Category Archives: History

Nina Simone: Black Activist, Bipolar Savant

I've been on a journey to bring disabled African American history into the light by reclaiming the disabled identities of history makers. There is a hidden rule that unless such revelations are unavoidable, a person's disabled identity is best ignored. When such disability is so inseparable from the arc of the figure's life it cannot be erased, then disability is made the scapegoat for anything negative befalling such a person. Nina Simone was what I'll call a bipolar savant.  She was neurodivergent and did her best work as an activist completely unaware she was bipolar and suffering from PTSD. As such, the disability community should embrace her as a savant in the wider sphere of neurodivergent people who demonstrate talent usually limited to the label autistic savant. The recent purchase of Nina Simone’s birthplace by four African American artists who are now restoring it has brought media spotlight back on Ms. Simone and her legacy. This gives … Continue Reading ››

Jeff Sessions’ Praise of 1924 Johnson-Reed Act Recalls a Dark Past

As President Calvin Coolidge signed the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act, he stated, "America must remain American." The Johnson-Reed Act, until 1965, restricted immigration of multiple racial and ethnic minorities into the United States before World War II, including Eastern European Jews. Many of these Jews later died in the Holocaust. The Act restricted these racial and ethnic groups in part due to eugenics “science” that said these groups were more likely to be “socially inadequate,” and become a “public burden.” Eugenicist Harry Laughlin, who managed the Eugenics Record Office, testified in 1920 about foreign-born groups in hospitals for the “insane.” His testimony included the remark, “the Italians, Russians, Austrians (largely Jews) constitute a large proportion of the insane.” Laughlin had been appointed around 1922 as the “Expert Eugenics Agent” to the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, and much of his research and testimonies provided the justification … Continue Reading ››