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South Carolina: Slavery Epicenter for the United States

Nikki Haley and the college presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn, courtesy Creative Commons, Fabrice Florin

South Carolina and slavery have been in the news. The former because the former governor of the state and now presidential candidate muffed a softball question where the latter was the answer. She may have been thinking she was campaigning in the Confederacy and not in the Union. One can’t help but wonder how many people from those small New Hampshire villages and hamlets died in the very war that was the subject of the question.

So instead of easily answering the question about the causes of the Civil War, she instead babbled. She ended up sounding like a college president from Harvard, MIT, and Penn having to answer a question about the call for genocide against Jews being an anti-Semitic act.

One should keep in mind that the very state she governed was the epicenter for slavery in the United States. Unfortunately, The New York Times 1619 Project has transformed a onetime comparatively minor event in Virginia into the starting point of America’s original sin and thus deprived South Carolina of its rightful place where systematic chattel slavery and racism began.

The other mainland British colonies stumbled into slavery. They were not founded by people who had the goal of creating a slave colony. The Carolinas were different. They may be why they are glossed over in the colonial founding stories. All the great tourist sites and stories for British and Dutch colonization here belong elsewhere.

As a reminder of the importance of South Carolina in the development of slavery in the British mainland colonies, below is the blog I wrote on Barbados, American Slavery and Racism.  South Carolina was the colony of a colony and that colony was Barbados. We just celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. The tea came from China.No civilized person could drink tea or coffee without sugar. When the American Revolution began, the mainland British colonies were not joined by their British counterparts. One reason is that those colonies were not settled for freedom of religion or any other kind of freedom. They were settled to produce sugar (rum and molasses). That meant constantly renewed slave labor force. When the American Revolution did occur, that meant the British Caribbean colonies were more valuable to the Crown than the mainland colonies were.

While becoming President of the United States does not require any expertise in American history — obviously — perhaps the former governor of South Carolina will spend some time and effort learning about the history of her own state especially if she wants to be President during the 250th anniversary of the birth of the country in 2026.

Barbados, American Slavery and Racism

August 1, 2023

Barbados was the feature of a seven-page article in the July 24, 2023, issue of Time Magazine (print). That is a fairly substantial article for the mostly weekly magazine. The subject of the article as the subtitle stated was “How the tiny island of Barbados became a leader in the global push for reparations.” True to the subtitle, the article addressed precisely that issue. It traced the history of the island and the efforts of the people to obtain reparations. It was not about the United States slavery and racism.

That being said, there are several points of the article which nonetheless have direct bearing on the United States even without mentioning it.

1. British settlers first arrived in 1627.

To put that in American perspective, that is 20 years after the settlement at Jamestown, seven years after the arrival of the Pilgrims, three years after the Dutch settled New Amsterdam, three years before the Puritans arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony, and 55 years before the Quakers arrived in Pennsylvania.

Barbados was then part of the British colonial settlement. In the 1600s. As Americans, we need to remove our geographical blinders and include the island in the study of early British colonialism here. It would be an island British Loyalists fled to at the end of the American Revolution because it was not one of the colonies which choose to rebel.

2. By the 1640s, Barbados was a sugar cane powerhouse.

Sugar production generated huge profits. The modern counterpart would not be oil in Saudi Arabia but cocaine. Barbados produced what Europeans had to have even though they had no biological need for it. Barbados was a drug powerhouse of the first order. And it was legal.

The economic dynamics of the island was vastly different from the mainland colonies mentioned above. None of them could match the economic importance of Barbados. One could try to cash in on it by supplying non-sugar products to the island since land was too precious to waste on them. Arguably, when Britain had to decide which was more important during the American Revolution the answer was Barbados.

3. The enormous profits inspired the world’s first slave codes, legislated in Barbados in 1661.

In 1619, there was no legally category of slaves in Virginia law or in British law. In 1626, the same was true in New Amsterdam under Dutch law. The Barbados slave code then became the model for slave codes throughout the British Atlantic colonies.

The demographic situation in Barbados was quite different from the mainland colonies. The trickle of Africans arriving in the latter paled in significance before the numerical need for workers in Barbados. Not only did this one small island dwarf the need for workers in the mainland colonies at any one time, due to disease and short-life spans, the need to steadily replenish the worker stock ensured a constant contact with Africa.

The numbers also told a different racial story. Yes, it was true that all the mainland colonies had African slaves but the differential in numbers was vast. In the northern colonies in particular, white people (somewhat of a historically inaccurate term in the 1600s) knew they were in the majority. In Barbados, the opposite was true. It was bluntly obvious to everyone that the number of people from African exceeded the number of people from Europe.

One may begin to glimpse here the racial divide that continues to this very day. The Africans, fresh off the boat, were black. They were not the wide range of hues encompassed by the term “Black” in the United States today. Today one may play guessing games with famous figures as to their racial background. There was no room for doubt in Barbados back in the 1600s. Everyone knew which side of the color line one was on, which color meant “slave,” and which person was bound by the slave codes.


At this point, one may be wondering what Barbados has to do with the United States. If you look again at the mainland colonies from the 1600s, you will notice one gaping absence – the Carolinas. The colony was founded in 1663 (not settled) under the direction of Charles II in the Restoration in Britain. It then became known as “the colony of a colony.” Barbados has been called “Little England” because it was so thoroughly English. That was true for white people. Those traditions carried over into South Carolina

While the other mainland colonies consisted of people who sailed here directly from Europe, many of the early settlers in South Carolina arrived via Barbados. People settling in the other mainland colonies did not arrive with the intention to create plantations of slaves producing sugar. … or any part of that description.

By contrast, people arriving in South Carolina were fully conversant with the plantation system where Africans were slaves, Europeans were free, and harsh slave codes were necessary to keep the peace. South Carolina, like Barbados, was an African-majority population.

One should keep in mind that it was not only White people who migrated to South Carolina. Some brought their African slaves with them. The latter too knew the plantation system.

Slavery was a significant part of the South Carolina economy right from the start. It was part of the colony’s DNA. The same cannot be said for the Chesapeake colonies or the north. Slavery took time to grow in numbers and never attained the percent of the population in South Carolina. Truly it may be said that Puritan New England and Little England Barbados belonged to two different cultural worlds, a difference that continues to divide the United States to this very day.

So whereas the settlers in Virginia 1619 or New Amsterdam in 1626 had to go through the process of deciding what exactly constituted a “slave,” the South Carolina settlers in the 1670s had no such issues. Everything had been worked out already in Barbados. It was simply a question of migrating the Barbadian way of life to the new colony.


