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Donald Freed

Donald Freed


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As of 1970, there were basically three covert operations. One was under the aegis of Haldeman's "November Group" and could be called political propaganda/espionage. This group's field controls were former New York City policemen John Caulfield and Anthony J Ulasewicz on the East Coast acid "prankster" Donald Segretti on the West. A second team of amateur political agents worked out of the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). These young, middle-level bureaucrats began to panic as Nixon slipped behind Edmund Muskie and George Wallace in some of the 1970 polls.

The third operation was Charles Colson's "Attack Group" or "black advance." This was the Hunt-Liddy network, the Gemstone axis of the conspiracy. By February 1972 this group had taken over the Segretti "dirty tricks" network, the CREEP "political propaganda" operation, the White House Special Intelligence Unit (the "Plumbers"), and the intelligence fronts using narcotics control as a cover (DALE, Operation Intercept). The paramilitary, unofficial Gemstone net not only controlled all of the other political efforts of the presidential campaign, but had penetrated and was beginning to use and compromise the FBI, CIA, Treasury, Office of Economic Opportunity, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and perhaps a dozen other federal agencies, plus local intelligence or "Red Squads" across the country. This was the magnitude of Operation Gemstone.

Colson was the key figure. Publicly, as Special Counsel, he was liaison between the White House and various political groupings-the Reverend Carl McIntire, the Liberty Lobby, and similar right-wing extremists; the Eastern European ethnics, many of them neo-fascists; the American Security Council and the National Rifle Association; Teamster officials and organized crime; ITT, the multinationals, and the CIA. Covertly, he was liaison to the White House from the secret government, with primary responsibility for Operation Gemstone. Charles Colson was the double agent, and his plan was simplicity itself:

1. Prepare to re-elect the president. Eliminate Wallace. Isolate the left.

2. Seize the government. Disrupt the GOP convention. Blame the left and the center. Declare a state of national emergency. Rule with Nixon, or without him. More a coup de main than a coup d'etat.

3. Cover up. Eliminate anyone who could "talk."

4. Build new mass base. Use four-year American Bicentennial Celebration to drown all remaining dissent...

Later Colson would arrange anti-Nixon incidents at the AFLCIO convention in Miami and hard-hat attacks against antiwar demonstrators in New York. It seems likely that he was also involved in an early rehearsal of Gemstone at a Nixon appearance in San Jose, California, in late October. According to Congressman Paul McCloskey and the local police chief, the ultraconservative Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) sent its members to pose as anti-Nixon demonstrators. Both Hunt and Colson were founders of YAF.

On May 15, 1972, Arthur Bremer was arrested for the attempted assassination of George Wallace. The question is the classic cui bono, who benefits? The answer, Operation Gemstone.

From the media the American people learned that Wallace's would-be assassin Arthur Bremer was a disturbed twenty-oneyear-old, an unemployed ex-busboy and janitor's helper. He had been laid off his janitorial job in Wisconsin in January 1972 and had no record of any income from that time until his arrest in Maryland in May. His tax return for 1971 shows earnings of $1,611. His automobile, purchased in September 1971, cost some eight hundred dollars, half of his total income for the year. Where, then, did Bremer get the money for his "mad scheme" to kill George Wallace, by far the most heavily guarded of all the presidential candidates, with a double set of body guards and a bullet-proof speakers' podium?

It is relatively, easy to compute the minimum amount that Bremer would have needed from January to May. Setting to one side the cash outlay for stopping at expensive hotels (the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, the Lord Elgin in Ottawa); automobile repairs for a machine driven constantly for weeks at speeds up to seventy-five miles per hour in order to keep pace with presidential candidates who flew to their destinations; any miscellaneous expenses such as his records, specially constructed ammunition found in his car, and the expensive clothes Bremer wore into court when he pled not guilty; setting aside all these and any other contingency costs, Bremer could not have spent less than five thousand dollars on his eighteen-week, ten-state odyssey. The figure is conservative. It includes the price of the guns he purchased, court fines for speeding and carrying a gun, and the $135-a-month rent for his occasionally used Milwaukee apartment.

On May 15, 1972, Arthur Bremer stepped from a crowd in a shopping center in Laurel, Maryland, and gunned down George Wallace. To this day no one has explained how Bremer could have known weeks in advance where in Laurel Wallace would speak. Nor has the FBI been able to identify the bullets used as coming from Bremer's gun, since they were special and had no rifling marks. Somehow the "lone fanatic" had gotten advance intelligence for what appeared to be a thoroughly professional job...

