At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality:
The Emancipation Proclamation and The March on Washington
By the Association for the Study of African American Life and History at www.asalh.org.
The year 2013 marks two important anniversaries in the history of African Americans and the United States. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation set the United States on the path of ending slavery. A wartime measure issued by President Abraham Lincoln, the proclamation freed relatively few slaves, but it fueled the fire of the enslaved to strike for their freedom. In many respects, Lincoln’s declaration simply acknowledged the epidemic of black self-emancipation – spread by black freedom crusaders like Harriet Tubman – that already had commenced beyond his control. Those in bondage increasingly streamed into the camps of the Union Army, reclaiming and asserting self-determination. The result, abolitionist Frederick Douglass predicted, was that the war for the Union became a war against slavery. The actions of both Lincoln and the slaves made clear that the Civil War was in deed, as well as in theory, a struggle between the forces of slavery and emancipation. The full-scale dismantlement of the “peculiar institution” of human bondage had begun.
In 1963, a century later, America once again stood at the crossroads. Nine years earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had outlawed racial segregation in public schools, but the nation had not yet committed itself to equality of citizenship. Segregation and innumerable other forms of discrimination made second class citizenship the extra-constitutional status of non-whites. Another American president caught in the gale of racial change, John F. Kennedy, temporized over the legal and moral issue of his time. Like Lincoln before him, national concerns, and the growing momentum of black mass mobilization efforts, overrode his personal ambivalence toward demands for black civil rights. On August 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of Americans, blacks and whites, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, marched to the memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation, in the continuing pursuit of equality of citizenship and self-determination. It was on this occasion that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech. Just as the Emancipation Proclamation had recognized the coming end of slavery, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom announced that the days of legal segregation in the United States were numbered.
Melissa Harris-Perry Visits Purdue
Melissa Harris-Perry delivers the MLK keynote address to a packed audience at Loeb Playhouse on January 24, 2013. Harris-Perry’s address focused not only on King’s civic and cultural significance but she also highlighted the role of the female foot soldiers who were on the ground cultivating and organizing the protests and movements Dr. King became the spokesman for. Harris-Perry reminded the audience that too often the integral work of the foot soldiers, male and female, goes unnoticed.
After her address Harris-Perry held a book signing in the lobby and briefly spoke with audience members. In this picture she is speaking with Casarae Gibson, a PhD candidate in English and Scholar-In-Residence for the Black Thought Collective.
MHP photographs courtesy of Arthur Banton
1913-2013 Celebrating a Century of Public Action
Joan Ogwumike, Staff
On Friday, March 22nd, 2013 there will be a campus parade commemorating the historic 1913 suffrage march held in Washington, D.C. 100 years ago this March. Dr. T.J. Boisseau, director of Women Studies and leader of the executive planning committee, states that
“Our celebration is meant to commemorate not only this particular march, which culminated 6 years later in the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote in the United States, but also a century of public actions of which many anniversaries are to be acknowledged. 2013 also marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which is just one example why there are many successes to celebrate.”
In connection to the parade commemorating the 1913 march, there will be students, faculty, and staff dressed in white with banners and posters, sashes, and hats, that declare their affiliation with a specific organization or profession or in celebration of particular democratic achievements, led by a woman on a horse.
Some of the student organizations participating include: Delta Sigma Theta sorority, who in 1913 were key organizers of the march with anti-lynching activist and journalist Ida B. Wells; Gamma Rho Lambda sorority, and F.A.C.T. which is Purdue’s feminist student organization. These groups will be joined by faculty of Women’s Studies, Political Science, History and many other departments.
The plan as stated by Dr. Boisseau is “to snake our way through campus starting with residence halls and athletic facilities, calling student delegations out to join us, then onto the academic buildings, calling out delegations of faculty, administrators and their majors, as we go along, and ending at the new Cordova Recreational Center auditorium for a short rally with speakers. We are aiming for the participation of 1000 students, faculty, administrators, and community members.”
In addition, the Black Cultural Center will be hosting a traveling exhibit of artifacts from the 1913 parade, including original banners, posters, photos, press coverage, arrest reports, costumes from the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibit will also be supplemented by related artifacts from local archives and collections which highlight the campus and local communities connection to the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
If you or your organization are interested in participating, please contact Julie Knoeller, program coordinator for Women’s Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accolades to ...
Congratulations to the 2013 recipients of Purdue’s Dreamer Award: Jesse Moore, director of supplier diversity, and Jackie Jimerson, who retired in 2012 as director of multicultural programs for the College of Pharmacy. The Dreamer Award is given annually to a Purdue individual or organization which that embodies Dr. King’s vision of service and also promotes the university’s commitment to diversity.
Hats off to Purdue AMST alum and former BCC Scholar-In-Residence, Heidi Renee Lewis for being featured on the blog Racialicious and also as guest blogger on Mark Anthony Neal’s blog New Black Man. Lewis is currently a professor at Colorado college in the Feminist and Gender Studies Program.
Mocha Support Group
Confidential and supportive group for undergraduate and graduate Black women to explore personal and shared experiences and concerns. Let’s talk: Unmet personal needs on campus; Academics; Cultural Identity; Relationships; Career Concerns; Self-esteem; Race Relations; Health and Wellness; Religion/Spirituality.
Black Cultural Center
Student Lounge (Room 101)
Thursdays 4:00 – 5:00
Starting September 15th
Contact: Maria Williams Alexander, Psy.D., HSPP
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
765-494-6995 or email@example.com
Focus on the Media
Juanita Crider, Editor
If the title, Sick From Freedom: African American Illness and Suffering During the Civil War and Reconstruction, fails to spark your curiosity picking up the book and turning to the dedication page will certainly grab your emotions. It reads “For all those who were emancipated but never made it to freedom.” In this book Jim Downs shares what he believes is an untold story of epidemic proportions. Downs argues that “ disease and sickness had a more devastating and fatal effects on emancipated slaves than on soldiers, since ex-slaves often lacked the basic necessities to survive” (4). Additionally he asserts that telling the story of the hardships faced by freedmen would perhaps make slavery not seem so cruel which would give credence to an oft quoted argument of pro slavery advocates. From the beginning it is clear that the text sets out to answer the question: how do you defi ne a tragedy stemming from the horrors of slavery in an atmosphere of emancipation?
In seven chapters the author attempts this by unraveling the complex meanings of The Civil War and Reconstruction for freed people. Embedded within this complexity is a history of the relationship between racism and public health and the history of medicine in the United States. Although the focus of the book is on African Americans, Downs’ exposition of government policies which he argues protected the perpetuation of free agricultural labor simultaneously created conditions where Native American populations also suffered devastating illness.
The book is highly researched and makes wonderful use of available primary resources such as archival collections housed at Duke, Harvard, and the Library of Congress (just to name a few). This is one of those rare historical books that academics and the public alike who has any interest in United States history would enjoy. I highly recommend it and even think it would make a good book for Purdue’s common reader program.
Purdue Welcomes Coach Hazell!
Loretta Davidson, Staff
Purdue has its first African American football coach in the person of Darrell Hazell. Hazell comes to Purdue from Kent State University where he served as head coach of their football team from 2011-2012. Prior to Kent State Hazell held assistant coaching positions at Oberlin, Eastern Illinois,and Rutgers University. He was also wide receiver coach at Ohio State University from 2004- 2010. Hazell was rewarded for his coaching success at Kent State with the 2012 Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Award.
Making history is not new to Hazell. He became the fi rst African American coach at Kentucky State. He is also the fourth African American football coach in Big Ten history.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels had this to say about Hazell. “He’s very impressive on the phone as well as on paper. He seems to be a high-character person and he has a reputation for caring about the life success of his players and not just simply their success while passing through. Those are the kind of values we want Purdue to be successful with.” (ESPN College Football 2012) Purdue athletics director, Morgan Burke agrees stating “Darrell is a great fit to build on our existing foundation. His leadership at Kent State, combined with his prior experience at Ohio State and other stops along the way, has prepared him to help us continue to move toward developing a championship-caliber program. Furthermore, it is clear that he appreciates the Cradle of Quarterbacks tradition, and it will remain a focal point of our program.” ( USA Today, 12/5/12)
Welcome to the Purdue Family, where we Boiler Up and Hammer Down, Coach Hazell.
MLK Day of Service
Purdue students gather to have breakfast before the MLK Day of service to local non-profit organizations.
Graduate student, Keturah Nix, speaks to the audience at the MLK Day of service breakfast about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tour St. Louis with the BCC
Loretta Davidson, Staff
On March 1-2, 2013 the Black Cultural Center will travel to St. Louis, Missouri for an amazingly historical and cultural-filled tour celebrating 250 years of African American history in the city. The trip will include a visit to the Katherine Dunham Museum. Dunham is a legendary anthropologist and dancer who expressed the many dance forms of the African Diaspora throughout her stimulating choreography. Other sites on the tour include the Griot Museum of Black History and the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site. Joplin is a composer and pianist who is famous as a ragtime musician. Joplin is known as the “King of Ragtime.”
A contemporary aspect of our tour will include a visit to the Missouri History Museum to view the transmedia art project Question Bridge: Black Males. This exhibition opens a window onto the complex and often unspoken dialogue among black men creating an intimate and essentially genuine experience for viewers while providing new opportunities for understanding and healing.
An exciting highlight of the tour will be dining at Sweetie Pies Kitchen. Sweetie Pies Kitchen is featured in an original reality show which airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The restaurant was also featured in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri on the Food Network.
We will depart Purdue on Friday March 1, 2013 at 8 am and return on Saturday, March 2 at 11:00 p.m. The cost of the tour is $40 for Purdue students and $110 for the general public. To register for the tour contact the Black Cultural Center. Registration includes admission fees, transportation via motor coach, hotel accommodations, and lunch.
The tour to St. Louis will be an inter-generational experience. In addition to Purdue students, seniors from the Lafayette Community will join the tour. A special competition for K-12 students is underway and the winners of the “Food is A Family Affair” contest will be invited to accompany the tour. We also look forward to Purdue alumni from the St. Louis area to meet the Purdue group.
Juanita Crider, Editor
Geoffrey Nunberg, writing in his essay, “The Syntax of Resistance,” states that the phrase protest “...was first used in 1913 to describe the march that Ghandi organized to protest the restrictions that had been imposed on the Indian population of South Africa---the first massive civil disobedience campaign” (source). I often have the opportunity to give tours of the Black Cultural Center and as I share the history I always point out the importance of student activism in the center’s birth. In reflecting on the 2013 Black History Month theme of “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington” I think about the role that protest has played in the history of the United States and the role protest currently plays throughout the world. It is exciting to see a somewhat renewed sense of activism among students and non students alike. After all dissent and protest are essential to the workings of a democratic republic. I am not one for making resolutions for the new year. However I want to encourage you to extend past the social and political implications of protest and to make it personal. As students, faculty, and staff we should protest mediocrity, challenge complacency and strategize for success in our professional and personal lives. We owe it to ourselves. March on and have a great and successful semester!
P.S. I hope to see you at the parade celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Suffrage March and also visiting the exhibition at the Black Cultural Center.