Category Archives: North America

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Chris Manos Dishes on Theater of the Stars, Past and Present

In an effort to get Emory students out of their comfort zones and into Atlanta’s vibrant arts scene, Christopher Manos, the longtime executive producer of Theater of the Stars, highlighted his company’s six-decade impact on Atlanta, what it’s like to work with the Fox Theatre and why we should all see The King and I on Sept. 5.

Theater of the Stars — formerly Theater Under the Stars — was enthusiastically founded in 1953 as a non-profit organization (with the support of Mayor Hartsfield, I might add), though seven years in, the small company badly needed direction and star power.

By 1960, Manos had been cavorting around the Big Apple for nearly a decade, working for the Theater Guild and forming his own theater production business, known as M and M Theater Company.

While in New York City, Manos transitioned from producing plays to putting on musicals. So when Manos met and married Atlanta ballerina Glen Ryman, and they subsequently moved to Georgia, Theater of the Stars snatched him up.

“At that time, Theater of the Stars needed a producer. So we got together, and I’ve been there ever since,” Manos said. “The fit seemed to work very well, and we’ve been producing musicals and plays and operas and ballets.”

Manos attracted a star-studded cast, including — but not limited to — Robert Goulet (Camelot), Madeline Kahn (Hello Dolly!) and Debbie Reynolds (The Unsinkable Molly Brown).  But some of Manos’ other Theater of the Stars endeavors had a more enduring impact on Atlanta.

In 1964, Manos formed the Grand Opera in the Park after the New York City Opera, which used to come to Atlanta every year, decided the annual journey down South was too expensive. Performing in Chastain Park, the Grand Opera featured 11 operas from ’64 to ’70.

Allegedly, Grand Opera in the Park paved the way for the Atlanta Opera, though, according to Manos, “Atlanta opera has a complicated early life,” he said.

Ten years after Theater of the Stars dabbled in opera, the theater company capitalized on another Atlanta shortcoming: the absence of black theater companies.

In 1974, Manos formed Just Us, the city’s first-ever black theater group.

“We had a wonderful run,” Manos said. “But then in the 80s, we turned [Just Us] over to a group that was African American because we started to get problems, what with a white organization producing a black theater company.”

Zaron Burnett, who has worked for Just Us since it severed ties with Theater of the Stars, claimed that Manos created the black theater group for funding reasons.

Worried about Maynard Jackson’s new role as the first African American mayor of Atlanta, Manos founded Just Us to keep government funds flowing to Theater of the Stars, according to Burnett.

Beyond the historical impact Theater of the Stars had on Atlanta, Manos touched on his company’s transition — due to sound issues — from the Atlanta Civic Center to the Fox Theatre in 1988 and the need to “balance out” each season with a variety of shows.

“We’re a family-oriented company, so you want a children’s show. You want a show that’s just off Broadway,” Manos said. “You want a classic that’s considered one of the 20 or 30 great musicals of all time, and you try to put all of that together.”

Theater of the Stars’ production of The King and I, featuring Victoria Mallory and Ronobir Lahiri, is one of those all-time greats.

From Sept. 5 to Sept. 11, this production of one of Roger and Hammerstein’s most famous musicals will offer Atlanta theatergoers both youthful energy and classic romance.

So why should Emory students venture away from Clifton, Clairmont and North Decatur to revel in the dizzying grandeur of the Fox or the courtly life of Siam recreated by Theater of the Stars? Or any future production by Theater of the Stars for that matter?

“Because if they weren’t taken to a musical by their mothers or grandmothers when they were young, then it’s very difficult to get someone once they’ve grown up to take on new tastes,” Manos implored. “If I get a kid in my theater that 11 or 12-years-old, I’ve got ‘em for life. And, you know, musical theater is a distinct American tradition.”

Perhaps you’ve already surpassed the child-like wonder you might’ve experienced at your first musical, but it’s never too late to get lost in someone else’s story. And it’s never too late to explore a city brimming with history … just don’t get lost in it!

Check out this story at the Emory Wheel’s website! http://www.emorywheel.com/discovering-atlanta-arts-an-insight-into-the-stars/

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Conflicting Reports: 1996 Olympic Games

The evening of July 19, 1996, was the culmination of Atlanta’s civic leaders’ desires to catapult the city into the international limelight and (hopefully) transform it into a relevant, vibrant hub of tourism and commerce.