The full story remains to be told. But during 1972-73, our research group, the Citizens Research and Investigation Committee (CRIC), receive several bits of unconfirmed information which are worthy of note:

* On July 13, 1973 Roger Gordon, fifty-three, a member of the right-wing Secret Army Organization (SAO) fled from a hiding place in Australia to beg asylum in Suva, Fiji. According to the Associated Press, Gordon "had secret information concerning Watergate" and feared for his life. His information: that the heavy-set man with the "Joisey brogue" seen giving orders to Bremer on an Ohio ferry was Anthony Ulasewicz, a White House operation.

* Secret Army Organization (SAO) and FBI sources in the San Diego area reported that White House agent Donald Segretti gave moriey to Bremer.

* During 1970 Tom Huston, a Nixon aide, prepared a series of memoranda which attempted to tighten White House control of the FBI, CIA, etc., and intensify the use of electronic surveillance, "penetration agents," and illegal break-ins. According to a staff member of the Ervin Committee, White House files contain a still undivulged memo in which Huston justifies selective assassination.

* On May 18, 1972, three days after the Wallace shooting, Charles Colson staged a "Victory in Vietnam" march and rally in Washington, under the auspices of the right-wing preacher Carl McIntire. Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Fox of the Secret Army Organization drove from San Diego to attend, passing en route near the site of the Wallace shooting. Sources in San Diego reported that while the Foxes were away, FBI Special Agent Steve Christianson entered Mr. Fox's office files and planted documents which could implicate him in the assassination attempt. A group of Washington-based former intelligence agents have since confirmed this.

With Wallace out and the election assured, most of Nixon's politicos signed off the Gemstone plan. The hardliners under Colson did not. Moving into the temporary vacuum, they stepped up their drive for power. Their immediate object-to implicate the opposition in the violence planned for the GOP convention.

How? By planting forged documents, a second specialty of Howard Hunt.

Where? In the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Complex.

It wasn't difficult. Once inside the complex, the contract team moved into the office of Dorothy V. Bush, which was located next to that of Lawrence O'Brien, the Democratic National Chairman. It was their third raiding party and they moved with a familiarity of the surroundings. They carried with them the necessary tools: false documents prepared by the CIA, lockpicks and door jimmies, a shortwave receiver, gas guns, two cameras and forty rolls of film, a walkie-talkie, and an assortment of electronic surveillance equipment.

The team had several objectives. One was to install a bugging device to monitor O'Brien's telephone conversations. Another was to search for evidence of contribution's from foreign governments. A third grew out of an earlier break-in over the Memorial Day weekend. The team had discovered that the Democrats had nothing in their files which could later be used to link them to the "violent, left-wing militants," or to justify emergency measures against the party in the name of "national security." So, while McCord checked listening devices, and one of the Cubans handed the security plans for the Democratic Convention to a compatriot to photograph, Frank Sturgis prepared to put several forged documents deep in a filing drawer where no one would be likely to find them before the time was ripe. According to a source close to some of the men arrested that night, Sturgis was planning to plant something which purported to tie the upcoming convention violence to the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), the Black Panther Party, the antiwar movement, and the presidential campaign of Senator George McGovern. Sturgis was Hunt's man, and he was acting without the knowledge of McCord, Barker, and the others.

With this novel, the author of Inquest and Executive Action has managed fiction-created-from-fact that transcends and informs fact--an electrifying saga of a remarkable man's public and private lives that is perhaps to the secret world of spydom what The Godfather was to organized crime.

The Spymaster is Vivian T. Prescott, an American golden boy out of Yale's holy-of-holies. Skull and Bones, chum of Jack Kennedy, athlete, lover, son of FDR's confidant.. then with Wild Bill Donovan's World War II OSS, going up against Heydrich and even Hitler...Cold War go-between to masterspy Gehlen...nemesis of J. Edgar Hoover...and finally Director of Central Intelligence.

His life and career encompass the "mole" Kim Philby, the Rosenbergs, the U-2 crisis and the Bay of Pigs...a story that projects who really plotted the Kennedy and King assassinations, and what JFK would have done about the CIA and the Vietnam war had he lived. It dramatically poses who was in truth running the secret government in the United States--a CIA faction that infiltrated Nixon's reelection committee, and went out of control behind the chaos of Watergate, almost tearing the country asunder...more intrigues than one ever suspected--with Kissinger, the coverups, the tapes, the tricks, the FBI...

