Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

"What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?" FREDERICK DOUGLASS SPEECH, 1852 Independence Day Speech at Rochester, July 5, 1852

Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens:

He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country school houses, avails me nothing on the present occasion.

Frederick DouglassThe papers and placards say that I am to deliver a Fourth of July Oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way, for me. It is true that I have often had the privilege to speak in this beautiful Hall, and to address many who now honor me with their presence. But neither their familiar faces, nor the perfect gage I think I have of Corinthian Hall seems to free me from embarrassment.

The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable-and the difficulties to he overcome in getting from the latter to the former are by no means slight.

That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence I will proceed to lay them before you.

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the Fourth of July. It is the birth day of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, as what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. l am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though a good old age for a man, is but a mere speck in the life of a nation. Three score years and ten is the allotted time for individual men; but nations number their years by thousands. According to this fact, you are, even now, only in the beginning of your national career, still lingering in the period of childhood. I repeat, I am glad this is so. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. The eye of the reformer is met with angry flashes, portending disastrous times; but his heart may well beat lighter at the thought that America is young, and that she is still in the impressible stage of her existence. May he not hope that high lessons of wisdom, of justice and of truth, will yet give direction to her destiny? Were the nation older, the patriot's heart might be sadder, and the reformer's brow heavier. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. There is consolation in the thought that America is young.-Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages. They may sometimes rise in quiet and stately majesty, and inundate the land, refreshing and fertilizing the earth with their mysterious properties. They may also rise in wrath and fury, and bear away, on their angry waves, the accumulated wealth of years of toil and hardship. They, however, gradually flow back to the same old channel, and flow on as serenely as ever. But, while the river may not be turned aside, it may dry up, and leave nothing behind but the withered branch, and the unsightly rock, to howl in the abyss-sweeping wind, the sad tale of departed glory. As with rivers so with nations.

Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the associations that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is, that, 76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects. The style and title of your "sovereign people" (in which you now glory) was not then born. You were under the British Crown. Your fathers esteemed the English Government as the home government; and England as the fatherland. This home government, you know, although a considerable distance from your home, did, in the exercise of its parental prerogatives, impose upon its colonial children, such restraints, burdens and limitations, as, in its mature judgment, it deemed wise, right and proper.

But your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of this day, of the infallibility of government, and the absolute character of its acts, presumed to differ from the home government in respect to the wisdom and the justice of some of those burdens and restraints. They went so far in their excitement as to pronounce the measures of government unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive, and altogether such as ought not to be quietly submitted to. I scarcely need say, fellow-citizens, that my opinion of those measures fully accords with that of your fathers. Such a declaration of agreement on my part would not be worth much to anybody. It would certainly prove nothing as to what part I might have taken had I lived during the great controversy of 1776. To say now that America was right, and England wrong, is exceedingly easy. Everybody can say it; the dastard, not less than the noble brave, can flippantly discant on the tyranny of England towards the American Colonies. It is fashionable to do so; but there was a time when, to pronounce against England, and in favor of the cause of the colonies, tried men's souls. They who did so were accounted in their day plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men. To side with the right against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit, and the one which, of all others, seems unfashionable in our day. The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers. But, to proceed.

Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated, by the home government, your fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit, earnestly sought redress. They petitioned and remonstrated; they did so in a decorous, respectful, and loyal manner. Their conduct was wholly unexceptionable. This, however, did not answer the purpose. They saw themselves treated with sovereign indifference, coldness and scorn. Yet they persevered. They were not the men to look back.

As the sheet anchor takes a firmer hold, when the ship is tossed by the storm, so did the cause of your fathers grow stronger as it breasted the chilling blasts of kingly displeasure. The greatest and best of British statesmen admitted its justice, and the loftiest eloquence of the British Senate came to its support. But, with that blindness which seems to be the unvarying characteristic of tyrants, since Pharaoh and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea, the British Government persisted in the exactions complained of.

The madness of this course, we believe, is admitted now, even by England; but we fear the lesson is wholly lost on our present rulers.

Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity. With brave men there is always a remedy for oppression. Just here, the idea of a total separation of the colonies from the crown was born! It was a startling idea, much more so than we, at this distance of time, regard it. The timid and the prudent (as has been intimated) of that day were, of course, shocked and alarmed by it.

Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably, ever have a place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any great change (no matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong to be redressed by it), may be calculated with as much precision as can be the course of the stars. They hate all changes, but silver, gold and copper change! Of this sort of change they are always strongly in favor.

These people were called Tories in the days of your fathers; and the appellation, probably, conveyed the same idea that is meant by a more modern, though a somewhat less euphonious term, which we often find in our papers, applied to some of our old politicians.

Their opposition to the then dangerous thought was earnest and powerful; but, amid all their terror and affrighted vociferations against it, the alarming and revolutionary idea moved on, and the country with it.

On the 2nd of July, 1776, the old Continental Congress, to the dismay of the lovers of ease, and the worshipers of property, clothed that dreadful idea with all the authority of national sanction. They did so in the form of a resolution; and as we seldom hit upon resolutions, drawn up in our day, whose transparency is at all equal to this, it may refresh your minds and help my story if I read it.

"Resolved, That these united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved."

Citizens, your fathers made good that resolution. They succeeded; and to-day you reap the fruits of their success. The freedom gained is yours; and you, there fore, may properly celebrate this anniversary. The 4th of July is the first great fact in your nation's history-the very ringbolt in the chain of your yet undeveloped destiny.

Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ringbolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance, disclose to the leeward huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn, that chain broken, and all is lost. Cling to this day-cling to it, and to its principles, with the grasp of a storm-tossed mariner to a spar at midnight.

The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an interesting event. But, besides general considerations, there were peculiar circumstances which make the advent of this republic an event of special attractiveness. The whole scene, as I look back to it, was simple, dignified and sublime. The population of the country, at the time, stood at the insignificant number of three millions. The country was poor in the munitions of war. The population was weak and scattered, and the country a wilderness unsubdued. There were then no means of concert and combination, such as exist now. Neither steam nor lightning had then been reduced to order and discipline. From the Potomac to the Delaware was a journey of many days. Under these, and innumerable other disadvantages, your fathers declared for liberty and independence and triumphed.

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too-great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settIed" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final"; not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.

How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defence. Mark them! Fully appreciating the hardships to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep, the corner-stone of the national super-structure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you.

Of this fundamental work, this day is the anniversary. Our eyes are met with demonstrations of joyous enthusiasm. Banners and pennants wave exultingly on the breeze. The din of business, too, is hushed. Even mammon seems to have quitted his grasp on this day. The ear-piercing fife and the stirring drum unite their accents with the ascending peal of a thousand church bells. Prayers are made, hymns are sung, and sermons are preached in honor of this day; while the quick martial tramp of a great and multitudinous nation, echoed back by all the hills, valleys and mountains of a vast continent, bespeak the occasion one of thrilling and universal interest-nation's jubilee.

Friends and citizens, I need not enter further into the causes which led to this anniversary. Many of you understand them better than I do. You could instruct me in regard to them. That is a branch of knowledge in which you feel, perhaps, a much deeper interest than your speaker. The causes which led to the separation of the colonies from the British crown have never lacked for a tongue. They have all been taught in your common schools, narrated at your firesides, un folded from your pulpits, and thundered from your legislative halls, and are as familiar to you as household words. They form the staple of your national po etry and eloquence.

I remember, also, that, as a people, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts which make in their own favor. This is esteemed by some as a national trait-perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact, that whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans and can be had cheap! will be found by Americans. I shall not be charged with slandering Americans if I say I think the American side of any question may be safely left in American hands.

I leave, therefore, the great deeds of your fathers to other gentlemen whose claim to have been regularly descended will be less likely to be disputed than mine!

My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. The accepted time with God and His cause is the ever-living now.

Trust no future, however pleasant,
Let the dead past bury its dead;
Act, act in the living present,
Heart within, and God overhead.

We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work. You have no right to enjoy a child's share in the labor of your fathers, unless your children are to be blest by your labors. You have no right to wear out and waste the hard-earned fame of your fathers to cover your indolence. Sydney Smith tells us that men seldom eulogize the wisdom and virtues of their fathers, but to excuse some folly or wickedness of their own. This truth is not a doubtful one. There are illustrations of it near and remote, ancient and modern. It was fashionable, hundreds of years ago, for the children of Jacob to boast, we have "Abraham to our father," when they had long lost Abraham's faith and spirit. That people contented themselves under the shadow of Abraham's great name, while they repudiated the deeds which made his name great. Need I remind you that a similar thing is being done all over this country to-day? Need I tell you that the Jews are not the only people who built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchers of the righteous? Washington could not die till he had broken the chains of his slaves. Yet his monument is built up by the price of human blood, and the traders in the bodies and souls of men shout-"We have Washington to our father."-Alas! that it should be so; yet it is.

