Posts filed under The Long Memory

Rad Geek, to-day:

Early Christians believed all kinds of crazy things. Like, we talk about the breakdown of rigid controls in the Reformation, but modern Christianity has absolutely positively nothing on the insanely wild diversity of early Christianity.

Ooh, you disagree about whether the Pope or the King is in charge of the Church. Okay, dude, I believe that Jesus only appeared to be a man, but actually is a bodiless angel who came to earth in order to overthrow the evil Creator God. My neighbor Basilides over here believes that there are 365 gods.


Here's a black and white  photo of a group of black youths, standing in a park with their arms outstretched, facing the blast of a water cannon from the right.
Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Ala.
3 May 1963

Fifty-three years ago today, — one day after the start of the Children’s Crusade marches, — black youth were in the streets in Birmingham to march on City Hall and protest Jim Crow in one of the best-known protest marches in American history. They stood up against Mayor Art Haynes and Public Safety Commissioner Eugene Connor and his police and his fire department and the whole violent system of Jim Crow. They filled the jails and they kept marching. Desperate, Bull Connor ordered police and firemen to turn police dogs and water cannons on the kids in the street.

In the end, the kids in the street won, and the white power establishment, the segregationist politicians and the Public Safety Commissioners and the police lost.

This photograph is from Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama, May 3, 1963. It was taken by Bob Adelman.

“Are Mose and Minerva Less Distinctive than Lakisha and Jamal?” Mississippi State SHUR presentation

So over the past two semesters, I’ve been working on a long-term research project on black naming practices in the Alabama Black Belt during the period of slavery. As it turns out, I’ll be presenting some preliminary findings from my research later this month at the Mississippi State University Symposium for History Undergraduate Research (SHUR), April 29-30. I’ll be presenting Saturday morning, April 30, on a panel running from 8:30-9:50. Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

“Are Mose and Minerva Less Distinctive than Lakisha and Jamal? The Use and Abuse of Distinctively Black Names in Slavery and in Freedom”

Charles W. Johnson
Auburn University


Black and white Americans have different names. Names like “Keisha” or “Darnell” are widely and instantly perceived as ‘black,’ and names like “Brad,” “Meredith” and “Todd” as ‘white.’ The perception reflects a statistical reality: white and black Americans’ naming choices do systematically differ. Racialized naming differences can carry social and economic baggage for people with names that are perceived as distinctively black, including discrimination in education and during job searches. Economists such as Fryer and Levitt (2004) or Bertrand and Mullainathan (2004) devote several recent studies to possible causes and consequences of distinctively black naming patterns in the post-Civil Rights era. Yet distinctively black names, and social stigma against them, are not recent developments. In 1870 there were eight men named “Pompey,” or “Pomp” for short, living in Macon County, Alabama. All were black farm-hands, born under the Black Belt’s system of plantation slavery. Local whites included “Leonidas” and “Alexander,” but none were named after Caesar’s rival. “Pompey” was no outlier: in 1870 the Pompeys of Macon County lived alongside Livy Pinckard, Cato Brown, Romulus Dowdell and Remus Rainey – all exclusively black names, never seen among Macon County whites. Generally, the particular names marked as black or white have changed throughout American history, as the period of slavery receded and names like Mose or Minerva were replaced by Lakisha and Jamal. But divergent black and white naming systems are a long-standing, continuous phenomenon of America’s biracial culture, with their earliest roots in conflicts and negotiations between white slaveholders and black slaves over control of naming under slavery.

In this paper I offer a new analysis of quantitative data on naming patterns, based on the 1870 Census for Alabama Black Belt counties. Previous studies of slave naming practices have focused either on single plantations or on distinctive regions such as the South Carolina coast or Caribbean, with comparatively little attention to the Black Belt. Analysis of the Alabama data, using techniques from recent studies on contemporary naming practices, reveals distinctively black naming patterns in the Black Belt and a large pool of distinctively or uniquely African-American names dating back to the period of slavery. Contrary to Herbert Gutman’s suggestion that lexically distinctive black names (e.g. from classical or traditional African sources) were rare or marginal by the late antebellum period, I find that the data from the Black Belt counties demonstrate the persistence of significant, ongoing distinctively or uniquely black naming pools throughout the last decades of slavery and the first decade of emancipation.

Black Belt naming practices reveal elements both of planters’ impositions and slaves’ adaptation and resistance. Moreover, discrimination today against distinctively black names parallel the repetitive rhetorical use and abuse of ‘black’ names in antebellum writing as tropes standing for derisive or stereotyped images of blackness; but their use by freed black Alabamians also reveal the powerful personal and cultural meanings that they conveyed. Distinctively black names under slavery are like scars: visible signs of deep wounds, but also of the body’s effort to adapt and to heal.

Roman Civilization Was Awful, The Forensic Evidence

Shared Article from

Evidence of Roman Battle Discovered in The Netherlands - Archaeo…

Archaeologist Nico Roymans of the Vrije Universiteit announced in a press release the discovery of skeletal remains, swords, spearheads, and a helmet in the modern area of Kessel, at the site where Roman general Julius Caesar wiped out the Tencteri and the Usipetes, two Germanic tribes, in 55 B.C. Caesar described the battle in Book IV of his De Bello Gallico. After he rejected the tribes’ request for asylum and permission to settle in the Dutch river area, his force of eight legions and cavalry conquered the camp and pursued the survivors to the convergence of the Meuse and Rhine Rivers, where he slaughtered more than 100,000 people. The Late Iron Age skeletal remains represent men, women, and children, and show signs of spear and sword injuries. Their bodies and bent weapons had been placed in a Meuse riverbed.

— Evidence of Roman Battle Discovered in the Netherlands
Archaeology (17 December 2015)

This is an amazing find, in the sense that archaeologists hardly ever find remains from known ancient battles, especially not on open battlefields. It’s a thoroughly unsurprising find, in the sense that it reinforces, once again, that Roman civilization was awful, and Julius Caesar one of the most celebrated genocidaires of history.[1]

  1. [1]Beware Caesar. Celebrate the Ides of March.