Vivian Prescoot, Spymaster, was also a man whose desire for one woman shrouded a profound and secret grief for another, and whose life, like his country's, was a torrent of surprise, betrayal and heroic promise.

By August 1972 Plan September was underway. Townley, Vera Serafin, and their toughs were fighting police as the Pots and Pans marched again. A select Townley arson squad had been hard at work all through the spring. Townley's young freedom fighters were also active in middle- and upper-class residential districts organizing "security contingency" against the constantly predicted Marxist sacking to come.

By August 21, Allende had declared a temporary state of emergency in Santiago, primarily because of the street violence and burnings. In Concepcion, the army took control of the city as P y L-staged violence provoked left-wing youth into street responses.

On September 2, President Allende charged that there was something called Plan September, a conspiracy to overthrow the government. A radio station in the provincial capital of Los Angeles was identified as a right-wing propaganda front and ordered closed by the government. The station was, in fact, one of Phillips's assets being fed violent disinformation, composed by Callejas and others. The next radio station to be closed for forty eight hours, as violence spread, was Radio Agricultura, another component in the Phillips network, for whom Callejas also worked. Townley led bloody street fighting to protest the closings.

On October 10, Plan September went into high gear. A nationwide truckers' strike started on that day and grew into a general protest against the government. It did not end until November 5, three days after Allende had been forced to revise his cabinet.

In Langley and Rio, money and plans for the support and, in a number of instances, instigation of these strikes flowed through the fingers of David Phillips and Nathaniel Davis. By way of a dramatic compromise, President Allende shuffled his cabinet to bring a number of military officers into the government. Then he left to try to rally support outside of Chile.

On June 25, 1980, a press conference was held in Washington, D.C., at the Methodist Church at 502 Maryland Avenue, N.E., 20002. Participants in the press conference were Donald Freed, Fred Simon Landis, William F. Pepper and John Cummings.

At the press conference, an invited media audience was told that David Atlee Phillips, a former officer of the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA"), headed a conspiracy to cover up facts concerning the assassination of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier, and Phillips and other ex-intelligence officers were accused of a number of crimes. Further, it was stated that the Association of Former Intelligence Officers ("AFIO"), a non-profit organization of ex-intelligence men and women from all intelligence services, was involved as an institution in the crimes attributed to Mr. Phillips. These allegations were made orally and in printed material distributed at the press conference.

In October 1980, Death in Washington, a non-fiction book co-authored by defendants Freed and Landis, with an introduction by William F. Pepper, was published. The book repeated and elaborated on the charges against Mr. Phillips and other former intelligence officers, and AFIO. Phillips was accused of the following crimes in the period after he retired from CIA: obstruction of justice; being an accessory after the fact to murder; an accessory before the fact to murder; conspiracy to defame; and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Further, in addressing the circumstances of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the book contained a photograph of Mr. Phillips, captioned "The Other Lee Harvey Oswald."

The undersigned defendants, Freed and Landis, now retract any charges or allegations that they have made against Mr. Phillips, individually or collectively, publicly or privately. They had no intention of charging or suggesting that Mr. Phillips played any role in the assassination of Orlando Letelier, that he was an accessory before or after the fact of that murder, or that he had any connection with Lee Harvey Oswald. They regret that any such statement or implication found its way into the press conference or into Death in Washington.

As to the other charges, because of Mr. Phillips' long career in the CIA, secrecy requirements imposed by the CIA and enforced by the courts made it difficult for Messrs. Freed and Landis to secure necessary evidence for their accusations.

The undersigned authors, after requesting that the above-captioned actions [Civil Actions No. 81-1407 and No. 81-2578] be settled out of court, have agreed to a financial settlement with the plaintiff.

Lawrence Hill & Co. Publishers, Inc. published Death in Washington. In the light of the foregoing statements by the authors, the publisher expresses its regrets that the book as published contained the statements now retracted by the authors.

Donald Freed, Fred Simon Landis, John Cummings, and Lawrence C. Hill Publisher.


Donald Freed - History

HAMLET (IN REHEARSAL): “Donald Freed’s stage version of HAMLET (IN REHEARSAL) unearths a buried play within the play in which a guilt-imprisoned, state-imprisoned, cosmically-imprisoned Hamlet lunges for and ultimately grasps the quietus of freedom. It is an explosively original, marvelously creative feat of Nabokovian intellectual acrobatics. Wonderful!”

