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Handcuffs as “Jewelry of Honor”: Ethel Payne, First Lady of the Black Press

This month, Amistad publishing releases acclaimed biographer James McGrath Morris  Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black Press. I m pleased to carry an excerpt from this first-ever biography of a courageous but unjustly overlooked American journalist.  _____________________ In cold rain on January 4, 1985, Ethel Payne grabbed her cane and left her Washington apartment and headed to the South African embassy on Massachusetts Avenue in the company of a university professor three decades her junior. The embassy had been the site of frequent demonstrations since November, when three activists were arrested for a sit-in protest. Across the country, anti-apartheid forces had been increasingly gaining strength, inspiring protests along with a movement to force institutions, such as universities and colleges, to divest economically from South Africa. For Payne, ending apartheid was the one major battle left in the black freedom struggle across the globe. She did not
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The Day the Purpose of College Changed: From Encouraging Intellectual Curiosity to Teaching Voc-Ed

In the early 1970s, nearly three-quarters of freshmen said it was essential to them to develop a meaningful philosophy of life. About a third felt the same about being very well off financially. Now those fractions have flipped. Why? Dan Barrett, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education points to February 28, 1967 when then-governor Ronald Reagan of California said  we do believe that there are certain intellectual luxuries that perhaps we could do without. Says Barrett, Once prized as a worthy pursuit for all, liberal education that day in 1967 became pointless, an indulgence, a joke. Find out more. David Brooks, on the other hand, blames not funding, politics, or enrollment trends, but this: Somewhere along the way, many people in the humanities lost faith in this uplifting mission. The humanities turned from an inward to an outward focus. They were less about the old notions of truth, beauty and goodness and more about political and social categories like race, class and gend
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#freedom

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. — Emerson, Self-Reliance
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Linguistic Privilege? Preserving Languages as a Corrective to Capitalism and Imperialism

Linguistic chauvinism, now modernized and globalized, argues Ross Perlin in Dissent, is a powerful force contributing to the mass disappearance of languages and cultures, an extinction event with fundamental and incalculable political ramifications. Up to half of all living human languages— mostly those that are undocumented, unwritten, and unknown outside their communities— can be expected to disappear over the next century. Leftists and liberals have recognized the role of global capital and its boundless growth imperative, as well as our own complicity as consumers, in the sixth (and current) mass extinction of biological life forms. So why is there more ambivalence about— or simply less awareness of— a linguistic and cultural emergency equally bound up in centuries of capitalism, imperialism, and nation-building?
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Stories of Love Between Women: When Lesbian Pulp Fiction was Hot | Charles J. Shields

Stories of Love Between Women: When Lesbian Pulp Fiction was Hot | Charles J. Shields | History | Scoop.it
“Come here, Laura.” She looked unearthly as she spoke, with her black hair tumbled, her cheeks crimson. …They stood motionless, so close that they touched. …Laura shook all over. She couldn’t talk except to repeat the other girl’s name over and over, as if she were in a trance…Neither of them heard the phone ring, felt the chill of the rainy night, knew of anything except each other.
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Free Speechers Need to Find a Different Champion: Voltaire Didn’t Say It, and He was an Anti-Semite

The phrase I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it is widely attributed to Voltaire, but cannot be found in his writings. With good reason. The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude. It appeared in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym S[tephen] G. Tallentyre. Hall wrote: The men who had hated [the book], and had not particularly loved Helvétius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. What a fuss about an omelette! he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, was his attitude now. Hall herself claimed later that she had been paraphrasing Voltaire s words in his Essay on Tolerance: Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too. Apart from thi
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In The 'Candlelight' Of The Books Market: Paperbacks Are Selling eBooks

In The 'Candlelight' Of The Books Market: Paperbacks Are Selling eBooks | History | Scoop.it
Even as publishing struggles to quantify its fortunes amid a hobbling lack of sales data, an interesting trend is discerned in the half-light.
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The Best of Literary Criticism in 2014

The Best of Literary Criticism in 2014 | History | Scoop.it
I'll give it to you straight: 2014 was a weird year in literary criticism. There were a lot of "hybrid" pieces, the kind that I'm not altogether fond of. But there were, to be sure, a number of sub...
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Witness at Selma: A Little-Known Chapter in the Life of Howard Zinn | Charles J. Shields

