Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Marc Steiner Show: How should we teach social sciences in our schools?

Marc Steiner
WEAA 88.9 Baltimore
February 26, 2013 – Segment 3

"We close our show with a look at the debate taking place right now in Chicago, over whether or not Black History should be taught in schools. You will hear from a roundtable of educators and historians about how social sciences are taught and how they should be taught in our schools. Our guests include:

Alan Gilbert, John Evans Professor in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and author of Black Patriots and Loyalists;

Robert W. Simmons III, Assistant Professor in the Teacher Education Department at Loyola University and Director of the Center for Innovation in Urban Education;

Roni Ellington, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at Morgan State University’s School of Education and Urban Studies;

and Michelle D. Wright, head of the History and Africana Studies programs at CCBC Essex."


Listen here at the bottom of the page.


This conversation takes up the difference between a democratic history from below, one which is inclusive of all voices, and emphasizes the central role of blacks in fighting for freedom (emancipation) in the Civil War and the Revolution and the prevailing, largely racist perspective which omits blacks (as well as Chicanos, native americans and others; a similar point applies to a dominant national history - as opposed to global history from below, or to a patriarchal and homophobic history).


Several people contrasted a history of "facts" for Jeopardy or to "do well" on narrow "standardized" tests with empowerment of students to learn and act for themselves as democratic citizens.


I suggested teaching from below - the perspective of indigenous people toward Sand Creek or black people in the American Revolution. I nominated a line from a powerful poem by Brecht:

"Hannibal crossed the Alps
Did nobody cross with him?"

which drew a chuckle from Marc.


This is broadly speaking history which seeks the truth. For instance, it is true that blacks, following the Emancipation Proclamation, were 80% of those who joined Union forces in the last two years of the Civil War. It is true, as Black Patriots and Loyalists shows, were the main soldiers for the Patriots and most of the dead at Yorktown.

In contrast, the Daughters of the American Revolution have long been racist - once an evil organization, now one slowly changing. Their view, characteristic of dominant history teaching (and even the New York Times about the Revolution as of this moment), is false. See here.


As Robert Simmons emphasized, one teacher in a high school tried to use hip hop and was warned by the principal to back off. This is closing in around mediocre teaching to a test (see Jonathan Kozol, The Shame of America: the Reapartheidization of American Schools).

That is the opposite of a decent and democratic education.


Cutting off Afro-American history in the Chicago schools is cutting off history...


We had a striking conversation, one which could have gone on for several hours, about how to empower students in contrast to Obama's "race to the top" and emphasis in the State of the Union on engineering.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Founding myths: blacks don't count for Emory’s president

Like the University of Denver and Northwestern, Emory University in Atlanta is, in origin, Methodist. But Methodism, like other religions as Paul Tillich remarks*, often accommodates to the prevailing - in many cases, remarkably un-Christ-like - social practices of the powerful. Thus, its first President 175 years ago, a Methodist bishop, was a slave-owner named John Emory.


Now, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, opposed bondage and provided books for black settlers in Birch Town in Nova Scotia (see my Black Patriots and Loyalists, ch. 8), the only black town outside of Africa. "They will never," he said, "want for books, while I live."


But Methodism in the South adapted to and acted for bondage as it did in the West for genocide against indigenous people (Chivington and Evans were for the Union even though Chivington led the Sand Creek massacre and Evans sent him. See here and here).


A University born and steeped in human bondage, Emory hosted a national conference entitled "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" in 2011. In announcing it, Gary Hauk, Emory's vice president and deputy to the president, wrote that the college used to "rent" slaves to work on campus in the mid-1800s from local slaveowners.

In Emory’s early years, most faculty members, many presidents and major financial contributors owned slaves (see here).


The conference which featured a keynote address by Ruth Simmons, President of Brown University and exemplar of asking questions about bondage and seeking out the truth - see here - was sponsored by current President Wagner and includes his own broadly favorable remarks. He says he abhors slavery.


But in the most recent issue of the University’s magazine, Wagner mused about the importance of political compromise in the supposed circumstance that "gridlock" (rather than the rule of very rich people often locking out the rest of us) is our central problem. Wagner chose to praise the grotesque “compromise" in the constitution that counts slaves as 3/5th of a man in order to secure more representation for their owners. See here.


It would be hard to spit in the fact of all decent people more directly than invoking this clause.


The Founding Myth of the sacredness of the constitution - it is a document of freedom in some respects - confuses weak-minded people of privilege (the viciousness of "original construction," say with Justice Scalia, is not confused) who blurt out racist drivel like this.


The result of the BLACKS ARE THREE-FIFTHS HUMAN BEINGS “compromise,” which President Wagner did not know, is that for 52 of the first 72 years of the Republic, between 1788 (the election of Washington) and 1860 (the election of Lincoln) the President was a slave-owner. The only Presidents elected twice were slave-owners.


Tom Jefferson is reputed to be a "good" slave-owner. Ask the descendants of Sally Hemings...Or read Paul Finkelman's recent op-ed piece in the New York Times on the "Monster of Monticello" - see here - the best piece the Times has so far published on that period in response to two previous reviews of the vapid best-seller by Jon Meacham also about Jefferson's "skill" in maneuvering around "gridlock" - see here.

To own another human being was to have a monstrous power over her. As Montesqueiu said in book 15 of Spirit of the Laws, it bred at the least "harshness, cruelty, anger, rashness" in the owners.


To reiterate the constitutional idiom of the slaveowners about blacks is to betray the core meaning of human freedom.


For all Jefferson's inventiveness, Monticello has much in common with Candieland in Django - see here.


Now, slave-owners got about 35% extra representatives from "counting" slaves as part of the population they "represented" in Congress as well.


When there was a great popular movement from below in the United states to prevent the expulsion of the peacefully settled Creek Indians from Georgia – over a million people signed petitions and fought against this in a population of 13 million (h/t Steve Schwartzberg) – the monsters arranging the genocidal transfer (“the trail of tears”) secured Congressional approval through the “votes” of these slave-owners. See here.


This was Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, an act which destroyed any possibility of a comparatively decent - i.e. non- or at least less genocidal - settlement between whites and indigenous people and for which Jackson should be known as perhaps the most evil American President (it is a fierce competition, however).


Leslie Harris, a history professor who has led efforts to bring out Emory's story and oppose racism, is cited as saying that Wagner’s point is foolish because Civil War happened and the “compromise” didn’t work. This is true, but not the main story.


Possessed by the racist myth of the Founding, President Wagner simply did not consider black people, even free ones (about a fifth in a population then of roughly 500,000 out of a total population of some two and a half million) to be participants in the American regime. For this "compromise," white people, often slave owners in the North which was just beginning to abolish slavery, bargained with other whites who owned large number of slaves...


That was the degraded character of the constitutional convention and all of its provisions concerning bondage. See here.


This provision and others like it show that America was at its founding no democracy. It was no better than apartheid South Africa.


Yes, the constitutional convention installed individual freedom, particularly in the Bill of Rights for some. Yes, the founders were sophisticates – having studied Aristotle and Montesquieu – in terms of institutional design.


But no, the reality of slavery stains the constitution (not to mention genocide against indigenous people and the denial of suffrage to women) and it was not made clean until the end of the Civil War and the 13th amendment.** See here.


The constitution which purports to be the slave’s and mine cannot be mine, said Henry David Thoreau in "Civil Disobedience."


A constitution which leaves out the citizenship of blacks cannot be mine, says any one who believes in human rights, any decent and freedom loving person.


The people who made this constitution struggled for freedoms for themselves. They in fact relied on blacks to soldier for them as Black Patriots and Loyalists shows. But John Laurens, Tom Paine and Benjamin Franklin aside, they were not, in the main, friends of freedom.


President Wagner celebrates a "compromise" among such people. He forgets blacks and defends the odious 3/5ths clause, that blacks are 3/5ths human from the standpoint of inflating the power of their masters. In a dramatic move, the University faculty rightly censured his statement.


Wagner wishes to speak for diversity in the University, now 31% minority students. His attitude about American history represents the extreme, slave-owning opposite...


In addition, Wagner's standpoint opposes any white person who wants a decent education and to think morally about American history. For we need to build a common society, a democracy, based on the rights and voices of every person. See here.


If Wagner has now recognized his mistake and repudiated it - it was not "clumsiness," it was amnesia about real American harm to humans - that would make him a decent person. But it would not make him a good University leader.


Emory has the archives of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This week at a conference about SCLC celebrating protest, protestors marched demanding that “Wagner resign.”


