Category Archives: Current Events

What is Indigenous Peoples Day and Why does it matter?

Depending on what calendar you’re using and what city you are living in, you may or may not see today marked as Indigenous Peoples Day. A few years ago, Austin City Council voted to honor Native and Indigenous People by replacing Columbus Day at City Hall with Indigenous People’s Day, a move that follows the example of changes made by 14 states and over 130 cities across the country dating back to the 1970s.

Likewise, land acknowledgments are becoming more common to promote inclusion in our work and spaces. Here is the ARL Land Acknowledgement that Dr. Haricombe used as the basis for the Land Acknowledgement at the beginning of last week’s All Staff Meeting.

For this blog post, we would like to acknowledge and honor the Carrizo & Comecrudo, Coahuiltecan, Caddo, Tonkawa, Comanche, Lipan Apache, Alabama-Coushatta, Kickapoo, Tigua Pueblo, and all the American Indian and Indigenous Peoples and communities who have been or have become a part of the lands and territories in Texas.

This day and what it means for all Americans deserves and requires much more space and consideration than I (unfortunately) am able to give it in this blog post. So I encourage everyone to take some time today to use the resources below as a launching point for your own search into learning more about how to honor indigenous people and acknowledge the violent colonial history that continues to negatively impact Native American and Indigenous people.

Resource Highlights

Tribal Land Map – learn about the indigenous peoples of the land on which you live and work

Five Ideas for Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Eason, A., Pope, T., Becenti, K., & Fryberg, S. (2020). Sanitizing history: National identification, negative stereotypes, and support for eliminating Columbus Day and adopting Indigenous Peoples DayCultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology.

10 Ways to be a Genuine Ally to Indigenous Communities, Amnesty International

Consider supporting an Indigenous organization, like the local nonprofit Indigenous Cultures Institute.

Image of Indigenous Cultures Institute video
You can view this great video from Indigenous Cultures Institute

See other reading recommendations from last year’s Native American Heritage Month post by Andres Ramirez.

Let us know what you’re reading and learning in the comments!

Breonna Taylor and The Mistreatment of Black Women

Breonna Taylor was shot and killed on March 13th, 2020 when three police officers raided her home in the middle of the night in search of a man who was already in custody elsewhere. On September 23rd, one of the officers (who had been terminated earlier) was charged with “wanton endangerment” for firing into the apartment without having a clear line of sight on his target.  There were no other charges, and no one was charged with causing Taylor’s death.

The protests that have arisen in response to the (lack of) charges are not only about what is seen by many as a miscarriage of justice. They are also about the mistreatment of Black women throughout American history, beginning with the physical and sexual abuse of female slaves by white slaveowners and continuing to this day. Black women are more likely to be abused by their intimate partners than women in other racial groups. They are also at significantly higher risk of being raped or murdered. To that point, Taylor’s residence was targeted by police not because they believed she was involved in illegal activities but because her ex-boyfriend was suspected of selling drugs.

The societal mistreatment of Black women also exists in more subtle, pernicious ways. A 2019 research study conducted by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality explored how Black girls aged 5-19 experience “adultification bias”, i.e. the tendency to see them as more sexually experienced and less in need of nurturing than White girls. This bias was linked to harsher disciplinary methods taken against Black girls by schools. The perception of Black women as being more sexual than their white counterparts continues into adulthood, as the historical stereotype of the black Jezebel demonstrates.

Black women are also more likely be seen as loud and prone to emasculating anger—the Angry Black Woman stereotype. Both of these stereotypes are exemplified by the treatment of Meghan Markle, the mixed race American woman who married Prince Harry in 2018. Among other instances, Markle has been described by media outlets as having “exotic DNA” and “(almost) straight outta Compton”. This racially based mistreatment has continued since she and her husband exited the monarchy. After Markle and Prince Harry released a video earlier this week encouraging Americans to vote, President Trump said at a White House press briefing: “I’m not a fan of [Markle’s]. . . . I would say this – and she probably has heard that – I wish a lot of luck to Harry, because he’s going to need it.” This is a clear reference to the emasculating effect Black women supposedly have on the men in their lives.

Much of this can be tied to intersectionality, a term coined by lawyer (and creator of the #SayHerName online movement) Kimbelé Crenshaw in 1989 to describe how Black women experience both racial and gender-based inequality. In a 2017 interview, Crenshaw described intersectionality as “a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects.” Looking at how Black women are oppressed—through their intimate relationships, their sexuality, and the perception that they do not conform to the supposed norm of a quiet, calm woman—one can see how both their gender and their race play significant roles.

The following is a list of resources available through UT Libraries on the experiences of Black women, intersectionality, and the role of protests in advancing racial justice. The vast majority of these works were written by Black female authors.

Resources

Black Women Authors and Experiences

Cooper, B., Morris, S., & Boylorn, R. (2017). The Crunk Feminist Collection. The Feminist Press.

This is a collection of essays that appeared in The Crunk Feminist Collective, an online group that aims to create a “space of support and camaraderie for hip hop generation feminists of color, queer and straight, in the academy and without.”

Gay, R. (2014). Bad Feminist : Essays. Harper Perennial.

Gay’s 2014 widely praised collection of essays approaches pop culture through a Black feminist lens.

hooks, b. (1989). Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. Routledge.