In a blog, one cannot tell the full history of either Barbados or South Carolina or their connection in the 1600s. Yet it is enough to see that South Carolina was distinctly different than the other mainland British colonies in it its culture, demographics, racial values, and economy. With the other colonies, one traces their roots back to England of Holland. With South Carolina, one traces its roots to Barbados.

Even though in many ways, Barbados resembled Mother England, that was a Mother England without the vast drug profits from sugar and the constantly replenished African worker to harvest and process it and who were in the majority of the population. It is in Barbados that we find the development of race dividing people into Africans who were black and English who therefore must be white. It is in Barbados that we find the equation of black Africans with slavery. It is in Barbados that we find harsh slave codes to control the Africans and maintain the boundaries between the English and the African. And it is from Barbados that these values passed into the British mainland colonies to create the racial system that defined the Confederacy and the country to this very day.

SOURCES (Articles only)

Bull, Kinloch, “Barbadian Settlers in Early Carolina: Historiographical Notes” in South Carolina Historical Magazine 96/4 1995:329-339.

Burnard, Trevor, Games, Alison, ed., “Sugar and Slaves after Fifty Years,” in Early American Studies 20:4 2022:549-773 (multiple articles).

Dunn, Richard S., “The English Sugar Islands and the Founding of South Carolina,” in South Carolina Historical Magazine 72 1971:81-93.

Greene, Jack P., “Colonial South Carolina and the Caribbean Connection,” in South Carolina Historical Magazine 88/4 1987:192-210.

Greene, Jack P., “Changing Identity in the British Caribbean: Barbados as a Case  Study,” in Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800, Nicholas Canny and Anthony Pagden (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 213-266.

Harlow, Vincent T, A History of Barbados, 1625-1685, book review by Robert E. Park, The American Journal of Sociology 33 1928:669-670.

Harlow, Vincent T, A History of Barbados, 1625-1685, book review, unnamed, The Journal of Negro History 13 1928:102-103.

Harlow, Vincent T., A History of Barbados, 1625-1685, book review by Frank Pitman, The American Historical Review 33 1927:165-167.

Menard, Russell, “Slave Demography in the Lowcountry, 1670-1740: From Frontier Society to Plantation Regime in South Carolina Historical Magazine 96/4 1995:280-303.

O’Malley, George E., “Beyond the Middle Passage: Slave Migration from the Caribbean to North America, 1619-1807,” in William and Mary Quarterly 3rd Series 66/1 2009:125-172.

Roberts, Justin, “Surrendering Surinam: The Barbadian Diaspora and the Expansion of the English Sugar Frontier, 1670-75,” in William and Mary Quarterly 3rd Series 73/2 2016:225-256.

Roberts, Justin, and Beamish, Ian, “Venturing Out: The Barbadian Diaspora and the Carolina Colony, 1650-1685 in Creating and Contesting Carolina: proprietary era histories, Michelle LeMaster and Bradford J. Wood, ed. (Columbia: South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press, 2013), 49-72.

Thomas, Jno. P. Jr., “The Barbadians in Early South Carolina,” in The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 31/2 1930 75-92.

Thompson, Peter, “Henry Drax’s Instruction on the Management of a Seventeenth-Century Barbadian Sugar Plantation,” in William and Mary Quarterly 3rd Series 66/3 2009:566-604.

Waterhouse, Richard, “England, the Caribbean and the Settlement of Carolina,” in Journal of American Studies 9/3 1975:259-281.

Slavery Armageddon: Harvard versus Tucker

Eighteenth-century Harvard presidents—and slaveowners—Edward Holyoke (left) and Benjamin Wadsworth (Painting of Edward Holyoke by John Singleton Copley/Harvard Art Museums; painting of Benjamin Wadsworth in the public domain)

Slavery at Harvard is in the news. The announcement of a $100 million fund made all the major newspapers and cable news outlets. The Harvard-hosted hybrid conference following the announcement “Telling the Truth about All This: Reckoning with Slavery and Its Legacies at Harvard and Beyond,” on April 29, 2022, received less coverage. That conference also is important in chartering the future course Harvard may take. While there is insufficient space here to review the proceedings of the conference, there are some observations which can be made about Harvard’s position within the current slavery debates.

To start with, the Harvard conference can be put in context. It followed related Yale conferences:

Yale and Slavery in Historical Perspective, October 28-30, 2021
Legacies of Slavery: Past, Present & Future, April 5, 2022

and preceded the Brown conference:

Reparations Conference by The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University, May 5, 2022.

Truth be told, it is hard to keep up with these Ivy League conferences. And thanks to Zoom, it is now possible attend all of them at no cost and without leaving home.

Sticking to the Harvard conference in this blog, what was the main takeaway from that conference?

For me, it is that IT WAS A VERY IMPORTANT CONFERENCE AT HARVARD. Certainly, Harvard is a globally prestigious institution. Its words and actions carry weight. And in case you were not sure about that, speaker after speaker reminded the audience that this WAS A VERY IMPORTANT CONFERENCE and it was being held at HARVARD. Even online, you could feel the goodness radiating from the participants and the audience as they were part of a VERY IMPORTANT CONFERENCE AT HARVARD.

So is Harvard ready for a primetime leadership role?


According to the Harvard report, slavery there from the college’s founding in 1636 to the abolition of slavery in the state of Massachusetts in 1783 included 70 people. What is your first reaction to the number 70 over 147 years? Does it seem like a lot? 70 people over 147 years is not a shock and awe number. About the same number of Ukrainians can be killed in a single Russian artillery strike on a school, a hospital, or a theater. I mention these figures because numbers matter and affect perceptions.

For example, Peniel E. Joseph, Barbara Jordan Chair in ethics and political values and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, the number was 70 too many:

The anguish that I felt reading those names an parts of their stories was magnified as I pondered the gaps in the narrative, the information we don’t have about them. I ache for that knowledge, even as I understood this would cause me (and others) more pain (Opinion: Why Harvard’s report demands our attention, CNN 4/29/22 written following the conference).

However despite the personal anguish he felt, Harvard itself undermined the impact of the extent of slavery at the college.

During the five decades between 1890 and 1940, approximately 160 Blacks attended Harvard College, or an average of about three per year, 30 per decade.

The figure of 160 over fifty years projects to 480 over 150 years. So the student/slave ratio is 70/480 over roughly the same time periods. If the admission number is used to show the racism due to a low number of students, then the implication is the number 70, barely 1/7 as much, is indicative of a much smaller problem. These differences in the use of numbers to deliver a message is the type of question Harvard could be asked to explain.

