Weekend history lesson: The 1619 Project | Five for Your Weekend

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Happy weekend, everyone!

I was racking my brain all day Thursday, trying to figure out how to kick off this week’s Five for your Friday, when the answer was right there on the tab in front me.

Earlier this week, I began reading the New York Times’ ongoing piece, The 1619 Project. 

I got sucked into it late one night by the very different portrait of American history it was painting for me. Are some parts of it dark and uncomfortable? Yes, the read is not always a glowing portrayal of America and that’s point.

There were so many events, moments, rebellions and perspectives I had not heard in history class that I had stayed up almost until morning, enthralled by what I was reading.

If you are looking for a read this weekend and are interested in American history, Black history, or even just curious, I recommend giving it a read.

As always, the top five stories from this week’s news are below to help you stay current.

All the best,
Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

1. What, to the slave, is the Fourth of July? | Frederick Douglass

(Editor’s note: For our first Fourth of July, the Capital-Star reprinted the Declaration of Independence. This year, with America’s diverse voices in rightful ascendance, we’re breaking with that embryonic tradition, and looking to another voice of freedom and liberation from American history. Below are excerpts from a speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July delivered by the abolitionist and advocate Frederick Douglass in Rochester, N.Y., July 5, 1852.) 

… Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

2. With COVID cases at a nearly two-month high, Casey, Toomey join Wolf to urge Pa. residents to wear masksPennsylvania’s two United States senators are urging state residents to wear masks when they’re out in public to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Public health experts continue to recommend mask-wearing in public, and ongoing research continues to support that recommendation,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a statement released by Gov. Tom Wolf’s office. “When you wear a mask, you are sending a clear message to others in your community that you care about them and their well-being as much as your own. I know that if we each do our part, we will beat this virus and be able to start safely rebuilding together.”

Casey’s Republican counterpart, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, offered a similar sentiment.

3. COVID-19 outbreak in Pa.: What’s open and what’s closedThis story will be updated with the latest COVID-related re-openings. Last update: Wednesday, June 10, 2020.

Updated: With all 67 Pennsylvania counties now fully, or partially, reopened, the Wolf administration has issued updated guidance for a host of outdoor-related businesses, from miniature golf courses and paintball ranges, to horseback riding businesses and tennis clubs.

“As summer quickly approaches and all 67 counties are in either yellow or green phases of reopening, it was important to provide businesses with the guidance necessary to safely reopen or plan for reopening as they reach the green phase,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement issued by his office. “I want all Pennsylvanians to remain active and to enjoy all the recreation the commonwealth has to offer, but we must do so safely and with social distancing top of mind.”

4. Pa. is facing a wave of evictions. Two state House lawmakers have a plan to help | Tuesday Morning CoffeeAs Gov. Tom Wolf did battle with the Republican-controlled General Assembly last week over a vote to end his COVID-19 emergency declaration, the Democratic governor argued that lifting it would end an administration-imposed moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, now set to expire on July 10.

Assuming that two state courts agree with Wolf, and allow the order to remain in place, that date is uncomfortably near for thousands of renters and homeowners. And less discussed is what will happen when the moratorium ends.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, landlords and tenants alike are looking for assistance to deal with the looming crisis. Pennsylvania has set aside $150 million in a piece of budget-enabling legislation known as the Fiscal Code that provides assistance to renters, the Inquirer reports. Tenants and landlords seeking funds on their behalf have until Sept. 30 to apply, the newspaper reported. And some landlords are moving on their own to waive fees and put off rent increases.

Still, two Democratic lawmakers want to go further to make sure renters are protected.

5. ‘There’s so much beauty in being Black from Scranton’: Meet the historian who’s now an advocate for her community(*Updated, 7/5/20 at 8:20 a.m.: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Louise Tanner Brown’s last name. It is not hyphenated.)

SCRANTON, Pa. — Several hundred people surrounded the Gazebo in Nay Aug Park last month for Scranton’s first Juneteenth Jubilee.

They heard several local Black activists and allies speak, including Black Scranton Project founder Glynis Johns and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

“Can you hear me,” Johns asked, at the beginning of the event she organized.

The park is more than 120 years old. Home to a public pool, museum, gorge, walking trails, playgrounds and gathering areas, it’s a popular institution in the region. Over the years it has been held an amusement park, a zoo, and was even seen in the 1982 film “That Championship Season,” starring Martin Sheen, Robert Mitchum and Paul Sorvino.

Johns’ recent work leading the Black Scranton Project is proving that there is another institution with just as strong and old roots in Scranton, even if it’s too often been ignored: the city’s Black community.

“There’s so much beauty in being Black from Scranton that people just don’t know,” Johns said.

Johns’ work is culminating in an organization that highlights Scranton’s past, and offers its current citizens a place to focus their work.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. We’ll see you all back here on Monday.

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.