In this seminal work, hooks explores what it means to “talk back” to oppressive authority as an equal.

Taylor, K., Smith, B., Smith, B., Frazier, D., Garza, A., & Ransby, B. (eds) (2017). How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. Haymarket Books.

The Combahee River Collective, which was active from 1974 to 1980, was a group of queer Black feminists who sought to empower Black feminism as something that was separate from the (often racist) mainstream feminist movement. Their 1977 statement of beliefs can be found here.

Tinsley, O. (2019). Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism. University of Texas Press.

In her memoir, UT Professor Omise’eke Tinsley traces her experiences as a Black woman in America through the lens of Beyonce’s 2016 album Lemonade.

Intersectionality

 Davis, A. (2017). Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. Haymarket Books.

World-renowned scholar Angela Davis traces the commonalities and differences in the experience of oppression throughout history across the world.

Eric-Udorie, J. (ed.) (2018). Can We All Be Feminists?: New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism. Penguin Publishing Group.

This recent collection of essays by some of the top voices in feminist scholarship looks at the role of intersectionality in twenty-first century American culture.

Nash, J. (2020). Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality. Duke University Press.

Nash critiques how intersectionality has been coopted and altered by shifting norms in feminist scholarship.

Protests

 Cobbina, J. (2020). Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Why the Protests in Ferguson and Baltimore Matter, and How They Changed America. New York University Press.

Cobbina interviewed over two hundred residents in Ferguson and Baltimore in order to place their individual experiences of the protests (and of the events that led to the unrest) within the broader context of American culture.

Ward, J. (ed.) (2017). The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race. Scribner.

Jesmyn Ward edited this book of essays about how the themes and ideas in James Baldwin’s famous 1963 book apply to today’s world.

The Complex Role of Protests in America

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by three Minneapolis police officers. His death was the latest in a long line of black people dying at the hands of police, including the late-night shooting death of EMT Breonna Taylor by Louisville police in her own apartment and the death of Mike Ramos, an unarmed man of black and Latinx descent, by Austin police on April 24, 2020. For many, it was also reminiscent of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in February, who was chased and shot by two white men while jogging near his home. While Arbery was not killed by police officers, it was a harsh reminder that the possibility of racially motivated violence against people of color is always present in American society.

Since late May, protests in response to police brutality against people of color and other acts of racist violence have spread across the country. Many of the protests have been guided by the principles of non-violence as set down by Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and other civil rights leaders. At a virtual town hall organized by the organization My Brother’s Keeper, former President Barack Obama both decried the police violence that led to Floyd’s death and also called upon protesters to remain peaceful.

However, in some places there has also been violence, including rioting and looting either by protesters or by other parties. Determining where a protest ends and a riot begins (if there even is a clear distinction) is difficult. Some scholars even argue that a certain degree of violence is an inevitable part of American protesting. After all, one of the most famous protests in American history– the Boston Tea Party– was an act of material destruction.

Likewise, the act of rioting has been construed by some as a means of last resort when all other avenues of change, including voting and peaceful protests, have failed. In a recent interview, Rep. Maxine Waters described the riots in California in 1992 as “an explosion of a hopelessness being played out” and went on to compare the 1992 riots to the current situation. While she points out several similarities between the two periods of unrest, including the lack of trust in the police, she also sees an important difference between them—specifically that in the recent protests there have been many white people joining black people in calling out for racial equity. In her words: “That’s telling us something — that it’s not only black people fed up with the police Establishment.”

Using the resources listed here, we invite you to explore the complex role protests play in American politics with a special emphasis on the ongoing struggle for racial equality. In future blog posts, we will discuss less frequently recognized events of racial violence in American history and the tradition of LGBTQ+ activism (including the Stonewall Riots of 1969).

Please note: All annotations have been taken from the resource itself.

Books

Gottheimer, J., ed. (2003). Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches. Link.

Including a never-before published speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., this is the first compilation of its kind, bringing together the most influential and important voices from two hundred years of America’s struggle for civil rights, including essential speeches from leaders, both famous and obscure. With voices as diverse as Cesar Chavez, Harvey Milk, Betty Friedan, Frederick Douglass, and Sojourner Truth, this anthology constitutes a unique chronicle of the nation’s civil rights movements and the critical issues they’ve tackled, from slavery and suffrage to immigration and affirmative action. This is an indispensable compilation of the words –the ripples of hope–that, collectively, have changed American history.

Cover of How To Read a Protest by L.A. Kauffman
Cover of How To Read a Protest by L.A. Kauffman

Kauffman, L. (2018). How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resistance. https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520972209

