We are relieved that an agreement has been reached today in Cairo to end months of lethal rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. For too long, over half of Israel’s population has lived under a constant threat of fire. No nation should have to endure such an intolerable situation. Like any other country, Israel has the inalienable right and obligation to defend its citizens from attack.
Today’s agreement, which is guaranteed by the Islamist Egyptian government of President Mohamed Morsi, will require Hamas to halt all violence emanating from Gaza into Israel. As the rulers of Gaza, this means Hamas is responsible both for themselves and the other jihadist terrorist groups within Gaza. In exchange, Israel will return quiet for quiet. Hopefully, this will mean that the innocent civilians of Gaza, for whom Hamas has cynically used as human shields, will be able to live their lives in peace as well.
We echo the comments made today by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu who rightfully thanked President Barack Obama for his unqualified support of Israel as she exercised her sovereign right of self-defense. In particular, Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the United States for working with Israel to develop the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which successfully intercepted 400 rockets and missiles purposefully aimed at Israel’s civilian population over the past eight days. The Prime Minister also rightly thanked Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for her work in indefatigably negotiating today’s agreement. We also share Israel’s appreciation for Egypt’s role in resolving the current crisis.
As we move forward, we know that a true and lasting peace can only be achieved by a permanent and complete cessation of violence. This means that the international community must ensure that Iranian attempts to rearm Hamas and the other jihadi terrorists are thwarted. Israelis and Palestinians all deserve to live in peace with security. Accordingly, the JCRC encourages the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table so that a two-state solution can be reached.
The Israel Declaration of Independence contains the phrase—Tzur Yisroel—“Rock of Israel.” The phrase was crafted as a compromise between the religious and the secular as to how to recognize the divine in the rebirth of a Jewish state after 2,000 years.
Public safety is the first priority of any government. There can be no compromise on this issue. Security and democracy are the "rocks" on which the foundation of a nation lies. This underlies the historic partnership between the United States and Israel.
Israel is acting within its sovereign right to self-defense. Among the Hamas terrorists killed was Ahmed Al-Jabari, head of Hamas’ armed Izz al-Dinn Al-Qassam Brigades. This strike occurred after four Katyusha rockets were fired from the Sinai, hitting Bnei Netzarim, a community 3 miles from Gaza. Jabri, mastermind of numerous terror attacks throughout the Intifada and after, has been a "wanted man" for some time and is known most recently as a chief organizer in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. He was also partially responsible for holding a million Israelis hostage for years as a barrage of rocket attacks strike into the heart of Israel’s civilian population.
Along these lines, today's Star Tribune carried today's New York Times story about Israel's Operation: "Pillar of Defense." The New York Times story describes the 750 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel this year and the casualties and damage done--details not included in the Star Tribune story. To supplement both stories, here are the facts as provided by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
· 120 rockets have been fired at Israel this week.
· 133 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza in the last 24 hours.
· Over 760 rockets have been fired at Israel in 2012.
· Over 2500 rockets have been fired at Israel since 2009.
· Terrorists hold more than 10,000 rockets in Gaza.
· One million Israelis, 14% of the population, are under the threat of rocket fire. That is equivalent to 44 million U.S. citizens under the threat of rocket fire.
· 3 Israeli civilians have been killed, Aharon Smadga, 49, Itzik Amsalem, 24, and Mirah Sharf, 26. Sharf was reportedly pregnant.
Yet again, these hostilities have been foisted upon the Palestinian people by their purported leaders. We pray for a swift end to the hostilities for the sake of innocent Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The Israeli departure from Gaza in August 2005 was an opportunity for Palestinians to fulfill their national destiny. Instead, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the land has become a forward position for Iran threatening Israel. And, as an Iranian threat, it is a threat to the Arab world, Europe and the United States.
Israel and the United States stand united in their defense of democracy. In addition to the United States, other world leaders, including Canada and the United Kingdom issued statements supporting Israel’s right to self-defense.
We thank those countries, you and our elected officials for standing beside Israel at this time.
On October 28, 2012, at the American Swedish Institute (“ASI”) campus, the ASI and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (“JCRC”) commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg.
Mr. Wallenberg, in conjunction with diplomats from other neutral countries, saved about 25,000 Budapest Jews from extermination between July, 1944 and January 17, 1945, when he was detained by the Soviets. Mr. Wallenberg is presumed to have died in Soviet hands.
