Week 8 Activities

Hi Students:

Happy Indigenous People’s Day! 

Some call today Columbus Day but more and more, many Americans are honoring the Native Americans who were here before the Italian explorer sailed the “ocean blue” in 1492.  Here is a statement from Joe Biden, Democratic Candidate for President:

“On this Indigenous People’s Day, we must both recognize the past that has brought us here, and commit to one another to write a new future of promise, partnership, and equal opportunity for the proud Tribal Nations of our country.”

In other interesting news, the Mexican Government has asked both the nation of Spain and the Catholic Church to apologize for their roles in the Spanish Conquest.

Read the article HERE

As we continue our readings on Benjamin Franklin and the American Enlightenment, another controversy emerges: when should we date the start of our country?  Should it be 1776, the date of the Declaration of Independence?  Or should it be 1619, the date the first 20 African slaves were sold to the colony of Jamestown in Virginia?

The New York Times has produced the 1619 project that argues that all Americans need to be more aware of the horrors of slavery that accompanied America’s birth as a new nation in 1776.

  1. Please listen to the first 20 minutes of this podcast by Nikole Hannah-Jones to get you thinking more about his topic. HERE
  2. Read the opening paragraphs to the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776). Written by Thomas Jefferson (and edited by Benjamin Franklin), this document declares that the 13 colonies of America will no longer be subjects of the British Empire:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. 

(The remainder of the Declaration lists these grievances).

3) Read about America’s first published poet, Philliss Wheatley (and her poem “On Being Brought From Africa to America”) HERE

4) Read The Autobiography of Venture Smith HERE

5) Post a comment in response to one of these readings and/or podcasts. Due: Saturday, Oct. 17.

31 Comments

  1. Jannatul Fateha

    Response to the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) by Thomas Jefferson.

    In 1776, people’s ideas were different. Only white men who owned property had the right to vote. Laws that recognized equal rights of other groups were passed later. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The purpose of the “Declaration of Independence” was to declare the 13 colonies in America free and independent from Great Britain, get other colonists on board, and to encourage other nations to help them. In this document, Jefferson wrote what many Americans believed about their rights. He wrote that people have the right to live, the right to be free, and the right to seek happiness. The Declaration explains why the colonies should break away from Britain. It says that people have rights that cannot be taken away, lists the complaints against the king, and argues that the colonies have to be free to protect the colonists’ rights. He addressed that if a government does not protect the rights of citizens, people have the right to form a new government. Jefferson used ideas that John Locke and other English thinkers had written about it. Jefferson listed many ways that Britain had not served the colonists. Throughout the declaration, Jefferson shows how Great Britain is not protecting their rights, but interfering with them. For example, he states how the king keeps sending over soldiers and expects the people to house and feed them. This is not what you call protecting peoples’ rights; it is more like invading them. The Declaration is still important because it says the American people believe in equal rights for all. Today we know that the words “all men are created equal” include everyone: women, men, children, and every race, group, and ability.

    • Mark

      Excellent reading Jannatul.

  2. Jingquan Feng

    After listening to the podcasts, I was surprised that Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves, claim themselves as a slave to the British Empire, and it is ridiculous. I also felt sad when I heard that “Now in my boy days, we were slaves. We belonged to people.” People can become an item for sale, and why black people can not be classified as human because of their skin color. In ancient China, slaves were captives and criminals, but in the US, if your skin was black, you were a slave. It is an irony because people call the US the country of freedom. About black people’s lives in America brought up the memory of my first high school year in the US. The first class I took was US history. On the first day of that class, the teacher brought up the incident of “Little Rock Nine.” That was the first time I heard about black people’s lives in Amerca, and I was shocked why people can’t go to school because of their skin color, why there are many racists in this county. Even nowadays, people still distinguish other people by their skin color, like if your skin was yellow, you must be Chinese. And some people are trying to instill the idea that black people are evil and white people are good. Like George Perry Floyd and Eric Garner, they got chokehold to death because they are black. At the same time, we had the most racist president in the world who support white supremacy and feel proud of it. I saw too much news about racial issues, and they made me sick. Why we are in the 21 century, and people still being racist. And I realized that in many films and TV shows, the producer tries to add different races of people to show they are not racist; for example, whenever you watch a movie or TV shows, you must see at least one Asian, Hispanic, and other races in films or shows. Why because if they don’t do it, people will say that this film or shows are racist because you don’t have different races of people in the shows or movies.