Leon Katz, Leon Katz’ Edition of the Notebooks of Gertrude Stein, Emeritus Professor, Yale University

HAMLET (IN REHEARSAL): “If Shakespeare had reawakened in the oppressed theater of the 21 st century, read Beckett, watched CNN and had a stiff drink, this is the play he would have written.”

Adam Leipzig, producer and dramaturg

HAMLET (IN REHEARSAL): “Donald Freed has brought us a completely new concept of Hamlet and a brilliant one. Setting up a rehearsal play to take its place with Buckingham and Michael Frayn, he engineers a high level debate/conflict, funny and active enough to hold any audience tight. The central impression is of a director beset like Hamlet, and a Hamlet with a great deal of the director. They share a predicament, fight it out and the audience wins.”

Edward Pearce, Machiavelli’s Children, The Great Man, The Guardian

HAMLET (IN REHEARSAL): “No actor with a pulse could read this play without wanting to get up and do it. Freed takes us into dark corridors between the lines of Shakespeare’s play, creating a brilliant met-drama full of theatrical joy, startling epiphany and crackling-good language. Unique as can be.”

Ron Marasco, PhD, author of Notes to an Actor

HAMLET (IN REHEARSAL): “Donald Freed’s HAMLET (IN REHEARSAL) is a revelation that rings so true, you will wonder why you never thought of it. Freed has trumped his own genius. Amazing!”

Lorinne Vozoff, Artistic Director, Theatre Group Studio

HAMLET (IN REHEARSAL): “Donald Freed is a genius who writes for our times. He writes with power, conviction and urgency what it may already be too late for us to hear. The clock is ticking … read his plays, see his plays — get on with it.”

Dee Evans, Artistic Director, Mercury Theater, Colchester

“We are in the presence of an outstanding dramatic artist, one of huge intelligence, political daring and theatrical imagination.”

“The … unapologetically political author, Donald Freed, has made a career of hunting out horror as well as humanity in an age that seems bent on self-destruction.”

EVERY THIRD HOUSE, a novel: “Donald Freed has given us a lot to think about in a post-September 11 th world … if one is interested in learning the 1960s as a way of understanding the climate of the new millennium and vice versa, then this is the first book to read.”

Judson L. Jeffries, author of Huey P. Newton, the Radical Theorist

EVERY THIRD HOUSE, a novel: “All of us who admire the passion and poetry of Donald Freed’s plays will embrace EVERY THIRD HOUSE as a brilliant meditation on love, conscience and — what the novel’s protagonist calls “the cheapest word in town” — terrorism.

A.J. Langguth, author of Our Vietnam: 1954-1975 and Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution

EVERY THIRD HOUSE, a novel: “Donald Freed, the master of political storytelling, does it again. EVERY THIRD HOUSE captures the frightening days of the militant struggle for Black equality, giving voice to characters straight out of history as they interact under the all-seeing eye of the FBI.”

William Turner, author of Hoover’s FBI: The Men and the Myth and Rearview Mirror: Looking back at the FBI, the CIA and Other Tails

HOW SHALL WE BE SAVED? a play: “With HOW SHALL WE BE SAVED? Freed has created a heady psychological whodunit that questions both past and present in order to give us some insight into our fragile lives and collective future.” The Hollywood Reporter

“HOW SHALL WE BE SAVED? [is] succinct and powerful… THE WHITE CROW [is] taut, tense, intense… dangerous and demanding.” Royal Shakespeare Company

ALFRED & VICTORIA: A LIFE

“…how tasteful, elegant and strangely poignant this version of the Bloomingdale-Morgan scandal proves to be. Playwright Freed has wisely elected not to further exploit this coupole for melodramatic purposes. ALFRED ANDS VICTORIA: A LIFE is a love story, and one of the few truly moving romances to be seen on a local stage in quite some time.

Freed’s fragmented approach to the Bloomingdale-Morgan sty allows him to more freely explore the complex Pygmalion-Galatea, Lear-Cordelia elements. Freed’s alternative approach is more provocative, equating sexual politics with America’s post-1960s move to a permanent war economy…

Freed’s play [is] so curiously moving.”

Richard Stayton, Los Angeles Herald Examiner

“Freed’s scorching drama is so hot it sizzles. Freed may be the best hard-ball playing political dramatist around. His plays don’t just suggest a political viewpoint, they are about the political mechanism itself. Freed’s view of American politics is deeply cynical and astute. His style is ruthless and relentless.

