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  • Wahalla
    I was reading a bit on Baldwin and discovered a poet called Countee Cullen....

    Then started reading discoveing a the " Handsomest man in Harlem" Harold Jackman

    A Queer Harlem Poet’s Renaissance and Fall

    Added by Gay City News on November 21, 2012.
    Saved under Books
    Tags: Arna Bontemps, Carl Van Vechten, Charles Molesworth,Countée Cullen, Edward Perry, Harlem Renaissance, Harold Jackman, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Yolande Du Bois
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    Published by the University of Chicago Press.
    BY DOUG IRELAND| Fresh scholarship illuminating the queer writers and artists at the core of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s continues to throw into sharp relief some of that important cultural moment’s unjustly forgotten talents.
    Hard on the heels of Emily Bernard’s important “Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance” (see my September 26-October 9 review, “A Queer Bridge for Racial Divides”) comes now the first full-length biography of Countée Cullen, the gifted poetic prodigy who began to win fame when he was only 20 and died in 1946 at the young age of 42 of a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by hypertension.
    Although Cullen was one of America’s most admired poets in the 1920s, his struggle to survive the penury of the Great Depression dried up his poetic talent, and he spent the last decade of his life in comparative obscurity as a teacher of French in Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Junior High School — where James Baldwin was one of his admiring students — having failed to obtain the university post he deserved and which would have allowed him the time to pursue his poetic quest.
    It is not easy to write a biography of a man who left no diaries or journals in which he recorded his inner emotional life, and if there were any documents that detailed his homosexuality, Cullen took care to destroy them.
    But there is no doubt that Cullen’s sexual orientation was overwhelmingly toward other men. Indeed, his first, brief marriage, to W.E.B. Du Bois’ daughter Yolande, foundered on the issue of Cullen’s same-sex preferences almost before it began when he went on his “honeymoon” to Paris not with Yolande but with one of his great loves, bon vivant Harold Jackman, a French and social studies teacher known as “the Proust of Lenox Avenue” — a reference to both his refinement and his sexual orientation. The “honeymoon” incident was the subject of speculation and innuendo in the black press at that time.
    London-born of West Indian parentage, Jackman — who was called “the handsomest man in Harlem” by his contemporaries — wrote a bit and acted a bit, but left behind no oeuvre. He was, nonetheless, a catalytic figure in the gay life at the center of the Harlem Renaissance, many of whose queer members Jackman had introduced to each other and either slept with him or had a crush on him. The ubiquitous Jackman, light-skinned and an elegant dresser, appears as a character in Van Vechten’s scandal-causing 1926 novel “Nigger Heaven,” and both he and Cullen are major figures in Wallace Thurman’s satirical 1936 novel about the Harlem Renaissance, “Infants of the Spring.”
    Jackman, whose massive correspondence, diaries, and noted collection of African-American memorabilia — which he named the Countée Cullen Collection in honor of his prematurely deceased friend — serve as a touchstone for all historians of the Renaissance, deserves a full-length biography of his own.
    In a letter to her world-famous father explaining the failure of her marriage, Yolande Du Bois laid the blame squarely on Cullen’s homosexuality.
    “I never loved him,” she wrote, “but I had an enormous amount of respect for him. Having lost that — and having an added feeling of horror at the abnormality of it I could not ‘make it.’ I knew something was wrong physically, but being very ignorant and inexperienced I couldn’t be sure what. When he confessed things he’d always known that he was abnormal sexually as far as other men were concerned [italics in the biography’s text] then many things became clear.”
    And she added, “At first I felt terribly angry — I felt he’d no right to marry any woman knowing this. Now I only feel sorry for him and all I want is not to have to be anywhere near him.”
    “And Bid Him Sing: A Biography of Countée Cullen,” is written by Charles Molesworth, a Queens College literature professor of 40 years who now writes an art columnist for Salmagundi. Molesworth is also the biographer of Alain Locke, the Howard University philosopher who was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance, having edited “The New Negro,” the first collection of writing by Renaissance writers, published in 1925. Locke, who was also queer, was an important mentor to Cullen and other important Renaissance figures.
    The title of Molesworth’s book comes from a short Cullen poem, “Yet Do I Marvel”:
    I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
    And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
    The little buried mole continues blind,
    Why flesh that mirrors Him must someday die,
    Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
    Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare
    If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
    To struggle up a never-ending stair.
    Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
    To catechism by a mind too strewn
    With petty cares to slightly understand
    What awful brains compels His awful hand.
    Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
    To make a poet black, and bid him sing!
    The mixture of gentle irony and despair in this poem capture the reserved, secretive Cullen’s inner conflicts, which included the challenge of being black in a racist world, of being homosexual in a straight and homophobic one, and of being a lyrical poet heavily influenced by the 19th century English Romantics at a time when such literary formalism was being discarded in favor of plainer, every-day speech and dialect poetry — such as in the work of Cullen’s close friend Langston Hughes, another queer to whom Cullen is usually counterposed as the polar opposite.
    Molesworth does a superb job of portraying Cullen’s struggle to define and maintain his own personal aesthetic. He also successfully challenges the over-simplicity of the opposition of Cullen and Hughes, two poets who were long engaged in dialogue, both in person and correspondence, about aesthetic matters.
    Irony was again present in “More Than a Fool’s Song,” a poem Cullen dedicated to another of his lovers, Edward Perry, a dancer and Broadway actor with whom Cullen had an affair in the late ‘20s. The poem’s ending can be read as a closeted nod to the same-sex orientation he and Perry shared:
    The world’s a curious riddle thrown
    Waterwise from heaven’s cup;
    The souls we think are hurtling down
    Perhaps are climbing up.
    Cullen seems to have been somewhat ashamed of his childhood upbringing by his grandmother in what Molesworth describes as “Dickensian” poverty, before he was adopted at the beginning of his adolescence by one of Harlem’s most prominent ministers, Reverend Frederick Cullen. The first 14 years of young Cullen’s life “remain largely a blank,” Molesworth writes, and even his place of birth —Kentucky? Harlem? — remains uncertain. Still, Molesworth does a yeoman job of reconstructing those early years.
    The poet later described his life as a never-ending conflict between his Christian upbringing and the side of his life he labeled “pagan” (read: homosexual).
    As a teenager, Cullen earned prize after prize for his poetry and won the imagist poet Witter Bynner’s poetry prize when he was still a scholarship student at New York University, by which time he’d already seen his work published by H.L. Mencken in the American Mercury.
    After winning another scholarship for postgraduate work at Harvard and publishing his first book of poems, “Color,” with Harper in 1925, Cullen won a Guggenheim Fellowship that allowed him to spend two years in Paris, which he adopted as his “second home” and where he spent 12 consecutive summers. The late ‘20s were productive ones for Cullen, whose new volumes of poetry — “Copper Sun,” “Harlem Wine,” “The Ballad of the Brown Girl,” and “The Black Christ” — won him nearly universal critical acclaim.
    But the Depression put an end to Cullen’s poetry. He tried to make a living as a novelist, but while his debut effort, 1931’s “One Way to Heaven,” was well-received critically (the New York Times said it was “not to be missed”), it proved a disappointment financially and he found writing it so difficult he never wrote another.
    He spent the last decade of his life trying to jump-start a career writing plays for the theater, but they remained unproduced, including “Medea,” the first translation by an African-American writer of a Greek tragedy (he also translated Baudelaire and other French poets). “St. Louis Woman,” a play that he and Arna Bontemps adapted from a Bontemps novel, ran on Broadway for 113 performances in 1946. Cullen, however, died the second week of that year, an irony not without meaning in Molesworth’s view.
    Because its subject was a prostitute, even before it was produced, “St. Louis Woman” was attacked by what were then called “race men,” who hadn’t even read it, because it depicted unattractive aspects of Negro life at a time when racial politics demanded a literature of “uplift” filled with positive black images. Molesworth speculates that the strain of fighting these misguided attempts at censorship may have led to Cullen’s untimely death.
    But it is for his poems on race that Cullen is largely remembered today. As Langston Hughes wrote on the death of his friend, “Among the most beautiful of his poems was ‘Heritage,’ which asked, ‘What Is Africa to Me?’ Had the word negritude been in use in the twenties, Cullen as well as [Claude] McKay, [James Weldon] Johnson, [Jean] Toomer, and I might have been called poets of negritude.”
    “Collected Poems of Countée Cullen” is scheduled to be published next year by Library of America. That, in tandem with this fine new biography, may help restore this queer genius to his proper place as an American original. Cullen was a man of enormous talent and courage who unfailingly devoted his life to his art and his people while retaining the individualism that made him a unique figure in our literary history.
    AND BID HIM SING: A BIOGRAPHY OF COUNTÉE CULLEN | By Charles Molesworth | University of Chicago Press | $30 | $304 pages

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  • Wahalla

    Baldwin speaks....

    at 30.20 he makes a point of why i am a history buff... i question, reexamine, reevaluate, every thing.... ok that is out of context
    Last edited by Wahalla; 11-19-2015, 01:15 PM.

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  • Wahalla
    Last edited by Wahalla; 11-19-2015, 12:49 PM.

    Leave a comment:

  • Wahalla

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  • blugiant
    Slavery in New York: Uncovering the brutal truth

    by: Martin Frazier

    NEW YORK — Wall Street and much of this city’s renowned financial district were built on the burial ground of African slaves. New York’s prosperity stems in large part from the grotesque profits of the African slave trade and African enslavement.

    This is the inescapable conclusion one draws from the evidence presented in a major exhibition on “Slavery in New York,” which opened here Oct. 7 and runs through March 5. Hosted by the New-York Historical Society, the exhibition is the most impressive display ever mounted on slavery in the Empire State and in New York City in particular.

    The exhibition features public programs, walking tours, educational materials and programs for school, college and adult learners. It explores the vital role that slave trading, the labor of enslaved people, and slavery’s integration with everyday commerce played from 1600 to 1827 in making New York the wealthiest city in the world.

    Hidden history

    For a phenomenon that should be common knowledge, the role of New York in the Atlantic slave trade is buried deep in the underground of U.S. history and outside of the consciousness of many New Yorkers. Each year thousands of students in the nation’s largest school system study the history of New York with hardly a mention of this city’s experience with slavery.

    Granted, slavery in America has traditionally been identified as a Southern phenomenon. Yet there were more enslaved Africans in New York before the American Revolution than any other city except Charleston, S.C. During this period, 1 out of every 5 New Yorkers was enslaved. At one point, 40 percent of colonial New York’s households owned slaves.

