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A blog from Medium about the fight against anti-Black racism.

In the early 1800s, the Maryland Jesuit order of priests owned hundreds of enslaved people, forcing them to work on plantations and profiting off their sale. A 2016 New York Times exposé showed that in 1838, to keep the struggling Georgetown University alive, the priests shipped 272 enslaved people to the notoriously brutal plantations in the Deep South.

Now, the Jesuits have begun to atone. A new Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Foundation has been created in conjunction with descendants of those the Jesuits enslaved, funded with an initial $15 million. The Jesuits have pledged a total of $100 million to…

Let’s Unpack This

The Bruce family should have been millionaires by now, but California officials brazenly stole their beachfront property

Manhattan Beach maintenance worker Omar Morrison pours water on the new sod surrounding a newly constructed monument at Bruce’s Beach on March 3, 2007. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Getty Images

White people stealing land from Black people is a tale as old as time. It happened in Mississippi, where Black landowners “lost” 12 million acres over the past century. It happened in Chicago after White people cheated aspiring Black homeowners with predatory contracts. It happened in California when Los Angeles County officials used eminent domain to steal land from Anthony Bruce’s ancestors in 1924.

Anthony is a descendant of Willa and Charles Bruce, who became Manhattan Beach’s first Black landowners in 1912. By 1924, the Bruces created a thriving beach resort that doubled as a safe space for Black people…

Be more like Albert

Artistic colorful illustration of Albert Einstein.
Artistic colorful illustration of Albert Einstein.
Image: Muhammad suryanto/Shutterstock

Albert Einstein was born in Germany on March 14, 1879, the same year tens of thousands of Black American refugees engaged in a mass flight from slave states along the Mississippi River to the hopefully better pastures of Kansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. This event became known as the Exodus of 1879.

Although slavery technically ended in 1865, Black people still needed to escape the pervasive racial violence perpetrated by White supremacists in the years that followed. Southern Black people were also exhausted from the discriminatory laws known as the Black Codes, which effectively rendered Black people second-class citizens and prevented…

Photo: Keith Binns/Getty Images

In 1921, Tulsa’s prosperous Greenwood District was burned to the ground by a racist mob, killing hundreds of innocent Black people. And while some Oklahomans remembered the story and some Black History scholars preserved the narrative, for many, what happened to Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street” has been a lost chapter of American history.

Now, as The Root reports, “perhaps pushed into action by the renewed interest in that time period, courtesy of HBO’s hit series Watchmen, school districts in the state are finally ready to address what Sen. Kevin Matthews calls, “Tulsa’s dirty secret.”

Jay Connor writes: “Deborah A. Gist…

A woman who didn’t take no for an answer

Photos: courtesy of the author

Pargellan McCall is the kind of person who comes to life when you describe her. She’s the type of person who’ll make sure you know when you’ve disrespected her. After, she’ll happily serve you a hot plate of collard greens and cornbread.

She doesn’t ever take no for an answer. She didn’t when her country wrote her off as someone who wouldn’t amount to more than the dirt floors she grew up on, or when they told her she couldn’t go to college with four kids in her mid-thirties. …

Four legendary creative collaborations

Toni Morrison with Susan Taylor, Rita Dove, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, and others in Winston-Salem, NC on September 6, 1994. Photo: Will Mcintyre/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

The first time I knew my words had triggered something deep in someone was when I finished a two-week summer writers workshop when I was 15. I climbed into my mother’s car, read her one of my poems, and watched her face change as she heard it. If my own flesh and blood could not wrap her head around my work, then I would have to search elsewhere for creative understanding.

As a Black teenager, I hungered for so many things, but one of the things I’m most proud that I’ve fought for over the years is the connection I’ve…

Snapshots of my Black history

The author with her grandpa. Photos courtesy of the author

What the textbooks never taught me about Black history, growing up, is that it sat beside me on a plastic-wrapped couch most Sundays, watching reruns of Baywatch over microwaved TV dinners. The lectures never acknowledged that the people who were spat on — taunted, threatened, denied basic human rights on the basis of skin color — looked just like the people I called “grandma” and “grandpa.” Grandma and Grandpa, who were also homeowners and foster parents; a seamstress and an artist; so many things to so many people that no one living knows the half of it.

I don’t recall…

I hear my ancestors whispering in my ear, ‘Daughter, you were called for just this moment!’

The author’s grandfather. Photos courtesy of the author.

I knew at the age of 12 that I wanted to be a physician despite having no one in my immediate or extended family in the medical field. It was simply a God-given calling to serve people. During my time at Northwestern University as a premedical student, I spent the majority of my Saturdays working under the tutelage of a Black obstetrician-gynecologist treating women with a myriad of different medical problems. It was there that I got my first dose of the harsh realities of health inequities: Black women and babies die at higher rates than Whites during childbirth, and…

White or Black, it’s up to all of us to teach history correctly

Photo: Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images

I’ve been an educator longer than I’ve been a parent and most of my friends are teachers or school administrators. In my many years teaching Pre-K to 12th grade, college age and adjudicated youth — Black History, the month or all year round has been on the back burner and isn’t a priority for most schools across America, and it’s under attack from conservative politicians and being challenged in states like Arkansas.

Covid has revealed that our public school systems need clear, concise state-level guidelines and leadership with regard to equitable policies and implementation of programs. Letting each district and…

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