Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project
- Segregated Seattle
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- KKK in Washington State
- CORE Campaigns 1960s
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- 1907 Bellingham Riots
- Farm Workers in Washington State Project
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These in-depth essays explore fascinating issues and incidents. Each is fully illustrated with photos and newspaper articles. Graduate and undergraduate students in History and Labor Studies at the University of Washington produced many of these articles.
From Women’s Rights to Women’s Liberation: The Second-Wave Feminist Movement in Washington State by Hope Morris
- Prior to 1969, very few women were represented in significant positions of influence in Washington State, and yet by 1977 the state had legalized abortion, ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and eliminated numerous laws discriminating on the basis of sex, making it one of the most progressive states on women’s issues in the nation. This remarkable achievement was enabled by the two distinct wings of the feminist movement who took advantage of the social and political opportunities available to them.
Ernesto Mangaoang and the Right to Be: The Fight for Filipino-American Belonging in the United States by Noelle Morrison
- Arrested in 1949 and facing deportation, Ernesto Mangaoang’s four-year fight to remain in the country he had entered legally twenty-seven years earlier resulted in a landmark court decision that clarified the status of 70,000 Filipino Americans who had immigrated during the era of US colonial occupation of the Philippines.
Employing Racism: Black Miners, the Knights of Labor, and Company Tactics in the Coal Towns of Washington by Jourdan Marshall
- The armed clash between White and Black miners in the coal towns of Washington State in 1891, revealed a side of the Knights of Labor and a history of corporate manipulation of racism that is not well known. The Knights welcomed Black workers in most states, but not in Washington. After first targeting Chinese workers in the 1880s, the KOL turned against Black miners.
Immigrant Rights Protests in Washington State, Spring 2006 by Katherine Cavanaugh
- In hundreds of cities and towns, immigrant workers, Latinx students and other Americans took to the streets in the Spring of 2006 to protest a draconian immigration restriction bill that had passed the House of Representatives. This essay analyzes why this massive protest movement arose by taking a closer look at the movement in Washington State, detailing the role of grassroots organizing both in Seattle and in rural areas of the state where high school students sometimes took the lead, staging school walkouts and marches in communities that had never before seen similar mobilizations.
Bernie Whitebear and the Urban Indian Fight for Land and Justice by Joseph Madsen
- The inspirational leader of the 1970 Fort Lawton takeover and the campaign to build Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, Bernie Whitebear dedicated his life to urban indian activism. Born on the Colville Reservation, he joined fish-in protests in the 1950s, worked to develop Indian social services in the 1960s, then led the United Indians of All Tribes in their historic fight to reclaim Native land in Seattle.
Bridging Mexico and Seattle: A History of the Seattle Ship Scalers Mural “The Struggle Against Racial Discrimination” by Pablo O’Higgins (1904-1983) by Gigi A. Peterson
- One of only two murals painted in the United States by American-Mexican artist Pablo O’Higgins, “The Struggle Against Racial Discrimination” hangs today on the University of Washington campus. This article tracks its fascinating history, a story that links Mexico and Seattle and involves two generations of activists in the struggle for racial justice.
Equal Rights on the Ballot: The 1972-73 Campaign for Washington State's ERA by Hope Morris
- The ERA was passed by Congress in 1972 but failed to win ratification by 38 states. Washington state ratified the federal ERA and also became the first state to pass a state-level version, adding equal protection to the state constitution in 1973. Read about the clever campaign that made this possible.
Filipino Americans and the Making of Dr. Jose P. Rizal Bridge and Park by Andrew Hedden
- In 1974, Seattle’s 12th Avenue South Bridge was renamed and rededicated in the name of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the martyred Filipino patriot and novelist. This report tells the story of how the bridge and nearby park came to be named for Rizal, and explores their meaning to several generations of Seattle’s Filipino American community. The report includes images and documents, including a full reproduction of the book Rizal Park: Symbol of Filipino Identity.
When Abortion was Illegal (and Deadly): Seattle’s Maternal Death Toll by James Gregory
- Abortion was illegal in Washington until 1970, permitted only when the life of the mother was endangered. But countless women found ways to terminate pregnancies and some died doing so. We have found thirteen reported fatalities between 1945 and 1969, by no means a complete count. Here are details on each tragedy including the criminal prosecutions that followed.
Washington’s 1970 Abortion Reform Victory: The Referendum 20 Campaign by Angie Weiss
- One of the first states to liberalize abortion law, Washington was the only one to do so by means of a ballot measure. In 1970, Washington voters approved Referendum 20, three years before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. This report analyzes the unique campaign that brought the ballot measure to voters and the bi-partisan pattern of support that secured victory at the polls.
James Sakamoto and the Fight for Japanese American Citizenship by Andy Marzano
- Editor of the Japanese American Courier and founder of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), Jimmie Sakamoto began making an impact when he testified before a Congressional committee at age 17. This report details his life and assesses his role in the fight to achieve full citizenship.
A History of Farm Labor Organizing 1890-2009 by Oscar Rosales Castañeda, Maria Quintana, James Gregory
- Long before the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) began organizing in the 1960s, farm workers had been contesting the unique challenges of working in the fields. This report–in ten brief chapters–examines the long history of farm workers in Washington State, focusing on their labor and political activism.
Communist Civil Rights: The Seattle Civil Rights Congress, 1948-1955 by Lucy Burnett
- From 1948 to 1955, the Seattle Civil Rights Congress (CRC) provide legal defense and civil rights counsel to numerous Communist Party members and people of color while informing the public about civil rights. During its seven years of activity, the Seattle CRC maintained an active voice of dissent in an era of Red Scare tactics and silence on the subject of civil rights. Their efforts laid the groundwork for future civil rights activism in Seattle.
Racial Restrictive Covenants: Enforcing Neighborhood Segregation in Seattle by Catherine Silva
- Until 1968, racial restrictive covenants prevented certain racial minorities from purchasing homes in specific King County neighborhoods, segregating Seattle and shaping its racial demography. This essay details the history of racial restrictive covenants in different King County neighborhoods, charting both the legal and social enforcement of racial covenants and the struggles to prohibit them.
Coon Chicken Inn: North Seattle’s Beacon of Bigotry by Catherine Roth
- The Coon Chicken Inn was a popular roadside restaurant in Seattle from 1930-1949. The restaurant’s name and logo, which derived from racist caricatures of African Americans, was a galling reminder of segregation and discrimination for black Seattleites. This essay recounts the Coon Chicken Inn’s history and documents little-known examples of African Americans organizing against the restaurant.
White Supremacy and the Alien Land Laws of Washington State by Nicole Grant
- In 1966, voters repealed the several Alien Land Laws that had made it illegal for Chinese, Japanese, and for a time Filipino immigrants to own land in Washington State. This essay examines first the campaigns to restrict land rights and then efforts to repeal Alien Land Laws in the 1950s ad 1960s.
The Fish-in Protests at Frank’s Landing by Gabriel Chrisman
- The fish-ins of the 1960s were to Native Americans what sit-ins were to the Black civil rights movement. Native activists defied state authorities, suffering arrest and jail time in order to reclaim fishing rights guaranteed in the treaties of the 1850s. In 1974, the federal courts finally recognized their rights. This prize-winning essay examines the historic campaign.
The Ku Klux Klan in Washington in the 1920s by Trevor Griffey
- The KKK arrived in Washington State in 1922 and quickly became a powerful mass movement with tens of thousands of members and dangerous ambitions. This nine-part essay examines the meteoric history of the KKK in the 1920s, detailing the ideology, tactics, leadership, and social rituals of the organization.
The Ku Klux Klan and the Anti-Catholic School Bills of Washington and Oregon by Kristin Dimick
- In 1922, the KKK elected the governor of Oregon and passed a vicious law banning Catholic schools. Two years later, the Klan put a similar measure on the Washington State ballot. Voters rejected the xenophobic measure by a large margin. This essay examines the 1924 campaign.
Harold Pritchett: Communism and the International Woodworkers of America by Timothy Kilgren
- Canadian-born Harold Pritchett helped organize the International Woodworkers of America in the mid 1930s and became the first president of the huge timberworkers union. But his Communist Party affiliation made him a target and in 1940, US immigration authorities banned him and he was forced to resign the Presidency. This paper explores the life of a Communist union leader.
DeFunis v. Odegaard : Another Kind of “Jewish Problem” by Sharae Wheeler
- In 1971, Marco Defunis, a Sephardic Jew and native of Seattle, Washington, brought suit against the UW Law School, claiming reverse discrimination. The case reached the Supreme Court which used it to set limits on affirmative action. The DeFunis case was very complicated for the Jewish community, as this award-winning essay explains.
