ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Snapshots of the Old South -- The Burden of the Negro


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Confederate Money: The Art of John W. Jones

Depictions of Slavery in Confederate and Southern States Currency

 Confederate Money: The Art of John W. Jones 

Review of Exhibition

Send contributions to: ChickenBones: A Journal /  2005 Arabian Drive / Finksburg, MD 21048  -- I became aware of Rudy Lewis’ labor of love a few short months ago during a visit to Kalamu ya Salaam’s e-drum listserv. As soon as I saw the title of the journal I knew it was about Black folks, and the power of the written word.  A quick click took me into a journal that’s long on creativity, highlighting well-known, little known, and a little known writers, and commitment to the empowerment of Black folks. I contacted Rudy to ask if he’d consider publishing some of my work. His response was immediate, and a couple of days after I’d forwarded some poems to him—they were part of ChickenBones. What I didn’t know was that this journal has been surviving for the last five years with very little outside financial support. . .  If we want journals like this to “thrive” we need to support them with more than our website hits, praise, and submissions for publication consideration.

—Peace, Mary E. Weems (January 2007)                     

By Abbe Raynal

The picture [above] would have appeared shocking to a viewer in the Civil War era, when it was taken, because it shows a little black boy with a little white girl on his arm.  This is a posture suggestive of "traditional courtship roles," and it violates taboos concerning what we would today call, "interracial dating." But look closely at the caption!   They are both "emancipated slave children!"  Wilson J. Moses

Invention of the White Race  Theodore Allen begins Volume 1 by reviewing the many histories of American racism written in the 20th century. Dividing the arguments into the psycho-cultural school and the socio-economic school of thought, he teases out the strengths and flaws of their scholarship. Allen then posits racial oppression as a deliberate ruling-class decision (constantly undergoing renewal) to prevent property-less European Americans from allying themselves with enslaved and free African Americans by offering the European Americans privileges based on white skin. His solution is to study "racism" rather than "race" because studies of race always devolve onto discussions of the body--onto those who are perceived to possess race--and thus avoids the real issue. . . . It is a strong, well researched, tightly argued work. He proves that the "white race" can be "gotten on a technicality" because it was and is indeed an invented rather than a natural category. Amazon Reviewer

Lynching in America -- Lynching is variously defined as a violent act, usually racial in nature, that denies a person due process of law and is carried out with the complicity of the local society. The sponsors of the resolution, Landrieu [Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La] and Allen [Sen. George Allen, R-Va], said they were motivated in part by a recent book, "Without Sanctuary, Lynching Photography in America," in which author James Allen collected lynch pictures, mostly taken by those participating in the killings. . . Among those present was James Cameron, who as a shoeshine boy in Marion, Ind., in 1930 was dragged from a cell and had a rope placed around his neck. Two of his friends, also accused of the murder of a white man and the rape of a white woman, were hanged. Cameron, then 16, was spared when a man in the crowd proclaimed his innocence. "I was saved by a miracle," said Cameron, who went on to found America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee. "They were going to lynch me between my two buddies," he said, with thousands of people "hollering for my blood when a voice said, 'Take this boy back.'" The nonbinding resolution apologizes to the victims for the Senate's failure to act and "expresses the deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets of the Senate to the descendants of victims of lynching, the ancestors of whom were deprived of life, human dignity and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States.". . .  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who witnessed racial tensions as a child in Alabama, called the apology "a remarkable and wonderful thing" during an interview with MSNBC's "Hardball."  -- Jim Abrams -Senate to Atone for Lynching Ban Delays AP Monday, June 13, 2005 (Photo left) James Cameron

Atlanta Constitution on Race Problem -- Origin of Segregation  /  Intermarriage a No-No  /  Who Wants Integration  / The Problem of Integration

The Racial Problem  /// Labor and the South --  Rockefeller & Capital  / Dixie's Reaction to Meany  /  Livingston on New South   /  Reuther's Southern Strategy   

Poverty Poll  / The South's Need for Industry  /  The Negro's Half Share  / Carey on Civil Rights  /  Weak Unions in the South // Union Support for Integration

Keeping Negroes in Their Place  / Raising the Negro  / The Colored Man's Cross  / Labor & NAACP


J.P. Morgan's Link to Slavery -- COVINGTON, La. -- Hired by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., historian James Lide descended on this quiet hamlet last year and began digging into the 170-year-old records of Citizens Bank of Louisiana, a predecessor of the New York bank. After 3,500 hours of research, he confirmed what his client didn't want to hear: Between 1834 and 1861, Citizens had secured loans with mortgages on land -- and thousands of slaves.  

After months of research, Mr. Lide and his team submitted a detailed report to the bank, listing the slaves attached to the mortgages and the foreclosures that led to the Citizens' slave ownership, as well as those of another Louisiana bank of the era, New Orleans Canal & Banking Company. All in all, the two banks linked to J.P. Morgan used more than 13,000 slaves as collateral and wound up owning about 1,250 of them when borrowers defaulted.