Some of the speakers, like Dorothy Cotton (my companion and friend from Palestine, leading songs of freedom - here) and Bernard Lafayette included the demonstrators in their remarks - see the story from the Emory Wheel, the student newspaper, below.


Not only does the news article in Sunday's Times: “Emory University’s Leader Reopens Racial Wounds” by Kim Severson and Robbie Brown, misunderstand the issue; it views the controversy bizarrely from the standpoint of "control" by the University President (see my comments in parentheses in the article below). With the rhetoric of this piece, the editors of the Times's reporting pages distinguish themselves for racism and dishonest baiting of students and faculty.(h/t Duncan Campbell)


More broadly, the Times so far will not publicize any discussion of the central role of blacks in fighting for Independence. For blacks were not passive and somehow “unrepresented” in the constitutional convention. They had been leading fighters on the American side, the forces, mainly in the First Rhode Island Regiment, who took the two main British strongholds at Yorktown and were according to German Private Georg Daniel Flohr, who walked around the field of battle afterwards, the majority of the dead on the Patriot as well as the Loyalist side.


The constitutional convention was the betrayal of black soldiers who made the initial Union happen.


In addition, white sailors, seized or impressed by Britain, had seen the nearly 20 slave revolts throughout the Caribbean starting in 1750. Sailors, black and white, brought the word to London and Boston in the early 1760s (see Black Patriots and Loyalists, ch. 2). Thus, the multiracial crowds in the American revolution – engaged in riots against press gangs and stamped paper as well as the Boston Tea Party – were mainly abolitionists.


They fought for a decent democracy (leaving aside for a moment the indigenous people, for instance, Narragansett Indians, who were also part of the First Rhode Island Regiment, and would, in another crime against liberty, be driven out), one that did not practice slavery.


Decent whites, too, were not represented in this foul "compromise."


But the actions of blacks and whites from below won gradual emancipation in the Northern states during and immediately after the Revolution. By 1787 (the constitutional convention), Pennsylvania (1780), Massachusetts (1782), Connecticut (1784) and Rhode Island (1784) had all enacted gradual emancipation (owners still held children in slavery till 21, adults for much of their lifetime even in those cases). New York, one of the largest slave-owning states, and New Jersey, would enact gradual emancipation in 1799 and 1804.


Poor whites along with blacks (and including serious Christians like the Quakers and the New Light Presbyterians) wanted a genuinely free regime and disdained a regime that practiced slave-owning.


So Wagner’s words also dishonor many whites who repudiated America’s Founding Bondage.


In Race and Revolution (1993), Gary Nash suggested that gradual emancipation was possible in the South at the time of the Convention. My Black Patriots and Loyalists (2012) gives further reasons why this might be true.


In any case, on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Times has gotten around to noticing that revolt from below played a large role in the Emancipation Proclamation and the recruitment of blacks as the main fighters in the Civil War. See here.


Interestingly, Bruce Levine’s new The Fall of the House of Dixie tells that 80% of the new recruits to the Union after January 1, 1863 were black.


In addition, Sherman’s march through Georgia was coincident with black revolt. Slaves often set fire to the mansions.


Black Patriots and Loyalists shows, however, that black troops played a central role for the United States not only in the Civil War, but in the Revolution itself.


The truth is thus the exact opposite of the racist Daughters of the American Revolution's and Sons of the American Revolution's longstanding racism. As Anita Wills relates, these organizations have long stalled the admission of black descendants of revolutionaries. See here and here.


But serious patriotic organizations ought to be rooted in the descendants of black soldiers who were responsible for the victory at Yorktown and in the Civil War as serious writing of history needs to recount the central role of black soldiers.


So President Wagner also has distinguished company in veiling the enormous contribution of emancipation (what made the Revolution genuinely for freedom) and black soldiering both in the fight against Britain and the Civil War.


As I have underlined here, the New York Times will print that there are a few more Crispus Attuckses. See also here. But it will not so far acknowledge the evidence that black Patriots, white abolitionists, and the push for gradual emancipation from below were central in the American Revolution.


A history less whited out might be one easier for students to grasp. Setting the story straight was part of the reasoning behind the 2011 meeting at Emory. See here.


In addition, being a Southern School, Emory has some peculiar twists in regard to racism. Before World War II, Harvard would not promote Jews to position of tenure (my father, Richard Gilbert, the first American Keynsian, was on the economics faculty as an instructor for 15 years), and Abbot Lawrence Lowell, a President of Harvard for whom Lowell House is named, tried to restrict the number of Jews admitted to Harvard.


But after the War at Emory, the head of the dental school led a conspiracy to flunk 60% of Jewish dental students which lasted until 1961:

" October, Dr. Wagner officially apologized to Jewish dental students who had been failed, harassed or both under John E. Buhler’s tenure as dean of the dental school from 1948 to 1961.

Many saw the apology for that chapter in Emory’s history, when as many as 65 percent of Jewish students had to redo course work or were failed, as a healing move in keeping with the culture of the university, which has devoted years to studying its own racial history, both good and bad."


To his credit, President Wagner has apologized for this. Still, it sounds like the academic corruption here went really deep and that the dental school needs some plaque of dishonor for the crimes committed by its dean and its professors.

It was, after all, a pro-Nazi school of dentistry outlasting the originals who were defeated in 1945...


A decent society is one in which the stories of each person can be told, each person find a voice and speak as a member of a community and a free individual from the heart. See here.


As Emory’s President recycling of the worst of Founding Myths reveals, this is, to this moment, far from the case with blacks.


And despite growing recognition of the monstrousness of Methodists like John Chivington, John Evans and Ralph Byers (three founders of the Colorado Seminary) toward “the red fiend” and the racism of the founding of Colorado as well as of the University of Denver and Northwestern by Evans, there is still much to be healed. Next year is the 150th anniversary of the University of Denver and of the Sand Creek Massacre. It is time that we caught up with the Methodist Church in realizing and repudiating these things as it would be worth, at Emory, looking into the depths of racism at its and our country’s founding, siding with and mourning for the victims, and taking the first steps on a more democratic journey.


New York Times
Emory University’s Leader Reopens Its Racial Wounds

A campus march on Friday. Mr. Wagner's article has been seized upon [a gross racist way of putting it; it is Wagner's problem that he said and believed this...] by students and faculty who say it was yet one more example of insensitivity [racism is a crime, not an "insensitivity"] from the Emory administration.
Published: February 23, 2013

ATLANTA — A reception on Friday at Emory University to celebrate the work of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the years after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could have been more poorly timed, but not by much.

Emory University’s president, James W. Wagner, spoke Friday at a reception for an exhibition about the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

All week long, the president of Emory, James W. Wagner, had been trying to control the damage done [interesting what perspective the Times takes, the controller observed, not the damage and the damaged] by a column he wrote for the university magazine. In it, he praised the 1787 three-fifths compromise, which allowed each slave to be counted as three-fifths of a person in determining how much Congressional power the Southern states would have, as an example of how polarized people could find common ground [in victimizing other people].

It was, he has since said, a clumsy and regrettable mistake.

A faculty group [no, it was the University Senate, i.e. the organized faculty of the University!] censured him last week for the remarks. And in a speech at Friday’s reception for the campus exhibition, “And the Struggle Continues: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Fight for Social Change,” Dr. Wagner acknowledged both the nation’s continuing education in race relations and his own.

“I know that I personally have a long way to go,” he said.

His article has been seized upon [the same blame the victim rhetoric - President Wagner attacked all decent people, and naturally people resist] by students and faculty members who say it was yet one more example of insensitivity from the Emory administration, which in September announced sweeping cuts that some say unfairly targeted programs that are popular with minorities [these include journalism and the arts; Emory is a rich school with a 5.4 billion endowment and it is not economic need which is driving these bizarre cuts].

About 45 students showed up to protest at the reception, silently holding signs that read “This is 5/5 outrageous” and “Shame on James” [the main ones called for Wagner to resign] as the fight for racial equality was discussed by Dr. Wagner; Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a veteran of the civil rights movement; and leaders of the S.C.L.C.

Whether the cuts — which include phasing out the departments of physical education and visual arts and also the journalism program, and suspending admission to graduate programs in economics and Spanish — disproportionately affect racial minorities is in dispute at the university, where minority members make up 31 percent of the student body [it might also be asked whether such cuts are sane in a serious university, one ranked number 20 in the country].

Certain programs that focused on or made recruiting minority members a priority have been shifted to other departments or eliminated, but university officials say the impact will not be as drastic as protesters believe.

Savings will be reinvested in other departments, including neurosciences, studies of contemporary China and new media studies.

