Central Park Seneca Village Monument Will Honor African American Freed Slaves in NYC

A DOUBLE AMBROTYPE PORTRAIT OF ALBRO LYONS, SR. AND MARY JOSEPH LYONS. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY.

A DOUBLE AMBROTYPE PORTRAIT OF ALBRO LYONS, SR. AND MARY JOSEPH LYONS. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY.

NYC Monument Will Honor African-American Family Displaced to Make Way for Central Park

Before Central Park leveled it, Seneca Village was a thriving 20-year-old home to African American freed slaves property owners seeking sanctuary in New York City .

Many of its members owned their own property, set apart from the crowds—and discrimination—of the city’s more populated downtown area. But when local authorities began moving forward with plans to build Central Park, Seneca Village’s residents were forced to leave their homes.

A planned monument announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office earlier this month is set to honor a prominent African-American family that once lived in the bustling community. As Julia Jacobs reports for the New York Times, the monument will pay tribute to the Lyons family, a trio of abolitionists, educators and property owners made up of Albro, Mary Joseph and their daughter Maritcha.

Emmett Till Bullet-Proof Memorial with Surveillance Cameras Opens in Mississippi

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The sordid, scarred American story of Emmett Till’s lynching in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi opened a new chapter on Saturday, with the installation of a bullet-proof memorial for the civil rights martyr. Members of Till’s family gathered at Graball Landing, the spot where the pummeled and brutalized, horrifically-disfigured body of the 14-year-old Chicago boy was pulled from the Tallahatchie River after his murder in 1955.

The staggeringly-brutal attack was the result of Till allegedly offending a white woman Carolyn Bryant in her family’s grocery store. Decades later, Bryant disclosed that she had fabricated part of the testimony regarding her interaction with Till, specifically the portion where she accused Till of grabbing her waist and uttering obscenities; "that part's not true.”

Till’s murderers led by Roy Bryant, husband to Carolyn Bryant, and J.W. Milam were absolved of all crimes by what can only be described as a kangaroo court, adding fuel to the historic event largely seen as the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.

From left to right, Ole Miss students Ben LeClere, John Howe, and Howell Logan posing with guns by the bullet-ridden plaque marking the place where the body of murdered civil rights icon Emmett Till was pulled from the Tallahatchie River. The photo was posted to LeClere’s Instagram account in March.

From left to right, Ole Miss students Ben LeClere, John Howe, and Howell Logan posing with guns by the bullet-ridden plaque marking the place where the body of murdered civil rights icon Emmett Till was pulled from the Tallahatchie River. The photo was posted to LeClere’s Instagram account in March.

White southern males have continued their effort to destroy Emmett Till and dishonor his memory by regularly shooting up the local commemoration memorial erected as a marker of one of America’s saddest and most dishonorable events in our racial hatred-fraught historical narrative.

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Speaking at the unveiling of the new, bullet-proof memorial on Saturday, Reverend Willie Williams, co-director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, which advocated for the new marker said “This marker answers the question as to what we do with our history. Do we learn from it? Do we use it to help our society have greater respect for humanity? This answers that.”

Unlike previous markers placed near the location, the new metallic, heavy-weight commemorative memorial will be located behind a gate and placed under the watch of surveillance cameras, according to the memorial commission.

Remembering Emmett Till Book

On May 15, 2019, Remembering Emmett Till by Dave Tell of the University of Kansas was published by the University of Chicago Press. The book is the product of both publicly engaged scholarship—the Emmett Till Memory Project (ETMP)—and years of research and writing supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Tell’s experience shows how public engagement and publishing can go hand in hand.

The publicly engaged project, which Tell embarked upon in collaboration with the Emmett Till Memorial Commission of Tallahatchie County, Inc (ETMC) has worked to create a “vandal-proof” way of marking Till’s story, according to Tell. “After Emmett Till was killed in 1955, 49 years and 11 months passed without a single marker erected in his memory in the state of Mississippi,” Tell explains. “In late 2005, the ETMC was formed to create the state’s first commemorative infrastructure. They began putting up signs in 2008 and were quickly confronted with a problem: vandalism. Two roadside markers had been stolen; two others were filled with bullet holes, another was spray-painted with the letters “KKK,” and, as recently as July 2017, Emmett Till’s marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail was defaced with acid. Eventually, the vandalism would become national news; in 2014 it seemed like the commission and a few stray scholars were the only ones who cared.”

2017 Whitney Biennial

In 2017 at the Whitney Biennial in Manhattan, a painting of Emmett Till by white woman artist Dana Schutz drew the furor of black activists in what became a large public protest and discussion that spilled beyond the art community. AOC followed the details of that intensely emotional dispute that signaled a new opportunity for intense dialogue around race in America in a community of so-called like-minded people.

