More Sad . . . . Blackface News from The Wall Street Journal

University of Oklahoma President James L. Gallogly talks to students and others during the Rally to Stop Racism on the university campus in Norman, Okla., on Jan. 22.

University of Oklahoma President James L. Gallogly talks to students and others during the Rally to Stop Racism on the university campus in Norman, Okla., on Jan. 22. PHOTO: BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Colleges Continue to Confront Blackface on Campus

From Tufts to California Polytechnic, racist images persist on social media, if not in yearbooks

College students in blackface aren’t just confined to yearbooks from 35 years ago. Administrators around the country are finding more instances as they flip through the publications’ pages, and confront images elsewhere on campus as well.

A student at Massachusetts-based Tufts University posted on Instagram a photograph of herself in blackface in January, an incident still under investigation. Also in January, two female University of Oklahoma students issued public apologies and left the school after one of them appeared in blackface and used a racial slur in an online video recorded by the second student.

Last year, California Polytechnic State University, also known as Cal Poly, suspended fraternity and sorority activities after two sets of racist photos were published online, including one in which a fraternity member dressed in blackface.

“This video signals to me that we have much more to do to create an environment of equity and respect,” said University of Oklahoma President James L. Gallogly at the time of the recent incident.

A few other highly publicized instances of blackface have heightened awareness of the persistent problem. Fashion house Gucci has apologized for being insensitive after pulling a sweater that critics likened to blackface, while Florida’s secretary of state resigned last month after photos were published showing him in blackface at a 2005 party. Colleges regularly appeal to students to consider whether their Halloween costumes are offensive, to avoid such controversies.

After a racist yearbook photo sparked a Virginia political scandal in recent weeks, school administrators are also going back over publications from prior years.

American University library staff and faculty recently reviewed old copies of its yearbooks dating back to 1926. They said Monday that they had uncovered 15 photos, cartoons and drawings from 1934 to 1981 that were of concern.

“The racism and ignorance reflected in these images is abhorrent,” wrote Daniel Myers, American University’s provost, and Fanta Aw, vice president of campus life. “The images we have found require more than discovery, transparency, and apology; they deserve candid acknowledgment and action.”

They said the school will coordinate educational programming about the images.

Virginia Governor Says He Wasn't in Racist Photo, Won't Resign

Virginia Governor Says He Wasn’t in Racist Photo, Won’t Resign
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said at a press conference Feb. 2 that he wasn’t either of the people depicted in racist attire in a picture from his 1984 medical school yearbook. Photo: AP

The scandal roiling top political leaders in Virginia was triggered by the emergence of a racist photo on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical-school yearbook page in which one person appeared in blackface, alongside a person in Ku Klux Klan attire. Mr. Northam first apologized for being in the photograph. But later he denied he was in it, though he admitted to darkening his face with shoe polish in a 1984 dance competition. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to wearing blackface in college.

Yearbooks are often student-run operations, published independently. Schools have struggled with what to do when racist images appear in them.

Eastern Virginia Medical School, which Mr. Northam attended, discontinued its yearbook in 2013 when a photo with Confederate imagery was published. After the photo on Mr. Northam’s page emerged, the school ordered an investigation into how the yearbooks were overseen.

Since the Virginia scandal broke, decades-old copies of yearbooks from the Virginia Military Institute, the University of Richmond and elsewhere have been posted online depicting students dressed in blackface and wearing Ku Klux Klan costumes, among other offensive images.

A 1979 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill yearbook photo posted on Twitter last week showed two students dressed as Ku Klux Klan members, with a third in blackface smiling as a noose is hung around his neck.

“Such images reflect a past that must be reconciled and understood,” said University of Richmond President Ronald Crutcher, adding the school’s Commission for University History and Identity has been exploring “how our history has been recorded.”

In 2015, the Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity with a large presence on Southern campuses, updated its bylaws to say chapters shouldn’t sponsor events with the name “Old South,” a reference to themed parties where members and their dates donned antebellum attire. The rules also bar the use of Confederate uniforms.

