Racism in American History – Articles from Magazines & Newspapers


Racism in American History. Selected articles from newspapers and popular magazines. Some podcasts and videos also.

 

Go to Century Past History Resources for a directory of all pages.

Texas officials: Schools should teach that slavery was ‘side issue’ to Civil War

Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation. The state’s guidelines for teaching American history also do not mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws. And when it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery” — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the state board of education.

Emma Brown, Washington Post 2015

The quest for equality: exhibition explores black citizenship in the age of Jim Crow

At the New-York Historical Society, the difficulties faced by black Americans even after ‘freedom’ was gained are studied in a powerful new exhibition

Julianne McShane, Guardian 2018

95 Bodies Suspected to Be Jim Crow-Era Forced Laborers Found in Texas

All but one of the remains tested so far have been African-American males

Sarah Pruitt, History 2018

The Man Who Changed His Skin

Thirty years ago John Howard Griffin, a white Texan, became an itinerant Southern black for four weeks. His account of the experience galvanized the nation.

Ernest Sharpe Jr., American Heritage 1989

The Massacre of Black Sharecroppers That Led the Supreme Court to Curb the Racial Disparities of the Justice System

White Arkansans, fearful of what would happen if African-Americans organized, took violent action, but it was the victims who ended up standing trial

Francine Uenuma, Smithsonian 2018

The North’s Jim Crow

“Quality of life” laws serve as a potent instrument of racial segregation. They provide commercial establishments, law enforcement officers and everyday citizens with tools enabling them to police racial boundaries while at the same time claiming to simply be upholding the law. In contrast to the Jim Crow laws of America’s dark past, these laws supposedly apply to everyone. But in practice, they clearly don’t.

Andrew W. Kahrl, NY Times 2018

The Racial Segregation of American Cities Was Anything But Accidental

A housing policy expert explains how federal government policies created the suburbs and the inner city

Katie Nodjimbadem, Smithsonian 2017

A Fate Worse Than Slavery, Unearthed in Sugar Land

Bodies of sugar cane workers recently discovered in Texas reveal gruesome details about the convict leasing system.

Brent Staples, New York Times 2018

Slavery in the South Today

A revelation of appalling conditions in Florida and other states, which make possible the actual enslavement of whites and blacks under trust domination.

Richard Barry, Cosmopolitan 1907

The Racial Wealth Gap and the Problem of Historical Narration

Destin Jenkins, Process History Blog 2017

The South Doesn’t Own Slavery

American slavery had no bounds. It penetrated every corner of this country, materially, economically and ideologically, and the unjust campaign to preserve it is embedded in our built environments, North and South, East and West. Detroit is a surprising case in point.

Tiya Miles, NY Times 2017

A ‘Forgotten History’ Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America

In 1933, faced with a housing shortage, the federal government began a program explicitly designed to increase — and segregate — America’s housing stock. Author Richard Rothstein says the housing programs begun under the New Deal were tantamount to a “state-sponsored system of segregation.”

Terry Gross, NPR 2017

When Portland banned blacks: Oregon’s shameful history as an ‘all-white’ state

In 1844, all black people were ordered to get out of Oregon Country, the expansive territory under American rule that stretched from the Pacific coast to the Rocky Mountains. Those who refused to leave could be severely whipped, the provisional government law declared, by “not less than twenty or more than thirty-nine stripes” to be repeated every six months until they left.

DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post 2017

Over There: A Buffalo Soldier in World War I

Fought from September 26, 1918 to the Armistice on November 11, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive included the 365th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division “Buffalo Soldiers.” Corporal Benjamin Blayton was one of those who served in this historic American regiment.

Christy Wallover and Patri O’Gan, National Museum of American History 2017

Racial divides have been holding American workers back for more than a century

Racial animus trumps economic anxiety, and has for decades.

Calvin Schermerhorn, Washington Post 2017

Racism Kept Connecticut’s Beaches White Up Through the 1970s

By bussing black kids from Hartford to the shore, Ned Coll took a stand against the bigotry of “armchair liberals”

Amy Crawford, Smithsonian 2018

Slavery Is Detroit’s Big, Bad Secret. Why Don’t We Know Anything About It?

Slavery in Detroit has remained an enormous secret. It is an essential chapter in Detroit’s 311-year story, but it has been pushed back into archives and covered up by decades of neglect and denial. Few people, even well-informed college graduates, know that slavery played a key role in the growth of Detroit, and wealthy Detroiters owned slaves for the first 120 years of the city’s existence.

Bill McGraw, Deadline Detroit 2012

Using Poor Laws to Regulate Race in Providence in the 1820s

One duty of members of the town council of Providence, RI in 1825 was to “bind out the children of blacks”; taking children as young as three away from families and indenturing them to other families. Not only was it ethically questionable – it had no basis in law.

Gabriel Loiacono, Process History Blog 2018

The Unmaking of a Racist

The author relates his personal history of leaving Florida in 1954 for Williams College in Massachusetts, where he became aware of his own racist views and of how racism permeated American society.

