Breaking News Breaking News articles brought to you by History News Network. Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 Zend_Feed_Writer 2 (http://framework.zend.com) https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/category/55 Abraham Lincoln and the Shavuot Controversy of 1865 Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, confronted the American public with urgent political challenges that would shape the trajectory of the post-Civil War United States. But a religious controversy that erupted during the subsequent weeks of national mourning would raise enduring social and moral questions about what it means to be both deeply patriotic and religiously observant in America.

Shortly after Lincoln’s murder, President Andrew Johnson declared a “day of humiliation and mourning,” upon which he recommended that his fellow citizens across the country gather in their respective places of worship to lament the late president’s tragic demise. But in doing so, Johnson had unwittingly created a significant dilemma for American Jews. His chosen date—June 1, 1865—happened to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates God’s revelation of the Law at Mount Sinai.

Today, the holiday is popularly observed among Orthodox and various traditionalist Jews but largely ignored by others. In an article for the American Israelite newspaper, leading 19th-century Reform Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise described a similar state of affairs in mid-19th-century America. (Later in the century, American Reform communities increasingly began to celebrate Shavuot as a confirmation day.) But traditionalist Jewish congregations, including some of the most prominent synagogues in the nation, had long observed Shavuot by reading customary mystical and liturgical Jewish texts, many still recited today, that reinforced fealty to the Torah’s commandments—and these congregations often saw large crowds on Shavuot, even inviting non-Jewish dignitaries to attend. So while not all American Jews observed Shavuot at the time of Lincoln’s assassination, those who did considered it one of Judaism’s happiest occasions, upon which Jewish law prohibits any expressions of mourning.

Many American Jews in 1865, therefore, faced what seemed like a stark choice between duty to country and duty to God—between patriotism and piety. As Shavuot drew near, Jewish writers, political activists, and spiritual leaders throughout the United States began in earnest to weigh in on the matter. Out of their respective solutions emerged two different models for how faith communities should serve the public square: compliance and conviction.

 

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175717 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175717 0
This Montana Farm Boy Became a Scientific Legend, Developing Vaccines to Protect Kids Worldwide Maurice Hilleman was born into tragedy just over a century ago, far from the places usually thought of as citadels of scientific discovery.

His twin sister died at birth and his mother two days later. Hilleman, the youngest of eight siblings, grew up with his aunt and uncle on a farm outside the small eastern Montana community of Miles City. There he learned to raise chickens — a skill he’d later credit for knowing egg production well enough to help avert an influenza epidemic in the United States. By the time he was set to graduate from Custer County High School in 1937, he had a job lined up at the J.C. Penney store.

That’s where his life might have stayed, had a brother not intervened.

Despite the lingering grip of the Great Depression, the older son convinced the family to find a way to send the teenager to college. He got a scholarship at Montana State University, where he would graduate at the top of his class and go on to study microbiology at the University of Chicago.

Hilleman’s is a classic tale of grit and, ultimately, groundbreaking success, even if most Americans don’t know his name. Working for decades in the pharmaceutical industry, he developed more than 40 vaccines. Nine are part of the 14 essential childhood vaccines — including measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and meningitis — that have protected untold millions of children around the world from devastating diseases and early deaths.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175712 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175712 0
Should the U.S. Favor Public Health or the Economy? History Shows they’re Inseparable If we have learned anything from the horrors of this pandemic it is that lesson. Economies don’t flourish despite public health. They flourish because of it.

It is a lesson that is hardly new. We have seen it demonstrated time and time again over the centuries.

To take a local example, in 1793 an epidemic of yellow fever brought the economy of Philadelphia to a halt as business activity ceased. Sound familiar? Those who could, left the city or avoided visiting, including such notables as President George Washington and Vice President John Adams. Years later, mosquitoes were identified as the source of transmission, leading to preventive measures and eventually to a vaccine. Yellow fever epidemics no longer threaten our lives and economy.

