Protest

The Wide Awakes.

Yesterday, the New York Times published a feature on the revival of sorts of a Civil War-era political movement, the Wide Awakes, who mobilized against slavery and in support of Abraham Lincoln. Both artist-activists and re-enactors have been moved to create political and social change in the spirit of the Wide Awakes, who engaged in raucous, but peaceful, marches in the streets of Northern cities.

 

Barton College’s oral history project.

The introduction to Barton College’s Crossing the Tracks: An Oral History of East and West Wilson:

“Starting in the spring of 2013 and concluding in the fall of 2014, Barton College students began interviewing Wilson residents about social, cultural, political, and economic relations between residents of East and West Wilson, and how these relations have changed over the past sixty to seventy years. 

“In spite of the many significant achievements of the modern Civil Rights Movement, our nation, state, and community bear the scars and legacies of a deeply troubled racial history that continues to impact our relationships. While we might like to forget or gloss over the painful part of that history, its effect lingers, and denying it will not make it go away.  As the writer James Baldwin once said, ‘The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.’  One of the goals of Crossing the Tracks, then, is to bring these unconscious forces of history into our consciousness, so that we might begin to confront the historical effects of white supremacy and begin the process of healing.

“A history of segregation, built on a foundation of white supremacy, created a separate but unequal society.  And the traditional historical narrative is at best an incomplete history, written and preserved by those who hold political, social, and economic power.  It too often omits the strong voices and tremendous contributions of those on the margins of power.  Part of the mission of the Freeman Round House Museum is to fill this gap in the historical record by preserving and publicizing the contributions of African American Wilsonians to education, medicine, the arts, criminal justice, and entertainment.  Crossing the Tracks supports this mission.  It is an accessible collection of first-person accounts of life in Wilson that students, scholars, and the general public can use to study and write about this remarkable, underrepresented history.  In many ways, it builds on the work of Dr. Charles W. McKinney, Jr., whose book, Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina, documents decades of committed struggle by East Wilson residents to lay the groundwork for the modern Civil Rights Movement.”

The project includes videotaped interviews with 22 residents of East Wilson. The recollections of many, including Samuel Lathan, Roderick Taylor Jr., and Mattie Bynum Jones, date to the 1930s and ’40s, the latter decades covered by the blog. Barton College partnered with the Freeman Roundhouse and Museum to obtain these invaluable stories and all are available online.

Rev. R.A.G. Foster through the years.

Marianne Foster generously shared these photos of her father, Rev. Richard A.G. Foster, who served as pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church in the late 1930s and made strident calls for equal rights and social justice from his Pender Street pulpit.

In the pulpit at Varrick A.M.E. Zion Church, New Haven, Connecticut, 1940s.

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New Haven, Connecticut.

Oakland, California, 1958.

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Oakland, California, 1968.

Five days of wokeness in Wide-Awake.

The Change Coalition of Wilson presents “Translating Pain Into Purpose: Wake Up, Wide Awake Spirit Week” — five days of programming to promote civil, historical, educational, legislative and social awareness !

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Today, Craig Barnes Jr. will be leading groups of visitors on a tour of Say Their Names, my exhibit at Imagination Station. If you didn’t get an opportunity to see the exhibit before the pandemic temporarily closed the museum’s doors, please come out today. I couldn’t be prouder of the work Change Coalition is putting in to push Wilson forward, and I’m pleased to be able to contribute to the curriculum of change.

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Three cheers for Grant Goings.

“Wilson City Manager Grant Goings explained to council members Thursday night how the city became involved in removing Josephus Daniels’ historical marker earlier that day.

“Goings said he ordered the marker removed after the Daniels family settled the issue for him earlier in the week. Daniels’ relatives removed his Raleigh statute, citing his indefensible positions on race. Goings said the Cox-Corbett Historical Association and the Wilson County Historical Association had disagreements about Daniels’ history. One wanted it removed; the other did not. No compromise could be reached, and the debate regarding the marker lingered until Thursday when Goings made the decision.

“’Wilson is fortunate to have two historical societies,’ Goings said in a Friday statement to The Wilson Times. ‘In this case, there was respectable disagreement between the two about the history of Josephus Daniels. The family’s statement cleared that confusion, and the right thing to do was remove the marker as soon as possible.’”

Goings’ unilateral decision was absolutely the right thing to do, but took some backbone in Wilson. I recognize and honor his resolute matter-of-factness in getting this job done.

For the complete Wilson Times article re Goings’ decision, see here.

Take them down, too.

Here are Wilson’s two Confederate monuments. The clock is ticking.

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“Although Confederate monuments are sometimes designated as historic, and while many were erected more than a century ago, the National Trust [for Historic Preservation] supports their removal from our public spaces when they continue to serve the purposes for which many were built—to glorify, promote, and reinforce white supremacy, overtly or implicitly.