Kirt von Daacke, an assistant dean and history professor at the University of Virginia, is reviewing student and alumni publications dating back to 1865 as co-chairman of a commission examining the university’s history during segregation. The commission was created last year. He said he has found a few instances from the 1970s and 1980s of students darkening their skin for Tahitian and Arabian Nights-themed parties in yearbooks but hasn’t completed his review of publications from more recent years.

Dr. von Daacke cautioned that his findings so far don’t mean there weren’t still racist events on campus. “Yearbooks aren’t who you are, they’re who you want people to think you are,” he said.

Newsletter Sign-up

In recent years, offensive images have mainly moved from yearbooks to YouTube and Instagram.

Tufts’s Office of Equal Opportunity is investigating last month’s incident. A spokesman said that it would be premature to speculate on potential disciplinary action, and that the incident “has prompted a good deal of dialogue.”

At the time, Tufts University President Tony Monaco condemned the image. “Blackface has a long history of being used to demean, belittle and objectify people of color in the United States and worldwide,” he said in an email to all students and staff.

Write to Melissa Korn at

Appeared in the February 15, 2019, print edition as ‘Colleges Find New Pictures Of Blackface.’


I live in New York but I  am from Virginia. I must admit that that I was horrified to read of other parts of the country where these despicable  acts of  racism have occurred.  And yes a tad relieved that it was not more sad news from Virginia.  As a teacher, I think  this insensitive attitude  is at least in-part lack of understanding and lack of education

. I remember one Halloween not so long ago when a member of the royal family of Britain dressed as a Nazi . The image was seen all over social media. When he was questioned, the young prince said he had not thought his actions through. Seems hard to imagine as much as the Brits went through in WWII,  that that he would be so thoughtless.

We all need to learn about and from history so as to not repeat past evils. 

Below  is the  link to my blog about growing up in the Jim Crow South.



Posted in American history, blog, blogging, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

British Hedge Wall in India



My friend Page forwarded this article from the Washington Post. Walls or ” the wall”  are so prominently in the news making this a most topical article. Gandhi’s march to the sea is mentioned and I have seen pictures in the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad in Gujarat (map)  where I spent a majority of my time in India. Gandhi lived and planned his strategy of nonviolent protest   in this peaceful place.

The odd tale of Britain’s wall — a hedge — across a swath of India

(iStock/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

February 13 at 7:00 AM  Washington Post 

Humans are territorial creatures and need barriers to define their turf, identify with their tribe and feel safe. History and the landscape are littered with examples of such obstructions, from medieval walled cities to the sinuous and fortified Great Wall of China.

Life in communist East Berlin was so divine that they had to build a wall to keep all those westerners out. I once built a dry stacked garden wall, which I called Adrian’s Wall. It did not become a tourist attraction.

One of the most bizarre human barriers in history was the Great Hedge of India, a living stockade that at its peak was reputed to have run more than a thousand miles from what is now Pakistan to south-central India. It existed for about half the 19th century, reaching its zenith in the 1870s.

It has all but vanished from the Earth, and perhaps its true scale and presence may never be known. Author Roy Moxham spent several years in the late 1990s trying to establish its existence and then to trace vestiges of this oddity. His personal odyssey is recounted in “The Great Hedge of India,” published in 2001.

The hedge ran along what the British authorities in India called the Inland Customs Line, which would snake 2,500 miles from the foothills of the Himalayas to close to the Bay of Bengal. It would be easy to think that a hedge of sub-continental proportions was a stroke of English horticultural and colonial eccentricity. But its purpose was not benign.

The hedge, Moxham writes, was created by the British East India Co. — the de facto colonial power in India — to prevent smugglers from crossing into Bengal. The contraband in question wasn’t opium or hashish or arms. It was salt, a basic requirement for a healthful diet. The East India Co. and, later, the British state, imposed a hefty tax on salt and thus needed to control its supply and movement, indifferent to the suffering this caused among’s India’s poor.

“It had been a shock to find that the great hedge was in reality a monstrosity; a terrible instrument of British oppression,” Moxham writes.

Long after the hedge had gone, the salt tax remained; Mahatma Gandhifamously led a protest against it, saying its abolition was “for me one step, the first step, towards full freedom.”