    A jolting discovery

    The discovery of the African Burial Ground in the heart of New York’s financial district in 1991 put the spotlight on the forgotten dark underbelly of the epicenter of U.S. and global capitalism. The huge, 18th-century burial ground uncovered during painstaking excavations — following the abortive construction of a skyscraper on the site — eventually revealed the skeletal remains of some 419 Africans, a large proportion of them women and children.

    At that time the city consisted of the southern tip of Manhattan, stretching up to where today’s City Hall sits. The burial ground extends from Broadway southward under City Hall, and almost to the site of the former World Trade Center, in close proximity to the Wall Street financial center.

    The African cemeteries in the Wall Street area were buried long ago when surrounding hills were flattened and the soil deposited there as foundation for buildings that now serve as a major nerve center of the world economy. It is believed that there are as many as 20,000 slavery-era Africans in graves under the constellation of buildings in lower Manhattan.

    Manhattan Island had a population of enslaved Africans almost from the very beginning of settlement in 1624. The findings of scientists examining the graves show that enslaved Africans lived agonizing lives. They were overworked and underfed. Many died young. The average life expectancy of Africans of that era was 37 years.

    Slavery’s global reach

    The largest forced migration in world history, the Atlantic slave trade involved an estimated 40,000 ships, carrying an average of 80 persons a day for more than 400 years. The astounding profits from this trade fueled the industrial revolution in England and later in Europe and the United States.

    New York’s strategic geographical position, its proximity to other American colonial settlements, as well as its network of inland waterways, made it a prime center for the slave trade and the accumulation of capital from very early on. The Empire City was an important nexus in a far-flung web commanded by the Dutch Wast India Company. That web involved a base in Angola on Africa’s Atlantic shore, a base in Brazil in South America, and one in Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean.

    The first slaves arrived in what was then known as New Amsterdam around 1627. These enslaved Africans worked for the Dutch West India Company rather than for individuals. In addition to building the wall that gives Wall Street its name — a wall of timber and earthwork along the northern boundary of New Amsterdam — slaves cleared Manhattan’s forests, turned up the soil for farming, built roads and constructed buildings. Without slave labor New Amsterdam might not have survived.

    As a rule, unlike the slaves of the South, New York slaves did not live in quarters with large numbers of other Black people, but in kitchens or back rooms of their owners’ houses. Many white New Yorkers owned one or two slaves.

    Cruel repression

    But Northern slavery was no less cruel than its Southern counterpart. Coercive measures were harsh. A litany of repressive and restrictive laws were passed from time to time by New York City Common Council, including laws that forbade Africans from owning significant property or bequeathing what they did own to their offspring, and laws banning gatherings of more than three people of African descent. Restrictions of movement included requiring them to carry lanterns after dark and to remain south of what is now Worth Street.

    Sentences of what were characterized then as “horrible” public executions for theft, arson, murdering a slave master, or conspiracy to revolt were issued and carried out from time to time.

    Slave rebellions

    Yet enslaved Africans resisted at every point of the slave trade and in the New World. There was a tight clandestine network of the Underground Railroad operating in the city, with Brooklyn being an important hub.

    One of the high points of this resistance came in 1712, in what New York’s Royal Gov. Robert Hunter described as a “bloody conspiracy” of some of the slaves of the city “to destroy as many of the inhabitants as they could ... to revenge themselves for some hard usage they apprehended to have received from their Masters.” Twenty-three slaves met about midnight on April 6, 1712, and set fire to several buildings in the middle of town. When whites came to put out the fires, they were ambushed. Nine whites were slain on the spot, and about a dozen others were wounded. The rebels fled, but most were soon captured.

    The rebellion led to further repression. Nineteen slaves were executed by burning at the stake or hanging. Two were targeted for special treatment. “One [was] broke on the wheele and one hung alive in chains in the town,” explained Gov. Hunter, pointing out that these measures were “the most exemplary punishment inflicted that could be possibly thought of.”

    And in 1741, following a series of rumors about what was referred to as the “Great Negro Plot” to burn down the city, the authorities fixed blame on the growing slave male population. Seventeen slaves were hanged and 13 burned at the stake.

    The profits of slavery

    The exhibition takes viewers through the various stages of New York’s evolution — from a Dutch colony under the management of the Dutch West India Company, to a British colony, to the American Revolution, to the early settlements of free Blacks in New York City.

    From the beginning, virtually every New York business was involved with slavery in one way or another. The enslavement enterprise involved a myriad of activities, including direct trading in slaves; harvesting, processing, packing foodstuffs for the slave trade; and using slave labor in craft workshops. It included supplying slave plantations in the West Indies and North America with grains, tools and manufactured foods.

    The city’s slave trade involved building and maintaining ships that carried trade between New York, Europe, Caribbean and Africa, and borrowing, lending and insuring the vessels. It included advertising for the sale of slaves and the recapture of runaways. Advertisements of slaves for purchase were a major source of revenue for 18th-century newspapers in New York.

    On display are ledger books of slave voyages, ads for runaway slaves, and implements and household objects produced by the enslaved. Almost everything was grown or produced with enslaved labor — cheese, tobacco, rum, sugar, cloth, butter, clothes. These goods were carried here on ships owned by slave traders. With a system of an enormous unpaid labor force that kept stores well stocked and prices fairly low, the entire economy of the city was built on slavery.

    In a quite appropriate multimedia section of the display, a market ticker scrolls across the bottom of a video screen, as you might see on a CNN or MSNBC newscast, reflecting the trade of enslaved humans from the coast of Africa to South America, the Caribbean, North America and specifically to colonial Wall Street.

    The slave trade was enormously profitable for the traders, shipbuilders, bankers, and insurers who made it possible. At its peak the margin of profit soared just above 369 percent. At its ebb the profit margin was still a whopping 94 percent. For example, in 1675, a slave could be purchased in Africa for today’s equivalent of $355 and later sold in New York for $3,793.

    Abolitionism and justice

    Slavery also bred a humanitarian response. The existence of slavery in New York gave rise to a vibrant abolitionist movement, which is also depicted in the exhibition.

    However, the end of slavery in New York did not come easily or quickly. Well-positioned New Yorkers who thrived on the slave economy fought to maintain the system to the very end. As a consequence, slavery ended, but not before the New York Legislature passed two pieces of legislation delaying its end until July 4, 1827. This action pointed the way, in turn, for other Northern states to adopt a system of gradual emancipation as well.

    No doubt “Slavery in New York” will give further impetus and focus to the reparations movement. In speaking of the significance of the African Burial Ground, Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has suggested that the shipping and insurance companies who profited so handsomely from the transport of slaves have a moral and legal obligation to compensate the slaves’ descendants.

    The exhibition has been characterized as “phase one” of a two-year initiative of the New-York Historical Society, located at 170 Central Park West at 77th Street, on slavery and New York. We can only greet the first installment of this initiative and look forward to the next.

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  • blugiant
    How Slave Labor Made New York

    From the Lehman brothers to Tiffany's founder, the city's early titans benefited from toiling blacks.
    By: Peter Alan Harper

    (The Root) -- The next time some right-wing commentator (Pat Buchanan, are you listening?) bellows about how white people built America, a tour of New York City could be used to point out how the slave trade (i.e., the labor of enslaved Africans) contributed to the creation of this country's financial center.

    The very name "Wall Street" is born of slavery, with enslaved Africans building a wall in 1653 to protect Dutch settlers from Indian raids. This walkway and wooden fence, made up of pointed logs and running river to river, later was known as Wall Street, the home of world finance. Enslaved and free Africans were largely responsible for the construction of the early city, first by clearing land, then by building a fort, mills, bridges, stone houses, the first city hall, the docks, the city prison, Dutch and English churches, the city hospital and Fraunces Tavern. At the corner of Wall Street and Broadway, they helped erect Trinity Church.

    In 1711 the city's Common Council established a Meal Market at Wall and Water streets for hiring slave labor and auctioning enslaved Africans who disembarked in Manhattan after their arduous trans-Atlantic journey. The merchants used these laborers to operate the port and in such trades as ship carpentry and printing, according to the National Park Service. Africans, according to the Park Service, also engaged in heavy transport, construction work, domestic labor, farming and milling. Their efforts were part of the euphemistically titled Triangular Trade: Africans living on what was then called the Gold Coast -- with Africans being considered black gold -- were bought using New England rum; the Africans were sold in the West Indies to work the fields to create sugar and molasses; and the sugarcane products were taken to New York and New England to be made into rum.

    Pier 17 on the East River was a disembarkation point, as were all other slips and docks along lower Manhattan where the Hudson and East rivers rippled by. Today the pier is known as the South Street Seaport, a popular destination for gift-buying tourists who just happen to be visiting where enslaved Africans first touched land in chains.

    The history of the area is described in Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited From Slavery -- a book that details how deeply the slave trade was entrenched in America's economy -- by veteran newspaper journalists Anne Farrow, Joel Lang and Jenifer Frank. The authors wrote: "From 1825 on, in volume and value of imports and exports, the seaport of South Street outdid the combined trade of its two closest competitors in Boston and Philadelphia ... long before civil war loomed, New York, after London and Paris, had become the third major city of the western world. Its glory was built largely of bricks of cotton," the product of backbreaking labor.

    "From seed to cloth, Northern merchants, shippers, and financial institutions, many based in New York, controlled nearly every aspect of cotton production and trade," the authors continued. "Only large banks, generally located in Manhattan, or in London, could extend to plantation owners the credit they needed between planting and selling their crop ... slaves were usually bought on credit."

    The Buttonwood Agreement, which started what became the New York Stock Exchange, was signed in 1792 under a buttonwood tree in front of 68 Wall Street, about a block away from the slave market at the intersection of Wall and Water streets. The agreement covered transactions and companies involved in the slave trade, including shipping, insurance and cotton.

    Granted, many white folks did indeed help build America -- as they profited from slavery. John Jacob Astor, who was born in Germany in 1763, became America's first multimillionaire, making his fortune in furs, the China trade and cotton transportation, part of the slave trade. Astor, who died at age 84 in 1848, is the namesake of the Waldorf Astoria hotel and neighborhoods in New York City.

