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.
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.