Witness at Selma: A Little-Known Chapter in the Life of Howard Zinn | Charles J. Shields | History | Scoop.it
When Howard Zinn arrived in Atlanta in 1956 to teach history at Spelman, a college for black women, he brought with him more than his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He had grown up poor in Brooklyn, returning from school some winter days to find his mother knitting by candlelight because the electric company had turned off the power. After high school he worked in a shipyard and organized for his union. He participated in the Young Communist League (though he did not join the party). He fought as a bombardier in World War II and in 1948 campaigned for the Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace. While he did not go south intending to enlist in the Negro cause, he wasted no time doing it.
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Nico: The Patti Smith Who Never Was, or the Strange Life of a Sixties Moth

Nico (born Christa Päffgen; 16 October 1938 – 18 July 1988) was a German singer-songwriter, lyricist, composer, musician, fashion model, and actress who became famous as a Warhol Superstar in the 1960s. She is known for her vocals on the Velvet Underground s debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967), and her work as a solo artist. She also had roles in several films, including Federico Fellini s La Dolce Vita (1960) and Andy Warhol s Chelsea Girls (1966). Nico died from a heart attack in July 1988. NPR discussed her haunting singing and the blog, Bitterness Personified posted a few excerpts about her friendship with Patti Smith from Richard Watt s biography, Nico: The Life and Lies of an Icon.
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The Campaign to Prove Shakespeare Didn’t Exist

The greatest ongoing investigation in literary history has been caused entirely by William Shakespeare’s thoughtlessness. He left no paper trail. Not a single poem or letter or play has ever been found in his own hand. We have just six shaky signatures. His will mentions no books, plays or anything else to suggest the balding Stratford…
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Send in the Clown: When John Williams Won the National Book Award

Send in the Clown: When John Williams Won the National Book Award | History | Scoop.it
What could be more gratifying, more plainly a sign of success for a writer than when a limousine arrives to carry him to the National Book Awards ceremony in New York City?
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Can Big History Answer: “What is the Story?”

[T]he 20th century was the era when history professionals emerged— men and women who earned their living from teaching and writing history as employees of universities. Like other professionals, they sought advancement by becoming unquestioned masters of a small terrain, fenced off by their command of specialist archives. The explosion since the 1970s of new subdisciplines— including social history, women’s history and cultural history— encouraged further balkanisation of the subject. Academic historians seemed to be saying more and more about less and less. David Reynolds, Professor of International History at Cambridge, reviews a new book that calls for reversing the decades-old trend of writing microhistories about isolated topics.
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Warfare Prayer and Curses: Asking for Harm to Come to Another

As you read this, someone may be praying against you, wishing you to fail, hoping to be hired in your place, that you convert to their religion, or that “your days be few, and another take your office.” Most people associate prayer with moral good: benevolence, forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. Yet in some cases, people deliberately pray against others in forms of what researcher Elizabeth McAllister calls “aggressive prayer” that aim to harm or remove another party. These cases raise interesting questions about the shadow side of prayer. Attention to aggressive prayer and to the unspoken, negative aspects of positive prayer reveals interesting insights into how we might more fully understand prayer as a part of lived religion. More here at The Immanent Frame.
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5 Ways John Lennon Changed the World

 John Lennon (above with his mother, Julia) will always be remembered as a Beatle. But what s in danger of being forgotten is how in his brief life he changed the world, well beyond thrilling millions with his music. His remark, We’re more popular than Jesus now, was the first major acknowledgement of the power of pop culture. In a March 1966 interview in London, John speculated about the Beatles popularity and the future of Christianity. His ironic comment, We re more popular than Jesus now went practically unnoticed in Britain. But later in July, an American teen magazine, Datebook carried the quote and the Down with the Beatles campaign was on. Albums, posters and Beatles memorabilia burn on a bonfire in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, Aug. 12, 1966. (AP Photo) Churches held burnings of their records; Mexico, Spain, and South Africa each officially issued a ban on all Beatles records. The Vatican, no less, denounced Lennon in its newspaper, L Osservatore Romano. John and the rest of
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What To Do With My Dead Body

A meditation on what to do with his mortal coil by Charlie Huenemann at 3 Quarks Daily: If we believed in souls and spirits, in reincarnation, in a mystical symbiosis among living things, in our being cthonic offspring of a living demiurge— any of these schemes would give us some direction as to what to do with our dead bodies. But the skimpy, scientistic metaphysics with which most of us content ourselves tells us only that dead bodies are biomedical waste. As a culture, we may have dim and distant recollections of having once believed something more about ourselves, but these whispers no longer have any grounding in what we now take to be true. So we are left in a funereal halfway house, with a set of meaningless rituals which we try to package up as meaningful even though any real meaning has long left the building. See more here.
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Website about Comedian Richard Pryor’s Early Years Reveals the History of Race in an American Sin City

