Callie House: My Face is Black is True

WED, SEP 14, 2005 (50:07)

Mary Francis Berry reclaims Callie House, a magnificent heroine who, though so long forgotten that the site of her grave is unknown, emerges as a pioneering activist: a female forerunner of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Born in to slavery in 1861, Callie House started the Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association, which sought African American pensions based on those offered Union soldiers, a movement so powerful it frightened the US government, upset Jim Crow legislatures across the South, and gave hope to hundreds of thousands of destitute former slaves.

Co-sponsored by the Museum of Afro American History and the Center for New Words.

+ BIO: Mary Frances Berry

Mary Frances Berry has been a Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History since 1987. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan and JD from the University of Michigan Law School. She is the author of nine books, including And Justice For All: The United States Commission On Civil Rights And the Struggle For Freedom in America (2009); My Face is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (2005); The Pig Farmer's Daugher and Other Tales of American Justice: Episodes of Racism and Sexism in the Courts from 1865 to the Present (1999); Black Resistance, White Law: A History of Constitutional Racism in America (1994, orig. 1971); The Politics of Parenthood: Child Care, Women's Rights, and the Myth of the Good Mother (1993); Why ERA Failed: Politics, Women's Rights, and the Amending Process of the Constitution (1986); Long Memory: The Black Experience in America, with John Blassingame (1982); and Military Necessity and Civil Rights Policy: Black Citizenship and the Constitution, 1861-1868 (1977).

Professor Berry has had a distinguished career in public service. From 1980 to 2004, she was a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and from 1993-2004 served as Chair. Between 1977 and 1980, Dr. Berry served as the Assistant Secretary for Education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). She has also served as Provost of the University of Maryland and Chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In recognition of her scholarship and public service, Professor Berry has received 32 honorary doctoral degrees and many awards, including the NAACP's Roy Wilkins Award, the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Ebony Magazine Black Achievement Award. She is one of 75 women featured in I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America. Sienna College Research Institute and the Women's Hall of Fame designated her one of "America's Women of the Century." Professor Berry teaches the History of American Law, and the History of Law and Social Policy. She also advises students in African American History.

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