February 14, 1988 |
Granville Burgess clearly remembers how he came to write Dusky Sally, the play that opens Wednesday at the Walnut Street Theater. "I was visiting some people and I said, 'I've got to write another play now. Does anyone have any ideas? A woman said, 'What about a play about Sally Hemings?' And I said, 'Who?' " The woman explained that Hemings was a slave who was Thomas Jefferson's mistress for 38 years. "I said, 'Wait a minute. I majored in American history and I never heard of this woman.
September 12, 1990 |
Louis Seymour donated two dozen oranges. Six-year-old Jerusha Bustill gave her entire savings, 32 pennies. Abolitionist leader Lucretia Mott donated a turkey, four mince pies, cabbages and turnips. These modest gifts are among dozens listed in the 1866 annual Managers' Report of the Home for Aged and Infirm Colored Persons at Front and Pine streets. It was a typically lean year for the first and only old age home in Philadelphia for elderly blacks. Relocated in 1871 to a larger, new building in West Philadelphia and re- named the Stephen Smith Home in 1953, hard times never really ended for this historic institution.
January 21, 1993 |
In the end, all concerned agreed it was a black history lesson that went badly awry: Two 6-year-olds, the only black children in a first-grade class at rural Octorara Elementary in Chester County, were summoned to the front of the classroom earlier this week and asked to pretend that they were slaves on the auction block. "Teacher put us up on a table. Acted like she was selling us," said Ashley Dixon of Parkesburg. Ashley said the teacher, Mary Horning, told her that, as a slave, she would be sold for about $10 as a house cleaner.
September 29, 1998 |
The life of Sojourner Truth, the 19th-century abolitionist born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree, would seem to yield dramatic material enough for several plays - which makes it especially disappointing that half a play is the best that Sojourner, the one-woman show on view at the Bushfire Theatre of Performing Arts, can muster. It's a reasonably absorbing half a play, however. In the anteroom of a New York City auditorium, playwright Richard LaMonte Pierce introduces his heroine at age 86, preparing to deliver what would be the final lecture of her life.
February 5, 2008 |
With his African American Lives 2, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has found just the right place to nestle African American history between scholarship and drama. This four-part PBS series, which debuts tomorrow night with the first two episodes and concludes Feb. 13 with the remaining two, combines genealogical research and cutting-edge analysis to help a group of well-known African Americans, including Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Morgan Freeman, Tina Turner, Maya Angelou and Don Cheadle, trace their roots to Africa and Europe.
January 20, 1989 |
Robert Isaiah Fassett, 105, the son of a former slave who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War, died Wednesday at Bryn Mawr Hospital. He had lived in the Philadelphia area since 1900 and spent the last 10 years in Rosemont, Delaware County. Mr. Fassett, a retired foundry worker, was born in Berlin, Md., on July 4, 1883, and was always mindful of the sacrifices of veterans such as his father. "He was very proud of his father," said Marlene Dawson, Mr. Fassett's daughter.
September 9, 1993 |
Folklorist Sparky Rucker makes his living performing history through stories and songs. At a recent stop at Ursinus College, in a workshop and in his new show, "Conceived in Liberty," Rucker led a journey through American history - from Native Americans through the Salem witch trials to the Civil War, with discussions about Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, slave-ship captain John Newton (the author of "Amazing Grace") and other famous figures. Songs accompany each story to amplify past dilemmas, Rucker said.
April 25, 2001
The people of Mississippi are right. America needs at least one state to keep proudly displaying a symbol of the Confederacy. Sure, some comments in the aftermath of last week's vote to retain a rebel symbol on the state flag make the blood run cold. A Sons of Confederate Veterans leader was quoted as saying, "Our state has withstood yet another unbelievable assault on its culture by a few of its own citizens and other outside influences. " As if "outside influences" - that would be other Americans - should apologize for their assault on Mississippi's slave culture in the 1860s.
February 26, 2008 |
Oney Judge died 160 years ago yesterday, 52 years after she cast off her bonds, 52 years after fleeing Philadelphia to escape the man and woman who owned her and who wanted to give her away as a wedding bauble - George and Martha Washington. Oney Judge was about 75 when she died in New Hampshire on Feb. 25, 1848. Her husband was dead. Her three children were dead. But she died a free woman - if still legally a fugitive - one who had defied the first president of the United States.
December 14, 2007 |
Ever thought about the educators who taught you, your parents, your children or your grandchildren about American history - without ever mentioning that George Washington had slaves? Ever think about how many years you walked past Sixth and Market Streets with no clue that the father of our country kept at least nine Africans enslaved at that site, in what we now call the President's House? Millions of people have visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, only to walk away not knowing, or understanding, the story of slavery on this side of the Mason-Dixon line.