Related: Emmett Till’s Murder, and How America Remembers Its Darkest Moments Feb. 20, 2019 New York Times

Emmett Till Memorial to Be Replaced With Bulletproof Sign Due to Repeated Vandalism

Emmett Till Memorial to Be Replaced With Bulletproof Sign Due to Repeated Vandalism

In 2007, a sign was erected along the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi, marking the spot where the body of Emmett Till was pulled from the water in 1955. The murder of Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy who was brutally killed by two white men, became a galvanizing incident of the Civil Rights Movement. But over the years, the memorial commemorating his death has been repeatedly vandalized—first stolen, then shot at, then shot at again, according to Nicole Chavez, Martin Savidge and Devon M. Sayers of CNN. Now, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission is planning to replace the damaged memorial with a bulletproof sign.

This will be the fourth sign that the commission has placed at the site. The first was swiped in 2008, and no arrests were ever made in connection with the incident. The replacement marker was vandalized with bullets, more than 100 rounds over the course of several years. Just 35 days after it was erected in 2018, the third sign was shot at as well.

The third memorial made headlines recently when Jerry Mitchell of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, in conjunction with ProPublica, revealed that three University of Mississippi students had been suspended from their fraternity house after posing in front of the sign with guns, in a photo that was posted to the private Instagram account of one of the students. The Justice Department is reportedly investigating the incident.

The sign has now been taken down, and a new one is “on its way,” Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, said last week, according to CBS News. Chavez, Savidge and Sayers of CNN report that the replacement memorial will weigh 600 pounds and be made of reinforced steel. It is expected to go up by the Tallahatchie River in October.

“Unlike the first three signs, this sign calls attention to the vandalism itself,” the commission noted. “We believe it is important to keep a sign at this historic site, but we don’t want to hide the legacy of racism by constantly replacing broken signs. The commission hopes this sign will endure, and that it will continue to spark conversations about Till, history, and racial justice.”

Artist Dewey Crumpler Opposes Destroying 'Life of Washington' Mural For Very Good Reasons

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Artist Dewey Crumpler Opposes Destroying 'Life of Washington' Mural For Very Good Reasons

The firestorm over destroying the California New Deal-era George Washington Mural by Victor Arnautoff has hit Politico today. I've shared 2-3 earlier updates on AOC. For a refresher, Politico summarized the situation:

"The San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously last month to paint over all 13 panels of the 1600 sq. ft. mural “Life of Washington,’’ a historic work commissioned during the New Deal that depicts George Washington as a slave owner. The move came after several vocal protesters demanded the move at a public meeting, saying their children were “traumatized” by depictions of the nation’s first president standing over the images of dead Native Americans."

Well, California Dems are so angry at the San Francisco school board that they sent out an emergency email alert seeking support for an effort to back a voter’s ballot measure to save the murals.

Dubbed the Coalition to Protect Public Art, the initiative aims to protect this art, “and perhaps other New Deal art in San Francisco’’ which may also be targeted.

The Forgotten History of Segregated Swimming Pools and Amusement Parks

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The Forgotten History of Segregated Swimming Pools and Amusement Parks

By Victoria W. Wolcott

Summers often bring a wave of childhood memories: lounging poolside, trips to the local amusement park, languid, steamy days at the beach.

These nostalgic recollections, however, aren’t held by all Americans.

Municipal swimming pools and urban amusement parks flourished in the 20th century. But too often, their success was based on the exclusion of African Americans.

As a social historian who has written a book on segregated recreation, I have found that the history of recreational segregation is a largely forgotten one. But it has had a lasting significance on modern race relations.

Swimming pools and beaches were among the most segregated and fought over public spaces in the North and the South.

The Resilience of Barbados Counters Trump’s ‘Sh-thole’ Remarks

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The Resilience of Barbados Counters Trump’s ‘Sh-thole’ Remarks

By J.M. Opal, Associate Professor of History and Chair, History and Classical Studies, McGill University. First published on The Conversation.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, former attorney and future inmate Michael Cohen revealed some of the uglier things Donald Trump said to him during their many years together.

Among the alleged quotes: “Name one country run by a Black person that’s not a sh—hole.” (One wonders how Trump characterized the United States when Barack Obama was President.)

Rarely stated so bluntly, this racist trope is widespread. As always, Trump gives vulgar expression to quiet prejudice, making him sound “honest” to about 40 per cent of Americans no matter how many lies he tells. As Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted after a similar revelation last year, Trump’s straight-shooting bigotry is one thing his fans love about him.

Those who don’t love him need to fight back with specific examples from the real world. Time and again, we need to highlight the big, complex reality that Trump and many of his supporters call “fake news.” Otherwise, his twisted version of the truth will continue to displace objective reality.