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NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE (Vol. 10, #21; 20 May 2004) by Bruce Craig (editor) email@example.com National Coalition for History (NCH) Website http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~nch ***************** 1. "Habits of Racism in America Persist" Declares President Bush and Challenger Kerry at Events Commemorating Brown Anniversary 2. Budget Deal May Be Near 3. Investigator General Investigates NEH Leak 4. Report: NHPRC Meeting -- Commission Adopts New Directions, Announces Grants 5. NARA Release Documents US-Nazi Collaboration in Protecting War Criminals 6. Bits and Bytes: Television Program Focuses on History; Doyle Papers Fetch $1.7 Million 7. Articles of Interest: "Now and Then: A Hankering for History" (Washington Post 20 May 2004) 1. "HABITS OF RACISM IN AMERICA PERSIST" DECLARES PRESIDENT BUSH AND CHALLENGER KERRY AT EVENTS COMMEMORATING BROWN ANNIVERSARY On 17 May 2004 -- the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education -- Congress, President Bush, and presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee John Kerry (D-MA) all hailed the decision which ended legal segregation in public schools. The House and Senate passed a joint resolution (H. Con. Res. 414) expressing the "sense of Congress" that all Americans "observe the anniversary." The two presidential rivals spoke at separate events in Kansas -- President George W. Bush addressed a crowd at the grand opening of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, and John Kerry spoke to students at the Kansas Statehouse. The concurrent resolution declares that "in the field of education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place." During floor debates, however, administration critics, such as Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL), spoke about the inconsistencies between what Brown represents verses the realities. He also posed the larger question -- whether Brown has achieved its goal of equality in education and educational opportunity for African Americans? Davis and other speakers pointed out that data from the 2000 census "makes it clear that the ridged lines of ethnic and racial segregation persists across the entire country," that segregation, though legally ended, "has taken on a new face" and that it "is now a matter of access to quality education." Under sunny skies and in front of a flag-waving crowd of 3,000, President Bush delivered a brief 12-minute speech marking the grand opening of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, formerly the Monroe Elementary School (one of the segregated schools that black children were forced to attend prior to the Brown decision). In his remarks, Bush stated that "segregation could never be squared with the ideals of America" and that "as far as we've come, we still have not met the promise of Brown." Bush brushed aside critics though when he declared that "segregation is a living memory." With Education Secretary Rod Paige (who as a child had attended segregated schools in southern Mississippi) by his side, the president praised the administration's "no Child Left Behind" initiative. That program, said Bush, continues to "strive to improve failing schools" and is a vital part of his administration's policy to build an "opportunity society." At a separate event six blocks away, on the steps of the Kansas state capitol, presumed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry cited a list of statistics that underscored that minorities still suffer higher rates of poverty and joblessness than do whites. Kerry declared that "too many school systems" in America still "are separate and unequal." Kerry also stated that although "Brown represents the law...there are those who still seek, in different ways, to see it undone...to roll back affirmative action, to restrict equal rights, [and] to undermine the promise of our Constitution." Though he gave no programmatic details, Kerry declared, "the next great challenge is to put up the ladder of opportunity for all." These commemorative events in Kansas marked the first time Bush and Kerry both traveled to the same place to talk about the same subject since the presidential campaign season opened. Advisors to both candidates claimed the events were "non-political" though it was difficult not to notice the undercurrent of politics that marked the comments of both Bush and Kerry: in his speech, Bush defended his education policies while in Kerry's, the candidate highlighted conditions he would strive to fix. In the end, it was Cheryl Brown Henderson, president of the Brown foundation and one of three daughters of the late Oliver Brown (for whom the lawsuit is named), who perhaps did more to de-politicize the anniversary than anyone else officially connected with the various commemorative events when she appeared at both. 2. BUDGET DEAL MAY BE NEAR Readers of this publication may have noted that precious little seems to be happening (or being reported) on Capitol Hill in terms of movement on FY 2005 appropriation bills. While Congressional investigations into U.S. abuse of Iraqi prisoners is capturing headlines, Congress seems to be enacting few measures except routine legislation renaming post offices and federal buildings for notable Americans. On 19 May 2004, after weeks of stalemate, Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate reached agreement on a non-binding budget resolution on the fiscal 2005 budget. The House approved the $2.4 trillion agreement Wednesday night on a largely party-line vote (216-213). If the blueprint is agreed to by the Senate, discretionary spending allocations would be advanced to appropriations committees and consequently some agency appropriations could be approved prior to the November elections. According to press accounts, the federal budget for FY 2005 would include $50 billion for military operations in the Middle East. A rule would also be passed that would make it difficult to make permanent the president's tax cut initiative, which is the heart of the Bush economic plan. The pending deal seems to bring both fiscal conservatives and moderates together on the key issue of the ballooning budget deficits. 3. INSPECTOR GENERAL INVESTIGATING NEH LEAK According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sheldon Bernstein, the inspector general (IG) of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has initiated an investigation into the actions of Julia C. Bondanella, a former NEH employee, for allegedly improperly disclosing information about grant applicants and employee matters to a Chronicle reporter. In January 2004, the Chronicle published a lengthy article by Anne Marie Borrego on the NEH practice of "flagging" -- that is, identifying applications dealing with controversial topics (i.e. ones dealing with sexuality, race, or gender) and giving them closer scrutiny in the review process. In the lengthy article Bondanella was briefly quoted about the agency's ongoing practices. Bondanella joined the NEH in 2001 but left after about a year in part because she believed that politics, not merit, was guiding the agency's grant-review process. She made this point clear in comments printed in the Chronicle article. According to her lawyer, David Colman, the NEH letter threatens Bondanella with civil and criminal penalties (criminal penalties for disclosure of confidential information can result in major fines and up to one year in prison). Bondanella denies she did anything improper and claims the NEH is merely being "vindictive...[and] just trying to dig up dirt" on her. At this juncture because the investigation is ongoing, neither Bondanella's legal counsel nor the NEH have released any of the correspondence exchanged between the parties. The Chronicle, however, has filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request for relevant public documents. All agency inquiries into the matter are being referred to its general counsel, Daniel Schneider. Public-affairs spokesman Erik Lokkesmoe, however, stated that the NEH "takes very seriously our responsibility to protect the confidentiality of our applicants and our current and former employees." 4. REPORT: NHPRC MEETING -- COMMISSION ADOPTS NEW DIRECTIONS, ANNOUNCES GRANTS At its 11-12 May 2004 meeting, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) set a new course for funding the national archival system. The commission adopted a new Strategic Plan as well as a new Mission Statement: "The NHPRC promotes the preservation and use of America's documentary heritage essential to understanding our democracy, history, and culture." The commission issued a call for leadership in public policy, distribution of the nation's most important traditional documents in American history, and for the creation of a national network for state and local documentary preservation and utilization. The commission also approved a new Vision Statement: "America's documentary heritage preserves the rights of American citizens; checks the actions of government officials; and chronicles the national experience. Democracy demands an informed and engaged citizenry. By preserving our documentary heritage and promoting its distribution and use, the people seek to guarantee the protection of the rights of all, hold accountable government and other public institutions, and increase understanding of our history and culture for generations to come. The NHPRC is a public trust for documenting democracy." Six new goals were also adopted for the NHPRC: 1) Exercise leadership for public policy in the preservation of and access to America's documentary heritage; 2) Expand the distribution of the most important traditional documents in American history; 3) Promote a national network for state and local documentary preservation and utilization efforts; 4) Support institutions that promote preservation, dissemination, and use of historical records; 5) Support institutions in meeting the challenges of preserving and managing electronic documentation; 6) Support education and training of professionals engaged in preservation and dissemination. The commission also recommended to the Archivist of the United States grants of up to $5,873,786 for 71 projects in 27 states and the District of Columbia. These recommendations included $3.3 million for documentary editing projects which focus on the papers and records of significant Americans such as Frederick Douglass, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King, and Eleanor Roosevelt, and of significant events in U.S. history, such as the Freedom History Project on Emancipation, and the Presidential Recordings Project dealing with the White House tapes of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. Grants for publication subventions will also make possible individual volumes of the James Madison Papers, the Ratification of the Constitution, the George Washington Papers, the U.S. Grant Papers, and the first volume of Moravian Spring Mission Among the Cherokee. A three-year grant to the Supreme