“While some have suggested that removal may result in erasing history, we believe that removal may be necessary to achieve the greater good of ensuring racial justice and equality. And their history needs not end with their removal: we support relocation of these monuments to museums or other places where they may be preserved so that their history as elements of Jim Crow and racial injustice can be recognized and interpreted.”

Read National Trust’s full Statement on Confederate Monuments: http://ow.ly/JMUD50AbAuR

Photos, Wilson, June 2020.

Take it down.

From The News and Observer, today’s headline: “Daniels family removes statue of racist ancestor in Raleigh“:

“Frank Daniels Jr. of Raleigh, retired president and publisher of The News & Observer, said in a statement Tuesday that his grandfather’s bigoted beliefs overshadowed his other accomplishments, including, Daniels said, ‘creating one of the nation’s leading newspapers.’”

“’Josephus Daniels’s legacy of service to North Carolina and our country does not transcend his reprehensible stand on race and his active support of racist activities,’ Daniels said. ‘In the 75 years since his death, The N&O and our family have been a progressive voice for equality for all North Carolinians, and we recognize this statue undermines those efforts.’”

The article glancingly mentions Daniels’ ownership of the Wilson Advance. It was in this newspaper that he cut his teeth as an unabashed white supremacist, using the paper as a platform for his relentless drumbeat for the suppression of civil rights for African-Americans.
In two columns of the same issue, published 31 October 1884, Daniels published editorial comment ranging from the snide:

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… to the unvarnished:

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… to the grotesque:

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Wilson Advance, 31 October 1884.

The Wilson County Historical Association erected a marker for Josephus Daniels near the county courthouse. It makes no mention of his most efficacious role — spearhead of the disenfranchisement and general subjugation of North Carolina’s African-American citizenry. Despite repeated calls for its removal, notably led by the indefatigable Castonoble Hooks, the marker stands.

I amplify Mr. Hooks’ voice here: TAKE IT DOWN.

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Update, 18 June 2020: Today, the city of Wilson quietly removed the historical marker honoring Josephus Daniels today and returned it to the Wilson County Historical Association.

“Wilson removed Josephus Daniels marker: Family cited his ‘indefensible positions on race,” Wilson Daily Times, 18 June 2020.

Samuel N. Hill of the People’s Advocate.

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I. Garland Penn, The Afro-American Press and Its Editors (1891).

Samuel N. Hill died in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in March 1918. The New York Age ran his obituary.

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New York Age, 30 March 1918.

Many thanks to John Sullivan of Wilmington’s non-profit Third Person Project for sending this Black Wide-Awake’s way. 

Barnes reports an outrage.

A year after Austin F. Flood‘s plea to the Freedmen’s Bureau, Van Buren Winbourn continued to terrorize African-Americans in Wilson. In this letter, a Central District superintendent directed his assistant in Goldsboro to refer this complaint to Wilson County authorities and, if they failed to act, to arrest and jail Winbourn and his gang. I have not located Jacob Barnes‘ referenced affidavit.

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Office Superintendent Bureau Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, Central District

Raleigh, N.C., August 25th, 1866.

Maj. Jas. W.H. Stickney, Asst. Supt. Sub District of Goldsboro N.C.

Major

Jacob Barnes freedman of Wilson in your sub District complains that an outrage was committed upon him by “Van Winman” and seven others, citizens of Wilson with intent to kill, for full particulars in this case your attention is invited to the enclosed Affidavit taken before me — Present this case to the proper County Authorities and if upon your application in behalf of this freedman, they neglect or refuse to arrest and bring to trial the offenders, in accordance with G.O. No. 3, current series Hd.Qrs. Asst.Com. N.C. and in accordance with Genl Grants G.O. No. 44. You will arrest the offenders and send them to Raleigh to be “detained in Military confinement until such time as a proper justicial tribunal may be ready and willing to try them.”

Very respectfully, A.G. Br[illegible], Bvt. Col. and Supt.

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  • Jacob Barnes — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Hardy Barnes, 50; wife Mary, 49; and children Alfred, 21, Riley, 24, Jacob, 22, Isaac, 19, Warren, 17, Zilly, 12, Mary, 9, and Wade, 6.
  • “Genl Grants G.O. No. 44” — General Order 44 directed division and department commanders in the former Confederate states “to arrest all persons who have been or may hereafter be charged with the commission of crimes and offenses against officers, agents, citizens, and inhabitants of the United States, irrespective of color, in cases where the civil authorities have failed, neglected, or are unable to arrest and bring such parties to trial, and to detain them in military confinement until such time as a proper judicial tribunal may be ready and willing to try them.” General Orders, No. 44, Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant General’s Office, 6 July 1866, Orders & Circulars, series 44, Adjutant General’s Office, Record Group 94, National Archives.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 16, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org