According to reports from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the ceremony that boasted an in-house crowd of more than 80,000 and a television audience of 3.5 billion “opened with a burst of pageantry and song.”

Olympic gold-medalist Janet Evans passed the torch to boxing phenom Muhammad Ali in a riveting exchange that elicited wild cheers from the audience. Trembling yet determined, Ali lit the fuse and the flame zipped up a wire to ignite the caldron. Children sang and danced. Fireworks exploded. Gladys Knight performed an emotional (albeit predictable) rendition of “Georgia On My Mind.” An audio recording of Martin Luther Kings’ “I Have a Dream” speech coursed throughout the stadium, and enormous silhouette projections of Greek athletes flitted about on curtains. Truly, this centennial ceremony saluted both Olympic history and Southern heritage. After all, dancers held up placards that read, “How Y’all Doin!”

This was an unforgettable moment in the city’s history—filled with Southern hospitality, international camaraderie, and palpable electricity. Of course, this was well before a pipe bomb planted by Eric Rudolph exploded in Centennial Olympic Park.

“With the international onslaught, the city was vibrating with excitement,” recalls Maureen Downey, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and longtime reporter for the AJC. “It was Carnival and the Super Bowl all wrapped up in one.”

For some foreign journalists, however, the opening ceremony marked the zenith of the ’96 games. Perhaps the aspirations of mayor Andrew Young and Atlanta Olympics chief executive officer Billy Payne surpassed the city’s logistical capabilities when they snagged the bid in 1990.

Members of the international press corps encountered transportation issues, for example, and a few of their buses broke down. As a result, many journalists were late to, or completely missed, athletic events. In a 1997 article in the New York Times, Lyn May, the former director of communications for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, offered her opinion about the bad press the city received.

“That was colored by [the reporters’] self centered need to be coddled,” May said. “As a result, Atlanta ended up with a less glowing image than we would have hoped.”

When asked about the ’96 Olympics less-than-stellar reviews, Downey found that, while the athletic facilities and sports events themselves typically received a favorable response, the poor press was probably influenced by Atlanta’s “flea market atmosphere.”

“In attempts to make money and lease space, Mayor Bill Campbell and the Atlanta Olympics committee had little discretion in terms of the vendors,” Downey said. “The city handled street space poorly . . . For people who only attended one or two events and were there for the street life, vendors hocking junk was a detriment.”

But regardless of reports (both good and bad) and the fact that, according to Downey, Atlanta failed to transform into the bustling city center she’d hoped for, the 1996 Olympic games had an irrefutable impact on Atlanta’s infrastructure and business profile. Pedestrian environments improved thanks to repaved sidewalks, new signage, public art, newly planted trees, and improved lighting. The Techwood Homes housing project was converted into mixed-income housing and dormitories. Olympic stadium became the new home of the Braves, and Centennial Olympic Park added green space and enticed both commercial and residential investors.

Back in 1996 at the opening ceremony, Atlanta-born Suzy Wilner described her dreams for the city’s foray into the international spotlight to a reporter from the AJC.

“With everybody’s eyes on Atlanta, I just hope they see Atlanta as a great place to come and visit,” Wilner said.

And for the most part, they did

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The Dedication of the Georgia Capitol: Irony Abounds

The dedication of Georgia’s new Capitol on July 4, 1889 was an exercise in mixed metaphors. The ceremony, a grand legislative procession from the lawmakers’ temporary digs in an opera house on Marietta Street to the gilded edifice six blocks away, was carefully staged to symbolize democracy as an institution. According to a reporter from the Atlanta Constitution, the Georgia General Assembly members “walked deliberately and quietly, unattended by any flourish of trumpets. It was democratic simplicity personified in the representatives of the people.” And it is with this image of democracy—easily emphasized by the Greco-Roman architecture of the Capitol building—that we encounter the dedication ceremony’s first blundering paradox: amid the over 200 members of the procession, there was only one African American.

The sole black participant in the procession was Samuel A. McIver, a House representative from Liberty County. In 1889, African Americans accounted for almost 45 percent of Georgia’s population, yet were consistently barred from the political process through official state policies and ballot-box discrimination.