In this original and richly illustrated account, organizer and journalist L.A. Kauffman delves into the history of America’s major demonstrations, beginning with the legendary 1963 March on Washington, to reveal the ways protests work and how their character has shifted over time. Using the signs that demonstrators carry as clues to how protests are organized, Kauffman explores the nuanced relationship between the way movements are made and the impact they have. How to Read a Protest sheds new light on the catalytic power of collective action and the decentralized, bottom-up, women-led model for organizing that has transformed what movements look like and what they can accomplish.
Streitmatter, R. (2001). Voices of Revolution: The Dissident Press in America. https://doi.org/10.7312/stre12248
Streitmatter tells the stories of dissident American publications and press movements of the last two centuries, and of the colorful individuals behind them. From publications that fought for the disenfranchised to those that promoted social reform, Voices of Revolution examines the abolitionist and labor press, black power publications of the 1960s, the crusade against the barbarism of lynching, the women’s movement, and antiwar journals. Streitmatter also discusses gay and lesbian publications, contemporary on-line journals, and counterculture papers like The Kudzu and The Berkeley Barb that flourished in the 1960s.
Tufekci, Z. (2017). Twitter and Tear Gas : The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest. Link.
An incisive observer, writer, and participant in today’s social movements, Zeynep Tufekci explains in this accessible and compelling book the nuanced trajectories of modern protests—how they form, how they operate differently from past protests, and why they have difficulty persisting in their long-term quests for change. Tufekci speaks from direct experience, combining on-the-ground interviews with insightful analysis. . . . These details from life inside social movements complete a moving investigation of authority, technology, and culture—and offer essential insights into the future of governance.

Films

Peck, R., & Brown, J. (2016). I Am Not Your Negro. Documentary available on Kanopy. E-book available through UT Libraries.

Cover of I Am Not Your Negro documentary
I Am Not Your Negro documentary, a continuation of a book envisioned by Civil Rights activist James Baldwin

An Oscar-nominated documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends–Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and flood of rich archival material.

Speeches and Music

Seale, B., & Educational Video Group. (1973). Bobby Seale : Speech on Black Panthers Movement. Link.

This is a video of Bobby Seale giving a speech about the values of the Black Panther Party.
Duration: 3 min.
Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs, 1960-1966. (1997). Link.
These 43 tracks are a series of musical images, of a people in conversation about their determination to be free. Many of the songs were recorded live in mass meetings held in churches, where people from different life experiences, predominantly black, with a few white supporters, came together in a common struggle. These freedom songs draw from spirituals, gospel, rhythm and blues, football chants, blues and calypso forms.

Online Resources and Newspaper Articles

Jackson, K.C. (1 June 2020). “The Double Standard of the American Riot.” The Atlantic. Link.

“Today, peaceful demonstrations and violent riots alike have erupted across the country in response to police brutality and the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Yet the language used to refer to protesters has included lootersthugs, and even claims that they are un-American. The philosophy of force and violence to obtain freedom has long been employed by white people and explicitly denied to black Americans.”

Hannah-Jones, N., et al. The 1619 Project. The New York Times Magazine. Link.

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

Texas After Violence Project (part of the UT Libraries Human Rights Documentations Initiative) Link.

In 2009, the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) partnered with the independent, Austin-based nonprofit organization, Texas After Violence Project (TAVP), a human rights and restorative justice project that studies the effects of interpersonal and state violence on individuals, families, and communities. Its mission is to build a digital archive that serves as a resource for community dialogue and public policy to promote alternative, nonviolent ways to prevent and respond to violence. The HRDI is working with TAVP to ensure the long-term preservation and access of its digital video testimonies, transcripts and organizational records.

Honoring Black Lives: Josephine Baker

In light of everything that is going on in our country right now, I briefly considered cancelling plans to publish this post, which has been on our planning calendar since last Fall. The DAC blog team is working on other posts related to protests and social movements around racial justice and the history of systemic and violent racist oppression in the United States. Those posts will go up as soon as we are able to get them finished.

While we all grieve the violent and needless deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN; Michael Ramos in Austin, TX; Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY; Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, GA; and Tony McDade in Tallahassee, FL, it is my hope that remembering the incredible life of Josephine Baker on the 114th anniversary of her birth will provide another avenue today for honoring black lives and black legacies in the United States.

Black lives matter.

Early Life

Image of Josephine Baker
Van Vechten, C. (1949) Portrait of Josephine Baker, Paris, 1949. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress.
Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906 in St. Louis. Her early life was hard. Her father abandoned Baker and her mother shortly after she was born, and she began work as a maid at the age of 8 for white families at whose hands she experience both neglect and physical and sexual abuse. At the age of 11, she survived the East St. Louis Race Riots.

At age 13, Baker ran away from home. She began working as a waitress in a club and married a man named Willie Wells, whom she separated from after only a few weeks, though technically the marriage was never legal due to Baker’s age. She performed in clubs and on the streets until she began touring the United States with an all-black theatre troupe based out of Philadelphia. At 15, she married Will Baker, and though this marriage lasted only a little longer than her first, she kept the name Baker for the rest of her life.

Fame

Baker’s comedy skills provided her with increasingly successful performance roles and an undeniable place in the Harlem Renaissance. In 1925, she was invited to join La Revue Nègre at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. She was 19 and already one of the highest paid performers in vaudeville. In Paris, her comedy and dance routines were celebrated, but it wasn’t until her performances turned to the more exotic that she truly achieved the international fame she is known for.

Image of Josephine Baker posing with her pet cheetah
Photo Card No.101, Dancer Josephine Baker posing with a cheetah wearing a collar, photograph by Piaz Studios of Paris, Early 1930’s. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Baker embraced the exotification at the time, regardless of how she may have felt personally about her “Africanized” burlesque performances. She became a larger than life persona, even adopting a pet cheetah, which she named Chiquita, and walked on a leash with a diamond collar.

