Tag Archives: slavery

Developers Found Graves in the Virginia Woods. Authorities Then Helped Erase the Historic Black Cemetery

The cemetery’s disappearance cleared the way for the expansion of a Microsoft data center, despite layers of federal and state regulations nominally intended to protect culturally significant sites.

by Seth Freed Wessler.  Published 12-16-2022 by ProPublica

Microsoft’s Boydton Data Center in Mecklenburg County. Photo: Data Center Knowledge

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Nobody working to bring a $346 million Microsoft project to rural Virginia expected to find graves in the woods. But in a cluster of yucca plants and cedar that needed to be cleared, surveyors happened upon a cemetery. The largest of the stones bore the name Stephen Moseley, “died December 3, 1930,” in a layer of cracking plaster. Another stone, in near perfect condition and engraved with a branch on the top, belonged to Stephen’s toddler son, Fred, who died in 1906.

“This is not as bad as it sounds,” an engineering consultant wrote in March 2014 to Microsoft and to an official in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, who was helping clear hurdles for the project — an expansion of a massive data center. “We should be able to relocate these graves.” Continue reading

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Indigenous People Push Back Against US ‘Thanksgiving Mythology’

“We will not stop telling the truth about the Thanksgiving story and what happened to our ancestors,” says Kisha James, whose grandfather founded the National Day of Mourning in 1970.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 11-24-2022 by Common Dreams

“Many of the conditions that prevailed in Indian Country in 1970 still prevail today,” Kisha James said in Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 24, 2022, pointing to life expectancy, suicide, and infant mortality rates—along with the rising death rate for Native women. (Photo: screenshot/hate5six/YouTube)

The United American Indians of New England and allies gathered at noon Thursday at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts for the 53rd National Day of Mourning—an annual tradition that serves as “a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide.”

“We don’t have any issues with people sitting down with their family and giving thanks,” Kisha James—who is an enrolled member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and is also Oglala Lakota—told BBC. “What we do object to is the Thanksgiving mythology.” Continue reading

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Modern-day culture wars are playing out on historic tours of slaveholding plantations

These statues of enslaved young boys are part of a modern-day depiction of southern plantation life at the Whitney Museum in Louisiana.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Kelley Fanto Deetz, University of California, Berkeley

Located on nearly 2,000 acres along the banks of the Potomac River, Stratford Hall Plantation is the birthplace of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the home of four generations of the Lee family, including two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee.

It was also the home of hundreds of enslaved Africans and African Americans. From sunup to sundown, they worked in the fields and in the Great House. Until fairly recently, the stories of these enslaved Africans and of their brothers and sisters toiling at plantations across the Southern U.S. were absent from any discussions during modern-day tours of plantations such as Stratford Hall. Continue reading

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‘Dangerous Precedent’: US High Court Sides With Corporate Giants Nestle and Cargill in Child Slavery Case

A lawyer for six men who alleged they were victims of human trafficking said the corporations “should be held accountable for abetting a system of child slavery.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-17-2021

Neal Katyal speaking at the National Constitution Center’s 2012 Peter Jennings Project moot court. Photo: National Constitution Center/flickr/CC

Human rights advocates Thursday denounced a Supreme Court decision in favor of the U.S. corporate giants Nestlé USA and Cargill, which were sued more than a decade ago by six men who say the two companies were complicit in child trafficking and profited when the men were enslaved on cocoa farms as children.

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against the plaintiffs, saying they had not proven the companies’ activities in the U.S. were sufficiently tied to the alleged child trafficking. The companies had argued that they could not be sued in the U.S. for activities that took place in West Africa. Continue reading

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Think the US is more polarized than ever? You don’t know history

Union dead at Gettysburg, July 1863. National Archives, Timothy H. O’Sullivan photographer

Gary W. Gallagher, University of Virginia

It has become common to say that the United States in 2020 is more divided politically and culturally than at any other point in our national past.

As a historian who has written and taught about the Civil War era for several decades, I know that current divisions pale in comparison to those of the mid-19th century.

Between Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860 and the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army at Appomattox in April 1865, the nation literally broke apart. Continue reading

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Come ‘Say This to My Face,’ Says Ayanna Pressley After Betsy DeVos Compares Being Pro-Choice to Being Pro-Slavery

Democratic congresswoman and chair of the House Abortion Access Task Force said she “would welcome the opportunity to educate” the Education Secretary on reproductive rights. And maybe U.S. history of chattel slavery?

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-24-2020

Screenshot: WCVB

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, chair of the House Abortion Access Task Force, offered Thursday to give Education Secretary Betsy DeVos a face-to-face lesson on reproductive rights and U.S. history after the billionaire cabinet official likened the arguments of pro-choice advocates to those of slavery supporters during the Civil War Era—a comparison one critic denounced as “utterly deranged.”

“Dear Betsy, As a Black woman and the chair of the Abortion Access Task Force, I invite you to come by the Hill and say this to my face,” Pressley tweeted after DeVos’ remarks during an event sponsored by Colorado Christian University spread across social media. “Would welcome the opportunity to educate you.” Continue reading

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