Trotter and The Guardian Newspaper

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https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/letters/2016/04/27/new-venture-should-shed-name-taken-historic-african-american-paper/Z5W0llSMVvHAG05mIMBExK/story.html

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I’M glad the Boston Globe published my Letter To The Editor, today. But, I’m sorry they chose to delete the paragraph with a bit of Trotter bio, although printing other letters of equal original length. Here’s the full text:

“It would be a demonstration of his professionalism for David Jacobs to re-name his newly launched neighborhood newspaper, The Boston Guardian. (“Publisher criticized for using name of historic African-American paper,” April 26).

William Monroe Trotter’s Boston newspaper, The Guardian, published from 1901 until the 1950s, stands as a major landmark in the history of African-American journalism. It was a civic, political, and cultural force in Boston, throughout New England, and nationally. 

Trotter, a Phi Beta Kappa Harvard graduate and member of the Niagara Movement, the forerunner to the NAACP, was both an intellectual and an activist. Locally, to give just one example, he led the protest against the Boston showing of the viciously racist 1915 film, Birth of A Nation. He was arrested in a scuffle when he and ten other protestors refused to leave the lobby of the Tremont Theater.

Nationally, Trotter and his newspaper fought against racism on many fronts, from lobbying for anti-lynching bills in Congress to powerful reporting on the 1931 trials of The Scottsboro Boys. 

Invited to the White House to discuss President Wilson’s segregationist policies, Trotter argued his case so forcefully that Wilson took offense and asked him to leave.

Knowing what he does now about his paper’s name, it’s bizarre and unbecoming for Mr. Jacobs to persist with a Guardian published for the wealthy Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. Let us hope that his regard for history, and a thoughtful recognition of Boston’s complex racial dynamics, past and present, will lead him to re-think his “Heck no” response to changing the name of his paper.”

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W. E. B. Du Bois attests to the influence and effectiveness of the Boston Guardian. In reference to W. M. Trotter’s opposition to B. T. Washington, he wrote:

This opposition began to become vocal in 1901 when two men, Monroe Trotter, Harvard 1895, and George Forbes, Amherst 1895, began the publication of the Boston Guardian. The Guardian was bitter, satirical, and personal; but it was earnest, and it published facts. It attracted wide attention among colored people; it circulated among them all over the country; it was quoted and discussed. I did not wholly agree with the Guardian, and indeed only a few Negroes did, but nearly all read it and were influenced by it.

Trotter’s wife, the former Geraldine Pindell, was equally committed to the paper and its ideals. She died in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

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Princeton Keeps Wilson School Name (For Now)

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I suppose I can (very grudgingly) see keeping the name on the WW School. It is presumed to be a locus of discussion, debate, lively exchange of ideas of all sorts, a place for thinking about stuff. The character of the School can transcend the narrowness of the man in his historical moment.

It does seem a bit much, though, to ask a “woke” student to reside in a building named for the old supremacist. I’d say agitate to change the name of Wilson College and any other buildings. He doesn’t have to have his name all over the campus.

After all, Harvard had a president named Hoar, but there will never be a residential House named for him.

 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35964791?SThisFB

1000 Strong Against Henry Moore Sculpture

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I saw the headline, looked at the photo, and thought maybe they were protesting the sculpture as the abstraction of a splayed, truncated female figure. But who are these people? And what in the world is going on?

And why does my bewilderment have a tinge of nervousness along with a slight lump of sadness in my throat? Partly because I love Henry Moore’s work, certainly, but also at the thought that this could represent yet another front in the brutal “culture wars” that are an element of our current toxic political moment.

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/columbia-students-protest-henry-moore-sculpture-463934

President Obama: The Adult In The Room

For generations to come, this statement will be used as an exemplar and a touchstone in discussing the toxic political dynamic of our day.

Violence/Non-Violence/Violence/Non-violence…

The United States should count its blessing that the descendants of the Africans captured, transported, and sold into slavery in this country, who were technically emancipated, only to be faced with KKK terrorism, Jim Crow legislation, legal and de facto segregation, redlined housing, inferior segregated schools, murderous vigilante policing, employment discrimination, on and on.

