October 15, 2014 |
No punches are pulled on the top floor of the African American Museum in Philadelphia. No blinking. No turning away. Greeting the visitor are 15 life-size cement figures shackled together. Bits of twine, fabric, and stick weave through their stony skin. Men, women, and children are bound together, chained to a wooden pallet - goods ready for shipment. Visitors can wander through the silence of sculptor Stephen Hayes' installation, Cash Crop , listening to the unspoken but very visible history of slavery filling the gallery.
June 19, 2014
READERS respond to Stu Bykofsky's "Race to a faulty solution" column (June 9). Slavery in the U.S. was for the most part an element of a colonial economy run by "planters" in the South. While politically part of the U.S., the planters' economy was really a colonial enterprise beholden to mill owners in Britain and, to a smaller extent, New England. By denying freedoms to, in some cases, half or more of their populations, slave-owning societies stymied their own economic development and have yet, more than a century later, to catch up with the rest of the country.
June 11, 2014 |
A handsome historical marker titled "Slavery in Haddon Heights" is missing, and a related marker has been removed from the Camden County park that runs through the heart of the borough. The disagreement over the two interpretive markers, involving a state judge, the county parks department, borough officials, and local historians and residents, is a testament to how readily the shameful wound of America's slave-owning past can be reopened. It also touches on matters of privacy, process, and politics.
June 10, 2014
SEVERAL weeks back, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic magazine's national correspondent, wrote a long piece, "The Case for Reparations," which seemed designed to ignite a discussion about compensation to African-Americans that we never had. Except for a few corners of the Internet, it quickly evaporated. I think I know why. First, the Atlantic indulged Coates with 16,000 words to present a catalog of crimes against black Americans from slavery (mostly in the South) to redlining (mostly in the North)
May 28, 2014 |
More than 21 million men, women, and children around the world are forced to work against their will - as industrial or farm laborers, domestic servants, or sex slaves. In a report released last week, the United Nations' International Labor Organization said the trade in human slavery generates $150 billion in profits a year. That's up from an estimated $44 billion in 2005, proving that despite international laws against the practice, slavery is bigger than ever. The story of the Jews in ancient Egypt and of African slaves in the Americas may have had triumphant endings, but the reality today gives the lie to the idea that humans have outgrown slavery, said investigative reporter E. Benjamin Skinner, author of the shocking 2008 exposé A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face With Modern-Day Slavery . Skinner has clocked more than a million flight miles to record the stories of slaves, survivors, traffickers, and their customers across four continents.
April 15, 2014 |
Henry Bibb was just 10 the first time he ran away. In the antebellum South, Bibb fled slavery many more times, eventually finding his freedom and becoming an author and abolitionist. "Believe me when I say that no tongue, nor pen ever has or can express the horrors of American Slavery," he wrote in 1849. "I despair in finding language to express adequately the deep feeling of my soul as I contemplate the past history of my life. " His story - one of thousands of surviving slave narratives - is part of research by Rutgers-Camden associate professor Keith Green, who uses it to help dissect and expand the meaning of slavery.
April 9, 2014 |
A life-size bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson sits at the visual heart of the new National Constitution Center exhibition exploring slavery and the eloquent advocate of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. " Behind the third president, inscribed on an enormous curving red wall, are more than 600 names - from "Abby" to "Zachary" and 11 labeled simply "name unknown. " These are the enslaved people owned by Jefferson and held at Monticello, his Virginia plantation, over the course of a lifetime.
October 21, 2013 |
Steve McQueen , the London- born artist and filmmaker, has lived in Amsterdam since the mid-1990s. One of the Dutch capital's top tourist attractions is the house where Anne Frank lived during World War II until her hiding place was revealed and she was sent to a concentration camp. Her diary, published posthumously and adapted to stage and screen, is required reading in schools around the world. McQueen wants the book that served as the basis of his powerful new film, 12 Years a Slave , to similarly be read by millions.
October 13, 2013 |
Larry Robin, the renowned Philadelphia literary maven, stood Saturday by the gravesite of a woman whose greatness he said is too little known. Quaker Lucretia Coffin Mott was a leader in the anti-slavery and women's rights movement at a time when wives were expected to stand quietly behind their husbands. Mott - a Philadelphia-area mother of six who hid slaves, led conventions and spoke before Congress - was "97 pounds, polite and unstoppable" said Robin, 70. That is the portrait Robin painted as about 20 people gathered at Historic Fair Hill Burial Ground in North Philadelphia to celebrate and promote Mott's achievements.
April 15, 2013
America's first abolitionist organization was founded in 1775, when a group of Quakers met at the Rising Sun Tavern in Philadelphia. The Quakers had been anti-slavery proponents for some time, having banned its members from enslaving African Americans by the 1770s. From this meeting was borne the Pennsylvania Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. The society was devoted not only to the abolition of slavery, but also to the social and economic improvement of African Americans.