Philip Dray and Capitol Men, the First Black Congressmen

On February 24, 2009, Philip Dray spoke at Boston University as part of the African American Studies Program’s Spring 2009 Lecture Series, presenting research from his book, “Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen.”

Dray’s book chronicles the sixteen black Southerners who were elected to the U.S. Congress during the Reconstruction era of the 1860s and 1870s. These black legislators collaborate with their white Radical Republican counterparts to pass legislation to protect the rights of the newly freed African American slave population, advocating reforms such as public education, equal rights, land distribution, and the suppression of the Ku Klux Klan. From the 1860s to the mid 1870s, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1875, were passed to try to insure equal rights for African Americans.

After the Reconstruction era was over and Union troops left the Southern states, however, Southerners began to harass their African American communities and roll back the legal protections that insured black equality. As Jim Crow laws were enacted across the South, black citizens lost the rights that they had gained in the Reconstruction era and the black legislators were gradually voted out of office.

This holds important lessons for today. As Republicans have enacted voter suppression laws in the Rust Belt and the South, as the Trump administration has tried to roll back laws protecting the rights of women, Muslims and LGBTQ people, and as President Trump has scapegoated immigrants and Muslims, it’s important to remember that the rights that we have achieved can always be reversed unless we stay vigilant and defend those rights.

About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He did a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippine News Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 and 2018 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s