Why Are Blacks 90 Percent of Those Named Washington?
In honor of Presidents' Day, an Associated Press writer digs up the history behind George Washington and one of the "blackest names."
How many writers get to explore the origins of their name for an international audience?
You do if you're Jesse Washington, the Associated Press writer on race and ethnicity, and it's the weekend of the Washington's Birthday holiday (also known as Presidents Day).
"George Washington's name is inseparable from America, and not only from the nation's history. It identifies countless streets, buildings, mountains, bridges, monuments, cities — and people," Washington wrote.
"In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African-American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common name.
"The story of how Washington became the 'blackest name' begins with slavery and takes a sharp turn after the Civil War, when all blacks were allowed the dignity of a surname.
". . . Today there are black Washingtons, like this writer, who are often identified as African-American by people they have never met. There are white Washingtons who are sometimes misidentified and have felt discrimination. There are Washingtons of both races who view the name as a special — if complicated — gift.
"And there remains the presence of George, born 278 years ago on Feb. 22, whose complex relationship with slavery echoes in the blackness of his name today. . . .
Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: Critique of President's House was off-base (Jan. 4)
Edward Rothstein, New York Times: To Each His Own Museum, as Identity Goes on Display (Dec. 28)
"Several weeks after journalists in Egypt were attacked by pro-government mobs, a similar dynamic is playing out in neighboring Arab countries now staging popular protests against their own ruling regimes," Joe Pompeo reported Friday for Yahoo News.
"Inspired by the downfall of the autocratic regimes of Tunisia and Egypt, mass demonstrations have sprouted in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain. In Bahrain the government response has been particularly bloody, and journalists are once more getting caught up in the unrest.
"The New York Times reported Friday morning that two of its journalists were 'shot at from a helicopter over Bahrain's Pearl Roundabout as they were filming a report there, minutes after the army opened fire on protesters trying to march into the area they had been cleared out of one day earlier in a deadly raid.' ABC News reporter Miguel Marquez was beaten in the midst of Bahrain's security crackdown several days earlier. On Thursday, a freelance journalist in Iraq was gunned down outside his home. Meanwhile, authorities in various Middle Eastern countries have reportedly been detaining journalists and confiscating the equipment they've been using to report on conditions in the region.
" 'Governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa cannot deny their citizens coverage of these momentous events across the region,' said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in a news alert issued Thursday evening. 'Local and international media must be allowed to cover the news.'
"CPJ, a human rights-cum-media watchdog group, has been an influential press freedom advocate for the past three decades. (The organization celebrates its 30th anniversary in March.) But the group's profile has increased during the past month, as attacks on journalists in the Middle East have increased alongside popular unrest.
"On Thursday alone, Dayem said he received about a dozen reports of attacks on journalists in the Middle East."
Dayem wrote Thursday, "Several journalists . . . reported today that Bahraini authorities are barring journalists from entering the country. New York Times columnist [Nicholas D.] Kristof tweeted: "Bahrain barring journalists from entry at airport. King Hamad doesn't want witnesses to his brutality." Roy Gutman, foreign editor for McClatchy Newspapers, told CPJ that McClatchy reporter Nancy Youssef was denied entry to the country.
"In Yemen, photographers and camera operators were targeted today by pro-government supporters at anti-government protests. At least four photojournalists were attacked, beaten, and had their cameras confiscated: Ahmad Ghrasi from Agence France-Presse, Yahya Arhab from the European Pressphoto Agency, Amar Awd from Reuters, and Hasan Wataf from The Associated Press, according to local journalists. Al-Jazeera cameraman Samir al-Namri was beaten and had his camera smashed. Adel Abdel Mughni, a reporter for the Sana'a-based Al-Wahdawi opposition weekly was also attacked and had his camera confiscated, according to Al-Wahdawi. Al-Arabiya cameraman Abd al-Qawi al-Soufi was beaten by pro-government supporters and his camera broken."
John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reported Friday, "In the wake of continuing attacks on journalists covering the Middle East, the chairman of the U.S.' principal TV and radio news association wants TV station news execs to use the issue as an opportunity to talk to their news teams about how they approach coverage of dangerous situations."
Mark Kraham, president of the Radio-Television Digital News Association, was sending such a letter to members Friday.
