John Hope Franklin lived through most of the twentieth century. He was a gentle man, a scholar, an activist, and a truth-teller. He studied history and he helped to make it.
On this day in 1797, Isabella Baumfree (Sojourner Truth) was born in Ulster County, New York. Sojourner Truth was a former slave, women's rights activist, abolitionist, and great orator. On November 26, 1883, Sojourner passed away in her home in Battle Creek, Michigan.
On July 29, 2008, history was made in the United States House of Representatives – well, kinda. Last week, the House formally apologized for slavery, Jim Crow, and for the racist social consequences that have followed. Never before has the U.S. government publicly apologized for the social institution that reduced Africans to chattel. On one hand, I was humbled, not by the apology, but by the tremendous sacrifice that led to it. To be in a moment where the U.S. House of Representatives [...]
I'm still "down under" -- wrapping up my book tour in Australia. The news from the U.S. reminds me of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s first act on the day after his swearing in as prime minister. In a moving speech, he delivered a speech of apology to the aboriginal people.
Tuesday, for the first [...]
Slavery in the United States did not end in a night or even a year or decade. Even now, long past slavery's demise, the twin poisons of racism and class oppression echo as terrible reverberations from our forefathers' horrific acceptance and perpetuation of brutal violence against their fellow humans. The whips and chains are gone, but the hatred and violence too often well up while inequitable social policies ensure the longevity of poverty for certain classes of people. Even after 150 [...]
In the shadow of India's economic miracle lies a people often deemed untouchable, largely impoverished, and seemingly invisible. Bubbling beneath the shimmering image of a new India is a cauldron of inequality, caste-based subordination, and religious tension that could boil over into even greater civil strife and violence. At the center of these forces lies the Dalit struggle. While Dalit rights are often denied and hopes are crushed, growing political, economic, and spiritual empowerment [...]