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The first Memorial Day was led by former slaves in Charleston.
Charleston was in ruins. The peninsula was nearly deserted, the fine houses empty, the streets littered with the debris of fighting and the ash of fires that had burned out weeks before. The Southern gentility was long gone, their cause lost. In the weeks after the Civil War ended, it was, some said, “a city of the dead.”
On a Monday morning that spring, nearly 10,000 former slaves marched onto the grounds of the old Washington Race Course, where wealthy Charleston planters and socialites had gathered in old times. During the final year of the war, the track had been turned into a prison camp. Hundreds of Union soldiers died there.
For two weeks in April, former slaves had worked to bury the soldiers. Now they would give them a proper funeral. The procession began at 9 a.m. as 2,800 black school children marched by their graves, softly singing “John Brown’s Body.” Soon, their voices would give way to the sermons of preachers, then prayer and — later — picnics. It was May 1, 1865, but they called it Decoration Day.
On that day, former Charleston slaves started a tradition that would come to be known as Memorial Day (source).
This April 1865 photo above shows the graves of Union soldiers who died at the Race Course prison camp in Charleston, which would later become Hampton Park. On May 1 of that year, former slaves gave the fallen a daylong funeral (source).
(In honor of my nephew, Adib)
Image: People wave Libyan flags from a car during celebrations for the one-year anniversary of the “February 17 Revolution” (source)
- The Guardian, One year on: chaotic Libya reveals the perils of humanitarian intervention. The mission to remove Gaddafi was a noble one. But it provides a further lesson in the pitfalls of such actions.
- Foreign Affairs, Libya and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention. How Qaddafi’s Fall Vindicated Obama and RtoP.
Image: “Hillary Clinton apparently did not get the memo about the current situation in Libya when, on the topic of Bahrain, she said, ‘Violence is not the answer, a political process is'” (source)
- Mamdani, Libya: Politics of humanitarian intervention. The process of implementing the UN resolution on Libya was a poorly executed farce with no long-term foresight.
- Sebastian Meyer at Common Language Project, American journalist finds a passionate but inept rebel force.
- The Atlantic, The Strikes on Libya: Humanitarian Intervention, Not Imperial Aggression. This has much more in common with the international response to Bosnia than it does with the war in Iraq.
“The current military action against Libya is clearly approved by the UN Security Council. Qaddafi has claimed it is illegal, but even China and Russia (who abstained from the UN vote) cannot doubt that Resolution 1973 authorized the use of force to protect Libyan civilians. Neither will Germany, Brazil, nor India (all of whom abstained). Angela Merkel has already said “We share the aims of this resolution. Don’t confuse abstention with neutrality.” The others may not like it, but if they had serious legal or political objections they could have voted against. Or maybe their interests in becoming permanent Security Council members overwhelmed their reserves. Either way, the resolution had all the votes it needed.”
- Christian Science Monitor, How Libya’s Qaddafi brought humanitarian intervention back in vogue:
“‘Only a fool would fail to acknowledge that the invasion of Iraq gave liberal interventionism a bad name,’ says Timothy Garton Ash, British historian and political writer. In stating a measured rationale for action in Libya, however, he argues that despite abuse of the concept, “a much more careful, law-abiding, and genuinely liberal version of it has quietly continued to develop. Building on the post-1945 tradition of human rights promotion and international humanitarian law, and working with and through the UN, this has brought us the International Criminal Court and the doctrine of a ‘Responsibility to Protect,’ also endorsed by the UN.'”
- And… an interview with Congresswoman Michelle Bachman of my homestate of Minnesota.
Duluth, MN is a place very close to my heart. I go there every chance I get. My “Minnesotan family” live there. They mean the world to me and so does Duluth. Really, I don’t know where I would be without my “family of friends” up on the north shore.
That’s a long way to say: I try to follow what’s happening in Duluth albeit from a distance. A month ago my facebook friend Hans posted this piece about this important anti-racist initiative in Duluth.
What’s different and important about Duluth’s Un-Fair campaign is that it directly tackles the issue of white priveledge. Many campaigns about racism focus on black people, this one talks about the responsibilities of white people. The campaign is supported by Duluth’s Human Rights Commission and the major, Don Ness.
Since Hans posted about it, I’ve been following the Unfair Campaign in the news. There was considerable backlash and criticism. And now it looks like white supremacists — notably a group called The Supreme White Alliance — will apparently rally on March 3.
Duluth is so beautiful. But life is really difficult for a lot of people there right now. The great recession/depression hit Duluth really hard. I am really grateful for all the people who are trying to talk about how to end racism in Duluth… and elsewhere.
Here are some more links to recent conversations about racism in Duluth.