Monthly Archives: October 2019

On the road with Albion Tourgée and George Henry White at Bennett College

MidLaw spoke to the East Greensboro Rotary Club this morning. They convene at 7:30 AM in Jones Hall on the campus of Bennett College (they have one handsome dining hall in there but they do gather at an early hour).

Compared and contrasted the careers of Albion Tourgée and George Henry White. That is a very cool topic, but you gotta be a member of the East Greensboro Rotary Club to know why.

(Tourgée was a founder of Bennett College, draftsman of the Education Clause in NC’s 1868 Constitution among many other things. For comparison’s sake, White secured the charter of Livingston College. But that’s not what the talk was about.)

Greensboro placed at the center of American history — “the earliest known” long-distance Underground Railroad scheme

Bound for Canaan, The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America’s First Civil Rights Movement by  Fergus Bordewich, was pronounced by the Wall Street Journal to be “an excellent book . . . as close to a definitive history as we’re likely to see.”

In Bound for Canaan, Bordewich says

By the 1800’s the North Carolina Quakers formed the only sizable abolitionist community south of the border states. Though isolated in an ocean of slaveholders, they were numerous and well organized, and had close links with relatives, friends, and fellow Quakers in the free states. They were uniquely well situated to lay a foundation for the earliest long-distance route of the Underground Railroad.

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Beyond the border states, only in North Carolina, where Quakers provided the critical mass of support, would organized emanciplationist sentiment survive on a significant scale, and produce men radical enough to break the law.

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Levi and Vestal Coffin [from the New Garden community near present-day Greensboro] were shortly to become the founders of the earliest known scheme to transport fugitives across hundreds of miles of unfriendly territory to safety in the free states.

So Bordewich puts Greensboro and Guilford County at the center of the history of the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness in America – a place Greensboro and Guilford have continued to occupy ever since, with the histories of Albion Tourgee, the Sit-In Movement, Henry Frye, the Klan-Nazi Shooting (also referred to as the Greensboro Massacre), and the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

WELL, Fergus Bordewich will be in Greensboro to speak on November 2. His topic:  “Still Bound for Canaan. The Underground Railroad, its History, and its Meaning for the Twenty-First Century.

That event will be free and open to the public.

Baby Boom summoned back to the barricades — we have an image problem

UNCG’s G.R.O.W.T.H. (“Gerontology Research, Outreach, Workforce, & Teaching Hub”) initiative may have stumbled upon the beginings of a disturbing trend.

The scholars at UNCG have observed that prospective gerontology students, when surveyed, say they want to work with older adults, “but not with Baby Boomers.”

They want to work with people “like my grandmother,” instead of Baby Boomers. (Wisely, no one has pointed out to them yet when grandma was born, and what she was doing back in the ‘60s. That’s what education is for.)

No doubt, this attitude among the young has been provoked by surly (not to say “fake”) media narratives.

OK: Baby Boomers did not defeat the Nazis. That was our parents.

And when it came to Vietnam, we split.

US presidents who are Baby Boomers, none of whom bothered with the war, seem destined for not-very-inspiring chapters in the history books. And, there has always been a certain theme of self-absorption among our entire cohort. We are sometimes referred to as “the Me Generation.”

But, speaking as one of the very first Baby Boomers – an original – pretty soon we’re going to need somebody to take care of us. And somebody has got to study us. (We have always liked that.)

So, it’s back to the barricades.

We’ve got an image problem. We’ve got to figure out a way to charm these Millenials and the now-emerging Generation Z. They need to know: it’s not all about them.