Campaign Buzz February 2, 2012: Donald Trump Endorses Mitt Romney for Republican Presidential Nomination 2 Days Before Nevada Caucuses

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

 
Mitt Romney accepted the endorsement of Donald Trump in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Monica Almeida/The New York TimesMitt Romney accepted the endorsement of Donald Trump in Las Vegas on Thursday.

 

IN FOCUS: DONALD TRUMP ENDORSES MITT ROMNEY FOR THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION 2 DAYS BEFORE NEVADA CAUCUSES

Trump Endorses Romney in a 7-Minute Appearance: Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney here Thursday afternoon in a joint appearance that lasted less than seven minutes and included no questions.
The two men stood behind a lectern emblazoned with a gold “Trump” plaque (a large Romney sign hung off to the side, largely out of the TV shots), and the endorsement came amid several impromptu news conferences that Mr. Trump organized for himself…. – NYT, 2-2-12

Over-the-Top Setting, Run-of-the Mill Endorsement: Mitt Romney secured the endorsement of Donald Trump. Whether that will mean any votes is anyone’s guess. But it certainly made for an interesting day…. – NYT, 2-2-12

“Mitt is tough, he’s sharp, he’s smart. He’s not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love…
I think if he debates the way he’s been debating, I think he’ll beat Obama handily.” — Donald Trump

“There are some things you just can’t imagine happening in your life. This is one of them.” — Mitt Romney

 

  • Confusion Over, Trump Endorses Romney: Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney Thursday afternoon in Las Vegas, from the gold “Trump” plaque … – NYT, 2-2-12
  • Mitt Romney wins Trump backing in Nevada; Newt Gingrich looks ahead to Super Tuesday: Hotel magnate Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney here on Thursday, a theatrical announcement that matched the setting two days before the Nevada caucuses. Trump, a onetime possible contender for the presidency, said it was an “honor” to … WaPo, 2-2-12
  • Trump endorses Romney, says Romney will save ‘this country we all love’: Donald Trump on Thursday announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney for president, saying the former Massachusetts governor is “not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country we all love.” The reality show host and real … – WaPo, 2-2-12
  • ‘Go get ’em’: Trump makes Romney endorsement official: A day after uttering a line that made him seem unsympathetic to the impoverished, Mitt Romney received the endorsement of perhaps the world’s most self-satisfied rich man, Donald Trump. The meeting between the pair, one of whom said … – LAT, 2-2-12
  • Trump on endorsement: ‘I bring a lot of people with me’: Donald Trump, speaking to reporters after he endorsed Mitt Romney Thursday, said he was impressed by Romney’s recent debate performances and his position on China. “I watched the last two debates, I thought he was terrific,” Trump said…. – LAT, 2-2-12
  • Trump endorses Romney: Donald Trump today formally endorsed Mitt Romney for president, saying the former Massachusetts governor is “smart” and “tough.” At a news conference at Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas, the real estate developer and reality TV … – USA Today, 2-2-12
  • Trump confirms Romney endorsement, says getting to know Romney led to decision: Donald Trump has confirmed that he will endorse Mitt Romney’s GOP presidential bid. He says he made the decision after getting to know Romney after meeting with him several times in the past few months. He also cited Romney’s performances … – WaPo, 2-2-12
  • Trump’s endorsement of Romney mocked by Democratic National Committee chair: Celebrity mogul Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday afternoon that he is backing Mitt Romney is a classic “me for me” endorsement, as our colleagues at The Fix have noted – a move that appears to help the endorser more than the endorsee…. – WaPo, 2-2-12

Full Text February 2, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama Talks About Being a Mentor in More Magazine Black History Month Interview

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Michelle Obama Talks About Being a Mentor

Source: WH, 2-2-12
First Lady Michelle Obama at Girls Mentoring eventFirst Lady Michelle Obama drops by the Girls Mentoring November activity in room 430 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Nov. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

February is Black History Month, and his year’s theme, “Black Women in American Culture and History,” honors African American women and the many roles they’ve played in the shaping of our nation.