    • Mark

      The hypocrisy of our Founding Fathers is endless as you point out Jingquan. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the documentary on Alexander Hamilton.

  3. Lisbeth Rivas

    In response to “Mexico asks Pope Francis for apology for church’s role in Spanish conquest.” I think it is only right that Mexico asked for an apology from Pope Francis; it is the least they can do after all the years that have gone by. Indigenous people have never received an apology for all the damage the Spanish and Italians conquistadors caused. It’s infuriating that some people still believe that Christopher Columbus was the one who discovered the Americas and, it’s more upsetting that history textbooks, articles, etc. Sugarcoat how Columbus treated the Indigenous people who were already living in America. Mexico did the right thing in removing the Columbus statue; I think we should remove all statues of Christopher Columbus because he does not deserve the praise he has gotten all these years. He has always been glorified in history. Enough is enough. Every country that was, colonized should get back their artifacts because it’s apart of the country’s history. Italy and Spain did nothing but steal those things. Native Americans were tortured, killed, used, all to benefit the Spanish. The name Christopher Columbus should not hold such high value but instead looked at with disgust and anger.

    • Mark

      I totally agree with your superbly expressed sentiments here Listbeth. “Enough is Enough.” Let’s start approaching history more critically and realistically.

  4. Brianna Lesperences

    Response to the podcast and the Declaration Of Independence
    After listening to the podcast a lot of the information and history that was stated were things that I already knew. From the the slaves jumping off of the boat because they would rather die than to commit to being slaves their whole life, to Thomas Jefferson drafting the Declaration Of Independence knowing that his intention wasn’t to include his brother in law nor the children that he had with his slave Sally who was also the half sibling to his wife. Even though I have heard this all before, the gut- wrenching feeling never goes away. The slave trade was something that was very common within the 15 century which even include my people being captured by the french and being slaves in which they fought for freedom and became the first black republic. I think that Thomas Jefferson did a great job with writing the Declaration Of Independence which was supposed to ensure equality “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” but his intention is still in question. The purpose of the declaration of independence was to secure the rights of Americans and restore the system of government, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” but in the process of writing all of these amazing things that do sound great, black people and minorities were excluded. It wasn’t until 1868 where black people were protected under the law and 1870 when the 15th Amendment was ratified so that all male citizens regardless of race or class can vote, leaving out black women until 1965.

    • Mark

      Very thoughtful response Brianna.

  5. Dkaran

    “Mexico asks Pope Francis for apology for church’s role in Spanish conquest” (Agencies), caught my attention because they are asking the bishop of Rome aka head of state for an apology. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has written to Pope Francis for an apology for the Catholic Church’s role in the oppression of indigenous people. They asked the Vatican to temporarily return several ancient indigenous manuscripts held in their library. The letter was delivered to the pope by López Obrador’s wife, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, who met with him at the Vatican. López Obrador requested the return of three codices, including the Codex Borgia, an especially colourful screen-fold book spread across dozens of pages that depicts gods and rituals from ancient central Mexico. Rome handing over the three codices would symbolize peace and forgives towards Mexico. I found out that they removed the Statute of Christopher Columbus in Mexico City before protestors planned to knock it down. In Mexico, on October 12 they celebrated Dia de la Raza (Day of the Race) in acknowledgment of the country’s mixed indigenous and European heritage. I think Rome and Mexico would come to an agreement soon that gives them a piece of their history back and shows how the past events made them a strong nation.

    • Mark

      Very good summary of this article, Deonarine. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the documentary on Alexander Hamilton.