In 1927, she became the first black woman to star in a movie, Siren of the Tropics, a silent French Film. This debut was followed with two “talkies,” Zouzou in 1934 and Princess Tam Tam in 1935.

Baker’s fame continued to skyrocket. She expanded her repertoire and her performances matured until she was one of the highest paid performers in the world.

Baker was an American expat in Paris at the same time as Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, all of whom, along with other Jazz Age artists including Picasso and Colette, considered Baker as a muse.

She returned to the U.S. a couple of times, but was frustrated and disgusted at the racism she experienced. In the time of McCarthyism, she was accused of communism, and hounded by both the FBI and the CIA.

Baker married her third husband, a Frenchman, in 1937. Like the other marriages, this one didn’t last long, but it did provide Baker with the opportunity to become a French citizen, after which she renounced her American citizenship.

Over the years, she had many lovers of all genders, including a nearly 10-year relationship with her manager and a Sicilian count, Pepito Abatino. While Baker never labeled her sexuality, she did have affairs with women throughout her life, including Ada Smith, Colette, and possibly Frida Kahlo.

Espionage

When World War II broke out, Baker remained in Paris, which by then, she considered her country. Baker worked as a nurse for the Red Cross. When France became occupied, Baker joined the French Resistance, smuggling information across enemy lines and hiding weapons and refugees at her chateau. Her international performances provided Baker with a unique opportunity. She would perform and attend parties at the Italian Embassy and then pass along any information she learned to the resistance, written in invisible ink on her music sheets.

For about a year and a half during the war, an illness kept Baker confined to a Casablanca clinic. However, even there, she joined the women’s auxiliary of the Free French forces as a sublieutenant and performed for the allied troops.

For her work during the war, Baker was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Légion d’Honneur with the Rosette of the Résistance.

Civil Rights

When the war was over, Baker returned to France and turned her considerable energy to the fight for civil rights. She married (self-identified homosexual) bandleader Jo Bouillon, and though they eventually separated, they remained married throughout Baker’s life. Together, they adopted 12 children of different races and religions from around the world. Baker called them her “Rainbow Tribe.”

After 9 years of “retirement,” Baker found herself facing serious debts that forced her to return to performing. She returned to the stage with a musical autobiography called Paris mes Amours at the Olympia Theatre in Paris in 1959.

She often returned to the US throughout the 50s and 60s to support the Civil Rights Movement. While in the U.S., she refused to perform for segregated audiences, and in 1963, she was the only woman asked to speak at the March on Washington.

In 1969, she and her children were evicted from the chateau in southern France where they had lived since the end of the war. However, Princess Grace of Monaco stepped in, offering Baker and her family a villa in Monaco and helping to fund a new show titled Joséphine to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her Paris debut.

After a few performances of the new show, Baker died peacefully in her sleep in her chosen country, France. Even in death, Baker accomplished another notable first. She was the first and only American woman to be buried with military honors and a 21-gun salute in France. Over 20,000 people lined the streets of Paris to mourn her passing and honor her life.

References

  1. Josephine Baker Biography. (2020). A&E Television Networks. Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/performer/josephine-baker
  2. Josephine Baker. (2004). In Encyclopedia of World Biography (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 448-451). Detroit, MI: Gale. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3404700392/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=c379cd99
  3. Norwood, A. R. (2017). “Josephine Baker.” National Women’s History Museum. Retrieved from https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/josephine-baker
  4. Josephine Baker. (2003). Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved from http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/j/josephine-baker/
  5. Strong, L. Q. (2006). Baker, Josephine. Reprinted from http://www.glbtq.com. Retrieved from http://www.glbtqarchive.com/arts/baker_josephine_A.pdf
  6. CIA report on activities in Latin America of Negro singer Josephine Baker. (1953, February 10). United States: Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CK2349254187/GDCS?u=txshracd2598&sid=GDCS&xid=52ea60d3
  7. Josephine Baker in new challenge. (1969, March 11). Times, p. 5. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CS84504683/GDCS?u=txshracd2598&sid=GDCS&xid=8242988a

Resource Highlights

Videos

In her own words

Biographies

News & Magazine Articles

Books

Children’s Books

Audio

Link to YouTube video of Josephine Baker performing The Charleston on August 24th, 1928
Josephine Baker performing The Charleston on August 24th, 1928

 

Public Domain images of Eleanor Roosevelt

The Life and Legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt

By Elle Covington and Brenna Wheeler

This week, we’re celebrating the life and legacy of the rabble rousing and possibly queer human rights activist and First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. She was an outspoken and controversial figure during her life, making many interesting friends and powerful enemies, including J. Edgar Hoover, and thus the FBI. She has the distinction of having one of the largest files in the FBI’s collection.

The sheer amount accomplished during her 78 years can and does fill volumes, and though we can’t do the full breadth or depth of it justice here, we highly recommend the linked resources to get a taste of the fascinating life of this fearless person.

October 11 marks the 135th anniversary of her birth, and it feels especially appropriate this year to revisit her words and reflect on the legacy that continues through the ongoing struggle for equality for all people, including those she considered her chosen family.

Early Years

Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884 in New York City to Anna Rebecca Hall and Elliot Roosevelt, brother of future president Theodore Roosevelt. She was raised by her maternal grandmother, Mary Livingston Ludlow after the death of both of her parents by the time Roosevelt was 9.

