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May 4, 2017

Alabama History Tour Covers Civil War, Cotton - But Not Slaves

By Anthony Izaguirre

Montgomery, AL (AP) -- Schoolchildren who visit the First White House of the Confederacy learn that its famous former resident, President Jefferson Davis, was leader of a “heroic resistance” who was “held by his Negroes in genuine affection as well as highest esteem.”

Such ideas, once mainstream Southern thought, have largely been abandoned by historians. But they are still part of the message at this state-supported museum in Alabama’s capital city that hosts thousands of grade-school students from different ethnic backgrounds on field trips every year.

Some critics say presenting discredited notions about the Confederacy at the antebellum home where Davis lived in the early months of the Civil War helps perpetuate a skewed version of the past and shouldn’t be supported by Alabama tax dollars.

“You’re essentially giving money to push historical narratives that we haven’t heard since the Klan era in the 1920s,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the hate-watching Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Jefferson Davis’ White House in Montgomery

The museum perseveres in a newer era, when many Confederate memorials across the South are being re-evaluated. South Carolina lowered the Confederate flag at the state Capitol after a 2015 mass murder at a black church in Charleston. And last month, New Orleans officials took down a 35-foot granite obelisk that honored whites who tried to topple a biracial Reconstruction government installed in New Orleans after the Civil War.

On a recent trip to the Montgomery museum, fourth-graders from rural Wilcox County in southern Alabama trudged up a nearly 200-year-old staircase and into the Relic Room, where a painting of Gen. Robert E. Lee hangs amid the four flags of the Confederacy.

Tour guide Robert Wieland tells the children the room was formerly called a “shrine.”

The pupils heard about the importance of the South’s cotton economy and learned how to spin raw clumps of the stuff onto wooden spools but were told little about the slaves whose forced labor drove the textile industry.

Tours and literature there make little mention of African Americans, except for a copy of “Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House,” an illustrated children’s book about a boy adopted by the Davis family. The book is displayed across from a framed image of some of the South’s most prominent leaders titled “Our Heroes and Our Flags.”

Selma Democratic state Sen. Hank Sanders said the house, which in recent years cost Alabama taxpayers more than $100,000 a year to operate, presents a history that ignores African Americans.

“What I would like to see is the whole story be told from all sides,” he said. “Black history has been whitewashed.”

In response to such criticism, representatives of the museum ask why they should have to tell students about the evils of slavery.

“They just know it,” said Gibbs Davis, a member of the nonprofit group that solicits donations and maintains the privately-owned but partially state-funded house.

The Confederate White House is only one stop on the trip to Montgomery that Alabama fourth-graders traditionally take as part of their history education and is not the sole lesson they receive about the state’s past. Some groups choose to spend more time at civil rights sites such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church or the Rosa Parks Museum.

Jefferson Davis


The two-story home that served as executive residence for the Southern states in spring 1861 still has its defenders.

Mary Dix is associate editor of “The Papers of Jefferson Davis,” a collection of about 100,000 Davis-related documents. She pushed back on criticism, saying Davis was a good person who wanted to end slavery on moral grounds but considered it necessary for the Southern economy.

Dix also said there’s documented evidence that Davis befriended a “man-servant” over cigars during a journey into the uncharted Midwest.

A history pamphlet at the First White House of the Confederacy echoes Dix’s sentiment.

“Jefferson Davis believed ‘the peculiar institution’ a temporary necessity in developing the cotton economy of the South on which New England textile industry depended,” their history pamphlet reads. It says Davis believed whites were preparing Africans for freedom by “submitting” them to Anglo-Saxon culture and Christianity.

Activists say presenting a rosy picture of the Confederacy obscures what life was really like for slaves.

“It’s certainly a part of history that doesn’t deserve a positive reflection,” said Benard Simelton, president of Alabama’s chapter of the NAACP. “It is akin to recognizing and celebrating the Holocaust.”

And the prevalence of Confederate markers such as the Montgomery museum helps normalize notions of benevolence among slaveholders and distort the realities of the era, said University of Alabama history professor Joshua D. Rothman.

“There are a lot of people who still want to hold onto those myths,” he said. “If slavery was evil, then what slaveholders were doing was perpetuating evil. You can’t have it both ways.”

Human DNA Extracted From Cave Dirt May Re-Write

Human Genetic History

By Frank Jordans

Associated Press

Berlin (AP) - No bones? No problem!

Scientists say they’ve figured out a way to extract tiny traces of ancient human DNA from dirt in caves that lack skeletal remains.

The technique could be valuable for reconstructing human evolutionary history, according to the study published Thursday in the journal Science.

That’s because fossilized bones, currently the main source of ancient DNA, are scarce even at sites where circumstantial evidence points to a prehistoric human presence.

``There are many caves where stone tools are found but no bones,’’ said Matthias Meyer, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who co-authored the study.

The researchers collected 85 sediment samples from seven caves in Europe and Russia that humans are known to have entered or even lived in between 14,000 and 550,000 years ago.