  6. Charles Mandell

    The podcast “1619” is hosted by Nikole Hannah Jones and explains how the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in August 1619 has come to impact every aspect of America to this day. Jones discusses how her personal experience as an African American has been very much shaped by the moment the first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia. She starts at this moment in 1619 and gives us an in depth look at the history of slavery in America, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. She also mentions many of the struggles African Americans faced but also how they have fought to shape America into a place of equality for all. Throughout the podcast Jones shares how when she was young she never really understood why her dad was so proud to be American and flew an American flag in their front yard because she felt like the country “clearly did not love him” and she didn’t feel like she could fully claim that she was an American, but after learning and researching she wishes she could tell her younger self that she should be as proud to be an American as her dad was. This is because those first 20 or 30 human beings purchased by colonists in 1619 who were denied citizenship and rights in their own country would pass on a fight for the Constitution to be truly equal for all and guarantee rights for all Americans. Jones says “It is black people who have been the perfectors of this democracy” which is another reason for her newfound pride as an American. I think Jones does a great job describing how her thinking shifted over time and she was able to finally understand her dad being so proud to fly the American flag.

  7. Manija Shouff

    After reading Phyllis Wheatley, it is great to know that not only did the Wheatley family took her in, but they have also thought her how to read and write. Wheatley family was supportive, they helped her with advertisements and travelled with her to London to promote her work or literature. It is amazing how in Europe she was well known while back home people did not want to support her work just because of her color. The sad part is she grew up well but when her family the Wheatley’s had died, she was all alone and decided to marry Dr. Peters, who she knew for about 5yrs. The way Merle A. Richmond described him, he sounded all that and I guess that is what attracted Phillis to him as well even though it was not mentioned in the text, also a part of her did not want to be lonely and alone so she marries him which she should not have done as her friends advised. Not only does he have a hard time finding a job, runs away from creditors but he moves them into a bad area of Boston, my guess due to lack of money. While in that dirty little apartment, Phillis who once was a well known poet, becomes sick and dies alone and uncared for.

    • Mark

      Excellent discussion of this great poet’s circumstances and life, Manija.

  8. Marjan Ahmed

    1776, the year of the United States’ greatest achievement, the year of Independence. A time when the colonist got fed up and upset over the great Britain’s long-term actions and decided to declare independence. This topic is one of my favorite because I did a presentation on this when I was in High school and I got awarded for it. Not only for me, I am pretty sure it is a loved topic for all the Americans since it is the paper that says everyone is free and equal in the United states. A quote from the declaration of Independence is “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This idea was taken from The English philosopher and political theorist John Locke, I believe. The declaration also mentioned that the people have all the power and they can overthrow the government if the it’s not doing the job of protecting people’s rights. For the longest time Britain was draining the goods from the new land and abusing the people in it. After losing the French and Indian war, Britain lost a huge amount of money and to recover they started to tax the Colonists. Afterwards new acts such as the Stamp Act, Townshend Acts, Intolerable Acts, sugar act and many more started just to tax the Americans, which pissed off the founding fathers, resulting in the Declaration of independence.

    • Mark

      It’s clear you have a profound understanding of this founding document Marjan. I look forward to your comments on the Alexander Hamilton documentary.

  9. Charles Mandell

    The podcast “1619” is hosted by Nikole Hannah Jones and explains how the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in August 1619 has come to impact every aspect of America to this day. Jones discusses how her personal experience as an African American has been very much shaped by the moment the first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia. She starts at this moment in 1619 and gives us an in depth look at the history of slavery in America, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. She also mentions many of the struggles African Americans faced but also how they have fought to shape America into a place of equality for all. Throughout the podcast Jones shares how when she was young she never really understood why her dad was so proud to be American and flew an American flag in their front yard because she felt like the country “clearly did not love him” and she didn’t feel like she could fully claim that she was an American, but after learning and researching she wishes she could tell her younger self that she should be as proud to be an American as her dad was. This is because those first 20 or 30 human beings purchased by colonists in 1619 who were denied citizenship and rights in their own country would pass on a fight for the Constitution to be truly equal for all and guarantee rights for all Americans. Jones says “It is black people who have been the perfectors of this democracy” which is another reason for her newfound pride as an American. I think Jones does a great job describing how her thinking shifted over time and she was able to finally understand her dad being so proud to fly the American flag.