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Relaxing lockdowns too rapidly may not even help in the short-term. Recent polling showsthat just 23% of Americans would be comfortable going out to eat or visiting a shopping mall. Only 12% would be comfortable attending a concert. Business won’t return to anything approaching normal until the public is reassured that it is truly safe to venture out, and only continued public health support and guidance can provide that reassurance.

As we have learned over and over in the past, economies need strong public health foundations to grow and thrive. No one benefits if our reopened economy is built as a house of cards.

 

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175707 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175707 0
Future Historians Will Rely on Wikipedia’s COVID-19 Coverage In March, Facebook was filled with posts that claimed that 5G networks, not a novel coronavirus, were making people sick. Yet searching for those same posts today leads to an error message: “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now.” That’s because Facebook and other social media companies have removed many conspiracy-type posts from their platforms, including the thoroughly debunked 5G connection. But some internet activists are concerned that this pandemic-related content is not only being removed but erased, leaving future researchers with a gap-filled historical record.

Enter Wikipedia. In April, 75 signatory organizations sent a letter asking social media companies and content-sharing platforms to preserve all data that they have blocked or removed during the COVID-19 pandemic and make it available for future research. The letter’s recipients included Facebook, Twitter, Google, and the Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization of Wikipedia. When Wikipedia editors discussed the letter among themselves in forums like Wikipedia Weekly, the most common reaction was, Don’t we already do this?

Over the past few months, Wikipedia’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been widely praised for its breadth and relative trustworthiness. To date, the main English Wikipedia article about the pandemic has been viewed more than 67 million times, and COVID-19 articles exist in 175 languages. The 5,000 articles related to COVID-19 cover everything from Anthony Fauci’s peers across the world, to the resulting global economic crisis (e.g., German Wirtschaftskrise and its Arabic counterpart), to a somewhat circular Wikipedia article about Wikipedia’s own response to the pandemic.

But today’s wealth of Wikipedia content will also be valuable to future parties. As scholar and Wikimedia program coordinator Liam Wyatt writes, the “text in Wikipedia’s archive will be of interest to linguists, historians or sociologists of the year 4000.” In an interview, Katherine Maher, chief executive officer and executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, told me, “One of the things that historians will find valuable is the way Wikipedia documents the rate of acceleration of understanding the virus itself.”

For example, a future historian looking back on Wikipedia’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic this year would likely review the relevant “diffs.” Every Wikipedia article, and every revision to it, is saved even if the edit is relatively minor or short-lived. The diff shows the difference between one version and another of a Wikipedia page, allowing anybody to see exactly what changed between two precisely time-stamped moments. The diffs for the Wikipedia article about the COVID-19 pandemic include this one on Jan. 7 noting the first suspicions that the virus had an animal source, and this one on Jan. 8 with the first use of “novel coronavirus.” More recently, this diff shows the first insertion of the word bleach on April 29, after comments from President Donald Trump. A historian could use Wikipedia’s diffs to construct a case about how knowledge about COVID-19 evolved throughout 2020.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175705 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175705 0
Reparations – Has the Time Finally Come? During a lull one afternoon when I was a high school student selling Black Panther Party newspapers on the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., in 1971, I sat down on the curb and opened the tabloid to the 10-point program, “What We Want; What We Believe.” The graphic assertion of “Point Number 3” particularly grabbed me:

“We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules … promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.”

