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How Black History Week Became Black History Month and Why It Matters Now

Developing alongside the Harlem Renaissance, Negro History Week uses every platform at its disposal to spread its message.

Dr Woodson and his colleagues have set an ambitious program for Negro History Week. They provided a Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum with photos, lesson plans and posters with important dates and biographical information. In an article published in 1932 titled “Negro History Week: The Sixth Grade,” Dr. Woodson noted that some white schools participated in Negro History Week programs and that this had improved race relations. . He and his colleagues also engaged the community at large with historic performances, banquets, lectures, breakfasts, beauty pageants and parades.

LD Reddick, a historian, heard “the father of Negro history” speak as a child in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Everything about Dr. Woodson, he recalled, produced an “electric” effect. As Mr. Reddick wrote: “He performed well on the platform, I thought, moving pretty much like a skilled boxer: never in a hurry, never hesitant, skillfully fighting for openings, pushing his blows skillfully. Mr. Reddick, who would later collaborate with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his book on the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, was amazed that Dr. Woodson was “easily … the most impressive speaker I have ever had. have never heard this time in my life.

Did you know?

For rural schools, Dr Woodson finally presented special kits for Black History Week that could include a list of suggested reading materials, speeches and photos of famous African Americans, and a play. theater on black history.

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Black history continues

In the early 1970s, Toni Morrison and Middleton A. Harris, along with a team of collectors, sought to combine images, artifacts, and documents into a single narrative that could somehow capture the depth and breadth of this what does it mean to be black in America. Their masterpiece, “The Black Book,” published in 1974, included slave auction notices and sheet music for working songs and songs of freedom; transcripts of the trials of runaway slaves; Black Hollywood movie posters from the 1930s and 1940s; patents of black inventors. The entrees were heartbreaking, fun, surprising and inspiring. Morrison knew then, as we now know, that we both live in the history that has been handed down to us and shape the one we will pass on to future generations.

In the spirit of “The Black Book”, “Black History, Suite” is a series that will explore pivotal moments and transformative figures of black culture. We believe that history part of black history is vital because, like the elements on a periodic table, each story is a building block of possibility.

Looking to the past, present and future, we’ll engage writers, visual storytellers, and our emerging tech team not only to tell great stories, but to tell them in a way Morrison and Harris wouldn’t. could not imagine when they were. sitting in the offices of Random House preparing a book. We will also be partnering with the New York Times Live for several events. Our project did not start on February 1 and will not end on February 28. Black History Month is almost over, but “Black History Continued” has only just begun. We hope you will visit us often.

– Veronica rooms

Edited by Veronica Chambers, Dodai Stewart, Adam Sternbergh, Marcelle Hopkins. Photo editing by Amanda Webster. Designed and produced by Michael Beswetherick, Antonio de Luca, Ruru Kuo. Video research by Dahlia Kozlowsky. Photographic illustration by Ruru Kuo. Additional support from Jeremy Allen, David Klopfenstein, Lauren Messman and Lauren Reddy.

Photo credits above: Larry C. Morris / The New York Times (Dom dancers); Malin Fezehai / The New York Times (Nyouka Baugh); Walter Thompson Hernandez / The New York Times (Compton Cowboys); Brian Dawson for The New York Times (Leah Penniman); Justin Sullivan / Getty Images (Betty Reid Soskin); Mike Lien / The New York Times (Arthur Ashe); Chang W. Lee / The New York Times (Naomi Osaka); Associated Press (Tommie Smith and John Carlos); Larry C. Morris / The New York Times (Muhammad Ali); Don Hogan Charles / The New York Times (Adam Clayton Powell); Tyrone Dukes / The New York Times (Shirley Chisholm); George Tames / The New York Times (Liberty Prayer Pilgrimage, Harry Belafonte Jr.); Suzanne Plunkett / Associated Press (Gordon Parks); Steve Schapiro / Corbis via Getty Images (James Baldwin); Sam Falk / The New York Times (Lena Horne); Erik Carter for the New York Times (Noname); Heather Sten for The New York Times (Jason Moran); Rahim Fortune for the New York Times (Erykah Badu); Chester Higgins, Jr. / The New York Times (RUN DMC); Eddie Hausner / The New York Times (Dr Kenneth Clark); Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times (Ta-Nehisi Coates); Emily Berl for The New York Times (Tracee Ellis Ross, Michelle Obama and Rob Finley); Andrew White for The New York Times (Michael B. Jordan, Denzel Washington); Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times (Amy Sherald); William Sauro / The New York Times (Diana Sands at the Harlem Cultural Festival); Andrea Mohin / The New York Times (Allen Sims, Linda Celeste Sims); Patrick Burns / The New York Times (Harlem Cultural Festival); Keith Beaty / Toronto Star, via Getty Images (Patrick Kelly); Carmen Mandato / Getty Images (Colin Kaepernick); Bettmann Archives / Getty Images (Ed Dwight, Cicely Tyson)

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The storm was one of the biggest in recent New York history.

