Is the coast clear? Any instances of blackface or diversity snafus on the horizon to mar Black History Month? Any of that nonsense to call out? Only last year and the year before did rashes of both spread in news headlines. But not this year. We’re conditioned to anticipate them like clockwork, but it’s a relief not to see them. Too soon to call it? Anyway, this year’s Black History Month is starting on a more auspicious note.
1619, a year to go down in infamy like 1492. 400 years ago this month, a ship reached a coastal port in the British colony of Virginia, carrying more than twenty enslaved Africans. Stolen from their homes, these men and women were sold to the colonists in what would become known as the United States. The Atlantic Slave trade would feed this vicious cycle of reducing Africans to commodities through the brutal bondage of forced labor and sexual coercion, the repercussions of which we live with centuries later. How do we as a country reckon with and heal from this history? We asked some of our authors to reflect on this and share their remarks below.
Millions tuned in on Saturday, May 19, to watch the royal wedding ceremony of Britain’s Prince Harry and African American actress Meghan Markle. Bishop Michael Curry of the American Episcopal Church delivered a stirring and dynamic sermon for the occasion. At the get-go, he quoted none other than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
By Perpetua Charles | This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the court decision in Loving v. Virginia that struck down anti-miscegenation laws across the United States. Thanks to this ruling, people across races could legally declare their love for each other through marriage. Sheryll Cashin’s new book, Loving: Interracial Relationships and the Threat to White Supremacy, offers a history of interracial relationships in the United States and looks at how present interracial relationships will shape the future of the country. As I read Loving, I was struck by a short section near the end of the book. Cashin writes that one doesn’t have to marry, date, or adopt a person of another race to experience transformational love or to acquire what she calls cultural dexterity—an enhanced capacity for intimate connections with people outside one’s own tribe. An intimate friendship works just as well. Cashin doesn’t use the word friend lightly, and neither do I.
By Ayla Zuraw-Friedland | When publicity assistant Perpetua Charles and senior editor Joanna Green first began planning a staff trip to see the film Loving in celebration of Beacon’s forthcoming book on the same topic five months ago, they couldn’t have known for sure what our political environment would be as they and fellow members of the Beacon Press staff walked through a rainy November night to the theater. Exactly a week after the country watched the electoral votes tally in favor of a divisive Republican presidential candidate, we came together to view a retelling of how Mildred and Richard Loving, a young interracial couple from Virginia, helped end the ban on interracial marriage in the United States.
There he goes again. Last week Justice Antonin Scalia spoke plainly on his misgivings about affirmative action. Afterwards, his commentary was a constant subject at holiday cocktail parties in Washington, DC where I live. Abigail Fisher’s case challenging the University of Texas’ use of affirmative action was back before the Supreme Court for the second time in three years. At the oral argument, to audible gasps, Scalia clumsily engaged in “mismatch theory,” speculating that African-American collegians would be better off attending “less-advanced,” “slower-track” schools where they might achieve more because classes are not “too fast for them.”
We can propel #blacklivesmatter and other justice movements by imagining the society we want to live in. Dr. King’s was the “Beloved Community.” For me, that means a society where no neighborhood or school is overwhelmed by poverty. Where a young man of any color can walk down the street, wearing what he wants, and breathe free of stereotyping by others and unfair profiling by the police. Where people have access to opportunity decoupled from where they live or whether they have money.
Whether you’re an educator, activist, administrator, parent, or socially-engaged citizen, here are five progressive education titles to put on your personal syllabus this fall.
Beacon authors respond to a week of intense protest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by a police officer.
In the following excerpt from 'Place, Not Race,' legal scholar Sheryll Cashin examines one case where a seeming setback in affirmative action policy resulted in more inclusive legislation and a surprising outcome for students throughout Texas.
According to legal scholar and activist Sheryll Cashin, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died trying to build "a multiracial army for economic justice." In her new book 'Place, Not Race,' Cashin argues that the time for Dr. King's idea has finally come.
Sheryll Cashin resurrects Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last campaign: his fight for economic justice for all people of all races.