400 Years Blog #46 – The Great Migration and a New Black America

In 1900 most Black Americans were “trapped” in a southern caste system.  According to historian Lerone Bennett Jr., the former confederate states had “become a prison.” Sharecropping re-enslaved many Black farmers, condemning them to debt peonage. The arbitrary and deadly vigilante violence kept disenfranchised Black citizens “in their place.” So, first a few, but soon thereafter […]

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Blog #45: Black Veterans: Punished for Serving

As we approach Veterans Day this year, the expression “Thank you for your service” seems almost trite – an admission that it’s nearly impossible to pay veterans back for their sacrifice. Many Black veterans, however, weren’t thanked. In fact, they were denied equal benefits and physically assaulted. In the Civil War, Black soldiers were paid […]

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Blog #44: The Contributions of Black Health Care Professionals

After emancipation Black people in the devastated south were refused treatment by most doctors and hospitals. This health crisis led Rebecca Lee Crumpler to move south and work at the Freedmen’s Bureau Medical Division immediately after the Civil War ended.  As the first Black graduate of the New England Female Medical College, and the only licensed Black doctor […]

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400 Years Blog #43  – Stem Cells and More: Contributions from, and abuse of, Black Patients

The Tuskegee syphilis study (Blog #42) is just one reason why people of color have indicated wariness of the medical establishment. As Dr. Zia Okocha wrote, “trust is hard-earned in a system that has historically utilized Black lives and bodies to advance medical knowledge and consistently fails at improving health disparities for Black people.” The case of […]

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Blog #42: The Coloring of the Hippocratic Oath 

The Hippocratic Oath begins, “First, do no harm…”.  However, in the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” racism led physicians to violate this sacred promise. From 1932-1972, the U. S. government consistently deceived and lied to 600 Black sharecroppers in Macon County, Alabama, resulting in suffering, death, and distrust. As Prof. Allan […]

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Blog #41: The Single Greatest Threat

J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Panther Party (BPP) “the single greatest threat to the nation’s internal security.” Some Panthers were Marxists, had guns, and are in prison today for violent acts. But much of the violence that killed both Panthers and police was fueled by an over-zealous, militarized FBI program known as COINTELPRO.  233 of […]

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400 Years Blog #40  – Radicalism is Relative 

In the context of centuries of brutal oppression, the Black Panther Party (BPP), founded in 1966, does not seem so radical. Since no more than six Black people served as U. S. Representatives at any one time between 1877 and 1969, Black citizens couldn’t rely on conventional politics. White racism was still powerful. In April […]

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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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