And in an interview with More magazine, First Lady Michelle Obama talks candidly about one of the roles that matters most to her, one that has been a part of her life since she was in high school, one that can have a crucial influence in shaping the next generation of American women and one she urges others to embrace: Mentor.

Mrs. Obama discusses the impact mentors have had in her life, and also what being a mentor has meant to her (one of the first people she mentored as a lawyer in Chicago was a fellow graduate of Harvard Law School named Barack Obama: “I made sure that he met the partners that he was working with; I had to take him out to lunch a couple of times” she tells the magazine).

And for the first time, the First Lady discusses a program she launched shortly after moving into the White House, a mentoring program she designed “to open a secret door for others that hadn’t been opened for me,” by pairing disadvantaged girls with some of the powerful women in the land. She tells the magazine:

“I wanted [the students] to experience this notion that if you can walk [through] the doors of the White House once a month and sit down with the first lady and her chief of staff and some other senior officials, and they’re talking to you and you get used to hearing your voice in the space, then it becomes not a big deal.”

And so her program pairs teenage girls with “this wonderful array of women who come from different backgrounds,” she says. “They’re senior leaders in President Obama’s administration, and they all have a story, right? They all have a set of challenges and struggles.” Those stories, Obama believes, are best told in person, over time, creating the kind of enduring bond the social media generation sorely lacks. “Even though our children are connecting in ways we never imagined,” she told a national summit on mentoring not long ago, “you’ve got an entire generation of young people truly in desperate need of a friend. Someone they can trust, an example they can follow.”

History Buzz February 2, 2012: Tony Judt & Timothy Snyder: How Historians Can Rewrite the Future — Interview with Timothy Snyder on his new book “Thinking the Twentieth Century”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY INTERVIEWS

How Historians Can Rewrite the Future

When the noted and controversial scholar Tony Judt fell fatally ill,Yale professor Timothy Snyder stepped forward to write one last book with him. Here, Snyder recalls the collaboration and the legacy Judt left behind.

Source: The Atlantic, 2-2-12

judt-snyder.jpg

Left, Tony Judt (John R. Rifkin); right, Timothy Snyder (Ine Gundersveen)

“An intellectual by definition is someone temperamentally inclined to rise periodically to the level of general propositions.” Thus spake the great historian and public intellectual Tony Judt, and this is just one of the memorable lines we are lucky enough to have on record in his last, posthumously published work.

For the last few years of his life, Judt suffered from a disease that left him trapped in his own body, eventually unable to write or walk. Famous among non-academics for his erudite and occasionally controversial essays on current affairs in The New York Review of Books and The New Republic, Judt remains a giant in the field of 20th-century history–the author of the definitive Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945–and it was one of his colleagues who had the idea to enable one last literary offering to the world.

From January to July of 2009, Yale history professor Timothy Snyder met with Judt for a series of recorded conversations that would let Judt’s voice communicate to the world what his arms and fingers no longer could. Thinking the Twentieth Century, released February 2 from Penguin, is the product of those discussions. The tome covers far more than, as was originally intended, the British-born, Jewish-raised, and Cambridge-educated Judt’s life and work. It is a breathtakingly pithy exploration of some of the great questions of our time, and what it means to be a historian. The alternately joyous and somber ramble touches on the sex lives of French intellectuals, the dangers of the Holocaust museums, and how high schools should teach the history of the Civil War. Observations about the modern media and the English language emerge amidst a provocative reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of democracy as we know it today.

