…while black women may have been particularly vulnerable to wartime rape, the Lieber Code brought them for the first time under the umbrella of legal protection. In fact, some black women were able to mobilize military law to their advantage. In the summer of 1864, Jenny Green, a young “colored” girl who had escaped slavery and sought refuge with the Union Army in Richmond, Va., was brutally raped by Lt. Andrew J. Smith, 11th Pennsylvania Calvary. Thanks to the Lieber Code, though, she was able to bring charges against him, and even testify in a military court…The idea that a former slave, and an adolescent girl at that, could demand and receive legal redress was revolutionary. Despite his attorney’s argument that Green had consented, Smith was discharged from the Army and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.
Bolívar coped with impossibly complicated racial and ethnic circumstances. The man himself was fabulously wealthy, the owner of slaves and estates, capable of raising his own armies for a while, though his struggles ultimately impoverished him. And yet, because a strain of non-European blood was thought to run through his otherwise European veins, even he, the Caracas aristocrat, was obliged to fend off the skin-tone prejudices of the age. “Sambo,” he was called in Peru, not by his admirers…warriors with bows and arrows made up a portion of his armies…
…a debut novel about slave breeding in Tennessee during the country’s westward expansion…Of course, novels about the past are less about the historical periods in question than about how we interpret them through a present-day lens to achieve greater understanding. And what topic needs more understanding than the sexual violence that fueled the economic engine of the 19th-century South?
Chinese-style chicken is a dish you can find all over Trinidad and within the diaspora that has followed the nation’s emergence from British rule. The skin is fried into a lacquered mahogany. The meat beneath it tastes of five-spice, ginger and soy and is generally accompanied by a hum of oyster sauce mixed with the zing of the pickled Scotch-bonnet-pepper sauce…The dish pays faint…homage to the Chinese indentured servants who came to Trinidad in the 19th century to cut cane and harvest cacao when the British abolished African slavery but still needed chattel to do their work.
…explains the War of 1812 from the viewpoint of the slaves who served both sides in the hope of attaining their freedom…The author holds no great love for Andrew Jackson, who promised freedom and monetary and land rewards to slaves who joined the American forces—he had no intention of honoring that promise.
In July 2009, when his presidency was only six months old, Barack Obama delivered a powerful speech at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, the point from which millions of African slaves were shipped across the Atlantic. He called on African countries to end the tyranny of corruption that affects so many of their populations, and to build strong institutions that serve the people and hold leaders accountable. The speech seemed to extend the message of his much-discussed Cairo address a month earlier, in which he called for a new beginning for Muslim relations with the West, based on non-violence and mutual respect. Many thought that the policies of the new president, himself of Kenyan descent, would depart from those of the Bush administration, which provided a great deal of development aid to Africa, but paid scant attention to human rights. After more than four years in office, however, Obama has done little to advance the idealistic goals of his Ghana speech.
art: photo of Barack Obama after making speech to Ghanian Parliament at the International Conference Center in Accra, Ghana on July 11, 2009
In the years before the outbreak of the Civil War…the future president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, filed a patent claim on an improved riverboat propeller with the U.S. Patent Office. The novel design promised both increased efficiency and improved maneuverability compared with the paddlewheels then favored by most river steamships. His claim, however, was summarily denied. Davis is remembered for many things, though not for being an accomplished inventor, and for good reason: The improved propeller wasn’t his to patent. Instead, it was the work of Benjamin Montgomery, a slave on the plantation of Davis’s brother Joseph.
On a Virginia plantation in 1852, a young house slave tends to her ailing mistress, creates exquisite paintings and plans her escape. In 2004 New York, an ambitious young lawyer works night and day on the biggest case of her promising career. Tara Conklin’s debut novel, The House Girl, intertwines these women’s narratives in a story of art and injustice.
more, plus audio, and text excerpts of interview with the author, here.