Charles B. Dew, Chronicle of Higher Education Review 2016

Two years of the ‘Irish slaves’ myth: racism, reductionism and the tradition of diminishing the transatlantic slave trade

The myth of ‘Irish slaves’ and of an ‘equality of suffering’ between enslaved Africans and white Europeans has gone mainstream, appearing everywhere to legitimate racism and to undermine black rights struggles.

Liam Hogan, Open Democracy 2016

Uncovering the roots of racist ideas in America

Contrary to popular conceptions, ignorant and hateful people have not been behind the production and reproduction of racist ideas in America. Instead, racist ideas have usually been produced by some of the most brilliant and cunning minds of each era. And these women and men generally did not produce these ideas because they hated black people. In my book, “Stamped from the Beginning,” I chronicle the entire history of racist ideas, from their origins in 15th-century Europe, through colonial times when early British settlers carried racist ideas to America, all the way to their emergence in the United States and persistence into 21st century.

Ibram X. Kendi, The Conversation 2017

Texas Slavery Project

History website. The Texas Slavery Project takes a deep look at the expansion of slavery in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico in the years between 1837 and 1845. Based at the Virginia Center for Digital History, the project offers a number of digital tools that allow users to explore the changing face of slavery in early Texas:

Virginia Center for Digital History 2008

The County That Closed Its Public Schools Rather Than Desegregate After Brown v. Board of Education

The first wave of resistance [to the ruling] lasted an entire decade, during which time Prince Edward County, Va., school officials closed public schools for five whole years rather than comply with the Supreme Court order to desegregate.

Arica L. Coleman, Time 2018

The curious origins of the ‘Irish slaves’ myth

Irish Americans were slaves once too — or so a historically inaccurate and dangerously misleading internet meme would have you believe.

Natasha Varner, PRI 2017

Slavery and America’s Legacy of Family Separation

Vanessa M. Holden, Black Perspectives 2018

Slavery and Capitalism

Sven Beckert, Chronicle of Higher Education Review 2014

Jared Hardesty, Unfreedom: Slavery in Colonial Boston

Podcast interview. Jared Hardesty, author of ‘Unfreedom: Slavery and Dependence in Eighteenth-Century Boston’, reveals details about colonial Boston and how its people justified slavery; origins of Boston slaves and where Bostonians purchased them; and, what life was like for enslaved men and women in colonial Boston.

Jared Hardesty, Ben Franklin’s World 2018

Why Emmett Till’s case matters to American history and our future

Paul Gardullo and Lonnie G. Bunch III, CNN 2018

Why Schools Fail To Teach Slavery’s ‘Hard History’

A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, titled ‘Teaching Hard History: American Slavery’, is meant to be a resource for teachers who are eager to help their students better understand slavery — not as some “peculiar institution” but as the blood-soaked bedrock on which the United States was built. The report, which is the work of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project, is also an appeal to states, school district leaders and textbook-makers to stop avoiding slavery’s hard truths and lasting impact.

Cory Turner, NPR 2018

Why the extraordinary story of the last slave in America has finally come to light

Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon was written in the 1930s, but has only just been published. Why has it taken so long for the remarkable story of Oluale Kossola to be made public?

Afua Hirsch, Guardian 2018

Slavery, “Civilization,” and Sovereignty: African American and Native American Histories in the Deep South

Historian Barbara Krauthamer speaks in a 1-hour video, sponsored by the Organization of American Historians

Barbara Krauthamer, YouTube 2016

A Dual Emancipation: How Black Freedom Benefited Poor Whites

Keri Leigh Merritt, Black Perspectives 2017

‘Life or death for black travelers’: How fear led to ‘The Negro Motorist Green-Book’

In the 1930s, the freedom of the open road beckoned, but for African Americans traveling in the Jim Crow era, highways could be fraught with peril.

DeNeen L. Brown 2017

Hatred Without Borders: When White Supremacy Kills White People

Trimiko Melancon, Black Perspectives 2017

He Used Black People As Guinea Pigs For Years – And The Government Paid For It

This doctor’s experiments tortured poor cancer patients, and he got away with it.

All That’s Interesting 2017

How slave labor built the state of Florida — decades after the Civil War

Behind the whitewashed history of the Sunshine State

Bryan Bowman and Kathy Roberts Forde, Washington Post 2018

The Origins of Prison Slavery

How Southern whites found replacements for their emancipated slaves in the prison system.

Shane Bauer, Slate 2018

Shackles and Dollars: Historians and economists clash over slavery

Marc Parry, Chronicle of Higher Education Review 2016

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi – review

Even abolitionists don’t emerge unscathed from a fearless, brilliant history of racist thinking spanning 500 years

Davvid Olusoga, Guardian 2017

Race Riot of 1943

Brief descriptive encyclopedia article

Encyclopedia of Detroit

The forgotten civil rights case that stopped the spread of Jim Crow

How? By focusing on white property rights, not black civil rights.

Elizabeth A. Herbin-Triant, Washington Post 2017

Documenting ‘Slavery by Another Name’ in Texas

An African-American burial ground recently unearthed in Texas reveals details about an ugly chapter in the history of the American South.

