Reconstruction

My Christmas Gift from Michelle Smith – my New Soul Sister. 

Just before the holidays, most teaching professionals gripe about grading papers on social media. Professor Smith’s experience is going viral and garnered at least two articles by online publications, besides the entry in her own blog entitled, “Maybe We Do Need White History Month or Millennials Don’t Know Shit About Slavery or Picking Appropriate Essay Topics or Being a Black English Adjunct Sucks Sometimes–Merry Christmas”.

Smith reviews an essay on the benefits of slavery turned in by one of her students with a thought provoking essay of her own. For a young adult to determine any social or political benefit from slavery to African Americans is disturbing. We have not done our jobs. Do we seem too complacent in our damage and recovery? Smith’s essay lays groundwork for new national conversations, if we would only listen.

This is definitely going to be a Merry, Merry Christmas.

Source: Maybe We Do Need White History Month or Millennials Don’t Know Shit About Slavery or Picking Appropriate Essay Topics or Being a Black English Adjunct Sucks Sometimes–Merry Christmas

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‘Free State of Jones’ | Review | Habari Gani, America!

Free State of Jones is one of the most overlooked films featured this summer. Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, an AWOL Confederate soldier and Mahershala Ali as Moses, an escaped enslaved African lead the tensions in this Civil War period piece. I viewed this film once for the overall story line and a second time for the details. Sorry, no spoilers here.

Historians and film producers often lean towards either the burdens of old slave narratives or the glorious Civil Rights Era when depicting the African quest for true freedom in America. Besides John Singleton and Gregory Poirier‘s Rosewoodfew mainstream films have touched in detail on the post-Civil War/Reconstruction Black Lives timeline as Director/Writer Gary Ross and Writer Leonard Hartman in the Free State of Jones.

The film juxtapositions the strong presence of self-determined ‘free’ Black lives amidst slavery and segregation against the sub-civil war between wealthy Confederates and poor families, black and white.

The films weakest transitions are forward flashes to a future trial determining the racial identity of Davis Knight, Newton Knight’s second son. The outcome would determine the legality of Davis’s marriage to a White woman according to post-war segregation laws.

Other considerations are the relationship shifts as Blacks are legally free in 1865. Jones County, Mississippi grapples with Military Reconstruction in response to the South’s attempt to re-enslave Blacks through indentured servitude, Blacks gaining voting rights through the 15th Amendment and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Free State of Jones is a worthy film for any historian or film buff to have in their quiver. Below is an excerpt from author Richard Grant’s Smithsonian Institute article regarding the film’s historical value and present day Jones County’s varying sentiments toward Newton Knight and the film.

“ [Professor Wyatt Moulds] described Jones County as the most conservative place in Mississippi, but he noted that race relations were improving and that you could see it clearly in the changing attitudes toward Newt Knight. ‘It’s generational,’ he said. ‘A lot of older people see Newt as a traitor and a reprobate, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to make a movie about him. If you point out that Newt distributed food to starving people, and was known as the Robin Hood of the Piney Woods, they’ll tell you he married a black, like that trumps everything. And they won’t use the word ‘black.’”
[Moulds’s] current crop of students, on the other hand, are “fired up” about Newt and the movie. ‘Blacks and whites date each other in high school now, and they don’t think it’s a big deal,’ said Moulds. ‘That’s a huge change. Some of the young guys are really identifying with Newt now, as a symbol of Jones County pride. It doesn’t hurt that he was such a badass.’ “

“In the Lost Cause mythology, the South was united, and secession had nothing to do with slavery,” said Moulds. “What happened in Jones County puts the lie to that, so the Lost Causers have to paint Newt as a common outlaw, and above all else, deny all traces of Unionism. With the movie coming out, they’re at it harder than ever.”

Source: The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’ | History | Smithsonian

Alain Locke, Whose Ashes Were Found In University Archives, Is Buried : Code Switch : NPR

Alain Locke

Alain Locke, September 13, 1885 – June 9, 1954

I became an official devotee of Africa American sociology and literature after reading Alain Locke’s “The New Negro.” Studying our great post-slavery philosophers, artists, and writers, in no way prepared me for this text. They all asked questions, stumbled about with fear, not quite grasping the ground they stood. Locke provided answers to who they were in the moment. They were no longer the offspring of slaves but men and women established in their humanity and history beyond race.

Funeral - Alain Locke

[Alain] Locke compiled many of the answers in an anthology called The New Negro. Published in 1925, it was an instant success and included work by Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Du Bois.”This book is the standard-bearer for how the 20th century African-American is going to see themselves,” Jones says. “This volume is dedicated to the younger generation: Oh rise, shine, for thy light is a coming.”

via Alain Locke, Whose Ashes Were Found In University Archives, Is Buried : Code Switch : NPR.

Town of Eatonville Florida

Eatonville, Florida

On August 18, 1887, only ten years removed from Reconstruction 1863-1877, a group of twenty-seven Negro men led by Joe Clark convened with the purpose of founding, what would turn out to be, the first incorporated African American settlement community in the United States. Eatonville, the town born on that day, was named for a White man, Josiah Eaton, who served as mayor of the neighboring town of Maitland from which most of the future Eatonville residents originated.

via Town of Eatonville Florida.

Their Eyes Were Watching God [Full Movie] | #OYRchallenge

Youtube review:

“Their Eyes Were Watching God(2005):

Sassy Janie Starks looks unlike to get anywhere in pre-Great War Easton, Florida, but lands the best colored catch, lively shopkeeper Joe Starks, who even becomes town mayor. However her refusal to oblige his expectations of decency turn love into bitterness. After his death, she prefers to enjoy ‘freedom’ again, with cocky outsider ‘Tea Cake’ as playmate, and not just at chess. They even face the risks of seasonal labor. “

Slavery by Another Name

Slavery by Another Name is a 90-minute documentary that challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.

For most Americans this is entirely new history. Slavery by Another Name gives voice to the largely forgotten victims and perpetrators of forced labor and features their descendants living today.

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