Source: Robin Sidel, “Bank's Distant Predecessor Took Human Collateral For Rich Client's Debt” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL May 10, 2005; Page A1


John Ridge (1823), Cherokee leader, a man of considerable wealth, supplied . . . this scornful definition of racial oppression of the Indian -- An Indian . . . is frowned upon by the meanest peasant, and the scum of the earth are considered sacred in comparison to the son of nature. If an Indian is educated in the sciences, has a good knowledge of the classics, astronomy, mathematics, moral and natural philosophy and his conduct equally modest and polite, yet he is an Indian, and the most stupid and illiterate white man will disdain and triumph over this worthy individual. It is disgusting to enter the house of a white man and be stared at full face in inquisitive ignorance. Thurman Wilkins, Cherokee Tragedy: The Story of the Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People (1970), p. 145


The Origin of Violence in Virginia: A Brief History

By Jonathan Scott,

author of Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes

When Cotton Was King -- It is generally believed that in less than two weeks, Whitney designed a cotton-gin for short-fiber cotton, although the historian Herbert Aptheker reports that this cotton gin developed from the drawing of a slave in Mississippi. (Workers have been ripped off at the suggestion box for a long time!) The cotton gin increased productivity in a very dramatic way. When cleaning the cotton by hand, it took one slave a complete day to clean one pound of cotton. The hand-powered cotton gin increased this productivity to 150 pounds per day. With steam power driving the gin, one slave could produce one bale or 1000 pounds per day. So the statistics speak for themselves. Before the cotton gin, in 1790, the US produced 6,000 bales of cotton, by 1810 this was up to 178,000 bales of cotton, and by 1860 four million bales of cotton. By 1820 cotton was more than 50% of all US exports and after 1825, US-produced cotton was 80% of the commercial supply on the entire world market. Cotton had become King, meaning that from 1830 to 1860 more money was invested in land and slaves for cotton production than all the rest of the US economy put together! In 1790 there were 700,000 slaves and by 1860 there were 4 million, of whom more than 70% were in cotton production. Black people were pulled west by the expansion of the cotton belt, so that after beginning with a concentration in South Carolina, the main concentration of Blacks had moved over to Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.--Abdul Alkalimat, "Technological Revolution And Prospects for Black Liberation in the 21st Century."

Camera Man's Journey --  The images show African Americans in or around Columbia, Beaufort, and Hilton Head, South Carolina. Some photographs were taken in surroundings where blacks might associate with whites--out of necessity and according to strict custom.

Most of the images, however, are set in "colored sections" or other remote areas of town or country where blacks were obliged to fashion lives apart.

Under segregation and disenfranchisement, men, women, and children are portrayed in ordinary occupations and pursuits: a peddler selling his wares, a woman tying a toddler's shoes, a barber and his young apprentice taking a break outside their shop.

A Statement of Racism & Racial Oppression: "The virtuous aspirations of our children must be continually checked by the knowledge that no matter how upright their conduct, they will be looked upon as less worthy than the lowest wretch who wears a white skin. Daily Star (Alabama) 21 May 1867 [James S. Allen, Reconstruction: The Battle for Democracy (1937), pp. 237-238]


Seems Like Murder Here offers a revealing new account of the blues tradition. Far from mere laments about lost loves and hard times, the blues emerges in this provocative study as a vital response to spectacle lynchings and the violent realities of African American life in the Jim Crow South. With brilliant interpretations of both classic songs and literary works, from the autobiographies of W.C. Handy, David Honeyboy Edwards, and B.B. King to the poetry of Langston Hughes and the novels of Zora Neale Hurston, Seems Like Murder Here will transform our understanding of the blues and its enduring power.

Seems Like Murder Here reshapes the blues to form a resonant and persuasive narrative of violence, trauma, memory, resilience, expressive cultural resistance, and healing. As an intimate practitioner and inspired scholar, Gussow offers stunning insights and provocative new understandings of the blues worldview. he is abreast of blues in song, lyricism, story, and action, and his ambitious and impressive tale is blues itself at its audacious and speculative heights. Houston A. Baker, Jr., author of Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature

More Than Chains and Toilis a probing and perceptive analysis of work in the experience of African American women. Even though forced labor was the essence of slavery, few have studied the labor of slave women from the perspective of women themselves. The author clarifies and analyzes the meanings that the women bestowed on their labors--meanings that constitutes a rich resource of moral value for all who read this book. --Peter J. Parris, Homrighausen Professor of Christian Social Ethics, Princeton Theological Seminary


Martin's use of post-structuralist theory and a womanist methodology is one of the most innovative developments in womanist theorizing to date.--Marcia Y. Riggs, Assocaite Professor of Christian Ethics, Columbia Theological Seminary


Martin moves beyond issues of sorrow and oppression to shed new light on the power of black women's moral agency, and on the ways they have defined the nature of work for themselves. This is important reading for all who seek to understand work ethics in American culture across gender, race, and class lines.--Karen Baker-Fletcher, Associate Professor of Theology and Culture, Claremont School of Theology