Mr. Wallenberg is an iconic figure to Jews and Swedes alike and all of humanity. The JCRC thanks ASI President and CEO, Bruce Karstadt, the ASI staff, board and supporters for their generosity of spirit and resources in conjunction with the joint programming celebrating the story and legacy of Mr. Wallenberg – who became the second person (after Winston Churchill) awarded honorary American citizenship, in 1981.
Participating in the commemoration – which filled the Nelson Cultural Center capacity of 350 – was Swedish public official, Ingemar Eliasson and Holocaust survivors: Fred Baron, Dr. Robert Fisch and Charles Fodor. Cellist Janet Horvath and pianist Heather MacLaughlin provided music. St. Cloud State University professor Daniel Wildeson moderated the panel discussion.
The program “Unfinished Business: Recognizing Raoul Wallenberg” began with the distribution of a poignant lapel pin representing Mr. Wallenberg. The pin is a replica of Mr. Wallenberg's briefcase left behind after his disappearance in 1945. Etched on the pin are the initials “RW.” Bronze cast sculptures can be found in memorials near the United Nations building in New York City and outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm commemorating Mr. Wallenberg's unfinished work.
The program's keynote speaker, Mr. Eliasson, had a distinguished career in Swedish government: parliamentary leader, Governor of Varmland, Marshall of the Realm and chair of the Commission of Inquiry that investigated Sweden and its response (or lack thereof) to Mr. Wallenberg's disappearance.
Mr. Eliasson provided insights into the life and Budapest mission of Mr. Wallenberg as well as both the Swedish Foreign Ministry's response to Mr. Wallenberg's disappearance and the meaning of his legacy 67 years after the end of the Second World War.
Mr. Eliasson noted that Mr. Wallenberg performed his mission of mercy during the “darkest chapter of human experience” and while for Jews in Budapest “life was at the bottom of hell.” Mr. Wallenberg came from one of the leading families of Sweden and his name was suggested as an emissary for the mission due to a chance meeting: a Wallenberg family business office was located in the same building as offices for American consular officials in Stockholm. Looking for a Swede – in 1944 – to assist the Jews of Budapest, an American riding the elevator with a person from the Wallenberg firm asked for a suggestion. Raoul Wallenberg was suggested.
The suggestion proved prescient. According to Mr. Eliasson, Mr. Wallenberg had many of the qualities required to act audaciously in the presence of Adolf Eichmann and his determination to murder the last large population of Jews surviving in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Seemingly a cross between an OSS agent and a Boy Scout, Wallenberg was handsome and preternaturally calm, possessing a healthy sense of humor and a keen capacity for organization and quick-wittedness. He was also brazen and brave.
Speaking English (he had studied architecture at the University of Michigan in the 1930s) and German – and some Russian – Wallenberg arrived in Budapest in June, 1944 on a joint mission of the Swedish government and the War Refugee Board of the United States government. Germany was destined to lose the war but determined to complete the "Final Solution" even as the Red Army was advancing towards Hungary and the western Allies were fighting in Normandy and ultimately breaking out of their bridgehead for the advance on Germany.
Mr. Wallenberg faced numerous obstacles on the ground in Budapest. The Jews of greater Hungary had already been deported and exterminated at Auschwitz and Wallenberg and his operation – which eventually numbered 400 people – worked assiduously to create the Schutz-Pass ("protective passports" which identified the bearers as Swedish subjects awaiting repatriation and thus prevented their deportation and safe house to protect the Jews of Budapest). Wallenberg's courage and industriousness was displayed both in the streets and buildings of Budapest as well as its rail yards. Wallenberg would get word of trains leaving with Jews for deportation and he would halt the train under the machine pistols of SS officers and demand the release of Jews under Swedish protection.
Wallenberg's mission became more complicated when the Germans removed the Hungarian leader Admiral Horthy in October, 1944 and the Hungarian Fascist “Arrow Cross” became the de facto government of Hungary. Wallenberg faced the challenge of procuring food and medicine for tens of thousands of people while the Arrow Cross was determined to starve and murder the Jews of Budapest. The Red Army liberated Budapest on January 17, 1945. The surviving 120,000 Jews of Budapest survived due to the efforts of Wallenberg and other emissaries of neutral countries (including Spain, Portugal and Switzerland) inspired by the leadership of Wallenberg.
