Category Archives: 19th century

Wendell Phillips Born On This Day 1811


Relief bust of Wendell Phillips by Edmonia Lewis. The original dates from c. 1864. This signed and dated version was carved in Rome in 1871.

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See @wcaleb on Twitter for an excellent selection of excerpts from Phillips’ writings including this passage.

About Those Safety Pins…

Reading around in print and electronic media, we have all seen the back and forth — some of it over-the-top heated — about the great safety pin question. Today I read the account of a lefty white clergyman friend of worshiping at a predominately black church where the question was raised about allies wearing pins.
      Many congregants in the discussion found it to be a thoughtful gesture. Not a panacea, but a nice gesture that might even make a difference in a given situation. Like the purported powers of chicken soup; it can’t hurt, right?
     So, here’s where I am on the question just now. I choose to see the safety pin worn as a sign of solidarity, or of willingness to offer help, bear witness, or ease a concern, as the secular equivalent of symbols of faith or belief worn and seen everywhere, every day. They, too, might come to speak more loudly as our present circumstance unfolds.
     In the meantime, a little signal of unity on the lapel can’t hurt. And if it can on occasion really help, then shame on any of us for being cynical about the gesture.


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A Bust Of John Brown Recovered





A nice account of the recovery and history of this important marble bust of John Brown by the New England sculptor Edward (sometimes identified as Edwin) Brackett. He was Edmonia Lewis’s teacher in Boston. His influence on her work is particularly notable in her own heroic busts of figures such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, among others.

Theodore Parker’s Tomb

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I’m spreading the word:

I vouch for this 100%. My wonderful friend, Julia Holloway, is in charge of this historic site. The cemetery, including Parker’s grave, was ravaged by a powerful storm two years ago; repair and restoration work continue. This student project film speaks with heart and enthusiasm.

I saw this damage firsthand, and have since contributed, before this fundraiser, to the recovery. We all hope you’ll join us — in for a t-shirt, in for 3 days in Florence! Have a look, and don’t hesitate to share.

Many Thanks.

Deadly School Administration Bullies


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Sadly, the default public school position is CYA, no matter how many anti-bullying “policies” they claim to have in place. And too many white parents of non-white kids still believe that the world is basically fair, and that making reasonable complaints and calling attention to a serious problem will be answered with reason and action. Not so.

That’s a deadly status quo made worse by the awful reality that teachers and administrators hold the same ignorant biases, prejudices, and stereotypes that motivate the student bullies. 

It feels counter-intuitive to many good, peace-loving, decent people, but when really toxic bullying that takes a dangerous toll on a child happens, parents have to escalate things and ride to war like avenging furies. One part of that is that a stricken child has to see that his or her parents will Go. To. The. Bleeping Mat. to rescue them from the vicious students and from the school administration adults who have abandoned them to the bullies.

Edward M. Bannister’s Providence, RI, Home

This is the house where the 19th-century black painter Edward Mitchell Bannister and his wife, Christianna Carteaux Bannister, lived in Providence, RI. It was long left derelict and was in danger of being demolished. It’s a long story, but this is a happy outcome.


UK Article. “Commemorating Sarah Parker Remond: Pioneering abolitionist and anti-racism campaigner”

Source: Commemorating Sarah Parker Remond: Pioneering abolitionist and anti-racism campaigner

Go Huddle Somewhere Else






25 states, so far, ask the icon of Liberty to turn away from what she represents.

I remember the days when, if you wanted to teach at an American state university, you had to take a loyalty oath. Of course, if you were determined to “overthrow the American government,” as the phrase had it, the least of your problems was signing an oath to the contrary.

I just don’t see how letting in or keeping out Syrian refugees will in any way impede determined Daesh terrorists from getting into the country. Setting up shop in the US is the least of their problems.

I do understand the visceral fear that murderers could walk through the front door with false documents or credentials calling themselves refugees. But vetting is really hit or miss when the huddled masses in question come from a country where there are few if any reliable ways to get background info on anybody — so many administrative buildings have been destroyed, much of the bureaucracy no longer exists. Excellent fake passports are a new Turkish cottage industry.

It seems to me that Islamophobia has clouded clear thinking about security measures.