Such academic realignment is starting to happen at liberal arts colleges around the country, said Phil Kleweno, a consultant at Bain & Company who specializes in higher education. “Not every school can excel in every subject,” he said. “Given where we are financially, these are wise decisions for many universities to make.” [this is nothing but a bit of propaganda from Bain, yet deemed to be worthwhile in an article on what a decent education is in a University...Or to put it differently, the Times now advertises the standpoint of companies privatizing things, education, the military and the like, in its so-called reporting].

In an interview on Friday, Dr. Wagner said neither the cuts nor his self-described gaffe in Emory Magazine was intended to hurt what he described as a vibrant multicultural environment at the college.

The president’s misstep was only the latest episode in what one Emory administrator called “quite a challenging year” for the private university.

Although still listed as the 20th best university in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s latest ranking, Emory admitted in August that it had intentionally sent incorrect test scores to the magazine and the Department of Education for more than a decade.

The university has also grappled over whether to allow Chick-fil-A, whose conservative Christian owners have donated large amounts of money to organizations opposed to same-sex marriage, to operate on campus [here is, again, something non-bigoted the University is doing; it would be good to know what role Wagner is playing in this].

And in October, Dr. Wagner officially apologized to Jewish dental students who had been failed, harassed or both under John E. Buhler’s tenure as dean of the dental school from 1948 to 1961.

Many saw the apology for that chapter in Emory’s history, when as many as 65 percent of Jewish students had to redo course work or were failed, as a healing move in keeping with the culture of the university, which has devoted years to studying its own racial history, both good and bad.

The school, which is 177 years old, was named for John Emory, a Methodist bishop who owned slaves. Although many of its leaders favored segregated education, the school decided in 1962 to sue the state for the right to enroll students regardless of race.

More recently, the school dealt with a fraternity that flew a Confederate flag and an anthropology professor who used a racial epithet in class. But it also houses significant collections of African-American historical artifacts and literature, including what is thought to be the nation’s most complete database documenting American slave trade routes.

“Emory is a community that airs its laundry,” Dr. Wagner said in the interview, calling that a strength and a demonstration of its ability to evolve with its student body.

“We’ve had several wounds this year,” he said. “This one,” he added, referring to the magazine column, “is a particularly painful wound for me because it was self-inflicted.”

Jovonna Jones, 19, the president of the Black Student Alliance at Emory, said she had forgiven Dr. Wagner for his transgression.

“As an African-American woman who has gone to predominately white institutions since middle school, I’ve had lots of incidents like this,” she said. “It’s hard to be shocked anymore.”

People keep asking her if she thinks the university president is a racist, Ms. Jones said.

“I don’t think that’s the real question,” she said. “The important question is: What does it mean to embrace and value a diverse student body? What are the values of the school?”

Leslie Harris, a history professor and the director of a series of campus events that for five years examined issues of race at Emory, said she was more troubled by the intellectual holes in Dr. Wagner’s argument.

In his column, Dr. Wagner used the Congressional fight over the national debt to muse on the importance of compromise, which he called a tool for noble achievement. “The constitutional compromise about slavery, for instance, facilitated the achievement of what both sides of the debate really aspired to — a new nation,” he wrote.
That is a deep misunderstanding of history, Dr. Harris said.

“The three-fifths compromise is one of the greatest failed compromises in U.S. history,” she said. “Its goal was to keep the union together, but the Civil War broke out anyway.”

To members of the S.C.L.C., whose records are housed at Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, the protesters at the reception were a welcome sign.

“I love it,” said Brenda Davenport, who has served as the national volunteer and youth organizer for the S.C.L.C. “Where else would you want protesters to show up but at something that is about the value of protesting?”

A version of this article appeared in print on February 24, 2013, on page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Emory University’s Leader Reopens Its Racial Wounds.


Emory Wheel
Civil Rights Exhibit Opens Amid Protests
Saturday, February 23, 2013

Students protesting University President James W. Wagner’s controversial column about the Three-Fifths Compromise joined members of the Emory and Atlanta communities at the opening of a civil rights exhibit in the Robert W. Woodruff Library Friday evening.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) exhibit, titled “And the Struggle Continues,” chronicles the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contemporaries in achieving desegregation, gaining suffrage and dismantling systematic discrimination in the United States. The event, which began at 6 p.m., included speeches from civil rights leaders who were contemporaries of King.

The exhibit comes to campus at a time when local and national groups are outraged over Wagner’s use of the Three-Fifths Compromise as an example of political compromise in a column for Emory Magazine. The clause was an agreement made between the Northern and Southern states in 1787 and stated that only three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for purposes of taxation and voting representation. Faculty voted to censure Wagner on Wednesday.

At 5:30 p.m. Friday evening, approximately 30 students convened at Asbury Circle with flyers and signs with phrases such as “I am NOT an afterthought“ and “I deserve 5/5 respect.” Protestors consisted of members of the Student Revisioning Committee (SRC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), among others.

The protestors marched silently from Asbury Circle to the exhibit in the Schatten Gallery and Jones Room at Woodruff Library.

“We’re here to show our solidarity against what — at least I personally feel, but I think a lot of us feel — is a shameless co-optation of the legacy of the civil rights movement by James Wagner,” said Patrick Blanchfield, sixth-year Laney Graduate School student.

Both Blanchfield and NAACP members said they did not wish to disrupt the opening of the exhibition.

“We will continue to fight against the systematic disenfranchise and marginalization of students and faculty at Emory and dismantle the culture of apathy and ignorance ingrained in Emory’s community,” said Kayla Hearst, President of Emory’s NAACP.

Upon arriving, the protestors stood in a circle away from the exhibit holding their signs, awaiting the arrival of Wagner.

“As long as they’re respectful of the event, I don’t have a problem with it,” said Rich Mendola, senior vice provost of library services and digital scholarship. “SCLC is in the spirit of protest after all.”

The event itself drew a couple hundred Atlanta residents and Emory community members. As guests began to congregate in the Schatten Gallery in anticipation of the evening’s speakers, the protestors gathered in the back holding their signs high to send their message to Wagner. Wagner’s arrival at 7 p.m. prompted the beginning of the speeches.
“The exhibition raises the question ‘well, just how far have we come?’ and the second question is ‘how far do we have to go?’” Wagner said in his speech.

He answered his own question. “I personally have a long way to go, and I pledge myself toward working toward that just society that we all seek.”

The atmosphere shifted to admiration with loud applause and hollers of approval as Congressman John Lewis, a venerated member of the African American and Atlanta community, stepped up to the podium.

“The ideas that the SCLC struggled for and Martin Luther King, Jr. died for are still being debated today in the Congress, in the courts, in legislatures, in the press and at dinner tables around the country,” Lewis said.
Civil rights leader and former President and CEO of SCLC Charles Steele, Jr. described how the SCLC forged a relationship with Emory University in 2005 and how the effort to gain equality endures.

Steele recalled the story of A. Philip Randolf imploring President Franklin Roosevelt to desegregate public services like buses and water fountains, to which Roosevelt replied, “Make me do it.” Steele consequently ended his speech shouting, “I promise you one thing, we’re gonna make you do it.

The idea that modern civil rights leaders have a long way to go to achieve King’s ideal society was a theme of the evening as Dorothy Cotton, SCLC’s educational director, began her speech by singing a line from a song from the civil rights era.

Cotton described her experiences working with King on the Citizenship Education Program, which helped disenfranchised individuals gain the right to vote. Her speech highlighted the individual efforts of civil rights leaders during the movement and charged her audience in a call to action.

“People sometimes talk like they’re waiting for Dr. King to come back and fix things — I want us to think about what do we see that’s not working right, what do you see that’s not working right?” she asked.

At one point, Cotton broke into song and members of the audience joined her. She concluded her speech by discussing the effects of divisions among people.

“[King] taught us what did it mean to love those who hate you,” she said. “Once you get anybody in a category and you measure each group against somebody else we do some weird things.”

Bernard Lafayette, a distinguished scholar-in-residence at the Candler School of Theology, told anecdotes about his experience during the freedom riders movement, which protested segregation on bus systems. He stressed the importance of educating people about the civil rights movement, as he himself teaches a class at Emory.
Lafayette underscored the importance of continuing to strive for equality, referencing the student protestors.

“Yes, the struggle continues. I see some signs back there about the struggle.”

The protestors filtered out of the gallery as the speeches concluded.

— By Rupsha Basu


*In The Protestant Era, Tillich defines the Protestant principle as a critical principle, one that resists particular congealings of social power, in his case once upon a time, capitalism (see his remarks on the demonic situation of 5 million unemployed in Germany in the depression in "The Protestant Era and the Proletarian Situation" and Nazism. He was number 5 on Hitler's hit list for emigres; Bertolt Brecht was no. 12....