The absence of justice continually flustered me because, even at that young age, I knew that Black people had been kidnapped and brought to this country to labor for free as slaves; stripped of our language, religion, and culture; raped and tortured; and then subjected to a Jim Crow-era of lynchings, police brutality, inferior education, substandard housing, and mediocre health care. I did not know then about the massacres in Rosewood, Florida, or Tulsa, Oklahoma; the merciless experimentations on defenseless Black women devoid of anesthesia that led to modern gynecology; or about the enormous profits from slavery made by corporations, insurance companies, the banking and investment industries, and academic institutions. But on a psychic level, I could feel in my bones the enslavement era’s inhumane cruelty to Black children — its destruction of kindred ties and its economic exploitation and cultural deprivation. There was an incessant gnawing in my soul for amends and redress. I was passionate about injustice, felt the idea of reparations to be reasonable and fair, and vowed to talk about the concept whenever and wherever I could.  My analysis, however, had not crystallized beyond a check. But just to mouth the word “reparations” was a starting point to its validity. Thus talk about it I did, despite my views being often rejected, ridiculed, or otherwise summarily dismissed. Standing on the street corner that afternoon nearly five decades ago, little did I realize that I would one day be in the company of leading academics, economists, historians, attorneys, psychiatrists, politicians, and more — domestically and internationally — promoting the right to, and the need for, reparations.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175699 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175699 0
William Small, Who Made CBS Washington Bureau a TV News Powerhouse, Dies at 93 William J. Small, a television news executive who presided over the storied Washington bureau of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, directing news coverage and hiring stars of broadcast journalism such as Dan Rather, Lesley Stahl, Bill Moyers and Connie Chung, died May 24 at a hospital in Manhattan. He was 93.

His daughter Tamar Small said that there was no specific cause of death but that it was unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Small became chief the CBS Washington bureau in 1962 and built it into one of the most formidable newsrooms, in any medium, in the capital. Over the following years, he mentored dozens of journalists who went on to major careers as reporters and anchors.

He helped direct the network’s coverage of the major news stories of the era, including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the passage of civil rights laws and the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, which led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175698 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175698 0
How a New Show Tears Down the Myths of Asian American History ...

The series doesn’t start with Chinese or Japanese laborers on the massive plantations of Hawaiʻi or in the gold mines of California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. These are the places traditionally thought of as launch points for Asian American history. Instead, you begin in St. Louis, Missouri, at the 1904 World’s Fair.

When we consulted with Asian American historians and explored the way they have been theorizing and looking at the Asian American story, it made sense to start with the legacy of U.S. empire in the Philippines.

Starting at the beginning of time is not the most engaging way to start. Even if we just looked at 100 years of history, it would be massive. [Ken Burns’] “Country Music” got 13 hours on television, we had five hours to tell a story that spans over 170 years. For many reasons, the story of Filipino orphan Antero Cabrera (who was put on view in a replica village at the World’s Fair) made sense. It’s the story of empire. It establishes the idea of racial hierarchy and racial science and how that shaped the construction of race during the early 1900s. We thought that was fundamental not only to that episode, but to the whole history.

We wanted to shift the narrative of Asian Americans because outside of Asian American studies, I think most American people think the story starts when many arrive after the 1960s.

The second thing we wanted to challenge is this deeply embedded idea that [Asian Americans] are a model minority. And I think there was an assumption that, if you take the Irish American story or German American story and just, paint Asian faces on it, it would be the same story. And that's not true because of the marker of race. That’s never been true. We want to shift that perception of who Asian Americans are.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175694 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175694 0
Everybody Hates the SBA COUNTLESS STORIES HAVE emerged to this effect: small-business owners left out of a too-small program, hastily assembled by an overmatched administration, furnished by a too-greedy private banking sector. All of this has conspired to push mom and pop to the brink. Already there have been lawsuits; with each new revelation about the program’s well-fed recipients, outrage swells.

Who is to blame? And how did the SBA, a government department that has been generously described as a backwater for almost its entire 70-year existence, end up as the last line of defense against a global economic crisis? One would think that an agency designed to cater to the needs of something so universally adored and essentially American would be as robust and well managed as any in the federal government. One would be wrong. Understaffed, underfunded, habitually scorned, sleepy, captive, and at times uncertain in its own methods, the SBA became the most important unknown government agency, basically overnight.

The SBA was founded in 1953, under President Eisenhower. It was cobbled together from spare parts of the recently dismantled Reconstruction Finance Corporation, an agency created by Herbert Hoover but expanded drastically by Franklin D. Roosevelt to become one of the essential bodies of the New Deal. At the height of the New Deal era, the RFC loaned money to state-chartered banks and small banks in rural areas that were not part of the Federal Reserve System. The RFC could make loans that the Fed and other lenders would not accept, expanding access to funding to crucially underserved and underdeveloped parts of the country. It even bought stock in flagging industries and helped them right the ship.

