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Information is power. Our mission at Portside is to seek out and to provide information that empowers you -- that empowers the left. Every day we search hundreds of sources to connect you with the most interesting, striking and useful material. Just once a year we appeal to you to contribute to make it possible to continue this work. Please help.

 

film

The Stunning Achievement of Kasi Lemmons’s “Harriet”

Richard Brody The New Yorker
"It’s a freedom movie; it’s not a slavery movie. It exists in a very perilous and conflicted time in our country, but it’s really about freedom and what you’re willing to do for it—not just for you, but for others." - Kasi Lemmons

Keeping it Fresh: Preservatives and The Poison Squad

Cynthia Graber, Nicola Twilley and Deborah Blum Gastropod
Harvey Washington Wiley, a do-gooder farm boy who trained as chemist, worried that preservatives might be harming the public. The trials' shocking results led to the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and eventually to the creation of the FDA.

What You Still Don’t Know About Abolitionists

Manisha Sinha Time
The abolition movement was an interracial radical social movement of disfranchised people, men and women, white and black, free and enslaved. Slave resistance lay at its heart. On this Juneteenth, it is important to recall that African Americans were not passive recipients of the gift of freedom but architects of their own liberation.

How Radical Change Occurs: Eric Foner

Mike Konczal / Kevin Baker The Nation / New York Times
Foner wanted to document his last time teaching the course, and he's teamed with edX to present it as three online classes. The themes running through his work—race in America, the influence of radicals on history, and economic oppression as a force of white supremacy—have never felt more relevant.

This 80-Year-Old Grandma Walked Hundreds of Miles to Retrace the Underground Railroad

Katrina Rabeler Yes!
The Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers—a force “for the good of all beings”—is a group of matriarchs who are spiritual leaders from native communities around the world. Coming from what they call “the four directions”—North and South America, Africa, and Asia—they work to educate others about indigenous ways of life, sacred stories, and values.

Melanie Clarin -- Follow the Drinking Gourd

The 'Drinking Gourd' refers to the stars of the Big Dipper constellation, pointing the North Star (Polaris). The song was reportedly used as a kind of Underground Railroad map guiding the route of escaped slaves to freedom. It was first published in 1928. Lee Hayes published the song in 1947 in something like its current form in the People's Songs Bulletin. In the following decades the song featured prominently in the civil rights movement and in the folk song movement. For more Songs of Immigration, Deportation and Identity, go here.
 

Of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Lewis, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Herbert Marcuse, Joseph Weydemeyer, Karl Marx, Frederick Douglass, Jim Crow, the New Jim Crow, and the New New Jim Crow:Shelby County v. Holder

Mark S. Mishler Portside
Ginsburg attacks the ahistorical character of the majority decision. Quoting Shakespeare, she notes that the majority "ignores that `what's past is prologue'". What a profound observation, `the past is prologue'. It neatly, and with a literary flourish, sums up the deep defect with the Court's decision, its deliberate ignoring of both the contemporary ramifications of historical racism in this country as well as its current vitality.
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