Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Out of the Shadows

From the Washington Post, “For decades they hid Jefferson’s relationship with her. Now Monticello is making room for Sally Hemings“:

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The room where historians believe Sally Hemings slept was just steps away from Thomas Jefferson’s bedroom. But in 1941, the caretakers of Monticello turned it into a restroom.

The floor tiles and bathroom stalls covered over the story of the enslaved woman, who was owned by Jefferson and had a long-term relationship with him. Their involvement was a scandal during his life and was denied for decades by his descendants. But many historians now believe the third president of the United States was the father of her six children.

Time, and perhaps shame, erased all physical evidence of her presence at Jefferson’s home here, a building so famous that it is depicted on the back of the nickel.

Now the floor tiles have been pulled up and the room is under restoration — and Hemings’s life is poised to become a larger part of the story told at Monticello.

When the long-hidden space opens to the public next year, it will mark a dramatic shift in the way one of the nation’s most revered Founding Fathers is portrayed to the more than 440,000 visitors who tour this landmark annually.

It’s part of a $35 million restoration project that will bolster Monticello’s infrastructure but also reconstruct and showcase buildings where enslaved people lived and worked. The man who wrote the words “all men are created equal” in 1776 was master of a 5,000-acre working plantation who over the course of his life owned 607 slaves.

“Visitors will come up here and understand that there was no place on this mountaintop that slavery wasn’t,” said Christa Dierksheide, a Monticello historian. “Thomas Jefferson was surrounded by people, and the vast majority of those people were enslaved.”…

To pinpoint that room, historians relied on a description provided long ago by a Jefferson grandson, who placed it in the home’s south wing. Archaeologists are now peeling back layers in the 14 foot, 8 inch-by-13 foot, 2 inch room to reveal its original brick floor and plaster walls.

We don’t know how Hemings regarded her involvement with her owner. Historians do not know exactly how old she was when she lived there; and no portraits or photographs of her exist. But step into the brick room, the floor still covered in red dirt, and it is not hard to imagine her sitting in a chair, warming herself in front of the fireplace…

Monticello historians hope the restored room will humanize the image of Hemings, beyond the gossipy old accounts of Jefferson’s so-called “concubine.”

“Sally Hemings was better traveled than most Americans, so we want to tell a story about her that doesn’t limit her to Jefferson’s property,” said Gary Sandling, a vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and runs Monticello as a museum…

Much more at the link. Whatever the hard truths of Sally’s relationship with Mr. Jefferson, it’s good to know that she did have the minor luxury of a room of her own.
What’s on the agenda for the new day?

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Never Stop Fighting Back

A few more photos of the Women’s March in DC, courtesy of commentor ET.

And an excellent reminder from Buzzfeed‘s Bim Adewunmi, “The Road Women Marched On This Weekend Was Paved By Black Resistance“:

In the Culture galleries at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, there is a whole section on style. Written on a museum sign is a quote attributed to Tony Award-winning playwright George C. Wolfe, which reads: “God created black people and black people created style.” On the eve of the Trump inauguration, black people came out in style, and gathered at the NMAAHC, nicknamed the Blacksonian, to attend the inaugural Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance, a “gathering to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of the past four years and the vow to continue to be the change we want to see in the world”…

… It felt fortifying, like an enriching blood tonic. “This is not a game. This is not reality TV,” actor Danny Glover said to the crowd. Writer and activist Naomi Klein laughingly called the night “the eve of the apocalypse” before adding, more seriously, “Tomorrow is not a peaceful transition of power – it’s a corporate coup d’état.” Children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman led a fiery prayer (“God, forgive and transform our rich nation and us…”) and urged the assembled guests to “go out there and cause a movement”. Playwright Eve Ensler led the crowd in a series of pledges, to “resist, disrupt, love deeper, to rise”.

“We will not compromise, we will not negotiate. We will not go backwards,” Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter declared. “Are you with me?”…

I had come [to the Women’s March] to talk specifically to black girls and women about why they were at the march. Statistically speaking, black women already got in formation at the election (and beyond), and if more white women had followed in their footsteps, perhaps this particular march might not had occurred?

I saw so many black women at the Women’s March, and each one I spoke to gave me a variant of the same answer: They were here because they had to be. To have sat it out would’ve been to cede to a feminist movement that was all too willing to discard them, when they had been the silent workhorses of the collective for so long. It was evident in the number of placards and signs I saw, happily quoting from the rich and grand tradition of black feminist theory and thought: Angela Davis, a speaker at the march, popped up often via her words, as did Maya Angelou. The most quoted was Audre Lorde, whose abundant written legacy is a treasure trove of march-friendly quotables. It was about representation, a group of African women told me. They were here, representatives of African women a continent away from this march, each with their own feminist histories, currently living their own feminist realities. This is for us too, all the black women I spoke to were saying. Putting ourselves back into the narrative, where we have always been. So I approached multigenerational groups of black women and asked to take their photo, and I looked out for groups of multiracial teenage girls, eyes wide and almost overwhelmed by the crowd. We are physical manifestations of our parents’ dreams, and I saw so many parents with a proud gleam in their eyes on Saturday afternoon…
Read more

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Still Celebrating

This is probably my next-to-last batch from BJ commentors, but I’m nowhere near tired of admiring all these Nasty Women (and allies)!