The heroism of Wallenberg segued to the mystery of Wallenberg after he was detained by the Soviets on January 17, 1945. Compounding the chaos of post-liberation Budapest swept up in the advance of the Red Army to the west was a “dark shadow of inactivity” on behalf of Wallenberg by the Swedish Foreign Ministry. Mr. Eliasson's committee charged with ascertaining the facts of the Swedish government response to the disappearance of Wallenberg sadly and critically concluded that it was manifestly deficient. Mr. Eliasson noted that with few knowing the extreme danger of the Wallenberg mission coupled with the apparent kidnapping of a Swedish diplomat a task force should have been organized to create the strongest response possible. Instead, the response was languid and Wallenberg perished in a fate unknown despite a Swedish-Russian commission which investigated his disappearance. (In 1957, the USSR declared that Wallenberg died in 1947 of a heart attack after admitting his arrest.)
Following Mr. Eliasson's remarks, the gathering was treated to music from Janet Horvath – retired principal cellist of the Minnesota Orchestra – and the daughter of a mother saved by Raoul Wallenberg, and Heather MacLaughlin – one of the leading chamber music pianists in the Twin Cities – accompanied her on piano. They beautifully played a combination of Jewish, Hungarian and Swedish music.
Following this gorgeous music was a panel discussion of Holocaust survivors with strong connections to Hungary. The panelists were Robert Fisch, M.D., Charles Fodor and Fred Baron:
Robert Fisch, M.D., was born on June 12, 1925, in Budapest, Hungary. As a young man he dreamed of being an artist or an architect, but when the war ended he enrolled in medical school. Dr. Fisch survived not only the Holocaust, but also the dark days of Communism in Hungary. After the Hungarian Revolution he left for Austria and with the help of HIAS, immigrated to the U.S. in 1958. For Dr. Fisch, the Holocaust is a horrible memory. Dr. Robert Fisch is an artist, noted author and world renowned for his work in pediatrics.
Charles Fodor was born on July 14, 1936, in Budapest, Hungary. Charles Fodor was eight years old in 1944 when he and his grandmother were trying to find their way to an international safe house. As they ran along the promenade close to the Danube River, three women wearing the armband of the Arrow Cross ordered them into an apartment building. Suddenly, a man grabbed his grandmother and took her and Charles out to the street. He told them, “You don’t belong here, get lost.” It was later they learned that all those in that building were taken out and murdered on the banks of the Danube River. “I have learned that life is most precious. Do a mitzvah each day to thank God for the gift of life,” says Fodor.
Fred Baron was born on February 24, 1923, in Vienna, Austria. Fred was imprisoned in Auschwitz, where a fellow Austrian, non-Jewish kapo warned Fred and his fellow inmates, “You have arrived at hell on earth… don’t trust anyone. Don’t trust your best friend. Look out for yourself. Be selfish to the point of obscenity. Try to stay alive from one minute to the other one. Don’t let down for one second.” Fred was in numerous forced labor camps and was finally transported to Bergen Belsen. By the time the British arrived, Fred was near death. A British medic carried Fred to a field hospital where he was treated and finally transported to an emergency hospital in Sweden.
Moderating the panel discussion was Dr. Daniel Wildeson of St. Cloud State University who is the faculty director of SCSU's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education.
Striking about the panelists was their sense of humor, candor and their greatest hope that no one should suffer as they did and their anguish over the continuation of genocide into the 21st century.
Dr. Fisch spoke of humanity – the need to retain humanity even under inhumane circumstances and the necessity of teaching humanity to children by providing appropriate role models through caring parents.
Fred Baron observed that (despite the killing of innocents) 67 years after the Shoah he remains optimistic that learning the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent such horrors in the future is, although slow, inevitable.
Charles Fodor noted the parents and grandparents victimized in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia must teach their children their history.
All three gentlemen have spent years telling their stories in schools and now at the ASI reminding their audiences of the good they also encountered and their aspirations for all of us in either the face of knowledge or of evil. Mr. Fodor told the story that in December, 1944 as the Arrow Cross was hunting down Jews in the streets of Budapest he and his grandmother were ordered to enter a certain apartment building. A man materialized seemingly from nowhere and led them away advising them to "get lost." All the people herded into the apartment building were murdered and their bodies tossed into the Danube. The anonymous person who saved Mr. Fodor is the power of the difference one person can make.
Mr. Baron reminds us the power to prevent future genocides begins by judging people by their hearts and minds; not by the color of their skin or the clothes they are wearing – while each person honestly addresses their own prejudices. A person who made a critical difference for Mr. Baron was a British Army physician who nursed him back to health after he seemed unlikely to survive after his liberation from Bergen Belsen. Mr. Baron also remembers his family's non-Jewish neighbors who hid family members in Vienna after the Anschluss between Germany and Austria.