    Moses Taylor, who helped finance the illegal slave trade, had his offices at 55 South Street, now part of the 111 Wall Street complex. His decades-long banking operations evolved into Citibank. He sat on the boards of firms that became Con Edison, Bethlehem Steel and AT&T, according to Alan J. Singer's New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth. When Taylor died in 1882, at age 76, his estate was worth $40 million to $50 million, or roughly $44 billion in current calculations.

    Singer also explained how Philip Livingston of Dutchess County, just north of New York City, was "probably the New York merchant most involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade." Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, endowed Yale University's first professorship using his slave-based wealth. He was also a founder of King's College, which later became Columbia University, and his name is found on homes and estates, some of them now historical sites, in the Hudson Valley and on Livingston Street in Brooklyn Heights.

    There were also the three siblings -- Henry Lehman and his two brothers, Mayer and Emanuel -- who had emigrated from Germany to Alabama and, by 1850, formed Lehman Brothers, a merchandising business that quickly evolved into a cotton-brokerage firm. In 1870 the two surviving brothers moved to New York and helped establish the New York Cotton Exchange, the first commodities-futures trading venture. The company also helped found the Coffee Exchange and the Petroleum Exchange. (Their international investment firm died in 2008 as the great recession got under way.)

    Another of the era's top businessmen, Charles L. Tiffany, got the financing to open a fancy-goods store in 1837 at 259 Broadway from his father, who operated a cotton mill in eastern Connecticut using cotton picked by Southern slave labor. Thus, slave profits were instrumental in launching what became Tiffany & Co., the internationally renowned jeweler, whose current New York City offices are on Fifth Avenue and at 37 Wall Street.

    In his book, Singer also explained: "The founders of Brown Bros. Harriman ... built the bank by lending millions of dollars to Southern planters and arranging for the shipment and sale of slave-grown cotton in New England and Great Britain" during the 1800s. When the bank took control of three Louisiana plantations at one point, it also got 346 enslaved Africans.

    And finally, after all that work, whites got to enjoy New York as the city played host to the 100,000 planters and their families who came north for cooler weather during the summer. Hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues geared up for their special visitors, offering Southern hospitality up north, as plantation owners rested from ordering about the people who were essential in creating America and its wealth.

    Peter Alan Harper is a New York-based writer.

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  • blugiant

    Sophia Charlotte, the First Black Queen of England

    According to, Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was born on May 19, 1744 in Morow, Germany. She was the child of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Elizabeth Albertine. Queen Charlotte was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.

    Although intelligent, Charlotte was reported to have received a very mediocre education. Her father, Duke Charles, died when she was but eight-years-old, and was succeeded as Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz by her half-brother Adolphus Frederick III.

    Her Portrait and Features

    Portraits of Queen Charlotte came under much scrutiny as evidence of her African ancestry were to be hidden, especially in paintings of her. Painters such as Sir Thomas Lawrence, who painted Queen Charlotte in the autumn of 1789, had their paintings rejected by the royal couple who were not happy with the representations of the likeness of the Queen.

    Mario de Valdes y Cocom, a historian of the African diaspora, wrote that “the Negroid characteristics of the Queen’s portraits certainly had political significance since artists of that period were expected to play down, soften or even obliterate undesirable features in a subject’s face.” Sir Allan Ramsay was the artist responsible for the majority of the paintings of the Queen and his representations of her were the most decidedly African of all her portraits.

    She was often described as small and thin with a dark complexion and flared nostrils. Queen Charlotte’s personal physician, Baron Stockmar, described her in his autobiography, as having “a true mulatto face”.

    Her Reign

    African-American registry notes that Queen Charlotte’s letters indicate that she was well read and had interest in the fine arts. The Queen is known to have supported and been taught music by Johann Christian Bach. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at age eight dedicated his Opus 3 piece to the Queen at her request. Queen Charlotte helped to establish Kew Gardens, bringing among others, the Strelitzia Reginae, a flowering plant from South Africa.

    Queen Charlotte’s legacy continues to live on. The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is named after Queen Charlotte and nicknamed The Queen City. Additionally, the Queen Charlotte Maternity hospital was established in London.

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  • blugiant
    Before Rosa Parks: 6 Facts About Civil Rights Activist Mary Louise Smith and the Other Women Who Refuse To Be Moved

    Mary Louise Smith (born in 1937)

    On Oct. 21 1955, Smith boarded a Montgomery bus on her way home. The bus driver asked Smith to give up her seat to a white passenger but she refused to do so. At only 18-years-old, Smith became one of the sparks of the burgeoning civil rights movement when she was arrested for defying the unjust segregation law. Her father bailed her out of jail and they took immediate action. This event happened only 40 days before Rosa Parks was arrested. Smith did not become the face of the movement because her father was an alcoholic and the NAACP thought that would not look well.

    Aurelia Browder (Jan. 29, 1919 – Feb. 4, 1971)

    Browder was one of the first women to defy the segregation law. On April 19, 1955, she decided not to give up her seat for a white passenger eight months before Parks. What makes Browder different from her counterparts is that she was a civil rights activist before her arrest. While attending Alabama State University, Browder became close friends with activist Jo Ann Gibson Robinson who inspired her to get involved in tutoring Black voters who needed help reading. She was diligent in her efforts to eliminate the poll tax charged to registered voters. She transported voters to the polls and would-be voters for registration, according to Civil Rights Movement Veterans.

    Claudette Colvin (born Sept. 5, 1939)

    Nine months before Parks, Colvin was the first woman on record to refuse to give up her seat. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was seated near the emergency exit on the bus along with a pregnant woman, Ruth Hamilton. The bus was filling up and a white woman wanted to sit where Colvin was. The bus driver wanted both Hamilton and Colvin to move and both women refused to relinquish their seats. An man sitting behind them allowed Hamilton to take his seat. However, at 15, Colvin decided to take a stand by not giving up her seat and was arrested for it. “And I said, ‘I paid my fare and it’s my constitutional right,’ ” she recalls. “I remember they dragged me off bus because I refused to walk. They handcuffed me and took me to an adult jail.”

    Why Rosa Parks?

    Parks was a 42-year-old professional and an officer in the NAACP. She was the symbol that civil rights leaders were looking for. In an interview with NPR, Colvin believes that the NAACP thought that she was too militant and Parks was mild and genteel. “Later, I had a child born out of wedlock. I became pregnant when I was 16,” Colvin says. “And I didn’t fit the image either, of, you know, someone they would want to show off.”

    Browder v. Gayle

    Smith, Colvin and Browder were plaintiffs in the case along with Susie McDonald, another woman who also refused to give up her seat in 1955. On Feb. 1, 1956, civil rights attorney Fred Gray started the process that would take most of the year to show any real results. A few months later, on June 13, 1956, the District Court ruled that “the enforced segregation of black and white passengers on motor buses operating in the City of Montgomery violates the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The court decided that the precedent of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) could be applied to the Browder case. The U.S. Supreme Court went on to affirm the decision in December.


    After the court decision, the Montgomery bus boycott was officially over. However, the Browder case changed the lives of the women involved. Smith went on to be a prominent activist leading the charge for Black voters and being involved with the 1963 March on Washington. Browder also had a long career in the NAACP, MIA and SCLC. However, Colvin did not fair so well. She had to move to New York because the case brought too much attention to her. Within the Black community, Colvin was called a troublemaker. She could not find work or support her son. While in New York, she forged a life and had a long career as a nurse’s aide.



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  • blugiant
    Free black man who helped scores of slaves escape to the North on the Underground Railroad to be officially pardoned

    Samuel Burris was a free black man who was caught trying to help a slave escape Delaware in 1847
    Nearly 170 years after his arrest, Delaware governor Jack Markell plans to officially pardon Burris
    After Burris' arrest, a man bought his freedom and he was allowed to return to his family in Pennsylvania a free man again
    Burris is said to have continued helping slaves escape to the North even after his arrest, risking possible enslavement himself or even death

    Not even the threat of being sold into slavery could stop Samuel Burris, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, from helping slaves to freedom in the 19th century.

    A free black man, Burris was caught helping a slave try to escape from Delaware in 1847.

    After Burris was tried and found guilty of enticing slaves to escape, part of his sentence was that he be sold into slavery for seven years.

    Instead, a Pennsylvania anti-slavery society raised the money to purchase him and set him free.

    And Burris went right back to helping slaves escape.

    Now, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has decided to posthumously pardon Burris for that long ago conviction, according to two people who have sought that step.

    Ocea Thomas of Atlanta said in a telephone interview Tuesday that she received a phone call last weekend letting her know Markell would pardon Burris, who died in the 1860s and was one of Thomas' ancestors.

    Phone and email messages left Tuesday for Markell's spokeswoman, Kelly Bachman, were not immediately returned.

    Thomas says she became emotional after learning that Burris, the brother of her great-great grandmother, would be pardoned.

    'I stood there and cried. It was pride. It was relief. I guess justification. All of that,' Thomas said.

    Robin Krawitz, a historian at Delaware State University who is writing a book about Burris, said historians don't know exactly how many slaves Burris helped escape but they do know he continued his work even after his conviction, at great personal risk.

    Slaveholders and sympathizers eventually complained to the state legislature, saying Burris hadn't stopped enticing slaves to leave their masters.

    Burris left the state when lawmakers responded with a law that could have brought a lashing so severe it would have been tantamount to a death sentence.

    Thomas, Burris' relative, says she was told the pardon will take place on November 2, the anniversary of Burris' conviction.

    The state had already been planning to unveil a historical marker honoring Burris that day.

    The marker will be placed in Delaware's Kent County, near where Burris grew up.

    Robert Seeley, of Havertown, Pennsylvania, who had asked the governor earlier this year to pardon Burris and two other men, confirmed that he'd also been contacted about the pardon.

    'It's a victory. It brings honor to the Burris family and it brings justice for Samuel Burris and his descendants. It's making a wrong a right finally,' Seeley said.

    Seeley had asked the governor to pardon Burris as well as two others who had worked to get slaves to freedom: John Hunn and Thomas Garrett, one of Seeley's relatives who is credited with helping more than 2,000 slaves escape.

    Seeley says he got the idea after outgoing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn granted clemency to three abolitionists convicted for hiding and helping escaped slaves.

    Seeley says he's been working with Markell's office but that the governor can't issue a pardon in Hunn and Garrett's cases because they were tried in federal court, not state court.

    He says President Barack Obama would need to pardon them and that he plans to continue to work on a pardon in their case.

    'Even if it comes out to be a proclamation or a declaration or not an official presidential pardon, so be it. We'll see what we can do,' he said, adding there is 'a lot of red tape.'