  10. Lionel Desroses

    As time goes on and we are having a good look at history, we now realize that the exploration done over 500 years ago has brought us new technologies, etc. but they have also taken properties and enslaved many African people. Many are now waking up to the cruelty that was happening during that time. Many Americans have stopped celebrating Columbus altogether because they are now seeing all the dreadful stuff he has done to the Caribbean. For example, how the Mexican president has written a letter to the pope asking him to apologize for the catholic church being part of the indigenous people’s oppression in the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. He even went further and asked him to return several ancient indigenous manuscripts that were stoled from them and stored in the pop library. According to the article, “The request was made in a two-page letter that also asked the Vatican to temporarily return several ancient indigenous manuscripts held in its library,”. Even the candidate for president Joe Biden said that “On this Indigenous People’s Day, we must both recognize the past that has brought us here, and commit to one another to write a new future of promise.” This shows that many are seeing that these days were indigenous. It would even be more horrible for the Caribbean and the people of color because they would pick us from our homeland and bring them to the new world as a slave. As Nikole Hannah said in the podcast, many black men and women had figured out that they were not going back home once they realized they were brought imported to a foreign land with no family. The people of color had left their family behind, saying their last goodbye, last hug, and all.

    • Mark

      Very thoughtful and well-written response Lionel.

  11. Dan

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Thomas Jefferson states in the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. This may be Independence Day for our country from the British Empire, but it is certainly not the date of freedom for all. Freedom for all in the United States would take another hundred years. Yet, we can see the words that Jefferson wrote, “…that all men are created equal…” The question I impose is that why we as a nation do not celebrate the true day of nation freedom, where everyone was recognized as equal, regardless of their skin color, Juneteenth? I think it is important to celebrate July 4th, because this is the birth of our nation, but at the same time Juneteenth is equally important. Slavery is a trouble part of our nation’s history, and many people had to die in order to end it, so Juneteenth should be as important as July 4th.

    • Mark

      You make a superb argument here that we need to acknowledge both July 4th and Juneteenth. Well done Dan.

  12. Najeh Marcus

    I found the reading on Phillis Wheatley to very interesting. I have never heard of her and I’m surprised people don’t speak about her more. I’m not sure she seems like one of if not the earliest black poet. I see she wrote a bunch of poems that people liked and was seen as an African genius in London. Also, I see she was proud of America as she wrote a poem about America and its struggle with Britian or Britannia. I did start to feel sorry learning that later in life her family died. I don’t think any of her kids out lived her and her husband was sent to jail. The family that bought her also died. While I think the latter part of her life was kind of sad. I think the poems and writings she left behind are important. The reading also states that she used biblical allusions and symbolism to speak against slavery. Her legacy is the 145 poems she has written and left behind for everyone to read. The other thing I read was the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. I pretty sure I have this before in high school or middle school. From rereading this and taking a government class this semester, I can definitely understand why Thomas Jefferson or American colonist would want to rebel against the British. But going off what is written here one of the problems was the system of government that the 13 colonies were under. Britain ruled over the colonies like a monarchy and this made the American people seek a government like a democracy. Also, the rights of the people were also being trampled over. So, while the Declaration of Independence listed the reasons why the colonies wanted independence, this would ultimately help shape America’s Constitution. A quote I like a lot is “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”. This quote in my opinion is why a lot of revolutions happened especially when the general public feels like their government is failing them.

    • Mark

      Najeh, I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Phillis Wheatley. You raise excellent points about her work and its connection to the declaration.