Editorial Board, NY Times 2018

New details in book about Emmett Till’s death prompted officials to reopen investigation

New information published in a 2017 book prompted federal investigators to reopen their probe into the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till in rural Mississippi, according to two people familiar with the case.
Till, a 14-year-old visiting from Chicago, was murdered after he was accused of whistling at and making sexual advances toward a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, during an interaction at Bryant’s grocery store in Money, Miss. The teen was kidnapped Aug. 28, 1955, and was tortured and shot. His mangled body was found days later in the Tallahatchie River.

Kristine Phillips, Wesley Lowery and Devlin Barrett, Washington Post 2018

No, the Irish Were Not Slaves Too

Historian Liam Hogan has spent the last six years debunking the Irish slave myth.

David M. Perry, Pacific Standard 2018

Opening the Racist Closets of History: Seven Well-Meaning Americans

Contrary to popular conceptions, American history does not bequeath a clear-cut battlefield of racists squaring off against antiracists. The history is much more complex and contradictory. Some Americans articulated both antiracist and racist ideas. Some of America’s greatest warriors against anti-Black racism have been some of America’s greatest enforcers of racist ideas.

Ibram X. Kendi, Black Perspectives 2017

How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women

The suffragist heroes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony seized control of the feminist narrative of the 19th century. Their influential history of the movement still governs popular understanding of the struggle for women’s rights and will no doubt serve as a touchstone for commemorations that will unfold across the United States around the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020

Brent Staples, NY Times 2018

‘Loving’ and the History of Anti-Miscegenation Laws in Virginia and Washington

On November 4 (2016), the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, the couple who inspired the landmark 1967 civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, which challenged laws prohibiting interracial marriages, will be told on the big screen in the new movie Loving. Before its release, it’s important to understand the world in which they lived. What was it like to marry interracially in a state where it was illegal?

Candice Frederick, NY Public Library 2016

Lynching in America

Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror

Website

The Forgotten Slaves

Review article of ‘The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America’, by Andres Resendez.

Margaret Ellen Newell, Chronicle of Higher Education 2016

The Hidden History of Indian Slavery in America

Podcast interview with Andres Resendez, author of ‘The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America’.

In the Past Lane Podcast 2016

The Historic Achievement of the Pullman Porter’s Union

The achievements of the Pullman Porter’s Union were a significant civil rights victory for both U.S. labor and the civil liberties of African-Americans. (Brief article, with a link to 1997 journal article).

Livia Gershon 2016

The History the Slaveholders Wanted Us to Forget

Henry Louis Gates Jr., NY Times 2017

Making America White 200 Years Ago

Brandon Byrd examines resistance to the American Colonization Society’s attempts to remove free blacks from the US.

Brandon R. Byrd, Public Books 2017

Malcolm X in Oxford: Black power amid dreaming spires

Stephen Tuck revisits Malcolm X’s historic 1964 speech at the Oxford Union and explains why his words so electrified the audience…

Stephen Tuck, History Extra 2014

Hunting down runaway slaves: The cruel ads of Andrew Jackson and ‘the master class’

“Stop the Runaway,” Andrew Jackson urged in an ad placed in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804

DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post 2017

Indiana Emigrants to Liberia

In 1852, the Indiana General Assembly formed the Indiana Colonization Board and began providing funds to help Indiana free blacks emigrate to Liberia on the western coast of Africa. This issue explores black colonization and Indiana’s part in the nationwide movement in the 19th century.

The Indiana Historian Magazine 2000

Indians, Slaves, and Mass Murder: The Hidden History

Review essay of 2 books: ‘The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America’ by Andres Resendez, and ‘An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873’ by Benjamin Madley

Peter Nabokov, NY Review of Books 2016

The Horror of Lynchings Lives On

The time when African-Americans were publicly hanged, burned and dismembered for insisting on their rights or for merely talking back to whites is nearer in history than many Americans understand. The horror of these crimes still weighs heavily on black communities in the South, where lynching memories are often vivid. The anguish is made worse by the realization that some of the killers are still alive and may never be prosecuted.

Editorial Board, NY Times 2016

The last U.S. slave ship was burned to hide its horrors. A storm may have unearthed it.

In the summer of 1860, half a century after the United States banned the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Capt. William Foster sneaked 110 African slaves into Mobile, Ala. — and knew that the floating evidence of the illegal deed could get him killed. The Clotilda, the ship that made the months-long journey, held the telltale signs that it was an illegal slaver: containers for water and food, and the lingering stench of urine and feces and vomit and blood.

Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post 2018

The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women

Jane Lawrence documents the forced sterilization of thousands of Native American women by the Indian Health Service in the 1960s and 1970s. (Brief article, with a link to a paper.)

Jane Lawrence, JSTOR Daily 2016

The Long Shadow of Racism at the University of Virginia: From 1817 to the Charlottesville Riots

A year after white-supremacist violence broke out in the university town, UVA grapples with a centuries-old legacy of slavery and racial discrimination.

Adam Harris, Atlantic 2018

A Long-Lost Manuscript Contains a Searing Eyewitness Account of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921

An Oklahoma lawyer details the attack by hundreds of whites on the thriving black neighborhood where hundreds died 95 years ago

Allison Keyes, Smithsonian 2016

Directory at Century Past History Resources