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  • blugiant
    Samuel Burris was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century best known for his own narrow escape from possible slavery while helping a fugitive slave. Born in Willow Grove, Kent County, Delaware in 1808, Burris was a free black man. He moved his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in 1845 began to actively assist the Underground Railroad. His assignment was to return to Delaware and Maryland and lead fugitives to safe houses in Pennsylvania.

    Burris worked closely with William Still (a well-known abolitionist and conductor on the Railroad) and Thomas Garrett in this dangerous endeavor. Although slavery was gradually being phased out of Delaware at that time, it was still illegal to participate in the Underground Railroad. The maximum punishment for a free African American doing so in Delaware was being sold into slavery for seven years.

    Burris was caught in 1847 while helping Maria Mathews, a slave escaping from Dover Hundred, a plantation near the state capitol, Dover. He was immediately imprisoned in Dover, and forced to await trial for 14 months. When he was tried, he was found guilty and sentenced to be sold into slavery for the standard period of time.

    Unknown to Burris at the time, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society collected enough money to purchase his freedom. A member of the Society, Isaac A. Flint, attended the state auction in which Burris was to be sold. Flint posed as a slave trader and was so convincing in this role that he fooled state officials and even fooled Burris as he thoroughly examined Burris’s body and then actively bid on him. Flint managed to “win” Burris and the two promptly returned to Philadelphia.

    Burris remained in Philadelphia until 1852, when he moved his family to California. Although he had stopped participating directly in the Underground Railroad after narrowly escaping from his own possible enslavement, Burris continued to support the abolition cause in his new home state. He also remained in contact with William Still throughout the rest of his life.

    During and after the Civil War, Burris raised funds through black churches in Northern California to assist African Americans affected by the conflict. The funds were often used to feed and shelter former slaves recently freed by the Union Army.
    Samuel Burris died in San Francisco, California in 1869. He was 60.

    Ann Klimas, “People of the Underground Railroad in Maryland” (2014), retrieved from Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad:; Russ Pickett, “Samuel Burris” (2007), retrieved from; The State of Delaware,” The People vs Samuel D. Burris” (2014), retrieved from State of Delaware: The Official Website of the First State:

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    The Life of Khalid Abdul Muhammad

    Of all figures in Black Consciousness, few were as controversial as the former Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam and Chairman of the New Black Panther Party. Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad was a towering intellect, a true warrior of Pan-Africanism, and a courageous visionary. He dared to speak truth to power in the face of his critics and adversaries, and ultimately gave his life in the service of a free and redeemed African peoples.

    Those who feared the power of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad would like us to forget him. Those who hated the truth that Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad spoke would like us to ignore his message. Those who rejected Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad would like us to avoid following in his footsteps.

    It is for those very reasons that we will remember, study, and follow the example of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad.

    At a very early age, Khalid Abdul Muhammad (born name Harold Moore, Jr.) demonstrated exceptional intelligence and athleticism. He was a star quarterback, an Eagle Scout, the President of the Houston Methodist Youth Fellowship, and a talented debater. Upon graduating from Phyllis Wheatley High School in his hometown of Huston, Texas, Khalid was awarded a scholarship to Dillard University (Louisiana) . Even as a full-time student, Khalid would minister sermons at nearby Sloan Memorial Methodist Church. He would continue to minister and study theology until a fateful day in 1970 when he heard the voice of Minister Louis Farrakhan – then the National Representative of Elijah Muhammad.

    The future Minister Khalid Muhammad became a devout Muslim, and was so moved by the message of the Honorable Muhammad that he began evangelizing to anyone and everyone nearby. His passion resulted in a surge in Nation of Islam recruiting throughout the Southern United States, and his devotion earned him the attention of Minister Louis Farrakhan, who enlisted him as his protegé and changed his name to Brother Harold X.

    Rise to Power

    As Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad rose through the ranks of the Nation of Islam, he also rose through the ranks of academia. He traveled to Los Angeles, where he continued his education at Pepperdine University. His academic performance there earned him an Intensive Studies fellowship at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities.

    His education complete, Dr. Muhammad was then promoted within the Nation of Islam to the position of Western Regional Minister in charge of Mosque #27 in Los Angeles. The relationship between him and Minister Louis Farrakhan continued to grow as he proved his loyalty to both the Nation of Islam and the interests of African men and women at home and abroad.

    In 1975, Elijah Muhammad passed into legend, leaving the Nation of Islam divided. Some wanted a more moderate Nation. Others wanted a nation that focused on Orthodox Islamic practice, and nothing more. Some wanted a more militant and activist organization. Such was the case with Louis Farrakhan and Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad. Both men joined forces, along with a small handful of others, to rebuild the Nation of Islam, establish a military force within the organization, and gain greater visibility on the world stage.

    With these objectives in mind, in 1978 Minister Muhammad began travelling the world and training in revolutionary movements. While in Libya, the Minister became well acquainted with Muammar al-Gaddafi, and raised a substantial amount of money for the nation. While in South Africa, the Minister fought alongside anti-apartheid movements, and preached a need to drive out white influence from both the country of South Africa and the continent of Africa itself. He embarked on numerous fact-finding missions to Kemet (Egypt), Jerusalem, and Sub-Saharan Africa. He completed the sacred pilgrimage to the Holy City, Mecca, several times, earning him the title El Hajj Khallid Abdul Muhammad.

    Minister Khalid became a popular world figure – his message was well-received by the crowds that gathered wherever he went, his friendship with Minister Louis Farrakhan cemented, and he became the National Spokesman for the Nation of Islam. In 1983 Minister Louis Farrakhan named him Khallid after the Islamic General Khallid ibn Walid, his name meaning “sword of Allah”.

    The year was 1984, and Dr. Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad’s ascension in the Nation of Islam was complete.

    For all of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad’s merits, his flaws are what most of the world knew him for. Its unclear when Khalid took such a hateful and confrontational stance against Jews specifically, but he had become a confirmed anti-Semite. His speeches became increasingly more hateful and confrontational, much to the disagreement of the Leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan.

    These speeches all came to a head when, in Minister Muhammad delivered a speech at New Jersey’s Kean College in November 1993. The speech, called The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews, was an explosive and fiery oration that attacked the morality, intentions, and involvement of Jews in affairs detrimental to African-Americans.

    Muhammad referred to Jews as people whose ancestors were cannibals who “crawled around on all fours in the caves and hills of Europe” and “slept in [their] urination and [their] defecation … for 2,000 years.” He characterized contemporary Jews as “slumlords in the black community” who were busy “sucking our [blacks’] blood on a daily and consistent basis.” He said that Jews had provoked Adolf Hitler when they “went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped.” And he declared that blacks, in retribution against South African whites of the apartheid era, should “kill the women,…kill the children,…kill the babies,…kill the blind,…kill the crippled,…kill the faggot,…kill the lesbian,…kill them all.”

    Rather than declining in popularity after making these statements, Khalid Abdul Muhammad became a sought after speaker on college campuses. In January 1994 he stated that blacks should slaughter all white South Africans, bury them, and then dig up their bodies and mutilate them further. A month after that, he was invited to speak at Howard University, the preeminent traditionally black university in the United States.

    He called Black Conservatives “boot-licking, butt-licking, bamboozled, half-baked, half-fried, sissified, punkified, pasteurized, homogenized Niggers.” On May 21, 1997 he told a San Francisco State University audience that the “white man” is “a no-good bastard. He’s not a devil, the white man is the Devil.” In September 1997 he said, “If you say you’re white, goddammit I’m against you. If you’re a Jew, I’m against you. Whatever the hell you want to call yourself, I’m against you.”

    “When white folks can’t defeat you,” he said, “they’ll always find some Negro, some boot-licking, butt-licking, bamboozled, half-baked, half-fried, sissified, punkified, pasteurized, homogenized Nigger that they can trot out in front of you.”

    “Never will I say I am not an anti-Semite,” Muhammad told an audience in Baltimore in February 1998. “Whatever he (the Jew) is, goddamn it, I’m against him. I pray for my enemy all the time. I pray that God will kill my enemy and take him off the face of the planet Earth.”

    Khalid Abdul Muhammad had become a Black Hitler in his anti-Semitism and racism. Now, not only was Khalid Abdul Muhammad a Supreme Leader within the Nation of Islam – he was also a wildly popular media figure among the Black Left. Unfortunately, as is often the case, this fairy tale of Black solidarity would not last long.

    Expulsion, Assassination Attempt, and Death

    Following Muhammad’s speech at Kean College in 1993, The United States Senate unanimously passed House Resolution 343 on delivered in February 1994 condemning his speech. Muhammad became the only private citizen in American history to be officially condemned by means of a resolution. Immediately after the United States rejected the Minister, so to did Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan removed Khalid Abdul Muhammad from his position as second in command, silenced him, and reassigned him to Chicago headquarters. Louis Farrakhan then addressed the NOI with this statement on the Kean College Speech:

    “I found the speech, after listening to it in context, vile in manner, repugnant, malicious, mean-spirited and spoken in mockery of individuals and people, which is against the spirit of Islam. While I stand by the truths that he spoke, I must condemn in the strongest terms the manner in which those truths were represented.”

    Khalid was unofficially removed from all positions of authority within the Nation, but he was far from silenced. Muhammad praised Colin Ferguson, a Black man who shot and killed 6 white commuters in 1993 on a New York commuter train, as a hero who possessed the courage to “just kill every goddamn cracker that he saw.” The Minister hit the airwaves and told members of the Donahue television audience in May 1994 that “there is a little bit of Hitler in all white people.” He headed back to California where he gave a rousing speech at the at the University of California at Riverside on May 29, 1994. In attendance was a former Nation of Islam member, James Bess.

    According to the police report, James Edward Bess, 49, of Tacoma, Washington approached Minister Khalid as he exited the venue and fired a volley of shots from a concealed 9 millimeter pistol. Three bullets struck Khalid in the leg (Doctors would remove two bullet fragments from just below Muhammad’s left knee in a two-hour operation). Four of Mr. Muhammad’s security guards and a bystander were also shot – none fatally. Mr. Muhammad’s then 9-year-old son, Farrakhan (who now goes by the name of Farrah Gray), was standing nearby when the shooting started but was not injured.