Seattle’s Labor History Highlights by James Gregory
- Few cities make use of labor history the way Seattle does. The city proudly recognizes struggles like the Seattle General Strike of 1919 and the WTO “Battle of Seattle” as part of what makes the region famous and important. News media, city officials, and educators join in commemorating key anniversaries. This is no accident. It reflects the continued political importance of unions and the ongoing cultural work of labor activists and labor educators.
Combating Anti-Semitism at the Laurelhurst Beach Club by Anne Levine
- The Seattle chapter of Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith was founded in 1913. In the 1950s it won a signal victory against the Laurelhurst Beach Club that systematically denied membership to Jewish residents of the Laurelhurst neighborhood. This essay tells the story of the twenty-year-long campaign…
CORE and the Fight Against Employer Discrimination in 1960s Seattle by Jamie Brown
- The Congress of Racial Equality mounted a concerted campaign to end employment discrimination in Seattle. This essay examines the tactics of the campaign and evaluates methods of the small but very active CORE chapter.
CORE’s Drive for Equal Employment in Downtown Seattle, 1964 by Rachel Smith
- Culminating two years of campaigns to end discrimination in employment, CORE launched a drive to win jobs for African Americans in Seattle’s downtown retail district. This essay details the campaign and its impacts.
The 1964 Open Housing Election: How the Press Influenced the Campaign by Trevor Goodloe
- In a crushing defeat for civil rights, Seattle voters overwhelming rejected a 1964 ballot measure that would have made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race in the sale or rental of housing. This essay examines the surprising role of the city’s newspapers in the open housing election.
The Early History of the UW Black Student Union by Marc Robinson
- When members of the BSU took over the administration building on May 20, 1968, they began a sequence of activism that transformed the University of Washington and helped rearrange the priorities of higher education in Washington State.
The BSU Takes on BYU and the UW Athletics Program, 1970 by Craig Collisson
- Denouncing the racist practices of Brigham Young University and the Mormon Church, the BSU demanded that UW sever its athletic contracts with BYU. When the administration refused, the BSU launched some of the most militant demonstrations of the era.
The Franklin High School Sit-in, March 29, 1968 by Tikia Gilbert
- The March 1968 BSU confrontation at Franklin High was a pivotal moment for Seattle Civil Rights movements. It helped solidify the reputation of the BSU and launch the Black Panther Party.
The Chicano Movement in Washington State 1967-2006 by Oscar Rosales Castaneda
- This two-part essay traces the history of Chicano political and cultural activism in Washington State. The movement emerged in two locales: in the Yakima Valley and Seattle. Reflecting the split geography, the movement linked together campaigns to organize and support farmworkers with projects that served urban communities and educational agendas.
The Christian Friends for Racial Equality, 1942-70 by Johanna Phillips
- Started in 1942 by Seattle women of different faiths and races, Christian Friends for Racial Equality (CFRE) pioneered interracial and interreligious cooperation that laid the groundwork for Seattle’s more activist movement in the 1960s to break down social and cultural barriers to interracial cooperation.
By Right of Discovery: United Indians of All Tribes Retakes Fort Lawton, 1970 by Lossom Allen
- In the early morning hours of March 8, 1970, members of the United Indians of All Tribes jumped the barbed wire fences of Fort Lawton and reclaimed the soon-to-be-decommissioned military base as land that belonged to Native peoples. Thus began an 18 month long struggle that resulted in the establishment of Daybreak Star Cultural Center, one of the first urban Indian cultural centers in the United States.
United Indians of All Tribes Meets the Press: News Coverage of the 1970 Occupation of Fort Lawton by Karen Smith
- The invasion of Fort Lawton set off a frenzy of media coverage.The major newspapers expressed mild sympathy while reinscribing old stereotypes. Smaller newspapers took stronger positions. American Indian publications were also divided. This essay analyzes the press coverage, finding differences of perspective while arguing that the volume of press coverage was an important breakthrough for Native politics.
American Indian Women’s Service League: Raising the Cause of Urban Indians, 1958-71 by Karen Smith
- Founded in 1958 by Pearl Warren and seven other Native women, The American Indian Women’s Service League proved a pivotal institution for Seattle’s growing urban Indian population. In 1960, the group opened the Indian Cultural Center which provided social and health services, taught Native cultural awareness, and laid the foundation for the political activism of young urban Indians in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Indian Civil Rights Hearings: U.S. Civil Rights Commission Comes to Seattle, 1977 by Laurie Johnstonbaugh
- In October 1977, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission began two days of hearings in Seattle in response to mounting tension between local government and business interests and Native American communities over the issue of tribal sovereignty. This article explores the backlash campaign that followed the 1974 Boldt fishing rights decision and the Civil Rights Commission’s effort to sort out the controversy.
Challenging Sexism at City Light: The Electrical Trades Trainee Program by Nicole Grant
- On June 24, 1974 ten women began their first day of work at Seattle City Light, the city’s public utility. Tthe women represented the first stab at gender integration of the all-male, unionized, Seattle City Light electricians. They would become the first female linemen, sub-station constructors, cable splicers, the first unionized female utility electricians in Seattle and the first in the nation.
The 1920 Anti-Japanese Crusade and Congressional Hearings by Doug Blair
- Congressman Albert Johnson co-authored the 1924 Immigration Act that effectively closed America’s borders to non-white immigrants for the next forty years. In 1920 he brought his Congressional committee to Seattle to investigate the “threat” posed by Japanese immigrants. This paper examines the hearings and Washington’s anti-Japanese crisis of 1920.
“Pride and Shame” The Museum Exhibit that Helped Launch the Japanese American Redress Movement by Allison Shephard
- In 1970, the Seattle Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League changed course on a museum exhibit that was supposed to merely celebrate their community, and instead decided to also revisit the painful history of internment. The exhibit, “Pride and Shame”, ended up traveling around the country, and has been credited with helping launch the internment redress movement.
Battle at Boeing: African Americans and the Campaign for Jobs, 1939-1942 by Sarah Davenport
- In 1942, Florise Spearman and Dorothy Williams became the first African Americans ever hired atBoeing. This capped a two-year campaign led by the Northwest Enterprise_, Seattle’s black-owned newspaper, and a coalition of black activists. The Aeronautical Workers union fought the demand for open hiring, It took federal intervention to force the company and the union to end the white-only employment policy.
1965 Freedom Patrols and the Origins of Seattle’s Police Accountability Movement by Jennifer Taylor
- What began as a fight between two white police officers and two unarmed black men in Seattle’s predominantly non-white Central District became political when an officer shot and killed one of the African Americans. African American community leaders demanded justice and set up “freedom patrols” to monitor the police.
After Internment: Seattle’s Debate Over Japanese Americans’ Right to Return Home by Jennifer Speidel
- On December 17th, 1944 U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt announced that the federal government would officially end the exclusion order that prevented Japanese and Japanese-Americans from returning to the West Coast. The announcement set off a fiery debate over “resettlement,” with some Seattle residents supporting the right of return, while others, including many public officials, tried to stop it.
Electrical Workers Minority Caucus: A History by Nicole Grant
- Historically the construction trades have been a bastion of white, male unionism. Since 1986 the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus has carved out a space for workers of color and female workers in IBEW Local 46, the union representing electrical workers in the Pacific Northwest. This essay explores the history of race, gender, and struggle before EWMC and examines the organization’s role in Local 46 today.
Blocking Racial Intermarriage Laws in 1935 and 1937: Seattle’s First Civil Rights Coalition by Stefanie Johnson
- In an era marked by racial segregation, Washington was an anomaly: one of only eight states without laws banning racial intermarriage. When anti-miscegenation bills were introduced in both the 1935 and 1937 sessions of the Washington State Legislature, an effective and well-organized coalition led by the African American, Filipino, and Labor communities mobilized against the measure.
Susie Revels Cayton: “The Part She Played” by Michelle L. Goshorn
- Wife of publisher Horace Cayton Sr., mother of the famous sociologist Horace Cayton Jr. and labor leader Revels Cayton, Susie Revels Cayton was also Associate Editor or the Seattle Republican and an activist in Seattle’s African American community. This biographical essay uses her writings to provide a window into her personal life and to help clarify her dual commitments to her family and her community.
Black Longshoreman: The Frank Jenkins Story by Megan Elston
- Frank Jenkins (1902-1973) was a Seattle longshoreman and one of the first African Americans to hold leadership positions in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. A participant in the 1934 strike that created the ILWU, for the next thirty-three years he served Seattle’s Local 19 in various leadership capacities and was regularly elected to the Coast Labor Relations committee of the International union.
La Raza Comes to Campus: The new Chicano contingent and the grape boycott at the University of Washington, 1968-69 by Jeremy Simer
- Chicano students at the UW mobilized for the first time in the fall of 1968. They formed the United Mexican American Students (UMAS), which soon led a campaign to boycott of California table grapes in support of the United Farm Workers which had been on strike since 1965. The successful boycott made turned a small group of Chicano students into a force to be reckoned with.