Ultimately, the immensely quotable dialogue, whether you agree with the positions or not, is an argument in hard copy that words matter–that, to quote the equally quotable playwright Tom Stoppard, with words “you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos,” and “if you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”

To get a better sense of how this book came into being, and the concerns motivating its authors, we spoke by phone with Timothy Snyder….READ MORE

History Buzz February 2, 2012: Maurice Meisner: Historian of modern China, dies at 80

Maurice Meisner, historian of modern China, dies at 80

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY PASSINGS

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison News, 2-2-12

Maurice Meisner, Harvey Goldberg Professor Emeritus of History, passed away at home in Madison on Monday, Jan. 23. He was 80.

“Mauri was, for many years, an important cornerstone of our Chinese history program,” says Florencia Mallon, Julieta Kirkwood Professor and chair of the history department. “He will be missed by many colleagues and former students.”

During more than half a century of research, Meisner watched events unfold as he filed them away for future study. An idealist, his central concerns included the “path to utopia”: the tensions between an urge for transformative action and the restraints of history.

His teaching reflected these changing times, covering the reign of Mao Zedong, China’s admission to the United Nations, “ping-pong diplomacy,” the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and China’s rise to industrial might. The field experienced a surge of interest after President Nixon’s visit to China in 1971. Meisner responded by building a major graduate program in Chinese history, emphasizing training in intellectual history….READ MORE

Full Text February 2, 2012: President Obama’s Speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Barack Obama at National Prayer Breakfast (February 2, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., Feb. 2, 2012. First Lady Michelle Obama attended the event with the President. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast

Source: WH, 2-2-12

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (186MB) | mp3 (18MB)

This morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama gave a speech where he described how his faith as a Christian informs his thinking as a leader.

And he talked about the importance of our shared set of values as Americans:

We can’t leave our values at the door. If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel — the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action — sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.

This is no different today for millions of Americans, and it’s certainly not for me.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the National Prayer Breakfast

Washington Hilton
Washington, D.C.

9:10 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Please, please, everybody have a seat.  Well, good morning, everybody.  It is good to be with so many friends united in prayer.  And I begin by giving all praise and honor to God for bringing us together here today.

I want to thank our co-chairs Mark and Jeff; to my dear friend, the guy who always has my back, Vice President Biden.  (Applause.)  All the members of Congress –- Joe deserves a hand –- all the members of Congress and my Cabinet who are here today; all the distinguished guests who’ve traveled a long way to be part of this.  I’m not going to be as funny as Eric — (laughter) — but I’m grateful that he shared his message with us.  Michelle and I feel truly blessed to be here.

This is my third year coming to this prayer breakfast as President.  As Jeff mentioned, before that, I came as senator.  I have to say, it’s easier coming as President.  (Laughter.)  I don’t have to get here quite as early.  But it’s always been an opportunity that I’ve cherished.  And it’s a chance to step back for a moment, for us to come together as brothers and sisters and seek God’s face together.  At a time when it’s easy to lose ourselves in the rush and clamor of our own lives, or get caught up in the noise and rancor that too often passes as politics today, these moments of prayer slow us down.  They humble us.  They remind us that no matter how much responsibility we have, how fancy our titles, how much power we think we hold, we are imperfect vessels.  We can all benefit from turning to our Creator, listening to Him.  Avoiding phony religiosity, listening to Him.

This is especially important right now, when we’re facing some big challenges as a nation.  Our economy is making progress as we recover from the worst crisis in three generations, but far too many families are still struggling to find work or make the mortgage, pay for college, or, in some cases, even buy food.  Our men and women in uniform have made us safer and more secure, and we were eternally grateful to them, but war and suffering and hardship still remain in too many corners of the globe.  And a lot of those men and women who we celebrate on Veterans Day and Memorial Day come back and find that, when it comes to finding a job or getting the kind of care that they need, we’re not always there the way we need to be.

It’s absolutely true that meeting these challenges requires sound decision-making, requires smart policies.  We know that part of living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone can’t dictate our response to every challenge we face.

But in my moments of prayer, I’m reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our minds and our hearts to the needs of others.

We can’t leave our values at the door.  If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union.  Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel — the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action — sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.

