Tag Archives: Slavery

President Obama On VA Confederate History Month: Omission Of Slavery ‘Unacceptable

Posted by: BuellBoy

Talking Points Memo~President Obama, in an interview for Good Morning America, said the omission of slavery from a Virginia proclamation dubbing April “Confederate History Month” was “unacceptable,” but pointed out that Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) had acknowledged and fixed the omission.

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Oh, Right, Slavery… My Bad

Posted by: BuellBoy

VA Gov: I Apologize For Leaving Slavery Out Of Confederate History Month

TPM~Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has apologized for not including any mention of slavery in his proclamation declaring April “Confederate History Month” and added an extra clause to the proclamation.

“The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed,” McDonnell wrote in a statement. “The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation.”

He also added a clause to the proclamation that declares slavery “led to this war.”

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history.

McDonnell had taken heat from both critics, such as former governor and current DNC Chair Tim Kaine, and past supporters, such as BET co-founder Sheila Johnson.

In a statement to the Washington Post today, Johnson — who co-chaired McDonnell’s Inaugural Committee this year — condemned McDonnell’s decision to proclaim April as Confederate History Month, calling it an “insensitive disregard of Virginia’s complicated and painful history.”

“The complete omission of slavery from an official government document, which purports to be a call for Virginians to ‘understand’ and ‘study’ their history, is both academically flawed and personally offensive,” she wrote.

Kaine, who as McDonnell’s predecessor skipped issuing a declaration at all, released a statement blasting the governor.

Governor McDonnell’s decision to designate April as Confederate History Month without condemning, or even acknowledging, the pernicious stain of slavery or its role in the war disregards history, is insensitive to the extraordinary efforts of Americans to eliminate slavery and bind the nation’s wounds, and offends millions of Americans of all races and in all parts of our nation,” Kaine said.

A failure to acknowledge the central role of slavery in the Confederacy and deeming insignificant the reprehensible transgression of moral standards of liberty and equality that slavery represented is simply not acceptable in the America of the 21st century,” the DNC chairman added, noting Virginia’s work to elect Black officials in former Gov. Douglas Wilder (D) and casting its electoral votes for President Barack Obama.

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Virginia: Where History is Politics

Time Swampland/Adam Sorenson~Having grown up in the Commonwealth, I’m no stranger to the tensions that inevitably lie at the intersection of Southern history and Southern politics. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Virginia had a very awkward thing called Lee-Jackson-King Day. Believe it or not, the government decided it would be a good idea to combine the long-standing local holiday celebrating Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with the new federal holiday honoring Civil Rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (If you’ve never seen a man dressed in full confederate army uniform belting out “We Shall Overcome,” I can tell you it’s quite the spectacle.) Governor Jim Gilmore mercifully split the holidays in 2000, placing a weekend between the two, but how and when to recognize Confederate history remains a divisive issue.

Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is now breaking from his two predecessors — Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner — by reinstating April as Confederate History Month, this year recognizing the 149th anniversary of Virginia’s secession from the Union on April 17, 1861.

Originally established by George Allen and continued by Gilmore, Confederate History Month has already ignited its fair share of controversy in the Commonwealth. But McDonnell may be further inflaming existing tensions with the language of his official proclamation. His decision to omit any mention of slavery from the document — an issue Gilmore handled by acknowledging African-Americans killed in the war and decrying the practice of bondage — has drawn the ire of Virginia’s NAACP chapter, the legislature’s black caucus and Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first African-American elected governor, among others. McDonnell’s explanation did little to quiet criticism Tuesday when he remarked, “There were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.” Many feel McDonnell is glossing over both an important historical element of the Civil War era and a deeply personal issue. Wilder calls the proclamation “mind-boggling to say the least” and The Richmond Times-Dispatch, which endorsed McDonnell and has a largely sympathetic editorial board, opines: “The inexcusable omission reduces the slaves and their descendants to invisibility once again.”

There has been a longstanding effort in Virginia to better tell the story of American slavery. Wilder first proposed a National Museum of Slavery in 1993, and the project found funding and a home in Fredericksburg amid growing support over the last ten years. But with the economic downturn drying up money, 38 acres of donated land standing mostly empty and a backlog of real estate taxes piling up, the museum’s future home, thought to be worth as much as $7.6 million, is now in danger of seizure and auction. Wilder, who sits on the board of directors and has been the museum’s biggest proponent, has decided to suspend the search for additional funding.

