slavery

A new fellowship to explore White House’s history of slavery

Last month, the association announced the creation of a joint two-year fellowship with American University’s Antiracist Research & Policy Center for a graduate student to continue the work.

“The creation of this fellowship is an important opportunity to deepen our understanding of slavery’s enduring legacy in our nation’s capital.” said Stewart McLaurin, the association’s president. “The protests that have erupted this summer over issues of racial injustice are a stark reminder of how important this work is.”

Mia Owens, a first-year graduate student in AU’s public history program, was selected as the inaugural fellow. Owens, 23, grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and immersed herself in the civil rights history of her hometown. She says the opportunity to do this work at this moment in American life is crucial.

Because of the pandemic, Owens will remain in Alabama for this semester and begin her work with the association from a distance. But that isn’t diminishing her enthusiasm for the project.

“I think especially right now, when so many people are focusing and having conversations about racial injustice in the country … it is so important that we as historians also contribute to that field and look at this history that has been overlooked for so long,” Owens said.

For the past two years, the White House Historical Association has been examining the ties between the president’s home and slavery. Earlier this year, it launched “Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood,” an online exhibit that shared research about how the White House relied on labor by enslaved people from its inception through the first half of the 19th century.

The research found that more than 300 enslaved men, women and children worked in the house or on the grounds over that time as builders, cleaners, servers, cooks and gardeners. Captive and unpaid, they

Garden City country club with name tied to slavery unveils new name

The Plantation Country Club in Garden City has cast aside its only link to slavery and is now known as The River Club.

“Looking to the future of this great club and what it means to members and the community, the element we kept coming back to was the river,” Will Gustafson, CEO of owner Glass Creek LLC, said in a news release Thursday. “The Boise River is the lifeblood for this community. It was obvious that our club’s future had to pay respect to the river.”

The club announced in June, amid nationwide protests of police violence against Black people, that it was seeking a new name. In the U.S., the word plantation is associated with large farms built in the past on the backs of slave labor.

In August, the Cathedral of the Rockies in Boise removed a stained glass window installed in 1960 that contained the image of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Church documents showed the window, featuring Lee standing with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, was meant as an “inclusive nod to Southerners who have settled in Boise.”

Glass Creek, which bought the country club in 2018, planned to unveil a new name after a redesign of the course and other improvements were completed in a few years. However, Gustafson said the events of 2020 brought an increased focus on ensuring the club matched modern-day values.

“We felt from the very beginning that ‘Plantation Country Club’ did not reflect the vision we had for the club’s future: a fresh, modern, inclusive, and welcoming club for all members of the community,” he said. “This year brought a sharp focus on just how imperative it was for our club to not be attached to that dark piece of America’s history, and we knew we couldn’t