Originally published 07/08/2013
To some people, the name of Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, brings to mind the country’s oldest prison rodeo, which draws thousands of tourists while raising money for charity. Others think of it as a repository for fearsome criminals — murderers, rapists and kidnappers — who have earned their average sentence of 93 years. Many remember it as having once been one of the most brutal and corrupt institutions in the post-Civil War South, the nearest kin to slavery that could legally exist.All of these associations and more will compete when an old guard tower and a cell from the prison are installed in the forthcoming National African American Museum for History and Culture in Washington, a place with the complex mission of presenting an official narrative of black life in America....
Originally published 06/11/2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — Oprah Winfrey is giving $12 million to a museum being built on Washington's National Mall that will document African-American history, officials said Tuesday.The media mogul and former talk-show host previously gave $1 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the museum says her $13 million total contribution is its largest to date. As a result, the museum's 350-seat theater will be named after Winfrey, who is also a member of its advisory council.Construction on the $500 million museum began in early 2012. When it's finished in 2015, the museum will be the 19th Smithsonian museum. The U.S. government is providing half of the funding. To date, about $140 million has been raised in private funds....
Originally published 05/31/2013
Tony Horwitz is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who has written for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. His books include Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War and Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War.If I say the word "Mammy," you're likely to conjure up the character from Gone With the Wind. Or, you may think of Aunt Jemima, in her trademark kerchief, beaming from boxes of pancake mix.What you probably won't picture is a massive slave woman, hewn from stone, cradling a white child atop a plinth in the nation's capital. Yet in 1923, the U.S. Senate authorized such a statue, "in memory of the faithful slave mammies of the South."As a Southern Congressman stated in support of the monument: "The traveler, as he passes by, will recall that epoch of southern civilization" when "fidelity and loyalty" prevailed. "No class of any race of people held in bondage could be found anywhere who lived more free from care or distress."
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