This past winter has been tough for New Yorkers who enjoy building snowmen or, inexplicably, don’t mind tripping in the snow all the way to the subway or digging their cars.

Surely this week brought a smile to those folks: New York was smothered by 17.2 inches of snow early Tuesday, more than all of last winter, when just 4.8 inches fell on the city.

It was also the biggest snowstorm since a record snowstorm in 2016, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

The storm was so fierce it crippled public transportation, forcing the shutdown of the outdoor subway service on Monday and the shutdown of the area’s three major commuter train lines, as well as a train line connecting Manhattan and the New Jersey.

Still, that was a far cry from the pounding the city received in 2016, when a storm threw 27.5 inches of snow on Central Park.

There have also been much more destructive storms, like the 1888 blizzard, which dumped 21 inches of snow on the city and killed around 200 New Yorkers. Of course, back then horses were the primary form of transportation, which made the journey much more perilous than a contemporary subway car.

Across the region this week, total snowfall approached the 2016 record in Central Park. The deepest was 26.2 inches in Bloomingdale, Passaic County, NJ

The snowfall in this storm was very wet and abundant, “which is good if you like making snowmen and having snowball fights,” said Dominic Ramunni, meteorologist with the Weather Service.

But snow like this is also harder to clean up, Ramunni said, noting that “shoveling this stuff is almost like shoveling bricks.”

Mr Ramunni, who said flurries and some rain could continue throughout Tuesday, also mentioned another sobering statistic: six of the 10 deepest snowstorms since authorities started recording them in 1869 have been performing since 2000.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo addressed the issue in a radio interview Tuesday morning.

“We now have a 100-year storm twice a year,” Cuomo said.

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A witness to history and Bernie Sanders in his mittens

During inauguration day, Brendan Smialowski photographed security forces stationed around Washington, the arrival of national leaders, and the moment Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. .

He also took a photo of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont sitting cross-legged in a folding chair, bundled up in a thick coat and knit mittens, not looking amused.

Agence France-Presse photographer Mr Smialowski has covered Washington since 2003. He has captured historical moments and traveled with presidents and other senior officials. He has been recognized by Pictures of the Year International, World Press Photo and other professional photography organizations. But her photo of Mr. Sanders has received one of the highest forms of recognition available on the internet: it has been memorized.

The image of Mr. Sanders and his mittens has spread like wildfire across the internet, as social media users have found new locations for him and his mittens. He sat on a bench with Forrest Gump, took public transportation in New York and Chicago, was a guest at The last supper and perched on top of a metal beam alongside 11 ironworkers from the Depression era. He even managed to the moon.

Mr Smialowski covered several openings, but Mr Biden’s was different from “almost all measures,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. There was increased security, a small and socially remote audience, and a National Mall filled with flags instead of people.

He was positioned with a direct view of both the section where the Senators were seated and the stage where the ceremony would take place. Guests began to pour in. Mr. Sanders arrived around 11:30 a.m. with a large envelope under his arm.

“It’s like a ‘Where’s Waldo’ moment,” Mr. Smialowski said. He kept an eye locked in his sights, watching for key political figures and the other eye on the crowd.

His camera was bouncing between Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri when he noticed Mr. Sanders with the naked eye, he said.

“I just remember thinking, I have to come back to Senator Sanders,” he said. “It was just how he stood and how he positioned himself in the chair. I moved and decided on the spot that it was worth taking the photo.

He was surprised the image was sharp, he said, as it was shot from a distance with a slower shutter speed and a long lens.

This was not Mr Smialowski’s first viral photo. A 2017 photo he took of Kellyanne Conway, the longtime adviser and aide to former President Donald J. Trump, kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office sparked an internet debate about the proper decorum of the White House. Later that year, another of her photos captured a cyclist making an obscene gesture as Mr. Trump’s motorcade passed her.