Tillich gave philosophy of religion (then Philosophy 193) for the last time my freshman year at Harvard and it was a powerful experience - he is, it turns out a Heideggian theologian with a radical bent - to hear him talk.

**The clause that prisoners could be enslaved, however, permitted the jailing of blacks and then providing them to great corporations like US Steel to work them to death. See Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by another Name.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Vincent Harding and Philadelphia, Mississippi

In 2011, Vincent Harding did an interview with Krista Tippett for her program On Being that was replayed on NPR last Saturday. Listen here.


Vincent emphasizes stories, hearing the narratives of unsung heroes who have done much (they exist, he says, like Grace Boggs or Dorothy Cotton or Gil Caldwell or John Lewis or Vincent himself, in every city) in the civil rights movement.


I have taken to writing history and Black Patriots and Loyalists is, among other matters, the stories of people like John Woolman, Colonel Tye, John Laurens and Thomas Peters who, through solitary individual and sometimes collective effort, at last moved the mountain of slavery...


Vincent tells the story of Freedom Summer where he knew Michael Schwerner and James Cheney. He knew of, but not directly my friend Andy Goodman who had just arrived from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee training camp in how to remain nonviolent when jeered and attacked in Ohio. After Andy had been one day in Mississippi, visiting a burned out church with Cheney and Schwerner (the minister dared to register people to vote and the KKK had burned the church), their car broke down, they were arrested, taken to the local jail, released at midnight to a mob under the leadership of Baptist minister Edgar Ray Killens, a Klansmen - see here and here - murdered, mutilated, and buried in a dam.


Everyone knew, when they were missing, that they were not coming back. Bob Moses spoke to all the volunteers, saying that each person should take some time, call home, talk it over with others, and that noone in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee would blame them if they went home. I had heard part of the story, but not about Moses, who taught math at freedom schools and whom I once heard speak. He articulated the vision of radical democracy, of each person being there, speaking from the heart...


They sang spirituals, Vincent said - see "Song is hope" here for our singing of spirituals in Palestine last fall - and this enabled them to gather the courage, through song and word, to stay.


Not a single volunteer went home.


This experience is why Vincent says he has little sympathy for those who sneer at Kumbaya. Movements like these from below are always against the odds. To protest nonviolently, seeking to stop the wrong of segregation but not to murder the murderers, is always met, as today with Israel in the Occupied Territories - see here, here, here and here - with extreme violence.


Nonviolence is willingness to take the suffering on oneself and on other innocents. It is effective because murderous bullies reveal themselves before the world as in Birmingham - Bull Connor's police dogs sicced on teenagers and high power hoses, shooting water at a pressure that can take the bark off trees, revealed the evils of segregated America internationally - and at best because mass noncooperation makes this happen swiftly. It often leads to major change with far fewer casualties than violent struggles (see Barbara Deming, "Revolution and Equilibrium," here).


In a violent uprising against massive violence, the oppressors can more easily demonize the oppressed and inflict great casualties on or stamp out the movements as the British the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. Sometimes, of course, as in the Chinese revolution, a violent uprising can overthrow them. But the costs in lives are, comparatively, immense and even successful revolutionary violence has an enormous, often negative impact on what comes afterwards. Change that respects different groups and opinions and heals, given revolution, and change that deals with "enemies" violently is separated by an abyss.


Large social and political changes, i.e. in the civil rights movements and in Arab Spring, often occur nonviolently, and are better, when the nonviolence is organized.


Nonviolence seeks to stop the oppressors. But it also recognizes that oppressors have souls and can, when halted and under some compulsion, change.


But it is still the innocent who take the violence in a nonviolent movement. And it takes enormous courage to stand up to the violence (to face what may be martyrdom) and not strike back.


The song "Kumbaya" - come by here, lord - is beautiful. I wove some of its words into a poem here:

Poem: kumbaya

Come by here, lord

Michael Schwerner

come by here

James Cheney

comebyhere lord

Viola Liuzzo

come by here

Andrew Goodman

blood ied

come by herelord

Miss iss ippi

lying together



come by



It is often hard to comment on a poem except, perhaps, poetically. My friend Richard Marshall of 3:AM magazine in London wrote a dazzling response to the last lines:

"I really like the first one for Andrew Goodman - the last lines like a land of morning calm and both permissable and beautiful like a sprig of white heather that brings luck."


I also put up an older poem also here which has more anger, fear and bitterness at Andy's murder.


Vincent speaks of the coming into political life of many movements and the messiness of our great experiment in democracy in the United States. Democracy is from below, that is its life and decency (and one has but to observe politicians and others kept by the elite whose silence is literally bought about climate change or assault weapons or for fear of "softness" on national "security," about drones or torture - to realize the distance between what we have achieved and what we might become.


Some weeks ago, after we returned from Palestine, Vincent spoke with me about the importance of rituals to begin recognizing the harms, the founding myths or amnesias, of America. See here, here, here, here and here. For the US government enslaved, tortured and murdered blacks and committed ethnic cleansing from coast to coast against indigenous people. That conversation with Vincent is one reason why I have gotten more actively into Sand Creek and the wider genocide.


The murders of children at Sandy Hook, contra Chris Matthews, are not unique. See here. It is what militiamen from Denver and California, carrying the reeking spirit of settler racism, did - smashing the bodies of children against rocks, as Silas Soule, who refused to allow his troops to fire, noted with horror in a letter to his mother. See here. It is what drones do in villages in Pakistan or Yemen. See here.


One might think that the devaluing of life can be separated, and that white children will not join their indigenous or Arab brothers and sisters. It is not so.


As Pastor Niemoller once suggested, we are one humanity. See here. And we will salvage a place for all the brothers and sisters - and as native americans say, all our relatives, the squirrels and heather, see here - with this recognition, or as is also a possibility in American history, we will cause it, and us, to die.


It is the hope of a future which Vincent speaks for in telling stories to young activists and artists. I once read some of my poems to a multiracial group of teenage artists from around the country who were working with Vincent's Veterans of Hope project. There are some stories of my grandfather, a Jewish anarchist from Russia and in Stelton, New Jersey, and of course Marx embedded in them, and he said to me, laughing, it may be the first time that many of the people who were there, had heard of such things.


We all have and need to share our stories. It is part, for each of us, of finding and having a voice...


An inclusive regime, one which honors the stories of and protects the humanity of each, is what a democracy might be.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Methodists repudiate the doctrine of discovery

The founding amnesias of America and Israel with regard to indigenous people are striking. One must erase others, because if native Americans and Palestinians are human, then these settler regimes have committed great crimes. See here, here and here. That is a boundary line. Recognize that we are all human beings and it is impossible to celebrate genocide, as, for example, the monuments between Denver’s State Capitol and the City and County Building do. See "Sand Creek, Sandy Hook and the Inauguration" here.


As Montequieu put it in book 15 of his 1748 Spirit of the Laws:
“We cannot regard black people to be human, because if we regard them as human, the suspicion would arise that we are not Christians.”


The members of the Methodist church in Denver, led by John Chivington, Ralph Byers, editor of the Rocky Mountain News which proclaimed Sand Creek the “greatest victory in the history of indian wars” and Governor John Evans, were members of “the hundred daysters” who butchered women, children and old men at Sand Creek.


That massacre was one of several, Bear Creek in Idaho against the Shoshone on January 29, 1863, also of California volunteers led by General Patrick Edward Connor (the role of mobilized, racist civilians in these two massacres is striking), and Wounded Knee December 29, 1890 (h/t Richard Clemmer-Smith). See here.


The ethnic cleansing across the country carried out by the US government and settlers was a process of aggression. Given the strength – though not the justice – of an imperial United States, many indigenous tribes sought to make peace. They were often cheated, in broken agreement after broken agreement, denied lands on which to hunt, cordoned off or settled on reservations or “farm lands,” and then starved.


Some rebelled.


The slaughter of the Hungate family by some Native Americans – their bodies exhibited in Denver to mount a fury againt “the Red fiends” (Chivington’s words) was a response to the murder the month before of Lean Bear - Awoninahku (1813–1864) by US troops. Lean Bear had gone to Washington, met with Lincoln, had peace papers in his hands as he walked to show the soldiers he was at peace, and was shot down.


It was fight or die. Many fought back.

Contra Chivington who desperately claimed that the massacre "pacified" the West, Sand Creek generated the long and fierce "Indian Wars" which destroyed Custer and culminated, a quarter of a century later, with the massacre at Wounded Knee.


