A museum dedicated to the slave trade in a cathedral in Providence, R.I.

Posted November 17th, 2014 by
Category: Public History Tags: , , , , ,

Episcopal Cathedral of St. John, Providence, R.I.The Tracing Center is excited to be part of a growing movement to transform much of the Episcopal cathedral in Providence, R.I. into a museum on the history of the slave trade and a center for racial reconciliation and healing.

This effort, which recently received the blessing of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, is outlined in an article by Paul Davis in today’s edition of the Providence Journal.

The Cathedral of St. John in Providence is in many ways a fitting location for a public space dedicated to interpreting the history of the slave trade and to addressing the legacies of this history today.
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Why did emancipation in Maryland, 150 years ago today, hardly matter?

Posted November 1st, 2014 by
Category: History Tags: , , ,
Letter from Annie Davis to President Lincoln, 1864

Letter from Annie Davis to President Lincoln, 1864

Today is the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Maryland.

This occasion mattered greatly, of course, to the 87,000 residents of Maryland who were still enslaved on November 1, 1864. This anniversary date also matters because the narrow passage of emancipation in Maryland furthered the gradual spread of emancipation elsewhere in the United States, including in the South, where the issue of emancipation had not yet been decided by Congress.

Nevertheless, in important ways, the reluctant abolition of slavery in Maryland scarcely mattered.

Pro-slavery attitudes and laws in Maryland

In 1864, when Maryland finally abolished slavery, the state had been on the Union side of the Civil War for three long years. Nevertheless, Maryland was a border state: slavery was common in the state, and the culture of slave-owning was widespread. Among the white population, therefore, loyalties had been deeply divided over the slavery question and secession all along.

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Developing comprehensive and conscientious interpretation of slavery

Posted September 16th, 2014 by
Category: Public History Tags: ,

Developing Comprehensive and Conscientious Interpretation of Slavery at Historic Sites and MuseumsThis year, Tracing Center staff wrote a “technical leaflet” on interpreting slavery for the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).

“Developing Comprehensive and Conscientious Interpretation of Slavery at Historic Sites and Museums,” by Kristin L. Gallas and James DeWolf Perry, outlines the strategic guidance and major lessons for interpreting slavery which are featured in our forthcoming book on interpreting slavery, due out by the end of the year from Rowman & Littlefield.

We’re pleased to say that this technical leaflet was included as an insert in the most recent issue of History News, the magazine for AASLH’s membership, and is now available to the general public through the AASLH web site.

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How much has racial prejudice hurt President Obama?

Posted July 11th, 2014 by
Category: Living consequences Tags: , , ,

President Barack ObamaThere are two new studies out on public opinion and voting behavior which shed light on persistent questions about how much racial prejudice hurts black politicians, and in particular, President Obama’s approval ratings and his vote totals in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

The first new study, “The cost of racial animus on a black candidate,” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz and slated for publication in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Public Economics, asks a relatively simple question: how much did racial prejudice affect Barack Obama’s vote share?1

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  1. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, “The cost of racial animus on a black candidate: Evidence using Google search data,” Journal of Public Economics 118: 26-40 (2014). []
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“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”

Posted July 4th, 2014 by
Category: History Tags: , , , , , ,

Frederick DouglassThis post was originally published on July 4, 2013 and is reposted today in commemoration of Independence Day, in all its meanings.

It is always worth making time, on the Fourth of July, to remember those people and movements whose courage and sacrifice advanced and improved upon the ideals on which the United States was founded. This is true even for those which may have seemed radical, subversive, or even unpatriotic at the time.

In that light, we highly recommend the Fourth of July oration delivered by abolitionist Frederick Douglass in Rochester, N.Y. on July 5, 1852, entitled “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.”1

The following brief excepts from Douglass’ speech illustrate not only his burning hatred for slavery and his withering scorn for those who would not extend the nation’s liberty to all its children, but also his praise for all that is good in the American experiment, and his optimism for the future:
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  1. Our thanks to Mass Humanities, among others, for laboring diligently to make this speech, and its spirit, an integral part of our Independence Day celebrations each year. []
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Who were the Africans who revolted aboard the Amistad?

Posted July 2nd, 2014 by
Category: History Tags: , , ,

Historical map of west Africa, showing Lomboko and the Gallinas RiverToday is the 175th anniversary of the Amistad revolt. In the United States, attention understandably focuses on the trial of the enslaved Africans who seized control of the ship from its crew, since the legal proceedings took place in this country.

Yet who were the enslaved people who rose up and took command of the Amistad? Where had they come from, and where were they hoping to go?

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50 years ago today, the U.S. Senate passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Posted June 19th, 2014 by
Category: History Tags: , , , ,

President Lyndon Johnson speaks with Senator Richard Russell, Dec. 7, 1963Fifty years ago today, the U.S. Senate passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, after ending the longest continuous debate in Senate history.

America grows. America changes. And on the civil rights issue we must rise with the occasion.

— Republican Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen,  announcing he would help Democrats pass the Civil Rights Act

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