The Heavy Lifting

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Slavery’s Voice


My dear friend, teacher and scholar Roberta Logan, posted an excerpt from the testimony of a former slave gathered by the WPA. I remembered that my uncle Marty (Martin Daniel Richardson) had been a part of the group of writers and journalists who collected those stories in the 1930s — in Florida, in his case. I’ve read a few he gathered and some transcribed by others. Many voices, and nothing simple about the choices and decisions enslaved men and women made for themselves and their loved ones.

So, short version, it turns out many of the typescripts were digitized by the Library of Congress. Here’s one; some of you will recognize the location thanks to Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker.


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Judith, Holofernes, and T-rump

I realize I can be an art nerd, and I certainly get the horrendous Daesh reality, but my first reaction to Kathy Griffin’s shtick was that it was a riff on Judith and Holofernes, a famous scene depicted by hundreds of artists from the middle ages to Donatello to Klimt, to name just a few.

Given all the depictions of assault on effigies of Obama, and our long American political tradition of all sorts of violent images, I find the rush to turn Griffin into a pariah both ignorant and excessive.

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The American Way


New Edmonia Lewis Video



It was a real pleasure to be a part of this project by the brilliant cinematographer

Roberto Mighty.

Edmonia Lewis Google Doodle Of The Day! How About That?!

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An Edmonia Lewis Discovery

Stay tuned for more on Edmonia Lewis’s Bozeman, MT, friend, Lizzie Williams. Big thanks to  researcher Crystal Alegria.


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Watch Night: The Emancipation Proclamation



Carte de Visite after William Carlton’s 1863 painting. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs.


As Frederick Douglass wrote, “We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky, which should rend the fetters of four million of slaves; we were watching, as it were, by the dim light of stars, for the dawn of a new day; we were longing for the answer to the agonizing prayers of centuries.”


“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.” – From The Emancipation Proclamation

The painting hangs in what is now the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House, but was then his office where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The original painting was given as a gift from William Lloyd Garrison to President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and was removed from the White House after President Lincoln’s assassination.

A White House curator found another version at a New York antique shop in 1975. It was presented as a gift to the White House on the 200th anniversary of America’s founding in 1976.