The evil, that men do, lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fa thers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, "It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed." But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They ac knowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may con sent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding.-There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Take the American slave-trade, which we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Ex-Senator Benton tells us that the price of men was never higher than now. He mentions the fact to show that slavery is in no danger. This trade is one of the peculiarities of American institutions. It is carried on in all the large towns and cities in one-half of this confederacy; and millions are pocketed every year by dealers in this horrid traffic. In several states this trade is a chief source of wealth. It is called (in contradistinction to the foreign slave-trade) "the internal slave-trade." It is, probably, called so, too, in order to divert from it the horror with which the foreign slave-trade is contemplated. That trade has long since been denounced by this government as piracy. It has been denounced with burning words from the high places of the nation as an execrable traffic. To arrest it, to put an end to it, this nation keeps a squadron, at immense cost, on the coast of Africa. Everywhere, in this country, it is safe to speak of this foreign slave-trade as a most inhuman traffic, opposed alike to the Jaws of God and of man. The duty to extirpate and destroy it, is admitted even by our doctors of divinity. In order to put an end to it, some of these last have consented that their colored brethren (nominally free) should leave this country, and establish them selves on the western coast of Africa! It is, however, a notable fact that, while so much execration is poured out by Americans upon all those engaged in the foreign slave-trade, the men engaged in the slave-trade between the states pass with out condemnation, and their business is deemed honorable.

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and American religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh jobbers, armed with pistol, whip, and bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans. These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-curdling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms. See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the centre of your soul The crack you heard was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on. Follow this drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shock ing gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States.

I was born amid such sights and scenes. To me the American slave-trade is a terrible reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot Street, Fell's Point, Baltimore, and have watched from the wharves the slave ships in the Basin, anchored from the shore, with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft them down the Chesapeake. There was, at that time, a grand slave mart kept at the head of Pratt Street, by Austin Woldfolk. His agents were sent into every town and county in Maryland, announcing their arrival, through the papers, and on flaming "hand-bills," headed cash for Negroes. These men were generally well dressed men, and very captivating in their manners; ever ready to drink, to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave has depended upon the turn of a single card; and many a child has been snatched from the arms of its mother by bargains arranged in a state of brutal drunkenness.

The flesh-mongers gather up their victims by dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number has been collected here, a ship is chartered for the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the darkness of night; for since the antislavery agitation, a certain caution is observed.

In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have been often aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps, and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that passed our door. The anguish of my boyish heart was intense; and I was often consoled, when speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very wicked; that she hated to hear the rattle of the chains and the heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who sympathized with me in my horror.

Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to-day, in active operation in this boasted republic. In the solitude of my spirit I see clouds of dust raised on the highways of the South; I see the bleeding footsteps; I hear the doleful wail of fettered humanity on the way to the slave-markets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, sheep, and swine, knocked off to the highest bidder. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly broken, to gratify the lust, caprice and rapacity of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sickens at the sight.

Is this the land your Fathers loved,
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?

But a still more inhuman, disgraceful, and scandalous state of things remains to be presented. By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. By that act, Mason and Dixon's line has been obliterated; New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women and children, as slaves, remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States. The power is co-extensive with the star-spangled banner, and American Christianity. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Where these are, man is not sacred. He is a bird for the sportsman's gun. By that most foul and fiendish of all human decrees, the liberty and person of every man are put in peril. Your broad republican domain is hunting ground for men. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Your law-makers have commanded all good citizens to engage in this hellish sport. Your President, your Secretary of State, your lords, nobles, and ecclesiastics enforce, as a duty you owe to your free and glorious country, and to your God, that you do this accursed thing. Not fewer than forty Americans have, within the past two years, been hunted down and, without a moment's warning, hurried away in chains, and consigned to slavery and excruciating torture. Some of these have had wives and children, dependent on them for bread; but of this, no account was made. The right of the hunter to his prey stands superior to the right of marriage, and to all rights in this republic, the rights of God included! For black men there is neither law nor justice, humanity nor religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets ten dollars for every victim he consigns to slavery, and five, when he fails to do so. The oath of any two villains is sufficient, under this hell-black enactment, to send the most pious and exemplary black man into the remorseless jaws of slavery! His own testimony is nothing. He can bring no witnesses for himself. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side is the side of the oppressor. Let this damning fact be perpetually told. Let it be thundered around the world that in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America the seats of justice are filled with judges who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding the case of a man's liberty, to hear only his accusers!

In glaring violation of justice, in shameless disregard of the forms of administering law, in cunning arrangement to entrap the defenceless, and in diabolical intent this Fugitive Slave Law stands alone in the annals of tyrannical legislation. I doubt if there be another nation on the globe having the brass and the baseness to put such a law on the statute-book. If any man in this assembly thinks differently from me in this matter, and feels able to disprove my statements, I will gladly confront him at any suitable time and place he may select.

I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were nor stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it.

At the very moment that they are thanking God for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and for the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, they are utterly silent in respect to a law which robs religion of its chief significance and makes it utterly worthless to a world lying in wickedness. Did this law concern the "mint, anise, and cummin"-abridge the right to sing psalms, to partake of the sacrament, or to engage in any of the ceremonies of religion, it would be smitten by the thunder of a thousand pulpits. A general shout would go up from the church demanding repeal, repeal, instant repeal!-And it would go hard with that politician who presumed to so licit the votes of the people without inscribing this motto on his banner. Further, if this demand were not complied with, another Scotland would be added to the history of religious liberty, and the stern old covenanters would be thrown into the shade. A John Knox would be seen at every church door and heard from every pulpit, and Fillmore would have no more quarter than was shown by Knox to the beautiful, but treacherous, Queen Mary of Scotland. The fact that the church of our country (with fractional exceptions) does not esteem "the Fugitive Slave Law" as a declaration of war against religious liberty, im plies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love, and good will towards man. It esteems sacrifice above mercy; psalm-singing above right doing; solemn meetings above practical righteousness. A worship that can be conducted by persons who refuse to give shelter to the houseless, to give bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and who enjoin obedience to a law forbidding these acts of mercy is a curse, not a blessing to mankind. The Bible addresses all such persons as "scribes, pharisees, hypocrites, who pay tithe ofÝ mint, anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith."

But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines, who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.

For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty and leave the throne of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that "pure and undefiled religion" which is from above, and which is "first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and with out hypocrisy." But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation-a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God. In the language of Isaiah, the American church might be well addressed, "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons, and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. Yea' when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow."

The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in its connection with its ability to abolish slavery.

The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert Barnes but uttered what the common sense of every man at all observant of the actual state of the case will receive as truth, when he declared that "There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it."

Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday School, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against slavery, and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds, and that they do not do this involves them in the most awful responsibility of which the mind can conceive.

In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to spare the church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a thing be done? We are met on the threshold of our efforts for the redemption of the slave, by the church and ministry of the country, in battle arrayed against us; and we are compelled to fight or flee. From what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a fire so deadly upon our ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern pulpit? As the champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology have appeared-men honored for their so-called piety, and their real learning. The Lords of Buffalo, the Springs of New York, the Lathrops of Auburn, the Coxes and Spencers of Brooklyn, the Gannets and Sharps of Boston, the Deweys of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land have, in utter denial of the authority of Him by whom they professed to be called to the ministry, deliberately taught us, against the example of the Hebrews, and against the remonstrance of the Apostles, that we ought to obey man's law before the law of God.2

My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be supported, as the "standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ," is a mystery which I leave others to penetrate. In speaking of the American church, however, let it be distinctly understood that I mean the great mass of the religious organizations of our land. There are exceptions, and I thank God that there are. Noble men may be found, scattered all over these Northern States, of whom Henry Ward Beecher, of Brooklyn; Samuel J. May, of Syracuse; and my esteemed friend (Rev. R. R. Raymond) on the platform, are shining examples; and let me say further, that, upon these men lies the duty to inspire our ranks with high religious faith and zeal, and to cheer us on in the great mission of the slave's redemption from his chains.

One is struck with the difference between the attitude of the American church towards the anti-slavery movement, and that occupied by the churches in Eng land towards a similar movement in that country. There, the church, true to its mission of ameliorating, elevating and improving the condition of mankind, came forward promptly, bound up the wounds of the West Indian slave, and re stored him to his liberty. There, the question of emancipation was a high religious question. It was demanded in the name of humanity, and according to the law of the living God. The Sharps, the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the Buxtons, the Burchells, and the Knibbs were alike famous for their piety and for their philanthropy. The anti-slavery movement there was not an anti-church movement, for the reason that the church took its full share in prosecuting that movement: and the anti-slavery movement in this country will cease to be an anti-church movement, when the church of this country shall assume a favorable instead of a hostile position towards that movement.

Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and body-guards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina. You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from oppression in your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot, and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation-a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty. You shed tears over fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her wrongs the theme of your poets, statesmen, and orators, till your gallant sons are ready to fly to arms to vindicate her cause against the oppressor; but, in regard to the ten thousand wrongs of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and would hail him as an enemy of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the subject of public discourse! You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for France or for Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of liberty for the enslaved of America. You discourse eloquently on the dignity of labor; yet, you sustain a system which, in its very essence, casts a stigma upon labor. You can bare your bosom to the storm of British artillery to throw off a three-penny tax on tea; and yet wring the last hard earned farthing from the grasp of the black laborers of your country. You profess to believe "that, of one blood, God made all nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth," and hath commanded all men, everywhere, to love one another; yet you notoriously hate (and glory in your hatred) all men whose skins are not colored like your own. You declare before the world, and are understood by the world to declare that you "hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; and are endowed by their Creator with certain in alienable rights; and that among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and yet, you hold securely, in a bondage which, according to your own Thomas Jefferson, "is worse than ages of that which your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose," a seventh part of the inhabitants of your country.

Fellow-citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad: it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. it fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet you cling to it as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation's bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!

But it is answered in reply to all this, that precisely what I have now denounced is, in fact, guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that, the right to hold, and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.

Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before, your fathers stooped, basely stooped

To palter with us in a double sense:
And keep the word of promise to the ear,
But break it to the heart.

And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them to be, they were the veriest impostors that ever practised on mankind. This is the inevitable conclusion, and from it there is no escape; but I differ from those who charge this baseness on the framers of the Constitution of the United States. It is a slander upon their memory, at least, so I believe. There is not time now to argue the constitutional question at length; nor have I the ability to discuss it as it ought to be discussed. The subject has been handled with masterly power by Lysander Spooner, Esq. by William Goodell, by Samuel E. Sewall, Esq., and last, though not least, by Gerrit Smith, Esq. These gentlemen have, as I think, fully and clearly vindicated the Constitution from any design to support slavery for an hour.

Fellow-citizens! there is no matter in respect to which the people of the North have allowed themselves to be so ruinously imposed upon as that of the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but interpreted, as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gate way? or is it in the temple? it is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slaveholding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can any where be found in it. What would be thought of an instrument, drawn up, legally drawn up, for the purpose of entitling the city of Rochester to a tract of land, in which no mention of land was made? Now, there are certain rules of interpretation for the proper understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. They are plain, commonsense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. I scout the idea that the question of the constitutionality, or unconstitutionality of slavery, is not a question for the people. I hold that every American citizen has a right to form an opinion of the constitution, and to propagate that opinion, and to use all honorable means to make his opinion the prevailing one. Without this right, the liberty of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Ex-Vice-President Dallas tells us that the constitution is an object to which no American mind can be too attentive, and no American heart too devoted. He further says, the Constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. Senator Berrien tells us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. The testimony of Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others that might be named, who are everywhere esteemed as sound lawyers, so regard the constitution. I take it, therefore, that it is not presumption in a private citizen to form an opinion of that instrument.

Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand, it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.

I have detained my audience entirely too long already. At some future period I will gladly avail myself of an opportunity to give this subject a full and fair discussion.

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery.

"The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated.-Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. "Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God." In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o'er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom's reign,
To man his plundered rights again

God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant's presence cower;
But to all manhood's stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his Prison-house, to thrall
Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I'll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive --
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate'er the peril or the cost,
Be driven.

Friday, July 2, 2010

First African–American Graduate of College of Education Deceased at 95

COLLEGE PARK, MD (June 2010) – On July 9, 1951, Rose Shockley Wiseman earned her M.Ed. One of the first three African–American students to receive a master’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, that commencement day marked her first visit to the then segregated campus.

Wiseman was part of a new UM program that offered African–Americans the opportunity to enroll in off–campus, in–service education studies to earn a master’s degree. Professor Daniel Prescott, who founded the Institute for Child Study in 1947 in the then School of Education, coordinated efforts to offer classes to students at various levels in the child study program.

"The professors were shuttled from the university each day—one arrived to teach his or her scheduled class as the other completed his hours and returned to College Park," Wiseman recalled in a 2003 interview for the College.

Rose Shockley Wiseman

Rose Wiseman as a Teacher at Bates School, Annapolis, 1950's. She was one of the first African-American students to receive a Master's degrees at College Park.

Photo Courtesy of Rose Wiseman.
She and two other students were the only African Americans who completed the fourth–year program offered through summers studies at Bowie State University. On graduation day, she recalled marching with her two colleagues "across the squishy grass (it had rained the night before) to the exercises on the green and stepping into the gap left for us in line." Dr. H. Curly Byrd, president of UM at the time, conferred the ‘covetous’ degrees, with Governor Theodore McKeldin and Baltimore City mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., in attendance.

Born in Salem, N.J. on May 11, 1915, Wiseman began her teaching career in Charles County. After attending Hampton Institute,
where she received her B.S. in 1940, she returned to teach in the County where she also worked in a war–time spotter station as part of a Board of Education’s requirement for teachers. After that she was the principal of a two–room elementary school in Bowie, Md., for seven years, then worked as an educator at Bates Jr.–Sr. High School from 1950–1965. In 1965 she transferred to Arundel Senior High School in Gambrills, Md. Two years later she joined Bowie State College (now Bowie State University) as an associate professor. While at Bowie State, she also taught night adult education classes at Bowie High School in Prince George’s County. When she resigned from the College in 1969, the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County appointed her the first head teacher of its GED Center.

Wiseman retired in 1971 due to health concerns, but still traveled extensively and was active in several organizations, including the University of Maryland Alumni Association, NAACP, Bowie State University Alumni, Banneker–Douglas Museum, Inc., Ebo Arts, and the Friends of St. John’s College.

In 2003, in recognition of her unique role in helping shape Maryland’s history, the College of Education presented Wiseman with its first Dean’s Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2004, she was named the College’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and honored by the University of Maryland Alumni Association at its annual Awards Gala.

Wiseman passed away on May 31, 2010. Preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Joseph Alexander Wiseman, she is survived by their son, Adrian Darius Wiseman, daughter-in-law, Christelle Newman Wiseman, and two grandchildren–Anedra Wiseman Bourne and Christopher Wiseman.

The College of Education extends its deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the late Rose Shockley Wiseman. -end-

For more information on the College of Education, visit: or contact Jenniffer Manning-Scherhaufer, Assistant Director for Communications, at:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Africana Studies to Collaborate with Friends of Historical Cemetery

CHARLOTTE - June 30, 2010 - UNC Charlotte’s Africana Studies department will collaborate with The Friends of Old Westview Cemetery, Inc. to develop a long-range plan to help restore the more than 150 year old cemetery in Wadesboro.

Since the passing of the cemetery’s caretaker in the 1960s, the cemetery has become overgrown and neglected, according to friends of the cemetery.

Participating in the Martin Luther King Day of Service earlier this year, members of the Africana Studies Club, a student organization at the University, led a project which involved cleaning and documenting grave markers. The collaboration grew out of the service project and was recently announced during a Friends of Old Westview Cemetery board of directors meeting.

Old Westview Cemetery was founded in the mid-19th century and has served as the primary burial ground for Wadesboro’s African-American community.

UNC Charlotte Many citizens who contributed to Wadesboro’s post-emancipation African-American community are buried in Old Westview. The cemetery is currently on the “Study List” of historical places and is eligible for placement on the National Register.
UNC Charlotte faculty and students will conduct research on the historical significance of the all-black cemetery and develop public educational programs on the history of Wadesboro and the biographies of those buried in Old Westview. Chair of Africana Studies department Akin Ogundiran and Africana Studies graduate student India Solomon will coordinate the project for the University.

“We would like people from all the surrounding areas to not only be aware of the cemetery in Wadesboro but also similar cemeteries in their own areas,” said Ogundiran. “We would like to encourage a widespread effort to preserve these cemeteries for public education and to document the stories of the people who helped shape our lives today.”

For more information, contact Ogundiran at 704.687.2355. ###

Public Relations media contact, Buffie Stephens, 704.687.5830,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

American Studies journal dedicates double-issue to Aaron Douglas scholarship Articles originate primarily from 2007 interdisciplinary conference at KU

Lawrence, KS – Three years after the Spencer Museum of Art premiered its landmark exhibition Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist, a special double-issue of the journal American Studies celebrates Douglas’s legacy, gathering together articles about the Topeka-born artist by some of America’s preeminent scholars.

The issue, "Aaron Douglas and the Harlem Renaissance," contains essays primarily derived from "Aaron Douglas and the Arts of the Harlem Renaissance," a September 2007 interdisciplinary conference held at the University of Kansas in conjunction with the SMA exhibition.

Edited by KU Associate Professor of English William J. Harris, who organized the Douglas conference, the issue features articles by an impressive group of nationally known scholars and artists who spoke at the conference, including Terry Adkins (University of Pennsylvania), Gerald Early, (University of Washington), Farah Jasmine Griffin (Columbia University), Amy Helene Kirschke (University of North Carolina-Wilmington), David Krasner (Emerson College), Robert G. O’Meally (Columbia University), and Richard Powell (Duke University).

Aaron Douglas: African American ModernistMoreover, it includes two specially commissioned essays on Douglas by Stephanie Fox Knappe (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, formerly of the Spencer, who served as Exhibition Coordinator for the Douglas show and also coordinated the conference symposium) and Cheryl Ragar (Kansas State University). The issue also features a generous selection of images of Douglas’s work.

