"The white chillen tries teach me to read and write but I didn’ larn much, ‘cause I allus workin’. Mother was workin’ in the house, and she cooked too. She say she used to hide in the chimney corner and listen to what the white folks say. When freedom was ‘clared, marster wouldn’ tell ‘em, but mother she hear him tellin’ mistus that the slaves was free but they didn’ know it and he’s not gwineter tell ‘em till he makes another crop or two. When mother hear that she say she slip out the chimney corner and crack her heels together four times and shouts, ‘I’s free, I’s free.’ Then she runs to the field, ‘gainst marster’s will and tol’ all the other slaves and they quit work. Then she run away and in the night she slip into a big ravine near the house and have them bring me to her. Marster, he come out with his gun and shot at mother but she run down the ravine and gits away with me."
TEMPIE CUMMINS, who was born at Brookeland, Texas, At the time of her interview (between 1936 and 1938) she lived in Jasper, Texas.
Excerpt from the Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves, Texas Narratives, Part 1; Work Projects Administration, Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938
Source: American Memory, Library of Congress
“I was born March 23, 1850 in Kentucky, somewhere near Louisville. I am goin’ on 88 years right now. (1937). I was brought to Missouri when I was six months old, along with my mama, who was a slave owned by a man named Shaw, who had allotted her to a man named Jimmie Graves, who came to Missouri to live with his daughter Emily Graves Crowdes. I always lived with Emily Crowdes.”
The matter of allotment was confusing to the interviewer and Aunt Sally endeavored to explain.
“Yes’m. Allotted? Yes’m. I’m goin’ to explain that, ” she replied. “You see there was slave traders in those days, jes’ like you got horse and mule an’ auto traders now. They bought and sold slaves and hired ‘em out. Yes’m, rented ‘em out. Allotted means somethin’ like hired out. But the slave never got no wages. That all went to the master. The man they was allotted to paid the master.”
“I was never sold. My mama was sold only once, but she was hired out many times. Yes’m when a slave was allotted, somebody made a down payment and gave a mortgage for the rest. A chattel mortgage… .”
“Allotments made a lot of grief for the slaves,” Aunt Sally asserted. “We left my papa in Kentucky, ‘cause he was allotted to another man. My papa never knew where my mama went, an’ my mama never knew where papa went.” Aunt Sally paused a moment, then went on bitterly. “They never wanted mama to know, ‘cause they knowed she would never marry so long she knew where he was. Our master wanted her to marry again and raise more children to be slaves. They never wanted mama to know where papa was, an’ she never did,” sighed Aunt Sally.
Sarah Frances Shaw Graves, Age 87
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938
Library of Congress, Digital ID mesnp 100126
the bold breaks my heart. this is what gave rise to the capitalism we know today. this is cruel.
I want people to know this wasn’t a long time ago. This was one or two generations ago.
My grandmother was born in 1944. This really isn’t that long ago. Someone pointed out to me the other day that black Americans don’t have/aren’t ‘old money’ because they were the money, the commodity. Very humbling.
“black Americans don’t have/aren’t ‘old money’ because they were the money, the commodity. Very humbling.”
I’ve heard this before too….smh
My grandmother was married by the time this statement was taken. Born in 1919. My great aunt was 39 in 37, born in 1898. She only JUST died 10 years ago, yes, at over 100 years old.
This is not that fucking long ago. This woman could’ve been my fucking great-grandmother’s older sibling.
I think my great-grandfather was actually born around the same time……….
As a young girl in Florida in the 1890s, Augusta enjoyed nothing more than playing with clay. She would happily sculpt it into little figures: cows, chickens, and ducks. Augusta’s mother didn’t mind but her father, a stern preacher, felt the girl was wasting time on idle nonsense.
With her mother’s support, Augusta’s sculpting talent blossomed as she grew into a young woman. Eventually, Augusta found herself at a crossroad. She wanted to pursue a career as an artist, but to do so she would have to leave behind all she knew. With only her passion to guide her, Augusta headed to New York City to follow her dream wherever it might take her.
Award-winning author Alan Schroeder deftly weaves together known historical details to create a compelling portrait of this unique Harlem Renaissance sculptor. Warm, inviting paintings capture both Augusta Savage’s struggles and resilience as she skillfully carved out her own special place in art history.
Bass Reeves, one of the first African Americans to become a Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River, could have been an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s fictional character Django.
Reeves, who was born a slave, arrested 3,000 felons, killed 14 men and was never shot throughout his 32-year career as a federal lawman.
The fearless solider was born into slavery in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas, and eventually broke from his owner, George Reeves, to live among the Creek and Seminole Indians.
During his time with them, he learned their customs and languages and became an adept territorial scout.
Reeves later procured his own land in Van Buren, Arkansas, where he married his wife, Nellie Jennie, built an eight-room house with his bare hands, and raised ten children as the first black settler in the region.