Richmond is a city of conflicting traditions. Not only is it home to today’s statehouse, but it is the former capital of the Confederate States of America and a city with a population that is more than 50 percent African-American. While McDonnell’s decision has drawn praise from some Old South conservatives and groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, it is ultimately a liability on the national scene. If he hopes to become a leading voice in the Republican party, McDonnell will have to better navigate the contradictions and tensions of Virginia politics.

The GOP will need to broaden its coalition to keep pace with a changing national electorate, and many feel McDonnell’s positive and pragmatic campaign style could one day serve the party well on a larger stage. But proclaiming April Confederate History Month without acknowledging the painful and indelible legacy of bondage does him few favors to that end. “[McDonnell’s] failure to mention slavery was a moral and historical mistake.” Conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru writes. “It is also, I think, a political one.”

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A Tribute to Haitian Soldiers for Heroism in the American Revolution

Posted by: Audiegrl

Dedicated to the people of Haiti both in the US and abroad, please except our profound thanks, and know that our thoughts and prayers are with you…

Haitian Monument Statue in Franklin Square, Savannah, GA

Haitian Monument Statue in Franklin Square, Savannah, GA

After 228 years as largely unsung contributors to American independence, Haitian soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War’s bloody siege of Savannah had a monument dedicated in their honor. On October 9, 1779, a force of more than 500 Haitian gens de couleur libre (free men of color) joined American colonists and French troops in an unsuccessful push to drive the British from Savannah in coastal Georgia.

Chairman Daniel Fils-Aime

“We were here in 1779 to help America win independence. “ said Daniel Fils-Aime, chairman of the Miami-based Haitian American Historical Society. “That recognition is overdue.” “To see a monument in downtown Savannah and the commemoration of the involvement of the Haitian Americans, it’s a dream come true.” said Savannah Mayor Floyd Adams Jr. “This will help educate Americans but also Haitian youth about the significant contribution their ancestors made.” “The role of Haitian soldiers in the battle had long been ignored“, said North Miami Mayor Josaphat Celestin. “It means recognition for our efforts, that we were here all along, that Haiti was a part of the effort to liberate America and that they came here as free men, not as slaves,” Celestin said. “We hope this country will recognize this.”

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“It’s a huge deal,” said Philippe Armand, vice president of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America, who flew to Savannah from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. “All the Haitians who have gone to school know about it from the history books.”

Though not well known in the U.S., Haiti’s role in the American Revolution is a point of national pride for Haitians.

After returning home from the war, Haitian veterans soon led their own rebellion that won Haiti’s independence from France in 1804.


The Siege of Savannah

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The Siege of Savannah on October 9th, 1779 presents the Revolutionary War as a world conflict more than does any other engagement of the Revolution. The memory of this battle also reminds us of the fact that significant foreign resources of men, money, and material contributed to the eventual success of the cause of American independence. French, Polish, Native Americans, African slaves, free men of African descent, Germans, Hessians, Austrians, Scots, Welsh, Irish, English, Swedish, and American and West Indian colonials also participated as individuals or whole units in this most culturally diverse battle of the war. For six weeks this diverse force was assembled in three armies to contend for the possession of Savannah. This battle resulted in the largest number of casualties the allies suffered in a single engagement.

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The presence of the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue as the largest unit of soldiers of African descent to fight in this war is worthy of commemoration. The fact that their number was made up of free men who volunteered for this expedition is startling to most people and surprising to many historians. Their presence reminds us that men of African heritage were to be found on most battlefields of the Revolution in large numbers. As a new and relatively inexperienced unit, the Chasseurs participated in the siege warfare including the battle of September 24th and the siege of October 9th.

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The Chasseurs Volontaires de Saint-Domingue served as a reserve unit to American and French forces fighting a British contingent. As battered American and French soldiers fell back, the Haitian troops moved in to provide a retreat.

Twenty-five of their number has their names recorded as wounded or killed during the campaign. Over 60 were captured in the fall of Charleston eight months later. The British Navy captured three transports carrying Chasseurs; these soldiers were made prizes of war and sold into slavery. Other members of this unit were kept on duty away from their homes for many months as part of French garrison forces. A subsequent unit of Haitians was a part of the French and Spanish campaign against Pensacola where they faced some of the same regiments of British troops that their comrades faced in Savannah.

