Sunday, December 24, 2017

Following the example of the American Anti-Slavery Society mailed every residence in the Mayfair a letter asking them to support changing the name Lee Parkway to something else.

Click on photo to see the entire image. The Mayfair page is at:  At this page you can read all 142 pages.

This is the Lee Parkway page.

Went to the post office on Dec. 21, 2017 and mailed 142 individual letters to each residence of the Mayfair condominiums. This was a followup after a Lee Parkway Protest.

Click on image to see the entire image.

Each letter was different in that it referenced a different account of slavery and contained a page or two photocopy of the account from a book of slavery narratives. The letter also had a one page bibliography of books on slavery.

The books used were, “American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses,” editor Theodore Dwight Weld, 2011, A DocSouth Book Edition, Univ. of North Carolina, originally published in 1839 by the American Anti-Slavery Society and “Slave Testimony: Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies,” edited by John W. Blassingame, Louisiana State University Press 1977.

These books are available. for Blassingame's book. For "Anti-Slavery As It Was," there are reprints, but you can also download it from You can download it as a PDF or in other formats.

It was based on a mailing campaign of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1835 where the Society mailed anti-slavery pamphlets to leaders in the slave states. A mob attacked the post office and burnt the Society's mail in the street. This is a link to the story.

It was also based on "Saturday Night Live" skit "Tech Talk" spoofing critics of the iphone5.

Click on the image to see the whole thing.

Saturday Night Live Pokes Fun at iPhone 5 Tech Pundits from Ahmad Nazir Afiq on Vimeo.

This is part of a larger project mapping narratives of slavery to addresses on streets named after Confederates in Dallas. There will be a pdf file of the map for download. On the backside will be the assignments of the slave stories.

I will be walking the streets named after Confederates and will be writing people along the streets asking them to join in.

The first two streets will be Gaston Ave. and Junius Street. Junius was a Klansman in Dallas during Reconstruction and so the historical narratives assigned to Junius will be those of white terror attacks on African Americans during Reconstruction. I am going to be using this source.

The web pages for Gaston Avenue and Junius Street are still under development but these are the URLs.

The page for Ervay Street is an example of a more developed web page. You will notice that the street pages will often supply historical information.

I will be publishing a position paper on Confederate named streets.

This is the Facebook page for De-Confederating Dallas.

On Dec. 25th at dawn I will be reading slave narratives at Lee Parkway and around Arlington Hall in protest of Dallas monument to a plantation Christmas. I will have a separate posting on it.

Will the residents of Mayfair reconsider their position? They might. I can't preclude that they won't give it their consideration. I think though a message has been sent out that the superficial narratives crafted by the Mayor's Task Force on Confederate monuments will not be accepted by everyone and they will be challenged.

This is one of the 142 letters. You can read all of them at the page for Mayfair given previously. The bibliography I mailed follows the letter.