Speaking of admissions at Harvard, the full story of admissions should bring the issue of race to the present. In 2014, the organization Students for Fair Admissions brought a lawsuit against Harvard concerning discrimination against Asian Americans and the affirmative action program in Harvard University’s student admissions process. In January 2022, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and consolidated it with a similar case related to admissions practices at the University of North Carolina. This may not be the same Supreme Court that is in the process of ruling on abortion. By the 2022-2023 term, Justice Breyer will have stepped down and his replacement Ketanji Brown Jackson, will recuse herself from the case because she is on the Harvard Board of Overseers.

So again if Harvard wants to take a leadership position on race, it might want to include the issue of admissions policies today.


Another issue to be discussed is the relation of the slave-colleges to the surrounding community. Some colleges are located in college towns. This means just as a factory may have once dominated a particular community, so a college may be the major game in town. Other times a college may be part of a larger community.

For example, the Yale conference description stated:

The conference will engage the Yale and New Haven communities as well as the national context of reckoning with the past.

Indeed, one session was devoted to “The Negro College Story,” the failed attempt in 1831 to create what would have been the first HBCU in the United States if not the world. At the end of the conference Willie Jennings, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies, Yale Divinity School, said (in paraphrase): What Yale needs to do right now is to make New Haven a partner collaborator. Don’t try to change the world, start at home. Yale needs to see New Haven differently.

The Brown conference also included the local community. Entire sessions were devoted to the city of Providence including with municipal personnel. These people have done a deep dive into the history of Providence as well as to the demographic information of the city over the past few decades. The emphasis has shifted from not simply slavery in the colonial era but to the destruction of communities involving “Negro removal” by white people in the 20th century. Here one may witness the importance of white racism separate to or in addition to slavery which had been abolished in an unenforced law in 1652 and then was phased out following the Gradual Emancipation Act in 1784.

At some point Harvard will have a decision to make about post-slavery racism beyond the college campus and into the surrounding community be it Cambridge and/or Boston. It is under no obligation to do so but it is something to consider.


Note: According to USA Today and CNN, the Harvard report covered slavery in “the 17th and 18 centuries.” According to The New York Times article, the time period was the 16th and 17th centuries.

1619 – Beginning in 2019, another globally-prominent institution, The New York Times, made 1619 the center of national discourse about the slavery and the origins of the Unites States. The firestorm unleashed by the newspaper continues to rage today as multiple states debate and/or pass legislation affecting the history curriculum. What is the relationship of slavery in Harvard in 1636 to the events in 1619 in Virginia? Did Harvard draw on the Virginia precedents? Did it goes its own way?  Harvard has an opportunity in understanding 1636 to put it and 1619 in context.

1783 – On May 4, 2022, Humanities New York (HNY) held a Community Conversation: Land, Liberty, and Loss based on the article “A Forgotten Black Founding Father: Why I’ve made it my mission to teach others about Prince Hall,” by Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard. The subject was the actions of this unsung hero in having slavery abolished in the state. A key was the words “men are born free and equal” which had migrated from the Declaration of Independence to the 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution. But if the American Revolution really was fought to preserve slavery, how did its very words become part of the successful effort to abolish it in Massachusetts? When Harvard President Bacow says of slavery, “It was embedded in the fabric and the institutions of the North, and it remained legal in Massachusetts until the Supreme Judicial Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1783” it is not enough. Harvard has an opportunity to lead a national discussion on how the Declaration of Independence was used to abolish slavery.


The Harvard report names Harvard-affiliated people who owned people. Their names are on buildings, monuments, and memorials throughout the campus. There was a major commotion back in 2016 over the seal of the Harvard Law School. It bore the crest of the former slave-owning Royall family. One of the presentations (part of which I missed) at the conference was by Kyera Singleton, executive director, Royall House and Slave Quarters. The name game and cancelling are part of the national discourse now. Harvard will be facing decisions about multiple individuals and their physical presence on the campus. At this point, no one knows how that process will work out. However it does proceed, those actions and/or inactions will become part of the national discourse as well with implications for similar issues elsewhere. In this regard, Harvard will become a media focal point in the culture wars.

President Bacow said, “The report makes plain that slavery in America was by no means confined to the South.” Does that mean Harvard will issue an apology to Confederates on behalf of the northerners who said slavery was a “southern” problem?

Peniel Joseph wrote:

Still the relentless optimist in me sees this report as an opportunity to have a thoughtful, mature and necessary push toward national reparations for racial slavery…Harvard has, in its own small and significant way, with its willingness to face the most unseemly and dishonorable parts of its past, taken meaningful steps toward a path of healing. We can only build a new story of America – our past, present, and future – by confronting how we arrived at this moment together.

The report written within the cloisters of the college represents the easy part of that effort. The real challenge will occur when Harvard enters the national political arena on slavery and racism whether it wants to or not.

The Myth of No Slavery in the North: Cancel Harvard and Yale

American history is partially defined by myths. These are the stories we well about our country that are true in the mind of the storyteller but not necessarily independent of that person. These stories have a life of their own. They may become embedded in the texts we use to teach. They may be true to us but not to someone else. To face the truth of the falsity of a myth that we believe to be true is a challenge often avoided. And when people in the past yet alone the present act on the basis of the myth, then drawing the line between myth and reality is even more difficult.

The prominent myths of the American culture – including one new one – are:

1. the myth of the Empty Land
2. the myth of Stolen from Africa
3. the myth of no slavery in the North
4. the myth of the Lost Cause
5. the myth of the Stolen Election.

These myths should not be dismissed since they are not true. They are true in the minds of the people who believe in them and who act on the basis of them. Therefore they have to be taken seriously.


On April 26, 2022, Lawrence S. Bacow, president of Harvard University, and Tomiko Brown-Nagin, chair of the Presidential Initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery and dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, publicly challenged the myth of no slavery in the North in a press release.

Contrary to popular narratives, during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, slavery was fundamental to New England’s economy. It was legal in Massachusetts, where Harvard is based, until 1783. By that time, Harvard was almost 150 years old.

To be fair, Harvard acknowledges that it is not the first to address the subject of slavery in the North.

Harvard is certainly not the first institution of higher learning to acknowledge these truths. Others in the United States and around the globe have documented their own ties to slavery. More than 90 institutions have joined the Universities Studying Slavery consortium, anchored at the University of Virginia, whose mission is to share best practices for addressing racism and human bondage in our histories.