Kenneth J. Cooper, Bay State Banner: An Egyptian revolution yet to come
Stanley Crouch, New York Daily News: Good for Egypt, but what about us? America's falling behind; our schools are to blame
Gulf Times: Release sought of journalists in Libya
Josh Halliday, the Guardian, Britain: BBC journalist detained at Bahrain airport for 15 hours
Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Suddenly the entire world seems to be in the mood to fight
Pew Research Center: Interest in Egypt News Surges as Mubarak Departs
Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: CNN's Anderson Cooper reported the truth
John Rash, Star Tribune, Minneapolis: Midwest needs to hear Al Jazeera
Reporters Without Borders: Journalists arrested, relatives held hostage in new crackdown
The State Department has called on the Egyptian government to investigate the "brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating," as CBS News described it, that foreign correspondent Lara Logan underwent a week ago in Cairo's Tahrir Square, department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said on Friday.
"We have called for an investigation. It was a deplorable, horrible attack on her. Egypt needs to investigate this," Crowley said in response to a questioner.
On Thursday, spokesman Mark C. Toner said at that day's briefing, "I know the secretary is obviously aware of the case and very concerned by it. . . . W,e take the cases of all journalists who have been physically or mentally abused while trying to carry out their work quite seriously."
President Obama on Wednesday telephoned Logan, according to news reports. Details of the conversation were not released.
"In a show of solidarity, ABC's Ann Compton along with NBC's Savannah Guthrie gathered messages from fellow women reporters at the major networks for their colleague Lara Logan and sent them to CBS to be delivered to her home as she continues to recuperate," Nancy Doyle Palmer wrote for the Huffington Post.
" 'We believe the best gift we can offer is support. The CBS statement about Lara hit me in the gut. I thought about it all that night, and the next morning. Woman on our news desk mentioned it. Our anchor did. And then I heard Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe say on the air she just hasn't been able to think about anything else. She felt the same way I did. We all did. This was a painful moment for women to see a colleague go through that kind of hell. I think newswomen on five continents are profoundly touched by Lara's courage, her strength, her fearlessness.' "
At the Poynter Institute, Julie Moos wrote that the attack on Logan "is a reminder that sexual violence happens to people where they work; it happens to adults on streets, in cars, at parks; it happens to children in their homes, neighborhoods, places of worship. The stories we tell — and believe — are affected by where and how these crimes happen."
Ashleigh Banfield, New York Post: Sex attacks are shameful secret job hazard faced by female war reporters
Jonathan Capehart blog, Washington Post: More on Al-Jazeera's silence on Lara Logan
Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: The Rights of Man
Katie Connolly, BBC News: Lara Logan attack turns spotlight on female reporters
On Monday, this column described contemporary newspaper reactions to an 1811 slave revolt in the Louisiana Territory, the largest such revolt ever in the United States and the subject of a new book by Daniel Rasmussen.
That item described how white-controlled Southern and Northern newspapers "spun" the news — or suppressed it — depending on their points of view. Another recent book, about atrocities committed against black women in the following century, gives credit to the black press for its role in bringing to these cases to light.
The book is "At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and resistance — a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power" by Danielle L. McGuire, an assistant professor in the history department at Wayne State University.
Reviewing it along with with Isabel Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns," about the Great Migration to the North, black-press historian Todd S. Burroughs wrote on his blog, "McGuire . . . moves past the established white-male-liberal narrative of decades of Movement histories, exposing that the historical framework of what is now considered 'spontaneous' 1950s and 1960s uprisings was actually anti-rape activism, a movement led by many Black women, including one named Rosa Parks.
"So, as McGuire boldly states, moving around sacred timelines, that the Montgomery Bus Boycott 'was in many ways the last act of a decades-long struggle to protect Black women' from sexual harassment and overall abuse. Rosa Parks wasn’t (just) a tired seamstress; she was an angry activist, as angry as those who left all they knew . . . to take their chances in the mysterious North."
McGuire told Journal-isms, "I found that the black press really focused in on these kinds of crimes in the 1940s and early 1950s. But they also covered rape cases, especially trials, in more detail than white newspapers throughout the civil rights period."
Writing in the Washington Post in November, Sheri Parks said, "The Achilles heel of the South has always been its concern for public image. The rapes were reported in the black press, and the cases that went to trial became matters of public record. In the 1950s, the national and international press began to pick up the stories of the rapes, trials and rallies, turning them into an international Cold War embarrassment. The Southern justice system responded with more indictments and even a few convictions, mostly of poor, uneducated men. They were the first convictions of white rapists since Reconstruction."