Aggression aganst nonwhites – nonhumans, those without souls according to the Pope – had been labeled “discovery” since the 1450s. The pope divided the world among Spain and Portugal. See the Papal decree Romanus Pontifex of 1493 below and the account of Willie James Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (h/t Andrew Reid and Duncan Campbell).


But Methodists and the World Council of Churches have now repudiated the doctrine of discovery. My friend George Tinker spoke at the Methodist conference April 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida about a need for continued repentance of which there is a brief segment here. The whole meeting was devoted to recognizing and mourning the crimes against indigenous people, and Tinker’s speech, including naming the crimes of Governor John Evans, begins at around minute 40 here.


With long struggles against racism (including the publication during the civil rights movement of Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, struggles such as Wounded Knee, and demonstrations), the times have changed. The crimes of aggression and genocide are now clear to many. One has to be the prisoner of the racist idea that the murder of people is only a concern of indians to resist it.

This Tuesday, in the room about Sand Creek at the Colorado History Museum, an old racist who had this view, coupled with a celebration of “the Southern War of Independence,” started a conversation with me - as if white men would obviously agree about this...


Later I saluted Silas Soule, an abolitionist who helped free Dr. Doy a white participant in the underground railway captured by Missouri slave-owners. See here. Soule was also a Federal soldier who refused to fire on people at Sand Creek and let them escape through his lines, warned Chivington against the attack the night before (Chivington threatened him), told the truth to the Federal government about the massacre producing the hearings, and was murdered in Denver (he was then a police officer) the week after he testified, by a soldier from one of the cavalry militias which waged the massacre. For Soule's testimony, see here.

On orders from higher up, the sheriff left the jail open and he escaped.

A white woman named Diane then spoke to me about the need for recognition, mourning and healing.


The atmosphere in that room is electric.


When Ari Kelman, an historian at the University of California Davis, spoke about his fine new book A Misplaced Massacre, some 700 people showed up for three sessions.

The first session sold out, and he agreed to do another and then another.


In chapter two, Kelman emphasizes the response of indigenous people to cant from federal and Republican politicians about healing during the dedication of the recent Sand Creek Massacre Memorial.

There was a request, for instance, not for a memorial but for health care, food, aid for education.


One may easily underestimate how alive this issue is in Colorado, how much the times have eroded this founding amnesia, how much the people who lived here are now recognized, not through shadowy names for conquered territories and missing people, say, Arapahoe Road, but as humans.


2014 is 150 years since the Sand Creek Massacre. It is time for all Americans to mourn what was done to indigenous people – to rename many of these old memorials to genocide and build new ones to those who fought against it – and make a new start.


The World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of 349 churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service
Document date: 17.02.2012
Statement on the doctrine of discovery and its enduring impact on Indigenous Peoples
WCC Executive Committee

14-17 February 2012
Bossey, Switzerland

1. Indigenous Peoples have the oldest living cultures in the world. Three hundred to five hundred million Indigenous Peoples today live in over 72 countries around the world, and they comprise at least 5,000 distinct peoples. The ways of life, identities, well-being and very existence of Indigenous People are threatened by the continuing effects of colonization and national policies, regulations and laws that attempt to force them to assimilate into the cultures of majoritarian societies. A fundamental historical basis and legal precedent for these policies and laws is the “Doctrine of Discovery”, the idea that Christians enjoy a moral and legal right based solely on their religious identity to invade and seize indigenous lands and to dominate Indigenous Peoples.

2. Around the world, Indigenous Peoples are over-represented in all categories of disadvantage. In most indigenous communities people live in poverty without clean water and necessary infrastructure, lacking adequate health care, education, employment and housing. Many indigenous communities still suffer the effects of dispossession, forced removals from homelands and families, inter-generational trauma and racism, the effects of which are manifested in social welfare issues such as alcohol and drug problems, violence and social breakdown. Basic health outcomes dramatize the disparity in well-being between Indigenous Peoples and European descendants.

3. The patterns of domination and oppression that continue to afflict Indigenous Peoples today throughout the world are found in numerous historical documents such as Papal Bulls, Royal Charters and court rulings. For example, the church documents Dum Diversas (1452) and Romanus Pontifex (1455) called for non-Christian peoples to be invaded, captured, vanquished, subdued, reduced to perpetual slavery and to have their possessions and property seized by Christian monarchs. Collectively, these and other concepts form a paradigm or pattern of domination that is still being used against Indigenous Peoples.

4. Following the above patterns of thought and behaviour, Christopher Columbus was instructed, for example, to “discover and conquer,” “subdue” and “acquire” distant lands, and in 1493 Pope Alexander VI called for non-Christian “barbarous nations” to be subjugated and proselytized for the “propagation of the Christian empire.” Three years later, England’s King Henry VII followed the pattern of domination by instructing John Cabot and his sons to locate, subdue and take possession of the “islands, countries, regions, of the heathens and infidels . . . unknown to Christian people.” Thereafter, for example, English, Portuguese and Spanish colonization in Australia, the Americas and New Zealand proceeded under the Doctrine of Discovery as Europeans attempted to conquer and convert Indigenous Peoples. In 1513, Spain drafted a legal document that was required to be read to Indigenous Peoples before “just war” could commence. The Requerimiento informed Indigenous Peoples that their lands had been donated to Spain and that they had to submit to the Crown and Christianity or they would be attacked and enslaved.

5. In 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court used the same pattern and paradigm of domination to claim in the ruling Johnson & Graham’s Lessee v. M’Intosh that the United States as the successor to various “potentates” had the “ultimate dominion” or “ultimate title” (right of territorial domination) over all lands within the claimed boundaries of the United States. The Court said that as a result of the documents mentioned above, authorizing “Christian people” to “discover” and possess the lands of “heathens,” the Indians were left with a mere “right of occupancy;” an occupancy that, according to the Court was subject to the “ultimate title” or “absolute title” of the United States. The Johnson case has been cited repeatedly by Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and United States courts, and the Doctrine of Discovery has been held by all these countries to have granted European settler societies plenary power (domination) over Indigenous Peoples, legal title to their lands, and has resulted in diminished sovereign, commercial and international rights for Indigenous Peoples and governments. Europeans believed this was proper based on their ethnocentric, racial and religious attitudes that they and their cultures, religions and governments were superior to non-Christian European peoples.

6. Consequently, the current situation of Indigenous Peoples around the world is the result of a linear programme of “legal” precedent, originating with the Doctrine of Discovery and codified in contemporary national laws and policies. The Doctrine mandated Christian European countries to attack, enslave and kill the Indigenous Peoples they encountered and to acquire all of their assets. The Doctrine remains the law in various ways in almost all settler societies around the world today. The enormity of the application of this law and the theft of the rights and assets of Indigenous Peoples have led indigenous activists to work to educate the world about this situation and to galvanize opposition to the Doctrine. Many Christian churches that have studied the pernicious Doctrine have repudiated it, and are working to ameliorate the legal, economic and social effects of this international framework. Starting in 2007, for example, with the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, followed by the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York in 2008, and in 2010 by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, individual churches began adopting resolutions and minutes repudiating the Doctrine. In 2009, at its 76th General Convention, the Episcopal Church adopted resolution D035 – “Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.” In 2010, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada adopted resolution A086 – “Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.” In 2011, various Unitarian Universalist churches and Quaker organizations are adopting and considering adopting resolutions and minutes repudiating the Doctrine. This issue of the Doctrine of Discovery has also been brought to the forefront of world attention by Indigenous Peoples working with international bodies.

7. Considering the fact that the Doctrine of Discovery will be the theme for the 11th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in 2012, churches and the international community need to be sensitized on this issue. The Doctrine of Discovery: its enduring impact on Indigenous Peoples and the right to redress for past conquests (articles 28 and 37 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) will be discussed at the UNPFII from 7 to 18 May 2012; this event will bring together representatives of Indigenous People’s organizations and networks around the world. Churches and ecumenical networks of the WCC will be mobilized to be part of the 11th session of the UNPFII in 2012.