    The audience attacked James as he attempted to close in on the stage. His gun was seized, and the students in attendance savagely beat him. The Los Angeles Times reported that he “suffered from a severe beating by the audience that had come to hear Mr. Muhammad’s speech. Mr. Bess had a broken shoulder and internal injures and had lost several teeth.”

    Khalid Abdul Muhammad underwent a speedy recovery, and found a new organizational home beyond the Nation of Islam as the Chairman of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP). Prior to his involvement, the New Black Panthers had struggled with finding their organizational footing, but Muhammad brought the NBPP national media exposure when he led the organization in a menacing public protest – featuring some 50 men wearing fatigues and berets, and brandishing assault rifles and shotguns – in response to the racially motivated, June 1998 murder of a black man named James Byrd in Jasper, Texas.

    His second in command, Malik Zulu Shabazz, gave the organization its administrative and philosophical footing, and the organization continues to stand strong today.

    Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad continued to fight aggressively on behalf of Pan-African principles and spoke truth to power until his sudden death at the age of 53. Statements claim that his death was due to a brain aneurism, but others believe poisoning and foul play were the true causes.

    Minister Khallid Abdul Muhammad left behind his wife, Queen Nefertari Muhammad, his three sisters; Gloria Glenn from Los Angeles, Cynthia Moore Kelly from Los Angeles, KaShelia Moore Jackson from Houston, Texas; his two brothers, Frank Moore Claybourne from Los Angeles, Darington Moore Smith from Los Angeles; father-in-law, Mr. Thomas Ambush of Cedric Maryland; and his children, David and mother Mattie Morris Van, Khalfani and mother Mahasin Rushiddin, and Farrakhan Khallid (Farrah Gray), Malik, Kiki, Amir, Ali and mother Khallidah Muhammad; four grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, friends, and all of us.

    The Legacy of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad

    The New Black Panther Party has been rejected, criticized, and clowned. Negroes have called the New Black Panther Party extremist. Insane. Militant. Dangerous. Cowardly negroes have always called for peace and quiet in the face of injustice, genocide, and deadly racism.

    The New Black Panther Party is the legacy of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad. While even the original Black Panther Party has rejected the party and the Minister, while even the Nation of Islam has condemned Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad, while Black mainstream culture has laughed at Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad, and while even his own family members have abandoned the example set by Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad, he and his organization stand alone as shining examples of courage.

    United Black America acknowledges the New Black Panther Party as the successor to the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. And it is for his dedication to duty, exceptional leadership by example, and unselfish service to his people that we commemorate the birthdate of El Hajj Doctor Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad as a Pan-African holiday.

    You may call him a homophobe, a racist, an extremist, a terrorist (in fact, he appreciated being called a “Truth Terrorist”!), and an anti-Semite. But Khalid gave his life in service. Never had Khalid shed any blood. Never had Khalid failed to help his people whenever and wherever it was needed. Never did he back down. For these reasons, we remember him. We honor him. We Salute him.

    He deserves no less. We deserve no less.

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    Only Female Buffalo Soldier

    Who was the first (and only) female buffalo soldier?

    In November 1866, an African American named William Cathey, along with two companions, enlisted in the U.S. Army in St. Louis. Described by the recruiting officer as 5 feet 9 inches tall, with black eyes, hair and complexion, Cathey stated that he was 22 years old and a cook. What Cathey neglected to mention was that he was a she. Following a routine medical exam that must have fallen far short of thorough, Cathay Williams became the first and only known female buffalo soldier, and the only documented African-American woman to serve in the regular Army in the 19th century.

    We know little of Williams’ early life. She was born into slavery in Independence, Mo., in September 1844. She fled her master’s plantation in Jefferson City in 1861, seeking the protection of the Union troops occupying the city. Throughout the Civil War, she worked as a cook and laundress for several Union infantries; records place her in Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Virginia and Georgia. After the war ended, she returned to Missouri.

    We don’t know Williams’ motives for her deception and enlisting in the U.S. Army. She was assigned to Company A of the 38th U.S. Infantry, one of six infantry regiments and two cavalry regiments of black soldiers deployed in the post-Civil War Indian campaigns in the West. In these were the heroic buffalo soldiers. Williams’ company, however, never saw direct combat during her period of service.

    Apparently as hardy as any man in her company, and among the tallest, she marched 536 miles with her unit from Fort Harker, Kan., to Fort Cummings, N.M., over a four-month period in 1867. But service took a toll on her health, and she was hospitalized three times in 1868, ultimately discharged from the Army on a surgeon’s certificate of medical disability. There was no mention of her sex. She claimed later that she confessed her true identity to secure her discharge, but this is not corroborated by any regiment records.

    After her discharge, the civilian Williams found work as a cook, laundress, seamstress and nurse in towns across Colorado. In 1875 she told a journalist her story, which he published in St. Louis the following year. Her poor health persisted, and in 1889 she was hospitalized for a year and a half. In June 1891 she petitioned the government for a military “invalid pension,” claiming that illnesses she had contracted in the Army destroyed her ability to support herself. She signed her pension papers as Cathay Williams but presented William Cathey’s discharge certificate as proof that they were one and the same person. She complained of rheumatism and deafness, purportedly stemming from the smallpox she had contracted while stationed in St. Louis.

    A doctor examined her and disputed both claims. Despite a grisly finding that all 10 of her toes had been amputated, which necessitated her use of a crutch, he felt that she was in overall good health and did not merit a pension. The Pension Bureau agreed, and in 1892 rejected her claim, solely on medical grounds. That she had enlisted and served under false pretenses apparently had no bearing on the bureau’s decision.

    Nothing is known of Cathay Williams after 1892, although she is believed to have died before 1900.


    Cathay Williams was born in 1842 outside Independence, Missouri. Born into slavery she served as a house girl for a wealthy farmer. Things changed however when the Civil War started. Union soldiers would later take the plantation on which Cathay served. Several female servants, including Cathay, were taken to
    Little Rock, Arkansas to cook for the troops. Cathay dutifully served in this capacity, traveled with the army all around the South participating in all aspect of military life to the extent that a woman could. She was eventually sent to Washington to serve as cook and laundress for a general and his staff. While with this
    general she was on the front lines with the troops as they raided the Shenandoah Valley and finally on to St. Louis for an extended stay. During this time, congress passed an act authorizing the establishment of the first all Black units of the military (two Calvary and two Infantry), later to become known as "Buffalo Soldiers".

    In order to provide a living for herself and not be dependent on others, two very important principals to Cathay, she decided it was time to join the army. In November of 1866 she enlisted in the 38th US Infantry as William Cathay". Since there were little or no medical exams required, Cathay was able to successfully
    (at least initially), pull off this disguise. It is said that two others knew of her true identity, a cousin and a friend, but both loyally kept her secret. During Cathay's tour of duty, she performed assignments required of her fellow troops, such as learning to use a musket and guard duty. These skills were essential as her unit was soon deployed to Fort Curnmings in 1867. The 38 was sent to protect immigrants traveling one of the most dangerous routes to California at the time, Cooke's Canyon.

    However, while at Fort Cummings, there was a mutiny among the troops. Several where brought up on charges or jailed. Cathay is not known to be among them. It did however take its toll on her spirit to serve and she decided it was time to get out. She did so by reporting she was ill prompting an exam by
    the post surgeon. It was then her secret was discovered. Cathay Williams was honorably discharged on October 14, 1868 having made her place in history as the first female Buffalo Soldier to serve.

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  • blugiant
    Students at the Berlin School for the Blind (ca. 1935) learning Mendelian genetics and racial characteristics by examining head models. These same students were expected to submit to sterilization as their civic duty to avoid producing blind offspring (Image credit: Blinden-Museum an der Johann-August-Zeune-Schule fur Blinde, Berlin).

    Although this law did not include sterilization based on race, German eugenicists continued to press for sterilizing the Rhineland Mischlings (25)⇓ and published medical articles advocating their elimination. As examples, Dr. Hans Macco stressed elimination of the “black curse” in “Racial Problems in the Third Reich” (24)⇓ ; Dr. Wofgang Abel (University of Berlin) claimed evidence of their mental and physical weakness in “Bastards on the Rhine” (26)⇓ .

    The Nazi Racial Office eventually convened a secret committee of anthropologists and academic physicians to discuss strategy. They chose illegal sterilization performed by physicians who belonged or were sympathetic to the Party but delayed implementation of this clearly illegal racially based sterilization until 1937 due to concern about possible negative public opinion. The procedure required authorization from a Government member, recommendations from two physicians who had examined the Mischinge, and the mother’s consent. Following are examples of the legal “decisions” (20)⇓ : "C.M.B. of German nationality, born July 5, 1923, living in Koblenz, is a descendent of a member of the former Allied occupation forces, in this case an American negro, and shows corresponding typical anthropological characteristics, for which reason she shall be sterilized." "A.A. of German nationality, born March 14, 1920, living in Duisburg, is a descendent of the former colored Allied occupation forces, in this case a negro from Madagascar, and shows corresponding typical anthropological characteristics, for which reason he shall be sterilized."

    Medical notes were maintained, such as for this patient sterilized by Professor Dr. Nieden: “The patient (A. A.) was prepped and draped in the usual manner. Six cm of vas deferens were resected bilaterally. The patient was given a bolus of Rivanol. The wound healed in 6 days without further complications (20)⇓ .”

    In all, 385 children of mixed blood (201 boys and 182 girls from ages 7 to 17) with a French or American father were sterilized (20)⇓ .7 Sterilization of these Mischlings was the first step in an ever expanding program of direct medical involvement.

    The next step involved economic justification, euthanizing institutionalized children, and eventually adults, who were considered to be burdens to the State. Hitler used Release and Destruction of Lives Not Worth Living, published the by psychiatrist Alfred Hoche and jurist Rudolph Binding in 1920, as the basis for the secret euthanasia program (code-named Aktion T4) that he authorized on July 18, 1939 at six new killing stations. Euthanasia was a “medical intervention” to be carried out only by physicians according to the motto: “The needle belongs in the hand of the doctor8 (3)⇓ .” The variety of methods included the newly developed gas chambers. But this T4 program, which was not yet race-based, eventually caused such a public outcry that Hitler was forced to suspend it, but not before more than 70,000 people had been murdered.

    The techniques learned and perfected in the T4 program were put to use in a different “institutional” context and aimed at a new target—selected “asocial” elements in the concentration camps (Table 2⇓ ). Operation (aka Special Treatment) 14f13 earmarked the Jew, Roma and Sinti, and homosexual for killing.
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    Table 2.