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And then were mocked, ridiculed and insulted by being told they did not choose to assimilate, did not work hard enough, were not smart enough, did not take advantage of all the country offered, could not stay out of prison, on and on.

Should count its blessings that by some accident of history, a sizable number of the descendants of hereditary chattel slaves chose to organize a movement based on Gandhian principles of non-violence ((although Gandhi, himself a longtime resident of South Africa, considered blacks to be lesser human beings), sacrificing their own lives and those of their allies to gain the implementation of civil rights and human rights which were, in fact, their birthright as Americans.

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Should count its blessings that we chose the risk and the reality of death by so-called non-violence, never counting the cost to the spirit as well as to the body. Americans, black and white, were and still are, killed and maimed by the terrorism of American racism acting in a blind fury to maintain its stranglehold on our black population with police brutality, mass incarceration, false accusations, death by tasering, unexplained jailhouse deaths, church bombings and burnings, on and on.

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Count their blessings when they think about the Arabs, the Muslims, the Africans — North and Sub-Saharan– whose lands were invaded and occupied by European powers. Whose children and grandchildren, citizens now of the homelands of those occupiers, who are restricted to ghetto housing, are served by substandard schools, refused employment, are mocked, ridiculed and insulted by being told that they have not chosen to assimilate, that they do not work hard enough, are not smart enough, do not take advantage of all the country offers, cannot stay out of prison, on and on.

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Count their blessings that the same rage and despair that drives those heirs of colonialism to assault and massacre by gun, bomb, and suicide explosion in the cities of their tormentors, by accident of history have not been unleashed upon our tormentors here.

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My Most Personal Post So Far

 

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Feeling more than a bit something or other — off my game. In the past three years:
1. Post-Boston Marathon shootout, lockdown, house-to-house search, capture here in my small town.
2. Adult son C. in Paris when Charlie Hebdo massacre takes place. He joins in the protest demonstration.
3. C. back in Paris (he spends a fair amount of time there) and looking forward to concert by San Fran acquaintances at Bataclan. Avoids massacre there because of totally random sudden change of plans. His local cafe was one of those shot up.
4. Last weekend, adult son D. is in Turkey on a business trip when suicide bomber blows himself up a couple of blocks from his Istanbul hotel — he won’t tell us how close it actually was.

All 2nd or 3rd hand and we are all safe and sound. In the face of so much death and destruction it feels awkward, almost voyeuristic, to complain about feeling shaken. And yet, there is some sort of cumulative effect.

Among other things, I am almost at a loss to weigh the logic of my ideas and opinions about Brussels. I don’t like being my own guinea pig as I veer between reason and emotion; between, at the extremes, what motivates followers of Bernie and followers of Trump.

“Save Your Confederate Money, Boys…”

 

“According to P.P.P., 70 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters in South Carolina wish the Confederate battle flag were still flying on their statehouse grounds. (It was removed last summer less than a month after a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston.) The polling firm says that 38 percent of them wish the South had won the Civil War. Only a quarter of Mr. Rubio’s supporters share that wish, and even fewer of Mr. Kasich’s and Mr. Carson’s do.

Nationally, the YouGov data show a similar trend: Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with the freeing of slaves in Southern states after the Civil War. Only 5 percent of Mr. Rubio’s voters share this view.

Mr. Trump’s popularity with white, working-class voters who are more likely than other Republicans to believe that whites are a supreme race and who long for the Confederacy may make him unpopular among leaders in his party. But it’s worth noting that he isn’t persuading voters to hold these beliefs. The beliefs were there — and have been for some time…”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/25/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-supporters-for-intolerance.html

Edward M. Bannister’s Providence, RI, Home

This is the house where the 19th-century black painter Edward Mitchell Bannister and his wife, Christianna Carteaux Bannister, lived in Providence, RI. It was long left derelict and was in danger of being demolished. It’s a long story, but this is a happy outcome.

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