In this context, the executive committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting at Bossey, Switzerland, 14-17 February 2012,

A. Expresses solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the world and supports the rights of Indigenous Peoples to live in and retain their traditional lands and territories, to maintain and enrich their cultures and to ensure that their traditions are strengthened and passed on for generations to come;

B. Denounces the Doctrine of Discovery as fundamentally opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and as a violation of the inherent human rights that all individuals and peoples have received from God;

C. Urges various governments in the world to dismantle the legal structures and policies based on the Doctrine of Discovery and dominance, so as better to empower and enable Indigenous Peoples to identify their own aspirations and issues of concern;

D. Affirms its conviction and commitment that Indigenous Peoples be assisted in their struggle to involve themselves fully in creating and implementing solutions that recognize and respect the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples and to exercise their right to self-determination and self-governance;

E. Requests the governments and states of the world to ensure that their policies, regulations and laws that affect Indigenous Peoples comply with international conventions and, in particular, conform to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169;

F. Calls on each WCC member church to reflect upon its own national and church history and to encourage all member parishes and congregations to seek a greater understanding of the issues facing Indigenous Peoples, to support Indigenous Peoples in their ongoing efforts to exercise their inherent sovereignty and fundamental human rights, to continue to raise awareness about the issues facing Indigenous Peoples and to develop advocacy campaigns to support the rights, aspirations and needs of Indigenous Peoples;

G. Encourages WCC member churches to support the continued development of theological reflections by Indigenous Peoples which promote indigenous visions of full, good and abundant life and which strengthen their own spiritual and theological reflections.


Methodists express repentance for massacre of Native Americans

MAY 13, 2011
Ecumenical News International

In a spirit of repentance, the United Methodist Church is making good on a pledge to support a learning center at the Western site of an 1864 massacre of Native Americans led by a Methodist minister.

The UMC’s General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, based in New York City, announced that it has gived $50,000 to the National Park Service for developing a center at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, near Eads, Colorado. The donation will be used to fund research materials and other public education initiatives.

The donation is the latest in a series of acts in which the 12-million-member denomination has apologized for the action of Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister who led a Nov. 29, 1864, attack against members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples along the banks of Sand Creek.

Some 165 people — most of them women, children and the elderly — were killed. As a result of the massacre, Cheyennes and Arapahos abandoned all claims to what was then the Territory of Colorado.

“This effort is only a single step in a very complex and emotional journey for our church,” the Rev. Stephen Sidorak, Jr., general secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, said in a recent statement. “We have played an unfortunate role in history in regards to Native Americans and our recognition of our involvement is long overdue.”

Sidorak told ENInews that Northern Cheyenne peoples today “are quite struck by the fact that animals have returned to the massacre site, evidence of the healing of the land, a victory of life over death.”

The UMC is preparing for a formal “Act of Repentance to Indigenous Persons” during the meeting of its top legislative body, the United Methodist General Conference, to be held April 25- May 4, 2012, in Tampa, Florida.

That service, the general commission said, “is intended to be an acknowledgment of wrongs done to indigenous persons and the beginning of a process to heal relationships between indigenous communities and the church.”

The UMC’s 1996 General Conference formally expressed regret for the Sand Creek massacre and issued a public apology for the “actions of a prominent Methodist.” The denomination authorized a donation to the Sand Creek Massacre Learning Center in 2008.

“The Learning Center will enable descendants, visitors and researchers to study the causes and consequences of this tragedy and its relevance to contemporary events in the hope of preventing similar occurrences in the future,” Alexa Roberts, superintendent of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, said in a statement.

Chivington reportedly said: “Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians. I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God’s heaven to kill Indians.” Almost twenty years after the event, he was unrepentant, declaring: “I stand by Sand Creek.”

Such acts and words continue to wound, Sidorak said, explaining: “We will never get a grip on our need for repentance until we grasp the breadth and depth of the historical injuries sustained by indigenous ancestors and the lasting wounds inflicted upon their descendants.”


The Bull Inter Caetera (Alexander VI), May 4, 1493.


Columbus' discovery in 1492 of supposedly Asiatic lands in the western seas threatened the unstable relations between the kingdoms of Portugal and Castile, which had been jockeying for position and possession of colonial territories along the African coast for many years. The king of Portugal asserted that the discovery was within the bounds set forth in Papal bulls of 1455, 1456, and 1479. The king and queen of Castile disputed this and sought a new Papal Bull on the subject.

Pope Alexander VI, a native of Valencia and a friend of the Castilian king, responded with three bulls, dated May 3 and 4, which were highly favorable to Castile. The third of these bulls, the bull Inter caetera, is reproduced below, in an English translation published in European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Frances Gardiner Davenport, editor, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1917, Washington, D.C., at pp. 75-78. The original text in Latin is in the same volume, at pp. 72-75.

Though later bulls were issued on the subject of Portugese and Spanish colonial rivalry, the bull Inter caetera became a major document in the development of subsequent legal doctrines regarding claims of empire in the "new world." The bull assigned to Castile the exclusive right to acquire territory, to trade in, or even to approach the lands lying west of the meridian situated one hundred leagues west of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands. An exception was made, however, for any lands actually possessed by any other Christian prince beyond this meridian prior to Christmas, 1492.

English Translation

Alexander, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the illustrious sovereigns, our very dear son in Christ, Ferdinand, king, and our very dear daughter in Christ, Isabella, queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, and Granada, health and apostolic benediction. Among other works well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this assuredly ranks highest, that in our times especially the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself. Wherefore inasmuch as by the favor of divine clemency, we, though of insufficient merits, have been called to this Holy See of Peter, recognizing that as true Catholic kings and princes, such as we have known you always to be, and as your illustrious deeds already known to almost the whole world declare, you not only eagerly desire but with every effort, zeal, and diligence, without regard to hardships, expenses, dangers, with the shedding even of your blood, are laboring to that end; recognizing also that you have long since dedicated to this purpose your whole soul and all your endeavors -- as witnessed in these times with so much glory to the Divine Name in your recovery of the kingdom of Granada from the yoke of the Saracens -- we therefore are rightly led, and hold it as our duty, to grant you even of our own accord and in your favor those things whereby with effort each day more hearty you may be enabled for the honor of God himself and the spread of the Christian rule to carry forward your holy and praiseworthy purpose so pleasing to immortal God. We have indeed learned that you, who for a long time had intended to seek out and discover certain islands and mainlands remote and unknown and not hitherto discovered by others, to the end that you might bring to the worship of our Redeemer and the profession of the Catholic faith their residents and inhabitants, having been up to the present time greatly engaged in the siege and recovery of the kingdom itself of Granada were unable to accomplish this holy and praiseworthy purpose; but the said kingdom having at length been regained, as was pleasing to the Lord, you, with the wish to fulfill your desire, chose our beloved son, Christopher Columbus, a man assuredly worthy and of the highest recommendations and fitted for so great an undertaking, whom you furnished with ships and men equipped for like designs, not without the greatest hardships, dangers, and expenses, to make diligent quest for these remote and unknown mainlands and islands through the sea, where hitherto no one had sailed; and they at length, with divine aid and with the utmost diligence sailing in the ocean sea, discovered certain very remote islands and even mainlands that hitherto had not been discovered by others; wherein dwell very many peoples living in peace, and, as reported, going unclothed, and not eating flesh. Moreover, as your aforesaid envoys are of opinion, these very peoples living in the said islands and countries believe in one God, the Creator in heaven, and seem sufficiently disposed to embrace the Catholic faith and be trained in good morals. And it is hoped that, were they instructed, the name of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, would easily be introduced into the said countries and islands. Also, on one of the chief of these aforesaid islands the said Christopher has already caused to be put together and built a fortress fairly equipped, wherein he has stationed as garrison certain Christians, companions of his, who are to make search for other remote and unknown islands and mainlands. In the islands and countries already discovered are found gold, spices, and very many other precious things of divers kinds and qualities. Wherefore, as becomes Catholic kings and princes, after earnest consideration of all matters, especially of the rise and spread of the Catholic faith, as was the fashion of your ancestors, kings of renowned memory, you have purposed with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them to the Catholic faith. Hence, heartily commending in the Lord this your holy and praiseworthy purpose, and desirous that it be duly accomplished, and that the name of our Savior be carried into those regions, we exhort you very earnestly in the Lord and by your reception of holy baptism, whereby you are bound to our apostolic commands, and by the bowels of the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, enjoin strictly, that inasmuch as with eager zeal for the true faith you design to equip and despatch this expedition, you purpose also, as is your duty, to lead the peoples dwelling in those islands and countries to embrace the Christian religion; nor at any time let dangers or hardships deter you therefrom, with the stout hope and trust in your hearts that Almighty God will further your undertakings. And, in order that you may enter upon so great an undertaking with greater readiness and heartiness endowed with the benefit of our apostolic favor, we, of our own accord, not at your instance nor the request of anyone else in your regard, but of our own sole largess and certain knowledge and out of the fullness of our apostolic power, by the authority of Almighty God conferred upon us in blessed Peter and of the vicarship of Jesus Christ, which we hold on earth, do by tenor of these presents, should any of said islands have been found by your envoys and captains, give, grant, and assign to you and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, forever, together with all their dominions, cities, camps, places, and villages, and all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and mainlands found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered towards the west and south, by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole, namely the north, to the Antarctic pole, namely the south, no matter whether the said mainlands and islands are found and to be found in the direction of India or towards any other quarter, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the west and south from any of the islands commonly known as the Azores and Cape Verde. With this proviso however that none of the islands and mainlands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered, beyond that said line towards the west and south, be in the actual possession of any Christian king or prince up to the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ just past from which the present year one thousand four hundred and ninety-three begins. And we make, appoint, and depute you and your said heirs and successors lords of them with full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind; with this proviso however, that by this our gift, grant, and assignment no right acquired by any Christian prince, who may be in actual possession of said islands and mainlands prior to the said birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, is hereby to be understood to be withdrawn or taken away. Moreover we command you in virtue of holy obedience that, employing all due diligence in the premises, as you also promise -- nor do we doubt your compliance therein in accordance with your loyalty and royal greatness of spirit -- you should appoint to the aforesaid mainlands and islands worthy, God-fearing, learned, skilled, and experienced men, in order to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents in the Catholic faith and train them in good morals. Furthermore, under penalty of excommunication late sententie to be incurred ipso facto, should anyone thus contravene, we strictly forbid all persons of whatsoever rank, even imperial and royal, or of whatsoever estate, degree, order, or condition, to dare, without your special permit or that of your aforesaid heirs and successors, to go for the purpose of trade or any other reason to the islands or mainlands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered, towards the west and south, by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole to the Antarctic pole, no matter whether the mainlands and islands, found and to be found, lie in the direction of India or toward any other quarter whatsoever, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the west and south, as is aforesaid, from any of the islands commonly known as the Azores and Cape Verde; apostolic constitutions and ordinances and other decrees whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding. We trust in Him from whom empires and governments and all good things proceed, that, should you, with the Lord's guidance, pursue this holy and praiseworthy undertaking, in a short while your hardships and endeavors will attain the most felicitous result, to the happiness and glory of all Christendom. But inasmuch as it would be difficult to have these present letters sent to all places where desirable, we wish, and with similar accord and knowledge do decree, that to copies of them, signed by the hand of a public notary commissioned therefor, and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical officer or ecclesiastical court, the same respect is to be shown in court and outside as well as anywhere else as would be given to these presents should they thus be exhibited or shown. Let no one, therefore, infringe, or with rash boldness contravene, this our recommendation, exhortation, requisition, gift, grant, assignment, constitution, deputation, decree, mandate, prohibition, and will. Should anyone presume to attempt this, be it known to him that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, in the year of the incarnation of our Lord one thousand four hundred and ninety-three, the fourth of May, and the first year of our pontificate.