Dr. Fisch believes in the strength of the individual to change the world as opposed to public officials and governments. He has written "Light from the Yellow Star: A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust" in which he describes his experience during the Holocaust through his paintings and prose. He also challenges the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and the American Swedish Institute to honor the memory of Raoul Wallenberg through finding ways each year to educate the public – particularly students – about his life and legacy.
The Wallenberg event was supported by The Beverly Foundation of Minnesota and The Otto Bremer Foundation of Minnesota.
The JCRC, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, hosted Dr. Ernest "Rip" Patton, Jr., a veteran of the 1961 Freedom Rides organized to end segregation in interstate travel – specifically passenger bus service. In conjunction with Facing History, Dr. Patton spoke to the Minnesota National Guard, St. Cloud State University, Fairview Alternative High School in Roseville and participated in a panel discussion following the October 11 Guthrie production of Appomattox.
The Battle of Antietam on September 22, 1862, was a significant if incomplete Union victory providing President Lincoln with the confidence and credibility to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation freeing African American slaves in the Confederate states. At the end of the Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were ratified ending slavery, providing citizenship for African Americans and providing male African Americans with the right to vote. Approximately one hundred years later, particularly in the South, few African Americans were voting and segregation was ubiquitous in hotels, restaurants, barber shops, bathrooms and practically all public accommodations. (Indeed, the United States Supreme Court as early as 1960 [Boynton v. Virginia, 364 U.S. 454] had outlawed segregation in bus terminals and busses where the Interstate Commerce Commission had also through administratively rule made segregation illegal.) Thus, African Americans were fighting for dignity and the right to eat, sleep and live where they please – like all Americans.
Dr. Patton personified the struggle. As a 21 year old Tennessee State student, Patton was a drum major in the University marching band when, in 1961, he became involved in the Nashville Movement. Patton arrived in Montgomery, AL, on Tuesday, May 23, to help reinforce the riders meeting at the home of Dr. Harris after the May 21 firebombing and siege of Montgomery's First Baptist Church.
Patton took part in the May 24, 1961, Greyhound Freedom Ride to Jackson, MS, where he was arrested and later transferred to Mississippi's notorious Parchman State Prison Farm.
Patton was one of 14 Tennessee State University students expelled for participating in the Rides. Following the Freedom Rides, he worked as a jazz musician, and later as a long-distance truck driver and community leader. For the past three years, Patton has served as the Freedom Rider on an annual university sponsored Civil Rights tour of the Deep South.
At St. Cloud State, Dr. Patton met with students. Prof. Kyle Ward described Dr. Patton's impact as follows:
"It was an incredible opportunity to have Dr. Patton come to the St. Cloud State University campus to talk to our students. His experiences, insight and comments on the world today were very beneficial for our students as well as enlightening. I thought it was even more interesting to see how many students not only came to this event but also to see a number stay after and have more personal conversations with Dr. Patton about a variety of topics.
On a personal note, I was extremely pleased at how many Social Studies majors came to hear Dr. Patton talk. Knowing that students working towards this major will be able to pass on his stories and message to hundreds of their future students is fantastic. And that these future teachers will be able to start out their lessons on the Civil Rights era by saying, "when I listened to and met a Freedom Rider..." I think it will add special significance and help explain the importance of having Dr. Patton come to SCSU to talk."
Dr. Patton also spoke to a group of Minnesota National Guard personnel including Major General (Adjutant General) Richard Nash and Chaplain (Col.) John Morris, head chaplain of the Minnesota National Guard. Col. Morris spoke poignantly about growing up on an air force base in Biloxi, MS, where he father was stationed. The base was desegregated per President Harry Truman's Executive Order of July 26, 1948, desegregating the military while life outside the base in Biloxi and throughout Mississippi and, indeed, the South, was segregated leading to a duality in life.
Another facet of programming with Dr. Patton was a joint effort with the Guthrie Theater and the play Appomattox in which Dr. Patton participated in a post play discussion with a panel and the audience. Appomattox is a marvelous play addressing so many critical issues at a time when nearly fifty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act the right to vote is again at the center of American politics. The Guthrie's commitment to Christopher Hampton's recounting of 1865 and 1965 dovetailed exquisitely with the JCRC's focus on the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in coalition with the Minnesota African American Museum and many other groups. It is striking that at the centennial (1962) of the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans in a large swath of our country were denied their right to vote and access to public accommodations, often through the use of intimidation and violence.