In 1905, at the age of 20, Eleanor Roosevelt married her fifth cousin, once removed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. During the early years of their marriage, she became increasingly politically and socially active, while her husband started his own political climb.

Image of the Cover of The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

White House Years

In 1933, FDR was inaugurated as the 32nd president of the United States and Eleanor Roosevelt became an explosive and influential first lady. Two days after the inauguration, Roosevelt became the 1st First Lady to hold her own press conferences. The idea was suggested to her by Associated Press reporter Lorena Hickok, who Roosevelt would go on to have long and likely intimate relationship.

Attendance at these press conferences was restricted to women reporters only, beginning the Women’s Press Corps for the White House. This forced many newspapers to hire women reporters—often the first women they’d ever hired for these positions—so that they’d be able to cover the press conferences.

Roosevelt also began writing a regular newspaper column, entitled “My Day,” and worked as a radio commentator to the chagrin of many in the White House. On December 7, 1941, Roosevelt gave a radio address on the attack at Pearl Harbor before FDR’s address to the nation.

During World War II, Roosevelt continued to be a voice for human rights. She wrote and spoke out harshly against Hitler and Mussolini and even openly criticized and argued against her husband’s policy of Japanese internment in the US. She lobbied for day care centers and wage equity for women entering the work force, and convinced FDR to create a Committee on Fair Employment Practices to ban employment discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity.

Image of Book Cover of No Ordinary Time
No Ordinary Time

Post-White House Years

FDR died in April 1945 while still in office, ending Roosevelt’s time as First Lady after 12 years in the position. However, this did not conclude her influence or humanitarian drive. No longer constrained by the political restraints of the white house, she immediately joined the NAACP Board of Directors and the Congress on Racial Equality Board. Then, in December, President Truman appointed Roosevelt to serve as the only woman delegate to the new United Nations General Assembly.

In April 1946, Roosevelt became the first chairperson of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, where she was instrumental in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She went on to have a long and influential tenure in the United Nations.

In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Roosevelt to chair the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. Though she participated in the commission for as long as she was able, Roosevelt succumbed to bone marrow disease before the final report could be issued.

Relationships and FBI File

During her life, Roosevelt’s social status as well as her activism put her into contact with many well-known figures. She forged long-standing friendships with such pioneers as Carrie Chapman Catt, Pauli Murray, Martha Gellhorn, and Amelia Earhart as well as many other reformers and activists.

There has been much debate surrounding the extent of the relationship between Roosevelt and AP reporter Lorena Hickok. Lengthy, daily letters between the two hint at more than a platonic friendship, at least during some portion of their relationship. Whether or not the relationship ever became physical, queer relationships were not a foreign concept for Roosevelt. Her closest friendships throughout the 1920s were with two lesbian couples whom she considered her chosen family: Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook, and Esther Lape and Elizabeth Read (p. 70).

Image of Book cover of Eleanor and Hick
Eleanor and Hick: The love affair that shaped a First Lady

Image of book cover of Empty without you
Empty Without You: the intimate letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok

Roosevelt’s friendship with activist and future Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Lash brought Roosevelt to the attention of the FBI, culminating in a 3,000 page FBI file following her through the White House years and beyond, concerned primarily with her involvement in civil rights activism.

Legacy

Thirty-eight years after her death, President Clinton declared October 11, 2000 Eleanor Roosevelt Day in honor of her tireless work to promote the health, dignity, and welfare of all people. Now, 19 years after that, October 11 is marked by a US Supreme Court hearing in which the basic tenants of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights hang in the balance.

Earlier this week, the court began hearing and debating three cases of alleged employment discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The debate centers around whether or not sexual and gender minorities fall under the employment protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Throughout her life, and especially during the later years when her most ardent civil rights work was accomplished, Roosevelt adamantly insisted that education, housing, and employment were basic human rights, to which all people are entitled.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, arguably Roosevelt’s greatest accomplishment:

  • Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
  • Article 7: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”
  • Article 23
    • (1): “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    • (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    • (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    • (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

*Read the full declaration

It is still to be seen whether the Supreme Court will follow the example of Eleanor Roosevelt in declaring these rights for all people, or whether they will decide that employers are able to deny the right to employment to members of a community with whom Roosevelt, if she were alive today, might even choose to identify.

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected next June.

More Collection HighlightsImage of Book Cover for Eleanor Roosevelt and the anti-nuclear movement

Her Own Words

Correspondence

AV Materials

*Featured photos at the top of this post are Public Domain images courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library archives.

Image of Gloria Anzaldua

Celebrating the Birth and Life of Gloria Anzaldúa

For the latest blog post, we want to celebrate the birthday of Gloria Anzaldúa by highlighting her life and works. The full post is available on TexLibris, the blog of the Office of the Director of the University of Texas Libraries. Thanks so much to Julia Davila Coppedge, the LLILAS Benson User Services GRA for writing this post.

Check out a sample of the post below and be sure to check out UT Libraries and Benson Latin American Collection materials by and about Anzaldúa.