Revels Cayton: African American Communist and Labor Activist by Sarah Falconer
- On February 19, 1934, a group of Communists decided that discrimination toward African Americans and Filipinos in Seattle must come to an end. Led by a young, African American, Revels Cayton, the group entered a Seattle City Council meeting demanding laws that would make discrimination based on race illegal. This essay examines the activism of Revels Cayton, son of the prominent middle class black leaders Horace and Susie Cayton, brother of the influential sociologist Horace Cayton, Jr.
Victorio Velasco, Pioneer Filipino American Journalist by Erik Luthy
- Journalism became very important to Filipino American community development and politics and no one did more to establish the journalistic enterprise than Victorio Velasco, who is best known as the editor of the Seattle-based Filipino Forum (1928-1968). This paper looks at his early career as a student and journalist after coming to the US from the Phillipines in 1924.
Cannery Worker’s and Farm Laborer’s Union 1933-1939: Their Strength in Unity by Crystal Fresco
- Seattle was home to the most important Filipino-American-led labor union, the Cannery Worker’s and Farm Laborer’s Union. Organized in 1933, the union represented “Alaskeros,” the men who shipped out each spring to work in the Salmon canneries of Alaska. This essay narrates the dramatic early years of CWFLU. The union was still in its infancy when two of the founders, President Virgil Duyungan and secretary Aurelio Simon, were murdered.
The Local 7/Local 37 Story: Filipino American Cannery Unionism in Seattle 1940-1959 by Micah Ellison
- Historians have concentrated on the early years of the Cannery Workers Union and on the two sets of assassinations that plagued the Filipino-American-led union, the murder of Duyungan and Simon in 1936 and the second dual assassination of union leaders Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes in 1981. This essay explores the critical middle period as the union negotiated the 1940s and 1950s, dealing with deportation threats, internal turmoil, but also consolidating and becoming a critical resource for Filipino-American communities on the West Coast.
The Seattle School Boycott of 1966 by Brooke Clark
- “What do we want? Integration. When do we want it? Now!” This familiar chant from the civil rights movement reflected the desires of Seattle parents of school age children in 1966. That year, for two days, K-12 students poured out of Seattle ’s public schools and attended “freedom schools” to protest racial segregation in the Seattle school system. This essay tells the story of that boycott—from its origins to its effect on Seattle’s students and politicians.
Tyree Scott and the United Construction Workers Association by Trevor Griffey
- Seattle’s politics of fair employment entered a new phase when African American construction workers and activists began to protest racially exclusionary hiring practices in Seattle’s construction unions in the fall of 1969. Led by electrician Tyree Scott, workers used direct action to challenge institutional barriers to African American employment in Seattle. In the process, they became pioneers in shaping the early national politics of affirmative action. This unit includes interviews, documents, a short history of the UCWA, and full reproductions of the UCWA newspaper No Separate Peace.
The Black Panther Party in Seattle 1968-1970 by Kurt Schaefer
- This essay explores the first three years of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party from its founding by Black Student Union members in 1968 through the 1970 crisis negotiated by Mayor Wes Uhlman. The essay is presented in three parts.
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The Journal of Southern History, which is edited at and sponsored by Rice University, is a quarterly devoted to the history of the American South and is unrestricted as to chronological period, methodology, or southern historical topic. The Journal publishes refereed articles and solicited book reviews and book notes on all aspects of southern history. As the organ of the Southern Historical Association, which is headquartered in the Department of History at the University of Georgia, the Journal also publishes items pertaining to the business of the Association as well as news and notices of interest to historians of and in the South. The purpose of the Southern Historical Association is to encourage the study of history in the South with an emphasis on the history of the South.
The Southern Historical Association was organized on November 2, 1934 and charged with promoting an "investigative rather than a memorial approach" to southern history. Its objectives are the promotion of interest and research in southern history, the collection and preservation of the South's historical records, and the encouragement of state and local historical societies in the South. As a secondary purpose the Association fosters the teaching and study of all areas of history in the South. The Association holds an annual meeting, usually in the first or second week of November, and publishes The Journal of Southern History.
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Essays and Commentary
Reflections and analysis inspired by the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide wave of protests that followed.
My Mother’s Dreams for Her Son, and All Black Children
She longed for black people in America not to be forever refugees—confined by borders that they did not create and by a penal system that killed them before they died.
By Hilton Als
June 21, 2020
How do we change america.
The quest to transform this country cannot be limited to challenging its brutal police alone.
By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
June 8, 2020
The purpose of a house.
For my daughters, the pandemic was a relief from race-related stress at school. Then George Floyd was killed.
By Emily Bernard
June 25, 2020
The players’ revolt against racism, inequality, and police terror.
A group of athletes across various American professional sports have communicated the fear, frustration, and anger of most of Black America.
September 9, 2020, until black women are free, none of us will be free.
Barbara Smith and the Black feminist visionaries of the Combahee River Collective.
July 20, 2020, john lewis’s legacy and america’s redemption.
The civil-rights leader, who died Friday, acknowledged the darkest chapters of the country’s history, yet insisted that change was always possible.
By David Remnick
July 18, 2020
Europe in 1989, america in 2020, and the death of the lost cause.
A whole vision of history seems to be leaving the stage.
By David W. Blight
July 1, 2020
The messy politics of black voices—and “black voice”—in american animation.
Cartoons have often been considered exempt from the country’s prejudices. In fact, they form a genre built on the marble and mud of racial signification.
By Lauren Michele Jackson
June 30, 2020
After george floyd and juneteenth.
What’s ahead for the movement, the election, and the protesters?
June 20, 2020, juneteenth and the meaning of freedom.
Emancipation is a marker of progress for white Americans, not black ones.
By Jelani Cobb
June 19, 2020
A memory of solidarity day, on juneteenth, 1968.
The public outpouring over racism that has been taking place in America since George Floyd’s murder feels like a long-postponed renewal of the reckoning that shook the nation more than half a century ago.
By Jon Lee Anderson
June 18, 2020
Seeing police brutality then and now.
We still haven’t fully recognized the art made by twentieth-century black artists.
By Nell Painter
The History of the “Riot” Report
How government commissions became alibis for inaction.
By Jill Lepore
June 15, 2020
The trayvon generation.
For Solo, Simon, Robel, Maurice, Cameron, and Sekou.
By Elizabeth Alexander
So Brutal a Death
Nationwide outrage over George Floyd’s brutal killing by police officers resonates with immigrants, and with people around the world.
By Edwidge Danticat
An American Spring of Reckoning
In death, George Floyd’s name has become a metaphor for the stacked inequities of the society that produced them.
June 14, 2020, the mimetic power of d.c.’s black lives matter mural.
The pavement itself has become part of the protest.
By Kyle Chayka
June 9, 2020
Donald trump’s fascist performance.
To the President, power sounds like gunfire and helicopters; it sounds like the silence of men in uniform when they are asked who they are.
By Masha Gessen
June 3, 2020
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Essay about Racism: Then and Now
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Racism - After The Civil War Essay
The conclusion of the Civil War in favor of the north was supposed to mean an end to slavery and equal rights for the former slaves. Although laws and amendments were passed to uphold this assumption, the United States Government fell short. The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments were proposed and passed within five years of the Civil War’s conclusion. These amendments were to create equality throughout the United States, especially in the south where slavery had been most abundant. Making equality a realization would not be an easy task. This is because many problems were not perceived before and during the war. The reunification of the country would prove to be harder than expected, and entry into a new lifestyle would be
Racism in America Essay
“E Pluribus Unum”, “Out of Many, One”; Originally used to suggest that out of many colonies or states shall emerge a single unified nation, but over the years it has become the melting pot of the many people, races, religions, cultures and ancestries that have come together to form a unified whole, and even though America prides itself on being this melting pot racism is still alive and well today. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, the country that calls to so many; calling to them with the promise of freedom and prosperity, to live their lives as they see fit. As stated in the National Anthem, America is "the land of the free and the home of the brave." America is the country where dreams can come true. So if America has
How Racism Still Exists Today Essay
With much consideration and heavy thinking I have decided to write about a very controversial issue that matters to me. It is an issue of which my people have suffered from, racism. What exactly is racism if I may ask? To me it is very clear, Racism is when you look at the color of my skin and judge me. Racism is when you look at me eye to eye and yet still see me below you. Imagine strangers crossing the street to avoid you, imagine the police arbitrarily stopping you, imagine knowing people fear you because of the color of your skin. Many of this world’s young black men and boys don’t have to imagine.Something that does not come to mind is that racism did and can
Essay on Racism in American History X
American History X is clearly a film dealing with racism. The interesting thing about this film is the way in which the subject is treated. First of all, it is obvious that, though racism is always a difficult subject to deal with, American History X presents it without any reservations or dumming down. Second, the film's figurehead for racism, Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton), is not an unintelligent redneck racist as films often portray them, but is in fact well-spoken, charismatic and intelligent, although he clearly holds ideals that are terribly wrong. Finally, the film shows that it is not just the white, neo-nazi racists who are fools to be involved in this, but all racism is foolish. Through these methods, the film shows the viewer,
Essay on Racism in America Today
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These people are correct in a sense; loud and public acts of racism are no longer prevalent in the US as they were in the past. However, today racism is stealthy and unspoken, and often deftly covered up with fabricated cover stories to legitimize the discrimination. This new breed of racism is perhaps even more difficult to fight against than its more egregious past self; its subtlety allows its perpetuators to claim ignorance of any discrimination, and its lack of media attention lulls Americans into complacence and acceptance of the current system. Further disturbing is the prevalence of “covert racism”, also commonly called “subconscious racism”. Many white Americans may actively stereotype and discriminate against blacks without even being aware of their actions and thought processes (BlackYouthProject). This phenomenon is a sad consequence of being raised a subtly racist society which perpetuates discrimination, even if never openly. Many subconscious racists may also be unwittingly subscribing to “symbolic racism”. In J.H. Moore’s book Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, Henry Sears characterizes symbolic racism as the endorsement of four specific beliefs:
Racism In America Essay
What factors supported racism in the United States in the time of Jackie Robinson’s birth?
