Many Americans tend to whitewash their country’s ugly history of racism – all the better to feel good about “exceptionalism” – but even sophisticated writers can ignore this grim reality when praising their favored presidents, as William Loren Katz explains.
In the years before World War II, as the U.S. military remained segregated, an African-American soldier was chosen to lead an integrated American army. But it was not an official U.S. government command, but rather part of the volunteer effort to stop fascism in Spain, as William Loren Katz recalls.
Even after the Emancipation Proclamation freed African-American slaves in the Confederacy on Jan. 1, 1863, racial bias was common even far from the rebellious South. Later that year, blacks fought to get access to horse-drawn streetcars in San Francisco, writes William Loren Katz.
From the Archive: During the late-Nineteenth-Century struggles against America’s Robber Barons and the Ku Klux Klan, Lucy Gonzales Parsons was a brave fighter for human rights. In recognition of International Women’s Day, we are re-posting William Loren Katz’s account of her remarkable life.
The movie “Lincoln” was a dramatic depiction of the political fight to end American slavery with the 13th Amendment – and presented a rare sympathetic portrayal of anti-slavery Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones. This offered a belated chance to reconsider this courageous fighter for freedom, says William Loren Katz.
Americans often romanticize the early years of the Republic, averting their eyes from the crude racism in the U.S. Constitution and the cruel treatment of blacks and Native Americans in those decades. Overlooked are brave freedom fighters who resisted arrogant white supremacy, as William Loren Katz recalls.
Seventy years ago, the remarkable life story of Lucy Gonzales Parsons came to an end in a fire that destroyed her Chicago home. Though little remembered today, Parsons pioneered strategies to protest poverty and injustice, including the sit-down strike, William Loren Katz recalls.
Some of our special stories in January, focusing on Election 2012, a possible new war with Iran, the economic degradation of America’s middle class, missteps on climate change and more.
A half millennium ago this Feb. 2, the Spaniards felt they had put an end to the first major resistance to the European/Christian conquest of the Americas by executing Hatuey, an Indigenous freedom fighter who fought them on Hispaniola and Cuba. But Hatuey’s spirit of independence survived, as William Loren Katz notes.
American history can be described as an endless tension between the nation’s ideals and its practices, with hypocrisy often winning out over principle — and those contradictions are most obvious when the nation celebrates its liberties while betraying them, both today and in the past, William Loren Katz notes.