History refocused | CNN


These are the startling and personal stories, lost and hidden in America’s past, brought to life by CNN’s Abby Phillip, Suzanne Malveaux, Omar Jimenez, Athena Jones, Ryan Young, John Avlon and more. Knowing these stories could reshape your understanding of the disparities the country faces today.

150 years ago, Republicans fought hard for black voter turnout

By Channon Hodge, Ken Borland and Frank Fenimore, CNN

On April 11, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln delivered what would be his last speech from a White House window to the crowd below. They had gathered there awaiting a celebratory speech at the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant two days earlier.

But that night Lincoln’s speech was about reconstruction, Louisiana’s readmission to the Union, and a proposal to “give the benefit of public schools equally to blacks and whites and to empower the legislature to conferring the right to vote on the colored man”.

Plantation-owning elites, Southern Democrats, and white supremacists, however, would not easily cede political power to those who had so recently been their slaves. That evening, among the crowd of listeners, was an enraged John Wilkes Booth, who would assassinate the President three days later at Ford’s Theatre.

For decades after Lincoln’s death, white supremacists waged a war of intimidation, murder and slaughter against anyone, black or white, who dared to covet a share of their power. Yet the blacks persisted.

And between 1865 and 1880, more than 1,500 black men took political office; most not for long, as their efforts were frustrated by mobs of violent white men.

1868 Louisiana – African Americans participated in constitutional conventions like this throughout the South where delegates argued over Union demands, wrote new laws, and elected new leaders.

Oscar James Dunn was one of those determined men. He became the nation’s first black lieutenant governor in Louisiana in 1868, serving under Henry Clay Warmoth on the Republican ticket. Dunn’s first legislative speech showed hope and restraint:

“As for me and my people, we do not seek social equality. This is something that no law can govern,” Dunn said. “We are simply asking that they be given an equal chance in the race of life.”

Oscar Dunn mysteriously died in office just four years later…

The story continues…

By Channon Hodge, Breeanna Hare, Tami Luhby and CNN Staff

As the Civil War drew to a close, Union General William Sherman became convinced that the newly emancipated slaves needed their own land to secure their freedom. He issued Special Land Order No. 15, setting aside 400,000 acres of coastal land for black families and declaring that “…no white persons, except military officers and soldiers are permitted to reside. A provision was added later for mules.

Within three months, the potential of Sherman’s command vanished in one fell swoop. In April, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and in the fall President Andrew Johnson rescinded Sherman’s order, allowing the Confederate planters to regain the land. It demonstrated a ruthless appropriation that will be repeated for decades.

Yet black Americans created pockets of wealth during the Reconstruction years and into the early 20th century. Yet where black Americans have created refuge, white Americans have pushed back through political maneuvering and violence.

“We estimate that there were more than 100 massacres that took place between the end of the Civil War and the 1940s,” says William Darity Jr., an economist at Duke University and co-author of “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” with writer and folklorist A. Kirsten Mullen. “And they unfold north and south, east and west.”

We scoured research and news clippings, paying particular attention to approximately 50 racist incidents between 1863 and 1923 when people of color lost property or economic opportunity. The events highlighted here reveal how acts of racial violence of varying scales unfolded across the country and targeted various ethnicities. Historians then helped us examine how and why they happened and where we still see their impact today…

The story continues here…

This 15-year-old boy was the first Rosa Parks

By Brandon Tensley, Skylar Mitchell, Deborah Brunswick, Janelle Gonzalez, Abby Phillip, Jeff Simon and Cassie Spodak, CNN

Claudette Colvin did a revolutionary act almost 10 months before Rosa Parks.

In March 1955, the 15-year-old was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

The teenager and others challenged the law in court. But civil rights leaders, pointing to the circumstances of Colvin’s personal life, believed Parks would be the movement’s best representative.

“People were saying I was crazy,” Colvin recently told CNN’s Abby Phillip. “Because I was 15 and I was challenging myself and shouting, ‘It’s my constitutional right!’ ”

The story continues here…

90-year-old former senator: The fight against racism rests with white people

By Amir Vera, Bryce Urbany and Cassie Spodak, CNN

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Unrest – better known as the Kerner Commission – released a report that attempted to address systemic racism in the United States, including police violence against black people.

A Michigan State Trooper searches a youth on 12th Street in Detroit where looting took place in the 1960s.

A Michigan State Trooper searches a youth on 12th Street in Detroit where looting took place in the 1960s.

The report said racism was a major cause of economic and social inequality for black people and was driving the nation towards two societies: “One black, one white, separate and unequal”. This, coupled with the police’s brutal treatment of people of color and poverty, helped spark the race riots of the 1960s.

At the time, the commission’s findings shocked many Americans because, for the first time, “white racism” was noted as a major cause of the unequal status and living conditions of black Americans, a said the last surviving member of the commission, former Oklahoma senator Fred Harris. . But the report’s findings and proposed solutions lead nowhere.

More than 50 years after the report, Harris, historians and political experts tell CNN that change will only happen when the people have the will and the government is truly honest about what needs to be done politically, socially and economically to fight against racial inequalities.

Jelani Cobb, historian and co-editor of “The Essential Kerner Commission Report,” told CNN that people and institutions already know what the problem is and the only action that needs to be taken now is actually to follow up. the recommendations of the commission, and pay the price that goes with it.

“The stocks are set, you really don’t need more recommendations,” Cobb said. “The fundamental observations (of the commission) have never been acted upon.”

The story continues…

Can a formula be racist? She says we put her health at risk

By Jacque Smith, Cassie Spodak, Jessi Esparza and Natalia V. Osipova, CNN

When she first heard about racial correction, Naomi Nkinsi was one of five black medical students in her class at the University of Washington.

Nkinsi remembers the professor talking about an equation used by doctors to measure kidney function. The professor said the eGFR equations adjust for several variables, including the patient’s age, gender and race. When it comes to race, doctors have only two options: Black or “Other”.

Nkinsi was stunned.

“It was really shocking for me,” says Nkinsi, now a third-year medical student and master’s in public health, “to enter the school and see that not only is there interpersonal racism between patients and doctors…there is actually racism built into the same algorithms that we use.

At the heart of a simmering controversy in American hospitals is a simple belief, medical students say: math shouldn’t be racist.

The racial correction argument has raised questions about the science doctors rely on to treat people of color. It caught the attention of Congress and led to a major lawsuit against the NFL.

What happens next could affect how millions of Americans are treated…

The story continues…

How the KKK’s failures became lessons for white power