Nor is this legacy unique to universities. In recent years, historians have documented that American presidents, members of Congress, U.S. Supreme Court justices and leading companies have significant ties to slavery.

Still, with all due respect to Brown which pioneered the collegiate investigation in 2003 and the Jesuits of Georgetown who have committed $100 million to the descendants, Harvard does command a special place of honor as the oldest, wealthiest, and most prestigious college in the country. Its name is a global brand.


According to the press release, slavery at Harvard existed on three levels:

1. slavery on the campus itself which would have ended in 1783 when Massachusetts abolished slavery
2. slavery in the households of people affiliated with Harvard which also would have ended in 1783 when Massachusetts abolished slavery
3. slavery in the lands in which Harvard the institution and the people who ran Harvard did business with especially in the South and the West Indies – this connection lasted as long as slavery remained legal in those lands (Juneteenth for the South) or Harvard continued to do business with them.

We now know that Harvard leaders, faculty and staff enslaved more than 70 people of African and Native American descent. Some of these enslaved people labored at and for the university, including in the households of Harvard presidents.

Harvard’s ties to slavery and its legacies run deeper still: The labor of enslaved people enriched donors to the university, helping Harvard expand its infrastructure, grow its faculty and student body, and build its reputation. And prominent Harvard leaders and professors defended slavery, justified segregation, and promoted racial hierarchy and discrimination.

Thus a key point which Harvard enunciates is that just because you cannot see slavery in your home, community, state, or country today, does not mean you are not connected to it. Furthermore, when slavery ends, that does not mean the consequences of slavery have ended. People in the present can reap the benefits of slavery in the past even when they have nothing directly to do with it or are even aware that it existed.

Harvard is putting its money where its mouth is. It is not just talking the talk, it is walking the walk.

Harvard pledges to draw on its expertise in education to confront continuing inequities — tangible legacies of slavery — affecting communities in the United States and in the Caribbean, to which New England’s slavery economies were closely tied. We will fund this work with a commitment of $100 million, including an endowment to support these efforts in perpetuity.

Harvard states that it is open on how to proceed.

Yet we believe there are many paths forward for institutions implicated in slavery. And we invite dialogue — and civil, informed debate — about this vital work.
All American institutions have before them the opportunity to participate in a bold reimagining of our nation, characterized by investment in human potential and a renewed commitment to the ideals of our nation’s founding.

However, the very press release suggests why the civil, informed dialogue Harvard seeks will only transpire when it is preaching or speaking to the choir. This “opportunity” to dialogue easily could follow the same path as the weaponized New York Times 1619 Project and further divide the country and for the same reasons.


The press release also reveals the institution founded by Puritans in 1636 still exists. It does so not because people running Harvard today are members of the Congregational Church. It does so in the values to which it subscribes as shown in the language used in the press release.

Slavery’s legacies persist in racial disparities in education, health, employment, income, wealth and the criminal justice system. The question before us now is how best to reckon with these realities and atone for our past. [bold added]

In an earlier blog “Enslaved” versus “Slave”: Yale, Virginia, and New Jersey (November 4, 2021) following the “Yale and Slavery in Historical Perspective Conference,” Oct. 28-30, 2021,

I wrote:


During the Yale conference on slavery, three speakers mentioned the need to atone for Yale’s history of slavery.

“Yale should acknowledge, engage, atone, and educate.”
“Yale should use its financial resources to repair and atone.”
“Yale should gather together as a community to talk about this Yale history presented at the conference history and bring it to the visible space to educate and atone.”

I will return to the Yale Conference and comment about the Harvard conference on April 29, 2022, in a subsequent blog.

In the meantime, it is important to keep in mind the religious nature of the actions by both Harvard and Yale even though both universities are no longer officially Puritan. They are asking Americans to atone.

Acknowledging the truth is not enough. We have a moral obligation to take action….
We can never fully remedy the incalculable damage caused by America’s “original sin.”

To which one may colloquially reply: Who died and made you God?

Returning to “Enslaved” versus “Slave”: Yale, Virginia, and New Jersey, I wrote:

For a Puritan-founded school, the call to atone for America’s original sin makes sense. It’s fine if Yale wants to atone for its sins but how will that play in Peoria? In New Haven? Or in Virginia?

The Yale-based blog was written just after the Republican victory in Virginia for governor. Now we are approaching the 2022 Congressional elections. I predict the call by the Visible Saints, the Elect of God at Harvard for Americans to repent will fall on deaf ears. Harvard should keep in mind how “elitist” Anthony Fauci who has tried to save lives has been vilified before venturing out in the public arena with its own call to save the American people.

Part I

Indians Owned Africans: How Do You Teach This History?

“You never saw such a people in your life. Their manners and action are wild in the extreme. They are in a perfect state of nature and would be a curiosity to any civilized man.”

“At that time the Indians did not have anything but small farms, and of course the freedmen were reared among them, so they didn’t work like they should but just raised enough corn to make their bread.”

“The Negro is more like the white man than the Indian in his tastes and tendencies and disposition to accept civilization. The Indian rejects our civilization. It is not so with the Negro. He loves you and remains with you, under all circumstances, in slavery and in freedom.”

“The peopling of the national domain with an enterprising, intelligent and hardy race of emigrants—transforming the savage wilderness into flourishing civilized communities, multiplying new States, and adding immensely to the wealth and productive industry of the Nation…[would] extend the area of Freedom [and] would increase the power of the North and West—the power of the people—would menacingly the perpetuity of the institution of slavery and the Democratic slaveholding aristocracy built upon it.”

What do you make of these four quotations? How judgmental are you? Should the people who wrote these words be cancelled? Should they be taught in our schools? What do you do if actual history does not comport with your preferred way of understanding the past?

The first quotation comes future Choctaw Nation chief Peter Pitchlynn in 1828 about his visit to Indian Territory, now eastern Oklahoma. He was scouting the lands the Five Tribes or Civilized People, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, would be relocated to in what became known as the Trail of Tears. When he encountered the people already living there he reacted in accordance with the Myth of the Empty Land (The Myth of the Empty Land: Creating a National Narrative). As a civilized person, meaning one used to a settled life of agriculture and writing, Pitchlynn saw wild people who to all intents and purposes were savages. This meeting of Plains Indians and the Choctaw may not conform to expectations but it really happened in history: when the Indigenous People of the southeast encountered the Indigenous people of Indian Territory they saw uncivilized wild people living in a perfect state of nature who would be a curiosity to any civilized person (as in suitable for museum display). Such encounters are typical of the human experience when an agricultural society (Neolithic) and a nomadic society (Paleolithic) society meet. The latter are always considered savage by the former.