“I am a Libra (Virgo cusp) with VI — The Lovers destiny”: Celebrating the Birth and Life of Gloria Anzaldúa By Julia Davila Coppedge

Her Life

Seventy-seven years ago, on September 26th, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa was born to migrant farmers Urbano and Amalia Anzaldúa in Raymondville, Texas. As the oldest of four, she helped work on ranches and farms to help support her family. It was during this time in the Valley that she first learned about discrimination against Mexican Americans. Anzaldúa would later leave South Texas, living in other parts of the state, and in Indiana and California. She would also spend a large part of her career traveling internationally. But, her experiences growing up in the borderlands would influence her writing for the rest of her career, as she alludes to, when states that “I am a turtle, wherever I go I carry ‘home’ on my back.”

Anzaldúa was a self-described “tejana patlache (queer) nepantlera spiritual activist.” Her contributions to U.S. American literature, U.S. feminisms, queer theory, postcolonial theory, and Chicana/o Studies cannot be overstated. Anzaldúa won many awards in her lifetime including the National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Award (1991) and the Lambda Lesbian Small Book Press Award (1991).

Anzaldúa died on May 15, 2004 due to Diabetes-related complications. It is fitting we celebrate Anzaldúa’s life in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed September 15th – October 15th.

Her Time at UT Austin

Anzaldúa received her master’s degree in English and Education in 1972 at UT and returned in 1974 to pursue a PhD in Literature. In the foreword to the third edition of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color, she reflected on her struggles at UT: “As a Chicana, I felt invisible, alienated from the gringo university and dissatisfied with both el movimiento Chicano and the feminist movement…I rebelled, using my writing to work through my frustrations and make sense of my experiences.”

Read more.

Image of Toni Morrison with quote

Remembering Toni Morrison

In memory and celebration of the life of Toni Morrison, we’d like to highlight her words and works.

Resource list compiled by Sarah Brandt

Archives

  • Toni Morrison Papers (mostly 1970-2015) 1908-2017 – Princeton University. Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
    • “Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford, 1931) is a Nobel prize-winning American author, editor, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. The material described in this finding aid consists of manuscripts, drafts, galleys, and proofs of Morrison’s novels and other writings; personal correspondence; editorial files relating to Morrison’s work at Random House and later publication of two posthumous works by Toni Cade Bambara; academic and teaching files, particularly pertaining to SUNY Albany and Princeton University; working files; press clippings; published books, photographs, audiovisual materials, and awards and memorabilia.”

Words

Works

Browse the UT Libraries’ catalog for more by Toni Morrison

News

Visit the physical display on the New Books shelf by the entryway of PCL.

Images of Seneca Falls organizers

Reading Recommendations for the 171st Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention

This week marks the 171st anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, often seen as the launching point for the Women’s Rights Movement. In honor of this anniversary, UT Libraries’ Graduate Research Assistant for Information Literacy Services, Natalia Kapacinskas has recommended some materials from the UT Libraries collection . Enjoy!

*This post discusses an historical event and may use some terms and vocabulary that some readers may feel are out of date. We acknowledge that terms are constantly evolving and certain terms have been abandoned or expanded by the communities that use them for good reason. However, for this post the decision has been made to use the vocabulary of the sources from which information was pulled unless deemed inappropriate.

By Natalia Kapacinskas

In 1840, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met at the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention. The women shared the Quaker faith, abolitionist beliefs, and were supporters of the growing movement in favor of expanding women’s political and social rights in the United States. Together, they worked towards these shared goals.

Eight years later, Mott and Stanton organized a convention on women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York, held July 19-20, 1848. This month marks the 171st anniversary of that event. The Woman’s Rights Convention was attended by 240 people, the vast majority of whom were women. The Convention culminated in the writing of a “Declaration of Sentiments” in favor of increased women’s rights which mirrored the United States Declaration of Independence. However, unlike the original Declaration, the Seneca Falls Declaration asserted the importance of women’s rights to vote, own property, and receive adequate wages.

UT Libraries provides access to many of the primary sources generated by the Seneca Falls conference, including its news coverage and proceedings. For example, the Convention was publicized in the Seneca County Courier the week prior.

Check out this printed version of the Convention proceedings.

Image of "The Rights of Women" column in the North Star on June 28, 1848
Click to see full PDF

After the Convention, Frederick Douglass published a brief report on what had transpired, titling the column, “The Rights of Women.”

Image of "The Rights of Women" column in the North Star on August 11, 1848
Click to see full PDF

A more robust account of the Convention was published about two weeks later, also in the North Star. This time, it was front-page news, along with a full listing of the resolutions passed at the Convention.

*The above images were taken from UT Libraries’ microfilm holdings of The North Star, which are available to check out. You can also access The North Star online.

Autobiographies

UT Libraries also has a number of autobiographies and original literary works written by the participants of the Woman’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls. Explore those below:

“Based on material from Douglass’ three autobiographies: Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave, 1845; My bondage and my freedom, 1855; and Life and times of Frederick Douglass, 1881. Material edited for this recording by Dr. Philip S. Foner.”

“Elizabeth Cady Stanton recalls the discontent that led her to launch the woman suffrage movement at Seneca Falls in 1848 and the frustration of having no voice in her own government after a half century of hard work.”

“Juxtaposed with contemporary reports and biographical essays, the words of this legendary suffragist reveal Susan B. Anthony as a loyal, caring friend, and an eloquent, humorous crusader. ‘More than a collection of well-arranged quotations, the work informs, inspires, and gives historical perspective.’–The Houston Post.”