Gratis by order of our most holy lord, the pope.

June. For the referendary, For J. Bufolinus,

A. de Mucciarellis. A. Santoseverino.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lecture Friday at 1 Sturm 151 sponsored by the Black Student Alliance

"In celebration of Black History Month you are invited to attend a lecture with Dr. Alan Gilbert titled: Newly Freed Slaves and the Fight for American Democracy. The lecture will take place in conjunction with the Black Student Alliance's program A Day at DU. This amazing program will host Denver high school students in a day-long visit providing students the opportunity to work with a student mentor, engage with faculty and staff on campus and experience what a day is like in the life of a DU student. The lecture will provide an opportunity for high school students to engage in a college classroom setting. I encourage you to engage with our students and support the high school students that will be visiting our campus for this special event.

The lecture will be held on Friday February 22nd at 1:00pm in Sturm room 151. Please come and support our Black Student Alliance in this amazing community service endeavor!

We look forward to seeing you on February 22nd!

Tracey Adams-Peters"


"Alan Gilbert is a John Evans Professor from the Korbel School of International Studies. He is an activist and author, including Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War of Independence.

Though January 1st was the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, few know its impact even in the Civil War where the main fighters for the Union at the end of the conflict were black. And the struggle for recruitment and emancipation of slaves between the British and Americans led to blacks being the main fighters and the majority of the dead at the decisive battle of Yorktown in the American Revolution 80 years before. The attempted pitting of whites against blacks has been a central, anti-democratic feature of American politics since its inception and continues to play a major role today."


I will speak especially of the wonder of being in college, of the chance to seek the truth and its fundamental moral and personal dimension; that each of us, often surprisingly to ourselves and against the odds, can make a difference in the great struggle to move mountains like bondage and Jim Crow and today, the prison-industrial complex.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Beat at the Denver Press Club March 7th at 6pm

NEW LISTING Thursday, March 7, 6-7 p.m. at the Denver Press Club located at 1330 Glenarm Pl. Denver, CO 80204 on the second floor in the event room:

BOOK BEAT EVENING with Alan Gilbert, the John Evans Professor at the University of Denver's Korbel School of International Studies. His new book is titled, "Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War of Independence." Free and no reservations required; just show up.

It was published by the Chicago University Press, which describes the book this way:

We commonly think of the American Revolution as simply the war for independence from British colonial rule. But, of course, that independence actually applied to only a portion of the American population - African Americans would still be bound in slavery for nearly another century. In Black Patriots and Loyalists, Alan Gilbert asks us to rethink what we know about the Revolutionary War, to realize that while white Americans were fighting for their freedom, black Americans were joining the British imperial forces to gain theirs. There were actually two wars being waged at once: a political revolution for independence from Britain and a social revolution for emancipation and equality.

Here's part of a book review by Douglas Egerton

"Historians have long understood that there were two American Revolutions, the triumphant one that culminated in political independence for the thirteen British mainland colonies and the far less successful campaign waged for human freedom. Alan Gilbert's contribution is to demonstrate how the second revolution could have sustained and even hastened the first. Given the large number of Africans and African Americans in the colonies, together with a sizable percentage of whites who remained loyal to Britain, the November 1775 decision by General George Washington and the Continental Congress to cease the enlistment of slaves temporarily handed the military advantage to the Crown.

"Washington quickly came to see the folly of his decision, but the American refusal to adopt more dramatic proposals for black enlistment ... led most black combatants to regard the British as the more dedicated to the cause of social equality. ... armed with new research, Gilbert tells his sprawling story with grace and clarity as he follows his veterans onto the rocky shores of Nova Scotia and the rainy coast of Sierra Leone. As the white patriots they left behind crafted a Constitution that protected slavery and allowed for the importation of more captured Africans, the black refugees struggled to advance the cause of democracy and freedom in each place they settled."

There's more information about the book at

h/t Seth Bradley and Bruce Goldberg

Monday, February 18, 2013

A letter from Rich Rockwell on Chivington

Rich Rockwell, my friend, colleague at Metro and someone who was raised in La Junta, sent me the following pointed note on Nietzsche and Sand Creek. Nietzsche’s writings on the Jewish inversion of values were taken in even by the sophisticated Heidegger in the process of becoming a Nazi. Nietzsche donned mask after mask; as Brian Leiter and Tracy Strong have suggested to me, some of Nietzsche’s thoughts – i.e. that the Pope was really working through a Jewish reality – press the understanding of smart people. And yet...


Nietzsche was also a brilliant psychologist, though his views on envy as the basis of justice are, as Rich’s letter suggests, foolish.


Nietzsche is also like a Plato lacking a deep sympathy for Socrates and civil disobedience. That is, he constructs many false paths. It is possible to take the surface of Nietzsche (read aloud the citation from below) pretty directly as a source for European fascism and anti-semitism, perhaps even more easy than reactionaries taking the surface of the Republic to justify counsel to tyrants (this is Heidegger’s view and that of several other Nazi philosophers who each sought to be the “philosopher” to – lapdog of - Hitler.


“Nietzsche would be proud of the Chivington Monument

Hi Alan,

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts on Sand Creek, Chivington, and Evans, especially since I hail from the area, La Junta (redux of Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire, where ranchers and farmers, e.g. the peasants, who get subsidies not to raise livestock or grow certain crops end up voting for Bush and Romney), birthplace of Ken Kesey, home of the old Kit Carson Hotel (Kit Carson’s great grandson was my high school history teacher), Amache (the Colorado Japanese Internment Camp, courtesy of Roosevelt’s executive order), and Sand Creek (Eads). A few years after the Sand Creek Massacre, Nietzsche wrote “The Genealogy of Morals.” Nietzsche would be so proud of the monument to Colonel Chivington and has most likely been beaming down his approval for decades at this piece in front of our state’s capitol [see "The Post and the burning issue of Sand Creek here], for it is the victors, “rulers, lords, and sovereigns” he admires - the Genghis Khans of this world. They (the masters) were synonymous with noble and good until the Jewish revolts.