This is no different today for millions of Americans, and it’s certainly not for me.

I wake up each morning and I say a brief prayer, and I spend a little time in scripture and devotion.  And from time to time, friends of mine, some of who are here today, friends like Joel Hunter or T.D. Jakes, will come by the Oval Office or they’ll call on the phone or they’ll send me a email, and we’ll pray together, and they’ll pray for me and my family, and for our country.

But I don’t stop there.  I’d be remiss if I stopped there; if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends.  So instead, I must try — imperfectly, but I must try — to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.

And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody.  But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs -– from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato.

And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone.  And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.

But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”  It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.

When I talk about giving every American a fair shot at opportunity, it’s because I believe that when a young person can afford a college education, or someone who’s been unemployed suddenly has a chance to retrain for a job and regain that sense of dignity and pride, and contributing to the community as well as supporting their families — that helps us all prosper.

It means maybe that research lab on the cusp of a lifesaving discovery, or the company looking for skilled workers is going to do a little bit better, and we’ll all do better as a consequence.  It makes economic sense.  But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper; that as a country, we rise and fall together.  I’m not an island.  I’m not alone in my success.  I succeed because others succeed with me.

And when I decide to stand up for foreign aid, or prevent atrocities in places like Uganda, or take on issues like human trafficking, it’s not just about strengthening alliances, or promoting democratic values, or projecting American leadership around the world, although it does all those things and it will make us safer and more secure.  It’s also about the biblical call to care for the least of these –- for the poor; for those at the margins of our society.

To answer the responsibility we’re given in Proverbs to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”  And for others, it may reflect the Jewish belief that the highest form of charity is to do our part to help others stand on their own.

Treating others as you want to be treated.  Requiring much from those who have been given so much.  Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper.  Caring for the poor and those in need.  These values are old.  They can be found in many denominations and many faiths, among many believers and among many non-believers.  And they are values that have always made this country great — when we live up to them; when we don’t just give lip service to them; when we don’t just talk about them one day a year.  And they’re the ones that have defined my own faith journey.

And today, with as many challenges as we face, these are the values I believe we’re going to have to return to in the hopes that God will buttress our efforts.

Now, we can earnestly seek to see these values lived out in our politics and our policies, and we can earnestly disagree on the best way to achieve these values.  In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Christianity has not, and does not profess to have a detailed political program.  It is meant for all men at all times, and the particular program which suited one place or time would not suit another.”

Our goal should not be to declare our policies as biblical.  It is God who is infallible, not us.  Michelle reminds me of this often.  (Laughter.)  So instead, it is our hope that people of goodwill can pursue their values and common ground and the common good as best they know how, with respect for each other.  And I have to say that sometimes we talk about respect, but we don’t act with respect towards each other during the course of these debates.

But each and every day, for many in this room, the biblical injunctions are not just words, they are also deeds.  Every single day, in different ways, so many of you are living out your faith in service to others.

Just last month, it was inspiring to see thousands of young Christians filling the Georgia Dome at the Passion Conference, to worship the God who sets the captives free and work to end modern slavery.  Since we’ve expanded and strengthened the White House faith-based initiative, we’ve partnered with Catholic Charities to help Americans who are struggling with poverty; worked with organizations like World Vision and American Jewish World Service and Islamic Relief to bring hope to those suffering around the world.

Colleges across the country have answered our Interfaith Campus Challenge, and students are joined together across religious lines in service to others.  From promoting responsible fatherhood to strengthening adoption, from helping people find jobs to serving our veterans, we’re linking arms with faith-based groups all across the country.

I think we all understand that these values cannot truly find voice in our politics and our policies unless they find a place in our hearts.  The Bible teaches us to “be doers of the word and not merely hearers.”  We’re required to have a living, breathing, active faith in our own lives.  And each of us is called on to give something of ourselves for the betterment of others — and to live the truth of our faith not just with words, but with deeds.