None of those photos generated the kind of playful response that the image of Mr. Sanders and his mittens drew, Mr. Smialowski said.

“I really appreciate that people have a light moment from a political photo,” he said. “Things have been pretty tough over the past year and politics can be pretty nasty, and here are the people having fun.

When asked why this particular photo made such an impression, Mr Smialowski replied that he was not sure, but Mr Sanders’ young internet-savvy fan base likely played a role. .

“Sanders is a well-defined politician; he has a well-defined image, ”he says. “It was a good time, and I think the fact that it’s been a good time helps, but what carries it is who Senator Sanders is.

The downside to this particular photo is going viral? It is not “the best job I have ever done,” said Mr. Smialowski.

“I think an image should be like a bento box: everything has its place and purpose, and everything works together when you put it together,” he said. “But that’s not the reality of photojournalism. In my approach, composition comes before content. “

“I am jealous of myself,” he added. “I wish other work would get this kind of attention and I would like journalism to get this kind of attention. But this is not the reality. And it’s not for me to tell people, you know, how to consume what we’re doing.

Although he didn’t have a favorite iteration of the meme and was hesitant to choose one, he said it was fun to “see my photo appear in a piece of art that I all loved.” my life”.

“It makes me smile a little,” he said.

He also expressed his admiration for the creative internet users who have given his image of Mr. Sanders a life of its own.

“It’s not my job,” he says. “These are other people who sometimes mindlessly give up a cut and paste job and other times take a lot of time and effort to really do something cool and do a new job.” It’s quite impressive to watch.

Apart from his overflowing inbox, nothing has changed for Mr. Smialowski since the day of the opening. “Life is the same,” he says.

“The day was not really about Senator Sanders,” he said. “It’s about a lot of things. At the end of the day, it comes down to, you know, Joe Biden becoming president. Sanders is a complementary part of this story. “

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Lone Wolves Connected Online: A History of Modern White Supremacy

According to a later memo from the Justice Department: “Thefts and counterfeiting have been discussed as ways to fund the movement. Bombings and assassinations have been discussed as a way to achieve desired goals.

Between 1983 and 1985, white supremacists were behind a nationwide criminal frenzy. CSA members bombed a gas pipeline in Arkansas, killed a pawnshop they mistakenly believed to be Jewish, and attempted to assassinate a federal judge and an FBI agent. Members of the Order, a secret offshoot of the Aryan nations of which Mr. Beam is believed to have been a part, have stolen a series of armored cars in Washington and California. In Denver, they shot a Jewish radio show host in his driveway.

As all of this was going on, online proselytizing escalated. Mr. Beam launched his Liberty Net online bulletin board system in 1984. Shortly before, George P. Dietz had launched the first white supremacist bulletin board system, which he called “the only one. computerized bulletin board system and uncontrolled information medium in the United States. States of America Dedicated to Disseminating Historical Facts – Not Fiction! Next, skinhead leader Tom Metzger started his own message board network, which quickly overtook Mr. Beam and Mr. Dietz’s sites in popularity. Before most American homes even had a computer, the white supremacist movement was very cyber-literate, skillfully using the first Internet to spread its message.

Mike German, a 16-year FBI veteran of domestic terrorism, said: “The first time I heard the word e-mail was from neo-Nazi skinheads.

In 1985, the Justice Department viewed the national network of white supremacists as a threat to national security. Federal prosecutors have decided to use the declaration of war at the World Congress of Aryan Nations as the basis for an ambitious and highly unusual charge: the seditious conspiracy. The United States Criminal Code defines crime as an act in which two or more people “conspire to overthrow, suppress, or forcibly destroy the United States government, or to wage war on them.” In a multi-state sweep, the FBI arrested Louis Beam and 13 other white supremacist leaders, and took them to Fort Smith, Ark. To be judged there.

Chaos gripped the normally quiet working-class town as the trial began in February 1988. The KKK held 15 rallies outside the Federal Courthouse, broadcasting “God Bless America” through loudspeakers. Anti-Klan protesters carried signs that read: “Evil cone heads, go.” The courthouse galleries were crowded, while snipers were positioned on the roof of the building. Steve Snyder, a deputy US attorney handling the case, recalled carrying a handgun in court in his briefcase every day.