Governor John B. Gordon—living representation of the Confederacy and leader of Georgia’s Ku Klux Klan—waited patiently at the Capitol for assembly members to arrive. With a flair of dramatic irony, McIver marched toward Gordon, a man who used both legislative and violent means to deny African Americans participation in democracy.

The procession’s interaction with the Capitol’s architectural elements was also symbolic. For instance, the building itself rested atop a hill, and according to a passage in Democracy Restored: A History of the Georgia State Capitol, the forced upward movement of the procession was “an important feature—common to temple design—that signaled the movement from ordinary activities of daily life to extraordinary duties of civic endeavor.”

As the members of the democratic parade ascended the stairs and strode through the Capitol’s west entrance, they passed below sculptures of men and women, each personifying a democratic ideal. The female forms represented liberty, commerce, and prosperity, but in Georgia, an 1889 constitutional amendment denied women the right to vote. And unlike McIver, no women were represented in the Georgia General Assembly. The first female members of the statehouse weren’t elected until 1922.

Gordon and his legislative procession more aptly highlighted Georgia’s racial and gender disparities in political representation. On July 4, they displayed their own version of democracy, an institution where all white men were created equally.

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a quick note on the AIDS epidemic in Atlanta

The day was September 8th, 1991. According to news reports from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the sun shined bright over the first annual AIDS Walk Atlanta and the subsequent benefit held in Piedmont Park. The event, entitled “From All Walks of Life,” was Atlanta’s first major fund-raiser to combat the AIDS epidemic that had plagued the nation for almost 10 years.

 

Carolyn Calloway strode onto the stage to perform with Elton John and Brett Lykins, a 10-year-old boy who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion when he was a small child. Clad in black spandex, a blue blazer with giant shoulder pads and fluffy blonde bangs, Calloway plopped down next to the tiny boy as he sat on a set of pink granite steps. Thousands listened quietly as she began to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Calloway asked Lykins honestly, “Did you ever know that you’re my hero?” And with his hands clasped around his knobby knees, he looked up at her and smiled.

 

As the ballad reached its crescendo, Calloway belted, “Fly! Fly! Fly away!” in her deep, syrupy vibrato. At that moment, a group of doves was released into the beautiful September sky.

 

“Those birds came out and circled the entire park,” Calloway said. “Everyone stood up and cheered and clapped and screamed. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Those birds, they just represented such freedom and such peace and serenity.”

 

But this was not the first time Calloway used her tremendous voice to help those suffering from AIDS. Nor would this be the last.

 

***

On August 24, 1950, Marian and Hasson Calloway welcomed Carolyn into the world, or more precisely, Knoxville, Tennessee. Her dad moved his family to Atlanta’s south side a few years later, to a segregated neighborhood called Cascade Heights.

 

Calloway (her friends and family never use her first name) largely attributes her love for music to her parents, as they often sang and played the piano when she was young. So it was no surprise that, by the time she was 14, Calloway had landed her first professional singing gig. She played Louisa Von Trapp—alongside Hollywood actress, Ann Blyth—in Theater Under the Stars’ production of “The Sound of Music.”

 

At 17, Calloway auditioned for Six Flags Over Georgia’s Crystal Pistol Music Hall. And the 61-year-old laughed as she recalled these memories.

 

“We used to joke that when I was at Six Flags, it was so long ago, there used to be four flags,” Calloway chuckled.

 

Her nasally chortle was infectious, and even in the crowded Starbucks where I’d managed to squeeze in my first interview with the uber-busy Atlanta realtor, I couldn’t help but burst into laughter myself.

 

Of course Calloway nabbed a spot in the amusement park’s summer variety show extravaganza, but it wasn’t until she moved back to Knoxville for college that the young singer began to seriously cultivate her passion for musical theater.

 

In 1968, Calloway was accepted to the University of Tennessee, the alma mater of both of her older brothers, Ron and Maxwell. Her grandparents still lived in Knoxville, and Maxwell had not yet graduated, so the city offered a home away from home. The teenage singer jumped right into UT’s theater scene, and there she met her first gay friend (and current best friend), Jim Allen.