Nietzsche, the self-avowed “Polish Nobleman,” sees the “master” as the true noble; he hearkens back to the world of heroes, godlike leaders and supermen. For Nietzsche, the “slave,” or the “workers” of Marx, have become the “mob, the herd, the lastman” in a world in values have become inverted. Nietzsche admits his obsession with the forces of “good” and evil” from an early age and realizes that the terminology as it applies to human beings was set in stone by the class systems of earlier times. What related to aristocracy “tall, fair, nobility” was everything considered “good” and what; described their opposites “dark, lowborn, native populations” were also opposite in nature and “bad.” The warriors are the heroes of earlier times and are praised by Nietzsche; he includes romans, Arabians, and Japanese among the conquerors as well as the ancient Vikings.

It is the particular message that the Jewish/Christian tradition enunciated that is so appalling to Nietzsche; instead of glorifying mastery over defeated enemies the “slave” ethic is celebrated and the ideal for mankind becomes the ennoblement of suffering (Job) pain and humble acceptance of one’s lot. Nietzsche presents the Jewish tradition (the Old Testament) as a tree trunk of vengeance that grew a completely new tradition; the triumph of the common mob, the slaves, the “herd” of history; out of this trunk grew branches and the eventual “crown of Christian Love.” Nietzsche’s theme/thesis throughout the “Genealogy of Morals” is forthright; it was the Jews who started the “slave revolt in morals” and thus began the inversion of values. Here, let Nietzsche speak:

“It was the Jew who, with frightening consistency, dared to invert the aristocratic value equations good/noble/powerful/beautiful/happy/favored-of-the gods and maintain, with the furious hatred of the underprivileged and impotent, that “only the poor, the powerless are good; only the suffering, sick, and ugly, truly blessed. But you noble and mighty ones of the earth will be, to all eternity, the evil, the cruel, the avaricious, the godless, and thus the cursed and damned!” …We know who has fallen heir to this Jewish inversion of values… it was the Jews who started the slave revolt in morals… You find that difficult to understand?”

I’m sure Nietzsche can’t stand the idea of me (“co-mingling, race-mixing” – not to mention teaching college students using your books, Zinn, and Thucydides – all powerful influences in giving a voice to those who do not have a voice) and considers it a “moral” victory to know that such monuments in the world still stand in the 21st century or that Jimmy Carter held “rallies for Calley” in Georgia when the peanut farmer chose to transition and run for Governor a la Plato’s Euthydemus dialogue (where Euthydemus and Dionysodorus who used to be military arms dealers/trainers wish to start teaching $ophistry). Nietzsche would have hated Pete Seeger’s “Last train to Nuremberg” – about Calley and Medina). In closing, I’d like to keep Nietzsche’s hubris/bravura in check and allow Black Kettle to speak:

“All we ask is that we have peace with the whites. We want to hold you by the hand. You are our father. We have been traveling through a cloud. The sky has been dark ever since the war began. We want to take good tidings home to our people, that they may sleep in peace. I want you to give all these chiefs of the soldiers here to understand that we are for peace, and that we have made peace, that we may not be mistaken by them for enemies. I have not come here with a little wolf bark, but have come to talk plain with you.”

-- Motavato (Black Kettle) speaking to Colorado Govornor Evans, Colonel Chivington, Major Wynkoop & others in Denver, autumn, 1864

Rich Rockwell”

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Conversation with Justin Desmangles on KDVS Sunday at 5 (Pacific) on Founding Myths

"Justin Desmangles is host of New Day Jazz, at KDVS, 90.3 FM, in Davis, California. Dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of Afro-American history and culture, New Day Jazz also features regular interviews and political commentary. JAZZ OMNIA VINCIT!"


Tomorrow at 5 o'clock Pacific (6 Colorado, 8 New York), we will discuss Founding Myths or Founding Amensias about the fight against slavery within the Revolution for independence and the idea that the founding fathers, who were often slaveowners, were seriously for freedom, the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people in "a land without people for a people without land" (Israel) and continuing apartheid in the Occupied Territories, and the wars against indigenous people, including the hangings of 38 Dakota indians in Minnesota and the Sand Creek massacre during the Civil War.


You can listen here.


Justin's fine interview with me about Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War of Independence is here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Poem: e ra s ure

for Andrew Goodman

autumnslap of leather on the

off tackle

bur ied




you ran

and I to chestertown
Home Of Cherryblossoms

thru Woolworth’s


(you went

did they make you

run, Andy
to miss iss ippi

under whirling lights
air buzz ed

before they hid you
bloss oms


in the dam?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Roundtable on Django Thursday noon at the Korbel School cybercafe


Professor Haider Khan will be joining the roundtable discussion of the film, Django Unchained, at noon on Thursday, February 14, in the Arthur N Gilbert cybercafé. Alan Gilbert, Arthur Gilbert and Haider Khan will each make a ten minute presentation followed by a discussion of the movie in the context of race and slavery. The role of religion in the south before the Civil War will be one of the topics."


"Django" has proven propular with audiences, marking the achievement of a new understanding. It features, despite Tarentino’s sometimes comic book presentation, those oppressed by slavery striking justly at slaveowners.


In the fine movie "Lincoln" - see "Lincoln and Founding Myths" here, black soldiers and a maid are the backdrop of a drama of whites (the film does praise the great abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens and ties the Emancipation Proclamation forcefully to the 13th amendment). See here.

In "Django," Candieland is, in fact, more near Monticello than different. See here. Audiences have responded to resistance to the deep injustice slavery is. See my review of 'Django' here.


As Duncan Campbell suggests, Django is actually more popular with moviegoers than the false, CIA-story, torture movie "Zero Dark Thirty." Here is his letter:

"Hi alan,

Very glad to see you put this in your blog. Our thoughts exactly (we saw it when it first came out, and have told all our friends it is a must see.)

You will be interested to know how Django is the NUMBER ONE film in terms of Audience Like (Satisfactionn) -- a very unusual 94% rating, outstripping all the other Big Three, including the conventional history friendly Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. This marks a huge shift in consciousness in the awakening collective. Here are the ratings at (regarded by many as the premier critic and audience rating film website):

Crtics Rating Audience Like Rating

Zero Dark Thirty 93% 86%

Django 88%

Lincoln 91%

Silver Lining Playbook 91% 91%

Then Big Drop Off to Next:

Les Miserables 70%

All best,



Tarentino was allowed in Hollywood to make such a film. Spike Lee, diretor of the fine "Malcolm X" was not.

That - despite the good features of the movie and its reception - is a story of contining racism.


But American audiences appreciate "Django."


Mass militant nonviolence is a much better antidote to the harms of our society than violence. But the enormous racism of America even before, during and ever since its inception is now (it was in the Revolution as my book Black Patriots and Loyalists shows and in the Civil War and Reconstruction), once again, being challenged.


Even now, for instance in the New York Times, there is some discussion of the role of black soldiering and Emancipation in the Civil War. See here. This year is after all the 150th anniversary of the Emnacipation Proclamation.


Lincoln is the safe (also fine) movie celebrating abolitionist whites. Django allows slaves and freedom-loving people, in fantasy – what they did in reality by burning the mansions in Georgia in 1864 and 1865 – deal with slaveowners.


Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War of Independence (Chicago, May 2012) tells the remarakable story of the central role of black soldiers including black Patriots fightig before and during the American revolution. It highlights the role of sailiors, white as well as black, seized sot “pressed” by press-gangs into the British Navy and siding with slave uprisings in the Caribbean.


It shows the tremendous role of religion in resistance to bondage among blacks, particularly on the Imperial side in Nova Scotia and in founding a democratic community in Freetown in Sierra Leone, and among preachers like Samuel Hopkins in Newport, Rhode Island who stigmatized slavery, just before the Revolution, as a "sin of crimson dye"


Blacks and abolitionist whites were the life of the Revolution, composing most of the revolutionary crowds like the Boston Tea Party.


Freedom, the supposed goal of independence, could (and can) only be realized through emancipation.


This story cannot yet be mentioned in the New York Times which shares in the deep, inherited racism about the Revolution (I did 12 years of work in 13 research libraries, Chicago reviewed it for four years; Black Patriots and Loyalists was the University of Chicago Press's lead book last spring in history).


It is time this anti-racist and freedom-sustaining tale becomes known. It is time for Americans celebrated the black soldiers who were central in not only the Civil War but in the American Revoluton.


These facts show that the Daughters of the American Revolutoin, with its long racism, is the opposite of the truth about America. See my commenatry last July 4th on the New York Times story “For the Dar, a New Chapter" here.


"Django" is the shadow of which these stories are the reality…