The second quotation comes from Blain Holman, Chickasaw freedman who had lived among the Choctaw. He was referring to events following the Treaty of 1866. In that treaty, the victorious Union obligated the independent Five Tribes to emancipate their slaves and later to provide individual allotments of 40 acres to them. The Union forced this action on the Indian Nation, a foreign country or dependent nation per the Supreme Court. Such an action may be considered unjust regardless of what you think of the terms. The Cherokee had emancipated its slaves in 1863 but we will never know what the other Tribes would have done on their own without the Union intervention. Based on traditional Myth of the Empty Land, Indians did not own land the way Europeans and Americans did so it was permissible to take it and allot it to individuals. Holman was disparaging the lack of productive use of the allotted land.

The third quotation comes from Frederick Douglass. He opined what could be considered a white view towards the Indian. He was attempt to secure a more privileged position for the Negro in the social hierarchy in this ranking of the different peoples.

The fourth quotation also is from Frederick Douglass. Here he expands on the previous sentiments. It is an expression of progress.

Meantime a changed circumstance had occurred in Indian Territory. With the allotment of individual parcels to the freed Africans, the area began to draw similar people from elsewhere in the country. During the 1880s and 1890s, the word spread about the success of the Indian Freed People as the wealthiest Negroes in the United States. One result was the creation of black towns. Many of the founders of these black towns and the editors of its newspapers expressed similar views to those espoused by Douglass. The city of Tulsa grew out of these developments until it became the wealthy Wall Street of the Indian Freedmen and African migrants from elsewhere in America. The centennial of its destruction is only days away.

Combined, these four quotations expose the complexity of history. One oppressed people can oppress another people. One victim of settler colonialism can practice the very same on another people when given the opportunity to do so. History can be problematical. Are we ready to wrestle with troubling truths?

So asked Alaina Roberts, author of I’ve Been Here All the While, at the conclusion of her online presentation on May 6, 2021, for the American Philosophical Society. Only because of the changes wrought by the COVID-19 crisis was I able to see this talk. The four quotations, historical information, and terms come from her talk.

Roberts herself is a self-acknowledged mixed Indian-African person and her African family was owned by Chickasaw and Choctaw. The Indian Removal Act is a foundation story for the Five Tribes. Frequently overlooked are the African slaves who also made the journey. Another overlooked event was the effect these Five Tribes had on the native Plains People. They were dispossessed when the newcomers from the southeast arrived and the newcomers now became the new native peoples. As noted, Roberts drew attention to the Union imposing its will on the independent Indian Nations. For Roberts, the question she asks about wrestling with these troubling truths is both an academic challenge and a personal one her given her ancestry.

While the Freedman are Americans, are they also citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes? The answer for the Cherokee Nation is “yes” but only as of 2017 after much legal action. For the other four Indian Nations, the Freedmen are not recognized on full citizens. Sometimes the impact is practical. Certain Federal programs such as in housing or vaccinations only apply to members of the individual Indian nations. Sometimes the issue involves rights and heritage – the now Freedman have been part of the history of the Five Civilized Indian Nations for two centuries. Their histories are intertwined geographically, biologically, and culturally but not always legally or politically. The struggle is ongoing.

One must add to the conclusion of Hamilton the musical of “who will tell the story” what story will you tell? Roberts interview with CNN concluded with the comment:

“It has made me realize that this is still an issue, and that we need to talk about racism and prejudice as it is in all of our communities, and not just the White community.”

Teaching Slavery: A SHEAR Perspective


Teaching Slavery: A Roundtable Discussion was the third session I attended as part of the SHEAR conference on July 23. It was scheduled after the lunchbreak and I made a point of arriving early just in case…and, yes, the room ended up being filled to capacity and then some. I along with others “purloined” chairs from neighboring and less full rooms but soon there was no more space even for chairs. People sat on the floor or leaned against the walls.

The session consisted of a series of “brief” presentations where people sort of stuck to their allotted time. The presentations were followed by questions from the moderator posed to each presenter and then the discussion was opened to the floor. As one might expect the session was more fluid than some of the other ones and my notes reflect that dynamic. One of the lessons I learned in college especially from undergraduate history classes was that the organization of my notes tended to mirror the organization of the lecture. But this session was not a lecture but a roundtable.

Vanessa Holden, Michigan State University
Survey Strife: Transparent Pedagogy as a Multiracial Woman in the Classroom

Holden often was the first black teacher many of the white students in her survey class on United States history had ever had. The TA met with smaller groups of students while her contact tended to be in the lecture format. She chose not to start the class with 1492. Michigan itself was not a slave state and had minimal Underground Railroad involvement.  Holden did not mention the Great Migration so I don’t know what she teaches in the 20th century. Since the SHEAR conference doesn’t extend to that time period and the session was limited to slavery (and not its impact or legacy as part of American history), she was not obligated to mention it but it would have interesting to know. Of course, her time was very limited.

On the pedagogical side, Holden shared that many college students were unaware that as part of slavery families could be separated. Her comment exposed an important dilemma. In the Public Roundtable session earlier that day covered in a previous post, curriculum was regarded as if not a panacea, at least, a positive, in promoting awareness of the historic sites/museums and encouraging visitors. A common refrain in this session beginning with the first speaker highlighted the shortcomings of the curriculum.

One should note that social studies has a varied presence in the k-12 curriculum at the state level. The current focus on the Common Core and STEM has been detrimental to the teaching of social studies including history especially in the early grades where reading and math skills have become the god standards against which students and teachers are evaluated. Regardless of the content, not all states or school districts teach social studies at each grade level. New York State does which is a contributory factor to New York State social studies teachers often having positions of prominence in national social studies organizations. Just as learning a foreign language is easier the younger one starts, so is learning language of history. Introducing teenagers to history through boring factoids is not conducive to developing a life-long love for history as part of the civic health of the society.

Edward Baptist, Cornell University
Teaching with Survivors Testimony

Baptist spoke on the use of primary sources. He observed that students were not tabula rasas on slavery. They arrived in the classroom with the slave story already “spun.” This comment again goes the issue of what is taught at the k-12 level although Baptist did not specifically refer to it. His experience as a teacher led him to conclude that the values the students ascribe to the testimonies read in class correlates with the race of the race of the student. [My notes may be a little confusing on this point.]