“The issue has been long in the making but the wait has been worth it,” Harris says. “It was a very special moment when a great group of scholars came together to celebrate this major African American figure.
The celebration went beyond the scholars and also included the audience which was made of up family, graduate students, American and international scholars, and town folks. The structure let everybody speak which made those days democratic, profound, and moving. Everybody was an expert and nobody was an expert but wonderful things were said in those two days. I am glad that we could get these essays in a journal, a published account—to both record the conference and give a sense of the intellectual excitement.”

To purchase the Douglas edition of American Studies (Volume 49, Number 1/2, $12), please make checks payable to MAASA and send to Managing Editor, American Studies, Jayhawk Blvd., Bailey 213, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045-7545.
About Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist

Curated by Susan Earle, SMA Curator of European & American Art, Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist was the first major exhibition to celebrate the life, art and legacy of Douglas, an African American artist from Kansas who went on to become the most important visual artist of the Harlem Renaissance. The Spencer-organized exhibition, some seven years in the making, was the first-ever national traveling retrospective of Douglas’s work, and brought together nearly 100 works from public institutions and private collections across the country. The exhibition debuted at the Spencer in fall 2007, and then traveled to venues in Nashville (Frist Center for the Visual Arts), Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian American Art Museum), and New York (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). The exhibition included an eponymous, multi-author scholarly book, edited by Earle and published by Yale University Press. That publication, as well as the recently published Aaron Douglas and Alta Sawyer Douglas: Love Letters from the Harlem Renaissance, is for sale in the Spencer’s shop, and through the SMA website:

MEDIA CONTACTS Bill Woodard Director of Communications Spencer Museum of Art 785.864.0142

Monday, June 28, 2010

Downsville, Louisiana Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime Hangman’s Noose Leads to Guilty Plea

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department today announced that Robert Jackson, 37, of Downsville, Louisiana, pleaded guilty in federal court to placing a hangman’s noose in the carport of the home of a family in order “to send a message” to African-American males who had been frequently visiting the victim’s home. Jackson entered a plea to violating the Fair Housing Act by intimidating and interfering with another’s housing rights because of race.

According to court testimony, the victim and her children arrived home on June 13, 2008, and found a hangman’s noose suspended from a bird-feeder underneath the carport of her home. A subsequent investigation determined that Jackson, a former employee at a local company located next door from the victim’s home, made the noose and placed it in the carport.

“A noose is an unmistakable symbol of hate in our nation, and it was used in this case to intimidate an innocent family,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who resort to threats motivated by hate.”

hangman's noose“A hangman’s noose is a powerful symbol of racial intimidation and intolerance, and when used to interfere with federally protected rights, becomes a federal crime.” said Stephanie A. Finley, U.S. Attorney for Western District of Louisiana. “The victim and her family sought nothing more than to live in their home in peace. Jackson’s racially motivated response has left him facing a prison sentence.”

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2010. Jackson faces a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both.
The case was investigated by the FBI, Monroe Resident Agency, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Mudrick and Trial Attorney Myesha Braden of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

For Immediate Release June 24, 2010 U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Iowa African-American Hall of Fame to induct new members

AMES, Iowa -- The Iowa African-American Hall of Fame, housed in Iowa State University's Black Cultural Center, will induct five new members in August.

Founded in Des Moines in 1995, the IAAHF recognizes outstanding achievements of African-Americans with respect to enhancing the quality of life for all Iowans. Forty individuals have been inducted into the hall of fame since its inception.

This year, the Iowa African-American Hall of Fame recognizes the achievements of:

* Melvin Harper, manager of restaurants and entertainment venues in Iowa. A promoter of national musical acts, Harper was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in 2002. Harper also founded several construction businesses in Iowa.
* Elaine Estes, the first and only African-American director (now retired) of the Des Moines Public Library. Under her leadership, the library became the first in Iowa and in the country to carry out a materials preservation program and disaster preparedness plan, and Iowa became the first state to pass a law protecting library users' records.

Iowa African-American Hall of Fame * Iowa Tuskegee Airmen (group), African-Americans who participated in air crew, ground crew and operations support training in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Iowa had 12 black Tuskegee Airmen, six of whom served in combat. Between them, they flew over 400 combat missions.
* Chuck Toney (posthumous), former director of affirmative action at John Deere. The first African-American at an executive level at John Deere, Toney started out his career as the first welder of color in Iowa and Illinois.
* Zack E. Hamlett Jr. (posthumous), founder and first executive dean, Des Moines Area Community College Urban Campus. Hamlett also founded the Iowa Alliance of Black School Educators and served as chair of the Iowa State Black Network.

The 2010 inductees will be recognized at a reception and banquet starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6, at The Meadows Event and Conference Center, Prairie Meadows, Altoona. Tickets are $50 per individual. To reserve a seat, contact Rose Wilbanks at (515) 294-1909. In addition to supporting the IAAHF, proceeds help support the George Washington Carver Leadership Academy for developing youth leadership at Iowa colleges and universities. Proceeds also will help establish a permanent home for the Hall of Fame. -30-

Contacts: Thomas Hill, Vice President for Student Affairs, (515) 294-1909, Annette Hacker, News Service, (515) 294-3720,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Memoriam: Hannah Atkins

STILLWATER -On June 17, 2010, Hannah Atkins, the first African-American woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, passed away. Atkins’ legacy will be preserved in collections at the OSU Library.

Atkins served the House from 1968 to 1980 as representative from the 97th District. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter named her to the General Assembly of the 35th Session of the United Nations. She went on to hold state cabinet-level positions throughout the 80s.

Atkins’ papers are housed in the OSU Library Special Collections. The collection contains material about Atkins' life, career and involvement in organizations. Access is unrestricted, and the collection is open to the public.

In 2007, the OSU Library’s Oklahoma Oral History Research Program (OOHRP) interviewed Atkins for the Women of the Oklahoma Legislature Project. The interview audio and transcript are available online at

In tribute to Atkins, the OOHRP's weekly radio broadcast, Then and Now, will highlight interview clips with and about her on June 23, 30 and July 7. After episodes air, they are available online at or through the OSU channel of ITunes U.

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant system that cuts across disciplines to better prepare students for a new world. Oklahoma’s only university with a statewide presence, OSU improves the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation, and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and outreach. OSU has more than 32,000 students across its five-campus system and nearly 21,000 on its Stillwater campus; with students from all 50 states and about 110 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 200,000 students who have made a lasting impact on Oklahoma and the world. CREATE - INNOVATE - EDUCATE - GO STATE! -###-

For Immediate Release.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plaque in Senate Wing of U.S. Capitol Honoring Enslaved African-Americans for Their Contribution to Construction of U.S. Capitol

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer led a ceremony to install the long-awaited plaque formally recognizing the contributions that enslaved African-Americans made to the construction of the U.S. Capitol. The new plaque was mounted atop original stone used to build the Capitol and is located in the Senate wing of the building, which is open to the public. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, was an original co-sponsor of the resolution honoring enslaved African-Americans for their contribution to the construction of the U.S. Capitol.

“This plaque honoring the hard work of these brave Americans is a fitting tribute to the vital but voiceless work they contributed to the construction of the U.S. Capitol,” Schumer said. “It is essential that every American understands the plight of these brave individuals, who laid the stones to build the nation’s greatest symbol of freedom, yet were cruelly denied it throughout their own lives. I am proud to have fought so hard to see this plaque become a reality and am thrilled the public will now be able to view it and understand the complex history of the U.S. Capitol.”

Speaker Pelosi unveiling the bust of Sojourner Truth in the Capitol

Speaker Pelosi unveiling the bust of Sojourner Truth in the Capitol
Many of the enslaved African-Americans working on the U.S. Capitol left little written record, often not even their full names. But a few, especially those with key roles, are known. The best known account of an African-American associated with the construction of the U.S. Capitol was that of Philip Reid, a slave laborer of a sculptor.
A plaster model of the Statue of Freedom, which sits atop the Captiol was constructed by the Italian sculptor, who would not reveal how to separate the model so the statue could not be cast unless he received a pay increase. The stalemate persisted until Reid was able to fashion a method to disassemble the statue so it could be transported to the foundry for casting. Reid was integral to the construction of one of the most recognizable symbols of freedom in the United States. He was eventually granted his freedom a year before the statue was placed at the top of the Capitol’s dome by a Congressional act that freed the slaves of the District of Columbia.

Another account was of Captain George Pointer, a slave who was born in 1773 and was able to purchase his freedom at age 18. Decades later, in 1829, Pointer gave a detailed biographical account of how he captained a boat that regularly brought sandstone and marble to Washington, D.C. used to build the floors and the columns in the House and Senate chambers.

The installation of the plaque was authorized by Senate Resolution 53, of which Schumer was an original co-sponsor. The resolution was cleared by the unanimous consent of the Senate on February 25, 2009. A similar plaque hangs in the House of Representatives wing of the Capitol. Both plaques were officially unveiled last week by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Republican Leader John Boehner. ###


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

WVU professor, students to tell the stories of African American war vets through interactive exhibit

The small town of Kimball in McDowell County may seem an unlikely place to house the nation’s only war memorial honoring World War I African American soldiers, but as one might imagine, there is a story to tell.