 

Allen, who now works for the Tennessee Valley Authority, was directing “Camparet,” (a spoof of Broadway’s 1966 production of “Cabaret”) for Miller’s Department Store, and he desperately needed a singer. He remembered the first time he met Calloway, her Kappa Delta sorority sisters surrounded her, and they were all chanting, “Sing! Sing!” Calloway chose a Barbra Streisand song (he couldn’t recall which one), and Allen was so impressed, he cast her in his fashion show as well.

 

At UT, Calloway landed the lead role of Reno Sweeny in the Clarence Brown Theater’s production of “Anything Goes.” According to the songstress, this was her “first big stage production.” And Allen remembers it well.

 

“We watched her and realized we were watching a star,” Allen said. “She blew people away.”

 

It took Calloway five years to graduate because she couldn’t decide on a major. She switched from theater to music to journalism and finally settled on a BS in education. In 1973, she moved back to Atlanta where she taught 7th grade at a school off Cleveland Avenue, but teaching elementary school was not her cup of tea. Calloway found her niche at her second school, Westwood High School (now Westlake High School), and her kids voted her teacher of the year in 1974.

 

But as rewarding as teaching was, Calloway needed to perform.

 

“It’s the feeling you get if you’re performing onstage, and the orchestra starts, and you hear the crowd buzzing in the theater, and you know they’re right outside the curtain,” Calloway said. “Then the orchestra starts playing the intro, and you’re about to come out… it’s addictive.”

 

In 1974, Calloway found an advertisement for a newly opened cabaret theater in the paper. The Workshop Theater, Atlanta’s first cabaret theater, was having auditions. David Sheppard, the current executive director of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), and his partner, Ben Thompson (who eventually died from AIDS) were the producers. The theater was in a small house off of Monroe Drive, and it was so tiny, to transition from stage left to stage right, Calloway had to crawl out one window, run around the back of the building, and climb in a window on the other side.

 

For six years, Calloway was a teacher by day, and a cabaret singer by night.

 

After the Workshop Theater, Calloway performed in several other cabarets including Angelo’s Cabaret and the Manhattan Yellow Pages (MYP), a throwback to New York’s 1920s cabaret theater. According to Calloway, MYP developed quite the cult following, and the audience members would come to show after show until they’d learned all the words.

 

In 1975, Gene Dale hired her to sing in his restaurant, Gene & Gabe’s (now called Smith’s Olde Bar). Calloway would sing as her pal Harris Wheeler played the piano. The bar was dark and smoky as she crooned the great, tragic love songs like Stephen Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind.” But Calloway loved the drama.

 

“Whenever Theater of the Stars, or the Fox Theater would have a show, the cast would come to Gene & Gabe’s to have dinner,” Calloway said. “So on any given night, sitting in the audience would be Rock Hudson, Joan Rivers, Paul Lynde and Elizabeth Allen.”

 

In 1980, Dale decided to open a cabaret theater on the top level of the restaurant, aptly named “Upstairs at Gene & Gabe’s,” and Calloway fondly recalls this period as the greatest time in her life.

 

Unfortunately, the 80s were also the worst. The close relationships the singer had developed with her fellow cabaret performers, as well as coworkers at Gene & Gabe’s, literally disintegrated as her friends began to get sick and die. Over the next few years, 40 of her friends would die from AIDS.

 

According to Calloway, when she’d sing at her friends’ memorial services, their parents would have no idea that their sons had been sick, let alone gay. After all, the AIDS epidemic was just beginning.

 

***

 

AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, was a nameless disease when the epidemic struck the United States in 1981.  And one word can be used to describe the national sentiment at the time: panic.

 

In 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scrambled to assemble a task force to name and assess the mysterious killer. According to James Curran, Emory University’s Dean of Public Health and co-director of Emory’s Center for AIDS Research, when the CDC task force attempted to name the disease (Curran led the task force in 1981) they initially considered “GRID,” or gay-related immune deficiency, because so many of the infected patients seemed to be white, “homosexual” men. Ultimately, the team named the virus “AIDS” in 1982.

 

A stigma already permeated society. People began to associate AIDS with “homosexuality,” and that lead to discrimination and paranoia.

 

Michael Shutt, Emory University’s director of LGBT life, referred to the 1980s as “the missing decade.” Shutt claims that differences in sexual preference/orientation blossomed in the 1960s and 1970s. But as AIDS garnered a gay stigma in the 80s, people were afraid to talk about their sexuality.