    Physicians’ diagnostic statements authorizing euthanasia for selected prisoners in concentration camps (31)⇓

    This last step in eliminating inferior populations expanded the program requiring a physician to select those camp inmates to be worked to death and those sent to the gas chambers. This “Final Solution” mirrored the genocidal public health language used in Namibia. Himmler referred to the extermination of Jews as “… exactly the same thing as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness.”9 It was also framed in classic Darwinian theory. According to minutes taken by Adolph Eichman during the Wanssee meeting at which the final solution was formulated, “Approximately 11 million Jews will be involved…. In the course of the final solution, the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes. The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as the seed of a new Jewish revival (27)⇓ .”

    Although relatively few Blacks were deported to concentration camps, the German SS military units (which, with some notable exceptions, treated white POWs according to the Geneva Convention) victimized Black POWs, initially French colonial soldiers, and then African-Americans once the U.S. entered the war (24⇓ , 28)⇓ .
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    Central to Nazi philosophy was the paradigm—broadly accepted as fact by scientists and community—that the Nordic race was not only superior to the “lower” races, notably Blacks and Jews, but involved in a terminal struggle with them for survival of the fittest. It is little recognized that this scientific framework did not rise de novo with the Nazis but had evolved over the previous 80 years from the related notions of eugenics and Social Darwinism. It had already legitimized Germany’s earlier racial policy in South West Africa during their Colonial period, and was the founding core of Nazi racial hygiene. It was formalized by making physicians officially responsible for carrying out this policy, culminating in implementation of the “Final Solution.”

    Leo Alexander, in his 1949 article “Medical Science Under Dictatorship” (NEJM), suggested that, “Science under dictatorship becomes subordinated to the guiding philosophy of the dictatorship (28)⇓ .” I am proposing the inverse, that Politics under Science becomes subordinated to the guiding philosophy of that Science. This article also touches on a potentially dangerous relationship between science and society that we tend not to recognize. As Ludwick Fleck noted in 1935 in Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, “This social character inherent in the very nature of scientific activity is not without its substantive consequences. Words which formerly were simple terms become slogans; sentences which once were simple statements become calls to battle. This completely alters their socio-cognitive value. They no longer influence the mind through their logical meaning—indeed, they often act against it—but rather they acquire a magical power and exert a mental influence simply by being used (29)⇓ .”
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    ↵2 Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), a German physician, theologian, and linguist, introduced concepts of ethnic study and nationalism. He defined the Volk (the people) a group bound together organically by language, religion, education, inherited tradition, folk songs, ritual, and speech. This bond, which was spiritual in nature, he termed Kulture.

    ↵3 The term “concentration camp” was first used by the Spanish for incarceration sites created as part of an anti-insurgency campaign in Cuba (ca. 1895-1898). The English then used it to describe camps operating in South Africa during the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

    ↵4 These quotes are from survivor testimony obtained by the British government and included in a “Blue Book,” i.e., a British government report, printed in 1918. In 1926, the legislative assembly for South West Africa demanded its removal and destruction throughout Namibia and South Africa. In the rest of the Empire, copies of the Blue Book were transferred to the Foreign Office and could be obtained only by authority of the librarian (13).

    ↵5 “Basters” derived from the Dutch word for bastard. They were also known as “Baasters,” “Rehobothers,” or “Rehoboth Basters.”

    ↵6 It is important to remember that the Germans looked to U.S. antimiscigenation and sterilization laws as models for their racial laws. Antimiscigenation laws in the U.S. had a history dating back to the colonial period. As late as 1957, Virginia trial court Judge Leon Bazile sentenced an interethnic couple who had married in Washington, D.C. to jail writing, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” This decision was eventually overturned in 1967. At the time that anti-miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, 16 states still had laws prohibiting interethnic marriage. In November 2000, Alabama became the last state to repeal its law.

    ↵7 Despite the outrage at Nazi racial policy, Allied authorities were unable to classify sterilizations as war crimes, because similar sterilization laws had been enforced in some states since 1907 and had been upheld by the Supreme Court. In Buck v. Bell (1927), the majority decision, written by Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., used modern opinions of science to support the Virginia sterilization law: “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from breeding their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting Fallopian tubes… Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Although compulsory sterilization ended after the war in Germany, in the US, 11 African-American girls were sterilized in1972. The Oregon Board of Eugenics, which was renamed the Board of Social Protection, existed until 1983, the last forcible sterilization occurring in 1981.

    ↵8 This notion is still upheld in the U.S. when capital punishment is performed by lethal injection.

    ↵9 The SS gas chamber operators were called the Desinfektoren (the disinfectors).

    ↵10 The views or opinions expressed in this article, and the context in which the images are used, do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of, nor imply approval or endorsement by The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

    The opinions expressed in editorials, essays, letters to the editor, and other articles comprising the Up Front section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FASEB or its constituent societies. The FASEB Journal welcomes all points of view and many voices. We look forward to hearing these in the form of op-ed pieces and/or letters from its readers addressed to journals{at}

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    ↵ Charatan, F. (2004) Danger. BMJ 329,899
    ↵ Hitler, A. (1943) Mein Kampf Houghton Mifflin Company Boston.
    ↵ Proctor, R. (1988) Racial Hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis Harvard University Press Cambridge, Mass.
    ↵ Rosen, G. (1993) A History of Public Health John Hopkins University Press Baltimore.
    ↵ Weiss, S. F. (1990) The Race Hygiene Movement in Germany 1904–1945. Adams, M. B. eds. The Wellborn Science ,8-68 Oxford University Press New York.
    ↵ Stone, D. (2001) White men with low moral standards? German anthropology and the Herero genocide. Patterns of Prejudice 35,34-45
    ↵ Hecht, J. M. (2000) Vacher de Lapouge and the Rise of Nazi Science. J. Hist. Ideas 61,285-304
    ↵ Galton, F. (1907) Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development Dent & Dutton (Everyman) London.
    ↵ Weilkart, R. (1993) The origins of social Darwinism in Germany. J. Hist. Ideas 54,469-488
    ↵ Gewald, J.-B. (1999) Herero Heroes Ohio University Press Athens.
    ↵ Madley, B. (2005) From Africa to Auschwitz: How German South West Africa Incubated Ideas and Methods adopted and Developed by the Nazis in Eastern Europe. Eur.Hist. Quart. 35,429-463
    ↵ Gray, A. (1919) The German Colonies of Africa. J. Comp. Legis. Internat. Law 3rd Ser. 1,25-35
    ↵ Silvester, J., Gewald, J. B. (2003) Words Cannot Be Foun: German Colonial Rule in Namibia: An Annotated Reprint of the 1918 Blue Book Vol. 1 Brill Leiden.
    ↵ Fetzer, C. (1913) Rassenanatomische Untrsuchungen an 17 Hottentottenkopfen. Zeitschrift fur Morphologie und Anthropologie 16,95-116
    ↵ Weikart, R. (2003) Progress through racial extermination: Social Darwinism, eugenics, and pacifism in Germany, 1860–1918. German Studies Rev. 26,273-294
    ↵ Swan, J. (1991) The final solution in South West Africa. MHQ: Quart. J. Mil. Hist. 3,36-55
    ↵ Nelson, K. (1970) The “Black Horror on the Rhine”: Race as a factor in post-World War I diplomacy. J. Mod. Hist. 42,606-627
    ↵ Morel, E. (1920) The employment of Black Troops in Europe. The Nation ,893
    ↵ 12,000 in garden under police guard attack France. New York Times 1921;,1
    ↵ Pommerin, R. (1982) The Fate of mixed blood children in Germany. German Studies Rev. 5,315-323
    ↵ Campt, T. (2005) Other Germans: Blacks, Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender and Memory in the Third Reich University of Michigan Press Ann Harbor.
    ↵ Kater, M. H. (1989) Forbidden Fruit? Jazz in the Third Reich. Am. Hist. Rev. 94,11-43
    ↵ Campt, T. (2003) Converging Specters of Another Within: Race and Gender in Prewar Afro-German History. Callaloo 26,322-341
    ↵ Kestling, R. W. (1998) Blacks Under the Swastika: A Research Note. J. Negro Hist. 83,84-99
    ↵ Asks Negro sterilization. New York Times 1934 New York.
    ↵ Abel, W. (1934) Bastard and Rhein. Neues Volk 2,4-7
    ↵ Office of Strategic Services (1982) The Wannsee Protocol and a 1944 Report on Auschwitz Vol. 11 Garland New York.
    ↵ Scheck, R. (2005) “They are just savages”: German massacres of Black soldiers from the French army in 1940. J. Mod. Hist. 77,325-344
    ↵ Alexander, L. (1949) Medical science under dictatorship. N. Engl. J. Med. 241,39-47
    Fleck, L. (1979) Genesis And Development of a Scientific Fact University of Chicago Press Chicago.
    ↵ Lifton, R. J. (1986) The Nazi Doctors Basic Books, Inc. New York.

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  • blugiant
    German science and black racism—roots of the Nazi Holocaust

    François Haas1

    New York University Institute of Community Health and Research, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

    ↵Correspondence: 1 Correspondence: 400 East 34th St., RR114, New York, NY 10016, USA. E-Mail: francois.haas{at}

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    The Nazi’s cornerstone precept of “racial hygiene” gave birth to their policy of “racial cleansing” that led to the murders of millions. It was developed by German physicians and scientists in the late 19th century and is rooted in the period’s Social Darwinism that placed blacks at the bottom of the racial ladder. This program was first manifested in the near-extermination of the African Herero people during the German colonial period. After WWI, the fear among the German populace that occupying African troops and their Afro-German children would lead to “bastardization” of the German people formed a unifying racial principle that the Nazis exploited. They extended this mind-set to a variety of “unworthy” groups, leading to the physician-administered racial Nuremberg laws, the Sterilization laws, the secret sterilization of Afro-Germans, and the German euthanasia program. This culminated in the extermination camps.—Haas, F. German Science and Black Racism—Roots of the Nazi Holocaust.

