The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum announced descriptions of the Black History Matters free online videos for the third week of February 2023.
Black History Matters 2021 and 2022 are also available on line.
The 2023 programs will be released at midnight on YouTube.com/@AbolitionHallofFame.
Feb. 22: Moynihan Report (1965)
The Moynihan Report, also known as “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” was a controversial government report written by Daniel Patrick Moynihan and released in 1965. The report argued that the disintegration of the Black American family was a central obstacle to the progress of the civil rights movement and that the high rates of out-of-wedlock births, absent fathers, and poverty among Black families were perpetuating a cycle of disadvantage. The report sparked intense debate and criticism for its emphasis on cultural factors and its perceived blame of Black American families for their problems, rather than addressing systemic issues such as racism and economic inequality. Despite the controversy, the Moynihan Report has continued to influence debates on race, poverty and family structure in the United States.
Feb. 23: Baldwin vs. Buckley and the American Dream (1965)
The Baldwin vs. Buckley debate at the University of Cambridge was a landmark event in the history of American intellectual discourse. On Feb. 18, 1965, the novelist and essayist James Baldwin and the conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Jr., faced off in a debate on the motion, “The American Dream is at the expense of the American Negro.” Baldwin argued that the American Dream was a myth perpetuated by a society that systematically oppressed Black Americans, while Buckley contended that the American Dream was a reality that Black Americans could attain through hard work and perseverance. The debate was notable for its intensity, with Baldwin delivering a passionate critique of systemic racism and Buckley responding with a more detached and academic defense of conservative ideology. The event attracted a large audience and was widely publicized, and its impact has been felt in subsequent discussions of race, politics and social justice in the United States.
Feb. 24: Kerner Commission (1968)
The 1968 Kerner Commission, formally known as the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in response to a series of race-related riots and civil unrest that occurred in major U.S. cities during the mid-1960s. The commission, chaired by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, was tasked with investigating the root causes of the riots and proposing solutions to address the underlying social and economic issues that fueled them. In its final report, the commission identified systemic racism and poverty as major factors in the unrest and called for significant investments in job creation, affordable housing and education in Black communities. The report also called for reforms to law enforcement practices and greater efforts to address racial discrimination in employment, education and the criminal justice system. Despite the commission’s recommendations, many of its proposals were not implemented, and the issues it identified have continued to shape debates over racial inequality and social justice in the United States.
Feb. 25: Swann v. Charlotte: Reinforcing Desegregation in Schools (1974)
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education was a landmark case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1971. The case involved a challenge to the use of busing to desegregate public schools in Charlotte, N.C. The court held that school districts had a duty to take affirmative steps to eliminate the effects of segregation and that busing was an appropriate means of achieving this goal. The court also held that school districts had a responsibility to implement desegregation plans that were effective in eliminating the vestiges of past discrimination and that courts had a role in overseeing such plans. The decision was significant in establishing the legal precedent that busing could be used to achieve desegregation, and it has continued to shape discussions of school integration and affirmative action in the United States.
Feb. 26: Wilmington Ten (1971)
The Wilmington Ten were a group of nine Black men and one white woman who were wrongfully convicted in 1971 for the arson of a white-owned grocery store during a period of racial tension and civil unrest in Wilmington, N.C. The convictions were widely criticized as being politically motivated and racially biased and were overturned in 1980 after a lengthy campaign by civil rights activists and organizations. The case attracted national attention and became a cause célèbre for advocates of racial justice and the anti-war movement. The Wilmington Ten’s exoneration was a significant moment in the history of civil rights and social justice in the United States, and it highlighted the ongoing struggle for racial equality and due process under the law.
Feb. 27: Bakke Decision and Affirmative Action (1978)
The Bakke decision refers to a landmark 1978 case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, in which the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of affirmative action policies in college admissions. The case centered on Allan Bakke, a white applicant who was denied admission to the University of California Davis School of Medicine, while less-qualified minority applicants were accepted under the school’s affirmative action program. In a complex decision, the Court held that while race could be considered a factor in admissions decisions, strict racial quotas were unconstitutional. The Court also held that affirmative action programs were permissible to achieve the benefits of diversity but that such programs could not use race as the sole determining factor. The decision was significant in setting legal limits on affirmative action policies and has shaped debates over the role of race and diversity in college admissions and employment practices in the United States.
Feb. 28: Shaw v. Reno: Race and Redistricting (1993)
Shaw v. Reno was a landmark case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1993. The case challenged the constitutionality of North Carolina’s congressional redistricting plan, which had been drawn to create a majority-minority district with the specific aim of electing a Black representative. The plaintiffs argued that the redistricting plan was a form of racial gerrymandering that violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the North Carolina plan was unconstitutional because race had been the predominant factor in drawing the district boundaries. The decision established the legal precedent that race-based redistricting must be subject to strict scrutiny and that redistricting plans must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they constitute unlawful racial gerrymandering. The case has continued to shape debates over the role of race in electoral politics and has influenced subsequent redistricting efforts in the United States.