History

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The beginning of a new memoir begins with a fact that may surprise many people. There's no word in Hebrew that translates precisely to the English word history. The words used instead really mean memory.

Updated at 11:47 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2 trillion relief package Wednesday night designed to alleviate some of the worst effects of the swift economic downturn currently underway as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the 96-0 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told lawmakers, "Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory."

When journalist Eduardo Porter moved to Los Angeles in the 90s and started writing about the city, he realized race was everywhere — and that it determined "where you go to school, church, or work; how you dress and talk; whom you marry; how you fare when you run into the cops."

That realization became the seed of his latest book, American Poison: How Racial Hostility Destroyed Our Promise.

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He called himself the last man on the street. Comedian Mal Sharpe died earlier this month at the age of 83.

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And now for a story that has nothing to do with coronavirus. It is the tale of a notorious art heist that's still unsolved. Thirty years ago today, two men posing as police officers stole 13 works of art from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Andrea Shea of member station WBUR reports on the lasting legacy of one of the most costly art crimes in history.

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Joel Emmons Whitney (1822-1886) / Public domain / Minnesota Historical Society

There was a war in 1862, and it wasn't all that far away. As wars go, this one was short, over and done with in little more than a month. But it was very bloody. In no other war in U. S. history were as many civilians killed in such a short time.

How do we center, in this postcolonial experience, not the perspective of the western European colonizer but the perspective of the indigenous, black, and people of color who were colonized? Even the very language of this concept — postcolonial — betrays a perspective still situated around the white colonizer.

So we begin with this question: How do you create meaning when the language itself undercuts the meaning you are trying to create?

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One of today's acclaimed popular historians has taken on one of history's most acclaimed figures. Erik Larson wrote a book about Winston Churchill, the British prime minister whose inspiring speeches led the U.K. through World War II.

For many Americans, the first moon landing remains the most memorable moment in the history of manned space travel.

It was a high-water mark in the space race, but as the United States and Soviet Union were rushing to prove their dominance, a lesser known chapter in that battle was taking place: America's effort to send a black man into space.

Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier, a new documentary on the Smithsonian Channel, brings light to the groundbreaking moment that almost came to be during the heights of the civil rights movement.

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After three days on a Greyhound bus, Lela Mae Williams was just an hour from her destination—Hyannis, Mass.—when she asked the bus driver to pull over. She needed to change into her finest clothes. She had been promised the Kennedy family would be waiting for her.

It was late on a Wednesday afternoon, nearly 60 years ago, when that Greyhound bus from Little Rock, Ark., pulled into Hyannis. It slowed to a stop near the summer home of President John F. Kennedy and his family. When the doors opened, Lela Mae and her nine youngest children stepped onto the pavement.

Within the wood paneling of a hallway in the British House of Commons, there was a small brass keyhole.

Members of Parliament and staff walked past the tiny hole each day. The rare person who noticed the hole took it for an electrical cabinet.

Olivia Hooker was a 6-year-old in Tulsa, Okla., when a race riot destroyed her community as well as her own home.

In less than 24 hours, mobs of white men destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses in the Greenwood District, an affluent African American neighborhood of Tulsa. It's estimated as many as 300 people were killed.

As they wrecked her own home, she and her three siblings quietly hid under a dining room table, careful not to make a sound.

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President Trump has put his No. 2 in charge of the U.S. response to the new coronavirus.

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Between 1871 and 1914, Paris enjoyed a long stretch without war. "It was a special moment — a particularly joyful and exuberant moment in Parisian history," says Emily Talbot. She's the curator of a new exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., all about Paris' Belle Époque — or beautiful era.

Nearly 250 years ago, a group of white men gathered in a house in Massachusetts to draft a document on independence aimed at the British crown. A woman who was enslaved in the house overheard the discussion and determined that the words applied to her, too.

Bett, who was later called Mumbet, was born enslaved south of Albany, N.Y., around 1742. In her teens, Bett was brought to the home of John and Hannah Ashley in Sheffield, Mass., where she cleaned, cooked and served the family.

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Here in Washington today, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to make lynching a federal hate crime. That is something that supporters say has been tried nearly 200 times before in Congress, never successfully.

Ghost River: The Fall and Rise of the Conestoga, a new graphic novel and art exhibit, depicts a gruesome, footnoted event in American history — the Conestoga Massacre. The massacre was an act of brutality that killed an entire community of Native people and almost erased their voices from history. Ghost River hopes to give that voice back, reenvisioning the events through the eyes of Native people. (The comic is available to read online.

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Updated at 2:39 p.m. ET on Feb. 26

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has repeatedly said he regrets the police tactic known as "stop-and-frisk." Still, CBS moderator Gayle King pressed him at Tuesday night's Democratic debate asking, "What exactly are you apologizing for?"

Say Amen, Somebody, a documentary about the men and women who pioneered African American gospel music, was widely praised upon its release in 1982; the late Roger Ebert called it "One of the most joyful movies I've ever seen." But it hasn't been seen in theaters in nearly 30 years. Now George T. Nierenberg's film has been restored and re-released to theaters and DVD.

"It did not have to be this way, and there was a time when it was not," Adam Cohen writes in his introduction to Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court's Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America.

America could have top-notch, racially integrated schools, a criminal justice system that hadn't ballooned to the world's largest by locking up generations of black and brown people, a political system that wasn't suffocating in money and a legal system that valued individuals over big business. Today, though, the likelihood of implementing such a vision looks dim.

Herman Hiller, World Telegram staff photographer / Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection.

  

Shig Yabu was 10 years old when he and his family were forced from their home in San Francisco and relocated to an internment camp in Wyoming.

In 1942, two months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the detention of anyone deemed a potential threat to the country. Roughly 120,000 people of Japanese descent were forcibly relocated to internment camps as a result — the Yabu family included.

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It has been just over 78 years since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order authorizing the internment of Japanese Americans.

Now, in a unanimous vote, the California Assembly has apologized for the role the state played in rounding up about 120,000 people – mainly U.S. citizens – and moving them into 10 camps, including two in California.

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