Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reading and Tweeting

History has never been my strong suit. And lately reading itself, for more than minutes at a stretch, is getting to be a rare occurrence. But today I read two whole pages uninterrupted of the new bio of Thelonious Monk by Robin Kelley and in the process I learned 3 things that my built-in forgetter had forgotten about:

1. When the Civil War ended slavery was supposed to end. But tens of thousands of slaves throughout the state of North Carolina (where Thelonious Monk's great grandparents and grandparents were from) were afraid to leave their plantations. Many were afraid of starvation and breaking "family ties." But many planters evicted their former slaves anyway–especially the ones who were old or too weak to work.

2. In 1866, white supremacists in government passed a series of laws known as the Black Codes. Some of the worst codes were the apprenticeship laws that allowed former masters to retain control of ex-slaves under the age of 21, under the pretext that they needed a guardian.

3. In North Carolina it was a crime to teach slaves to read and write.

And another thing (of course): Marriage between slaves was not legally recognized.

When I begged Peter to loan me this book about my favorite jazz pianist I had no idea what I would be getting into. I'm not sure we humans have come very far. But on the other hand, to think that we have the black President we do today: Hooray!

My favorite tweet of the week: