Daily Archives: 02/18/2023
1820 – Senate passes Missouri Compromise – Black History
The Senate passes the Missouri Compromise, an attempt to deal with the dangerously divisive issue of extending slavery into the western territories. From colonial days to the Civil War, slavery and western expansion both played fundamental but inherently incompatible roles in the …read more
1983 – General Motors agreed to hire more women and minorities for five years as part of a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On October 18, 1983, the General Motors Corporation, the largest automobile manufacturer in the U.S., agreed to hire more women and minorities as part of a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The turnaround came ten years after the commission had filed a complaint that African Americans, Latinos, other minorities, and women were being unfairly treated by the corporation. The commission filed a lawsuit against the company, and General Motors agreed to pay $42.5 million in what was at the time called the largest out-of-court settlement of an employment discrimination case.
The company simultaneously agreed to spend another $8.9 million developing a program for hiring, training, and promoting minority and female workers. General Motors also agreed to give those workers preference in the distribution of education assistance funds.
In addition, the company spent $3 million on training for African America, Latino, and female clerical employees; $2 million training them for highly technical positions; and another $2 million training them in mathematics and other areas that would qualify them for apprenticeship programs.
A New African American Identity: The Harlem Renaissance – a repost- In memory
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|Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.
A Page From Our American Story
With the end of the Civil War in 1865, hundreds of thousands of African Americans newly freed from the yoke of slavery in the South began to dream of fuller participation in American society, including political empowerment, equal economic opportunity, and economic and cultural self-determination.
Unfortunately, by the late 1870s, that dream was largely dead, as white supremacy was quickly restored to the Reconstruction South. White lawmakers on state and local levels passed strict racial segregation laws known as “Jim Crow laws” that made African Americans second-class citizens. While a small number of African Americans were able to become landowners, most were exploited as sharecroppers, a system designed to keep them poor and powerless. Hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) perpetrated lynchings and conducted campaigns of terror and intimidation to keep African Americans from voting or exercising other fundamental rights.
With booming economies across the North and Midwest offering industrial jobs for workers of every race, many African Americans realized their hopes for a better standard of living—and a more racially tolerant environment—lay outside the South. By the turn of the 20th century, the Great Migration was underway as hundreds of thousands of African Americans relocated to cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New York. The Harlem section of Manhattan, which covers just three square miles, drew nearly 175,000 African Americans, giving the neighborhood the largest concentration of black people in the world. Harlem became a destination for African Americans of all backgrounds. From unskilled laborers to an educated middle-class, they shared common experiences of slavery, emancipation, and racial oppression, as well as a determination to forge a new identity as free people.
The Great Migration drew to Harlem some of the greatest minds and brightest talents of the day, an astonishing array of African American artists and scholars. Between the end of World War I and the mid-1930s, they produced one of the most significant eras of cultural expression in the nation’s history—the Harlem Renaissance. Yet this cultural explosion also occurred in Cleveland, Los Angeles and many cities shaped by the great migration. Alain Locke, a Harvard-educated writer, critic, and teacher who became known as the “dean” of the Harlem Renaissance, described it as a “spiritual coming of age” in which African Americans transformed “social disillusionment to race pride.”
The Harlem Renaissance encompassed poetry and prose, painting and sculpture, jazz and swing, opera and dance. What united these diverse art forms was their realistic presentation of what it meant to be black in America, what writer Langston Hughes called an “expression of our individual dark-skinned selves,” as well as a new militancy in asserting their civil and political rights.
Among the Renaissance’s most significant contributors were intellectuals W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Cyril Briggs, and Walter Francis White; electrifying performers Josephine Baker and Paul Robeson; writers and poets Zora Neale Hurston, Effie Lee Newsome, Countee Cullen, and James Baldwin; visual artists Jacob Lawrence and Aaron Douglas and Augusta Savage; and an extraordinary list of legendary musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Count Bassie, Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holliday, Ivie Anderson, Josephine Baker, Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, and countless others.
At the height of the movement, Harlem was the epicenter of American culture. The neighborhood bustled with African American-owned and run publishing houses and newspapers, music companies, playhouses, nightclubs, and cabarets. The literature, music, and fashion they created defined culture and “cool” for blacks and white alike, in America and around the world.
As the 1920s came to a close, so did the Harlem Renaissance. Its heyday was cut short largely due to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and resulting Great Depression, which hurt African American-owned businesses and publications and made less financial support for the arts available from patrons, foundations, and theatrical organizations.
However, the Harlem Renaissance’s impact on America was indelible. The movement brought notice to the great works of African American art, and inspired and influenced future generations of African American artists and intellectuals. The self-portrait of African American life, identity, and culture that emerged from Harlem was transmitted to the world at large, challenging the racist and disparaging stereotypes of the Jim Crow South. In doing so, it radically redefined how people of other races viewed African Americans and understood the African American experience.
Most importantly, the Harlem Renaissance instilled in African Americans across the country a new spirit of self-determination and pride, a new social consciousness, and a new commitment to political activism, all of which would provide a foundation for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In doing so, it validated the beliefs of its founders and leaders like Alain Locke and Langston Hughes that art could be a vehicle to improve the lives of the African Americans.
To read past Our American Stories, visit our archives.
Costco, Stop Contributing to Water Scarcity
Sign the Petition … eko.org
Trusted wholesaler Costco has a massive contract with controversial bottled water giant BlueTriton, which makes its money by pumping water out of communities suffering from drought and water scarcity.
The wholesaler is known for its ethical business practices and commitment to sustainability, but there is nothing ethical or sustainable about this partnership with BlueTriton. That is why Costco’s execs need to hear from you.
Costco has shown time and again that it responds to customers raising issues like this. If enough people like you speak out, we can get them to uphold their values and dump BlueTriton.
Sign the petition to ask Costco to remove BlueTriton bottled spring water from its shelves.
Just last year Costco publicly announced its new Climate Action Plan, which identified water as “a precious and limited resource that cannot be wasted.” And yet the company is working with a supplier that sources its water from drought-stricken areas, national parks, and communities who are worried about water scarcity.
In fact, six communities across North America are actively fighting to stop BlueTriton from taking away their local water supply. In California, where people have been suffering through an historic drought, extreme weather, and water usage restrictions, BlueTriton has been draining away 24 times more water than it’s legally allowed to.
If Costco truly wants to fulfill its Sustainability Commitment, it cannot continue to work with suppliers like BlueTriton that do harm to communities and delicate ecosystems.
Act now to demand that Costco dumps suppliers that contribute to water scarcity.
Part of Costco’s Sustainability Commitment is to continuously seek ways to improve, and it has a history of living up to that commitment. In 2019, the company stopped selling Roundup and all other glyphosate products after consumers grew concerned about the chemical’s safety. And in 2020, Costco started the process of sourcing exclusively cage-free eggs in response to a campaign by animal welfare activists. Together we can put enough pressure on Costco to stop selling BlueTriton bottled water, and any other product that contributes to water scarcity.
A bitter feud centers on source of Arrowhead bottled water
The LA Times. 22 January 2022.
Facing Droughts, California Challenges Nestlé Over Water Use
The New York Times. 30 April 2021.
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