Jason Young, State University of New York, Buffalo
The Persistent Propaganda of History

Young commented on the textbook controversies, on how textbooks present the topic of slavery. Here again curriculum is an issue. He specifically mentioned McGraw Hill’s designation of the Middle Passage as one of “migrants.” He expressed concern about the rejection of critical thinking. It should be noted that the new social studies guidelines just released by New York State stress the importance of critical thinking. I don’t know how familiar Young is with those guidelines or the role of history professors in developing them. While it will be years before the products of those guidelines enter college, it would be worthwhile to foster dialog between the college professors who teach the graduates of the k-12 guidelines with the social studies teachers (and State Education departments) about what is actually taught in the classroom. True students in an undergraduate class may come from multiple states with divergent requirements and curriculums, but there is benefit to having teachers of undergraduates knowing what the college students were exposed to and are supposed to have learned already.

Brenda Stevenson, UCLA
Navigating Emotional Triggers for Black Students in the Multicultural Classroom

Her topic was the challenge of teaching slavery in the world of trauma today. She depicted the college classroom as contested turf.

Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor, Smith College
Humanity as a Thing Unraced: Classroom Conversations on the History of Slavery

Pryor revealed traumatic experiences of her own. She reiterated the refrain on the lack of racial education prior to college. The point was dramatically broached when a student in the classroom raised the question of teaching the “N” word. The student did so in the context of a joke the student had heard. After the class the teacher cried and was frightened. Later the students recounted the various experiences in their own lives where they had encountered the “N’ word. This class became the first opportunity they had ever had to discuss the topic in a formal setting. The very question of whether to even pronounce the “word” was an issue of discussion. Pryor ended up devoting three classes in the semester to addressing this trauma.

I am curious to know if the word “Negro” factored into these conversations. For centuries the word was the name of a people devoid of approbation in and of itself. Lately it has acquired a negative stigma. The source documents from the 1600s-1800s that might be used in a SHEAR time period routinely use this term and it continued to be positively used at least through the time of Martin Luther King. Is it becoming a trauma term requiring trigger warnings and if so what does that mean for use of source documents?

Moderator Questions
Ousmane Power-Greene, Clark University

1. The question asked whose expertise would be useful in joining this conversation.

Young introduced the unspoken issues that generate guilt and shame.  The sale of Africans into slavery by Africans always is brought up. He referred to this technique as the sharing of culpability. Teachers need to recognize what really concerns the students who ask that question or make that claim.

Baptist reiterated that by college we are too late in our interventions.

Pryor noted that not too many black students take history classes. She further observed that black students are mad at white students who use the classroom to unburden themselves. I might add that there are white people who don’t look favorably upon white people engaged in a pissing context of how guilty they are and how passionately they seek to cleanse themselves of their guilt. Has slavery become the original sin for Americans of Christian heritage who don’t believe in the Fall?  Do white people with American ancestors from before slavery became illegal [which was in 1827 in New York] react differently than those who arrived afterwards?

2. What do you say about slaveholders to the students?

Young informed us based on his classes that students say most whites didn’t own slaves or only owned 1 or 2. They see slavery as a systemic problem and therefore not one where the students should feel individual guilt [a contrast to the perceptions expressed in Pryor’s class. I wonder if the demographics of the student body contribute to the discrepancy – a public school in Buffalo versus an independent women’s liberal college in Northampton.]

Stevenson recommended following the money. She claimed that if students trace the money they can more easily see how slavery could exist. In other words, you didn’t have to own slaves to profit from slavery.

Holden observed that poor whites and others did own slaves. She suggested reading the letters of the slaveholder families. Since slaveholders were people too [my choice of words] it was beneficial to encounter them as people through their own writings.

A series of short-answer questions/comments followed given the time constraints.\

  1. Reparations – put off the question in a classroom. But in class debates the pro-side wins on merits and the negative-side wins the debate [it sounds a little like the difference between Fantasy Football and the Superbowl.]
  2. Slavery in other places and times – Roman slavery is not the equivalent of American slavery.
  1. Impact of the slaves on the nation as unpaid labor.
  1. Anger at not being taught about slavery.
  1. Is it necessary to use all the examples of the horror of slavery? Trauma.

Obviously there is a lot to discuss on this subject and the likelihood the conversation will be ongoing. It is important that the conversation not be limited to teaching slavery at the undergraduate level but include k-12 as well.

The Underground Railroad in New York State: Black Lives Still Don’t Matter

Underground Railroad: Seward House

While recently investigating the dismal record of the more-or-less defunct Amistad Commission that was the subject of two posts, I came across the Underground Railroad on the website of the NYSOPRHP. That subject was a topic of an earlier post on March 6, 2014, Resurrecting the NY Freedom Trail about efforts in Manhattan to create a freedom trail.

The New York State Freedom Trail today is perhaps even less well-known than the New York State Amistad Commission. It began as a state project with similar high hopes and followed the same trajectory to substandard results.

The New York State Freedom Trail Act of 1997 proposed the establishment of a Freedom Trail Commission to plan and implement a New York State Freedom Trail program to commemorate these acts of freedom and to foster public understanding of their significance in New York State history and heritage.

There was an Underground Railroad traveling exhibit “Journey to the North: New York’s Freedom Trail” which could be borrowed by contacting Cordell Reaves who does still work at the OPRHP. There were hundreds of sites identified. There was a commission which was to issue annual reports to the Board of Regents. The State Education Department supported it unlike with the future Amistad Commission. So what happened? Where are these reports? What action has been taken?

The regulations which is still on the books states:

§ 233-b. New York state freedom trail commission. 1. a. There is hereby established within the department [of Education] the New  York state freedom trail commission. The commission shall consist of  twelve members, to be appointed as follows: three members to be  appointed by the  governor, three members to be appointed by the board of regents, two members to be appointed  by  the temporary president of the senate, one member to be appointed by the minority leader of  the senate, two members to be appointed by the speaker of the assembly, and one member to be appointed by the minority leader of the assembly. Such members shall be representative of  academic or public historians, corporations, foundations, historical societies, civic organizations, and religious denominations. In addition, the following state officers, or their designees, shall serve as members of the commission: the commissioner of education, the head of the state museum, the head of the state archives, the head of the office of state history, the commissioner of economic development, the head of the state tourism advisory council and the commissioner of parks, recreation and historic preservation.

Impressive group isn’t it? Assemblyman Englebright has gotten nowhere with his attempt to create a state history committee that brings together precisely these state organizations and here the regulation does that but only for the Underground Railroad.