This summer, West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism Associate Professor Joel Beeson and three students are working to document that story and create a public exhibit at the Kimball War Memorial Building.

Using photographs, multimedia interviews, timelines and war memorabilia, the exhibit will help narrate the story of African Americans who migrated to McDowell County from the rural South in the early 1900s to work in the coal mines and who served in the U.S. military during wartime. The interactive display will be permanently housed in the Kimball building and also include an online component.

“Curating an interactive narrative in physical space provides a pivotal learning environment for students working in multimedia,” said Beeson.

New York's famous 369th regiment arrives home from France

New York's famous 369th regiment arrives home from France. National Archives and Records Administration Records of the War Department Record Group 165 ARC Identifier: 533548
“Understanding how to use all the tools of experiential media effectively bridges digital and physical space to build a true new media experience.”

As director of the West Virginia Veterans History Project – an ongoing effort since 2003 – Beeson has acquired and edited more than 500 photographs, including historical World War I images and a photographic social survey of McDowell County coal miners by the famous Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee.
He became acquainted with the McDowell County memorial and its board members in 2004 while working on his documentary, “Fighting on Two Fronts: The Untold Stories of African American WWII Veterans.”

In the fall of 2009, Beeson shared the idea of creating a photo exhibit for the memorial with students in his visual storytelling class. What started out as a class assignment evolved into a community project, now known as the “Kimball War Memorial Project.”

News-editorial senior Alissa Murphy is helping Assistant Professor Dana Coester who is leading efforts to produce an online component for the exhibit. Murphy said the entire team has a very important task on its shoulders.

“This is a huge part of West Virginia history – of U.S. history,” said Murphy. “We want to create an experience. We want people to hear the voices of African American veterans while they are looking at these photographs.”

Other team members include news-editorial junior Evan Moore, who is the visual editor for the project,and May 2010 news-editorial graduate and project coordinator Brianna Swisher, who is doing a year-long Americorps internship with Coal Heritage Trail, one of the project’s collaborating partners.

Work on this exhibit is partially funded through a 2010 WVU Public Service Grant. The display is slated to open on Veterans Day, Nov. 11 and the interactive website will be launched this fall. WVU cv/06/22/10

CONTACT: Kimberly Brown, School of Journalism 304-293-3505 ext. 5403

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lt. Col. William H. Holloman III Tuskegee Airman dies

Maj. Gen. Harold L. "Mitch" Mitchell, Tuskegee Airman Retired Lt. Col. Bill Holloman and Lt. Col. Kimberly Scott prepare to present certificates to students as part of the Michael Anderson Memorial Scholarship event at Seattle's Museum of Flight. Colonel Holloman is one of the famed "Tuskegee Airmen" who broke the military's color barrier by becoming a World War II fighter pilot. He died June 11, 2010, in Kent, Wash. General Mitchell is the Deputy Inspector General of the Air Force, in Washington D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Moody)

6/17/2010 - SAN ANTONIO (AFNS) -- Retired Lt. Col. William H. Holloman III, 85, one of the famed "Tuskegee Airmen" who broke the military's color barrier by becoming a World War II fighter pilot, died June 11 in Kent, Wash.

Colonel Holloman continued to serve during the Korean War and became the Air Force's first African-American helicopter pilot. He went to war again in Vietnam.

Lt. Col. William H. Holloman IIIA St. Louis native, he volunteered for and graduated from an all-black aviation training program at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Ala.

Colonel Holloman flew a single-seat P-51 Mustang fighter-bomber as part of the 99th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group from a base in Italy to targets in Germany, Austria and Eastern European countries in 1944 and 1945.
He flew 19 combat missions, including escorting bombers and hitting enemy targets.

After World War II, Colonel Holloman worked in South America and flew small commercial planes in Canada. Later as an Air Force reservist, he was called back to active duty for tours during the Korean War and in Vietnam. It was during that time he switched services and joined the Army.

After he retired in 1972 from the Army, he continued to serve his country by teaching younger generations about how the war and aviation intersected in a way that helped end racial separation.

The Official Site of the United States Air Force.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Juneteenth Celebration

It is the name for a holiday celebrating June 19, 1865, the day when Union soldiers arrived in Texas and spread the word that President Lincoln had delivered his Emancipation Procalamation. News traveled so slowly in those days that Texas did not hear of Lincoln's Proclamation, which he gave on January 1, 1863, until more than two years after it was issued!

The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Thus, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.

Although Juneteenth has been informally celebrated each year since 1865, it wasn't until June 3, 1979, that Texas became the first state to proclaim Emancipation Day (Juneteenth) an official state holiday.

Juneteenth CelebrationBut it is much more than a holiday. Juneteenth has become a day for African Americans to celebrate their freedom, culture, and achievements. It is a day for all Americans to celebrate African American history and rejoice in their freedom.

CREDIT: "Juneteenth Celebration program cover." Photo for "Juneteenth Celebration," a Texas Local Legacies project

Friday, June 18, 2010

Governor Quinn Commemorates Juneteenth, Honors Dr. Margaret Burroughs

Signs Legislation at Burroughs-Founded DuSable Museum to Designate March 25 as Day of Remembrance for Victims of Slavery

CHICAGO – June 18, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today commemorated Juneteenth at the DuSable Museum of African American History and proclaimed Dr. Margaret Burroughs Day in honor of the museum’s founder. He also signed legislation to designate March 25 as the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the state of Illinois.

Juneteenth is the oldest and most widely-celebrated holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

“Juneteenth is a day to remember our past and honor those who have made significant contributions to our present,” said Governor Quinn. “I salute Dr. Margaret Burroughs for her incredible work to advance the arts in Illinois and her dedication to ensuring that everyone can experience African American history and culture.”

Dr. Margaret Burroughs

Dr. Margaret Burroughs. Photo Credit: Indiana University
Dr. Margaret Burroughs made the first of her many contributions to African American arts and culture when, at the age of 22, she founded the South Side Community Arts Center as a gallery and studio for artists and students. The center is still active today and Dr. Margaret Burroughs continues to serve on its board.

Then, in 1961, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, her husband Charles and other leading Chicago residents founded the DuSable Museum of African American History. The museum has since grown to be an internationally-recognized museum of African American art.
It was originally located on the ground floor of the Burroughs' home on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago and is named for Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, the first non-Native-American permanent settler in Chicago.

“As the founder of numerous community institutions, a fighter for social justice and equality during the Civil Rights Movement, and a respected artist and pillar of the African American community, Dr. Margaret Burroughs has touched the lives of countless individuals and throughout her accomplished life has embodied the spirit of Juneteenth by brightening the futures of children and adults all across the Land of Lincoln,” said Governor Quinn in the proclamation.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers led by General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced the end of the Civil War, freeing all slaves. Though Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was effective two years prior on January 1, 1863, a lack of Union troops in Texas prevented enforcement.

Also at the event, Governor Quinn signed a bill into law to designate March 25 as a Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the state of Illinois. House Bill 4586, sponsored by Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), passed the Illinois General Assembly unanimously. The holiday will coincide with the annual United Nations' International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which falls on March 25 annually.

"Dr Margaret Burroughs Day" Proclamation in PDF Format. ###

Governor's Office Press Release, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Governor Douglas Proclaims Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Vermont

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Jim Douglas has proclaimed June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Vermont. Juneteenth, the oldest African-American holiday observance in the nation, celebrates the abolition of slavery in the United States.

“From our founding, Vermonters have been committed to protecting and preserving the freedoms of our fellow citizens,” Governor Douglas said. “In our founding document, the 1777 Constitution, slavery was explicitly prohibited.”

Although President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862, slavery continued during the Civil War. On June 18, 1865 Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. The next day, June 19, 1865, General Granger is reported to have read aloud General Order No.3, declaring all slaves free. Later that year the 13th Amendment became effective when it was ratified by Georgia on December 6, 1865, officially abolishing slavery throughout United States.

Governor Jim DouglasIn 2008, the General Assembly passed and Governor Douglas signed into law H. 432, An Act Establishing Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Act 201 of the 2007-2008 Biennium established the third Saturday in June as a commemorative state holiday.

Source: Office of the Governor

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Satcher to Graduates: “Dream About the Future of Health Care”

LOS ANGELES - Despite passage earlier this year of U.S. health care reform, David G. Satcher, the former U.S. Surgeon General, urged students graduating from Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science on Saturday to figure out how the American health system can be improved.

Dr. Satcher applauded President Barack Obama for turning universal health care into law, but told the students “this is no time to stop dreaming” about how to elevate health care. He believes the current climate remains the best chance in this century or the last to “make health care better in this country.”

“It’s up to us to make sure the system is reformed in the right manner,” he told an estimated crowd of 1,500 people. Dr. Satcher cited support for creating more primary care doctors, as well as advocating for more preventive care while promoting community health.

Medicare spends the lion’s share of its budget on treating chronic diseases, but more effort should be placed on prevention, said Dr. Satcher, 69.

David G. Satcher

Satcher to Graduates: “Dream About the Future of Health Care”
As an example, he said that shortly after graduating from medical school in 1970, he said 10% of the U.S. population was obese. By 2001, he said the number had ballooned to 30%, creating chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Moreover, he said that roughly 50 million people in the U.S. remain uninsured, he said,
sometimes after being dropped by insurers because the patient’s health problems were deemed too costly. “You can change that,” he said.

“You can continue to dream about the future of health care in this country, and the way it needs to be and that in dreaming, you will continue to work to make it what it should be.”

The speech represented a return to Satcher’s roots. He served as interim dean from 1977 to 1979 at what was then known as Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School, created after the Watts Rebellion in 1965 to train minority physicians in a community that demanded better health care.

Dr. Satcher left to chair a department at Morehouse College School of Medicine until the early 1980s and became president of Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He was chosen in 1993 to head up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Then, he served from 1998 to 2002 as the 16th Surgeon General, the nation’s top health officer.

Dr. Satcher acknowledged his deep ties to Charles Drew University by helping to establish an endowed scholarship, in honor of M. Alfred Haynes, the university’s president emeritus. The fund has received nearly $100,000 in financial support.

Shaunda K. Grisby, a graduating senior from the College of Medicine was chosen to receive the $5,000 award. Having now completed medical school, she will finish her training at Easton Hospital in Pennsylvania.

In addition, the Latino Leadership Roundtable, a 30-member advisory group at the university, along with top leaders at Charles Drew University, jointly developed a scholarship for Latino students. Named the Edward R. Roybal Scholarship, in honor of the former congressman, the scholarship fund contains $68,000. The first recipient will be chosen next year.

Others recognized for their achievements were:

Dr. Haynes, who also was a pioneer in addressing health disparities, was given the Board of Medal Honor, the university’s highest honor; Loretta Jones, director of Healthy African American Families II, a non-profit which strives to improve the health of African Americans, Latinos and other minorities in South Los Angeles, President’s Medal for the person who has performed with excellence in their chosen profession.

Geraldine Burton-Branch, an esteemed doctor and advocate, who has served the South Los Angeles community for more than a half-century, was chosen for an honorary degree.

Dr. Eric G. Bing, the university’s endowed professor of Global Health and HIV, was chosen for the Outstanding Professor Award, which recognizes excellence in teaching, research, clinical service or community. A faculty member is honored annually for their contributions to students, academic disciplines or the campus community.

Assistant Professor Cynthia Davis received the Outstanding Service Award, which acknowledges dedicated service to the university. A faculty member is chosen every year for their contributions that furthers the institution’s mission.

Graduating student leaders Rodney Terrell, College of Medicine, and Tania-Maria Barreno, College of Science and Health, also spoke during the ceremony.

“Graduation is always special,” said Keith C. Norris, interim president at Charles Drew University. “But this amazing class of graduates and illustrious group of honorees certainly gives great distinction to this year’s ceremonies.”

For Immediate Release Wednesday, June 16, 2010 For more information, please contact: Daryl Strickland Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science Telephone: (562) 229-4924

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Statement by Mayor Duffy Regarding Andrew A. Langston

Rochester has lost a pioneer and leader in the community. Andrew Langston provided a voice for African Americans in our community. He was a visionary who saw the need for a Black-owned radio station in Rochester and filled that void by creating WDKX, which remains a mainstay 36 years later.

Mr. Langston provided a source for African American businesses to advertise that hadn’t existed before. During times when radio stations were being bought by major corporations, Mr. Langston held on to WDKX, which is now one of the few independently owned radio stations in the country.

My prayers go out to Mrs. Gloria Langston, their son Andre and the entire Langston family. We pray and hope that WDKX will continue to be the voice of the community for generations to come. -30-

News Media: For more information, contact Gary Walker at 428-7405. City of Rochester
News Release.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Announces 2010 African-American Heritage Festival

Festival takes place at M&T Bank Stadium June 18-20.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was joined by elected officials and event organizers to announce details about the annual three-day African American Heritage Festival. The festival will take place from Friday-Sunday, June 18-20, 2010 at M&T Bank Stadium in Lots B and C.

“The African American Heritage Festival is one of the highlights of every summer in Baltimore for my family and the hundreds of thousands of people who take part in this outstanding event,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “With great entertainment for people of all ages, it is no wonder people from up and down the East Coast come here every year.”

The annual three-day festival attracts 500,000 people from the Baltimore region, Washington D.C., Virginia and other neighboring states. In fact, over twenty-percent of Festival attendees are from out of state.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor City Hall, Room 250 100 N. Holliday Street Baltimore, Maryland 21202 Phone (410) 396-3835 Fax (410) 576-9425
The Festival offers a number of pavilions providing information, covering topics that include “Financial Literacy”, “Health and Wellness”, “Careers and Employment” and “Home Ownership.” A special Children and Young Adult pavilion is also in place to promote arts, history, education, and fun for young people.

The African American Heritage Festival features a wide variety of musical acts performing on two stages. Nationally renowned entertainers headlining this year’s festival are Robin Thicke (Friday), Patti LaBelle (Saturday), and Donnie McClurkin (Sunday.)
Admission to the festival is free of charge before 4:00 p.m. every day, and only $5 afterwards. Children under 12 are admitted free of charge.

For more information about the festival, visit the website at

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 09, 2010 CONTACT Ryan O’Doherty (410) 818-4269

Saturday, June 12, 2010

US Department of Labor settles hiring discrimination case with The Wackenhut Corp. in Aurora, Colo.

Company agrees to pay $290,000 to 446 African-American job applicants

DENVER — The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has announced that The Wackenhut Corp., doing business as G4S Wackenhut, has entered into a consent decree to settle findings of hiring discrimination at its Aurora, Colo., facility. The consent decree settles OFCCP's allegations that Wackenhut engaged in hiring discrimination against 446 rejected African-American applicants for the position of traditional security officer for a two-year period. Wackenhut is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

"The department is committed to ensuring that federal contractors and subcontractors hire, promote and compensate their employees fairly, without respect to their race, gender, ethnicity, disability, religion or veteran status," said Patricia A. Shiu, director of OFCCP, who is based in Washington, D.C. "This settlement of $290,000 in back pay on behalf of 446 African-Americans should put all federal contractors on notice that the Labor Department is serious about eliminating systemic discrimination."

department of labor logo

OFCCP investigators found that the company engaged in hiring discrimination against African-Americans from Jan. 1, 2002, through Dec. 31, 2003. Under the terms of the consent decree and order, filed with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges, Wackenhut will pay a total of $290,000 in back pay and interest to the 446 rejected African-American applicants and will hire 41 of the applicants into traditional security officer positions. The company also agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures to ensure that all hiring practices fully comply with the law and will immediately correct any discriminatory practice. In addition, Wackenhut will ensure compliance with Executive Order 11246 recordkeeping requirements.

"We strongly encourage other employers to take proactive steps to come into compliance with the law to prevent workplace discrimination," said Melissa Speer, OFCCP acting director of OFCCP's Southwest and Rocky Mountain Regions, who is located in Dallas.

OFCCP, an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 that prohibit employment discrimination by federal contractors. The agency monitors federal contractors to ensure that they provide equal employment opportunities without regard to race, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability or veteran status.

OFCCP News Release: [06/09/2010] Contact Name: Rich Kulczewski Phone Number: (303) 844-1302 Release Number: 10-0736-DEN

Friday, June 11, 2010

Can Black Americans Afford Obama?


My March 2008 column "Is Obama Ready for America?" started out: "Some pundits ask whether America is ready for Obama. The much more important question is whether Obama is ready for America and even more important is whether black people can afford Obama." Let’s look at this.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson, in signing a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke the color bar in Major League Baseball. In 1950, three blacks broke the color bar in the National Basketball Association (NBA): Earl Lloyd (Washington Capitals), Chuck Cooper (Boston Celtics) and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton (New York Knicks). Their highly successful performances opened the way for other blacks to follow -- peaking at 27 percent in Major League Baseball and 80 percent in the NBA.

Walter E. Williams

E-mail: Telephone: (703) 993-1148. Facsimile: (703) 993-1133 Office: 333 Enterprise Hall, Mailing Address: Walter E. Williams. Department of Economics MSN 3G4 George Mason University Fairfax, VA 22030-4444

Without a question, the first blacks, relative to their white peers, in professional sports were exceptional. There's no sense of justice that should require that these players be as good as they were in order to get a job. But the fact of business, in order to deal with racial hostility and stereotypes of incompetence, they had to be first rate and possess character beyond question. It was not only important for their careers, it was important for their fellow blacks. At the time the sports color bar was being broken, black people could ill afford stumblebums. Today, black people can afford stumblebums in several sports. In fact, black people can afford for the Philadelphia Sixers to put Williams in their starting lineup. Any person watching me mess up royally would have to be a lunatic to say, "Those blacks can’t play basketball." The bottom line is that whether we like it or not, whether for good reason or bad reason, whether it’s fair or unfair, people make stereotypes, and stereotypes can have effects.
In that March 2008 column, I said, "For the nation and for black people, the first black president should be the caliber of a Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama is not. Barack Obama has charisma and charm but in terms of character, values and understanding, he is no Jackie Robinson." Obama’s electoral success was truly remarkable. It’s a testament to the essential goodness of the American people. A June 6-9, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reported "that 17 percent were enthusiastic about Obama being the first African American President, 70 percent were comfortable or indifferent, and 13 percent had reservations or were uncomfortable."

