400 Years Blog #39 – Revolutionary Learning 

As the civil rights movement heated up, the Black community fostered more radical educational efforts. Stokely Carmichael, who led the effort by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to register southern Black voters, knew how white supremacists manipulated education. He wrote about how the Bolivar County, Mississippi, school board demanded that, “Neither foreign languages nor civics […]

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400 Years Blog #38 – Sacrificing for Education

In 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional, about half of all Black professionals were teachers.  They were respected members of the Black community and committed to the collective task of racial equity. Ambrose Caliver, who studied the effects of racism while at the U.S. Office of Education in the 1930’s, explained, “In […]

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400 Years Blog #37 – The Courage to Teach

As students return to school, let’s acknowledge the importance of education in the liberation struggle of Black Americans.  Enslaved Black people braved harsh punishments when they gathered to learn. Frederick Douglas taught “Sabbath-school” deep in the woods to avoid being caught.  The first African Free School opened in 1787 to teach free Black Americans and […]

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Blog #36: 400 Years is Today

400 years is a very long time, especially when counting each minute of fear, suffering and hopelessness caused by racism. At the same time, the past is not so long ago; wounds still fester. This paradox – about the length and shortness of history – is embodied by my neighbor Daniel Smith (husband of Loretta […]

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Blog #35: Commemorating a Grim Anniversary

 Two weeks ago in Hampton, Virginia, thousands gathered to commemorate the grim 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African people brought against their will to the British North American mainland. Thanks to a distinguished commission, the occasion was marked by speeches, music, tours, and exhibits honored the resilience and contributions of Africans and […]

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Blog #34: Building Inclusive Neighborhoods

In the first half of the 20th century, African Americans moving into cities were funneled by racist powers into poor neighborhoods. When in 1948 the Supreme Court ruled that racially restrictive housing covenants were unconstitutional (Hurd v. Hodge, Shelley v. Kraemer), the real estate industry created other segregation strategies. Most effective was “blockbusting,” the manipulation […]

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Blog #33: Racism, Real Estate, and Rats

Our president once again stirred up racial animus with a tweet, criticizing Rep. Elijah Cummings and saying that his congressional district “is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Baltimore’s CBS affiliate swiftly pointed out that a company owned by a top presidential advisor, the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, owns and operates properties in the […]

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Blog #32: The Battle for the Ballot: The Voting Rights Act

Racism has affected the battle for the ballot in the United States ever since 1870 when the 15th Amendment supposedly guaranteed the right to vote, regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Almost immediately white supremacists severely restricted that right through legal impediments, police repression, and KKK terrorism. It took enduring the hostility […]

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Blog #31: Great-Grand Paternalist Racism

In blog #30, I connected our current president with the racism of our history, including the ten presidents that owned human beings.  One reader felt I was getting a little “strident,” defined as “loud and harsh; grating.” “Strident” might be an appropriate reaction to 400 years of white supremacy, but my self-righteousness was evident in […]

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400 Years Blog #30 – The Racism of Our Presidents

During the investigation of the Central Park Five, Donald Trump manipulated public opinion by appealing to racism. He paid $85,000 for full-page ads in newspapers with the headline, “Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!” His vengeful words included, “these muggers and murderers…should be forced to suffer.” Michael Warren, who represented the Central […]

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