Synthesis Essay On Racism In Schools
Racism has been a constant dilemma in our nation for centuries. No matter how hard someone attempts to ignore that it exists, racism is still prominent in today’s day and age. Although race has been discredited by many, it is still conspicuous in our country. We may not own slaves or have segregated bathrooms anymore, but racism continues to exist.
Exploring and Defining Racism Essay
Exploring and Defining Racism Works Cited Missing
Jayz N The Food Film Analysis
Racism in this country has been prevalent over centuries now, and still a huge hindrance in the United States of America. Racism has a huge history with scholars documenting the long illustrious reasons and root causes as to why this has become such a major topic of issue in the United States and its psychological and social obliterations in the society.
Racism : Racism And Prejudice Essay
Throughout this course we have learned about many things, one in particular would be Racism. We have learned about many different types of racism along with examples of racism. Before I go into specific examples of racism that I have learn about in this class, I will first define and explain the differences between racism, prejudice or also known as bias, discrimination, race, and racist so there 's a clear understanding of why I picked the specific examples. The definition of racism that we learned in class would be an “Institutionalized system with disproportionate unjust outcomes for a particular race”. Prejudice or also known as bias was defined as “A negative feeling, opinion, or attitude toward a certain category or people” this would be an feeling with no action acted upon, where discrimination is defined as “Action or inaction toward a category of people” which would be acting on the negative feelings or opinions of a certain group. The definition for race is a “Social construct, but a lived reality” while a racist is “Discrimination based on the category of race”. (Disadvantage privilege notes, 2016)
Essay on Perspectives on Racism
Throughout time, some views on particular issues in society change dramatically while others remain unchanged. Sometimes, only one aspect of the issue is perceived differently while the rest of the topic stays the same. This is demonstrated well in the case of racism. In the United States, racism itself has not changed, but the allotment for what is considered acceptable has. Racism deals with the actual outward discrimination upon a race or the mental process of thinking a race inferior to your own. This phenomenon exists in the U.S. today just as it existed in the first years of the nation's existence; however, the way it is perceived has changed drastically. Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe
Racism: A Social Problem Essay
- 3 Works Cited
Explanations that justify the use of racism directly relates to differential treatment of minority groups and contributes to racism’s existence as an unstoppable social problem. The foundations of these explanations are based on the common misunderstanding of the definition of race. Thus, problems that tend to concentrate in one race are mistakenly judged as “race problems”. This judgement leads to the establishment of a system of inequality between a superior race and inferior races. However, the logic behind these explanations don’t account for the true reasoning behind minority individuals value status. In fact, these explanations contribute to minority individuals’ further struggle in life.
The Acts of Racism In The 20th Century Essay
on the atmosphere in which she was living. The scholarship being taken away from her,
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Black youths arrested for drug possession are 48 times more likely to wind up in prison than white youths arrested for the same crime under the same circumstances. Many people are unaware how constant racism has been throughout the years. It is important to understand the problems of racism because it is relevant to society. Racism in America is very real and Americans need to know it.
Essay on The Other Side of Racism
- 11 Works Cited
When most people think of racism or supremacy, the images that come to their mind are white power organizations that undermine blacks and other minorities. Groups such as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Skinheads and the White Nationalist Party may be some that come to mind. However, many people are not aware of other racist organizations and powerful leaders that influence people other than whites. A prime example of this is Louis Farrakahn, perhaps one of world's premier black leaders, who condones racism against whites and people of different religions. The image of an African American promoting racism among whites is not what society understands as a typical form of racism. Despite this, Louis Farrakahn has
- African American
Famille Métisse (1775) by Marius-Pierre le Masurier. Photo courtesy Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac/RMN
An 18th-century creole slaveholder invented the idea of ‘racial prejudice’ to defend diversity among a slaveowning elite
by Blake Smith + BIO
In 1791, Julien Raimond published one of the first critiques of racial prejudice. Raimond was a free man of racially mixed ancestry from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (today the country of Haiti), and his essay ‘Observations on the Origin and Progress of White People’s Prejudice against People of Colour’ argued that legal discrimination against people of African origin resulted from psychological biases. Raimond’s work was the first sustained account of how racial prejudice operates – and how it might be eliminated. Today, the idea that unconscious biases permeate individual psychology, prompting discriminatory behaviours and perpetuating social inequality, is central to discussions of race in politics, academia and everyday life. But this idea was the product of a specific 18th-century moment, with surprising and troubling motivations behind it.
Raimond was an activist for the rights of people of colour. In 1789, he left his home in Saint-Domingue just before the outbreak of the French Revolution. He went to Paris to lobby the government to grant equal status to free people of African origin. In Paris, Raimond joined a circle of radical thinkers and politicians who believed that racial equality had to be part of the emerging Revolution. But Raimond was no opponent of slavery. On the contrary, while his allies argued for its abolition, Raimond insisted that racial equality and abolition of slavery had nothing to do with each other. The first page of his treatise claimed that a cabal of ‘white plantation-owners … have cleverly conflated the cause of people of colour with that of slaves’. Raimond, in fact, wanted to preserve slavery. He believed that eliminating racial prejudice would bring white and non-white slaveowners together in a united front against enslaved Africans. He drew on the pro-slavery arguments of white plantation-owners. Raimond’s idea that there is such a thing as ‘racial prejudice’ and that discrimination is rooted in this psychological phenomenon originated in these plantation-owners’ defences of slavery.
Raimond’s ideas strike many present-day readers as bizarre and hypocritical. After all, he pioneered modern critiques of racial prejudice while also defending slavery. Most people today presume that racism led to slavery, and that slavery and racism were practically synonymous. But in the 18th century, this was not so clearly the case. From Raimond’s perspective, as an 18th-century creole slaveowner, slavery and racism were distinct, and it seemed urgent to disentangle them. Slavery, after all, had existed for thousands of years, while modern racial discrimination, Raimond held, was something recent, contingent and reformable. Like many thinkers of his era (including many of the United States’ Founding Fathers), Raimond saw the world divided between an elite of propertied men and a servile mass of labourers. He saw that the power of a tiny elite would be more resilient if the privileged included people of different colours.
Raimond is familiar to historians of the Haitian Revolution, but has been otherwise eclipsed by Henri Grégoire, his renowned ally. Grégoire was a Left-wing French bishop who threw himself into the cause of revolutionary politics, advocating for the legal equality of French Jews (who suffered from many forms of discrimination before 1789) while also serving as an important member of abolitionist organisations in Paris. Part of a transatlantic network that included branches in the US and Britain, early abolitionists such as Grégoire laid the foundations for a campaign against the slave trade and the institution of slavery itself. Raimond, however, had other goals. Befriending Grégoire, he convinced the priest that improving the status of free people of colour would do more good than ending slavery. Raimond reoriented the activism of Parisian abolitionist networks in the first years of the Revolution. Drawing on the concept of ‘prejudice’, which had become a key concept of European philosophy and politics, he diverted attention from the issue of slavery and refocused it on racial discrimination, which he saw as a kind of psychological dysfunction.