President Obama, with the assistance of devious House and Senate leadership, has gotten a health care law enacted that the majority of American voters are against. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 58 percent of voters support repeal of the health care law. Under the president’s leadership, the 2010 budget deficit will reach more than $1.5 trillion, about 10 percent of gross domestic product, the largest deficit since the end of World War II. We’re not that far behind the troubled nation of Greece, which has a current budget deficit of nearly 13 percent of GDP. Our national debt at $13 trillion is about 90 percent of GDP and budgeted to grow by $9 trillion over the next decade. On the diplomatic front, the Obama team is not doing much better, showing every sign of permitting a terrorist nation like Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Early indications suggest that the Barack Obama presidency might turn out to be similar to the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter. That’s bad news for the nation but especially bad news for black Americans. No white presidential candidate had to live down the disgraced presidency of Carter but I’m all too fearful that a future black presidential candidate will find himself carrying the heavy baggage of a failed black president. That’s not a problem for white liberals who voted for Obama who received their one-time guilt-relieving dose from voting for a black man to be president, but it is a problem for future generations of black Americans.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration set for June 19

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center at Indiana University Bloomington will host the 12th Annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration next Saturday (June 19).

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of enslavement in the United States. From its origin in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, the observance of June 19 as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

"We commemorate Juneteenth because it marks the beginning of the end of eight generations of enslavement of African people in America," said Audrey T. McCluskey, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

"Although the realization of freedom was to be an ongoing struggle, this beginning validated and reinforced the bright hope that had sustained enslaved people through their long, dark nightmare.

Audrey McCluskey

Audrey McCluskey, Courtesy of Indiana University.
"Today, that optimism is needed as we celebrate our collective achievements and fortify ourselves for the work that remains," she added.

The event starts at 10 a.m. with the Juneteenth Parade, beginning at the north side of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, located at 275 N. Jordan Ave.
The line-up for the parade will begin at 9:30 outside the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center at the intersection of Seventh Street and Jordan Avenue.

This year, Juneteenth events will be held on the Bloomington campus, primarily in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Cener and the surrounding outdoor areas. In addition to the parade, there will be family friendly activities such as a short dramatic performance written and directed by Braeshaun Joyner, presentation of the Unsung Hero Recognition Award, the Juneteenth King and Queen Pageant and a children's booth.

Food, information and business vendors also will be included in the celebration. A Three-on-Three Basketball Tournament will feature special guest Sacramento Kings' forward and Bloomington native Sean May as host. Sign-in for the tournament will take place at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center prior to the tournament at the Wildermuth Intramural Center at the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 1025 E. Seventh St.

There is still time to registration for the Juneteenth parade, Unsung Hero Recognition and Three-on-Three Basketball Tournament. Anyone interested in participating may pick up the registration forms in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center office, located in suite A226. The forms must be returned to the center by specified dates. Additional information about each event follows:

* All participants for the parade should arrive no later than 9 a.m. to the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Line-up for the parade will be held from 9 to 9:30 a.m. and the parade will begin promptly at 10 a.m..
* Recommendations for Unsung Hero Recognition Award must be submitted to Debra Vance at by 5 p.m. on Friday (June 11).
* For the basketball tournament, all teams are welcome and can have up to four players. A team registration fee of $20 must be paid at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center office by next Wednesday (June 16).
* Those interested in vending or booth space need to complete a registration form available at the center's office. Fees for vendors are $50 for food sales and $25 for other sales. Booths are free for non-profit organizations and those only providing public affairs information.

More information about the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center and Juneteenth is available online at or by calling 812-855-9271.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

African American High School Students Gather at Colorado State University's Black Issues Forum June 15-19

FORT COLLINS - African American high school seniors will come together to research issues pertinent to the African American community during the 17th annual Black Issues Forum at Colorado State University on June 15-19.

The program brings together about 40 students from Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The session involves four days of research and discussion that culminate in a formal forum where students present their findings. The program format also helps students strengthen their skills in public speaking, teamwork and leadership. Students will choose to study one of four topics pertinent to the African-American community: • African Americans and Politics: Black Leadership in the Hip Hop Generation
• African Americans and the Environment: The Importance of Green Energy in Black Communities
• African Americans and Technology: Black Scientists: Past, Present and Future
• African Americans and Society: Exploring the Impacts of High Rates of Incarceration in Black Communities

Black Issues Forum

Black Issues Forum at Colorado State University
Colorado State faculty, staff and graduate students will assist program participants in researching and presenting their topic areas.

“The purpose of the Black Issues Forum program is to expose high school students to higher education and Colorado State University,” said Bobby Browning, forum coordinator and assistant director of Admissions at Colorado State University.
“After spending a few days living and conducting research on a university campus, this experience should make the pursuit of a college degree a less daunting experience for high school student participants.”

For more information about the Black Issues Forum, contact Bobby A. Browning at (970) 213-4032. -30-

For Immediate Release Wednesday, June 09, 2010 Contact for Reporters: Jennifer Dimas
970.491.1543 Jennifer.Dimas@ColoState.EDU

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ujima to Celebrate Student Achievements at Fourth Annual Rites of Passage Dinner on June 10

The Ujima Program, Pasadena City College’s community of educators and learners committed to the academic success, personal growth, and self-actualization of African-American and other students, will be holding a yearend celebratory dinner on June 10 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Creveling Lounge inside the PCC Campus Center.

The event is free, open to the PCC community, and will include a dinner, an Ujima student procession, and awarding of Kente cloths and certificates.

"The Ujima End-of-the-Year celebration is a truly wonderful, student-centered, student-planned, and student-presented event,” said Chiara Thomas, coordinator of the Ujima Program.

The Ujima Program Logo “This event encourages students to celebrate their individual and collective academic achievements. For many students of color, the Ujima Program and programs offering similar support are critical to finding success in meeting their higher education goals. We hope every interested community and campus member will join us on this momentous occasion."

For more information, contact Thomas at (626) 585-7892.

Release Date: 06/08/2010, Contact: Juan F. Gutierrez , Director, Public Relations. Phone: (626) 585-7315 Email:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Associated Black Charities of Maryland to celebrate 25 years of progress while honoring African-American innovators, role models in Higher Education

MSU's President Richardson and Dr. Clara Adams honored as leaders in higher education by Associated Black Charities.

To mark the 25th Anniversary of its founding, the Associated Black Charities of Maryland (ABC) will reflect on past accomplishments, highlight current initiatives -such as More in the Middle and Place Matters-- outline future plans, and spotlight innovators in higher education at Baltimore's Hyatt Regency, 300 Light Street, on Saturday, June 12, 2010 starting at 6 p.m.

"These eight honorees collectively represent a variety of profound achievements in higher education," said ABC Board of Directors Chair Walter Amprey, former Baltimore City Public Schools Superintendent. "As individuals, they demonstrate the highest levels of educational proficiency, and a special way of giving back to the community."

Diane Bell-McKoy

Diane Bell-McKoy
According to Diane Bell-McKoy, the CEO and President of Associated Black Charities, "Education was one of the earliest priorities for ABC when it was founded 25 years ago, so it is particularly appropriate for us to honor and recommit to that concept today. If we are to build and expand a strong African American middle class, we must teach our young people the importance of education for wealth-building, home ownership, and quality employment."

The Anniversary will also highlight 25 years of service and philanthropy throughout Central Maryland.

The Gala's Honorees are...
* Dr. Earl S. Richardson, President of Morgan State University, for Lifetime Achievement.
* Dr. Clara Adams, Morgan State University; Dr. Bernard Wynder, Frostburg State University, and Jamal Mubdi-Bey, of Sojourner-Douglass College will be honored as Living Legends.
* Dr. Leslie King Hammond, of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and Dr. Lenneal Henderson, from the University of Baltimore will be given ABC's Trailblazer accolade.
* And, Anita Thomas, from the University of Baltimore, and Tenyo Pearl, from Coppin State University are seen as Emerging Leaders.

The "Full 25th Anniversary Gala Event" includes a Plated Dinner, the Program, a Networking Reception, Dessert, Dancing, and Valet Parking, and begins at 6 p.m. The accompanying Mini Event, with Networking, Dessert, Dancing and Parking, begins at 9 p.m. For ticket information, please contact Charles Brice at 410.659.0000 ext. 1203.

The Associated Black Charities of Maryland is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. # # #


Friday, June 4, 2010

UI Juneteenth celebration, June 19, observes the end of slavery

Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, will be observed from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 19, in Room 2520D of the University Capitol Centre.