With maps, photos, news clippings and written artifacts about Pryor s roots in Illinois, Stanford University s interactive website Richard Pryor s Peoria aims to open up the work of a biography for the digital age.  Traditionally, biographers have done their research— rooted around in archives, said the developers Scott Saul and Erik Steiner, conducted their interviews, and so on–and then streamlined that research to write the story of the person in question. Our aim is to present an interactive archive of the first two decades of the life of Richard Pryor in Peoria, Illinois. The site dramatizes, through an array of primary documents, the historical transformation of Peoria from the Midwest s primary Sin City into a proudly All-American City. It folds into that larger story two more personal stories— the struggles of an African-American family both common and exceptional, which made its living in Peoria s red-light district; and the childhood and young adulthood of Richard Pry
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Is It Bad Craziness? Satirical Cartoonist Ralph Steadman on the Right to Offend | Charles J. Shields

Is It Bad Craziness? Satirical Cartoonist Ralph Steadman on the Right to Offend | Charles J. Shields | History | Scoop.it
“Yes,” Steadman replies. “It is quite reasonable for a reader to be offended. It’s slightly less reasonable to enter an office armed with two Kalashnikovs and a grenade. Most people would regard that as something of an overreaction.”
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Where Else? Tomb of Osiris, Egyptian God of the Dead, Found in Necropolis | Charles J. Shields

Where Else? Tomb of Osiris, Egyptian God of the Dead, Found in Necropolis | Charles J. Shields | History | Scoop.it
Wonder where they looked before....
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Sense & Sensibility | The Austen Project

Sense & Sensibility | The Austen Project | History | Scoop.it
For anyone interested in classic novels with a modern spin you should check out The Austen Project! Austen Reimagined http://t.co/gAcHTXvuh5
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When Writers Pick Their Favorite Books - Daily Beast

When Writers Pick Their Favorite Books - Daily Beast | History | Scoop.it
In a Q&A, Pamela Paul, the editor of the New York Times Book Review's By the Book feature, talks about getting writers to talk about books, disappointing film flacks, and how the paper picks its winners.
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Among the Disrupted: On the Bankruptcy of the Digital Utopia

Leon Wieseltier mounts a powerful and transcendent argument defending knowledge via the humanities versus useless information gathered by technology. The notion that the nonmaterial dimensions of life must be explained in terms of the material dimensions, and that nonscientific understandings must be translated into scientific understandings if they are to qualify as knowledge, is increasingly popular inside and outside the university, where the humanities are disparaged as soft and impractical and insufficiently new. The contrary insistence that the glories of art and thought are not evolutionary adaptations, or that the mind is not the brain, or that love is not just biology’s bait for sex, now amounts to a kind of heresy. So, too, does the view that the strongest defense of the humanities lies not in the appeal to their utility — that literature majors may find good jobs, that theaters may economically revitalize neighborhoods — but rather in the appeal to their defiantly no
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Openly Religious Employees Are Happier Employees

According to a recent study from Kansas State University, the company Christmas party isn’t just an excuse to get drunk on your employer s tab but is actually an integral part of workers’ happiness. In many offices, religion and work just don’t seem to mix, but Sooyeol Kim, a doctoral student at Kansas State, believes the two…
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Kurt Vonnegut Captured at the Battle of the Bulge: Christmas, 1944

In this Part I excerpt from And So It Goes (Henry Holt & Co., 2011), Kurt Vonnegut— an infantryman with the 101st division, 423rd regiment— lands at Le Harve on the coast of France. Untried, untested in combat, he s moved up to the front, and to the exact center of what becomes the Battle of the Bulge. When Vonnegut and the rest of the 423rd Regiment crossed the English Channel on December 6 and waded ashore at Le Havre at dawn, it began to rain. Some of the men laughed and made cracks about “Sunny France.” Surrounding him in the town was the first evidence of combat he had seen: bomb craters, burned-out buildings, and German antiaircraft guns pointed skyward. In a field nearby lay the remains of a crashed Allied bomber. Vonnegut hiked himself over the tailgate of a transport truck and found a spot on a bench inside. Studying the faces of the men as they climbed aboard, his rifle clutched upright between his knees, he felt proud. He had made a choice, one that showed commitme
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