about to dispatch a thief to the gallows.

Anderson was a former slave who was freed from a Tennessee plantation by Union troops in 1864 and spent his remaining 40 years in Ohio.  He lived quietly and probably would have been forgotten, if not for a remarkable letter to his former master published in a Cincinnati newspaper shortly after the Civil War.

Treasured as a social document, praised as a masterpiece of satire, Anderson’s letter has been anthologized and published all over the world. Historians teach it, and the letter turns up occasionally on a blog or on Facebook.  Humorist Andy Borowitz read the letter recently and called it, in an email to The Associated Press, “something Twain would have been proud to have written.”

Addressed to one Col. Patrick Henry Anderson, who apparently wanted Jordan to come back to the plantation east of Nashville, the letter begins cheerfully, with the former slave expressing relief that ‘you had not forgotten Jordon’ (there are various spellings of the name) and were ‘promising to do better for me than anybody else can’. But, he adds, ‘I have often felt uneasy about you’.

He informs the colonel that he’s now making a respectable wage in Dayton, Ohio, and that his children are going to school.

He tallies the monetary value of his services while on Anderson’s plantation – $11,608 – then adds, ‘we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you.’ Continue reading “Jordan Anderson, Freed Slave who Penned Sarcastic Letter to Old Master After He Was Asked Back to Farm Pictured for 1st Time”

Student Finds Lost Poem of Jupiter Hammon, the 1st Known African-American Writer

One of the earliest writings of Jupiter Hammon, the first African-American poet to be published, has been found. Born into slavery in Long Island, New York, he was allowed to explore his master’s library. Hammon went on to publish his first work, “An Evening Thought,” in 1760. 

Julie McCown, a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington, was researching several libraries for a particular poem and found success at Manuscripts and Archives at Yale University Library in Connecticut. The poem, published in 1786, is telling of Hammon’s evolved thoughts on slavery in America, according to Cedrick May, a UTA professor.

Continue reading “Student Finds Lost Poem of Jupiter Hammon, the 1st Known African-American Writer”

President Obama Recognizes 150 Anniversary Of Emancipation Proclamation

President Barack Obama views the Emancipation Proclamation with a small group of African American seniors, their grandchildren and some children from the Washington DC area, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

January 1st, 1863, is the day that the 16th President of the United States of America, President Abraham Lincoln, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, proclaiming that all slaves in the Confederacy were “forever free” because these Southern states refused to rejoin the Union and were in “rebellion” against the United States of America.

Ironically, the Union states were allowed to maintain their slaves because President Lincoln did not want to risk friction among them. Subsequently, freedmen fled to the North to join the Union Army, and slavery became the pivotal focus of the Civil War. The initial conflict began over various other reasons regarding states’ individual rights, such as taxation, the South demanding control over their own political and socio-economic infrastructure, as well as states’ resources.

Continue reading “President Obama Recognizes 150 Anniversary Of Emancipation Proclamation”