Governor Gooch of Virginia & the Board of Trade The ruling class took special pains to be sure that the people they ruled were propagandized in the moral and legal ethos of white-supremacism. Provisions were included for that purpose in the 1705 "Act concerning Servants and Slaves" and in the Act of 1723 "directing the trial of Slaves . . . and for the better government of Negroes, Mulattos, and Indians, bond or free." For consciousness-raising purposes (to prevent "pretense of ignorance"), the laws mandated that parish clerks or churchwardens, once each spring and fall at the close of Sunday service, should read ("publish") these laws in full to the congregants. Sheriffs were ordered to have the same done at the courthouse door at the June or July term of court. . . . The general public was regularly and systematically subjected to official white supremacist agitation. It was to be drummed into the minds of the people that, for the first time, no free African-American was to dare to lift his or her hand against a "Christian, not being a negro, mulatto or Indian"; that African-American freeholders were no longer to be allowed to vote; that the provision of a previous enactment [1691] was being reinforced against the mating of English and Negroes as producing "abominable mixture" and "spurious" issue; that, as provided in the 1723 law for preventing freedom plots by African-American bond-laborers, "any white person . . . found in company with any [illegally congregated] slaves" was to be be fined (along with free African Americans or Indians so offending) with a fine of fifteen shillings, or to "receive, on his, her, or their bare backs, for every such offense, twenty lashes well laid on." Invention of the White Race  (vol. 2, p. 251)

The Problem of Evil: Slavery, Freedom, And the Ambiguities of American Reform  

Edited by Steven Mintz and John Stauffer


A collective effort to present a new kind of moral history, this volume seeks to show how the study of the past can illuminate profound ethical and philosophical issues. More specifically, the contributors address a variety of questions raised by the history of American slavery. How did freedom-personal, civic, and political-become one of the most cherished values in the Western world? How has the language of slavery been applied to other instances of exploitation and depersonalization? To what extent is America's high homicide rate a legacy of slavery? Did the abolitionist movement's tendency to view slavery as a product of sin, rather than as a structural and economic problem, accelerate or impede emancipation? . . . . They also offer fresh perspectives on key individuals, from Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Douglass to Harriet Jacobs and John Brown, and shed new light on the differences between female and male critiques of slavery, the defense of slavery by the South's intellectual elite, and Catholic attitudes toward slavery and abolition.

Africans mark abolition of slave trade -- Descendants of slaves and dignitaries gathered at a white-washed former slave fort at Elmina in Ghana to remember the more than 10 million Africans – some estimates say up to 60 million –sent on slave ships to the New World. . . . Elmina was sub-Saharan Africa's first permanent slave trading post, built by the Portuguese in 1492. It passed to England and by the 18th century shipped tens of thousands of Africans a year through "the door of no return" to slave ships. . . .  After years of campaigning by anti-slavery activists like politician William Wilberforce, Britain banned the trade in slaves from Africa on March 25, 1807. It did not outlaw slavery itself until 1833 and the transatlantic trade continued under foreign flags for many years. . . . British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed Britain's "deep sorrow and regret" for the country's role in the slave trade but he appeared to fall short of the formal apology demanded by a senior Church of England cleric, Archbishop of York John Sentamu. Britain's first black cabinet minister Baroness Valerie Amos, herself a descendant of slaves who was born in Guyana, joined South African jazz icon Hugh Masekela and Jamaican-born reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson at the ceremony. Countless Africans perished on the voyage or on disease-infested plantations in the Americas. Kufuor dismissed talk of reparations because of the active involvement of Africans in the slave trade. Yahoo


Camera Man's Journey Julian Dimock's South Edited by Thomas L. Johnson and Nina J. Root

Civil Rights Figures

Bob Moore & Health Care Workers

H. Rap Brown's Die Nigger Die! by Amin Sharif

Walter H. Lively: A Christ Among Us? 

Fraternal Lodges Developing & Expanding the Village  in Rural Southern Virginia by Stuart W. Doyle


Joan Martin





Labor & Race in the South


BSEIU & Health Care Workers

BSEIU & Hopkins  

Carpenters Bar Negroes 

The Colored Man's Cross

Few Blacks in Construction Unions

Intermarriage a No-No 

Keeping Negroes in Their Place

Labor & NAACP

Letters to the Civil Rights Dept.

Livingston on New South  

Organizing in Yazoo 

Origin of Segregation

The Problem of Integration

The Racial Problem

Raising the Negro

The South's Need for Industry

Texas & Minorities

Union Support for Integration 

Who Wants Integration


Lynching And Racial Violence: Histories & Legacies  Report From A Conference  By Peter Rachleff

Lynching By State and Race

Seems Like Murder Here Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition by Adam Gussow


The Negro Washerwoman, a Vanishing Figure by Carter G. Woodson


Race Riots

The Elaine, Arkansas Massacre of 1919  

Jim Crow Riot 

Moore v. Dempsey   

Phillips County Massacre  

Scipio Africanus Jones  









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