In today’s jam-packed Best of 2021: Sam and Emma host author Clint Smith, staff writer at the Atlantic, to discuss his new book, How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America on how the legacy of slavery has been passed down and obscured through generations of storytelling, and the manner in which this manifests in modern society. They walk through the sites that Smith visits in his book – from Monticello, looking at how the stories of Thomas Jefferson perfectly encapsulate the cognitive dissonance of how Americans view ourselves, to Angola Prison as a symbol of modern enslavement literally build upon a plantation – and how the heirloom of ideology is passed down through every element of our society, through education, through infrastructure, and certainly through community policing measures. Smith explores his experiences at a Sons of Confederate Veterans celebration, and the importance of elevating empirical historical facts in making space for activists and organizers to express contemporary racism as carrying the remnants and residues of these systems through all elements of American society.
Then Sam sits down with with Harvard history professor Annette Gordon-Reed on her new book, On Juneteenth, which explores the Texas roots and national consciousness of the holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the South. Beginning in the 1500s, Gordon-Reed walks us through the arrival of slavery in Texas with Spanish settlers, and its development as an Enslaver’s Republic as it broke away from Mexico and U.S. slaveholders ventured into the state to capitalize on the protection of the industry. Then, they discuss Gordon Granger’s arrival in Texas on June 19, 1865, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, and the active and direct removal of status from former slave owners and deliverance of autonomy to Black freed folk, before they move into the violence of reconstruction in Texas and the South. Professor Gordon-Reed then walks through the importance of Juneteenth since the arrival of Granger, with the purchasing of what would become Emancipation Park in Houston as a grounds for celebration directly following it, why this day, in particular, took off as a celebration of manumission, and how Juneteenth has come into more widespread popularity.
Lastly, Sam and Emma are joined by Jason Myles, co-host of the This Is Revolution podcast, as they dissect his Medium article, “I Was a Teenage Anarchist,” on the growth of the punk movement around the concepts of authenticity and deconstruction, how that hindered its growth and ability to alter the mainstream, instead, setting it up to be absorbed by the machine, and what that can teach us about the state of the online left today.
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