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The efforts of Haiti to secure its independence from colonial rule beginning in 1791 are remarkable for the fact that what began as a slave revolt was to ultimately succeed in prevailing over the resources of the French Empire and to form a government of Western Hemisphere Africans. Haiti, much smaller in population than the United States, was attacked by armies as large as those sent against America by Britain. The Haitian victory over the legions of Napoleon was achieved with much less foreign assistance than the United States enjoyed.

Henri Christophe

Henri Christophe, Click to enlarge

Many key figures in the Haitian War of Independence gained military experience and political insights through their participation in Savannah — most notably Henri Christophe, a youth at the time but in his adult years a general of Haitian armies and king of his nation for fourteen years. Many of the Haitian soldiers later fought to win their country’s own war of independence, crediting their military experience in Savannah. Influenced by both the events of the American Revolution and the rhetoric of the French Revolution, the people of Haiti began a struggle for self-government and liberty. The first nation in the Western Hemisphere to form a government led by people of African descent, it was also the first nation to renounce slavery.

Sources: Haitian American Historical Society, We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy, Wikipedia, and the Associated Press.


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In First Lady’s Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery

Posted by Audiegrl

Fraser Robinson III and his wife, Marian, with their children, Craig and Michelle, now the first lady.

Fraser Robinson III and his wife, Marian, with their children, Craig and Michelle, now the first lady.

New York Times/Rachel L. Swarns & Jodi Kantorr—In 1850, the elderly master of a South Carolina estate took pen in hand and painstakingly divided up his possessions. Among the spinning wheels, scythes, tablecloths and cattle that he bequeathed to his far-flung heirs was a 6-year-old slave girl valued soon afterward at $475.

In his will, she is described simply as the “negro girl Melvinia.” After his death, she was torn away from the people and places she knew and shipped to Georgia. While she was still a teenager, a white man would father her first-born son under circumstances lost in the passage of time.

michelle_obama2009-02-10-vogue_cover_2In the annals of American slavery, this painful story would be utterly unremarkable, save for one reason: This union, consummated some two years before the Civil War, represents the origins of a family line that would extend from rural Georgia, to Birmingham, Ala., to Chicago and, finally, to the White House.

Melvinia Shields, the enslaved and illiterate young girl, and the unknown white man who impregnated her are the great-great-great-grandparents of Michelle Obama, the First Lady.

michelle_obama22009-02-10-vogue_Viewed by many as a powerful symbol of black advancement, Mrs. Obama grew up with only a vague sense of her ancestry, aides and relatives said. During the presidential campaign, the family learned about one paternal great-great-grandfather, a former slave from South Carolina, but the rest of Mrs. Obama’s roots were a mystery.

Now the more complete map of Mrs. Obama’s ancestors — including the slave mother, white father and their biracial son, Dolphus T. Shields — for the first time fully connects the first African-American first lady to the history of slavery, tracing their five-generation journey from bondage to a front-row seat to the presidency.

The findings — uncovered by Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist, and The New York Times — substantiate what Mrs. Obama has called longstanding family rumors about a white forebear.

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One Paper Trail to the White House

Click here for research

Click here for research

Recent research from Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist, and reporting by The New York Times offers previously undisclosed details of First Lady Michelle Obama’s family tree. The findings provide the first link to a white ancestor in Mrs. Obama’s past, and trace the steps her family members took as they journeyed from slavery to the nation’s most storied house in five generations. Click here to view.

The Family Tree of Michelle Obama, the First Lady

Click here for the interactive family tree

Click here for the interactive family tree


Revelations have emerged recently from the research of Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist, and from reporting by Rachel L. Swarns and Jodi Kantor of The New York Times. Click here to view.

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One Family’s Roots, a Nation’s History

henry-louis-gatesHenry Louis Gates Jr., Annette Gordon-Reed and others discuss what Michelle Obama’s family tree says about America. Click here for the discussion.
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Glenn Beck: Today’s Worst Dumbest Person In the World

posted by GeoT

Glenn Beck: Today’s Worst Dumbest Person In the World

Olbermann -v- Beck

Olbermann -v- Beck

I am SO glad Keith Olbermann has a slot to highlight these crazies, the King of Crazy being Glenn Beck.

Beck cited the Constitution claiming a $10 fee on the “importation of persons” was the Founding Father’s way of putting a value on immigrating to this country. (not like we give it away today) “importation of persons” Glenn, as in Slaves… you freak of nature:

here’s the clip:

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