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New research exposes Detroit’s pre-Underground Railroad history

The beleaguered city’s slavery past suggests much about its potential future
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Detroit historically has been known as a key stop in the Underground Railroad, visited by Blacks escaping from slavery in the South. However, a University of Michigan professor’s current research reveals that by no means were all of the slaves in Detroit passing through to freedom, even when slavery there was illegal. “Slaves in Detroit were not as interesting [to historians] as slaves in the South,” said University of Michigan Professor Tiya Miles at the 19th annual David Noble Lecture April 9 at the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum. The city originally was founded in 1701 as a fort first owned by the French; then it was acquired by the English until the time that it became a part of the U.S. Northwest Territories. “It [was] intended to be a settlement, not just a military trading post,” explained Miles, who began researching Detroit’s history three years ago. Continue Reading →

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Voter suppression laws cast chill on Black community

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Khalil Abdullah

Contributing Writer

 

As voter suppression laws continue to be debated in states across the country, members of the African American press and voting rights advocates say the repercussions of that debate are already being felt. The most immediate metric, they note, will be whether voter turnout is reduced. For some observers, that is a likely prospect. “Talking about the guys who are not going to vote, four years ago, they took chances,” said Harold Meeks, publisher of the Tell Us USA News Network, an online news magazine with bureaus in several cities. “I owe $23,000 in child support, but I’m going out to vote for the Black man,” Meeks said, describing a hypothetical Detroit voter in 2008. “They’re not going to take those same chances again, particularly with these other voices saying that we’re going to scrutinize you,” he continued. Continue Reading →

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Five million people of color made voting history in 2008

Will voting trend continue in 2012? By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) approximately five million more voters, including Blacks, Latinos and Asians, went to the polls in the historic 2008 presidential election in which America’s first Black president was elected. However, with the rise in voter suppression laws across the country since 2008, approximately five million voters are expected to be affected, says the ACLU. This includes Blacks and other people of color, the elderly, students, the poor and the disabled. “I don’t think it was any accident that after 2008 we found these huge gains in Blacks and Latinos in voting, as well as Asian Americans and Native Americans voting, then all of a sudden all these Republican-held [state] legislatures decided that voter fraud is a problem,” notes University of Minnesota Journalism Professor Catherine Squires. Continue Reading →

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