Just as the Department of Education was supposed to provide the support for the Amistad Commission, the OPRHP was to for the Underground Railroad Commission. There was to be a master plan including “sponsoring commemorations, linkages, seminars and public forum[s].” There were to be annual reports for five years beginning no later than 1999 so perhaps it was intended to die in 2004 even though it was never repealed.

Clearly nothing happened afterwards but did anything happen even after the regulation went into effect? A FOIL request in 2016 to the State Education Department was forwarded to the State Historian and produced the following response:

The New York State Museum History Office has no records pertaining to the New York State Freedom Trail Commission. I am under the impression that the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation were involved with this commission. Also note that there is a published book on the commission that may be helpful: New York State Freedom Trail Program Study: Report to the New York State Freedom Trail Commission, published by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 1999.

That report was initiated in 1997. I have a copy of it as I attended a meeting when it was later released. It is not one of the annual reports required by the regulation. The answer as to what happened after the regulation went into effect appears to be that the Freedom Commission like the Amistad Commision like the Heritage Areas like the Path through History was a project of regulations and press releases but devoid of substance.

So let’s see what is going on now. I started with the Parks website. Since Parks was the designated support department, that’s where the website ended up. I clicked on

Discover the many important historic sites, museums and interpretive centers related to Underground Railroad, slavery and anti-slavery themes in New York State which took me to a non-New York State government website. The map contained many hotspots presumably where underground railroad sites are to be located. I selected the Albany flag. I did so because Paul and Mary Liz Stewart, co-founders of The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence and The Underground Railroad History Project in the Capital Region have participated in IHARE Teacherhostels/ Historyhostels, I have been to the Residence with and without teachers, I see them at various conferences, and it received at $70,000 grant in the 2015 REDC Awards announced last December. I have attended their annual conference but it is not held on the Path through History weekend nor is the one in Peterboro. As you might suspect given this buildup when I clicked on the Albany flag a blank inset box appeared. There was no information at all about any underground railroad site in Albany, just a flag indicating there was. It made it look like the project simply had been abandoned in mid-stream.

The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence (Lakestolocks)

The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence (Lakestolocks)

Paul Stewart did write about the residence:

In a similar spirit, the site doesn’t feel monumental—it feels intimate—and it doesn’t act like a traditional museum—it functions as a center for outreach and generates conversation about a history that continues to demonstrate its relevance as part of a lineage of struggle that can easily be tied to the aims of Martin Luther King, and, in our contemporary world, Black Lives Matter.

But not on the Parks website. Sorry Paul, those black lives don’t matter there.

Then in 2013, a change occurred. As reported in New York History Blog

New Map, App Feature NY Underground Railroad Sites

Federal and state partners have recently released a new online map and mobile app to help people explore New York State’s connection to abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. The map includes sites, programs and tours that have been approved by the National Park Service Network to Freedom Program or the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail.

The New York sites were now part of a national effort led by the National Park Service.

Ruth Pierpont, Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation at OPRHP said in a statement issued to the press: “We are happy to partner with the Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor and I Love New York in making this user-friendly map available to promote an understanding of this important, and still under-recognized, aspect of the history of our state.”

This map was available on an app and on the web. So now there were two New York maps of underground railroad sites, one at NYSOPRHP and one which can be accessed through the National Park Service Erie Canal Heritage Corridor if it occurs to someone that for the purposes of the underground railroad in the entire state of New York the Erie Canal Heritage Corridor website is the place to go.

On that map, the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence can be located by clicking on one of the stars in the Albany region. The website link for the Residence takes you to “Body and Home Improvement” which asks why you should hire a water damage restoration company, the advantages of metal roofing, and Healthy Meal Prep Options: Lemon Pepper Chicken. Keeping links up-to-date can be a challenge especially if no one is responsible for doing it.


Images from website directed to by New York State Network to Freedom -Underground Railroad

Note: The error on the web link has been corrected – “Note: was once associated with the underground workshop. This website is not affiliated in any way with its previous owners.”

I then decided to try the star for the First Congregational Church of Poughkeepsie where I know the Mid-Hudson Anti-Slavery Project meets. Rebecca Edwards, Vassar College, one of the founders, did speak to teachers in a IHARE program and IHARE once helped fund a stop of the Amistad replica in Poughkeepsie. The click on the website link from the map took me to “Oops! That page can’t be found.”

Finally, I tried the one site in Westchester where I live. It is for Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow which also has participated in IHARE programs. I was a little surprised to see it on an Underground Railroad site since it was Loyalist property that was confiscated after the American Revolution and didn’t exist in the 1800s. The historic site has focused on runaway slave ads from the time slavery was legal in New York and it wasn’t part of the Underground Railroad movement. In this case the link from the Erie Canal Heritage Corridor did work. When I reached the Philipsburg Manor website I did a search on “Underground Railroad” and found nothing which is to be expected.

In case you were wondering, the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence is not on the Path through History website either. This makes sense since it doesn’t mean the qualifications of I Love NY for a tourist site regardless of its listing on the National Park Service Erie Canal Heritage Corridor map.

There is more that could be written about the New York State Freedom Trail/Underground Railroad Heritage trail with its defunct commission, no staff, inadequate websites, and the lack of support for conferences, public forums, and teacher programs but the point should be clear. Unfunded, dysfunctional, silo organized history projects are standard operating procedure in New York State. Although black lives don’t matter in New York State history it’s not because the State is racist, it is because the State’s ineptitude occurs on an equal opportunity basis.

The New York State Amistad Commission: Do Black Lives Matter?

“In 2005 [during Governor Pataki’s administration], New York’s Legislature created an Amistad Commission to review state curriculum regarding the slave trade. All people should know of and remember the human carnage and dehumanizing atrocities committed during the period of the African slave trade and slavery in America and consider the vestiges of slavery in this country. It is vital to educate our citizens on these events, the legacy of slavery, the sad history of racism in this country, and on the principles of human rights and dignity in a civilized society.”

This excerpt comes from the website of the Amistad Commission which is part of the Department of State in the organization chart of New York State (

The legislation authorizing the commission is New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, Article 57B (57.51-57.54). It provides the historical background for the importance of the subject:

1. During the period beginning late in the fifteenth century through the nineteenth century, millions of persons of African origin were enslaved and brought to the Western Hemisphere, including the United States of America; anywhere from between twenty to fifty percent of enslaved Africans died during their journey to the Western Hemisphere; the enslavement of Africans and their descendants was part of a concerted effort of physical and psychological terrorism that deprived groups of people of African descent the opportunity to preserve many of their social, religious, political and other customs; the vestiges of slavery in this country continued with the legalization of second class citizenship status for African-Americans through Jim Crow laws, segregation and other similar practices; the legacy of slavery has pervaded the fabric of our society; and in spite of these events there are endless examples of the triumphs of African-Americans and their significant contributions to the development of this country.