By refining a method previously used to find plant and animal DNA, they were able to search specifically for genetic material belonging to ancient humans and other mammals.

Scientists focused on mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down the maternal line, because it is particularly suited to telling apart closely related species. And by analyzing damaged molecules they were able to separate ancient genetic material from any contamination left behind by modern visitors

Vindija Cave in Croatia where some of the samples were collected (MPI f. Evolutionary Anthropology/ J. Krause)

The researchers found evidence of 12 mammal families including extinct species such as woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, cave bear and cave hyena.

By further enriching the samples for human-like DNA, however, the scientists were able to detect genetic traces of Denisovans - a mysterious lineage of ancient humans first discovered in a cave in Siberia - and Neanderthals from samples taken at four sites.

Crucially, one of the sites where they discovered Neanderthal DNA was a cave in Belgium, known as Trou Al’Wesse, where no human bones had ever been found, though stone artefacts and animal bones with cut marks strongly suggested people had visited it.

Eske Willerslev, who helped pioneer the search for DNA in sediment but wasn’t involved in the latest research, said the new study was an interesting step, but cautioned that it’s difficult to determine how old sediment samples found in caves are.

``In general (it) is very disturbed and unless you can show that’s not the case you have no idea of the date of the findings,’’ said Willerslev, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Meyer said the new method greatly increases the number of sites where archaeologists will be able to find genetic evidence to help fill gaps in the history of human evolution and migration, such as how widespread Neanderthal populations were and which stone tools they were able to make.

Scientists may also be able to greatly expand their limited knowledge of the Denisovans, whose DNA can still be found in Melanesians and Aboriginal Australians today, by using the new procedure.

``In principle, every cave where there’s evidence of human activity now offers this possibility,’’ Meyer told The Associated Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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This Week In The Civil War, New Survey Reveals US Dads Very Involved In Child Rearing, Dolphin Center Offers Course In Marine Mammal Care

Papers Stolen During Civil War Going Home To Virginia, New Vero Beach Dig: Ice Age Humans In North American?

This Week In The Civil War: Lincoln’s Restoration Plan, Oldest DNA By 100,000 Years Throws Science Into A New Era, Bird Lovers Seek Respect For Sweet Birds: Iowa Blue Chickens

Police Still Seeking Clues To TV Star’s 1957 Murder, Scrawny Stray Cat Becomes Media Star: Pete The Cat

Researchers Seek To Teach Computer Common Sense, This Week In The Civil War: Fighting In Tennessee, New Trend For Vets Helps Pets & Owners: Euthanasia At Home, Florida Archaeologists Carefully Ponder & Paw Mystery Site

President Kennedy Is Best Remembered In His Own Words, This Week In The Civil War: The Battle Above The Clouds, German Who Held Nazi-Era Art Trove Wants Collection Back, Fifty Years Ago, A Young Boy Sought To Comfort JFK’s Bugler

This Week In The Civil War: The Gettysburg Address, NC Student, A ‘Modern Hippie,’ Treasures His 1977 VW Bus, 1869 Account Of Yellowstone Was Disbelieved, Nearly Lost, Amazing Story Of 17th Century Gem & Its Princess Savior, BBB: Tips For Donating To Typhoon Haiyan Relief

2013 Meteor Crash In Russia Is More Likely Than Realized, This Week In The Civil War

This Week In The Civil War: Confederates’ Knoxville Move, Was The Exorcist A True Story? The Answer Remains Elusive, OK, Weather Nerds! Here’re Some Weird Sandy Facts, LA’s La Brea Tar Pits Mark 100 Years Of Excavations

Inspired By Hugo’s Wrath, SC Building Arts College Thrives, This Week In The Civil War, Evidence Found Of Yeti: Oxford’s DNA Analysis Irrefutable

Remembering The Civil War, Graves Spanning Decades Of Tragedy Featured On Hike, NC Twins Meet Biological Mother On Their 20th Birthday

In Debate Over Redskins’ Name Whose Opinion Matters Most?, ‘Appearance Isn’t Everything’ & Model Finds Attention ‘Creepy’

Texas Historical Commission Look For Old Socorro Mission, At 86, Man Continues Career As Mason: ‘I love to do it’

Burger King Seeks To Make Fries Less ‘Painful’, Pirate Ship Which Sank In 1717 Yields Valuable, Rare Booty, Miss Piggy Sets Up House With Kermit & Fozzie At Smithsonian

Beep Baseball Helps Blind Players Gain Confidence

Woman Loses 160 lb. In Two Years, Without Suffering, US Wind Farms Responsible For Dozens Of Raptor Deaths

Detroit Asserts Driverless Cars Are Only Eight Years Away, Beloved Irish Poet’s Final Words: “Don’t Be Afraid.”

