January 25, 2016 |
There were few things the seemingly indefatigable Richard Allen was unable to do. Born into slavery in Delaware in 1760, he worked tirelessly, purchased his freedom and came to Philadelphia, founded a civil organization, founded a church, and then an entire religious denomination. He ran a successful chimney-sweep business (working on President Washington's chimneys, among others). He sought to end slavery, provided refuge for those escaping its chains, and organized black conventions.
January 24, 2016 |
Colson Whitehead unnerves me. Every time I think I've found the thread that connects his seven books, from his stunning 1999 debut, The Intuitionist , about elevator examiners, to his best-selling zombie adventure story/existentialist dialectic, Zone One (2011), to 2014's The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky & Death , a reportorial account of the World Series of Poker, it slips through my fingers. Whitehead, 46, will speak about his diverse writings at Bryn Mawr College on Feb. 3. "Who is Colson Whitehead?"
December 4, 2015 |
This weekend, St. Paul's Elkins Park, a historic Episcopal church in Cheltenham, will celebrate the role of the church and the locale in hastening the dawn of freedom for African Americans in the United States. In special programs on Saturday and Sunday, the church will open "The Old York Road to Freedom," a permanent exhibition commemorating the Underground Railroad, the secret system by which slaves were smuggled to freedom. The schedule is full. Actors from the American Historical Theatre will portray such historic figures as Harriet Tubman (who traveled the Railroad to Philadelphia in 1848)
November 20, 2015 |
Before she was an African-American studies scholar, a history professor or a Ph.D. in African diaspora studies, Kelley Deetz was a cook, so it makes sense that she still gravitates toward the kitchen. It always ends up being the most interesting room in the house - even when the house is 250-some years old, hasn't seen an active ladle in a lifetime and is better equipped for an archaeological dig than a fancy dinner party. A Northern California native now relocated to the southern side of the Mason-Dixon, Dr. Deetz chronicles the legacy of slavery on-campus at the University of Virginia, where she is the research associate for the President's Commission on Slavery and the University.
October 30, 2015 |
JOSEPH McGILL will spend tonight sleeping where slaves once slept in the Germantown kitchen of 18th-century Cliveden mansion. Tomorrow at 7 p.m., McGill will do what he has done after spending more than 100 nights in former slave quarters in 15 states. He'll talk with the public about "The Slave Dwelling Project," his one-man effort to preserve the scarce, forgotten remains of America's slavery history. "We tend to want to preserve the nice, beautiful homes and tell the nice, beautiful stories of, usually, white men," McGill said.
August 31, 2015 |
One of the most heinous of the endless war crimes of the Islamic State has been the systematic rape of thousands of young girls and women - who are sold as sex slaves. Most of the victims come from the Yazidi religious minority, labeled nonbelievers by ISIS. They were captured when ISIS invaded northern Iraq last year and wiped out their communities. But one of the sex slaves was a fresh-faced blond American, a 25-year-old aid worker who was captured in Syria in August 2013. Kayla Mueller was chained in a room and raped for months by the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, before being killed in February (supposedly by a Jordanian air strike, but the true cause is uncertain)
July 6, 2015 |
The just elapsed sesquicentennial of the Civil War encouraged a reconsideration of the national tragedy as distant history. And yet it was only in recent weeks, 150 years and two months after the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomattox Court House, that the flag of that force was lowered from many places of honor across the United States. The blue saltire with 13 white stars on a field of red was never the official flag of the Confederacy, but the banner of that army led by Robert E. Lee, underscoring its connection to an insurrection waged to preserve slavery at a cost of more than 600,000 lives.
June 22, 2015 |
In the shadow of Charleston, scores gathered in Germantown on Saturday to celebrate the events of a day 150 years ago - the freeing of slaves on American soil. People met near the spot where the first protest against slavery was written, joined a loud, drum-banging march up and down hilly Germantown Avenue, and fell silent at emotional reenactments of the plight of those who had been held in servitude. They called out the names of ancestors and remembered those whose names have been lost.
February 4, 2015 |
ON HIS FIRST day in his new home in Philadelphia, a Ukrainian man told a jury yesterday, he was hit with a stool, saw other men beaten and was soon put to work cleaning a Walmart store in New Jersey. The man, now 38 and identified in a federal indictment only by his initials Y.S., was the first witness to testify in the trial of two brothers, Mykhaylo Botsvynyuk, 37, and Yaroslav Botsvynyuk, 47, also known as Yaroslav Churuk. The two brothers and three others, Omelyan, Stepan and Dmytro Botsvynyuk, were indicted by the feds in March 2010, accused of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy from 2000 to 2007 by luring people from Ukraine to the United States with promises that they'd earn more money but were forced to clean offices and stores for little or no pay. The brothers "engaged in threats and fear so these workers" would continue working for them, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan said in her opening statement yesterday.
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.