History

Sojourner Truth's, "Ain't I a Woman" read by Alice Walker

“Poet Alice Walker reads the 1851 speech of abolitionist Sojourner Truth. Part of a reading from Voices of a People's History of the United States (Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove,) Novemeber 11, 2006 in Berkeley, California” (via).

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say (via).

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-N- Stuff  :  Humanity  : History

Notable Women : Swapping out faces we all know for faces we all should

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Notable Women features 100 historic women selected from the Teachers Righting History database, a collection of women whom the American people recommended to appear on actual U.S. currency during my time at the U.S. Department of Treasury (via).

After all, inspirations lead to aspirations, which is why we have a responsibility to highlight the women who have shaped our past and serve as role models for our future. I want to thank you for your interest, and hope you will share Notable Women with your friends and family (via).

Although very cool and better than nothing, somehow, it seems a bit, I don’t know, shallow maybe? Because really, that’s all we can do to honor the woman who have helped shape and form our country?

I applaud the attempt, but am embarrassed just the same.

You can view modified notes on the website, like Sojourner Truth (top), Grace Hopper (below), Amelia Earhart (bottom), and Amelia Boynton Robinson.

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Ghosts of Football Past : A history of violence, racism, cheating, and innovation.

In preparation for Super Bowl LII:

It's the end of the 19th century -- the Civil War is over, and the frontier is dead. And young college men are anxious. What great struggle will test their character? Then along comes a new craze: football. A brutally violent game where young men can show a stadium full of fans just what they're made of. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn -- the sons of the most powerful men in the country are literally knocking themselves out to win these gladiatorial battles. And then the most American team of all, with the most to prove, gets in the game and owns it. The Carlisle Indian School, formed in 1879 to assimilate the children and grandchildren of the men who fought the final Plains Wars against the fathers and grandfathers of the Ivy Leaguers, starts challenging the best teams in the country. On the football field, Carlisle had a chance for a fair fight with high stakes -- a chance to earn respect, a chance to be winners, and a chance to go forward in a changing world that was destroying theirs (via).

 

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-N- Stuff  :  History  On Sports

Ugly History : The 1937 Haitian Massacre

The memory of the Haitian Massacre remains a chilling reminder of how power-hungry leaders can manipulate people into turning against their life-long neighbors.

Seems like outsiders played a crucial and terrifyingly selfish role in establishing such a "shit hole" country. 

 

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-N- Stuff  :  History  

"It doesn't say, 'America.'"

Sadie did not attend school beyond the second grade. Instead, she worked. Like many of her should-be schoolmates living in Lancaster, South Carolina. Hine photographed the mill school, and the public school where non-mill children went.

Lewis Hine caption:  This is where the mill children go to school. Lancaster, S.C. Enrollment 163– attendance, usually about 100. There are over 1,000 operatives in the mill. These are all that go to school from this mill settlement, which is geographically a part of Lancaster, but on account of the taxes has been kept just out of the corporate limits. Nov. 30/08. Location: Lancaster, South Carolina.

Lewis Hine caption: This is where the mill children go to school. Lancaster, S.C. Enrollment 163– attendance, usually about 100. There are over 1,000 operatives in the mill. These are all that go to school from this mill settlement, which is geographically a part of Lancaster, but on account of the taxes has been kept just out of the corporate limits. Nov. 30/08. Location: Lancaster, South Carolina.

Lewis Hine caption:  This is where the other children go to school. Public School: Lancaster, South Carolina, November 1908.

Lewis Hine caption: This is where the other children go to school. Public School: Lancaster, South Carolina, November 1908.

In a time where the America is in constant pursuit of making itself great again, one has to question, if the image of Sadie didn't say America, what did? And what does?