  13. Aaliyah A Madurie

    Phillis Wheatly was an enslaved individual who was seized from West Africa, when she was about 7 years old. She was transported to the Boston docks with a shipment of “refugee slaves” and luckily was later accepted to live with the Wheatley family. As time passed by, she gathered many collections of poems to publish but was unsuccessful because of her color. She was recognized more in England and Europe than in america. America never recognized her passion for writing. She had a passion and that made her one of the best known poets in the pre-19th century. As years went by She went on to marry a guy she had known for 5 years (John Peter) who was said to be a great man. Then came the Revolutionary War which caused her and her husband to temporarily leave Boston and came back to a city that was very much destroyed. Her husband Peter drifted into extreme poverty often leaving her to fend for herself while he tried to seek employment and I think that’s when everything went downhill. Even with that being said she also moved into a dirty place to live by her husband which wasn’t good for her health which I think caused her death, she was found uncared for and alone. Even with all this going on she was still writing poems and that has proven to me that poems were something she was very passionate about. It’s so sad that because of her skin color she didn’t receive the recognition that she deserved. It’s also sad that her poems became hits after she had died. I’ve never heard of her before, it’s good to know that she was a part of the antislavery movement.

    • Mark

      Excellent summar and discussion of Wheatley’s life and work, Aaliyah.

  14. Aaliyah A Madurie

    Phillis Wheatly was an enslaved individual who was seized from West Africa, when she was about 7 years old. She was transported to the Boston docks with a shipment of “refugee slaves” and luckily was later accepted to live with the Wheatley family. As time passed by, she gathered many collections of poems to publish but was unsuccessful because of her color. She was recognized more in England and Europe than in america. America never recognized her passion for writing. She had a passion and that made her one of the best known poets in the pre-19th century. As years went by She went on to marry a guy she had known for 5 years (John Peter) who was said to be a great man. Then came the Revolutionary War which caused her and her husband to temporarily leave Boston and came back to a city that was very much destroyed. Her husband Peter drifted into extreme poverty often leaving her to fend for herself while he tried to seek employment and I think that’s when everything went downhill. Even with that being said she also moved into a dirty place to live by her husband which wasn’t good for her health which I think caused her death, she was found uncared for and alone. Even with all this going on she was still writing poems and that has proven to me that poems were something she was very passionate about. It’s so sad that because of her skin color she didn’t receive the recognition that she deserved. It’s also sad that her poems became hits after she had died. I’ve never heard of her before, it’s good to know that she was a part of the antislavery movement.

  15. Amoy Russell-Jonas

    Columbus Day is a commemoration of the landing of Christopher Columbus in the United States, an event that happened in 1942. During Columbus Day, many Americans honor the native citizens present in the land before Christopher sailed the ocean blue. This is the day that the Americans recognize their past and the activities that have propelled them to the present. This day is noticeably celebrated in several cities across the United States, and this was as early as the 18th century. However, this was not a federal holiday until 1937; in many aspects, this was to celebrate the Italian-American heritage. However, this day has generated controversies throughout history, and the debate is based on the man who discovered Columbus and the actual date of discovery.
    There are many proposed alternatives for the holiday that have been offered since the 1970s, and others consider this date to be renamed as the indigenous people’s day, and this has reduced the popularity of this phenomenon, which is currently celebrated in few states in the United States. Christopher was an Italian explorer on his Journey to Asia, having backing from the royal leadership. “Columbus had planned to travel to India and instead he landed in the Bahamas on 12th 1492 and this made him the first European to explore America after the ancient Vikings who established colonies around Greenland and Newfoundland, this was in the 10th Century.”
    Many organizations are taking advantage of Columbus’s birthplace, and they organize ceremonies and events in his honor. Many people in the United States have celebrated this day because it acts as an essential mark of historical knowledge that defines the culture and political environments in the United States.

  16. Jawad Awada

    After listening to the podcast there was a lot of important history information that was stated that I did not have prior knowledge too. But there was also some information that I had already known. I knew that the slaves would try to jump off the boat because they would have rather died then become slaves and be tortured for the rest of their lives. Thomas Jefferson is famously known for having slaves and actually even had children with a slave. At that time equality did not really exist and Thomas Jefferson in his Declaration Of Independence wanted to make it clear that something would change. During that time slavery was very much alive and with that alone being said it is clear that equality did not exist. Thomas Jefferson is someone who gets a lot of mixed reactions when he is discussed these days. The fact that he wrote the declaration of independence yet used to own slaves is something that clearly does not add up. According to the declaration of independence “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This particular quote stood out from the declaration of independence because from this alone one can easily acknowledge the purpose behind the independence. Giving the people the opportunity to be free and make their own decisions was the purpose behind it. Also with this if the government in place was corrupt and was not doing its job then the people also had the right to overthrow and reinstate a more reliable government. Overall reading the opening paragraph and listening to the first 20 minutes of the Nikole Hannah-Jones podcast was a great way to be prepared to truly understand the reasoning behind the independence and which side one may be on because Thomas Jefferson to me obviously lived to separate lives.

  17. chris castellon

    After listening to the podcast it doesn’t really surprise me that some people were enslaved, even until this very day there are some countries where people are enslaved. But what actually surprised me was Thomas Jefferson who “owned” slaves claimed to be a slave himself. Back then people were treated like items, depending on the country slavery could work differently, for example in china if you were a slave you are a criminal but in the U.S. if you were black you were to be just a non-stop hardworking slave. What saddens me was this quote stating: “Now in my boy days we were slaves, we belonged to people”. People who were already enslaved wanted to commit suicide instead than rather be a slave their entire life, but history was changed for the greater or good but to most it didn’t really make much of a difference when Thomas started writing the Declaration Of Independence. The DOI was suppose to ensure equality but that just brung confusion and questions. I believe Thomas did a fantastic job of writing the DOI, it made a great impact on most countries but not all of them, hopefully one day it could reach out to ALL the countries and states in the world.

  18. Afshan S (Lil B)

    Opening paragraphs to the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776)
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    These are probably the best opening lines for any document starting the birth of a country; reading this makes me reminds the reasons why my parents came to this country – that America will forever be tied to the idea of being a free nation where people can attain their dreams. It’s sad that the actual history of America is a little more complicated than what these words are conveying. I think it’s a great foundation, and drives us towards that goal.
    There was a part of the podcast that mentioned that Thomas Jefferson wanted to add that slavery was created by England, and should be abolished, but was shot down by the southern states to remove it. It’s nice to know that he at least tried to call slavery a crime, but sad that it’s always the southern states that always ruin America from attaining a more equal society, even today. The fact that they left it out of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution allowed for slavery to still exist via the 13th amendment. The 13th amendment allows slavery for people who have committed crimes. This becomes instrumental in the continuation of modern slavery, as the definitions of what a crime is leans heavily towards what black people get caught doing vs. what white people get away with. I’d highly recommend people watch “13th” on Netflix, I think it’s necessary for all Americans to watch. (https://www.netflix.com/title/80091741)

    Podcast by Nikole Hannah-Jones (1st 20 minutes – introducing 1619)
    Nikole mentions that her father always flew a brand new American flag despite other physical issues with their home that needed fixing, to which she mentions that she didn’t know other black people who flew the American flag on their property, only white people. I feel like this still applies today, I’m not sure if it’s just because I live in a very urban area that we typically don’t see flags around anyway, but most likely whoever does have a flag sticking out it’s assumed that the person flying it is white, or very Republican. I do find her father’s admiration of the American flag to be commendable though, we are still Americans no matter what, and it’d be ideal if we all treated America as a work in progress instead of a statue frozen in time.
    Nikole also mentions how her father joined the military to get out of poverty, and hoped that if he proved that he served, that “his country might finally see him as an American.” This line reminded me of Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” a higher percentage of black Americans were sent to fight in the Vietnam war than white Americans were, added to the fact that they were sent during a time when civil unrest and racial injustice was rising, and MLK Jr. and Malcolm X were reaching the mainstream. When trying to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali famously said “No Vietcong ever called me nigger,” trying to emphasize that America has an even deeper, longer lasting issue with racism within the country, treating its black citizens as secondary at best, while telling them that they need to fight on the rest of America’s behalf. It was also black Americans who were the first ones sent into battles. If everyone has time to see it, I’d highly recommend watching “Da 5 Bloods,” as it was also Chadwick Boseman’s last performance on film before tragically passing away to colon cancer, it’s hauntingly beautiful and eye-opening to a lot of issues I wasn’t aware of during that time. (https://www.netflix.com/watch/81045635)
    Despite her father serving in the military, Nikole still didn’t feel comfortable fully claiming that she was an American. I think this is something that we all deal with, there will always be some communities that won’t be accepted as fully “American,” despite no one having true origins to American land – the only people who can and should claim that are Native Americans and people who came from former slaves, and not the “white” Americans who think they have the authority to dictate that.