 

“If you were ‘out,’ you were HIV positive,” Shutt said.

 

Curran said he believes the stigma grew because there were no blood tests for the first four years of the epidemic. Essentially, a person wouldn’t know he was infected until after he became very, very sick.

 

“That created a new kind of stigma, both within the gay community and at large,” Curran said. “Because you’d see people walking around like skeletons. And everybody was very afraid of them.”

 

But AIDS and its precursor, HIV, were not confined to gay, white men. An article written by Ron Taylor, published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in December of 1985, detailed the disease’s transition.

 

“This was the year the fear of AIDS—AFRAIDS as one national magazine called it—found mainstream America,” Taylor reported. “No longer was AIDS a disease buried in America’s subculture of homosexuals…By mid-1985, there were enough rumors and enough confusion to scare everybody.”

 

All sorts of people, including children, acquired HIV from tainted blood transfusions. Parents were afraid that “AIDS children” would infect their babies at school, the Pentagon threatened to jettison infected service men from the military and religious zealots blamed “homosexuals” for unleashing the “gay plague” upon society.

 

In the midst of this terrifying crisis, organizations like AID Atlanta sprung up to address the fallout. People began to practice “safe sex” by using condoms, and as Curran noted, the gay community was forced to ‘come out’ as a people.

 

The most heart-wrenching element of the AIDS epidemic was the fact that suitable medication was not developed until around 1995, said the former leader of the CDC’s AIDS task force. Until that point, testing HIV positive was a death sentence.

 

***

 

After the first AIDS Walk, Calloway, Bill Becker and Jeannine Beane formed “For Our Friends,” an organization designed to raise money for Project Open Hand Atlanta. Michael Edwards-Pruitt founded Open Hand Atlanta in 1988 to help deliver nutritious meals to members of the community who were too sick to leave their homes. Calloway compared this project to Meals on Wheels (but for individuals suffering from AIDS).

 

During my second interview with Calloway at her spacious townhouse in Atlanta, we watched a video of one of her benefits, in collaboration with The NAMES Project Foundation and “For Our Friends,” at The Roxy Theater in 1995.

 

Calloway sashayed onto the stage in a teal gown that fell below her shoulders. As she began to sing Barbra Streisand’s “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” a lump found its way to my throat.  Glancing sideways, I noticed that Calloway’s eyes were watering. This was the first time I’d ever seen her perform.

 

Calloway wrote the next song, entitled “I’m Still Here,” a snarky synopsis of her music career, from a youngster at UT through her cabaret days. As she performed, her silly facial expressions coaxed laughs out of the audience, and she strutted back and forth across the stage with the ease of a seasoned performer. Calloway lightened the mood of a potentially somber event with jokes about how much Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood had changed over the years.

 

“At that time, the only real hair salon was Connie Sue Day’s Curl Up and Die Beauty On A Budget,” she quipped. “The only fancy eatin’ place was the feed mill.”

 

The crowd devoured her humor, yet Calloway could barely stand watching herself perform. She jumped up and pressed fast-forward until she reached the “panel section” of the benefit, where a projector screen illuminated several quilt panels dedicated to friends and family members who had died from AIDS. Over 47,000 panels comprise The AIDS Memorial Quilt, and those introduced at The Roxy included segments for children as well as adults (many from Calloway’s cabaret days).

 

Ronnie Angelet, a friend of Calloway’s who died of AIDS in 1984, opened up to her before he passed. He said the only thing he was afraid of was that he’d be forgotten, but Calloway assured him that his memory would live on.

 

“Of course we did a panel for Ronnie.” Calloway said. “Ronnie liked his leather. So his panel was red leather and spiky necklaces.”

 

A few weeks later, I scheduled an appointment with AID Atlanta to see a portion of The AIDS Memorial Quilt for myself. The receptionist showed me to a small conference room in the corner of the building, and then she left me alone to examine the cloth. I was dismayed to see the quilt section smashed between several chairs. But as I pulled them away, I could see the care that went into each panel.

 

One panel was dedicated to Joe Deitrich from Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. He was 28 when he died. A cactus, a cityscape and the outline of Italy were stitched onto a white background. I guessed those were the places he’d visited, or perhaps he’d never had the chance.

