Map of Solar Eclipse, Collection of Michael Zeiler

Solar Eclipse

Path of 1831 annular solar eclipse seen by Nat Turner. NASA, collection of  Michael Zeiler. Since ancient times we’ve viewed solar eclipses with foreboding. But they don’t affect our lives, do they? The most significant solar eclipse in American history happened in 1831. What made it important was a man who saw it. Nat Turner, […]

Wood engraving “Discovery of Nat Turner” depicts Benjamin Phipps’s October 30, 1831, capture of Turner, leader of the Southampton County slave insurrection.

Legacy of Fear

Just hours after I posted “The Legend of Jim Crow” last week, nine black people were shot to death at a prayer meeting in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Jim Crow stereotype is a laughing, simple, guileless “darkie.” I said I’d write about the stereotype of Nat Turner this […]

Edward Williams Clay (1799-1857) lithograph, cover to sheet music of “Jump Jim Crow,” a song popularized by American minstrel Thomas Dartmouth Rice about 1832.

The Legend of Jim Crow

“Jim Crow” is clothed in ambiguity and irony. I first came across the term in a University of Virginia class. On the syllabus was C. Vann Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow, a series of lectures at the University published in 1955. It’s likely there was a real, historical Jim Crow, an African American, […]