One of Parks' first cases was that of Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old mother and sharecropper who in September 1944 was gang raped by whites in Alabama's Black Belt.
"By the end of October," McGuire writes, "Taylor's story had traveled all the way to Pennsylvania where the widely read and respected black newspaper the Pittsburgh Courier ran it on October 28, 1944. Strategically placed beneath a banner headline that declared 'Treatment of Negro Called Greatest Evil in America,' the succinct front-page article, 'Alabama Whites Attack Woman; Not Punished,' highlighted sexual violence as one of those evils. The prominent article and provocative headline reflected the Courier's 'Double V' strategy. During the war years, the black press, led by the Pittsburgh Courier, urged African Americans to adopt 'double victory' as a wartime battle cry. 'The first V [is] for victory over our enemies from without' a Courier reader argued in a letter to the editor. 'The second V [is] for victory over our enemies from within. For surely those who perpetuate these ugly prejudices here are seeking to destroy our democratic form of government just as surely as the Axis forces.'
"Readers responded to the black press's drumbeat to 'Defeat Mussolini and Hitler by Enforcing the constitution and Abolishing Jim Crow,' devouring 200,000 copies of the Courier each week. The Courier was not alone in its success; wartime readership of black newspapers increased nearly 40 percent.
"The Courier article made the rape of Recy Taylor a national example of Southern injustice."
Cynthia Gordy of theRoot.com wrote about Taylor, who is now 91, on Feb. 9 and Errin Haines of the Associated Press interviewed Taylor in October. "She does find the idea of an official apology appealing," Haines wrote.
"It would mean a whole lot to me," Taylor said. "The people who done this to me . . . they can't do no apologizing. Most of them is gone."
Betty Winston Bayé, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: From a Jim Crow ward to a medical breakthrough
Tom Conroy, Media Life: 'The Injustice Files,' without closure: Investigation Discovery series does an able job
Merlene Davis, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: Buck and Bubbles are black Kentuckians worth remembering
Lewis W. Diuguid, Kansas City Star: New civil-rights fight should focus on reducing homicides
Yolanda Young, USA Today: Thurgood Marshall blazed a path for civil rights
Askia Muhammad, Washington Informer: Black History Month
Elmer Smith, Philadelphia Daily News: Black History and the revisionists
Roger Wilkins with Michel Martin on "Tell Me More," NPR: Civil Rights Veteran Was Washington Powerbroker
"What is it like being the only black editor, designer, publicist in the room?" Robin Givhan, the fashion writer who left the Washington Post in December for the merged Newsweek and Daily Beast, asked.
"I recall walking into a luncheon at the Joseph Abboud showroom some years ago," Givhan wrote Sunday for a New York magazine piece, "Why Fashion Keeps Tripping Over Race."
"I was the first to arrive, and a white valet waited in anticipation of the guests. I said hello. He nodded but said nothing, and did not offer to take my coat. Within moments, however, a group of white male colleagues arrived, and I watched as the valet immediately jumped into action, checking their coats and bags. I waited, and when it seemed he had no plans to come to my aid, I finally said, 'You can take my coat now.' Without comment, he did. Did he think I was a delivery person? The help? Or was he just hopelessly distracted and unprofessional?
". . . I contributed an essay to Vogue Italia’s 'A Black Issue,' and in it I discussed my own ambivalence about the project. I was happy to see such an artful and focused celebration of beautiful black women. I wasn’t bothered that they all appeared in a single issue; editor Franca Sozzani was making a powerful social statement through the act of segregation. But my concern was that once 'A Black Issue' disappeared from newsstands, black models would as well.
"To Sozzani’s credit, the black models didn’t disappear. But they remain segregated. She has fended off complaints that she is ghettoizing black models, telling me, 'We do thousands of issues with Russian girls, and it’s not a ghetto.'
"Aesthetically, Sozzani’s argument makes sense. But there’s a reason the standard all-white editorial isn’t described as a ghetto. There’s a reason no one talks about the oppression of blondes. Or the lack of redheads on the runway. The aesthetics of race can’t be wholly separated from the baggage of oppression, inequality, prejudice, and stereotypes. At least not yet. [Michelle] Obama may be the patron saint of the fashion industry (and, arguably, Annie Leibovitz images of Michelle Obama channeling Camelot served as a political balm for a public adjusting to the idea of a black First Lady), but anyone who enters the blogosphere knows that the Obamas’ presence in the White House has not eradicated racism. In some ways, it is more vitriolic than ever."