February 19, 1997 |
The memory still irks Carl Galmon, a straight-talking, no-nonsense veteran of the civil rights movement. A group of black boys and girls - the McDonogh 35 High School marching band - strutted along St. Charles Avenue, styling and profiling in the Mardi Gras parade. As they high-stepped and moved to the music, their colors and uniforms paid proud tribute to their school - named for one of the largest slave owners in Louisiana history. "As they were passing, these people standing near me, I guess they were tourists, said, 'Is this school named after John McDonogh?
October 16, 1998 |
It wasn't the kind of thing you'd leave lying around the house, this iron collar with the ugly curved hooks. But as assistant to the propmaster for the movie Beloved, Kia Steave-Dickerson had been asked to find and forge the slave artifact - and, after filming, she kept the fabricated prop as a memento. Perhaps the fact that such devices were a century-plus removed from use had rendered the collar "a part of history" for the Philadelphia designer - but she did feel kinship with the pain it evoked.
February 22, 2010 |
There was cannon fire in Philadelphia on the morning of Feb. 22, 1797, as 16 rounds of salute - one for each state - rang out in celebration of the nation's greatest hero. It was the 65th birthday of George Washington, the "man who united all hearts," as John Quincy Adams called him. And with Washington's final weeks as president ahead, the event was celebrated with "more sincere joy" than ever, according to the Philadelphia Gazette. People of all classes paraded to the President's House at Sixth and Market.
March 23, 2001 |
In the 1950s, when the bells of the historic First African Baptist Church rang 96 feet above this corner in South Philadelphia, the neighborhood was filled with prosperous African Americans, and the church itself, 2,000 members strong, would crowd to overflowing on Sundays. Mabel R. Taylor, 96, is the oldest of the 100 or so faithful who remain. She remembers well the joy of watching the sun glint through the many stained-glass windows, and she recalls the glory of the chimes. "I have really enjoyed that church," said Taylor, who lives in Germantown.
December 13, 1998
"There are many of us African Americans who absolutely reject the great myth of white/Jewish superiority. We are the superior people! . . . They are not there because they love or care about our children! They are there because oppressors need to oppress! . . . The sons and daughters of slave-traders and slave owners/masters should absolutely not be expected, nor trusted, to effectively teach and generally work to uplift the lot of the sons and daughters of former slaves. " Excerpt from a letter sent in January by Marvin A. Smith to Ella Travis, principal of George Washington Carver High School.
January 24, 2012 |
Joe Turner's Come and Gone is a big, strong, juicy play, and Plays & Players' production is just as big, strong, and juicy. Representing the second decade in August Wilson's "Century Cycle," Joe Turner takes place a hundred years ago in 1911, a suitable choice for Plays & Players Theater's 100th anniversary. While the building may be old, the company is new; it's led by Daniel Student, who is rapidly proving himself a young director of range and vision. Joe Turner - brother of Pete Turner, a late-19th-century governor of Tennessee - arbitrarily seized black men off the streets and forced them into slave farm labor for periods of seven years.
December 25, 2012 |
A version of this review appeared in Sunday's Arts + Entertainment section. Neck-deep into Quentin Tarantino's antebellum western Django Unchained , I had this mental image of the über-geek genre filmmaker tapping furiously on his laptop, beaming at the brilliance of every new piece of dialogue he's writ. For all I know, Tarantino works on a typewriter, or longhand on a legal pad (or dictates his copy to a Gal Friday in spike heels), but in any event, as the banter ping-ponged across the dining table in the plantation mansion of slave-master Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio, twirling his mustache)
February 12, 2004 |
For years, my children asked questions whenever we walked past the jockey on a neighbor's lawn. The three-foot-high statue - dressed in white shirt and pants and a red vest - looked like a tiny slave holding a lantern, waiting patiently to be of service. "Why is that statue black, Mom?" the children asked. Finally, last fall I decided to broach the subject. I introduced myself to the homeowner, said I was a neighbor, and politely asked whether she would consider painting the statue in Caucasian skin tones.
April 28, 2011 |
Despite a keen interest in African American history, Warren Oree had never heard of the violent standoff that came to be known as the Christiana riot. Then Oree came upon a two-sentence summary of the 1851 confrontation, which involved three escaped slaves, a strong-willed free black man, and a slave owner intent on retrieving his property. That was enough to spark the bassist/composer's curiosity. "I don't knock the Underground Railroad," Oree says, "but for too long African Americans have been pictured as either running away or cowering, and that's not a true picture.
July 31, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - In the Confederate circles he navigated, John Scobell was considered just another Mississippi slave: singing, shuffling, illiterate, and ignorant of the Civil War going on around him. Confederate officers thought nothing of leaving important documents where Scobell could see them, or discussing troop movements in front of him. Whom would he tell? Scobell was only the butler, or the deckhand on a rebel sympathizer's steamboat, or the field hand belting out Negro spirituals in a powerful baritone.