CHILD OF LUCK, a play: "The cold-hearted CHILD OF LUCK cuts to the quick. In the first campaign of the 21 st century, John Kelly, the son of an assassinated politician who served as John Kennedy’s right-hand man, announces his candidacy for president.” Kathryn Bernheimer, Sunday Camera

IS HE STILL DEAD?, a play: “Every precious image of the world premiere of IS HE STILL DEAD? Should be savored and celebrated…

Donald Freed’s play captures both detail and essence as he explores a day in the life of the writer James Joyce and his wife Nora…

The script, a wise and witty one… [is] brilliantly conceived.

Theater at its best, IS HE STILL DEAD is a play which, without becoming overly sentimental, speaks of love through the ages. The characters live on.”

Fred Sokol, Union News

INQUEST, a play: “As a piece of theater, INQUEST was completely effective. Completely. From the time the two were accused, to the last letter to their children, to their execution in the electric chair. Without a doubt, INQUEST makes it on an emotional theatrical level. It’s probably the most shattering thing I’ve seen all year on Broadway.”

John Bartholomeew Tucker, WABC-TV

INQUEST, a play: “An effective piece of theater. … Whether they were guilty or not, I think the play may suggest further thought on the matter.”

Clive Barnes, The New York Times

INQUEST, a play: “Chilling and absorbing. … This kind of play is one of the things the theater is for.”

INQUEST, a play: “INQUEST plays on your memories of the case. … It wants to press the weight down on your shoulders. And it does. I can feel it on mine.”

Leonard Harris, WCBS-TV

AGONY IN NEW HAVEN, a History: “This timely new edition of the Bobby Seale-Ericka Huggins trial [AGONY IN NEW HAVEN] recalls tensions from four decades ago that left fresh scars on our racial history. Donald Freed tells the story not only vividly but with the proper moral outrage.”


The First Memorial Day Celebration: Freed Slaves Honor Union Soldiers (Repeat)

Memorial Day was created to remember and honor the 600,000-800,000 soldiers who died in the bloodiest military conflict in U.S. history — the Civil War.

In 1868, the commander of the U.S. Army, officially proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Dayfor the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” The first official national commemoration took place at on May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery where 16,000 Union soldiers were buried. General Ulysses S. Grant was in attendance and General James Garfield was the featured speaker. (Decoration Day was eventually renamed Memorial Day.)

The First Memorial Day Commemoration

However, the first Memorial Day commemoration took place on May 1,1868 in Charleston, South Carolina, where the Civil War began.

At the end of the war Confederate troops evacuated Charleston. The city was left in ruins. Virtually only freed slaves remained.

One of the first things those emancipated men and women did was to give the fallen Union soldiers a proper burial. In addition to battle causalities, over 250 Union prisoners had died in Charleston and were buried in unmarked mass graves.

The freed slaves exhumed the bodies and re-interred them in a new burial ground. Several weeks before the Memorial Day commemoration, former slaves reorganized the graves into rows. They built a 10-foot-tall whitewashed fence to protect the area. They erected an archway and inscribed the words “Martyrs of the Race Course.” (The race course had been turned into a Confederate prison for Union POW’s.)

10,000 Gather

On May 1, 1868, 10,000 people, mostly black residents, gathered to pay tribute to the fallen Union soldiers.

Children’s Parade

The all-day commemoration began around 9:00 a.m. when 3,000 black school children paraded around the old race track. They held roses and sang “John Brown’s Body.” They were followed by adults representing the aid societies for freed slaves.

Sermons, Speeches, Songs

Next, several black pastors delivered sermons. They led the crowd in prayers and singing spirituals. This was followed by a picnic lunch.

Afterward, the white director of freeman’s education in the region organized 30 speeches by Union officers, missionaries, and black ministers. The crowd sang patriotic songs and the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Military Marches and Drills

In the late afternoon, three white and black Union regiments performed double-time marches and drills around the cemetery.

One of those regiments was the famous 54th Massachusetts Infantry. The 54 th Massachusetts Infantry out of Boston was the first major American military unit made up of black soldiers.

54 th Massachusetts Infantry

It was significant that the 54 th participated in this, the first, Memorial Day commemoration. On July 18, 1863, the 54 th led the Union army’s attack on Fort Wagner in Charleston Harbor. One half of their regiment were killed during the battle, a 50% casualty rate. But they never faltered. Although the Union forces were not able to take and hold the fort, the 54 th became renowned for their bravery and valor.