A s long as Europeans have practised imperialism and slavery, some Europeans have criticised these forms of domination and exploitation. In his essay ‘On Cannibals’ (1580), the French essayist Michel de Montaigne defended the rights of South American peoples against European invaders. The 16th-century Spanish priest Bartolomé de las Casas denounced Spain’s conquests in the Americas, which had left millions dead and millions more enslaved. But it was not until the late-18th century that an organised opposition to slavery and racial discrimination arose in the West. The values that marked the ‘Age of Revolutions’ and inspired political transformations across the Atlantic were also at work here. As thinkers increasingly imagined that there were natural rights shared by all people, and as sympathy for suffering became a dominant theme in European novels, plays and essays, slavery struck growing numbers of people as unacceptable. The first opponents of slavery in the West, however, did not analyse slavery as an institution linked to a set of unconscious beliefs and attitudes. Indeed, it was colonial slaveowners in Saint-Domingue who insisted that racial prejudice made slavery inevitable.
Saint-Domingue was the jewel of the French empire. The centre of the world’s sugar production, the colony was far more valuable than the vast tracts of land in North America that France had lost to Britain in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). While French officials could negotiate away Canada and Louisiana without batting an eye, they had clung to the priceless Saint-Domingue. A coveted colonial possession, Saint-Domingue was also home to one of the world’s most brutal systems of slavery. Of a population of nearly 600,000, half a million were slaves. Between the white planter minority and the majority of African slaves emerged a mixed-race community of free people known as gens de couleur or ‘people of colour’. Descendants of relations between white planters and Africans, members of this group rose to become wealthy members of colonial society – and slaveowners themselves. They faced barriers to official jobs and other signs of elite status, however, and lobbied the French monarchy for recognition of their legal equality.
White elites resisted sharing power with gens de couleur . By the 1770s, they developed a self-serving argument according to which giving equal rights to gens de couleur would undermine the system of slavery. As one official put it, the colonial state needed to disseminate a ‘prejudice’ by which inhabitants of the colony would believe that people with African ancestry were inherently inferior to Europeans. If African slaves saw free ‘people of colour’ enjoying equality with whites, they would be reminded that they were not by nature slaves, and that slavery was a political condition. Thus, in the words of a contemporary, ‘prejudice contributes to the peace of the colony’ because it manipulates enslaved peoples into believing that their enslavement results naturally from their own inferiority.
Raimond found a way to make the concept of racial prejudice a tool for the perpetuation of slavery
The justification of racial discrimination in terms of its supposedly positive effects on slaves themselves (who, it was said, would be more content with their enslavement if they believed it was natural) differs sharply from later justifications of slavery that would appear in the American South. There, as pressure from abolitionist groups and the fear of slave rebellions inspired slaveholders to adopt more radical positions, elites began to search for pseudo-scientific arguments that claimed enslaved African people truly were inferior to whites. French slaveholders of the late-18th century, in contrast, implicitly accepted the idea that African inferiority was a myth: they simply argued that the myth was useful. They held that the hierarchies of the slave system needed to be reinforced by patterns of thought and feeling through which all members of colonial society would automatically associate blackness with inferiority. Raimond would take their thinking a step further, finding a new way to make the concept of racial prejudice a tool for the perpetuation of slavery.
Before its appearance in the debate about slavery in the French colonies, ‘prejudice’ had become a prominent topic in debates across Europe. The modern idea that prejudice is a false opinion held without one’s being aware of it had developed only a few generations before. Until the 17th century, prejudice designated a category of preliminary decisions reached by a court on the basis of an intermediate degree of evidence. The change in the meaning of ‘prejudice’ began with the philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650), who insisted that rational thinking could take place only after getting rid of ‘preconceptions’ and ‘habitual opinions’.
Descartes’s approach spread across Europe. The Universal Dictionary (1690) defined prejudice as ‘a preoccupation of mind’ and referred the reader to ‘Descartes’s method’ for ‘curing oneself’ of it. Thinkers turned his formula for proper thinking into a tool of social critique. In his Essay on Prejudices (1770), the radical philosopher Paul-Henri Thiry d’Holbach attacked European monarchies as peddlers of prejudice, accusing them of disseminating false ideas in order to control the masses. This wave of attacks on ‘prejudice’ crested in 1789, with the beginning of the French Revolution. In the summer of that year, France’s new legislature, the National Assembly, abolished the feudal privileges of the aristocracy, a move seen by jubilant reformers as the death-knell of prejudice.
For abolitionists and anti-slavery activists, the moment seemed ripe to attack racial hierarchies, the ‘aristocracy of skin’. If nobles, whose superior status depended on their claims to superior ‘blood’ and ancestry, had lost their privileges, radicals thought it also time for white colonial elites to lose their own privileges based on racial origin. Certainly, white slaveholders feared the logic of revolution. Having insisted in the years before the Revolution that slavery was linked to prejudice against people of African descent, their position in France’s changing political culture, in which ‘prejudice’ of all sorts was condemned, seemed untenable. But while a few abolitionists sensed that it might be possible to attack slavery as an expression of prejudice, Raimond took the initiative. He drafted the first analysis of racial prejudice as a sociological and historical phenomenon, and insisted that it would be ‘neither difficult nor dangerous’ to eliminate it. Yet as he attacked the ‘endless lies by which the white colonists confuse the National Assembly’, he used white plantation-owners’ ideas in order to redefine the colonial slave system, one in which slaveholding elites of African and European origins would rule together.
R aimond’s theory of prejudice was sophisticated. In contrast to social reformers such as d’Holbach or pro-slavery colonial elites who had attacked or defended unconscious psychological bias, he saw prejudice as something more than a form of irrational thinking that could be instilled in people by political leaders. Positing racial prejudice as a distinct form of mental activity, he analysed how bias against people of colour emerged through social interactions. Raimond’s Observations on the Origin and Progress of White People’s Prejudice against People of Colour (1791) included many claims that were self-serving and untrue, but it was nevertheless a groundbreaking work in the history of ideas – and one whose disturbing historical significance is largely ignored today.
Developing a genealogy of racial prejudice in Saint-Domingue, Raimond began with a study of the colony’s history. He noted that, in the early 18th century, during the first generations of the colony’s existence, almost all the white settlers who travelled to the colony had been men. They had married African women. They – and the French state – acknowledged these relationships. They freed and recognised their mixed-race children, setting them up as plantation-owners in their own rights. A mixed-race property-owning class emerged, equal in rights and wealth to their white neighbours and relatives. By the 1760s, however, white colonists increasingly saw free people of colour as a threat to access to land and capital in a colony that was increasingly crowded, filled with recent immigrants from France seeking to become rich. Using racial difference as a weapon in their economic struggle, white colonists began to impose discriminatory legislation against mixed-race people.
Raimond’s story about the rise of discrimination against free people of colour echoes most historians’ accounts today as far as the facts go, but his explanation of why discrimination began would find little scholarly support. His account of racial prejudice was rooted in a social psychology steeped in misogyny. He argued that the arrival of poor white women from France overturned the relative equality among slaveowners of European and mixed ancestry in Saint-Domingue. Coming to Saint-Domingue in search of rich husbands, they spurned free men of colour and resented white colonists’ preference for mixed-race heiresses. Through their feminine wiles, they turned the white men of Saint-Domingue against free people of colour, excluding the latter from a range of offices and honours. In Raimond’s view, colonial racial prejudice was a recent development caused by sexual tension and competition. The good news, he thought, was that keeping white women out of the colony and promoting interracial marriage would end prejudice. Through such a strategy, ‘in 20 years, I dare to predict, prejudice will be erased’.
While criticising white women as proponents of prejudice, Raimond was nearly silent about the enslavement of African people. He did not try to justify slavery in explicit terms, and seems to have taken its existence as a given. In some of his later writings, such as the pamphlet Reflections on the Real Reasons for the Problems and Disasters in our Colonies (1793), he laid out his vision of a ‘reformed’ slavery. He argued that the condition of enslaved peoples should be ‘improved, in such a way that it neither destroys our trade nor causes any individual persons’ business to suffer’. What this would mean in practice remained unclear, but the timing of these remarks is revelatory. Raimond was prepared to grant vague concessions to the enslaved peoples of the French colonies in 1793 – when Saint-Domingue was in the midst of a massive slave revolt. He had not been prepared to do so in 1791, when plantation-owners still controlled colonial society. Even in 1793, he insisted that the French government had to ‘impose order and restrain the rebel slaves’ before it could make any compromises. Nor would these include the end of slavery itself, since, as he put it, slaves were ‘easy to mislead’ and not intellectually equipped for freedom. Slavery, he assumed, would live on long after racism had died.
