Susan Eva O’Donovan: “To stand by silently…makes us look profoundly stupid and cruel and racist too.”

In response to the recent election, #ADPhD is sharing reflections, short takes, and responses from scholars of slavery. To submit yours, click here.

On November 14, 2016, news outlets reported that a West Virginian official — Clay County Development Corporation Director Pamela Ramsey – made the following statement comparing First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama to Melania Trump on Facebook: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.” Susan Eve O’Donovan, associate professor of history at the University of Memphis, took to Facebook to put the the statement in context when a follower questioned whether or not Ramsey’s words were racist. Her post is republished here with her permission:

[name redacted], the Ape reference is reprehensible due to centuries of ‘scientific’ racism that insistently located people of color at or at best one step above apes. See for instance this: one of the more infamous images of this kind of despicable thinking:

Continue reading “Susan Eva O’Donovan: “To stand by silently…makes us look profoundly stupid and cruel and racist too.””

DIGITAL: Memories of a Massacre: Memphis in 1866

Memories of a Massacre is a digital project and archive exploring the 1866 Memphis race riot. The project is directed by Beverly Greene Bond and Susan O’Donovan, with Andre E. Johnson as Communications Director:

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Antebellum Slavery in April 2009 OAH Magazine

Select articles available here (available in full to members of the Organization of American Historians).

From the editor, Carl Weinberg:

On March 26, 2009, just as the recent annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) opened in Seattle, we received some sobering news: pioneering historian John Hope Franklin had died. He was 94 years old. To a generation of young black historians coming of age in the 1960s and 70s, inspired by his brilliant example, Franklin was known simply as “the prince.” To a wider group of colleagues who worked with Franklin at Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago, where he chaired history departments, and later at Duke, and who associated with him at scholarly gatherings of all kinds, Franklin was fondly known as “John Hope.” To a broad American public, Franklin was the man appointed by President Clinton to chair the advisory board for his Initiative on Race in 1997 (and to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995). By that point in his career, Franklin was not only the author of landmark studies, such as From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans (which has now sold more than three million copies in eight editions); he also had served as president of the Southern Historical Association, the American Historical Association and the OAH. Looking back on his rise to celebrity status, Franklin recalled that around the time he received the Medal of Freedom, he was standing in a hotel lobby, whereupon a man handed Franklin a set of car keys and told him to retrieve his car. With his legendary good humor and tact, Franklin replied that he was a guest at the hotel, as he assumed the man was, and that he had no idea of the whereabouts of his car. “And in any case,” he added, “I'[m] retired.” To that one man in the hotel lobby, Franklin was neither prince, nor “John Hope,” nor celebrity historianhe was simply an old black man assumed to be working as a valet.

Includes two special online features on the Dred Scott Case and Slave Resistance and Stancil Barwick and Slave Resistance.