That arc of history made the post-play discussion with Dr. Patton, Christopher Hampton and Angela Pierce, Shawn Hamilton and Joe Nathan Thomas so compelling. It was remarkable to see and hear Rip Patton – the Freedom Rider – in conversation with Christopher Hampton – the playwright – and his interpretation of American history and the cast now seeing the interface of, in a sense, history and historian and their reaction to it. And all for the benefit of the audience who applied their own experiences to this moment. It was theatre within theatre representing a tremendous time of learning.
One hundred and fifty years ago this week on September 17, 1862, Union and Confederate soldiers fought one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War near Antietam Creek in northwest Maryland.
The battle--Antietam--with its outcome as a Union victory provided President Abraham Lincoln with the necessary confidence to promulgate the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation which ultimately freed blacks enslaved in the Confederacy.
Before this first step of Emancipation, though, was contemplation of the carnage of Antietam. James McPherson points out in “Battle Cry of Freedom” (Oxford University Press, 1988) the 6,000 dead and 17,000 wounded in one day of combat at Antietam was four times the number of casualties suffered by American forces on the Normandy beaches on June 6, 1944. Bruce Catton in “The Army of the Potomac: Mr. Lincoln's Army” (Doubleday & Company, 1962) quotes a member of the 9th New York regiment describing the Antietam battlefield: “The mental strain was so great that I saw at that moment the singular effect mentioned, I think, in the life of Goethe on a similar occasion--the whole landscape for an instant turned slightly red.” The nation's great divide between Constitution and Confederacy; emancipation and slavery; and north against south had reached a crescendo of combat.
Into this maw near Sharpsburg, Maryland, stepped the First Minnesota Volunteers. Their story begins with Minnesota's second governor, Alexander Ramsey, who happened to be in Washington, D.C. when news came of the surrender of Fort Sumter after its bombardment by South Carolina militia. Ramsey tendered an offer of 1,000 Minnesota soldiers to the Secretary of War. Thus, Minnesota became the first state, as noted by Richard Moe, to offer troops to defend the Union and the First Minnesota was the first Minnesota regiment raised (“The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers,” Minnesota Historical Press. 1993).
Following battles with the South at Bull Run, Edwards' Ferry and the Peninsula, the First Minnesota found itself in the West Woods section of Antietam. A fierce Confederate attack had routed much of the Union line in the vicinity of positioning of the First Minnesota. The Minnesota regiment, though, retreated in good order and demonstrated “steadiness and reliability under heavy fire” according to Moe. The First Minnesota suffered a casualty rate of 28%. (A year later, the First Minnesota would suffer an 82% casualty rate at Gettysburg attacking a Confederate force five times larger in an effort to buy a few minutes of time to stabilize the Union position on Cemetery Ridge.) Stories of bravery abound from the First Minnesota. Governor Al Quie recalls hearing stories about his grandfather from his aunts and uncles of Halvor Quie fighting for the First Minnesota through 13 battles until he was wounded at Antietam. Governor Quie has wondered ever since the reason one risks his life for people he never met as his grandfather, a Norwegian immigrant, did for African American slaves.
For the Minnesotans and the rest of the Union Army under the command of George McClellan, Antietam was considered a “qualified” victory. The Union had badly mauled Robert E. Lee's army but had missed an opportunity to destroy it.
As Britain and France weighed recognition of the Confederacy, Lincoln acted upon this battlefield success after a succession of battlefield defeats in the first two years of the Civil War. As related by McPherson, Lincoln convened his cabinet on September 22, 1862,--five days after Antietam. He told the cabinet he had a made a covenant with God. If the Union Army drove the Confederate Army from Maryland he would issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
Lincoln's attitude towards emancipation of the slaves was an evolutionary process which fluctuated with the conduct of the war within in his overarching goal of preservation of the Union and continued supremacy of the Constitution. “The Reader's Companion to American History" (Houghton Mifflin, 1991) notes that by the summer of 1862, Lincoln was favoring a proclamation issued as commander in chief freeing slaves in stares waging war against the Union. Yet, in a letter to journalist Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862, Lincoln wrote: “the paramount objective is to save the Union and is not either to save or destroy slavery.” Earlier in 1862, Lincoln had advised black residents of Washington, D.C. to consider emigration to save themselves from discrimination and/or mitigate the circumstances of emancipation if there were fewer blacks in the United States receiving their freedom.