 

Another panel memorialized Jim Hohmann. He died at 34. Two rainbows adorned the corners of the grey panel, and in the middle, his loved ones stitched “thank God we didn’t miss the dance.”

 

My favorite panel belonged to Scott C. Pealer. He was 29. Written in black marker, Pealer’s mother and father wrote him a poem.

 

“How we miss your smiling face. How we miss your happy laugh. But most of all, we miss you. You are always in our minds. And always in our hearts. We miss you and love you very much.”

 

At this point, I was glad to be alone in the conference room. Sinking down to the grimy carpet, I couldn’t imagine the pain Calloway had endured. I couldn’t imagine going through this scores of times.

 

***

 

Back in Calloway’s townhouse, she led me upstairs to her “angel room.” Posters from her benefit concerts hung on the walls, and pictures of all of her friends who died from AIDS adorned several shelves. On an opposite wall, a huge frame encased pictures of a young boy.

 

When Calloway’s brother, Maxwell, adopted three boys—Alex, Andrew and Austin—from a Russian orphanage in 1997, she went with him.  For Maxwell, Calloway’s role as a doting aunt gave him room to breathe.

 

“She’d pick up the slack when I couldn’t,” Maxwell said.

 

But in 2008–after struggling with a cocaine addiction, dropping out of school, and attempting to get his life back on track–Alex Calloway’s heart failed (it is not believed that drugs had anything to do with his congestive heart failure). He was 21, and he’d been clean for almost a year. Calloway was used to singing at her friends’ memorials, but she could not sing for Alex. In fact, she hasn’t sung since his death.

 

In my final interview with Calloway, I asked her why she’d lost her voice.

 

“People used to ask me all the time, how do you sing at your best friend’s memorial service? And I would never, ever break down” she said. “Those tributes to all those friends, I don’t know, maybe that was my preparation to realize that one day I’ll sing again for Alex.”

 

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Reed Trivia

Did you know that Obama’s comments about the Supreme Court striking down his health care law skewed the point of judiciary review (created by the Judiciary Act of 1789 and substantiated by the case Marburry v. Madison in 1803) and legal precedence?

He maintained that the Supreme Court will not kill his bill on that basis of the Court’s obligation to preserve previous legal decisions in similar situations. This is surprising–since Obama is liberal–and you might assume that he would diagree with the notion that the Court should uphold a law on the simple basis of precedence and fail to account for the context of the particular situation. Obama is a former Constitutional law professor, so as a legal argument, I understand where he is coming from.

Obama seems to be framing his argument in a political context, where the decision of the judges (if they defy precedent) indicates a purely political motive.

Hooray election politics!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/obama-supreme-court_n_1401206.html

 

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a quick note on the Southern Belle

I am hesitant to say the institution of slavery shaped the lives of young, elite women in the Old South; rather, I would argue it was the nature of the patriarchal society that shaped them both.

One must first understand the constraints placed on women by a patriarchal society. Men often used marriage to further their own economic status (Jabour 92). They championed a sexual double standard where women could not stray outside their marriage, yet men consistently engaged in extramarital affairs with both slaves and poor white women. In fact, white men believed slave women protected elite white women from men’s pervasive sexual appetites (91). Former slaveholders used their daughters’ debuts and the ritual of presenting them to society to reaffirm their own social status (118). The South’s “honor culture sanctioned hard drinking among elite men,” and spousal abuse stemmed from such behavior (91). Women had to prioritize their husband’s careers over their personal needs (175), and marriage pulverized women’s legal identities and economic rights.

After examining the plight of elite white women in the Old South, one can draw comparisons to the institution of slavery. While women were aware of their educational advantages and class privileges over enslaved blacks, both “were deprived of the fruits of their labor, their legal identity, control of their sexuality and rights to their children” (Jabour 10). Truly a theme of white male domination prevails in the antebellum South. These young women, like slaves, engaged in more covert resistance epitomized by their reluctance to come-of-age and “accept socialization into their assigned roles” (13). I would argue that just as the proslavery arguments were contrived by southern white men, so too was the myth of the southern belle; and both manufactured identities subverted slaves and white women into submissive positions.