Can a hedge be a true barrier? I remember taking my then-young children to a maze in an English garden and finding that they had found gaps in it to pass from one corridor to the next. This was annoying; how can you expect to get frightfully trapped in a maze if you don’t play by the rules?

But this was an old yew hedge with holes. The barrier plants used in India were of much angrier species. In addition, the hedgerow was peppered with hundreds of guard posts and patrolled by thousands of sentries.

Moxham described its perfected sections as up to 14 feet high, 12 feet wide and planted with such tropical trees and shrubs as carissa, acacia and the common jujube, each with nasty thorns.

The Great Hedge was evidently difficult to maintain because it wound its way through different soils, climates and elevations. Large sections were of dead material with absurd maintenance needs.

Each mile of “dry hedge” required a ton of brush, staked. A tax commissioner wrote in 1868 that with fires, decay, storms and destructive ants, “at least half has to be renewed yearly.”

Most of the Great Hedge had vanished by the time Moxham began looking for it, even though hedges can live for hundreds of years. I remember being in a Dutch tulip field that was edged in beech tree cordons that had been planted back when windmills were leading-edge technology.

Moxham, who lives in central London, told me by phone that it’s remarkable that the hedge “was so forgotten in such a short time.” The sentry path alongside the hedge became a convenient route for subsequent highways that obliterated much of it, he said.

The book ends with his discovery of one of the last vestiges of the hedge in a village downriver from Agra named Palighar. The locals led him to an embankment where the customs line had run. Clusters of acacias rose 20 feet, and thorny Indian plum trees grew nearby. “It was impossible to tell whether the trees were original or re-seedings,” wrote Moxham. “Whichever they were, it was the Customs Hedge.”

I find it satisfying that such a malevolent hedge has faded away, but what of garden hedges?

I have come to admire well-grown hedges, which might be sorted into two basic types. The first form naturally tidy, compact but unclipped screens of trees or shrubs. Evergreen candidates include red cedars, laurels, Chindo viburnums, Japanese cedars and upright yews. Deciduous plants are effective, too: Upright hornbeams, hophornbeams, amelanchiers and even hydrangeas do the job. Scale and relationship to space are critical to success.

Hedges that are sheared into geometric shapes require even more careful thought. The individual plants are typically planted close together and then shaped from an early age. They can look elegant in small urban gardens, green but architectural. Looks-wise, they can be too high and pretentious, or too rigid in an otherwise natural garden. The issues of cultivation loom larger. Success begins with the choice of plant and the knowledge that in hot, humid climates, the options are limited because of the extra stresses clipping puts on shrubs. The classic example is boxwood. When sheared, the growth becomes congested at the surface and impedes the type of air circulation and light penetration you need to reduce fungal diseases. If I were planting a clipped hedge in Washington, I would select such fine-textured evergreens as the yaupon or Nellie R. Stevens hollies, holly tea-olive (Osmanthus heterophyllus) or the southern wax-myrtle.

Clipped hedges require effort and some skill to keep their appeal with a careful shearing at least once a year. Such hedges have fallen from favor but need a revival. Hedges as instruments of oppression deserve to perish, but those made and sustained with love are bound to succeed.

@adrian_higgins on Twitter


Posted in Ahmedabad, Amdavad, blog, blogging, Britain, India, Uncategorized, walls | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Favourite . . . . A Film

Image result for images of the favourite

After Mary Queen of Scots, I was so anxious to see The Favourite staring Queen Anne  of England. Her reign was 1702-1714,  She was the last of the Stuarts making her a descendant of Mary Queen  of Scots.  (1540-1567 ).

This is not an historical movie but the story of a tragic and eccentric queen. She keeps 17 bunnies in her bedroom to remember the 17 babies she lost before or after birth. There is  a duck race in the palace which gives Anne much joy as well.

The film is hard to categorize whether comedy or drama. It seems to me that it is mainly about changing power and relationships between three woman, Anne, Abigail, and Sarah. In their struggle for dominance nothing is neglected in the telling  but sometimes shocking to the audience.