Here in New England we’re getting a nor’easter of freezing sleet — wicked lucky, for January, because if the temps had dropped just a few degrees it would’ve been a foot or more of sodden snow.

What’s the other (preferably) good news on the agenda for the day?

From “Occasional commentor” JCJ:

Pictures from Madison. Driving in it was like football game traffic.

Beloved gardening-and-rescue commentor MaryG:

Just because I am still fired up, here is a picture of Bonnie the Bailbondsperson’s phone number I wrote on my knee, along with bonus concerned cat; my sign, a bit worse for wear after going through narrow doors after the march, but with the names of some of those Juicers unable to march written on it… I am still gobsmacked that hundreds of people showed up and how positive the energy was.

A very cool thing happened. A van full of very young Marines from Camp Pendleton with a door decal about LIBERTY!!! pulled up and everyone on both sides got very tense. The Marines got out and there were a long few seconds of showdown-at-the-OK-Corral silence, then an older woman marcher said Good morning, gentleman! Thank you for your service! Smiles broke out on all sides, thank you, ma’ams were issued and they went into the vape shop. The driver looked extremely disgruntled, especially when I said Nice try, dude, but lame.

Read more

Monday Morning Open Thread: Keep Resisting!

Maybe it’s just me, but… the present social moment reminds me of the Anita Hill – Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. All the nice white men (and some women!) shook their heads and said Not my mother! My wife! My daughters! Nobody would dare treat my women like that!

And then ‘their’ women told them the stories they hadn’t been able to share, because they needed that job and all the girls expected to be treated like that and what good would it have done to complain?

Or ‘their’ women just looked away, because really, what could they say?

That didn’t stop Justice Thomas’ confirmation, of course, but it did — as the expression was — change the conversation. Suddenly sexual harassment was a real problem, not just a smutty joke.

Let’s be the snowflakes that start the avalanche…

From a BJ commentor. Dogs know which people can be trusted:

Can we pull off a peaceful protest, or what?

Even though the Women’s March on Washington drew about three times the crowd as Trump’s ultimate ego gratification event the day before, it was incredibly peaceful. In fact, multiple news outlets say there were zero arrests, which is pretty amazing.

I think the fact that it was a woman-led event with more females than males participating had something to do with that. I saw many friendly interactions between protesters and cops, including women asking for and being given permission to pat police horses.

One of Trump’s rally sycophants, Sheriff Clarke, painted a different picture:

What I personally witnessed Sat Jan21 in DC was a total collapse of the social order. It occurred one day after our side peacefully gathered…

Several taunted me at Women’s riot. I dared those creeps to do something. They knew better & kept it to verbal insults. No cops to be found.

Possibly Clarke actually believes this, as he is a raving crackpot. But I saw a few small groups of Trumpsters try and fail to provoke marchers. Here’s one such incident:

The imbecile in the Trump cape stood on that platform bellowing the name of his new baboon king at the passing marchers for a few minutes. But aside from a bird selfie taken by a nasty woman who badly needs a manicure, he was ignored.

Not sure why Clarke and other Trumpsters I’ve seen making evidence-free accusations of aggression on the part of the marchers have such a need to paint themselves as victims. It’s almost like they need blankies, warm milk and a safe space or something.

Anyway, I’m home now, having driven nearly 2,000 miles over three days and walked 15 or so around Washington, DC with about half a million others in that city and millions more worldwide.

We drove the last 400 or so miles home in the teeth of a howling storm, crossing one tornado watch area after another. My sister-in-law, who held the fort while my sister and I went with the girls, asked me if it was worth it.

You’re damned right it was, I told her. Not only did we make Trump’s ego gratification ceremony the day before look as small and pathetic as the man himself, not only did we make him the holder of the record for man rejected by the most women ever, we reaffirmed something important: It’s our country too.

Late Night Open Thread: Reverberations from the Women’s March Are Just Beginning

Julia Ioffe, Russian emigre and professional cynic, despite her worst fears was not immune:

But unlike in Moscow, I spoke to people here who knew that this rally by itself would change nothing; that only politics could. “I don’t think it’s going to make a difference,” said an older woman from Pennsylvania. “It might, but only in two years. It’s more for the people here to feel like they’re part of something.” Her sights were set on the congressional elections of 2018, on more concrete political action. Unlike the Moscow protesters, these women had access to a strong and vibrant civil society, a century-old women’s rights movement, and legislative elections that aren’t rigged by the executive. Women riding back from the rally on the Metro chattered about the midterms and the presidential election of 2020….

Another professional cynic:

Open Thread: Callin’ Out, Around the World…


TaMara’s got another photo post scheduled, so this (comparatively) dead zone seemed like a good place to share some other-than-BJ reactions…

Read more