As the country prepared for World War II, Congress gave Jesse Jones, the RFC’s head, practically limitless power in establishing weapons and defense manufacturing. At the same time, it created the Smaller War Plants Corporation (SWPC), which made direct loans and encouraged banks to lend to small entrepreneurs, diversifying military contracting and preventing monopolistic dominance. As the RFC waned, Eisenhower, wary of the “military-industrial complex” from his time commanding the Army, looked to create a nondefense analogue to the SWPC. “Eisenhower was an anti-monopolist, he very much understood small business, and believed the role of government was to keep industries from becoming too concentrated,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Republicans wanted to differentiate themselves from Democrats and decided to launch the SBA as part of that thinking.”

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But before long, large corporations discovered the SBA money pot, and began scheming to siphon funding for their own advancement. The automobile, oil, and hotel industries pestered the agency for access. But the chain restaurant industry was most successful in breaking through. Fast food in particular relied on franchising to circumvent some restrictions on monopoly behavior. Like Harpreet Chima, franchise owners were freestanding legal entities, but the parent company controlled them through restrictive and far-reaching contracts.

Franchises were initially considered, in the words of then-Administrator Eugene Foley, “distribution outlets of large businesses.” But in 1966, the SBA succumbed to lobbyist pressure from the International Franchise Association and changed its rules, which overnight set it on its current path toward corporate capture. The SBA now actually gives special preference to aspiring franchisees, despite the fact that the failure rate of Subways and 7-Elevens is much higher than that of the average independent small business. In 2014, 43 percent of first-time franchisees obtained financing from SBA loans.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175693 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175693 0
The Unluckiest Generation In U.S. History After accounting for the present crisis, the average millennial has experienced slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation in U.S. history.

Millennials will bear these economic scars the rest of their lives, in the form of lower earnings, lower wealth and delayed milestones, such as homeownership.

The losses are particularly acute on the jobs front. One brutal month of the coronavirus set the labor market back to the turn of the millennium. The last time there were about 131 million jobs was January 2000.

For millennials who came of age then, it’s as if all the plodding expansions and jobless recoveries of their namesake epoch evaporated in weeks.

 

The losses are particularly acute on the jobs front. One brutal month of the coronavirus set the labor market back to the turn of the millennium. The last time there were about 131 million jobs was January 2000.

For millennials who came of age then, it’s as if all the plodding expansions and jobless recoveries of their namesake epoch evaporated in weeks.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175683 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175683 0
Larry Kramer, Author and Outspoken AIDS Activist, Dies at 84 Larry Kramer, the noted writer whose raucous, antagonistic campaign for an all-out response to the AIDS crisis helped shift national health policy in the 1980s and ’90s, died on Wednesday morning in Manhattan. He was 84.

His husband, David Webster, said the cause was pneumonia. Mr. Kramer had weathered illness for much of his adult life. Among other things he had been infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, contracted liver disease and underwent a successful liver transplant.

An author, essayist and playwright — notably hailed for his 1985 autobiographical play, “The Normal Heart” — Mr. Kramer had feet in both the world of letters and the public sphere. In 1981 he was a founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first service organization for H.I.V.-positive people, though his fellow directors effectively kicked him out a year later for his aggressive approach. (He returned the compliment by calling them “a sad organization of sissies.”)

He was then a founder of a more militant group, Act Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), whose street actions demanding a speedup in AIDS drugs research and an end to discrimination against gay men and lesbians severely disrupted the operations of government offices, Wall Street and the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

“One of America’s most valuable troublemakers,” Susan Sontag called him.

Even some of the officials Mr. Kramer accused of “murder” and “genocide” recognized that his outbursts were part of a strategy to shock the country into dealing with AIDS as a public-health emergency.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175682 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175682 0
They Survived the Worst Battles of World War II. And Died of the Virus. The question of what went wrong at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home will be with Massachusetts for a long time.