So even as we join the great debates of our age — how we best put people back to work, how we ensure opportunity for every child, the role of government in protecting this extraordinary planet that God has made for us, how we lessen the occasions of war — even as we debate these great issues, we must be reminded of the difference that we can make each day in our small interactions, in our personal lives.

As a loving husband, or a supportive parent, or a good neighbor, or a helpful colleague — in each of these roles, we help bring His kingdom to Earth.  And as important as government policy may be in shaping our world, we are reminded that it’s the cumulative acts of kindness and courage and charity and love, it’s the respect we show each other and the generosity that we share with each other that in our everyday lives will somehow sustain us during these challenging times.  John tells us that, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Mark read a letter from Billy Graham, and it took me back to one of the great honors of my life, which was visiting Reverend Graham at his mountaintop retreat in North Carolina, when I was on vacation with my family at a hotel not far away.

And I can still remember winding up the path up a mountain to his home.  Ninety-one years old at the time, facing various health challenges, he welcomed me as he would welcome a family member or a close friend.  This man who had prayed great prayers that inspired a nation, this man who seemed larger than life, greeted me and was as kind and as gentle as could be.

And we had a wonderful conversation.  Before I left, Reverend Graham started praying for me, as he had prayed for so many Presidents before me.  And when he finished praying, I felt the urge to pray for him.  I didn’t really know what to say.  What do you pray for when it comes to the man who has prayed for so many?  But like that verse in Romans, the Holy Spirit interceded when I didn’t know quite what to say.

And so I prayed — briefly, but I prayed from the heart.  I don’t have the intellectual capacity or the lung capacity of some of my great preacher friends here that have prayed for a long time.  (Laughter.)  But I prayed.  And we ended with an embrace and a warm goodbye.

And I thought about that moment all the way down the mountain, and I’ve thought about it in the many days since.  Because I thought about my own spiritual journey –- growing up in a household that wasn’t particularly religious; going through my own period of doubt and confusion; finding Christ when I wasn’t even looking for him so many years ago; possessing so many shortcomings that have been overcome by the simple grace of God.  And the fact that I would ever be on top of a mountain, saying a prayer for Billy Graham –- a man whose faith had changed the world and that had sustained him through triumphs and tragedies, and movements and milestones –- that simple fact humbled me to my core.

I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment — asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong.  I know that He will guide us.  He always has, and He always will.  And I pray his richest blessings on each of you in the days ahead.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
9:30 A.M. EST

History Buzz February 2, 2012: Wesley P. Newton: Noted Montgomery author, historian, WWII vet Newton dies

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORIANS PASSINGS

Noted Montgomery author, historian, WWII vet Newton dies

World War II veteran and local historian Wesley P. Newton displays his Purple Heart in Montgomery on May 6, 2005. Newton was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1945. A noted historian, Newton passed away Monday at the age of 86. / MICKEY WELSH/ADVERTISER FILE

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Montgomery author and historian Wesley Newton stands next to a historic marker outside the house once occupied by the family of Tuskegee Airman Sherman White, who was killed during World War II, in this 2008 photo. / ALVIN BENN/ADVERTISER FILE

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Montgomery has lost one of its most noted historians.

Wesley P. Newton, who died Monday at the age of 86, wrote several acclaimed books about the area, but he was perhaps as well-known for leading a successful decadelong campaign to clear the names of the first two Tuskegee Airmen who died in combat during World War II.

Newton was a history professor for more than three decades, including more than two decades at Auburn University.

“He was proud of his scholarship. I think he published seven books, including two or three that were nationally recognized,” said his son, Brent Newton.

He said although the article his father co-wrote on the Tuskegee Airmen might not have ranked among his best works scholastically, it may have been the one in which he took the most pride….READ MORE

History Buzz February 2, 2012: Kevin Gutzman: Western Connecticut State University Professor’s New Book on James Madison “James Madison and the Making of America”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BOOK NEWS

A Book on James Madison by Dr. Kevin Gutzman

 Source: Litchfield County Times, 2-2-12

Dr. Kevin Gutzman in his office at Western Connecticut State University.