December 19, 2017
Edward H. Sebesta
Dear Resident:
This letter is inspired by a campaign of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AAS) in 1835 in which they mailed anti-slavery printed materials to leaders in the slave states. It is also inspired to some extent by the very famous Saturday Night Live comedy skit, “Tech Talk,” about the iphone5 in response to the Mayfair resident complaints about the inconvenience of having Lee Parkway name changed.
I think that there is a failure in Dallas to understand the importance of changing the name of streets named after Confederates since antebellum slavery remains too much an abstraction and not enough a horror that happened to real people. So I enclose a short account, “L.M. Mills’ Story,” pp. 502, from Blassingame’s “Slave Testimony,” LSU Press. It tells of the vile degradations of slave trading. On page 504 is this account, “At Glasgow, Mo. I saw a woman sold away from her husband. She had a two month old baby in her arms and was crying. A driver asked what she was bellowing about. She said she didn’t want to leave her husband. He told her to shut up, but she couldn’t and he snatched her little baby from her and threw it into a pen full of hogs.” This account might be something to consider while you gaze down on the one-third Arlington Hall replica, a monument to Dallas’ plantation mentality.
I also enclose a bibliography of books on slavery to provide an opportunity to learn about the history of slavery. My plan is to try to assign a slave story, or an appropriate story from history, to every address on a Confederate named street in Dallas. For Cabell Drive I have gotten a list of the members of the 1st Kansas USCT killed at Poison Springs, for Junius Street a very long list of African Americans murdered in Reconstruction Texas.
However, let’s not forget the grievances expressed by the Mayfair Residents Nov. 1, 2017 at city hall. ( I have been informed that the City of Dallas will automatically change the address for your water bill. Many bills you get have a box in front in which you can check for address changes which you write on the back. Further the post office will continue to deliver mail using the old address for some time. Hopefully this will provide a relief from any night terrors you might have over the address change.
I think if you take the suffering of millions of slaves seriously, if their lives mattered to you, a street named after a Confederate would be intolerable as would be an obscure Himmler alley even though that alley might out of the way, short, and not be known to the general public.
There is an opportunity to learn from the South African experience where they have changed over 800 places named after apartheid leaders. A list of links to news articles is at….
On November 1, 2017 the president of the Mayfair HOA could have stated that the Mayfair residents support this great historic change happening in the former slave states and though it would be a minor inconvenience they would like to see the Lee Parkway name changed.
A person might assume that no one wants to live on a street named after someone who fought to preserve the loathsome institution of slavery. A person might assume that residents on a street named after a person who fought to preserve slavery would be repulsed by the name that and they would want it changed whether anyone else was concerned or not. Evidently the residents aren’t that bothered by a street named after Robert E. Lee nor that repulsed. Instead on November 1, 2017 the president of the Mayfair HOA and five others confirmed the worst stereotypes of what the attitudes of affluent white Dallas residents might have.
I think also the November 1, 2017 Mayfair speakers before the Dallas city council have provided a window into the mentality of Dallas elites. We should not be surprised that the racial issues of our city persist generation after generation. If a street name is too much a bother, can it be expected that any challenging effort will be taken to address Dallas’ racial issues?
Given the obvious expressed indifference to the moral issues involved in the Lee Parkway name I don’t think it is surprising that juries again and again let police officers get away with the murder of African Americans.
However, the future is still to be made. The Mayfair HOA could ask the city to expeditiously change the name of Lee Parkway. They could set an example for the city and indeed the nation.
James Mellon’s dedicates his 1988 book, “Bullwhip Days: The Slaves Remember,” with the following, “For All The Slaves, White and Black, Living and Dead, And Especially For Those Whose Suffering Was Never Known Or Has Been Forgotten.” Perhaps over this holiday season you can reflect on the suffering of the slaves.
Sincerely Yours,
Edward H. Sebesta

This is the bibliography:

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF BOOKS ON SLAVERY – Compiled by Ed Sebesta 12/11/2017.

1. “The Slave Trade,” by Hugh Thomas, 1997, Simon and Schuster. An excellent book on the slave trade from late medieval times to the 19th century. Reveals that the so-called age of exploration was driven by the slave trade and not very much by spices.

2. “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition,” by Manisha Sinha, 2017, Yale University Press. Excellent book.

3. “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave & Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, with introduction by Kwame Anthony Appiah. Modern Library Edition.

4. “Narrative of the Live of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave,” by Frederick Douglass, with related documents, edited by David W. Blight, 2016, Bedford Series in History and Culture, Bedford/St. Martins.

5. “Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress,” William Lee Miller, originally Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. for hard cover and Vintage Books for paperback. A dramatic reading.

6. “Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery,” by Leon F. Litwack, originally published by Alfred A. Knopf in hardcover and then paperback Vintage Books, 1979. All of Litwack’s books are engaging and well worth reading.

7. “Frederick Douglass,” by William S. McFeely, W.W. Norton & Co. 1991.

8. “The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson’s Boston,” by Albert J. von Frank,” 1999, Harvard University Press.

9. “The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism,” by Edward E. Baptist, Basic Books, 2016.

10. “Slave Testimony: Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies,” edited by John W. Blassingame, Louisiana State University Press 1977.

11. “American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses,” editor Theodore Dwight Weld, 2011, A DocSouth Book Edition, Univ. of North Carolina, originally published in 1839 by the American Anti-Slavery Society.

12. “Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery,” The John Hope Franklin Series in American History and Culture,” Heather Andrea Williams, 2012.

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