August 3, 2012 |
FORMER BLACK slave Benjamin Spaulding, who married a free Native American named Edith and went on to have 10 children and 83 grandchildren, lived to become a prosperous man for his time. But there's no way that Spaulding, born in 1773, could have envisioned what's about to take place in Philadelphia in his name. An estimated 400 family members will converge Friday on the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn's Landing for a gathering so well-organized that it rivals some professional conventions.
July 31, 2012 |
SALT LAKE CITY - A team of genealogists has found evidence that President Obama could be a descendant of an African slave - but not through the lineage of his black father, the most likely route researchers had followed and exhausted. The link, genealogists with Ancestry.com said Monday, came through an examination of his white mother's family history. "We were surprised and excited to make that connection," said Joseph Shumway, a member of the Utah-based Ancestry.com team. Obama's father was from Kenya and his mother was from Kansas.
May 29, 2012 |
On a frigid, moonlit night in 1860, four horse-drawn coaches pulled up at a small, two-room house in Westampton, Burlington County, and a dozen armed men got out. They were looking for Perry Simmons, a fugitive slave. But Simmons wasn't giving up without a fight. He grabbed two loaded guns and a sharpened logging ax, then climbed a narrow stairway - with his wife and children - to a garret, where he planned to make a stand. Family members yelled "murder" and "kidnappers" to attract the help of neighbors who came to their rescue with guns, knives, and axes that morning of Nov. 30, just months before the outbreak of the Civil War. The men of nearby Timbuctoo, a village with other runaways, drove off the slave-hunters at what became known as the Battle of Pine Swamp, and they were partly inspired by that confrontation to later take up arms as Union soldiers.
March 25, 2012 |
CAMBRIDGE, Md. - At sunset, storm clouds were gathering and a breeze blew ripples in the Choptank River as golfers finished up their rounds and a hand-in-hand couple walked out on a wildlife-viewing boardwalk. It was hard to picture this placid scene as the setting of high tension in the mid-1800s, when local heroine Harriett Tubman guided many slaves across the river on their way north to freedom. The Choptank, which empties into the Chesapeake Bay, extends north through land that at the time was populated by Quakers and other abolitionists, so it was important to the Underground Railroad.
March 12, 2012 |
Ain Gordon's project, In This Place . . . , is to find forgotten historic stories and theatrically remember them, rescuing them from a vanished past. His 18-month residency at the Painted Bride Art Center will eventually include a Philadelphia story in what will become a series of plays. But this show, the first installment, takes place in Lexington, Ky. It was here Gordon found an old house, set for demolition, that turned out to have been built by Samuel Oldham in 1835.
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 30, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - Almost two centuries before there was a man named Obama in the White House, there was a man named Obama shackled in the bowels of a slave ship. There is no proof that the unidentified Obama has ties to President Obama. All they share is a name. But that is exactly the commonality that Emory University researchers hope to build upon as they delve into the origins of Africans who were taken up and sold. They have built an online database around those names - http://www.african-origins.org/ - and welcome input from people who may share a name that is in the database, or have such names as part of their family lore.
December 2, 2011 |
A FEDERAL JUDGE yesterday showed no mercy on a wealthy Chester County lawyer who was found guilty by a jury in October 2010 of traveling to Russia to engage in a sexual relationship with an underage boy. U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez likened Kenneth Schneider, 47, of Berwyn, to a "monster" who forced a 12-year-old boy to "become his sex slave" for six years. Then he sentenced Schneider to 15 years behind bars. Prosecutors alleged that Schneider in 1998 offered to assist Roman Zavarov, then 12, by paying his board at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow.
November 22, 2011 |
Coffee-table books are supposed to be heavy, on photos and in pounds. This latest history of black life in America by Henry Louis Gates Jr. is both, with more than 750 photos on nearly 500 pages. But it offers something more: The distinguished Harvard University professor packs intellectual heft around the pictures. His book updates black history with recent scholarly research, from detailed estimates of the human cargo during the Atlantic slave trade to the DNA test proving almost conclusively that Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one child by his slave Sally Hemings.
October 7, 2011 |
The most surprising thing about Amiri Baraka's race-war fantasy The Slave - produced for the Philly Urban Theatre Festival by Iron Age Theatre Company - is that it has aged better than Dutchman, his most celebrated work and the companion to this piece. This, despite its "kill whitey" ethos, its proclamation by black revolutionary leader Walker Vessels (Richard Bradford) that his children with white ex-wife Grace Easley (Lesley Berkowitz) are "freakish mulattoes," and the frequency with which Vessels calls Grace's current husband, Brad (Bob Weick)