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Sadie's Story  :  Photography

A Disturbing Film About the Night in 1939 When 20,000 American Nazis Rallied in New York City

In a noble effort to provide information helpful to current times, director Marshall Curry from Field of Vision gathered historical footage from various different archives to create the short film “A Night at the Garden“. This disturbing and difficult film spotlights that night in 1939 when the German American Bund (Nazi) gathered at Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City to proclaim their patriotism as German-born Fritz Kuhn called for a return to a “white, gentile-ruled United States” with “gentile-controlled labor unions free from Jewish Moscow-directed domination" (via).

When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled “made in Germany”; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, “Americanism.” – Halford E. Luccock

The protester who jumped on the stage is Isidore Greenbaum. After being pulled off, he was savagely beaten, stripped of his trousers and fined for disrupting the peace (via).

Curry explained why he felt the need to make this film:

The footage is so powerful, it seems amazing that it isn’t a stock part of every high school history class. But I think the rally has slipped out of our collective memory in part because it’s scary and embarrassing. It tells a story about our country that we’d prefer to forget. We’d like to think that when Nazism rose up, all Americans were instantly appalled. But while the vast majority of Americans were appalled by the Nazis, there was also a significant group of Americans who were sympathetic to their white supremacist, anti-Semitic message. When you see 20,000 Americans gathering in Madison Square Garden you can be sure that many times that were passively supportive (via).

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  History  :  WWII Vets Reuniting with Japanese Soldiers

 

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I Have a Message for You

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To escape Auschwitz, Klara Prowisor, now 92, left her father to die in the hands of strangers. Decades later, she got a message from. This short film, directed by MATAN ROCHLITZ, is her story. 

Who knows how future generations will perceive the Holocaust and the extent to which it will figure in history. Perhaps in due time it will be just another event in the troubled timeline of our species. It is far beyond the scope of this film to engage with the enormity of these questions. All I know is that we are the last generation who will be able to meet Holocaust survivors in person, and I consider that a tremendous responsibility (via).

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Humanity  :  History  :  WWII Vets Reuniting with Japanese Soldiers

 

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When the death of thousands isn't enough

"In 1846, large numbers of women and babies were dying during childbirth in Vienna. The cause of death was puerperal fever, a disease that swells then kills its victims. Vienna's General hospital had two maternity clinics. Mothers and newborns were dying in only one of them. Pregnant women waited outside the hospital, begging not to be taken to the deadly clinic, often giving birth in the streets if they were refused. More women and babies survived labor in the streets than in the {deadly} clinic. All the deaths came at the hands of doctors. In the other clinic, midwives delivered the babies" (pg 72, bolding mine).

This, an excerpt from the book How to Fly a Horse, by Kevin Ashton. Earlier in the book, Ashton writes, "Thinking is finding a way to achieve a goal that cannot be attained by an obvious action," and which is now underlined, along with a few other quotes on several other pages. Ashton is writing this book in hopes of squashing the belief that creation, invention, and discovery are only set aside for a select few, and that that happen in a moment of intense inspiration. "Creation," he writes, "is a destination, the consequences of acts that appear inconsequential by themselves but that, when accumulated, change the world. Creating is an ordinary act, creation its extraordinary outcome" (pg 23), and it can be done by anyone, not just the elite or the ultra brilliant because, "Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Being suddenly hit year later with the 'creative bug' is just a wee voice telling you, 'I'd like my crayons back, please'" (pg 18).

Is this why doctors - not midwives, were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of mothers and newborns in the 1800's Vienna? Because they considered themselves the elite and professional and no longer in need of curiosity? Innovation? And discovery? 

Maybe. 

Ashton continues. "Vienna General was a teaching hospital where doctors learned their trade by cutting up cadavers. They often delivered babies after dissecting corpses. One of the doctors, a Hungarian named Ignaz Semmelweis, started to wonder if the puerperal fever was somehow being carried from the corpses to the women in labor. Most of his peers thought the question preposterous. Carl Edvard Marius Levy, a Danish obstetrician, for instance, wrote that Semmelweis's 'beliefs are too unclear, his observation too volatile, his experiences too uncertain, for the deduction of scientific results.' Levy was offended by the lack of theory behind Semmelweis's work. Semmelweis speculated that some kind of organic matter was being transferred from the morgue to the mothers, but he did not know what it was. Levi said this made the whole idea unsatisfactory from a "scientific point of view." 

