Canfield workshop examines racism in the nation’s past | News, Sports, Jobs


CANFIELD – If racial reconciliation and healing is to happen, the nation must come to terms with its past sins, and more people must muster the courage to speak freely about the topic that is difficult for many, Mahoning Valley member Sojourn to the Past. .

“It has been said that the United States has two original sins: racism against black people and genocide against indigenous people,” said CUPW’s Brittany Bailey. “If we don’t understand the whole story of our nation’s founding, we will never become a just society.”

Bailey and fellow Mahoning Valley CUPW members Lekeila Houser and Rylee Stanley discussed this and many other topics at an anti-racism workshop they hosted Tuesday night at the Canfield branch of the public library. of Youngstown and Mahoning County.

About 30 people attended the workshop, which was developed in August 2020 in response to the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis,

Penny Wells, executive director of Sojourn to the Past, said the event was also meant to honor the late Georgian congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis.

The workshop is important because of the current racial climate in the United States, Wells said.

Among those present was Ashley Kanotz, chair of the Canfield Racial Equality and Diversity group. Canfield RED plans to hold quarterly events focused on raising racial awareness and seeing how Canfield compares to other local communities when it comes to diversity in its school system, police department and municipal government, Kanotz said. , adding that Tuesday’s workshop was Canfield RED’s launch event.

Stanley said more people need to overcome the fear of talking about racism, even though it’s an unpopular topic.

“We have to get out of our comfort zones,” she added. “The truth can be uncomfortable.”


The group traced the etiology of racism in this country from 1619 to the present day, sought to give others a perspective of racism from the perspective of Black Americans, and focused on what can be done to combat it. age-old problem.

Bailey noted that in the late 1400s the term “white”, as applied to race, did not exist. Instead, Europeans were known as English, French and other nationalities. The concept of whiteness was first used in the 13 colonies in 1691, she said.

In 1493, Pope Alexander XI issued the Doctrine of Discovery, which stated that any Christian could take control of the land from non-Christians. This decision later became the basis for America’s western expansion and was “synonymous with white,” Bailey said.

In 1619, the first 20 blacks were brought to Jamestown, Virginia on a Dutch ship from pre-slavery Africa. Also in the 1600s, the Virginia House of Burgesses, largely modeled on the British Parliament, passed a series of acts defining definitions of who were considered slaves.

Bailey also discussed the Bacon Rebellion of 1676 in which Nathaniel Bacon Jr., a poor farmer, led many former indentured servants and others in West Virginia to revolt against Governor Willian Berkeley. They also resented wealthy planters from another part of the colony who made the laws for them.

Houser noted that at the end of the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman issued orders to give ex-slaves small plots of land in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, but President Andrew Johnson “had rescinded that order and that the land had been returned to the whites.”

Even though the 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, freed some slaves, it made an exception for those convicted of crimes.

“In the state of Alabama in the 1890s, more than 70 percent of the state’s revenue came from convict rentals,” Houser said of the practice that forced black convicts to work under harsh conditions. difficult and inhuman.


In the 1940s, racism manifested itself in a variety of federal policies, such as disparities in GI Bill benefits between white and black soldiers returning from World War II. Additionally, the Federal Housing Authority often provided insured home loans with no down payment required to whites, while blacks typically received uninsured mortgages with higher interest rates, Houser said.

In addition, the FHA established a practice that fueled housing discrimination, she continued.

“Block blocking happened when real estate agents encouraged white people to sell at lower rates out of fear that black people would move in,” Houser said. “Then the real estate agent would sell the house to black people at a higher price.”

She also cited a study by the Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, Alabama, which shows that more than 4,400 lynchings took place between 1877 and 1950.

In November 2019, several members of Sojourn to the Past traveled to Sandusky to initiate a memorial service for William Taylor, a black man who was lynched in 1878 after being falsely accused of killing a white woman in a barn. The group recovered an earthen pot from the site and it is in the Legacy Museum in Montgomery.

Stanley, an Ursuline high school student, recalled the massacre in Tulsa, Okla., on May 31 and June 1, 1921, in which an angry mob of armed white people burned and looted homes and businesses and shot many black people who lived and worked in a wealthy section called Greenwood, often referred to as “Black Wall Street.”

Other topics she mentioned included the Tuskegee study from 1932 to 1972. Six hundred black men were part of an experiment to test how syphilis affected them and were told they were being tested for the “bad blood”, although nothing was done to treat those with the disease. In 1974, reparations were awarded to men still alive or to family members of those who had died. Additionally, many poor black women were sterilized between 1933 and 1973 without their knowledge or consent, which happened in over 30 states.

“This practice of eugenics aimed to eliminate the handicapped and the so-called weak-minded; however, it was clearly racial,” Stanley said.

Houser, Stanley and Bailey urged attendees to listen and learn from the stories of others without judging, to build relationships with those of other races and cultures, to vote for anti-racist politicians, to fight injustices, to protect their sense of hope and expect some resistance.

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