Combining history & memory at Emmett Till historical sites; The enslaved woman that successfully defied George Washington; A descendant of both F. Douglass and Booker T. Washington on their legacies; Trump’s truth problem; Queen Elizabeth’s big day

Image result for money mississippi emmett till

The remains of Bryant’s Grocery in Money, MS.

As we know, the Emmett Till lynching has been in the news again lately, but today’s most interesting story comes from the efforts of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center to create a new GPS-based app. The Till story is still contested in parts of Mississippi. Highlighting this fact is that federal funds were used to restore a gas station in Money, Mississippi, (the town where the alleged transgression that led to the lynching took place) to interpret it as a site of racial mixing and harmony in 1955! Meanwhile, Bryant’s Grocery Store where Till’s infamous encounter with a white woman occurred (and is near the gas station) is wasting away into rubble (pictured above). (This is tragic, and reminds me of the fact that most sites involving the Nat Turner Rebellion are gone now, despite the fact that some of them still stood until fairly recently. A shame). Further, commemorative historical markers offer competing versions of the story. The new app aims to help visitors not only find the sites associated with the case, but also to navigate through the contested memory of the event. It is a fascinating project that could be a model for other historical sites to blend history and memory in a meaningful way, revealing the relevancy of both to the present.

There is an enlightening story in the New York Times  today about Ona Judge, an enslaved woman that successfully ran away from George Washington’s estate. Her story helps to complicate the image of Washington as the one southern Founding Father that wound up doing something somewhat progressive about slavery when he freed them in his will. Her story, and that of the other enslaved people on the Washington estate, is now told in a new (and larger than originally intended) exhibit at Mount Vernon

In honor of African American History Month (which our so-called president’s ignorance recently reminded us was still very much needed), The Root is doing interviews with the descendants of “our most cherished African-American heroes.” Today they have an interview with Kenneth Morris Jr., a descendant of BOTH Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. It is interesting to see how he is helping to keep his ancestor’s legacies alive, but I like how he summed up Douglass’s legacy in one word. “Agitate.” Nice.

So listen, Trump is not the first president to lie to us, or to mislead. Whether Democrat or Republican, we have been deceived many times by our presidents. But so-called president Trump is taking it to a new level. This piece in the LA Times consulted some presidential scholars, roots its argument in the Clinton and Reagan presidencies, and concludes that this is the most shamelessly dishonest president in our history.

On a radically different note: Queen Elizabeth makes history today, becoming the longest serving British monarch in history. See how she and her loyal subjects celebrated the occasion!


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