Cameron McWhirter

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     So what is the point of genealogical exploration: to develop some sense of self importance? Perhaps for some — blue bloods, the mega-rich, people like that. But for most, I don’t think that’s it. Everyone’s story, if you look at carefully, devolves into a muddle of heroes and assholes, winners…

     Charles Darwin, in his oft-quoted section in “Origin of Species,” employs the metaphor of the Great Tree of Life:      As we here and there see a thin straggling branch springing from a fork low down in a tree, and which by some chance has been favoured and is still alive…

     My father grew up on Chicago’s North Side, in Albany Park, a working-class neighborhood west of the lakefront. When people picture Chicago, they see that stegosaurus skyline spiking along Lake Michigan and bulging out at the Loop. But most of Chicago is, and has been for more than a century,…

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Jan

                                                              “ghosts” you want to know whether i believe in ghosts of course i do not believe in them if…

So Baltimore happened. Rioters destroyed businesses and automobiles. Police officers were injured. Fires were set. The violence arose from the death of Freddie Gray April 19 while in police custody. The riots follow a pattern since the earliest days of this Republic> The recent videotaped shooting in North Charleston, S.C.,…

Africa, where evolutionary biologists say humanity began. It’s early 1987, in a wadi in guerilla-held western Eritrea, a region of dry riverbeds and jutting red and black mountains. I am on a academic fellowship, studying ethnic divisions among the Eritrean groups fighting against the Soviet-backed Ethiopian regime. I’m supposed to…

In the summer of 1919, race riots, lynching and other violence swept the U.S. from big cities like Chicago and Washington to small towns like Longview, Tex. and Ellisville, Miss. It was so terrifying and bloody that NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson called it the “Red Summer.” Herbert Seligmann, a…

A part of African American history has been lost. The Carswell Grove Baptist Church, in rural Jenkins County, Ga., burned to the ground this weekend. Investigators have ruled arson was the cause of the weekend blaze. The church was built in 1919 on the ashes of the previous church, which…

The Ferguson violence, north of St. Louis, brings to mind the 1917 East St. Louis, Ill., race riot, which sent thousands of black people fleeing across the Mississippi to St. Louis for safety. Click here for more info. The best book on the 1917 race riot is Never Been A…

Thanks to TEDx GeorgiaTech 2014 for having me speak at the conference about remembering racial violence and how some communities are beginning to mark past racial violence with events, markers and more. Tweet