[Blackstudies-l] from the ATLANTIC: The Black history that's missing
lima at geneseo.edu
Tue Feb 9 17:12:59 EST 2021
An Atlantic managing editor on a new project exploring the resilience of
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[image: Gillian B. White headshot] Gillian B. White
Managing Editor, The Atlantic
William Henry Dorsey was a prolific scrapbooker. Born in 1837, he spent
much of his 86-year life clipping newspaper articles—about Black actors,
Black Republicans, centenarians who lived through slavery, and many
more—and pasting them into hundreds of scrapbooks. He amassed a prodigious
library of African American achievement, art, and culture at a time when
white historians claimed that Black people had no meaningful history to
speak of. “Dorsey’s work spans the esoteric and the everyday,” the
journalist and historian Cynthia Greenlee writes in her new article for The
Atlantic,“and serves as an invaluable record of … the nation-changing
journey of Black people from chattel to citizens.”
Greenlee’s article is part of “Inheritance
a new project from The Atlantic that explores the legacy and experiences of
Black Americans that have long been left out of history books. Like Dorsey,
Greenlee is a collector of overlooked (and sometimes intentionally
obscured) history. She and the other writers featured in “Inheritance” have
excavated these events to tell a full, complex story of Black America,
which is foundational to the story of America itself.
In “Inheritance,” launching today, you’ll discover Clint Smith’s look at a
New Deal program that was tasked with preserving the memories
of the formerly enslaved; Anna Deavere Smith’s reflection on being one of
the first Black students at a small women’s college and one of the last “nice
and Joy Priest’s searing poetry
Throughout the week, you’ll also find writing from Danielle Allen, Jemele
Hill, Anna Holmes, and Vann R. Newkirk II. “Inheritance” is an ongoing
project; new stories will appear regularly on our website, in our print
magazine, and everywhere else The Atlantic makes journalism.
The Atlantic is a fitting home for this work. Since 1857, when this
publication was founded, in part, to further the cause of abolition, The
Atlantic has explored the question of how the American narrative reflects
the story of Black people. Some of the boldest and most influential Black
voices—Frederick Douglass, Charlotte Forten Grimké, W. E. B. Du Bois, and
Booker T. Washington, among others—have responded to that question in the
pages of this magazine.
But extraordinary accounts from famous people aren’t a full history.
Telling those stories of everyday Black people—the all-but-forgotten
ones—was an important goal of ours when bringing “Inheritance” to life, as
was honoring the many different Black identities and perspectives. Black
Americans are not a monolith, and the Black experience is not singular or
singularly defined by trauma. The writing you’ll find in “Inheritance”
isn’t just about hardship and struggle; it is about resilience and joy, and
everything in between.
I hope that you take a moment to explore the project
and, if you’re not yet an Atlantic subscriber, that you join us today
and help us pursue the stories that matter.
Gillian B. White
* Join a live event
with “Inheritance” writers and editors on Thursday, February 18 at 1 p.m.
Stories From “Inheritance”
(Aaron Turner/Library of Congress)
The Stories I Didn't Learn in School
The accounts of ordinary people who survived slavery
provide an all-too-rare link to our past.
We Were the Last of the Nice Negro Girls
In 1968, history found us at a small women’s college
forging our Black identity and empowering our defiance.
The Lost-and-Found History of the Dorsey Scrapbooks
To preserve Black history, a 19th-century Philadelphian filled hundreds of
with newspaper clippings and other materials. But now underfunding and
physical decay are putting archives like this one at risk.
Ghosts in Schools
A poem with lines from *In the Wake
by Christina Sharpe
Illuminating the Whole American Idea
See “Inheritance” come to life
Join us on *Thursday, February 18 at 1 p.m. ET* for a live conversation on
America’s lost Black history, featuring Danielle Allen, Jeffrey Goldberg,
Adam Harris, Vann R. Newkirk II, Joy Priest, Anna Deavere Smith, and
Gillian B. White.
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