He became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1875 at the age of 38, after ‘Hanging Judge’ Isaac C. Parker was made the federal judge of Indian Territory. Under President Ulysses S. Grant, Parker appointed Confederate Army General James Fagan a U.S. Marshal and ordered him to hire 200 deputies. Among them was Reeves.
Fagan knew of the former slave, his ability to negotiate Indian Territory and his ability to speak their languages, and so Reeves was named the first black Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi.
In that role he was authorized to arrest both black and white outlaws.
A Brief History of African Presence in Colombia.
Today, Colombia is a country that hosts the third largest population of African descended people outside of the African continent, and the second-largest after Brazil. As with most stories of Africans living in this part of the world, Afro-Colombians are the descendents of enslaved and kidnapped Africans from the west coast of Africa.
During the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in 1500s, enslaved Africans were brought to what was then New Granada by the Spanish. They were forced to work on plantations and gold mines where they pioneered the extracting of alluvial gold deposits and the growing of sugar cane. Africans became an essential part of the economy in this region of the world and a large portion of Colombia’s wealth was built on the backs of enslaved Africans.
From the moment Africans arrived in Colombia, Africans began to fight for their freedom and in 1530, the first slave revolt in Colombia occurred in Santa Marta. The town was torched and completely burnt down, and after being rebuilt the following year, it was again burnt down in 1550 during another revolt.
In 1545, a group of enslaved Africans working in the mines of present day Popayán escaped and took over the town of Tofeme. They killed twenty whites and carried off 250 Indian hostages to the mountains. In 1555 and 1556, Popayán was also the site of more slave revolts. The Popayán revolt of 1598 had a devastating impact on Spain and it’s revenue from New Granada. 4,000 enslaved Africans destroyed the gold mine of Zaragoza, one of the most profitable and productive mines. In 1557, an expedition led by Juan Meléndez de Valdés retook the mine and slaves who were recaptured were executed.Once again in Popayán, in 1732, fugitive enslaved Africans formed a free Black African town called a palenque near the town of Castillo. Unable to destroy the palenque, the local government had to option but to give the enslaved Africans amnesty, as long as no new fugitive slaves were accepted into the town. This requirement was ignored by the Africans who gave refuge to any Africans who could escape their masters. As a result, in 1745 an expedition was launched to destroy the town. Their dwellings were destroyed but the freed Africans once again escaped and founded another encampment.By the 1770s, 60% of Colombia was made up of free people of color who had formed a number of palenques where Africans could live as cimarrones - free people. Very popular cimarrón leaders like Benkos Biojó and Barule fought for freedom. African people played key roles in the independence struggle against Spain. Historians note that although he initially did not accept black people into his independence army, three of every five soldiers in Simon Bolívar's army were African. Afro-Colombians also participated at all levels of military and political life.However, much like during the American War of Independence, some say that part of Bolívar’s reason for allowing black people to fight in his army was to reduce the casualty of white soldiers whilst simultaneously reducing the population of black people in Colombia. This would also ensure that more white and non-black people would enjoy the fruits of a free Colombia. The white elite was in constant fear of a large black population taking over, a fear that Bolívar harbored. To him a revolt by blacks would be “a thousand times worse than a Spanish invasion”. Part of this fear may have stemmed from Haiti’s successful fight against the French, gaining their independence in 1804. Colombia gained theirs in 1810.Although a law declaring all children born to an enslaved woman and her master as free was passed in 1821, it was not enforced. Slavery in Colombia was not abolished until 1851, and even after emancipation, the life of the African Colombians was very difficult. Some African Colombians were forced to live in jungle areas as a mechanism of self-protection, whilst others became squatters on land they had fought for. Many were excluded from Colombian life with little access to resources such as education, healthcare, and property ownership.From as early as the mid-1800s, the Colombia government began making efforts to whiten Colombia and eventually rid the country of any and all black people by promoting the idea of miscegenation as a way to wash out the existence of black people. In 1922, Law 114 was passed banning immigration of peopled deemed “inconvenient” for the development of the Colombian race and nation. This law encouraged white immigration. In 1928, the president Laureano Gomez stated, "The black is a plague. In the countries where he has disappeared, as in Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay, it has been possible to establish an economic and political organization on a strong and stable basis."In 1945 the department of El Chocó was created; it was the first predominantly African political-administrative division. El Chocó gave African people the possibility of building an African territorial identity and some autonomous decision-making power.Today, most Afro-Colombians, who make up around 10.6% of the country’s population, live in urban parts of the country in places such as Quibdo, Cali, Cartagena and Barranquilla. Many still experience a high degree of racism, prejudice and discrimination and are largely absent from the elite and political spheres of the country. In Colombia’s ongoing internal conflict, Afro-Colombians are both victims of violence or displacement and members of armed factions, such as the FARC and the AUC. Despite making considerable contributions to many facets of Colombian culture, Afro-Colombians have gained little from the state.
Malawi & Zimbabwe: 1916
Vintage photos from (then) Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia (no labels/captions to decipher which photos are from which country so apologies for that. Help is appreciated from anyone who can. My efforts were futile. Some may also be from Kenya.)
*Found and assembled by Liza Lemsatef Cunningham on ellelens.com
Some other facts about Josephine Baker (Freda Josephine McDonald)
- She first married at the age of 13
- She danced alongside Ethel Waters at the Plantation Club in New York City
- She tried to bring her career to America in 1936 but the racism forced her back to France
- She was a member of the Free French forces during WWII
- She also worked for the French Resistance during WWII. She smuggled messages in her underwear and music sheets.
- She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honour for her work with the French military
- She was married 4 times
- She adopted 12 children from around the world
- She attended the March on Washington and was one of the speaker’s
- In 1973 she finally got to perform at Carnegie Hall in NYC
- Princess Grace of Monaco was a friend of Josephine Baker
- Josephine Baker died in her sleep of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1975 at the age of 69
- Over 20,000 people attended her funeral procession in Paris
- May 20th is Josephine Baker Day as declared by the NAACP because of her Civil Rights work
I’ve seen this image going around, and I feel compelled to point out that it’s only half-right. It’s true that high heels were originally a masculine fashion, but they weren’t originally worn by butchers - nor for any other utilitarian purpose, for that matter.
High heels were worn by men for exactly the same reason they’re worn by women today: to display one’s legs to best effect. Until quite recently, shapely, well-toned calves and thighs were regarded as an absolute prerequisite for male attractiveness. That’s why you see so many paintings of famous men framed to show off their legs - like this one of George Washington displaying his fantastic calves:
… or this one of Louis XIV of France rocking a fabulous pair of red platform heels (check out those thighs!):
… or even this one of Charles I of England showing off his high-heeled riding boots - note, again, the visual emphasis on his well-formed calves:
In summary: were high heels originally worn by men? Yes. Were they worn to keep blood off their feet? No at all - they were worn for the same reason they’re worn today: to look fabulous.
so then how did they become a solo feminine item of attire?
A variety of reasons. In France, for example, high heels fell out out of favour in the court of Napoleon due to their association with aristocratic decadence, while in England, the more conservative fashions of the Victorian era regarded it as indecent for a man to openly display his calves.
But then, fashions come and go. The real question is why heels never came back into fashion for men - and that can be laid squarely at the feet of institutionalised homophobia. Essentially, heels for men were never revived because, by the early 20th Century, sexually provocative attire for men had come to be associated with homosexuality; the resulting moral panic ushered in an era of drab, blocky, fully concealing menswear in which a well-turned calf simply had no place - a setback from which men’s fashion has yet to fully recover.
FASHION HISTORY IS HUMAN HISTORY OK
History side of tumblr getting a meme all the way together
…Quadroon ball. Strange sight: all the men white, all the women coloured, or at least of African blood. Single tie created by immorality between the two races. A sort of bazaar. The women vowed as it were by law to concubinage. Incredible laxity of morals. Mothers, young girls, children at the dance;still another harmful consequences of slavery. Multitude of coloured people at New Orleans…
- French historian and political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville on going to a Quadroon ball during his trip to New Orleans (via University of Virginia)
The system of plaçage:
Usually we think of concubinage as having died out in the West by the early part of the Christian Era, but in actuality it continued to exist among Europeans living in Asia because those cultures still practiced it, and in the 17th century it was revived in a widespread form called plaçage (from the French placer, to place with) among the French and Spanish colonists in Africa and the New World.
Few women were interested in emigrating from France to New Orleans, and this also held true for other French and Spanish colonies from the time of the conquistadores on. ”Suitable” European women had no trouble finding husbands or patrons among the men who remained in Europe, so there was a chronic shortage of marriageable women in the colonies; the male colonists therefore took native women as mistresses. Inevitably these relationships produced children, and by the early 18th century the plaçage system was developed to define the legal ramifications of these relationships, including the inheritance and other rights of the offspring. Since New Orleans had particular difficulty in attracting marriageable women even by French colonial standards, a very large community of mixed-blood “Creoles of color” arose, forming the foundation of New Orleans’ free Creole society; in later times most placées (as the concubines were called) were “quadroons” (¼ black) or “octoroons” (1/8 black), but in earlier times many were mulatto, black or Native American.