With scarce protective gear and a shortage of staff, the facility’s administrators combined wards of infected and uninfected men, and the virus spread quickly through a fragile population.

Of the 210 veterans who were living in the facility in late March, 89 are now dead, 74 having tested positive for the virus. Almost three-quarters of the veterans inside were infected. It is one of the highest death tolls of any end-of-life facility in the country.

Multiple investigations have been opened, several of which seek to determine whether state officials should be charged with negligence under civil or criminal law. The facility’s superintendent, Bennett Walsh, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel with no nursing home experience, was placed on administrative leave on March 30.

But many in the state are revisiting decisions made since 2015, when a moderate, technocratic Republican governor, Charlie Baker, was elected on a promise to rein in spending.

The facility’s budget increased by 14 percent over the last five years, according to a spokesman for the state’s health department. Even so, there were persistent shortfalls in staffing, and the local unions complained that workers were frequently pressured to stay for unplanned double shifts. The facility’s previous superintendent stepped down in 2015, declaring that the home could not safely care for the population on the existing budget.

 

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175679 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175679 0
The Story Of How The First White Member Of Delta Sigma Theta Was A Segregationist’s Worst Nightmare Did you know that the first white member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., was a freedom rider who was hunted by the KKK for working to desegregate the south named Joan Trumpauer Mulholland?

Mulholland was born in 1941 and raised in Arlington, Virginia. Her great-grandparents were slave owners in Georgia who after the United States Civil War became sharecroppers and she grew up in a household that supported segregation.

Joan attended Duke for undergrad and in the Spring of 1960 participated in her first of many sit-ins. The idea of protecting the white women from blacks was something that southern racism and segregation were supposed to fighting for so the idea of a white woman from the south defending the rights of blacks confused many people. Joan’s activism was not understood by many and she was branded as mentally ill, and was taken in for a mental evaluation after her first arrest.

Mulholland was disowned by her family for protesting and dropped out of school at Duke after being pressured by the dean of women to stop her civil rights activism.

In 1961, Mulholland, along with Stokely Carmichael (the activist and later SNCC chairman), Hank Thomas, and others were arrested as Freedom Riders and brought to the most dreaded prison in Mississippi: Parchman Penitentiary, a jail in the Delta, which is not far from where Emmett Till had been murdered. Many of the freedom riders remained behind bars for about a month but Mulholland had no plans and no place to go until school opened in the fall. She served her two-month sentence and additional time to work off the $200 fine she owed.

After being released from jail, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton E. Holmes became the first African American students to enroll at the University of Georgia. Mulholland thought, “Now if whites were going to riot when black students were going to white schools, what were they going to do if a white student went to a black school?” She decided to be the first white student to enroll in Tougaloo College in Jackson, where she met Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Ed King, and Anne Moody. Two years later, she became the first white member to pledge Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority Inc.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175678 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175678 0
On This Day in 1943: White Workers Riot After Black Workers Promoted in Mobile, Alabama On May 25, 1943, a riot broke out at the Alabama Dry Dock Shipping Company after 12 African Americans were promoted to “highly powered” positions. The Alabama Dry Dock and Shipping Company built and maintained U.S. Navy Ships during World War I and World War II. During World War II, the company was the largest employer in Mobile. In 1941, the company began hiring African American men in unskilled positions. By 1943, Mobile shipyards employed 50,000 workers and African American men and women held 7,000 of those jobs. Though small, this increase in black employees did not please white workers. In the spring of 1943, in response to President Roosevelt's Fair Employment Practices Committee issuing directives to elevate African Americans to skilled positions, as well as years of pressure from local black leaders and the NAACP, the Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company reluctantly agreed to promote twelve black workers to the role of welder -- a position previously reserved for white employees. Shortly after the new welders finished their first shift, an estimated 4,000 white shipyard workers and community members armed with pipes, clubs, and other dangerous weapons attacked any black employee they could find. Two black men were thrown into the Mobile River by the mobs, while others jumped in to escape serious injury. The National Guard was called to restore order; although no one was killed, more than fifty people were seriously injured, and several weeks passed before African American workers could safely return to work.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175677 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175677 0
Rhody McCoy, Key Figure in New York’s School Wars, Dies at 97 Rhody McCoy, a veteran black educator whose peremptory transfer of white teachers from his Brooklyn school district in 1968 touched off a citywide strike that closed schools for weeks and exposed a seismic rift among American liberals over race, education and trade unionism, died on April 18 at his home in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 97.