James Madison, fourth president of the United States, would probably have a hard time being elected today.

“They did not select leaders in the 18th century as we do today,” said Dr. Kevin Gutzman, professor of history at Western Connecticut State University and a New York Times bestselling author who has just written his fourth book, “James Madison and the Making of America.”

“They were a far different type,” he continued, “far more intelligent than what we are used to. Benjamin Franklin was a great statesman, but he was also authentically one of great scientists of his day. Alex Hamilton was one of the great financiers. In its 1976 Bicentennial edition, the American Academy of Architects called the University of Virginia, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson, the greatest achievement of American architecture in the past 200 years. These were a type of people who wouldn’t be elected today.”

Dr. Gutzman described the biography as a work that gradually took shape over nearly two decades, beginning during the author’s graduate studies at the University of Virginia, where he earned his Ph.D. in history in 1999….READ MORE

History Buzz February 2, 2012: Victoria Wolcott: University of Buffalo Professor examines 20th-century color line

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Wolcott examines 20th-century color line

Source: University of Buffalo Reporter, 2-2-12

Historian Victoria Wolcott teaches courses on the history of civil rights, African-American history and urban history. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE

“The black-and-white dichotomy shapes so much of the (20th century’s) political, cultural and social life.”

Victoria Wolcott Associate Professor of History

The phrase “color line” was used as a reference to the racial segregation that existed in the U.S. after the abolition of slavery. First mentioned in an 1881 article by Frederick Douglass, the phrase gained fame when W.E.B. DuBois cemented it in his landmark 1903 treatise, “The Souls of Black Folk.”

“DuBois said that the story of the 20th century will be the color line and he was absolutely right,” observes Victoria Wolcott, associate professor in the Department of History. “The black-and-white dichotomy shapes so much of the (century’s) political, cultural and social life.”

Influenced by her mother, who she describes as an early feminist with an interest in social justice issues, Wolcott began to explore the effects of that color line as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. In the process, she has become a noted 20th-century historian.

She arrived at UB last fall after five years of teaching at St. Bonaventure University in Olean and nine years at the University of Rochester. She teaches UB graduates and undergraduates the history of civil rights, African-American history and urban history, along with several permutations of those areas, she says, such as the “Race in American Cities” seminar she conducted in her first semester that combined her interests in race, labor and urban history.

Those interests led her to develop her first book from her graduate dissertation, “Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit,” which was published in 2001.

The book looks at African-American women in Detroit and how their work, culture and politics helped shape the life of the city. “I found that African-American women really were excluded from not only white-collar employment, but from blue-collar as well. The one niche area where they were able to find employment was domestic service,” she relates. “So they created opportunities for themselves by opening businesses, by engaging in what we call the informal economy, which can be anything from running numbers to more illicit kinds of activities. They had a kind of creative response to these restrictions that were placed upon them because of racial discrimination in the job market.”

The study made a significant impact. The book is being used in graduate courses in particular, but also to some extent in undergraduate courses in women’s history and African-American history. “I think I was at the beginning of what has really developed as a new sub-field in African-American women’s history when the book was published in 2001,” says Wolcott. “It was part of this new, growing field of research for people who were interested in the Great Migration of African Americans, urban history and women’s history.”

After a decade of research, her second book, “Race, Riots and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America,” will be published in August by University of Pennsylvania Press. To some extent, this derived from her work on the first book.

“I was struck by the extent to which all sorts of public accommodations—particularly recreational spaces—were segregated. We associate that kind of Jim Crow segregation with southern cities and communities, and yet it’s very, very pervasive in the north,” she explains. “I was interested in thinking to what extent is segregation and the struggle against segregation a national story, not a southern story.”…READ MORE

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