Judge Morris Arnold, who now sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, presided over the case and carefully instructed the jury on the complex nature of the charges. According to Judge Arnold, he told them: “The fact that you may think it was impossible for the accused to overthrow the government is not a defense to the prosecution. What mattered, Justice Arnold said, was that the defendants believed they could overthrow the government and took steps to that end.

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Teachers attempt to explain history in real time after Capitol storming

To explain the tumultuous events of the past few days, Tracy Merlin used an analogy her sophomore class would understand: the eternal struggle between dogs and cats.

“Let’s say half the country thinks dogs are the best, and half the country thinks cats are the best,” said Merlin, who teaches in Broward County, Fla. “But it turns out the dogs won the election.”

“Do you think people can still love cats and there can be a conversation?” she asked. “They can still love cats,” dared 8-year-old Ander, his blue headphones tightened to his ears.

Mrs. Merlin scanned the sea of ​​tiny heads floating in their individual squares. “Do you think cats can break into any pet store when they are upset?” she asked.

“No,” Ander said. “Because it’s illegal.”

A riot at the United States Capitol. The second indictment of Donald J. Trump. And, despite everything, a transfer of power. The events of the past few weeks have been mind-boggling for many adults.

How, then, do they explain them to students, whether they are preschoolers meeting on socially distant circle mats or students anxiously scrutinizing seminar videochat?

Teachers across the United States have shifted their focus to current affairs. They turned to science fiction, Shakespearean tragedy and the fall of Rome in search of parallels to help their students deal with events that were often frightening and surely historical.

“When I was a kid, the Challenger exploded,” Ms. Merlin, 46, said the day before President Biden was inaugurated. She remembers exactly what she was doing when the space shuttle exploded after takeoff in 1986 – just as her parents remember exactly what they were doing when John F. Kennedy was murdered.

“I don’t know if this is the time of this generation,” she continued. “But I know there are things that have been with them from a young age. If I can let them know that it’s important to know what’s going on around you, to be informed and to have the facts, then I feel like I’ve done my job.

College students also needed help framing these hectic weeks.

On Wednesday, the morning of the opening, 180 students logged on to Steven G. Noll’s Introductory American History class at the University of Florida. The subject of the conference was reconstruction after the civil war.

Professor Noll, 68, easily found uncomfortable parallels to the present.

“Words matter,” he said. What were once called “riots” that resulted in the murder of newly freed and freed blacks are now called “massacres,” he said.

He showed an image of a stone monument in Louisiana, erected in memory of three “heroes” who in 1873, according to the monument, “fell in the Colfax riot fighting for white supremacy.” These rioters killed 150 blacks.

He said carrying the Confederate flag, as one of Trump’s supporters in the crowd that took over the Capitol on Jan.6, was pictured doing, tells us, “they are fighting for the white supremacy. ”

On the night of the Capitol riot this month, many students at Melissa Deokaran’s middle school in Washington woke up, some hearing Trump supporters yelling in their aisles. At least three have relatives in the DC National Guard who went to protect the Capitol after the riot.

So, the day after the riot, Ms. Deokaran used her Latin class to discuss the etymology of “invasion”, “insurrection” and “coup”. Then on Thursday, after Mr. Biden took office, Ms. Deokaran taught the root of “groundbreaking,” “resilient” and “union.”

“I think it’s important for us to understand what a union means and what it means to be unified,” Ms. Deokaran, 32, told her class. In Latin, she says, “it means ‘one’. In English, union means to be “joined as one”. “

Schools across the country occupy a busy political space. The ways children learn about history, civics, and literature can shape the votes they will one day cast. Teachers work hard to make sure their classrooms are safe so that everyone can express opinions and disagree.

But the pandemic has eroded that four-walled privacy. Teachers have had to navigate the political passions of their communities at a time of intense division. Parents with strong opinions may be nearby as students learn virtually – and object to characterizations of polarizing events.

“I’ve had constant meetings and emails and the like with a pretty aggressive contingent of parents who are very committed to the way I’m dealing with these issues in my classroom,” said James Mayne, who teaches at a Seventh Adventist school. day. in Clark County, Wash., which he said leans conservative.

On Thursday, Mr. Mayne asked his grade 11 American history students to compare Mr. Biden’s inaugural address with Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Then he opened the debate, directing the students to the struggles the two presidents have faced to reunify the country.

“I would be hard pressed to find ground with the white supremacists,” said Jordan, 16.

“White supremacists are an extreme party,” retorted Talia, 16, who called herself a liberal. “I have a group of people on the other side of my life who are do not racist. They can sometimes have a bad way of explaining things, but in their hearts they are good people and they love everyone.

If you can’t look past the tongue, Talia says, you can’t find common ground.

In politically conservative or even politically mixed places, some schools have avoided political discussions. Some school districts, like Bangor, Maine, did not air Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday because they feared violence. And teachers who live in divided areas have to work hard to avoid appearing biased.

Alyssa Kelly teaches Grade 11 and 12 English in a conservative rural district about 35 miles southwest of Bangor.

The day after the riot, one of his students, a Trump supporter, arrived in class confused. He had spent the evening trying to analyze the memes, sound clips and his social media feeds. He just wanted a clear answer.

What had really happened, he asked. After speaking about it in class, Ms Kelly said he was frustrated with the way her fellow Trump supporters had acted.

“I’m not necessarily convinced that if he hadn’t had the space to fight his own ignorance for a minute – in a way that I didn’t judge him at all – he would have come to the same conclusion, ”Ms. Kelly told me. “I had nothing to say about politics, really. I just had to unpack it for him or help him unpack it.

Ms. Kelly, who teaches in a predominantly white district, hung a copy of “Golden Rule,” a play by Norman Rockwell depicting a racially and religiously diverse group of people under the American flag. When her students turn to take the pledge of allegiance, she hopes they will remember who else lives in the country.

“My students are going to graduate and, most likely, stay in their homogenous perspectives and in practical, familiar contexts,” Ms. Kelly said. “It’s a last chance to remind them that it’s actually possible to befriend someone who doesn’t agree with you.”

To avoid confusion, several teachers said they used a three-part query system: what do I know? What do I think I know? And what do I want to know? Where possible, they steered the discussions towards the program, using primary sources as a guide.

The day after the Capitol Rampage, Nicole Hix turned the class discussion in her Advanced Placement world history class to violence. Instead of having her students at a private Catholic school in Houston analyze documents from the reign of Louis XIV, Ms Hix asked them to discuss the pictures, headlines and tweets, as they would any other. main source.

“When it was awkward, I moved on,” Ms. Hix, 46, said. “It was a difficult day. It was hard to swallow. Many of them didn’t have any questions, so I made it an advanced training day.

A student, Sophia, said her classmates kept their heads down and their mouths shut. She answered direct questions, but mostly avoided sharing her opinion.

“It’s our age,” said Sophia, 15. “We don’t want to lose friends, but we also have beliefs. We can all say it’s very tense.

Back in Ms. Merlin’s second-grade class, she led the discussion on cats and dogs towards the riot on the U.S. Capitol. It had happened two weeks before – eons in second year.

“We have seen a lot of violence,” said Ms. Merlin, a local gun violence prevention activist. “Do you girls and boys remember the beating and pushing? What did you feel?

“It was a little sad to see that,” said Logan, 8. “They could probably talk to people and just understand that, instead of breaking into the Capitol.

“What have you got to do with your ears when the other person is talking?” Mrs. Merlin asked.

Sierra, who is 7, restored the sound. “You have to listen,” she said.

Hartocollis anemone contribution to reports.

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The Trump presidency is now history. So how is he going to rank?

“Speaking of this investigation, it would be surprising if Trump were truly rehabilitated,” Mr. Levy said. “If the opening paragraph of any discussion starts on impeachment twice, and the second sentence is about coronavirus, and the third is about partisanship, it’s going to be very difficult to overcome.

Sean Wilentz, professor of American history at Princeton University, has said Mr. Trump is the worst president in history, hands down.

“He’s in a whole different category in terms of the damage he’s done to the Republic,” Wilentz said, citing the radicalization of the Republican Party, the inept response to the pandemic and what he called “the man’s cheeky, almost psychedelic lie. “

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose latest book, “Leadership: In Turbulent Times,” examines how four presidents have faced difficult times in history, said it normally takes a generation to assess a leader. But to the extent that a president’s legacy is determined by his ability to emerge from the crisis, Mr. Trump will be remembered for his failures: how badly he handled Covid-19, and how badly he handled Covid-19. ‘behaved in a shameful manner after the elections.