Court Historical Society will enable editors to complete work on the Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789-1800. Funds up to $2.2 million also went to records access projects to preserve and make accessible important documents and archives in collections around the country. Included among these grants are the archival collections of Japanese Americans during World War II at the Japanese American National Library; the architectural records in the Bertrand Goldberg Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago; photographs from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 at the Field Museum of Natural History; the Records of the YWCA of the USA at Smith College; film footage from the Eyes on the Prize documentary film at Washington University in St. Louis; and New York City's General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen records dating from 1785 to 1955. Finally, the commission provided support for two State Historical Records Advisory Boards and funded two Electronic Records Projects to create records management systems for Maine state agencies and archival collections at Tufts University and Yale University. 5. NARA RELEASE DOCUMENTS US-NAZI COLLABORATION IN PROTECTING WAR CRIMINALS On 13 May 2004, hundreds of thousands of pages of FBI, CIA, and other intelligence records related to Nazi and World War II war crimes were released under provisions of the Nazi War Crime Disclosure Act of 1998. While over 8 million pages of declassified documents have been released since 1999, according to NARA sources, the latest installment of 240,000 pages of FBI records, 419 CIA files on individuals, and 3,000 pages of U.S. Army information "alter our understanding of the Holocaust and the world of intelligence" before, during, and after World War II. The documents demonstrate that U.S. and Allied intelligence services failed to understand how closely the "Jewish question" was related to the central goals of the Nazi regime. The records also show how U.S. banks and financial institutions assisted the Nazis from 1936-41. Along with the declassified materials, NARA has also released a book entitled "U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis" (National Archives Trust Fund, ISBN 1-880875-26-8; $24.95; to order call toll-free 866-272-6272) that provides hard documentary evidence of what Cold War historians have long contended -- that there were close collaborative relationships established between U.S. government officials and Nazi intelligence officers who were thought to be useful in the struggle against the Soviet Union in the post-war era. FBI documents, for example, show that Bureau director J. Edgar Hoover resisted taking action against Viorel Trifa, a former officer in the pro-Hitler Romanian Iron Guard when he immigrated to the United States in 1950. Also, the CIA recruited former SS officer Otto von Bolschwing as an agent and for years protected him from war crimes prosecution. At least five close associates of Adolf Eichmann -- each significant in the Nazi effort to exterminate Jews from the face of the earth -- became CIA agents in the post-war era, and another 23 war criminals were approached by the CIA for recruitment. The documents also detail the role that the United States played in setting up the official intelligence service of West Germany in the post-war era. 6. BITS AND BYTES Item # 1 -- Television Program Focuses on History: The 18 May 2004 installment of the U.S. Department of Education television program "Education News" focused on American history, humanities, and civics. The show reviewed recent National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reports on American history and civics and examined a variety of programs that seek to improve student understanding of these subjects. Those featured included: Cathy Gorn, executive director of National History Day (NHD); Ruben Zepeda, director of the Los Angeles American History Institute; Cynthia Mostoller, a teacher at Alice Deal Junior High in Washington, D.C.; and Myra Luftman, principal of the High School of American Studies. Questions addressed in the program included: How do history, the humanities, and civics create better citizens? What does high-quality history and civics instruction look like? How can history be made engaging for students while not watering down content? What types of partnerships or program can help to ensure that students have high-quality history, humanities and civics instruction? For how best to access "Education News" in your community visit: http://www.ed.gov/news/av/video/edtv . Item #2 -- Doyle Papers Fetch $1.7 Million: The personal papers of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fetched $1.7 million at an auction recently held under the auspices of Christies Auction House. The collection included letters, notes, handwritten manuscripts. Of the 135 lots up for auction, some 31 failed to meet their reserve price and remained unsold. 7. ARTICLES OF INTEREST One article this week: in "Now and Then: A Hankering for History" Washington Post (20 May 2004) columnist Tina Brown reflects on the outpouring of history books by superstar academics who are peddling their tomes to a nation hungry for perspective. For the article tap into: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41576-2004May20.html . *********************************************************** The National Coalition for History invites you to subscribe to this FREE weekly newsletter! 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