Treating racism as a quantifiable, curable problem can mean ignoring objective factors that drive conflict
Raimond dreamed of a world where the line between the privileged few and the exploited majority was drawn by access to wealth and property rather than by race. In the tumult of the Age of Revolutions, when old regimes were crumbling from the colonial Americas to the courts of Europe, his scheme did not appear particularly outlandish. His emphasis on sexuality as a tool for social change would not have shocked colleagues such as Grégoire, who developed his own schemes for eliminating racial discrimination through the promotion of mass interracial coupling. Raimond’s ideas found little foothold in Saint-Domingue, where the slaveowning elites of colour whose interests he championed fared poorly. Caught between a hostile rebel slave army and suspicious white planters, the slaveowning creole elite were unable to turn events to their advantage. Raimond’s idea of racial prejudice, on the other hand, grew into a cornerstone of modern thinking about race. Allies such as Grégoire took up the argument that Europeans’ discriminatory treatment of people of African origin was rooted in unconscious, irrational bias. Although Raimond himself had of course opposed abolitionism, the anti-slavery activists soon condemned discrimination against free people of colour and enslavement of Africans alike as expressions of racial prejudice. Raimond’s insistence on the importance of unconscious bias remains central to contemporary US society, where the struggle to quantify prejudice sometimes supersedes struggles against inequality.
The concept of racial prejudice offers an explanation for an apparent paradox of US politics in the post-Civil Rights era. Since the 1960s, and notwithstanding the resurgence of white nationalism, open displays of racial bias have become increasingly uncommon and taboo in the US. Americans believe themselves to be less racist than ever before, with researchers noting a ‘decline in self-reported racial prejudice’. Yet even as Americans express anti-racist values, there remain stark racial disparities in income, access to healthcare and education, and a host of other measures of wellbeing. It therefore seems that we must explain, as the philosopher Eric Mandelbaum put it in 2016, ‘how a group of explicitly egalitarian people can still make biased group decisions’. By invoking racial prejudice, social scientists, politicians and activists can account for enduring inequalities in the US, presenting them as effects of unconscious biases that can be revealed, assessed and perhaps eliminated through sophisticated psychological techniques.
Efforts to measure and reduce racial prejudice have become particularly visible in public life since the 1980s, in large part through the work of Anthony Greenwald, who invented the implicit-association test in 1998, and Mahzarin Banaji. Yet social scientists’ ambitious goals have not been achieved. Research finds a ‘tenuous relationship’ between measurements of bias and real-world behaviour. While critics challenge efforts to quantify unconscious racism as unscientific, pundits complain of sensationalism. Claims that prejudice lurks everywhere, even in the minds of babies (in 2009, Newsweek asked ‘Is Your Baby Racist?’), strike conservative pundits as ludicrous overreach. Critics come from the Left, too. The South African psychologist Buhle Zuma notes that research on prejudice narrowly pursues ‘an abstract concept, used as a proxy for what happens in people’s minds’. The sociologist Orlando Patterson argues that discussions of bias are a ‘devious substitute’ for social progress, derailing questions about how to promote ‘civility and tolerance’ with ‘invasive’ investigations of people’s hidden prejudices. Treating racism as if it were a quantifiable and curable problem that should be addressed in psychological terms can mean ignoring objective factors that drive conflict between groups, the material advantages that accrue to those who benefit from unequal structures, or the practical steps that might improve public life.
For Raimond, the founder of the modern concept of racial prejudice, this was indeed the goal. While it has long been used as a tool of activism and protest against social and economic inequalities linked to race, Raimond intended his analysis of racial prejudice to attack racism without affecting inequality. He hoped that bias against people of African origin could be exposed and uprooted from French colonial society without altering its fundamental social and economic institution: slavery. Once racial prejudice was gone, Raimond imagined, there would be little change in the status of the enslaved Africans of Saint-Domingue, while a racially diverse elite would justify its power on the grounds of intellectual, rather than racial, superiority. Raimond’s ideal world, where new forms of hierarchy make racism obsolete, is not the one we live in. But as long as our own conversations about race and inequality hinge on unexamined concepts, we risk moving towards his grim utopia.
The quotations from Julien Raimond’s essay ‘Observations on the Origin and Progress of White People’s Prejudice against People of Colour’ (1791) are from a translation by Blake Smith.
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Computing and artificial intelligence
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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)
We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.
Essay 7: Getting History Right Can Decrease Racism Toward Mexican Americans
Recognizing that inaccurate history often subtly promotes continuing white supremacy, the National Education Association (NEA) commissioned these articles and has posted some of them in slightly different form at its website . I thank Harry Lawson and others at NEA for the commission, for editorial suggestions, and for other assistance.
U.S. history textbooks see our past from the vantage of New England. The Thanksgiving holiday also pushes popular culture toward this view. Three misconceptions result. Each wrongly elevates Anglo American culture over Mexican American culture. First, our culture paints Mexicans as less “civilized” newcomers. Actually, Spaniards were living in South Carolina in 1526, St. Augustine in 1565, and Santa Fe by 1598. Mexico had a university by 1551; Harvard was not founded until 1636. We credit the English as the first White settlers because Protestants published most history textbooks. Until about 1960, Catholic schools used textbooks that gave more emphasis to the Spanish. The United States is an Anglophone nation, but overemphasizing its Anglo roots by starting with Virginia and Plymouth Rock misrepresents the past. Teachers can help students understand this by having them shade all the territory that Spain ever controlled. They will draw a line from near Savannah, Georgia, westward and then northward to St. Paul, following the Louisiana Purchase line to northern California, then back along our border and coastline — half the country! Students can also research the imprint that Spanish and Mexican culture left, not only in place names like New Madrid, Missouri, but also on our culture. The horse and ideas connected with horses prompted first a new Plains Indian culture and then a new Anglo cowboy culture. Mission style is still a potent force in American design. The Catholic Church still dominates much of the formerly Spanish domain. The second era we often misperceive is 1820-1850. As Mexico became independent in 1821, it outlawed slavery. Mexico welcomed white Southerners, but they could not bring slaves. Even worse from the U.S. standpoint, enslaved African Americans seeking freedom escaped to Mexico overland and by boat from Louisiana. These grievances led the newcomers to get Texas to secede from Mexico, followed by our 1846 war with Mexico. The 1848 treaty ending that war provided that citizens of Mexico who now found themselves in the U.S. were to be full citizens. However, whites often trampled their rights, brought them up on false charges, and even lynched them to get their land without payment. Native Americans in the Mexican Cession didn’t get citizenship until 1924. The third misconception concerns Mexican immigrants. In 2016 Donald Trump made them a key issue in his presidential campaign, especially in the primaries. Students need to understand that our so-called “illegal immigration” has a history. Since at least 1870, the United States has used Mexican workers when we needed them, and deported them when we didn’t. Right after World War I, the U.S. encouraged Mexicans to come to lay railroad track and grow cotton in the Southwest. Similarly, during World War II, when many Americans were fighting in Europe, workers from Mexico and Puerto Rico came to work in factories and on farms. Conversely, during the Depression when work was scarce, the federal government deported thousands. (Students can compare the Bracero Program to Operation Wetback.) Also, as part of their worsening status during the Nadir of Race Relations, the 1930 Census no longer classified Mexican Americans as “white.” California then tried to force them into segregated public schools. Mexican Americans replied by winning two lawsuits, Alvarez v. Lemon Grove and Mendez v. Westminster , which overturned the new segregation policy. Today, 34 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans live in the United States. About 65% are native-born; most of the rest are naturalized citizens or legal residents. Characterizing them primarily as “illegal aliens” (a problematic term in itself, since “alien” implies unearthly) or as threatening outsiders is historically inaccurate. We must teach our long mutual history without distorting it to make “us” look good, “them” bad. Increasingly, they are us.
Essential Reading and Listening
- Charlie Grymes, “Spanish Exploration and Settlement in the Southeast Before Ajacan”, virginiaplaces.org/settleland/spanish.html , is Virginia-centric and by an amateur historian but effectively shows that the Spanish came first.
- A CD of classical choral music, Chanticleer, Mexican Baroque , Das Alte Werk CD105811, shows the “high” culture in Mexico long before the U.S.
- Rudolfo Acuna, “Greasers Go Home,” chapter 12 of The Latino/a Condition (NYU Press, 1998), shows how Mexican laborers were used and abused as economics dictated.
All essays in the Correct(ed) series: Introducing the Series Essay 2: How to Teach Slavery Essay 3: How to Teach Secession Essay 4: Teaching about the Confederacy and Race Relations Essay 5: Confederate Public History Essay 6: Reconstruction Essay 7: Getting History Right Can Decrease Racism Toward Mexican Americans Essay 8: Problematic Words about Native Americans Essay 9: How and When Did the First People Get Here? Essay 10: The Pantheon of Explorers Essay 11: Columbus Day Essay 12: How Thanksgiving Helps Keep Us Ethnocentric Essay 13: American Indians as Mascots Essay 14: How to Teach the Nadir of Race Relations Essay 15: Teaching the Civil Rights Movement Essay 16: Getting Students Thinking about the Future
Handout A: Background Essay: African Americans in the Gilded Age
Background Essay: African Americans in the Gilded Age
Directions: Read the essay and answer the review questions at the end.
