"Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

— James Baldwin

Background image: Linotype operators at the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, in Chicago, Illinois. April 1941. Library of Congress.
Image credit:
Linotype operators at the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, in Chicago, Illinois. April 1941. Library of Congress.


September 17, 2019

Berkeley News

For many, Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote the book on Constitutional Law. Or, more accurately, the books. Published last year, We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century is one of several he has penned about America’s founding document, including a seminal casebook and treatise now in their fifth and sixth editions.

September 13, 2019

ABC News

Two families connected by slavery met at the Campbell County Courthouse Friday after an award-winning journalist uncovered the connection between a freed slave and a slaveowner. Washington Post Reporter Bobbi Bowman was researching her family history at the courthouse when she discovered the fate of her great-great-grandfather William Williamson, who bought his own freedom in 1842.

The New York Times

Black Americans were denied access to doctors and hospitals for decades. From the shadows of this exclusion, they pushed to create the nation’s first federal health care programs.

On today’s episode:

  • Jeneen Interlandi, a member of The New York Times’s editorial board and a staff writer for The Times Magazine.

  • Yaa Gyasi, the author of the novel “Homegoing.”

September 11, 2019


City contractors would have to reveal past ties to slavery under a Council bill that will be introduced on Thursday.

The legislation would require companies to search their history and records to determine if they or any affiliated entities engaged in or profited from the slave trade when they enter in or renew city contracts of $100,000 or more.


In the U.S. Capitol, largely built by enslaved Africans, members of Congress held ceremonies to mark 1619, the year Africans landed in the Virginia Colony and centuries of American chattel slavery began. 

Tuesday’s ceremony was hosted by the 55-member Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and welcomed lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. The crowd ranged from Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and special guests such as actress Alfre Woodard.

September 9, 2019

Berkeley News

Dear Students, As the year begins, I write to remind us of our responsibilities to each other as members of the Berkeley community.

September 6, 2019

The New York Times

Black music, forged in captivity, became the sound of complete artistic freedom. It also became the sound of America.

On today’s episode:

Berkeley Research

On Friday, Aug. 30, UC Berkeley held a symposium that marked the start of a yearlong initiative, “400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Oppression,” commemorating the 400th anniversary of the forced arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies with a daylong symposium. It drew hundreds of attendees who heard from more than a dozen historians and social scientists about the impact and legacy of slavery in society today.

Berkeley News

In his keynote speech to close the symposium, john powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and professor of law, African American studies and ethnic studies, discussed the link between slavery and white supremacy. Slavery, he said, created anti-black racism, which was necessary for the extraction of capital.

September 4, 2019

America Journal of Public Health

This special section marks an important but troubling anniversary in US history, the arrival in October 1619 of 20 unfree African laborers who were brought as indentured servants. The six contributions to this section take on the challenge of making sense of the 400 years since October 1619 by exploring how slavery and its continuing legacies have shaped US medicine and public health, especially with regard to persisting racial biases and health disparities that show improvement over time but refuse to disappear. 

September 3, 2019

Berkeley News

Opening the symposium, Denise Herd, lead organizer of the “400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Oppression” initiative, explained why it is crucial for Berkeley to acknowledge this sordid anniversary, invoking a famous quote by William Faulkner, who wrote that, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The Daily Californian

A daylong symposium was held at UC Berkeley on Friday recognizing the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves brought to the English colonies and what would later become the United States. The symposium is part of a campuswide initiative announced by Chancellor Carol Christ in May that aims to “honor and celebrate” Black “extraordinary … contributions” to the country.

September 1, 2019

Charleston Post Courier

In recent years, Charleston-area historic sites have dramatically increased their interpretation of slavery and its vital role in the area’s early history.

And some visitors have pushed back, uneasy with hearing a story many feel reflects poorly on their ancestors. The feedback can be particularly harsh with the relative anonymity of social media and a political moment where racism is debated almost daily in the news.

But local historians and curators say they are undaunted by the detractors, who they estimate make up less than 10 percent of their total visitors.

August 30, 2019

The New York Times

The institution of slavery turned a poor, fledgling nation into a financial powerhouse, and the cotton plantation was America’s first big business. Behind the system, and built into it, was the whip. 

On today’s episode:

  • Matthew Desmond, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the author of “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.”

  • Jesmyn Ward, the author of the novel “Sing, Unburied, Sing.”

August 29, 2019


Stacey Toussaint, the boss of Inside Out Tours, which runs the NYC Slavery and Underground Railroad tour, says people are often surprised by how important slavery was to New York City.

"They don't realise that enslaved people built the wall after which Wall Street is named," she says.

August 28, 2019

The Washington Post

“Think about this. For 246 years, slavery was legal in America. It wasn’t made illegal until 154 years ago,” the 26-year-old teacher told the 23 students sitting before him at Fort Dodge Middle School. “So, what does that mean? It means slavery has been a part of America much longer than it hasn’t been a part of America.”

August 26, 2019


Textbooks have been slow to incorporate black humanity in their slavery narratives. And they still have a long way to go.

August 25, 2019


NPR's Michel Martin discusses ways to reckon with the history of slavery with journalist Rachel Swarns, public historian Niya Bates and law professor Sherri Burr.

August 24, 2019

The Washington Post

They faced the sunrise to the rhythm of drums and waves on a windswept beach, dozens wearing white, near the spot where the first enslaved Africans arrived at the English colony of Virginia in 1619. On Saturday morning, they would release those spirits.

The cleansing and naming ritual, presided over by visiting chiefs from Cameroon, kicked off a weekend of events marking the 400th anniversary of the Africans’ arrival and the dawn of American slavery.

August 23, 2019

The New York Times

America was founded on the ideal of democracy. Black people fought to make it one.

Four hundred years ago, in August 1619, a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived in the British colony of Virginia. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the 250 years of slavery that followed.

“1619,” a New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, examines the long shadow of that fateful moment.