Though the system was widespread throughout the French and Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and along the Gulf Coast (including Haiti, Martinique and Florida), it was most highly-developed and formally organized in New Orleans and reached its height during Spanish rule of the city (1769-1801). Though plaçage was not legally recognized as marriage by the authorities, Creoles considered the arrangements honorable and referred to them as mariages de la main gauche (left-handed marriages). Though in the earliest days most placées were slaves, this later became unusual and most were drawn from the free Creole community. In 1788 it was estimated that there were about 1,500 placées in New Orleans, and they were the most influential members of the Creole community; their children were often educated in France, and some even owned houses, businesses, plantations and slaves of their own.
A wealthy man would usually reside with his wife and her children at his plantation, but maintain a townhouse in New Orleans where his placée and her children lived; he stayed in this house when in town for business or used it for entertaining other city businessmen, and when he was out of town his placée and her children participated in free Creole society. A man’s relationship with a placée often predated his marriage because he did not seek a white wife until he had established himself in business; thus, his children by the placée were often older than those by the legal wife, and some men actually named their Creole children as primary heirs over their “legitimate” children. Normally, however, the placée could expect one-third of her husband’s property upon his death. But if he died intestate or was forced by his legal wife to abandon his placée and her children, she got nothing more than her house (and sometimes not even that). If she was still young and attractive she might enter into plaçage with another white man, or marry a Creole man; if not she might open a boarding house or seek employment as a merchant, hairdresser or seamstress. And it was very likely she would bring her own daughters up to become placées.
By the time New Orleans became American in 1803, the usual means by which such mothers introduced their eligible daughters to wealthy white men were the Quadroon Balls. These elegant, elaborate affairs were held every week by the owners of dance halls, and only white men and Creole women were permitted to attend. Creole debutantes were accompanied to the balls by their mothers, and when a white gentleman found such a girl attractive and wished to take her in plaçage he had to negotiate the terms with the elder lady. Typically, the mother would insist that the details of her daughter’s housing and upkeep be specified in writing, and that children produced by the union be recognized; these wise women wanted to be sure that their daughters would not be left without support as they had been, and if the daughter was particularly beautiful and/or the gentleman particularly generous the mother could include in the bargain a lump-sum payment or even an allowance for herself.
By the time of the War Between the States, the plaçage system was starting to become less common for both positive and negative reasons. New Orleans’ Creole community had grown large both from the many children produced by such arrangements and by intermarriage among the Creoles themselves, and since their economic status had grown to be comparable with that of whites the system was less necessary than it once had been. At the same time, institutionalized racism in New Orleans had grown under American rule, and both laws and social customs made social race-mixing more difficult; for a white man of this period to actually cohabit with a Creole woman as his grandfather had became nearly impossible. The relationships became much more clandestine, and since they were no longer officially sanctioned it became easier for an embittered wife or greedy half-siblings to cheat a placée and her children out of their inheritance.
After the war, things became much worse for the Creoles; the Carpetbaggers, unscrupulous Northern businessmen who arrived to take advantage of the South’s depleted economy, were far more racist than any native New Orleanian had ever been, and by the end of the Reconstruction many once-prosperous Creole families, descended from wealthy colonials through generations of plaçage, had fallen into ruin due to the refusal of the Carpetbagger merchants and federally-controlled puppet government to do business with them. With plaçage gone, the beautiful and well-educated daughters of impoverished Creole families had few options; white men could not legally marry them, ruined Creole or free black men could not afford to support them, and former slaves were too far beneath their social and educational level even to be considered. Given the circumstances, it should come as no surprise that many of them turned to high-class prostitution in the city’s booming brothel industry, where their looks and education could earn them $10/hour in a time when the average laborer made 22¢/hour. Many of the most sought-after courtesans and wealthiest madams in Storyville were Creole beauties whose great-grandmothers had been placées.
The mixed-race descendants of plaçage made up a large and independent Creole community in New Orleans well into the 20th century, but once the racial controversy of the 1960s and ‘70s had come and gone this community began to break up; after laws about ancestry were swept away most Creoles (some of whom were as little as 1/16 black) chose to identify as white, while others called themselves black. Some even changed their minds over the course of their lives; two late 20th-century mayors of New Orleans, both born into respected Creole families, called themselves white on their Army induction papers but later found it politically expedient to identify as black when seeking election in a majority-black city. Sadly, the last descendants of Western Civilization’s last officially-recognized concubines will soon disappear into one race or the other, taking the last traces of their unique culture with them except for those portions which have become a part of the greater culture of New Orleans.
(via The Honest Courtesan)
Easter Sunday (top-bottom)
- Harlem 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson
- Harlem 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson
- Harlem 1943 by Weegee
- South Side, Chicago 1941 by Russell Lee
- South Side, Chicago 1941 by Russell Lee
- Harlem 1947 by Henri Cartier Bresson
- South Side, Chicago,. 1941 by Edwin Rosskam
- Harlem 1940 by Weegee
- Harlem 1955 by William Klein
- Harlem (W. 117th St. and Seventh Ave) 1939