His death was announced this month by his daughter Carmen McCoy-Bell.

What became known as the 1968 school wars in New York City was the culmination of efforts by reformers to grant local communities greater control over curriculum and hiring, in response to parents’ complaints that their children were failing academically.

By the late 1960s, most students in the city’s public schools were black or Hispanic; a vast majority of teachers and supervisors were white. An experiment in community control in three districts, including Ocean Hill-Brownsville in Brooklyn, where Dr. McCoy was the local administrator, became a crucible for racial conflict in a city undergoing demographic upheaval.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175675 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175675 0
Curator's Cut: An Inside Look at DC's Suffrage Exhibits (Wednesday May 27, 7:00 PM EDT) Join us for a digital trip to the nation's capital as we explore suffrage history with the curators of DC's most prominent women's suffrage exhibits!  Panelists will explore topics including gaps in the women’s suffrage narrative, relevance of the suffrage movement today, and the role museums and collections play in interpreting this important history. While the live webinar begins at 7pm ET, we will be offering an optional 30 min virtual tour of the 3 exhibits that will be referenced during the program. If you would like to watch those clips, please tune in at 6:30pm ET.

Wed, May 27, 2020 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT

 

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175671 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175671 0
In a Sign of a Divided America, President Trump Will Not Unveil Barack Obama’s New Portrait in the White House Anytime Soon Breaking with a tradition that goes back more than forty years, President Trump will not welcome his predecessor, Barack Obama, into the East Wing for the grand reveal of his White House portrait. Amid an escalating war of words between the current and former presidents, NBC News reports that neither wants to take part in the ritual. Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama will therefore likely not be installed until Trump is out of office.

The White House displays portraits of every president since George Washington. These official artworks are created through a highly specific process: they are commissioned by the White House Historical Association, a privately funded heritage organization, with the artists being selected personally by the former president and first lady. When complete, the Association donates the paintings to the White House, whose curator places them.

According to NBC, the artists for the Obama portraits were selected in early 2017, though because of a confidentiality agreement, the details remain unknown. Recent White House portraits have been by John Howard Sanden, who painted both George W. Bush and Laura Bush in 2012; Simmie Knox, who painted Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton in 2001; Herbert E. Abrams, who painted George H.W. Bush in 1994; and Chas Fagen, who painted Barbara Bush, also in 1994.

 

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175670 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175670 0
What Might Have Been: The Forgotten History Of Women On The Supreme Court Shortlist From Texas Standard:

In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Her appointment by President Ronald Reagan was a watershed moment for gender equality in the court system. But O'Connor wasn't the first woman to be considered for a seat on the high court.

In the new book, "Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court", coauthors Renee Knake Jefferson and Hannah Brenner Johnson tell the story of nine women who were considered for positions on the country's highest court in the decades before O'Connor's appointment.

Knake Jefferson, a professor at the University of Houston School of Law, told Texas Standard host David Brown on Monday that the book was initially inspired by the public's and media's responses to the nominations of Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. She and Brenner Johnson studied numerous media stories about Supreme Court nominees over the years, and evaluated how prevailing ideas about gender influenced the tone and content of those stories.

"We also uncovered a really interesting history that included one article written in The New York Times in 1971 about President Nixon's shortlist," Knake Jefferson said. "There were two women on a list of six."

Despite that, she said Nixon seemed to hold a low opinion of women's potential as judges.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175669 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175669 0
Coronavirus Will Reshape Our Cities – We Just Don't Know How Yet Few residents of the world’s great metropolises would have thought much about plagues before this year. Outside China and east Asia – made vigilant by swine flu and Sars – the trauma of pandemics such as Spanish flu or typhoid has largely faded from popular memory. But our cities remember.

An outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1793 prompted administrators to take over the task of cleaning streets, clearing gutters and collecting rubbish. It worked, and governments across the US adopted the responsibility over the next decades. A misconception that the odour emanating from wastewater was responsible for diseases such as cholera prompted one of the world’s first modern underground sewer systems in London, and the development of wider, straighter and paved roads - which helped prevent water from stagnating.

Cities have evolved over the centuries according to theories of how to fight disease, turning features such as public parks and sewers into “a mundane part of city thinking”, says Michele Acuto, a professor of global urban politics at the University of Melbourne.

The legacy Covid-19 might leave on the world’s great cities is being hotly debated, although most specialists admit it is too early to know for sure. “It will depend in the end on how we analyse this virus: how is it spreading? How is it making people sick?” says Roger Keil, a professor of environmental studies at Toronto’s York University. “We don’t know the full answers, but once they become clearer, urban planners and other professionals will start to think as their predecessors did 100 years ago, as they laid sewer pipes and cleaned out parts of the city that were considered insalubrious.”

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175668 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175668 0
The Coronavirus Is Threatening Diversity In Academia Keisha Blain attended a top program in her field, collaborated with renowned scholars and wrote an award-winning dissertation — all of which she was sure would lead to an immediate and secure academic appointment.

But upon graduating from Princeton University with a PhD in History in 2014, she discovered that she had vastly underestimated the number of scholars seeking tenure-track positions. Blain was not only competing against her direct peers, but against talented scholars who had not been able to find steady work in the aftermath of the 2008 economic recession and had become even more competitive applicants in the intervening years.

“That’s when I realized all along that I had felt some undue sense of security,” Blain, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in African American history, said. “There’s still this rosy colored picture that we sell to graduate students that yes, things are tough, but hard work and excellent scholarship will open doors.”

When a position at a university fell through because of a hiring freeze, Blain decided to complete a postdoctoral fellowship — a temporary position that varies in length during which entry-level academics continue their research at various institutions — after which she held a few other positions before being promoted to her current tenured role last year.

It worked out for Blain, but for every academic success story like hers, there are hundreds more that involve equally qualified academics who, as The Atlantic’s Adam Harris writes, are “trapped in academia’s permanent underclass.” And the coronavirus may only make the situation for these educators, who are effectively gig workers cobbling together several positions to survive and who are most often women and people of color, worse.

As budgets are stricken and mass layoffs become routine, scholars of all levels are fighting back to make sure diversity in academia won’t become collateral damage in the pandemic.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175662 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175662 0
Art Of The New Deal: How Artists Helped Redefine America During The Depression The Great Depression challenged Americans not just with horrifically high unemployment, but ideological divides not utterly unlike the ones we face today. Today, poll after poll show the country deeply split on major issues. Racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise. Back then, the labor movement was burgeoning; so was membership in the Ku Klux Klan. Rampant anti-Semitism informed powerful public figures such as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, and millions of people listened as Father Charles Coughlin railed against immigrants and in favor of fascism in his weekly radio broadcasts. Meanwhile, black people were excluded from segregated soup kitchens as African American unemployment hovered around 50 percent.

When the Roosevelt administration rolled out tens of millions of dollars during the New Deal to fund artists, musicians, writers and actors, its mission was more than just job creation. It wanted to create a version of American culture that everyone could rally behind. Music, art classes, posters, plays and photography funded by the federal government were supposed to unite a nation in turmoil.

Working for the Farm Security Administration, photographers Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans took empathetic photos of rural white sharecroppers. Gordon Parks documented the resilient faces of Washington, D.C.'s black working class.

Composer Aaron Copland was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration to write Quiet City for the Group Theatre in 1939. Painter Jackson Pollock was stealing food from pushcarts before he was hired by the WPA's famed murals division. And writer Ralph Ellison used language from the oral histories he recorded for the WPA in Harlem in his later groundbreaking novel The Invisible Man.

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Fri, 29 May 2020 19:40:52 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175660 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175660 0