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Reed Art

The historiography of art throughout the ages gives as much insight into the culture of the recipient as it does the lifestyle of the creator. A careful analysis of various art forms throughout time–whether dancing, painting, or sculpting–preserves the vitality of the human race in each of its stages as society continues its incessant march through time.

It is important to consume past art as voraciously as it is vital to indulge new creations. Why not connect with people who lived years, even centuries, before and explore the essence of what it means to be human; why we dance, why we sing, why we feel the need to capture life’s beauty on the rocky surface of cave walls. The message of Reed History is that we are all fundamentally the same. We have the same hopes, the same dreams and the same anxieties. No medium displays human-beings’ utter consistency better than art.

Check out some pretty fascinating artists, making history everyday.

http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=30579

http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=30551

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a quick note on Thomas Jefferson

In Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson subordinated blacks scientifically while calling for their emancipation as slaves. With a systematic approach, he compared his study of blacks to the scientific classification of animals. As a proponent of natural rights and human equality, his categorization was shocking. Jefferson, though, was a product of his time. He was greatly influenced by the Enlightenment and its philosophers like John Locke and Adam Smith. Within Notes, Jefferson touted his intellectual prowess as a “lover of natural history” and clearly presented his knowledge to a decidedly European audience. Although he offered his scientifically racist notions to a broader audience, Jefferson struggled with the implications of his argument.

The European Enlightenment created an intellectual elite, whose members used reason-based philosophical discourse to improve their own state and, in a larger sense, the world (ImHof 162). Enlightenment philosophers, inspired by political and social issues within their own states, endeavored a practical application of knowledge. Montesquieu outlined the historical evolution of the European legal system (163). Voltaire, through literature and satire, traced the history of the world, and Rousseau contemplated the inequality of the human race (164). Pierre Bayle, as he responded to the political hierarchy in France, underscored a predominant 18th century enlightenment ideal: “I am a citizen of the world, I am not in the service of the emperor of the king of France, I am in the service of the truth” (98). Enlightenment proponents translated the complex language of the “great thinkers” of Greece and Rome so that philosophy itself was no longer purely elitist or scholastic but, instead, a “fashionable ideology” (164). Jefferson used this ideology to contemplate the scientific gradations of the human race “with the eye of philosophy” (Gallay 161). This ideology became the foundation for law, medicine, and science (165).

Enlightened Europeans agreed upon the inferiority of black Africans, but they could not agree on the origins of their subordinates. Jefferson found that blacks “are inferior to whites in the endowments of both body and mind,” but could not decide whether they constituted a distinct race (Gallay 161). Most 18th century philosophers—including Montesquieu, Kant and Rousseau—proposed monogenesis, or the belief that all humankind descended from a common ancestor. (In the religious sense, the common ancestors were Adam and Eve). If white men and “inferior” black Africans had a common origin, then one must champion Hugo Grotius’ assumption that the development of human culture could stagnate and even regress (Tiainen-Anttila 43). Montesquieu thought Africans were undeveloped because of their environment and its isolated nature (79) but believed they existed in Hobbes’ natural state (81). He argued, “nature and climate had an obstructing effect on cultural development in African heat…because blacks avoided efforts and sank into apathy” (81). Kant supported the monogenesis view and thought whit Europeans and black Africans were members of the same species since they could procreate (116).

In Inhumane Bondage, David Brion Davis suggests that slaves, from the time of antiquity, were subjected to common stereotypes that persisted regardless of race. Drawing upon Aristotle’s use of the term “barbarian” one can infer that his Hellenistic culture was inherently xenophobic. Thus slaves were foreign, not necessarily black (Davis 50). In 18th century Russia, slaves and serfs were considered “childlike…and incapable of life without authoritative direction” (50). In fact, Davis suggests some Russian noblemen tried to fabricate a separate historical origin for serfs (50), just as some European Enlightenment thinkers had attempted to classify Africans. According to Orlando Patterson, the “sambo” stereotype of the slave as a “degraded man-child” pioneered by Stanley Elkins in 1959, universally defined slavery through out time (51). One might conclude, though, that the “sambo” stereotype oversimplified the adaptability of the slave in Jefferson’s American South.

Though enlightenment thinkers tried to classify black Africans in a rational sense, it seems as though these Europeans, as well as Jefferson, were creating their own superior identity in relation to “the other.”