“History will view President Trump with grave disfavour for the crisis he created,” she said.

For his part, Mr Rauchway said he believed Mr Trump would “crush the bottom five” in the presidential rankings, but the last place itself was uncertain. “I think he has fierce competition” in Andrew Johnson, whom Mr Rauchway personally considers the worst president of all.

“If I were to predict where historiography would go, I think people should recognize that Trumpism – nativism and white supremacy – has deep roots in American history,” Mr. Rauchway said. “But Trump himself put it to a new and clever purpose.”

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Video: General Austin Becomes First Black Secretary of Defense in U.S. History

new video loaded: General Austin Becomes First Black Secretary of Defense in U.S. History

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General Austin Becomes First Black Secretary of Defense in U.S. History

The Senate confirmed General Lloyd J. Austin III as Secretary of Defense in a 93-2 vote, fulfilling a critical national security role in President Biden’s cabinet and making him the first black Pentagon chief .

“This morning the Senate will vote to confirm President Biden’s candidate for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Mr. Austin will be the first African American to lead the Department of Defense in its history, a powerful symbol of the diversity and history of the United States military. Mr. Austin has a rich career in the military, but those days are behind him. As defense secretary, he pledged to empower and strengthen his civilian staff. And I believe he will be an exceptional Secretary of Defense for everyone in the Pentagon, military and civilian employees. “General Austin is an exceptionally skilled leader with a long and distinguished career in the United States Army. He served at the highest echelons of the military and capped his service as the commander of the US Central Command. His character and integrity are undisputed, and he possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively lead the Pentagon. “We have China and Russia with capabilities that we didn’t really expect to find ourselves with. This will therefore be the main concern of this new administration. And I can’t think of a better person to take the helm than General Austin. “The yeas are 93, the nays are two, and the nomination is confirmed. Under the previous order, the reconsideration motion is deemed to be reconsidered and placed on the table, and the Speaker will be immediately informed of any action taken by the Senate. “Hello everyone.” Journalist: “Mr. Secretary, how does it feel to be back in this building? “Nice to see you guys, and thanks for being here.” I look forward to working with you. See you soon on campus. Journalist: “What are your priorities, Mr. Secretary, at the start?”

Recent episodes of United States and politics

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Lloyd Austin is confirmed, becoming the first black secretary of defense in US history.

The Senate confirmed Lloyd J. Austin III as Secretary of Defense on Friday, holding a national security critical post in President Biden’s cabinet and elevating him to the post of chief black Pentagon.

The 93-2 vote came a day after Congress granted General Austin, a retired four-star Army general, a special waiver to hold the post, which is required for any Secretary of Defense who has been out of active military service for less than seven years. This reflected a bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that there was an urgent need for Mr Biden to get his defense choice installed quickly, a step normally taken on the first day of a new president.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “A significant portion of our armed forces today are African Americans or Latinos, and now they can see themselves at the top of the Department of Defense, which makes the notion of opportunity real.

Mr Austin, 67, is the only African-American to have led the US Central Command, the military’s flagship combat command responsible for Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. He retired in 2016 after 41 years in the military and is widely respected throughout the military.

Lawmakers on both sides were initially worried about granting General Austin an exception to the statutory ban on recently retired military personnel serving as Pentagon chiefs, a law intended to maintain civilian control of the military. . They had already done it four years ago for President Donald J. Trump’s First Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a retired four-star Navy officer, and many had vowed not to do so again.

But in the face of intense pressure from officials of Mr. Biden’s Transition Team and the Main Democrats, and after receiving assurances from General Austin that he was committed to the principle of civilian oversight, lawmakers backed down. are rallied behind a candidate who breaks the barrier. Two Republicans, Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Lee of Utah, voted against the confirmation.

Even though 43% of the 1.3 million active duty men and women in the United States are people of color, the leaders at the top of the military chain of command have remained remarkably white and masculine. When President Barack Obama chose General Austin to lead the United States Central Command, he became one of the highest ranked black men in the military, just behind Colin L. Powell, who had served as Chairman of the Joint. Chiefs of Staff.

Mr Austin will be the first black Pentagon chief since the post was created in 1947 – just nine months before President Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces, Representative Anthony Brown, Democrat of Maryland and a black colonel at the retirement in the army. Reserve, noted.