Report Highlights Importance Of Increasing Fruit And Vegetable Access In North Carolina, Area Of Brain Where ‘Normal’ Memory Loss Occurs Is Found

Life After TV’s Smash Still Busy For Its Songwriters, Free Dogwood Trees For Joining Arbor Day Foundation, August, Back To School Sleep Habits: Tips For Getting Kids In Gear!

NOAA Features Live Ocean‘TV’ Through August 16, Amazing Mayan Frieze Is Found In Guatemala, New Film The Butler Bridges Decades Of Struggle For Blacks

Elvis Week Honored With Release Of Elvis At Stax, Agencies Now Track The Biggest Fish: Whale Sharks, Suburb Seeks To Reduce Deer Population With Birth Control

Tick-Killing Robot May Change The World - And Your Backyard, Research On Monogamy In Animals Yields Varied Results, Back To School Overview Of Cool Stuff For Kids!

Retired Professor Sweeps Village Streets For The Good Of All, Particle Bs Sighting Confirms Clue To Universe’s Origin, Native Artist Seeks To Redefine What It Is To Be An Indian

Chance Meeting At Auschwitz Leads To Understanding, High Point Man Recalls Days On Lone Ranger Radio Show, Monks’ Sand Mandala Tour Spreads Cultural Tolerance

Solar Powered Plane Finishes Historical Journey In NYC, Raising Butterflies Is Spiritual Medicine For SC Man, More People Are Donating Bodies To Science

Teaching Each Other How To Live, Inmates & Dogs Reform, Easy July 4th Dessert! Raspberry Coconut Pie, Freshly Made Lemonade With Fresh Berry Ice Cubes, Utah Man Submits Bigfoot Skull Fossil To Science For Exam

NC WW II Veteran’s Family Receives His Bible, Missing Nearly 70 Years In Europe, Greensboro Science Center Works 24/7 To Save Little Duke

Formerly Obese Man Will Cycle To The South Pole, Site Of Native American Chiefs In Virginia Is Now Protected, Infant Left In Phone Booth Grows Up & Seeks Birth Family, Yummy Hobby! Mushrooms In A Grow-Your-Own Kit

Search For First Web Page Leads To North Carolina, Myspace Is Reinvented (by Justin Timberlake) As A Home For Musicians, Artists & Writers, Keep It Down! New Products Help Soften Noise Sensitivity

Staying At Historic Inns Requires Some Homework - Do It!, Retired From ‘Real Jobs,’ People Embrace New Lives As Artists

Modern Home Classics: Noguchi’s Light Sculptures, Facial Recognition Technology To Stop Crime...Invade Privacy?

At 100, ACS Has Made Huge Strides In Reducing Cancer, Authors Seek To Align Horses With Owners’ Personalities, Honeybees Trained In Croatia To Find Land Mines

Dan Brown’s Very Latest, Inferno, Is An Engrossing Read, Man Hits The Road On Harley To Collect WWII Vets’ Stories, Fitzgerald’s Obscure Grave Garnering More Visitors Now

Sundance Takes A Look At Animal Moms On Mother’s Day, It’s All The Rage: Moms & Dads Taking ‘Stroller Hikes’

Britain’s Pinewood Studios Opens Its Branch In Atlanta, Fido Swallowed A Sock? That’ll Be Expensive And Maybe Fatal, Replica Of 8th Century Buddhist Caves Now On Exhibit

Planets With Life, “Goldilocks Planets,” Are Everywhere

A Place For Artists & Poets, Marked By A Big, Big Head, Woman Gets Book & Movie Deal After Self-Publishing On Amazon

Are You A Lilly Girl? It’s Hard To Resist The Sunny Lilly Lifestyle, NYC Pay Phone Project Features Neighborhoods’ Past

Everything You Need To Know About Backyard Chickens, History Buffs Gather To Mark 80th Anniversary Of Air Disaster, Hurricane Uncovers Sadness Of Unclaimed Patients’ Remains

Love Hummingbirds? Tips For Attracting These Tiny Miracles, Haiti Paints A Slum And Honors Artist Prefete Duffaut

PA Exhibit Features Local Reading Railroad Artifacts, Rite Of Spring Gives Right Of Way To Jersey Salamanders, Restoration Of Last Wooden Whaler Nears Completion

Stonehenge A emetery?, What’s A Rogue Taxidermist?“Cat” Grey Is, For Example

Community Helps Excavate Oldest Street In The US, For Fun & As Collectibles, Retro-Style Toys Remain Popular

Email, Text, Instant Message: Does Lack Of Response Bug You?

Re-enactors Skill At Acting Out History Has Dual Purpose, Team Retraces Shackleton’s Amazing 1916 Rescue, Virginia Volunteers Offer Chocolate & Hugs

Helping Kids & Adults Heal From Trauma: There’s No Clear Path, Cat Stars Of The Internet: How Did This Happen?

Shoah Foundation Produces Holograms Of Nazi Survivors, Museum Mounts Exhibit Of Ice Age Masterpieces, Family Restores Rare Airplane After ‘Coyote Chase’ Crash


 

 

 

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