"But, from a clinical point of view, Semmelweis had convincing data to support his hypothesis. At a time when doctors did not scrub in or out of the operating room, and were so proud of the blood on their gowns that they let it build up throughout their careers, Semmelweis persuaded the doctors of Vienna to wash their hands before delivering babies, and the results were immediate. In April 1847, 57 women died giving birth in Vienna General's deadly First Clinic - 18 percent of all patients. In the middle of May, Summelweis introduced hand washing. In June, 6 women died, a death rate of 2 percent, the same as the untroubled Second Clinic. The death rate stayed low, and in some months fell to zero. In the following two years, Semmelweis saved the lives of around 500 women, and an unknown number of children."

"This was not enough to overcome the skepticism. Charles Delucena Meigs, and American obstetrician, typified the outrage. He told his students that a doctor's hands could not possibly carry disease because doctors are gentlemen and 'gentlemen's hands are clean'" (pg 73).

Which also means, ironically, that the most deadly clinic was probably made up of all men, while the second clinic, the safer and more reliable one, was filled with older women - midwives - who relied on the practical experience they received in delivering many children. Women who weren't so concerned about the blood on their gowns as they were about the babies being born and the mothers who carried them. 

"Semmelweis did not know why hand-washing before delivery saved lives- he only knew that it did. And if you do not know why something saves lives, why do it? For Levy, Meigs, and Semmelweis's other 'gentlemen' contemporaries, preventing the deaths of thousands of women and their babies was not reason enough" (pg 73).

If this is a gentleman, I hope to never be confused as one again. Sheesh.

"As the medical community rejected Semmelweis's ideas, his moral and behavior declined. He had been a rising star at the hospital until he proposed hand-washing. After a few years, he lost his job and started showing signs of mental illness. He was lured to a lunatic asylum, put into a straightjacket, and beaten. He died two weeks later. Few attended his funeral. Without Semmelweis's supervision, the doctors at Vienna General Hospital stopped washing their hands. The death rate for women and babies at the maternity clinic rose by 600 percent."

What a tragic ending and lack of recognition to a man who saved thousands of lives. 

Why did so few attend his funeral? Why did so few listen to his advice? And why was the practice of washing hands so difficult to embrace?

"Because," Ashton write, "When you bring something truly new to the world, brace. Having an impact is not usually a pleasant experience. Sometimes the hardest part of creating is not having an idea but saving an idea, ideally while also saving yourself."

This tragic truth seems to affirm itself throughout history, and the root cause of it all seems to be pride.

Ashton concludes this section with this. "William Syrotuck analyzed 229 cases of people who became lost, 25 of who died. He found that when we are lost, most of us act the same way. First, we deny that we are going in the wrong direction. Then, as the realization that we are in trouble seeps in, we press on, hoping chance will lead us. We are less likely to do the thing that is most likely to save us: turn around. We know our path is wrong, yet we rush along it, compelled to save face, to resolve the ambiguity, to achieve the goal. Pride propels us. Shame stops us from saving ourselves" (pg 90). 

I can imagine that, for those doctors, to start washing hands - and to commit to it - would be to admit fault, that those deaths were in fact their fault. And I can also imagine that that truth would be drastically hard to swallow. So they pressed on, hoping chance would free them from guilt. 

To turn around - to repent - means to admit fault and to acknowledge that, somewhere along the way, we made the wrong turn. Every wanna-be hero is brought to this point. The hero hits the breaks and turns the wheel; the tragic hero continues on, propelled by pride, as hundreds of women and children needlessly pass away. 

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  The DR Who Championed Hand-washing  :  Humilitas  :  Hero's Journey

 

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