Nonetheless, Antietam--as he told his cabinet--had cinched the issue of emancipation in Lincoln's mind. On September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation warning the Confederacy that on January 1, 1863, a final proclamation would be promulgated “committing the government and armed forces of the United States to liberate the slaves in rebel states as an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity.”
Some blacks treated the Emancipation Proclamation as their “Independence Day” as Merrill Peterson wrote, although this “thinn[ed] with passage of time” yet many Americans saw Lincoln as a "Moses...deliverer...savior...” (“Lincoln in American Memory,” Oxford University Press, 1994).
The reality and the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation are more complicated than any monochromatic rendering of Lincoln and the consequences of his executive order. This is one reasons the JCRC and Tolerance Minnesota have joined with the Minnesota African American Museum, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie representing the Civil War Commemoration task force; Minnesota Historical Society; Honorary Consul for South Africa, Judge LaJune Lange; Penumbra Theatre; University of St. Thomas Law School; Macalester College; Augsburg College; Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs; and the Givens Collection to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the promulgation of the Emancipation Proclamation starting this September 22, 2012, in the Twin Cities.
All are welcome to participate in the following events: In Commemoration of the promulgation of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, St. James AME Church will celebrate with gospel music and the screening of Don McGlynn’s 2011 documentary, Rejoice and Shout. This event will be held at the Riverview Theater, 3800 42nd Ave. South, Minneapolis at 9:30 a.m. on September 22.
The Calvary Cemetery, 753 Front Ave., St. Paul, will be the site of a grave marking ceremony at 11:00 a.m. on September 22.
“Preliminary Issuing” Salon Discussion with Panelist Dr. Bill Green, Dr. John S. Wright, and Professor Peter Rachleff on September 22, 2012, (2-4PM) at the Sabathani Community Center.
Benjamin T. Jealous, the President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will be featured at the Anniversary Celebration Reception Dinner at the University of Minnesota on October 12. He will be addressing remedies to Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality.
As a point of departure for learning about the Emancipation Proclamation and its aftermath, Peter Rachleff--Professor of History, Hamline University--has distilled these themes:
“If we could imagine the Emancipation Proclamation to be a pebble and U.S. history to be a pool of water, tossing that pebble into the water would generate expanding waves and circles which would include:
1. The centrality of slavery to the conflicts which led to the Civil War.
2. The important role(s) played by African American soldiers in the critical battles of the War.
3. The important role(s) played by the slaves themselves in the struggle for their own emancipation -- by striking on the plantations, by running away, by aiding and abetting Union forces, by demanding the right to take up arms in their own behalf, by demanding to be paid wages for labor performed for the Union Army.
4. The efforts by former slaves and former free blacks to shape and improve their lives during Reconstruction -- by resisting Black Codes; by seeking land; by participating in the writing of new constitutions for the Southern states; by demanding full citizenship rights, including the right to vote and serve on juries; by running for public office; by building community institutions, such as churches and mutual benefit societies; by organizing unions and demanding access to skilled jobs, higher wages, and a voice in negotiating work rules.
5. The efforts by the descendants of slaves and former free blacks to create, maintain, and protect a quality life for themselves and their families during the disturbing decades of Ku Klux Klan terror, lynching, de factor and de jure segregation, disfranchisement, restricted access to public education, sharecropping, debt peonage, and convict labor.
6. The migration north, between 1915 and 1970, of more than a million African Americans, seeking access to jobs for themselves, education for their children, and inclusion in citizenship.
7. The participation of African Americans, North and South, in efforts to unionize and to expand workers' political voice, during the Great Depression.
8. The participation of African Americans in the U.S. military in World Wars I and II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
9. The efforts or African Americans, North as well as South, to build a civil rights movement in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, which radically transformed American society, not only expanding political and economic rights for African Americans, but also inspiring Chicanos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans to organize on their own behalf, and creating a rights discourse which has been employed effectively by women, gays and lesbians, disabled people, and more. The Civil Rights Movement changed how we all think about American society and our roles and responsibilities within it.
10. The creation of a rich and complex culture which has long challenged the negative representations, images, and stereotypes of black people, and has offered rich ways to understand, engage, and transform the world. From the Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro movement of the 1920s to the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, to hip hop and black science fiction today, African Americans from their vantage point and experience have offered cultural expressions to our entire society, indeed, to the entire world
All of this because the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation has yet to be fulfilled.”