    " If the physician presumes to take into consideration in his work whether a life has value or not, the consequences are boundless and the physician becomes the most dangerous man in the state. "

    Christopher Willhelm Hufeland (1762–1836) (1)⇓

    although the slaughter of innocents has been a repeating theme throughout human history, only the Nazi-led extermination of millions of people deemed undesirable was framed in the scientific context of “racial hygiene.” At the core of Nazi philosophy was the view of the nation as a living organism. Using Herder’s concept of Volk,2 Hitler viewed German society as an organism with its own health. “Our people is also a biological entity. …German people forms one great relationship, a blood society. …This biological unity of people will be known as the people-body (2)⇓ .” Because individual human beings were regarded as functional or dysfunctional parts of this larger whole and thus affecting the health of the people-body, racial hygiene became seminal to Hitler’s thinking. As Bavarian Cabinet Minister Hans Schemm declared in 1934, “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology (3)⇓ .”

    The rise of science-based medicine combined with physicians’ roles in national health reform during the late 19th century (4)⇓ to give physicians first-time political leverage and continuous and unprecedented levels of public recognition (5)⇓ . Hitler and the Nazis reached out early to physicians: "I could, if need be, do without lawyers, engineers, and builders, but…you, you National Socialist doctors, I cannot do without you for a single day, not a single hour. If…you fail me, then all is lost. For what good are our struggles, if the health of our people is in danger? (3)⇓"

    Physicians responded in kind (Table 1⇓ ): “The National Socialist Physicians’ League proved its political reliability to the Nazi cause long before the Nazis seizure of power, and with an enthusiasm, and an energy, unlike that of any other professional group (3)⇓ .”
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    Table 1.

    Medical involvement in the Nazi party (3)⇓

    Central to this affinity was the 19th century etiologic notion evolving from Social Darwinism that certain diseases (e.g., mental illness, feeblemindedness, criminality, epilepsy, hysteria, alcoholism) are genetically determined. The physicians who had developed this theory—primarily psychiatrists, neurologists, and anthropologists (6)⇓ —became Germany’s eugenicists and authored the country’s racial policy, and it was primarily these physicians and their disciples who eventually led the Nazi government’s policy of ethnic cleansing. This program evolved in a series of discrete steps of ever-increasing barbarism that emerged during the German colonial period in Africa and terminated in the extermination camps of the Holocaust.

    Although notions of race have a long history, it was ironically the Scientific Revolution followed by the Enlightenment and then the Age of Reason, emphasizing science and rationality, that were the wellsprings for biologically based racism. The earlier division of humans into races had produced opposing views that were hotly debated. The nonhierarchical, biologically homogeneous model held no race as superior. The hierarchical model placed whites, most notably Northern Europeans, at the top and Blacks at the bottom (7)⇓ . The hierarchical construct eventually won out and Blacks were relegated to inferiority. This concept of intrinsic value or defect (popularized in the 1860s as Social Darwinism) was clearly articulated by Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911) in “The science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race (8)⇓ .” He coined the word “eugenic” (relating to or producing improved offspring) and proposed that “races” were in a struggle for survival of the fittest. German Darwinists argued that innate racial inequalities gave each individual life a different value, and extermination of “inferior” races was not only appropriate but unavoidable (9)⇓ . Their model placed the German (i.e., Aryan) Race at the pinnacle and initiated the medical framework supporting the concepts and implementation of racial hygiene.
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    Nazi policy was actually presaged prior to WWI in Germany’s African colonies. The native populations were regarded as inferior and treated in kind, and racism was institutionalized. Indigenous populations were coerced into forced labor in Togo, Cameroon, and South West Africa (Namibia), but conditions reached their peak in the latter under Namibia’s first governor, Heinrich Ernst Goering (father of Hitler’s deputy Herman Goering).

    Among the populations inhabiting this colony were the more than 80,000 Hereros (10)⇓ , who rebelled against their German overlords in 1904. The Germans sent an army under Lothar von Trotha who called the conflict a “race war.” He declared in the German press that “no war may be conducted humanely against non-humans” (11)⇓ and issued an “annihilation order”: "…The Hereros are no longer German subjects. All Hereros must leave the country…or die. All Hereros found within the German borders with or without weapons, with or without animals will be killed. I will not accept a woman nor any child. …There will be no male prisoners. All will be shot (11)⇓ ."

    That order set this racial genocide apart from other colonial mass murders and heralded the Nazi final solution (11)⇓ .

    As would occur under the Nazis, these killings were often framed in public health rhetoric. Von Trotha wrote, “I think it is better that the Herero nation perish rather than infect our troops….” By the time his order was rescinded, an estimated 65,000 Hereros had been killed (12)⇓ . The remaining 15,000 (mostly women) were interned in Konzentrationslager.3 Germany’s first official use of this term occurred when Chancellor von Bülow rescinded the annihilation order and established camps for the survivors (11)⇓ which were designed to extract economic benefits from their forced labor under conditions that would lead to mass fatalities (12)⇓ . The Herero uprising was eventually followed by the Nama (called Hottentots at that time) and Kaffirs. "Fritz Isaac states under oath:4 ‘…I was sent to Shark Island by the Germans. We remained…one year. 3,500 Nama and Kaffirs were sent to the Island and 193 returned. 3,307 died on the Island’" "Samuel Kariko states under oath: ‘There were only a few thousands of us left, and we were walking skeletons. …The people died there like flies that had been poisoned. The great majority died there. The little children and the old people died first, and then the women and weaker men (13)⇓ ’"

    Almost half of the approximate 17,000 natives incarcerated in the concentration camps died (11)⇓ . These camps, abolished only in 1908 (10)⇓ , were a template for the Nazi extermination and forced labor camps such as Auschwitz and Buchenwald, respectively.

    The African colonies and concentration camps also served racial scientific inquiry. Post-mortems were performed to study causes of death and bodies of executed prisoners were preserved and shipped to Germany for dissection (Fig. 1⇓ , (14)⇓ ). A 1907 chronicle reported that: “A chest of Herero skulls was recently sent to the Pathological Institute in Berlin, where they will be subjected to scientific measurements (10)⇓ .”

    Head of a Nama man who died at Shark Island concentration camp, Namibia, which was sent to Germany for anthropological “research” (14)⇓ (with permission, E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung

    Probably the most well-known study was the physician Eugen Fisher’s evaluation of Basters,5 the mixed-blood children of Dutch men and Nama women. He argued that “Negro blood” was of “lesser value” and that mixing it with “white blood” would destroy European culture, and advised that Africans should be exploited by Europeans as long they were useful, after which they could be eliminated (15)⇓ .

    Fisher went on to co-author the seminal Outline of Human Genetic and Racial Hygiene with Fritz Lenz and Edwin Baur. Echoes appear in Hitler’s Mien Kampf (Hitler had been given a copy while in jail and writing Mein Kampf) and eventually in the Nuremberg racial laws6 forbidding marriage and sexual relations between Germans and “unfit” groups (Jews, Sinti, Roma, and Africans) (3)⇓ , and in the sterilization laws. Fisher became Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, and served on commissions that planned for the sterilization of Afro-Germans and provided scientific testimony on the racial heritage of German citizens (11)⇓ .

    Fisher summarized the role of racial hygiene in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung: “It is rare and special good fortune for a theoretical science to flourish at a time when…its findings can immediately serve the policy of the state (16)⇓ .”
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    The Treaty of Versailles marking the end of WWI forced Germany to divest its colonies. Because the Germans feared post-war occupation by Black French-African units, they repeatedly attempted (with broad Anglo-American support, including president Woodrow Wilson), but failed, to get a ruling that “colored troops should not be made a part of the army of occupation (16)⇓ .”

    The French use of their African troops sparked immediate international concerns. On June 5, 1919, for example, Major Paul H. Clark noted in a memo to General Pershing, “One or two cases of rape, committed by blacks on German women, well-advertised in the southern states of America, where there are very definite views with regard to the Blackmen, would likely greatly reduce the esteem in which the French are held (17)⇓ .” Visitors to Germany were also outraged. The well-known British writer E. D. Morel, for example, wrote to the Nation, “…thrusting barbarians—barbarians belonging to a race inspired by Nature…with tremendous sexual instincts—into the heart of Europe. … (18)⇓ .”

    The Germans continued to milk this stereotype of the sexual threat posed by Blacks, provoking world wide sympathy especially in the US. A rally of 12,000 in New York City’s Madison Square Garden submitted a petition to Congress that “the Moral sense of the American people demands the immediate withdrawal of the uncivilized French Colored troops (19)⇓ .”

    In 1920, Doctor F. Rosenberger wrote in the Medical Review, “…Shall we stand in silence and allow it to happen that in the future the banks of the Rhine shall echo not with the songs of beautiful and intelligent white Germans, but with the croaks of stupid, clumsy, half-animal and syphilitic mulattos (20)⇓ ?” This reiterated the threat first articulated during Germany’s colonial period that racially mixed offspring (called Mischlings) will destroy the purity of the German white race (6)⇓ . As Colonial Secretary Solf had incited people in 1912, “You send your sons to the colonies: do you want them to return with wooly-haired grandchildren?…Do you want your girls to return with Hereros, Hottentots and bastards?. …We are Germans, we are white, and we want to stay white (21)⇓ .”
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    Nazi propaganda not only stirred the broad German anti-black resentment, they conflated it with the growing anti-Jewish feelings (Fig. 2⇓ , (22)⇓ ). Hitler states in Mein Kampf that: “It was and is the Jews who bring the Negro into the Rhineland, always with the same secret thought and clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily resulting bastardization, throwing it down from its cultural and political height, and himself rising to be its master (2)⇓ .”

    Left Panel) In this picture from a Nazi propaganda film strip, Jews were viewed as the “bastard” offspring of Eastern peoples, Blacks, Mongols and eastern Africans. USHMM #17609.10 Right Panel) The Nazis attempted to demean and prohibit jazz, which they saw as degenerate music produced by Blacks and Jews (Bildarchiv Preussische Kulturbesitz courtesy of USHMM) (22)⇓ .

    Although the Nazis’ aim was always to remove the Jewish presence from Germany, the first group actually targeted for “medical intervention” was the Rhineland Bastards, the small number of mixed-blood children born to a German mother and a Black father in the occupying forces. When sterilization of these Mischinge was first requested by private citizens in 1927—because they were approaching puberty and their procreative potential threatened race purity—their request was denied. Although the government recognized this “serious racial danger,” forced sterilization had no legal basis (23)⇓ .