“Committed abolitionist, controversial Quaker minister, tireless pacifist, fiery crusader for women’s rights–Lucretia Mott was one of the great reformers in America history. Drawing on widely scattered archives, newspaper accounts, and other sources, Lucretia Mott Speaks unearths the essential speeches and remarks from Mott’s remarkable career. The editors have chosen selections representing important themes and events in her public life. Extensive annotations provide vibrant context and show Mott’s engagement with allies and opponents. The result is an authoritative resource, one that enriches our understanding of Mott’s views, rhetorical strategies, and still-powerful influence.”

Women of Color and Women’s Rights

Some groups were under- or un- represented at the Convention. The only African American individual to attend was Frederick Douglass, and there were no women of color at the Convention. However, women such as Sojourner Truth, Anna J. Cooper, and Ida B. Wells were highly involved in working toward women’s rights during this time period. You can learn more about their lives and work in the recommended reading list below.

“This memoir, first published in 1850, recounts the struggles of a distinguished African-American abolitionist and champion of women’s rights. Sojourner Truth tells of her life in slavery, her self-liberation, and her travels across America in pursuit of racial and sexual equality. Essential reading for students of American history.”

“Considered one of the original texts foretelling the black feminist movement, this collection of essays, first published in 1892, offers an unparalleled view into the thought of black women writers in nineteenth-century America. ”

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was one of the foremost crusaders against black oppression. This engaging memoir tells of her private life as mother of a growing family as well as her public activities as teacher, lecturer, and journalist in her fight against attitudes and laws oppressing blacks.

From the scholars

“The book covers 50 years of women’s activism, from 1840-1890, focusing on four extraordinary figures–Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony. McMillen tells the stories of their lives, how they came to take up the cause of women’s rights, the astonishing advances they made during their lifetimes, and the lasting and transformative effects of the work they did. At the convention they asserted full equality with men, argued for greater legal rights, greater professional and education opportunities, and the right to vote–ideas considered wildly radical at the time… A vibrant portrait of a major turning point in American women’s history, and in human history, this book is essential reading for anyone wishing to fully understand the origins of the woman’s rights movement.”

“For too long the history of how American women won the right to vote has been told as the visionary adventures of a few iconic leaders, all white and native-born, who spearheaded a national movement. In this essential reconsideration, Susan Ware uncovers a much broader and more diverse history waiting to be told. Why They Marched is the inspiring story of the dedicated women–and occasionally men–who carried the banner in communities across the nation, out of the spotlight, protesting, petitioning, and demonstrating for the right to become full citizens.”

“The story of how the women’s rights movement began at the Seneca Falls convention of 1848 is a cherished American myth. The standard account credits founders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott with defining and then leading the campaign for women’s suffrage. In her provocative new history, Lisa Tetrault demonstrates that Stanton, Anthony, and their peers gradually created and popularized this origins story during the second half of the nineteenth century in response to internal movement dynamics as well as the racial politics of memory after the Civil War.”

Today

Although the Seneca Falls Convention is remembered as an initial step towards women’s right to vote in the United States, that right was not granted until 72 years later when the 19th amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1920.

Today, nearly 200 later, current events remind us of the assertions of the congregants at Seneca Falls: that women should have “equal right to think, speak and act on all subjects that interest the human family” (Abigail Bush. “Selections. Woman’s Rights Convention,” North Star, 11 August 1848).

Access to equal pay for women is one topic under discussion in recent days. Specifically, the victory of the US Women’s National Soccer team at the World Cup has brought attention to their efforts to be paid equally to the Men’s national team.

Read more about that issue here:

 

**Featured images left to right:

  • Lucretia Coffin Mott; photograph by Frederic Gutekunst (1865), Public Domain
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, seated, and Susan B. Anthony, standing; photograph by David B. Edmonston (between 1880 and 1902), Public Domain
  • Frederick Douglass; photograph by unknown (circa 1866), Public Domain
Image of book cover, "Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights" by Ann Bausum, cropped

What to read and watch for the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots

by Brenna Wheeler

*This post discusses an historical event and uses terms and vocabulary that may feel out of date to some readers. We acknowledge that terms are constantly evolving and certain terms have been abandoned or expanded by the communities that use them for good reason. However, for this post the decision has been made to use the vocabulary of the sources from which information was pulled. For more information on current terms, please visit the Gender and Sexuality Center’s Glossary.

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a major catalyst for the Gay Liberation movement and the fight for LGBTQIA+ Rights. In honor of this occasion, the UT Libraries Diversity Action Committee would like to highlight a couple of pieces in our collection to contextualize this historical event.

The Stonewall Riots

Tony Lauria, the son of a Mafia boss, three of his childhood friends, and Matty Ianello, another member of the Mafia, first opened the Stonewall Inn on March 18, 1967 (Carter 2004, pg. 1). Like many gay bars of the 1960s, the Stonewall Inn was a “bottle club” that sold alcohol to private parties and did not require a liquor license (Bausum 2015, pg. 24; Carter 2004, pg. 68). The lack of a license made these businesses the targets of frequent police raids, so the Mafia bosses who ran these clubs made weekly payments to the local police precinct to avoid being raided (or at least receive warning in advance of a raid) (Bausum 2015, pg. 25). The Mafia owners would then make a profit on overcharging for watered-down drinks and not maintaining proper sanitation (Bausum 2015, pg. 5).