In the late nineteenth century, the promise of emancipation and Reconstruction went largely unfulfilled and was even reversed in the lives of African Americans. Southern blacks suffered from horrific violence, political disfranchisement, economic discrimination, and legal segregation. Ironically, the new wave of racial discrimination that was introduced was part of an attempt to bring harmony between the races and order to American society.
Constitutional amendments were ratified during and after the war to protect the natural and civil rights of African Americans. The Thirteenth Amendment forever banned slavery from the United States, the Fourteenth Amendment protected black citizenship, and the Fifteenth Amendment granted the right to vote to African-American males. In addition, a Freedmen’s Bureau was established to help the economic condition of former slaves, and Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1875.
Roadblocks to Equality
Despite these legal protections, the economic condition of African Americans significantly worsened in the last few decades of the nineteenth century. Poor southern black farmers were generally forced into sharecropping whereby they borrowed money to plant a year’s crop, using the future crop as collateral on the loan. Often, they owed so much of the resulting crop that they fell into debt for the following year and eventually into a state of debt peonage. Since 90 percent of African Americans lived in the rural South, most were sharecroppers. The story was not much different as African Americans moved to southern and northern cities. Black women found work as domestic servants and men in urban factories, but they were usually in menial, low-paying jobs because white employers discriminated against African Americans in hiring. Black workers also faced a great deal of racism at the hands of labor unions which severely limited their ability to secure high-paying, skilled jobs. While the Knights of Labor and United Mine Workers were open to blacks, the largest skilled-worker union, the American Federation of Labor, curtailed black membership, thereby limiting them to menial labor.
African Americans throughout the country suffered from violence and intimidation. The most infamous examples of violence were brutal lynchings, or executions without due process, by angry white mobs. These travesties resulted in hangings, burnings, shootings, and mutilations for between 100 and 200 blacks—especially black men falsely accused of raping white women—annually. Race riots broke out in southern and northern cities from New Orleans and Atlanta to New York and Evansville, Indiana, causing dozens of deaths and property damage.
Although African Americans were elected to Congress and state legislatures during Reconstruction, and enjoyed the constitutional right to vote, black civil rights were systematically stripped away in a campaign of disfranchisement. One method was to charge a poll tax to vote, which precious few black sharecroppers could afford to pay. Another strategy was the literacy test which few former slaves could pass. Furthermore, the white clerks at courthouses had already decided that any black applicant would fail, regardless of his true reading ability. Since both of those devices at times excluded poor whites as well, grandfather clauses were introduced to exempt from the literacy test anyone whose father or grandfather had the right to vote before the Civil War. Moreover, the Supreme Court declared the 1875 Civil Rights Act guaranteeing equal access to public facilities and transportation to be unconstitutional in the Civil Rights Cases (1883) because the law regulated the private discriminatory conduct of individuals rather than government discrimination.
One of the most pervasive and visible signs of racism was the rise of informal and legal segregation, or separation of the races. In a wholesale violation of liberty and equality, southern state legislatures passed “Jim Crow” segregation laws that denied African Americans equal access to public facilities such as hotels, restaurants, parks, and swimming pools. Southern schools and public transportation had vastly inferior “separate but equal” facilities that left the black minority subject to unjust majority rule. Housing covenants and other devices kept blacks in separate neighborhoods from whites. African Americans in the North also suffered informal residential segregation and economic discrimination in jobs.
In one of its more infamous decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation statutes were legal in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). In Plessy, the Court decided that “separate, but equal” public facilities did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or imply the inferiority of African Americans. Justice John Marshall Harlan was one of the two dissenters who wrote, “Our constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.”
Progressive and Race Relations
One of the great ironies of the series of reforms instituted in the early twentieth century known as the Progressive Era was that segregation and racism were deeply enshrined in the movement. Progressives were a group of reformers who believed that the industrialized, urbanized United States of the nineteenth century had outgrown its eighteenth-century Constitution. That Constitution did not give government, especially the federal government, enough power to deal with unprecedented problems. Many Progressives embraced Social Darwinism and eugenics which was part of the most advanced science and social science taught in universities and scientific circles. Social Darwinism ranked various groups, which its proponents considered “races,” according to certain characteristics and labelled Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic peoples as superior and Southeastern Europeans, Jews, Asians, Hispanics, and Africans as inferior races. Therefore, there was a supposed scientific basis for segregation as the “higher” races ruled the “lower.” Moreover, Progressives generally endorsed segregation as a means of achieving their central goal of social order and harmony between the races. There were notable exceptions, such as Jane Addams, black Progressives such as W.E.B. DuBois, and the Progressives of both races who founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), but Progressive ideology contributed to the growth of segregation.
Progressive Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson generally supported the segregationist order. While Roosevelt courageously invited African-American leader Booker T. Washington to dinner in the White House and condemned lynching, he discharged 170 black soldiers because of a race riot in Brownsville, Texas in 1906. Wilson had perhaps a worse record on civil rights as his administration fired many black federal employees and segregated federal departments.
Several black leaders advanced the cause of black civil rights and helped organize African Americans to defend their interests through self help. The highly-educated journalist, Ida B. Wells, launched a crusade against lynching by exposing the savage practice. She also challenged segregation by refusing to change her seat on a train because it was in an area reserved for white women. Other African Americans unsuccessfully boycotted segregated streetcars in urban areas but utilized a method that would prove successful in the mid-twentieth century.
A debate took shape between two African-American leaders, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Washington was a former slave who founded the Tuskegee Institute for blacks in the 1880s and wrote Up from Slavery. He advocated that African Americans achieve racial equality slowly by patience and accommodation. Washington thought that blacks should be trained in industrial education and demonstrate the character virtues of hard work, thrift, and self-respect. They would therefore prove that they deserved equal rights and equal opportunity for social mobility. At the 1895 Atlanta Exposition, Washington delivered an address that posited, “In the long run it is the race or individual that exercises the most patience, forbearance, and self-control in the midst of trying conditions that wins…the respect of the world.”
DuBois, on the other hand, was a Harvard and Berlin-educated intellectual who believed that African Americans should win equality through a liberal arts education and fighting for political and civil equality. He wrote the Souls of Black Folk and laid out a vision whereby the “talented tenth” among African Americans would receive an excellent education and become the teachers and other professionals who would uplift fellow members of their race. He and other black leaders organized the Niagara Movement that fought segregation, lynching, and disfranchisement. In 1909 the movement’s leaders founded the NAACP, which fought for black equality and initiated a decades-long legal struggle to end segregation. DuBois edited its journal named The Crisis and wrote about issues affecting African Americans. He had the simple wish to “make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.”
American participation in the Spanish-American War and World War I initiated a dramatic change in the lives of African Americans and in the demography of American society. In both wars, black soldiers were relegated to segregated units and generally assigned to menial jobs rather than front-line combat. However, black soldiers had opportunities to fight in the charges against the Spanish in Cuba and against the Germans in the trenches of France. They demonstrated that they were just as courageous as white men even as they fought for a country that excluded them from its democracy. Moreover, travel to the North and overseas showed thousands of African Americans the possibility of freedom and equality that would be reinforced in World War II while fighting tyranny abroad.
Wartime America witnessed rapid change in the lives of African Americans especially in the rural South. Hundreds of thousands left southern farms to migrate to cities in the South such as Birmingham or Atlanta, or to northern cities in a mass movement called the Great Migration. This internal migration greatly increased the number of African Americans living in American cities. As a result, tensions grew with whites over jobs and housing that led to deadly race riots during and immediately after the war. However, a thriving black culture in the North also resulted in the Harlem Renaissance and the celebration of black artists.
The Great Migration eventually led to over six million African Americans following these migration patterns and laying the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-twentieth century. Blacks resisted segregation when it was instituted and continued to organize to challenge its threat to liberty and equality in America.
- What constitutional protections did the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments give African Americans?
- What economic conditions did African Americans face in the south and north in the late nineteenth century?
- What kinds of violence did African Americans suffer during the late nineteenth century?
- Despite the amendments to the Constitution protecting the rights of African Americans, what discriminatory devices systematically took away these rights?
- What was the ruling in the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) case? Did the case result in the advance or reversal of the rights of African Americans? Explain your answer.
- Did African Americans make gains or suffer setbacks to their rights during the Progressive Era? Explain your answer.
- Compare and contrast the means and goals of achieving black equality for Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.
- How did World War I and the Great Migration change the lives of African Americans?