    The Nazi party assumed power in January 1933, and on April 5 Hitler asked the medical profession to lead the race issue with full energy: “racial hygiene was to be the task of the German physician (2)⇓ .” July 14th saw passage of the Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health, decreeing that “anyone who suffers from an inheritable disease may be surgically sterilized if, in the judgment of medical science, it could be expected that his descendants will suffer from serious inherited mental or physical defects (3)⇓ .” This included congenital neurologic diseases, psychiatric illness, inherited deafness and blindess, etc. (Fig. 3⇓ ). Irwin Baur, Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology, presaged euthanasia and the “final solution”—“No one approves of the new sterilization laws more than I do, but I must repeat over and over again that they constitute only a beginning (3)⇓ .

    PART 1

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  • blugiant
    The world's first Extermination Camp was Shark Island, German South West Africa


    The objective of the policy of German South West Africa Governor Theodor von Leutwein was not to destroy the indigenous populations (Herero, Nama, Damara) in order to seize their land to encourage settlement of German farmers; nor was it to seize or kill the cattle. Leutwein's objective was not genocide, and he was wise enough to realize that the indigenous population could be used as a labor supply. However, such Flavian tactics (Fabius Maximus, opposing Hannibal) left Leutwein open to attack at home, with a public who wanted the instant gratification of a decisive defeat of the indigenous peoples of German South West Africa. (This was the same problem Fabius Maximus had with the Roman public, who wanted him to quickly defeat Hannibal.) As a consequence, Leutwein was pushed aside by Kaiser Wilhelm II and replaced by Lothar von Trotha, already known for his brutality in China as well as German East Africa. The result was the genocide of the indigenous population, the economic ruin of German South West Africa, and the eventual loss of the German colonial empire.1, 2

    As a consequence of this failed, brutal policy, Trotha was forced to leave German South West Africa and replaced by Friedrich von Lindequist, who completed the genocide with the use of extermination camps and concentration camps. In order for this policy to be acceptable at home, propaganda was employed. The claim was made that the 'barbaric' indigenous population wished to murder defenseless women and children. In fact, only four German women were killed, and one German child.

    Shark Island Extermination Camp is regarded as the world's first extermination camp (Vernichtungslager). Three thousand Herero and Namaqua rebels in the German-Herero conflict of 1904-1908 died there. While one of the first known uses of the concentration camp was in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1896 (by General Valeriano "Butcher" Weyler, followed by the British during the Second Boer War,3, 4, Shark Island was the first "camp" created with the explicit purpose of extermination, rather than being solely for containment. Since the extermination at Shark Island was restricted to specific peoples, it was the first recorded effort to exterminate a race or a people; thus constituting genocide or or ethnic cleansing.

    Arrival at Shark Island

    Just as with the extermination and concentration camps during the Third Reich, unsuspecting victims were transported by train or on foot from collection camps or other concentration camps to Shark Island Death Camp. The less lucky (such as those who were sick or starving) were shot before they got to Shark Island.5

    The weather was typically ice-cold gale force winds. The prisoners (men, women and children) usually had no or very few blankets, little food (they were provided with rice but had no prior familiarity with rice, nor did they have the required cooking utensils), families were split apart. Violence from German schutztruppers (protectorate army) wielding sjamboks (whips) was common, as was rape.6, 7
    Conditions at Shark Island

    One should bear in mind that, as previously noted (see the table of concentration camps at German South West Africa), indigenous people were interned by the German colonial government, in a number of other concentration camps, collection camps and work camps:
    "There were numerous smaller and lesser concentration camps in the colony. Some pertained to private businesses such as the Woermann company [active in other German colonies such as German Togoland, German Kamaruun, and German South Pacific colonies] and others to government related projects such as railway construction, which saw several thousands of Herero 'accommodated' in 'Railway Concentration Labour Camps'."8
    "Hereros working in Swakopmund had been rounded up and interned on two Woermann line ‘steamers’ anchored off the coastal town’s shores."9
    "Firma Lenz used slave labor to build railway embankments."10
    "The Arthur Koppel Company constructed the Otavi railroad."11
    "Etappenkommando in charge of supplies of prisoners to companies, private persons, etc., as well as any other materials. Concentration camps implies poor sanitation and a population density that would imply disease."12
    Prisoners were used as slave laborers in mines and railways, for use by the military or settlers:
    "The loads … are out of all proportion to their strength. I have often seen women and children dropping down, especially when engaged on this work, and also when carrying very heavy bags of grain, weighing from 100 to 160lbs."14
    "The unfortunate [POW] women are daily compelled to carry heavy iron for construction work, also big stacks of compressed fodder. I have often noticed cases where women have fallen under the load and have been made to go on by being thrashed and kicked by the soldiers and conductors. The rations supplied to the women are insufficient and they are made to cook the food themselves. They are always hungry, and we, labourers from the Cape Colony, have frequently thrown food into their camp. The women in many cases are not properly clothed. It is a common thing to see women going about in public almost naked. Have also noticed that - old women are also made to work and are constantly kicked and thrashed by soldiers. This treatment is meted out in the presence of the German officers, and I have never noticed any officers interfering."15
    "I have seen women and children with my own eyes at Angra Pequena, dying of starvation and overwork, nothing but skin and bone, getting flogged every time they fell under the heavy loads. I have seen them picking up bits of bread and refuse food thrown away outside our tents (…) … most of the prisoners, who compose the working gangs at Angra Pequena, are sent up from Swakopmund. There are hundreds of them, mostly women and children and a few old men… When they fall they are sjamboked by the soldier in charge of the gang, with his full force, until they get up. Across the face was the favourite place for the sjamboking and I have often seen the blood flowing down the faces of the women and children and from their bodies, from the cuts of the weapon. (…) The women had to carry the corpses and dig the hole into which they were placed. They had no burial ceremony of any kind … The corpse would be wrapped in a blanket and carried on a rough stretcher … I have never heard one cry, even when their flesh was being cut to pieces with the sjambok. All feeling seemed to have gone out of them (…)"16
    "I left Cape Town during the year 1906, and signed on with the Protectorate troops in South West Africa. I arrived at Luderitzbrucht, and after staying there a few minutes I perceived nearly 500 native women lying on the beach, all bearing indications of being slowly starved to death. Every morning and towards evening four women carried a stretcher containing about four or five corpses, and they had also to dig the graves and bury them. I then started to trek to Kubub and Aus, and on the road I discovered bodies of native women lying between stones and devoured by birds of prey. Some bore signs of having been beaten to death … If a prisoner were found outside the Herero prisoners’ camp, he would be brought before the Lieutenant and flogged with a sjambok. Fifty lashes were generally imposed. The manner in which the flogging was carried out was the most cruel imaginable … . Pieces of flesh would fly from the victim’s body into the air …"17
    "Forcing women to pull carts as if they were animals was in tune with the treatment generally meted out to Herero prisoners in Luderitz as elsewhere in the colony. Missionary Vedder in Swakopmund noted that overall, prisoners were regarded no better than animals. He said: ‘Like cattle hundreds were driven to their death and like cattle they were buried.’"18
    Medical Experimentation

    The skulls of prisoners were harvested to be used as part of the medical experimentation program to prove that the indigenous peoples of German South West Africa were of an inferior race. These skulls were studied by such people as Eugen Fischer (see F. Birkner and H. von Eggeling19, and Dr. Bofinger.
    Exposing Shark Island Extermination Camp

    In August 1912, before the First World War, a British foreign office official commented:
    In view of the cruelty, treachery [and] commercialism by which the German colonial authorities have gradually reduced their natives to the status of cattle (without so much of a flutter being caused among English peace loving philanthropists) the [Portuguese] S. Thome agitation in its later phases against a weak [and] silly nation without resources is the more sickening. These Hereros were butchered by thousands during the war & have been ruthlessly flogged into subservience since.20

    The Report on the natives of South-West Africa and their treatment by Germany. Administrator's Office, Windhuk [sic], London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1918 is known as "The Blue Book". It was removed from sale in 1926 and destroyed.

    "A number of eyewitness accounts do exist and some victim accounts are found in the Blue Book, which recorded accounts of the atrocities committed during the Herero war. Since the British produced the Blue Book during World War I reservations about its objectivity remain. However, the sentiments contained in the 1918 Report were already present in a British report of 1909, which stated:
    "The great aim of German policy in German South West Africa, as regards the native, is to reduce him to a state of serfdom, and, where he resists, to destroy him altogether. The native, to the German, is a baboon and nothing more. The war against the Hereros, conducted by General Von Trotha, was one of extermination; hundreds -- men, women and children -- were driven into desert country, where death from thirst was their end; whose [sic] left over are now in great locations near Windhuk [sic] where they eke out a miserable existence; labour is forced upon them and naturally is unwillingly performed.21

    "The Blue Book was the first investigation into the genocide. As Rhoda Howard-Hassmann points out, 'Germany committed genocide in South-West Africa with an impunity broken only by a British inquiry after the former country's defeat in World War I. So keen were the German settlers to suppress evidence of the genocide that they attempted to have the Blue Book banned as post-war British propaganda. The all-white legislative assembly adopted a motion to destroy all copies of it. Its distribution was prohibited and library copies were removed and destroyed. In the rest of the British Empire, the Blue Book was also removed from libraries and sent to the Foreign Office.'"22
    1 Jeremy Sarkin, "Germany's Genocide of the Herero: Kaiser Wilhelm II, His General, His Settlers, His Soldiers", James Currey, 2011
    2 Casper Erichsen, "The angel of death has descended violently among them," African Studies Centre, Leiden, 2005
    3 Aline Helg, "Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cubal Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912", The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1995, pp. 85-86
    4 Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., "Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire: Letters from Negro Soldiers 1898-1902", University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1987, p. 239
    5 Casper Erichsen, "The angel of death has descended violently among them: Concentration camps and prisoners-of-war in Namibia, 1904-1908," African Studies Centre, Leiden, 2005
    6 It has been reported that the sjamboks tore off pieces of flesh. See photographs of Maria in Plate 4 (facing p. 174) and Auma, Plate 5 (facing p. 175), in the British Blue Book of 1918. This punishment was so common in German Kamerun that the country was referred to as "the 25 Country" because 25 strokes with the sjambok could kill the victim.
    7 Beatings with the sjambok and other forms of abuse were common. See the testimony of Joseph Witbooi, quoted from the British Blue Book, in Casper W. Erichsen, "The angel of death has descended violently among them: Concentration camps and prisoners-of-war in Namibia, 1904-08", African Studies Centre Research Report 79/2005, p. 121-122
    8 Casper Erichsen, "The angel of death has descended violently among them: Concentration camps and prisoners-of-war in Namibia, 1904-1908," African Studies Centre, Leiden, 2005, p. 49

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