  19. Galileo D

    Phillis Wheatley Peters
    Born in West Africa in 1753, Phillis Wheatley Peters was kidnapped aged eight years and enslaved in New England. There are several interesting elements from her story and popular poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America. As a Black, she defeated the barriers that limited her from achieving her goal both as an intellectual and artist. She also created a good precedence that other Blacks followed to cement their position in art and literature. Wheatley’s desire to learn is fascinating. Although she had a lot to do at the Wheatley’s, she studied geography, astronomy, British literature, the Bible and history. Her poems were therefore informed by clear judgment and knowledge. It is interesting noting that at the age of eighteen years, she had already authored twenty eight poems. She would later use different styles in her poems including biblical symbolism to advance the abolitionist agenda. It is sad to note that Phillis died alone, uncared for and uncelebrated despite her achievements and contribution to poetry.
    Phillis Wheatley communicates a number of themes including race, identity and religion in her poem, On Being Brought from Africa to America. As a Black woman, the concept of identity formed a major crisis in her life. She wanted to communicate how hard it was for women of color to develop an identity in a white dominated society. Her case was complex since she had joined the white dominated population as a slave. Her mastery of ideas is interesting in the poem. It is interesting to note that she acknowledges the presence and position of God throughout her work. In her statement, “Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
    May be refined and join the angelic train,” is an appeal to other Blacks and Whites that although the Blacks were suffering at the time, they ought to have been respected since they were equal humans as well. Wheatley integrates religion and literary skills to communicate her message smoothly to a general audience. It is easy identifying her themes and acknowledging her immense contribution to literature more than two centuries later.

  20. Daniela Martinez

    Response to Hannah-Jones “1619 Project”

    I remember the first time I read the 1619 project at the beginning of this year. The controversy that Hannah-Jones brought about African Americans’ raw story was something that blew up my mind. I knew that many years of slavery were not only solved after the Civil War; it never ended. Slavery was part of a social problem for the first years of the 13 colonies, and the outcome of that social problem is what we know as racism. Racism was a term not acknowledged and treated as a taboo. However, I was amazed by the existence of the 1619’s podcast. The podcast attracted me to how well-produced was to illustrate Hannah-Jones’ thoughts and background and other African Americans’ stories and experiences from their ancestors. For instance, in the introduction, we got the sea’s sound due to how Hanna-Jones’ thoughts connected with back when the slaves came 400 hundred years ago in the White Lion.

    Furthermore, the first twenty minutes included not only her background as an African American, but it also had other people’s recordings. I did not expect to hear other people’s voices than hers; otherwise, the podcast included a wide range of examples in the critical points. For instance, when Hannah-Jones started to talk about why she did not understand her father being proud of having a giant flag of the United States in the yard. After she realized why he was doing that, a recording of Fountain Hughes is being played, and the relation of what she said made it powerful.

    Response to the Declaration of Independence

    When the United States finally was set free as an individual nation, everyone thought things would change. It was the best option for the thirteen colonies in those times because the crown’s tyranny still controlled them. Many people started to think that that was the beginning of the United States. However, not many took account that since the first people who stepped in the land would mark the beginning of what we know as the United States. The Declaration of Independence of July 4th in 1776 was indeed the United States’ first action to break free from England. Nevertheless, I think the date when the United States started was when the colonizers brought the first 20 African slaves who were sold to the Jamestown’s colony in Virginia.

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