“Secretary Austin’s confirmation is a historic first and symbolizes the culmination of the nearly 75-year march towards true integration of the department,” said Brown. “He is well positioned to build on his experiences as a seasoned military commander, respected leader and as a black man who grew up in apartheid to advance progress as the next Secretary of Defense.

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Joe Biden’s Family Bible Has a Long History

When President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes the oath on Wednesday, he will likely get his hands on a family artifact that has followed him throughout his 50-year political career: a large Bible, accented with a Celtic cross. , which has been in his family since 1893.

The Bible has been a staple during Mr. Biden’s recent swearing-in ceremonies as US Senator and Vice President. His son Beau Biden also used it when he was sworn in as Delaware’s attorney general.

Mr. Biden, who will make history as the country’s second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy, has often invoked his faith during the 2020 presidential campaign as he courted voters with a pledge to restore “l ‘soul of America’.

In an interview last month with Stephen Colbert, Mr. Biden shared a bit of history on the family legacy.

“Every important date is there,” Biden said. “For example, every time I take an oath for anything, the date is written.”

But on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee said he couldn’t confirm whether Mr. Biden would use that book for his inauguration – or even if he would use just one Bible. (President Trump used two.)

The Bible that a president-elect chooses to use for the swearing-in ceremony often sends a symbolic message to the American public, said Seth A. Perry, associate professor of religion at Princeton University and author of “Bible Culture and” Authority in the early United States. “

“It’s hard to imagine the inauguration ritual without this book at this point,” Professor Perry said. “It’s part of the landscape. It’s part of what gives the moment the authority it has.

Here’s a look at how the Bible has featured in some of the most pivotal moments in U.S. history: the inaugurations of new U.S. presidents.

Like much of the pageantry associated with presidential inaugurations, the presence of a Bible at swearing-in ceremonies is steeped in tradition, dating back to the country’s first president.

At his inauguration in 1789 in New York City, George Washington used a Bible from the Masonic Lodge of St. John’s No. 1. The Bible was allegedly retrieved after attendees noticed there was none in Federal. Hall, where Washington was preparing to take the oath of office, according to Claire Jerry, curator of political history at the National Museum of American History.

The Bible represented the deal Washington made with the American people, she said.

“Having sacred images associated with making a covenant is quite consistent and underscores this idea that we, who attend the swearing-in, and the individual who takes the oath enter into a very deep relationship. with each other, ”Dr Jerry says.

The Washington Bible was used in the inaugurations of four other presidents: Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush.

In 2017, Mr. Trump used a Bible given to him by his mother when he was a child, and one used by Abraham Lincoln for his inauguration in 1861, just before the start of the Civil War. Barack Obama also used the Lincoln Bible for taking the oath, but in 2013, for his second investiture, he supplemented it with a Bible given to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1954.

Some presidents have taken an oath with the Bible open to a specific verse or passage, Dr Jerry said. Popular choices include verses in Proverbs and Psalms.

According to Mark Dimunation, head of the Rare Books and Special Collections division at the Library of Congress, presidents-elect often look for a text they have a personal connection with, or a text that represents the story of the moment in which they take Office.

“The electricity of that moment was deep,” Dimunation said of the use of the Lincoln and King Bibles by Mr. Obama, the country’s first black president. “He was installed in these objects that really only seem like a book, but he carries with him the weight of his moment and his story.

The Library of Congress, home to many notable Bibles, including Lincoln’s, often receives inquiries from politicians for texts they hope to use for their oaths. Getting the library texts into the hands of politicians is no easy feat.

“You need a village,” Dimunation said.

Texts must go through a conservation examination and are often transported in a specially constructed box to provide protection from inclement weather and other adverse conditions. The whole process is “managed at a high level of security,” said Dimunation.

While presidents and members of Congress are constitutionally required to take an oath, they are not required to lay hands on a sacred text in doing so. But if they choose to swear on an object, they can pretty much use any text they like.

John Quincy Adams used a law book in his ceremony, and in 1963, after Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on Air Force One with his hand on a Roman Catholic missal.

Over the years, members of Congress have also incorporated other texts into their swearing-in ceremonies, sometimes speaking of their own personal faith or belief, Dr Jerry said.

In 2007, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the only Muslim in Congress at the time, used Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an in his swearing-in ceremony. In her swearing-in photo, Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat from Michigan, used a Koran given to her by her best friend.

Jacey Fortin contribution to reports.