Despite these conditions, Stonewall quickly became a popular place for the gay and transgender communities to dance, drink, and socialize. Before it became legal, the Stonewall dancefloors were one of the few places that allowed same-sex couples to dance together (Bausum 2015, pg. 6). Its placement on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village also generated plenty of foot-traffic, so there was always a crowd on Friday and Saturday nights (Bausum 2015, pg. 27).

At 2:00 AM on June 28, 1969, a police team led by Inspector Seymour Pine raided the Stonewall Inn with the intent of arresting the employees, the mafia members, and those who were not wearing at least three pieces of gender-conforming clothing. Some of the patrons who were allowed to leave stayed outside the bar and were joined by friends and pedestrians. The crowd cheered at the arrest of the Mafia members, but they became angry when the police began arresting the drag queens. According to several witnesses, the crowd finally rioted when a lesbian patron managed to escape the police car, and the police roughly shoved back her inside (Carter 2004, pg. 150-153). Many of the officers left by taking the full paddy wagons to the nearest police station, but a small group hid with Inspector Pine inside the Stonewall Inn. Eventually, the Tactical Police Force (TPF) arrived to gain control of the rioters. After two hours, the crowd dispersed, the police left, and the riots ended (Bausum 2015, pg. 37-64). For the next four nights, people gathered, protested, and organized on Christopher Street. Several activist groups joined together to create the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) (Segal 2019, pg. 132).

In the following months, pamphlets such as “Get the Mafia and Cops out of Gay Bars” by Craig Rodwell and “The Hairpin Drop Heard Around The World” by Dick Leitsch spread news of the riots and gathered support for the rapidly expanding Gay Liberation Movement. On July 27th, a protest gathered in Washington Square Park and marched to the Stonewall Inn in celebration of the riots and political activism in the month after the Riots (Bausum 2015, pg. 74). A year later, Craig Rodwell organized the first Pride Parade from Christopher Street to Central Park on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Today, Pride Parades are still held annually during the months of June, July, and occasionally August and celebrated with a surge of rainbow-branded marketing. In the United States, the month of June was officially recognized as Pride Month by the Clinton and Obama administrations. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that bans against gay marriage were unconstitutional, and many activists are still working toward full equality, including advocating for protections against employment discrimination and ensuring that all partners receive the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. The Stonewall Riots created a huge influx of political and social movement that continues today as activists further the work of organizations, such as the Gay Liberation Front.

Citations

  1. Bausum, Ann. 2015. Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights. New York: Penguin Group.
  2. Carter, David. 2004. Stonewall: the Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  3. Segal, Mark. 2019. “And Then I Danced” in The Stonewall Reader. New York: Penguin Classics.

Learn More from Our Collection

Films

Major! (2015) [Online Access]

Image of jacket cover for Major documentaryMiss Major Griffin-Gracy was a participant in the Stonewall Riots. Today, she is still an active supporter and advocate for transgender rights. She is currently Executive Director Emeritus of the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project, which helps and supports transgender women of color in prison or formerly incarcerated. The documentary focuses on her work as an activist and challenges faced by the transgender community by the LGBTQIA+ Community and by society as a whole.

Pride Denied: Homonationalism and the Future of Queer Politics (2016) [Online Access]

Image of jacket cover for Pride Denied filmPride Denied tells the story of how corporate sponsors coopted the concept of LGBTQ pride, turning it into a feel-good brand and blunting its radical political edge. The film locates the origins of pride in sites of grassroots resistance and revolt, going back to the anti-police Stonewall uprising led by queer and trans people of color in 1969. It then traces how the deeply political roots of pride morphed into the depoliticized big-business spectacles of today — multimillion-dollar events designed to project an image of tolerance and equality rather than calling attention to the relationship between normative identity, power, and sexual repression.

Books

Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History by Marc Stein [eBook]

Image of book cover for Stonewall Riots A Documentary HistoryA new addition to the UT Libraries Collection, Marc Stein’s new book retells the story of the Stonewall Riots by presenting over 200 documents relating to the event, including gay-bar guide listings, political fliers, first-person accounts, state court decisions, and song lyrics.

 

 

Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet into the Stonewall Era, Photographs by Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies from the New York Public Library Archives

Image of book cover for "Love and Resistance"Another new addition to the UT Libraries, the New York Public Library Archives published this book in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. Kay Tobin Lahusen and Diana Davies photograph and document the LGBTQIA+ activism, protests, and history. Lahsen was a member of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national organization for lesbians, art editor for The Ladder, the organization’s magazine, and involved with the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA). Davies worked with the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), the Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR), and published photographs in magazines such as Come Out! and Gay Power.

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum

Image of book cover for "Stonewall Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights"

Bausum provides an overview of the Stonewall Riots and its historical context. The book begins with the events leading up to the police raids and describes its lasting effect on the LGBTQIA+ Community, through the AIDS crisis and into the present-day.

 

 

Stonewall: the Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

Image of book cover for Stonewall The Riots that Sparked the Gay RevolutionCarter provides a very detailed historical narrative of the Stonewall Riots, starting with the history of the Greenwich Village and Christopher Street, through the monopoly of the Mafia on gay bars, and the reactions to the events that took place.

Databases