A speaker, music performances and a cake reception are featured in this second annual celebration sponsored by the University of Iowa African American Council and Bethel A.M.E. Church of Iowa City.

The dreams, actions and spirit leading up to this defining moment in history are the focus of the event, celebrating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery.


Emancipation day celebration - later known as Juneteenth and a public holiday in Texas.
While the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, is deemed as the end of slavery in this nation, official notice was delivered two and a half years later to the last slave state, Texas, thus ending slavery. The date of that last proclamation of freedom was June 19, 1865, thus the Juneteenth Celebration.

Juneteenth celebrations have grown in popularity across the nation and worldwide in recent decades.
For more information, contact Billie Townsend at 319-354-5995 or

Thursday, June 3, 2010

HU Ministers' Conference to Explore Integrity in Ministry

Hampton, VA -The 96th Annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference and 76th Annual Choir Directors' and Organists' Guild Workshop will be held on June 6-11 at Hampton University. The HU Ministers' Conference is the largest gathering of interdenominational African-American clergy in the world. This year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will give a special address to conference attendees on June 9 at 11 a.m.

The theme for this year is “Ministry and Integrity,” tackling the tough issue of maintaining integrity in ministry. This year marks the final year for presiding conference president the Rev. Dr. William R. Curtis, senior pastor of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Penn. He is the youngest president in conference history.

96th Annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference LogoThe Rev. Dr. Ralph West, senior pastor of Church Without Walls in Dallas, Texas, will serve as this year’s keynote conference speaker. Other nationally acclaimed speakers for the conference include: Bishop Rudolph McKissick, Jr. of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; the Rev. Brenda Gregg of Greater Allen AME Church in Pittsburgh, Penn.; and the Rev. Dr. Cliff Jones of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. The conference will also feature the annual Women in Ministry luncheon.
New this year is the Church Development and Leadership Academy for participants interested in receiving continuing education units for participation in conference workshops and seminars. Topics include “Surviving the Church Audit,” “The Media: Friend or Foe?” “Ministry and Health Education,” “Psychology from Scripture” and “Marriage Strengthening Tools for the Church.”

Noted events include:

Church Development and Leadership Academy Inaugural Reception June 6 at 6:30 p.m., HU Student Center Ballroom. Featuring world-renowned vocal artist and motivational speaker Wintley Phipps.

Opening Ceremony June 7 at 7 p.m., HU Convocation Center.

George A. Crawley Women in Ministry Hour June 8 at 12:30 p.m., HU Student Center Ballroom

Special Address by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan June 9 at 11 a.m., HU Convocation Center

The Charles H. Flax Memorial Concert June 10 at 7:30 p.m., HU Convocation Center. The concert is free and open to the public.

On-site conference registration begins June 6 from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. and opens at 8 a.m. each morning of the conference thereafter. The on-site registration fee is $180. For information regarding registration, please call (757) 727-5681, email or visit # HU # For more information contact Alison L. Phillips @ 757.727.5754 or email

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health, and Policy

What is the modern day status of the African American male? Thoroughly examining this critical and often neglected subpopulation, a new book discusses the conflicting perspectives, roles, and identities of African American males from a social work standpoint.

Examining African American men from adolescence through adulthood, Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health and Policy tackles both the historical and modern issues of African American masculinity from a unique vantage point. University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration Associate Professor Waldo E. Johnson, Jr. and his contributors seek to shed new light on the fundamental question of African American male health in the present day in this groundbreaking volume.

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D.

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D.
HIV/AIDS impact, homicidal and suicidal behavior, physical well-being, a father’s family role; these are a sample of the wide-reaching issues that Johnson and his contributors confront in their book. The first investigation of its kind to be conducted from the social work perspective, Johnson’s text provides insights into these penetrating issues in our current society. In his own words, it “offers a broader perspective on the status of African American males that is both more encompassing than the lived experience and thus, a more nuanced and realistic portrait of the African American male in contemporary American society.”
Fatherhood is one of the most important topics that Johnson examines. What does it mean to be an African American father? What are the personal, community-based, and social barriers that can block them from fulfilling that role? In what manner does a family’s structure affect paternal involvement amongst low-income African American fathers? How does incarceration and similar obstacles impact fatherhood? Johnson and his contributors confront these socially difficult and causally complicated issues with special attention, seeking to better frame these inquiries and to provide socially relevant and helpful answers.

Social work initiatives have historically been reluctant to provide aid to the African American male subpopulation for a variety of reasons. Each social welfare response is guided by inherent gender, racial, and cultural perspectives, many of which exclude African American males from the most important services they need. Such social neglect has a profound impact on their lives, and those of their family and community members. In this regard, the volume is intended to examine “the relationship of how today’s African American male reacts and responds to his world, and how the world responds to him from a social work perspective,” Johnson said.

Throughout the volume, evidence-based practice is an integral component of Johnson’s undertaking. Drawing on a compelling body of new and untapped research, Johnson combines both quantitative and qualitative findings to advance his investigation. He links broad surveys and data sets with in-depth interviews and studies to provide a holistic appraisal of African American male status. Joining associate professor Johnson in this endeavor are a variety of seasoned and emerging scholars, all of whom contribute to the book’s novel approach to the question at hand. With such diverse scholarship, the volume is able to expertly handle the sweeping scope of its question, and provide a relevant and concise appraisal of African American male status to a wide audience.

Johnson’s social welfare-based examination has unique implications for policy and practice everywhere. At the core of Johnson’s thesis is that social work and welfare interventions must be improved for the subpopulation in question. Historically, the African American male subpopulation has been marginalized in regards to support and service networks, and Johnson and his co-scholars emphasizes that policy must be realigned to reflect the realities of their situation. Before changes can be made, however, we must definitively understand and challenge “how normative masculine identity and historical marginalization complicates individual and familial engagement between social work, social welfare, and African American males,” Johnson said.

Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health, and Health Policy is available through Oxford University Press.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

'New Treatments, No Tricks' A Seminar on Minority Participation in Clinical Trials

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Host 'New Treatments, No Tricks' A Seminar on Minority Participation in Clinical Trials

Memphis, Tenn. (June 1, 2010) – On Tuesday, June 15, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will host a seminar on increasing African-American and Latino participation in clinical trials that are used to improve health outcomes for all citizens. New Treatments, No Tricks, which will be held at the UTHSC Student-Alumni Center), 800 Madison Avenue, aims to reduce minority fears of participating in clinical trials and inform minority citizens on how to gain access to various studies.

Participants in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

Photograph of Participants in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Image courtesy Public Domain Clip Art
The workshops are intended to: 1. explain clinical trials in layman’s terms; 2. discuss barriers to and benefits from clinical trials participation; 3. describe government requirements for protecting individuals who volunteer for clinical studies, and 4. provide a forum for audience questions to researchers who conduct clinical trials and minority citizens who actively participate in these studies. (An agenda is attached.)
New Treatments, No Tricks is designed for African-American and Latino citizens, health care professionals (physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists and care takers), policy-makers, community health organizers, minority communications experts, and all interested individuals. Speakers represent UT Health Science Center, Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University, the University of Memphis, UT Medical Group, the West Clinic, and the Men’s Health Network. The primary sponsors are the UT Health Science Center Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Additional sponsors include the Consortium for Health Education Economic Empowerment and Research, the Men’s Health Network, and the National Medical Association.

The seminar will include a film and panel discussion on the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, a clinical trial conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Ala., involving African-American sharecroppers with syphilis. The 40-year study examined the progression of untreated syphilis to justify treatment for African-Americans. The clinical trial became controversial because researchers failed to treat patients appropriately after the 1940s validation of penicillin. The panel for this workshop includes clinical trials investigators and citizens who participate in clinical studies. More information about the Tuskegee Experiment can be found at More information about the Tuskegee Experiment can be found at

There is no charge to attend the seminar, but registration is required. Interested participants are asked to register no later than Thursday, June 10, by contacting Deborah Talley of UT Health Science Center at (901) 448-1938 or by e-mailing at

As the flagship statewide academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC has additional colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy plus an Allied Health Sciences unit in Knoxville, as well as a College of Medicine campus in Chattanooga. For more information, visit ###

Conference Agenda

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. Welcome and Definition of Clinical Trials

8:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Turning the Page on Minority Fears: A Seminar Overview

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. New Directions in Blood Cancer Therapies

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Break

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. New Cures vs. Old Fears: A film and panel discussion on the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, a clinical study conducted in Tuskegee, Ala., between 1932 and 1972

11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. The Impact Model: A Proven Method for Eliminating Barriers to Minority Participation in Clinical Trials

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Removing Fears and Other Trustbusters: An Overview on Research Protection for Study Participants

12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Lunch and Speaker

The Lives You Save May Start with Your Own: How to Find and Access Clinical Trials

1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Wrap-up, evaluations and educational credits information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: For more information, contact: The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Communications and Marketing, Sheila Champlin – (901) 448-4957 or Dena Owens – (901) 448-4072

Contact Us: 62 South Dunlap Street. Room 203. Memphis, TN 38163. Phone: (901) 448-5544. Fax: (901) 448-8640