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Race does not biologically exist, yet how we identify with race is so powerful, it influences our experiences and shapes our lives. In a society that privileges white people and whiteness , racist ideas are considered normal throughout our media, culture, social systems, and institutions. Historically, racist views justified the unfair treatment and oppression of people of color (including enslavement, segregation, internment, etc.). We can be led to believe that racism is only about individual mindsets and actions, yet racist policies also contribute to our polarization. While individual choices are damaging, racist ideas in policy have a wide-spread impact by threatening the equity of our systems and the fairness of our institutions. To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being antiracist in all aspects of our lives.
Being antiracist is fighting against racism. Racism takes several forms and works most often in tandem with at least one other form to reinforce racist ideas, behavior, and policy. Types of racism are:
Examples include believing in the superiority of white people, not hiring a person of color because “something doesn’t feel right,” or telling a racist joke.
- Interpersonal racism occurs between individuals. These are public expressions of racism, often involving slurs, biases, or hateful words or actions.
Example: A school system where students of color are more frequently distributed into the most crowded classrooms and underfunded schools and out of the higher-resourced schools.
Example: Stereotypes of people of color as criminals in mainstream movies and media.
“Implicit Bias and Structural Racialization,” By Kathleen Osta & Hugh Vasquez, National Equity Project. Download full PDF
No one is born racist or antiracist; these result from the choices we make. Being antiracist results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection as we move through life. In the absence of making antiracist choices, we (un)consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society. Being racist or antiracist is not about who you are ; it is about what you do .
To be antiracist is a radical choice in the face of history, requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness. Ibram Kendi "How to be an Antiracist"
Being Actively Conscious
The quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself.
Being Antiracist at the Individual and Interpersonal Level When we choose to be antiracist, we become actively conscious about race and racism and take actions to end racial inequities in our daily lives. Being antiracist is believing that racism is everyone’s problem, and we all have a role to play in stopping it. In “ The Racial Healing Handbook ,” Dr. Anneliese A. Singh reminds us of the importance of being purposeful: “You need the intentional mindset of Yep, this racism thing is everyone’s problem-including mine, and I’m going to do something about it.”
Being antiracist is different for white people than it is for people of color. For white people, being antiracist evolves with their racial identity development. They must acknowledge and understand their privilege, work to change their internalized racism, and interrupt racism when they see it. For people of color, it means recognizing how race and racism have been internalized, and whether it has been applied to other people of color.
All racial groups struggle under white supremacy. People of color groups are not always united in solidarity. People of color can act by challenging internalized white supremacy and interrupting patterns of prejudice against other racial groups. For everyone, it is an ongoing practice and process.
As a White Person or a Person of Color, Read More About Becoming Antiracist
Stop and Think!
Why do you want to be antiracist? Considering the breadth and depth of racism, committing to being antiracist may feel overwhelming yet small choices made daily can add up to big changes. Reflect on choices you make in your daily life (i.e., who you build relationships with, what media you follow, where you shop). How do these choices reflect being antiracist?
A Questioning Frame of Mind A commitment to being antiracist manifests in our choices. When we encounter interpersonal racism, whether obvious or covert, there are ways to respond and interrupt it. Asking questions is a powerful tool to seek clarity or offer a new perspective. Below are some suggestions to use in conversations when racist behavior occurs:
- Seek clarity: “Tell me more about __________.”
- Offer an alternative perspective: “Have you ever considered __________.”
- Speak your truth: “I don’t see it the way you do. I see it as __________.”
- Find common ground: “We don’t agree on __________ but we can agree on __________.”
- Give yourself the time and space you need: “Could we revisit the conversation about __________ tomorrow.”
- Set boundaries. “Please do not say __________ again to me or around me.
What is a "Trigger?"
A trigger is something that causes an emotional and or physical reaction which impacts how you respond and or interact with another person or group of people.
As you practice, take note of your responses and ask: How am I processing the experience? What body sensations do I have? What is my emotional reaction? Notice what triggers your response and how it manifests in your body.
Another practical step is to uncover your own bias . In the video below, Verna Myers talks about acknowledging your biases in her Ted Talk:
Being antiracist on the individual and interpersonal levels is only part of the work. To end racism, we must also work to dismantle racist policies at the structural and institutional levels.
Example of Being Antiracist at the Institutional Level Institutional racism is the policies and practices within institutions that benefit white people to the disadvantage of people of color. An example of institutional racism is how children of color are treated within the U.S. education system. On average, children of color are disciplined more harshly than their white peers. They are also less likely to be identified as gifted and have less access to quality teachers. Racism in schools can and does have severe consequences for students and our future.
When I say antiracist education, I am talking about equipping students, parents, and teachers with the tools needed to combat racism and ethnic discrimination, and to find ways to build a society that includes all people on an equal footing. Enid Lee
Antiracist education is a theory of learning and action to help us do the important work of dismantling racism in schools. It explicitly highlights, critiques, and challenges institutional racism. It addresses how racist beliefs and ideologies structure one-on-one interactions and personal relationships. It also examines and challenges how institutions support and maintain disadvantages and advantages along racial lines.
Antiracist education, while considering class, race, and gender inequity, places race at the center of its analysis. Focusing on race exposes direct links to unequal power, a system of oppression and privilege, and institutional practices.
One of the early formulations of antiracist education was developed by social science researchers, Carol Tator and Frances Henry, in Canada. It lists nine key traits.
Infographic © NMAAHC. Data source: “ Multicultural Education vs Anti-Racist Education: The Debate in Canada ,” Social Education 58(6), 1994, pp. 354-358. National Council for the Social Studies.
What do the elements of learning listed above mean to you?
Developing routines to make antiracist choices is a daily commitment that must be carried out with intention. The continued efforts of each of us individually can add up to a lasting change in our society. Since racism operates at multiple levels, we have to make antiracist choices at the various levels - individual, interpersonal, and institutional - to eradicate racism from the structures and fabric of our society. In “How to Be an Antiracist,” Dr. Ibram Kendi writes, “[We must] believe in the possibility that we can strive to be antiracist from this day forward. Believe in the possibility that we can transform our societies to be antiracist from this day forward. Racist power is not godly. Racist policies are not indestructible. Racial inequities are not inevitable. Racist ideas are not natural to the human mind.”
Take a moment to reflect
- How have racist ideas impacted your daily life? Reflect and process - you may choose to sit in quiet reflection or write in your journal.
- EDUCATORS: Read “ The Urgent Need for Anti-Racist Education ,” by Christina Torres. She writes that antiracist education has an important role to play in fighting against hatred and violence. What benefits do you think could result from having discussions with young people about current events involving race and racism?
- The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University contends that racist policies fuel racist beliefs and behaviors and keep us divided in society.
- By yourself, divide two pieces of paper into 4 sections. Write the following categories, one in each section, on the page: Education, Healthcare Treatment, Neighborhoods/Housing, Criminal Justice. Do this for both pages.
- On the first sheet, jot down 2-3 racial groups of people you think get the best service/experience/outcomes in America for each category. You can repeat groups.
- On the second sheet, jot down 2-3 racial groups of people you think get the worst service/experience/outcomes in America for each category. You can repeat groups.
- Now, with a partner discuss what policies, old and newer, you believe might account for these groups’ experiences.
- With your partner, return to each racial group you’ve listed, one at a time. Search the internet, look up the racial group, one of the four categories, and the word “policy” (limit your search to U.S. policies and seek out fact-based sources). Browse through the results for things that strike you.
Discuss with your partner :
- Was it easy or difficult to find useful information on policies in these categories having to do with race? Why do you think that was?
- For those racial groups that you thought had the best service/experience/outcomes, were you able to identify specific policies that helped them? Why yes? Or why not?
- How do you think policies can be hidden or difficult to see in operation?
- What did you discover that was new to you?
- Were you wrong about anything you thought? How did you find out?
- Was there anything uncomfortable about this exercise? Why yes? Or why not?
- How can our learning about policies, racial groups, and outcomes help support anti-racism efforts?
Watch these two videos on Implicit Bias:
- How can you hang out authentically with folks of some common interest, across racial lines?
- EDUCATORS: Consider your current classroom or academic space. What one small shift can you do to strive to be more antiracist?
- Visit the “ Antiracism and America ” web series developed by American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center and The Guardian news outlet.
- Pick a story to read. As you reflect on the story, think about what you learned that was new, how the story made you feel, how race shaped the experience of the storyteller and your response. You may choose to process this mentally, with a friend or in writing.
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The armed clash between White and Black miners in the coal towns of Washington State in 1891, revealed a side of the Knights of Labor and a history of corporate
More important, however, be- cause Fredrickson is dealing with a period when the issue of race was central to American history, as it was not in Jordan's period
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The excerpts included in this reader use lowercase letters for the racial terms black and white, which was the prevailing style at the time these books were.
Southern blacks suffered from horrific violence, political disfranchisement, economic discrimination, and legal segregation. Ironically, the new wave of racial
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