When the director Lanthimos was questioned about the historical accuracy  of the film, he  replied, “Some things in the film are accurate but a lot aren’t.”

I came away from the film with some understanding of the personal pain of  mad Queen Anne and gratitude to my ancestors for having fought for our freedom from Britain !

Oh yes, the music is magnificent Baroque of Handle,Vivaldi, Bach, Purcell, and even Sir Elton John on harpsichord.  You can’t miss it as the volume won’t let you  !

Posted in Animals, blog, blogging, Britain, cinema, empowering women, England, history, music, politics, Scotland, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, welcome, women | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Re-blog Dan Wescott . . . . . Another Battlefield

A heartwarming story of one of our  WWII heroes and a young woman, M B Henry,  who wouldn’t let his story die!

Posted in American history, blog, blogging, Eric Labourdette, France, Musee Airborne, paratooper, St-Mere-Eglise, Travel, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, USA, welcome, WWII | 6 Comments

Mary Queen of Scots. . . . . The Film

mary queen of scots poster

All through the film the wild and wonderful Scottish landscapes fills the screen, demanding  the viewer’s attention and compliment to  the queen’s fiery temperament.Though she spent much of her life in France as a child and as a bride and then widow Mary returned to Scotland to become Queen.  All this before she returned to Scotland where she  was “home.”

Mary’s reign was 1542-1567 and the film opens with her beheading. The film tells her story and that of her first cousin, Elizabeth of England through connecting flashbacks.The stage is set with family jealously and intrigue, royalty, politics and faith and religion which always interests me. Mary was Roman Catholic which made it impossible for her to be the Queen of England. The English both royalty and common people were determined never to be Catholic after the religious drama of Henry VIII. Scotland became a  leader  of strong Reformation under the  guidance of John Knox who appears in the film.

I am interested in the history of religion and have worshiped in many Presbyterian Churches which began  in Scotland .  John Knox, in the film,  seemed a strange and often frightening man complete with long wild hair and foreboding voice and expression. His words seemed angry and intolerant often narrow minded. There was no generosity of spirit but an air of loving to hate. In a little research I found  that John Knox was in life, all those adjectives.  He was very intelligent though a man of the common people which  helped him communicate with ordinary people. His faith was strong and unwavering but with no emphasis on “loving his neighbor!! (Christianity Today)

I enjoy seeing history in film and even being challenged to do some further research .  I did find some criticism of a  major event in the film not being accurate and that Mary and Elizabeth  never met.   That doesn’t bother me as I feel that story telling is an important aspect of film.  It is not history , it is entertainment.


Posted in blog, blogging, books, cinema, England, film, France, politics, Religions of the World, Scotland, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Merry Christmas

Grave of my brother, who gave his life on  D-Day +2,  fighting to liberate France from the Fascism of Germany                                            American Cemetery Cambridge UK



                                                                                                                        TO GIVE US  

                                                                                                                                  OUR TODAY.


Blessed Christmas To All. . . . . .

Posted in American history, blog, blogging, England, family, history, paratrooper, Religions of the World, Uncategorized, USA, welcome, WWII | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Christmas Spirit

German and British troops celebrating Christmas together during a temporary cessation of WWI hostilities known as the Christmas Truce.

British and German soldiers lay down their guns to sing Christmas carols on December 25, 1914.

How could this happen?  Pope Benedict XV encouraged a Christmas truce but the idea was rejected.  But the Christmas miracle began on Christmas Eve as men on both sides began to sing carols in their native language.  Below is a first hand account:

“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

The next morning, men from both sides emerged from the trenches shouting “Merry Christmas” and joining each other on the stretch of land between the enemies called “No man’s land.” These soldiers who were shooting at each other just a day or two ago, now were exchanging gifts of cigarettes and chocolate.  This moment was not peace but only a truce was also  a moment for both sides to bury its dead. The shooting began again on December 26.

But for a few moments enemies lay down their guns and hatred.  The soldiers accomplished something the Pope and their generals could not do.

Even “The War to End All Wars”  was not powerful enough to “Kill the Christmas Spirit!”


Posted in blog, blogging, Britain, England, France, Religions of the World, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment