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Posts in Politics
Suffrage and the City: New York Women Battle for the Ballot

Suffrage and the City: New York Women Battle for the Ballot

Reviewed by Susan Goodier

Just when we thought there simply couldn’t be another thing to say about the New York women’s suffrage movement, Lauren Santangelo presents us with an immaculately researched, well-written book that adds a new and provocative dimension to the topic. At the center of this monograph is New York City itself, with its myriad public spaces and its fascinating complexity, and Santangelo draws us into her rendition of suffragism in the city that never sleeps. Suffrage and the City does not presume to replace the historiography of the movement, but it raises the bar for casting a wide net for sources, for contextualization of a social movement, and for bringing a historical period (in this case, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era) to life. She convincingly argues that the city—Manhattan in particular—is more than a setting; it is an essential part of the drama of the women’s suffrage movement.

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Bad Faith: Teachers, Liberalism, and the Origins of McCarthyism

Bad Faith: Teachers, Liberalism, and the Origins of McCarthyism

Reviewed by Clarence Taylor

For decades, pundits, conservative writers, and political officials have obscured the political and ideological differences between liberals, democratic socialists and communists. It is quite common for both rightwing Republicans and those in the mainstream media to label liberals as the “far Left,” in order to imply their ideas pose a danger to the country. In the 1988 presidential election, for example, George H. W. Bush called his Democratic opponent, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, a “card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union,” equating membership in the ACLU with membership in the Communist Party. Several Republicans and members of the Tea Party have accused former President Barack Obama of being a “socialist.” President Donald Trump has labeled Democrats as “radicals” who have adopted a “far-left agenda.”

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“HORRID BARBARITY:” A Trial Against Slaveholders in New York City

“HORRID BARBARITY:” A Trial Against Slaveholders in New York City

By Kelly A. Ryan

In February 1809, three seamstresses made their way to the special justices of New York City to register a complaint against their employers for abusing the slaves living in their household. They charged Amos and Demiss Broad, a married couple who ran an upholstery and millinery business in the second ward of New York City, with a litany of abuses, including throwing a knife at a three-year-old child. An unlikely trial occurred at the Court of General Sessions by the end of the month, in which the Broads stood trial for assaulting Betty and her three-year-old daughter Sarah. Ultimately, nine witnesses came forward against the Broads, and two of the witnesses who originally agreed to provide evidence for the Broads ended up supporting the prosecution. Though the employees and neighbors of the Broads would be critical to pushing this case forward, Betty’s efforts to get help forced New York City to reckon with the cruelty of slaveholding. The case against the Broads would be a stunning victory for African Americans and the New York Society for the Manumission of Slaves (NYMS), as well as an important moment in generating discussions about the rights of slaves to live unmolested.

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The 51st State: Norman Mailer, Jimmy Breslin, and the Politics of Imagination

The 51st State: Norman Mailer, Jimmy Breslin, and the Politics of Imagination​

By Gabe S. Tennen

It was early April in 1969, and Norman Mailer, holding court on the top floor of his Brooklyn Heights brownstone, was in his element. Surrounding the forty-six-year-old author, social commentator, and rabble-rouser were an array of the city’s writers, activists, and politicos, and, probably to the liking of the notoriously egotistical Mailer, the topic of the night concerned him.

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After the Vote: Feminist Politics in La Guardia's New York

After the Vote: Feminist Politics in La Guardia's New York

Reviewed by Karen Pastorello

Elisabeth Israels Perry has enriched the historical record by documenting New York City women’s activism in the first half of the twentieth century. Inspired by the life of her grandmother, “political influencer” and civic reformer Belle Linder Israels Moskowitz, Perry goes well beyond recounting “firsts” for women and instead offers specific examples of accomplished women — all of whom surmounted a myriad of personal and professional challenges to enter a male-controlled political world. After suffrage was won, women attempted to ascend from their newly acquired position as voters to officeholders intent, for the most part, on advancing a social justice platform for all.

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Inclusive Archiving, Public Art, and Representation at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans

Inclusive Archiving, Public Art, and Representation at the Hall of Fame for Great Americans

By Cynthia Tobar

The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, created in 1900, was the first monument of its kind that sought the active involvement of Americans in nominating their favorite "Great Americans.” The Hall was conceived of by Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, Chancellor of New York University (NYU), who envisioned a democratic election process for selecting these greats modeled after presidential elections. Nominations came to the election center and after a person received a certain number of votes, an NYU Senate of 100 voters made the final choice. The Senate was composed of American leaders: past American presidents, presidents of colleges, senators, and men of renown in various fields. Problems soon arose, however, when this initial process yielded 29 nominees, all male. The lack of women created a scandal and in the next election eight women were elected (currently, there are 11 women in the Hall). However, the contentious nomination of Robert E. Lee remained.

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Stonewall at 50: A Roundtable

Stonewall at 50: A Roundtable

Today on the blog, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with a series of short essays by activists, writers, and scholars whose lives and work have been shaped by the events of June 1969 and their aftermath. This year, the scale of celebration and commemoration in New York is larger than ever — more than 4 million people are expected to attend this weekend’s festivities, and an estimated 115,000 people will be marching at Pride.

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Archiving for Access and Activism: An Interview with Interference Archive

Archiving for Access and Activism: An Interview with Interference Archive

By Emily Brooks

Interference Archive is a Brooklyn-based organization that collects and houses materials created as part of social movements. These materials, which include posters, flyers, publications, buttons, and much more, are stored and exhibited in an open stacks archival collection at 314 7th street in Park Slope. In addition to organizing and maintaining the collection, which is open to all, Interference’s volunteers also showcase the archival collections through exhibits and various community events aimed at supporting contemporary activism. This spring, I sat down with two of Interference’s volunteers, Ryan and Nora, to talk about how the space works and the role they see the archive playing in connecting social movements of the past with those of today.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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The Picture the Homeless Oral History Project: Don’t Talk About Us, Talk With Us

The Picture the Homeless Oral History Project: Don’t Talk About Us, Talk With Us

Today on the blog, former Executive Director of Picture the Homeless Lynn Lewis speaks with Molly Rosner about her experience conducting oral history interviews as both an organizer and an oral historian. Quotes from interviewees in the project have been interspersed throughout the text.

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A Call for a Progressive Spatial Politics

A Call for a Progressive Spatial Politics

By Scott M. Larson

Wins by left-leaning candidates in 2018 midterm elections have led many to suggest a progressive revolution is under way in Democratic — if not American — ​politics. With each successive victory progressive candidates have staked out bold positions on hot-button issues from Medicare-for-all to a $15 federal minimum wage and free college education.

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