It calls upon our civic and moral responsibility to remember what happened.

2. All people should know of and remember the human carnage and dehumanizing atrocities committed during the period of the African slave trade and slavery in America and of the vestiges of slavery in this country; and it is in fact vital to educate our citizens on these events, the legacy of slavery, the sad history of racism in this country, and on the principles of human rights and dignity in a civilized society.

It declares the policy of the State to fulfill this responsibility through the schools.

3. It is the policy of the state of New York that the history of the African slave trade, slavery in America, the depth of their impact in our society, and the triumphs of African-Americans and their significant contributions to the development of this country is the proper concern of all people, particularly students enrolled in the schools of the state of New York.

Finally, it authorizes the establishment of a commission to act to fulfill that policy.

4. It is therefore desirable to create a state-level commission, which shall research and survey the extent to which the African slave trade and slavery in America is included in the curricula of New York state schools, and make recommendations to the legislature and executive regarding the implementation of education and awareness programs in New York concerned with the African slave trade, slavery in America, the vestiges of slavery in this country, and the contributions of African-Americans in building our country. Such recommendations may include, but not be limited to, the development of workshops, institutes, seminars, and other teacher training activities designed to educate teachers on this subject matter; the coordination of events on a regular basis, throughout the state, that provide appropriate memorialization of the events concerning the enslavement of Africans and their descendants in America as well as their struggle for freedom and liberty; (emphasis added) and suggestions for revisions to the curricula and textbooks used to educate the students of New York state to reflect a more adequate inclusion of issues identified by the commission.

Section § 57.52 establishes the unfunded Amistad commission of 19 people with details about the composition, duties, and term of office. The commission includes as one would hope the Commissioner of Education and the Department of Education is called upon to provide technical assistance for the completion of the task as needed.

Section § 57.53 details the duties and responsibilities. The commission has a very broad mandate and scope truly national in perspective.

1. to survey and catalog the extent and breadth of education concerning the African slave trade, slavery in America, the vestiges of slavery in this country and the contributions of African-Americans to our society presently being incorporated into the curricula and textbooks and taught in the school systems of the state; and, to inventory those African slave trade, American slavery, or relevant African-American history memorials, exhibits and resources which should be incorporated into courses of study at educational institutions and schools throughout the state.
2. to compile a roster of individual volunteers who are willing to share their knowledge and experience in classrooms, seminars and workshops with students and teachers (emphasis added) on the subject of the African slave trade, American slavery and the impact of slavery on our society today, and the contributions of African-Americans to our country; and
3. to prepare reports for the governor and the legislature regarding its findings (emphasis added) and recommendations on facilitating the inclusion of the African slave trade, American slavery studies, African-American history and special programs in the educational system of the state.

On paper, this clearly is a major undertaking.

Turning now to the commission in charge of fulling this mission, one does indeed note the listing of the Commissioner of Education as part of the team. However, the name of the Commissioner listed is John P. King; he, of course, has not been the Commissioner for over a year. This raises the question of whether or not the Amistad Commission is a viable entity. Surely if it still functioned, the new Commissioner of Education would be listed. It is reasonable to conclude that this Commission is defunct and has been for years but lives on only on the New York State website.

The website has a tab for upcoming meetings. When I first checked it several months ago, none were scheduled. That is still true as of the writing of this post. The Commission does not appear to be functioning and hasn’t for a long time.

Need more documentary proof? Under a listing of current exhibitions at the New York State Museum, one finds:

An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War
Saturday, September 22, 2012 – Sunday, September 22, 2013
Exhibition Hall
For more information:

I Shall Think of You Often: The Civil War Story of Doctor and Mary Tarbell
Saturday, March 30, 2013 – Sunday, September 22, 2013
South Lobby
For more information:

Is it necessary to point out that is hasn’t been 2013 for several years now. The Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region conference for 2014 is listed but the one from 2015 is not. This is a website that needs serious work.

However, someone is still adding items to the Amistad Commission website under Resources. There is a notice about one event for the 2016 Martin Luther King Day holiday. There is a listing for AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY OF WESTERN NEW YORK which when clicked takes you to the Department of Mathematics at the University of Buffalo. There is a link to the SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN BLACK CULTURE which does seems appropriate and does work. Then there is a link to the Governor’s announcement in November, 2015, of a new Path through History website which is of questionable relevance to the purpose of the Amistad Commission. Several additional conferences, exhibits, and events from 2015 are listed so evidently some effort was spent to stay current. One should note that these are not events created by the Amistad Commission but items listed by the Commission somewhat like the Path through History listing events without creating them either.

Finally, let’s return to the emphasized items above in the legislation.

the development of workshops, institutes, seminars, and other teacher training activities designed to educate teachers on this subject matter; the coordination of events on a regular basis, throughout the state, that provide appropriate memorialization of the events concerning the enslavement of Africans and their descendants in America as well as their struggle for freedom and liberty;

roster of individual volunteers who are willing to share their knowledge and experience in classrooms, seminars and workshops with students and teachers

prepare reports for the governor and the legislature regarding its findings

While other organizations do things in this subject area, I did not locate any information on the website listing the rooster of these individuals, any programs the Amistad Commission has developed, any evidence that it functions as a coordinator for such events, or any reports that have been submitted. Perhaps if the Governor can be persuaded to call a history meeting in Albany as recommended in my New Year Resolution post, a decision can be made to fish or cut bait with something that at present only exists on the web and not in the real world.

Slavery And The New York State History Community

Slavery and New York State have a long history together. Indeed, the history of slavery in New York predates the birth of New York as an English and originates in the days of New Netherland, part of the extensive international slave trade.

As we are regularly reminded by events today, slavery has not disappeared. The current issue of Time includes an article on the worldwide continuance of slavery today, especially targeting young women and girls.

What does this have to do with New York history today? Continue reading “Slavery And The New York State History Community”

Civil War in New York Historyhostel/Teacherhostel

Experience the Civil War in New York with the new exhibit at the New York State Museum and representatives from related historic sites on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at a free Historyhostel / Teacherhostel event sponsored by the Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education. Continue reading “Civil War in New York Historyhostel/Teacherhostel”