Demonstrators display signs during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas in another night of unrest in a Missouri town where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, just hours after President Barack Obama called for calm. AFP PHOTO / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
There have been violent protests against the police in Ferguson, Missouri, for more than a week, since police shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown.
An African-American professor watching the situation sees a link between what’s happening in Missouri today and what happened in the state in the 1800s when it was at the center of the national debate and divide over slavery.
Blair Kelley, who teaches history at North Carolina State University, finds parallels between Michael Brown and Dred Scott, a slave who sued for his freedom and ultimately lost his case in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857.
Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray
J. L. Bell of Boston 1775 posts Thomas Hutchinson description of meeting Dido Belle in 1779:
A Black came in after dinner and sat with the ladies, and after coffee, walked with the company in the gardens, one of the young ladies having her arm within the other. She had a very high cap, and her wool was much frizzled in her neck, but not enough to answer the large curls now in fashion. She is neither handsome nor genteel—pert enough. I knew her history before, but my Lord mentioned it again. Sir Jno. Lindsay having taken her mother prisoner in a Spanish vessel, brought her to England, where she was delivered of this girl, of which she was then with child, and which was taken care of by Lord M., and has been educated by his family. He calls her Dido, which I suppose is all the name she has. He knows he has been reproached for shewing a fondness for her—I dare say not criminal.
A few years ago [in 1771-1772] there was a cause before his Lordship bro’t by a Black [James Somerset] for recovery of his liberty. A Jamaica planter being asked what judgment his Ldship would give? “No doubt,” he answered, “he will be set free, for Lord Mansfield keeps a Black in his house which governs him and the whole family.” She is a sort of Superintendent over the dairy, poultry yard, &c., which we visited, and she was called upon by my Lord every minute for this thing and that, and shewed the greatest attention to everything he said.
I took occasion to mention that all the Americans who had brought Blacks had, as far as I knew, relinquished their property in them, and rather agreed to give them wages, or suffered them to go free. His Ldship remarked that there had been no determination that they were free, the judgment (meaning the case of Somerset) went no further than to determine the Master had no right to compel the slave to go into a foreign country, &c. I wished to have entered into a free colloquium, and to have discovered, if I am capable of it, the nice distinctions he mast have had in his mind, and which would not make it equally reasonable to restrain the Master from exercising any power whatever, as the power of sending the servant abroad; but I imagined such an altercation would rather be disliked, and forbore.
Read the rest – Boston 1775: Thomas Hutchinson Meets Dido Belle.
Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File
Maya Angelou died at age 86.
In 2012, at Mirror of Race, Molly Rogers reflected on the Jacques Zealy daguerreotypes of South Carolina slaves (now held by Harvard University).
In the summer of 1976, employees of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology discovered fifteen daguerreotypes in the museum attic. The photographs were made in 1850 and they depict five African men and two African American women, all of whom were slaves in or near Columbia, South Carolina. The names of the people are known—the men are Jack, Jem, Fassena and Alfred, and the women Drana and Delia—as are a few details on the circumstances of their lives. The daguerreotypes are considered to be the earliest known photographs of identifiable American slaves….
…As I examined the photographs, scrutinizing Delia’s body with the aid of a magnifying glass—seeking in her image evidence of maltreatment, of the circumstances under which the image was made, and of her individual character—an unpleasant feeling came over me. Louis Agassiz had commissioned Delia’s photographs after physically examining her. The images were intended to serve as aides-memoire to this ostensibly scientific examination and also as evidence of his findings, which he could show to other people. The photographs were therefore doubly linked to Delia’s violation: they were both the culmination of an invasive examination and a second instance of this objectifying scrutiny. And there I was, examining Delia much as the scientist had done: she was exposed against her will and in her body I sought information, facts, evidence. That the kind of the evidence I hoped to find differed from that of the Swiss naturalist offered little consolation. Ultimately, there was no avoiding the fact that I was regarding Delia as an object and doing so for my own gain…
Read the rest: Molly Rogers, “Fair Women Are Transformed into Negresses,” mirrorofrace.org 2012 January 18. http://mirrorofrace.org/fair-women/
Stephanie M. H. Camp. Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
University of Washington history professor Stephanie M. H. Camp passed away on April 2nd. Camp was the author of Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (University of North Carolina Press, 2004, also profiled on #ADPhD here). Camp also edited, with Edward Baptist, New Studies in the History of Slavery (University of Georgia Press, 2006).
Selections from her obituary in The Seattle Times:
“She was a well-known feminist historian who wrote a groundbreaking book on enslaved women in the antebellum South, and a social-justice activist who dared to take controversial stands. But Stephanie Camp was also known for her love of popular culture and her sense of adventure and for hosting great parties.
The University of Washington history professor died April 2 of cancer at the age of 46.
Professor Camp’s book, “Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South,” which is in its second printing, led to a new understanding of how enslaved women resisted their captivity in the 19th century. It was cited not only for the quality of its scholarship but also for the beauty of the writing.
The book “transformed the field of American social history,” said Chandan Reddy, an associate professor of English at the UW….”
On Africa Past and Present:
David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History at Emory University, on the making of the Transatlantic Slave Trade database, a landmark collaborative digital project he has co-edited for two decades. Eltis discusses the research process, online dissemination, and new directions for the initiative. This is the second part of a two-part series recorded at the Atlantic Slave Biographies Database Conference at Michigan State University in November 2013.
Episode 80: Biographies and Databases of Atlantic Slaves, Part 2 | Africa Past & Present.