Sergeant Carney: First African Medal of Honor Recipient

During the Battle of Fort Wagner, Sergeant Carney, grabbed the U.S. flag from the faltering flag bearer so that it would not touch the ground. He rallied the troops by carrying the flag to the enemy ramparts and back. While doing so, he sang, “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground!” For his bravery and example in protecting the flag and rallying the troops, Sergeant Carney received the Medal of Honor, the first African American to do so.

First Memorial Day – A Poignant Tribute

“This Memorial Day tribute gave birth to an American tradition. The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration.”

It’s the fact that this occurred in Charleston at a cemetery site for the Union dead in a city where the Civil war had begun, and that it was organized and done by African-American former slaves is what gives it such poignancy.” — David Blight, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.


How did Freddy die?

Freddy Trump lost his battle with alcohol addiction and died in 1981 from alcohol related complications aged 43.

In his autobiography, The Art Of The Deal, Donald Trump reveals that his brother is the reason why he has never touched a drop of booze or had a puff on a cigarette.

Trump told Newsweek: “He was a great guy, a handsome person. He was the life of the party.

"He was a fantastic guy, but he got stuck on alcohol.

"And it had a profound impact and ultimately [he] became an alcoholic and died of alcoholism.

"He would tell me, ‘Don’t drink ever.’

"He understood the problem that he had and that it was a very hard problem.”


4. On Donald Freed’s birthday

The world’s population was and there were an estimated babies born throughout the world in 1933, Herbert Hoover (Republican) was the president of the United States, and the number one song on Billboard 100 was [Not available]. No song matches found..

On this day in history:

303 &ndash 1st official Roman edict for persecution of Christians issued by Emperor Diocletian.

1525 &ndash Battle of Pavia: Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's troops beat the French. French King Francois I captured, 15,000 killed or wounded.

1582 &ndash Pope Gregory XIII announces New Style (Gregorian) calendar.


Access options

1. Neville , John F. , The Press, the Rosenbergs, and the Cold War ( Westport, CT : Praeger , 1995 ), 133 Google Scholar .

2. League of American Theatres and Producers, Inquest, Internet Broadway Database, www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=3076 (accessed December 4, 2004).

3. Freed , Donald , Inquest ( New York : Samuel French , 1969 ), 6 – 7 Google Scholar , emphasis in original. Unless otherwise noted, references to the play will come from this publication of the script, which was the one used for the Broadway production.

4. Freed , Donald , “The Case and the Myth: The United States of America v. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg,” in Voicings: Ten Plays from the Documentary Theater , ed. Favorini , Attilio , ( Hopewell, NJ : Ecco Press , 1995 ), 199 – 203 Google Scholar , at 201.

5. Schneir , Walter and Schneir , Miriam , Invitation to an Inquest (1965 reprint, New York : Delta , 1968 )Google Scholar Wexley , John , The Judgment of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg ( New York : Cameron & Kahn , 1955 )Google Scholar .

6. Introduction to “The Documentary Theatre,” World Theatre 17.5–6, ed. René Hainaux (1968), 375.

7. Attilio Favorini, “After the Fact: Theater and the Documentary Impulse,” in Voicings, xi–xxxix.

8. Weiss , Peter , “ Fourteen Propositions for a Documentary Theatre ,” World Theatre 17.5–6 ( 1968 ): 375 –89, at 375Google Scholar .

9. Isaac , Dan , “ Theatre of Fact ,” TDR 15.3 (Summer 1971 ): 109 –35, at 109Google Scholar .


The Color of Incomplete History: A Review Article

Given the contentious nature of discussions about race in our culture, I would like to begin this review article with a brief personal note. As a church historian, professional integrity requires that I always attempt to be as objective as possible in telling the story of the Church. Historians must candidly admit that no one is ever completely unbiased in interpreting historical texts as hard as one tries to get it right. This means that interpretations of the past must be offered in humility, recognizing that it’s always possible that one has missed an important angle that a new scholar may uncover. History is an abyss, and no one will ever know it all, thus new generations of historians will always be necessary for the Church! Another observation: Church history is full of the good, the bad and the ugly, and we don’t do anyone a favor by trying to hide any of it if historical honesty counts. The story of the American church’s struggle with racism is a multi-faceted painful story and it needs to be told in its fullness as much as possible. It’s important to remember that appropriating historical materials for theological, ideological or political purposes is tricky business. Utmost caution is necessary, lest one succumb to molding historical narratives to fit one’s predisposition despite contrary evidence. If at any point, the reader thinks my review of Jemar Tisby’s book is unfair, please do your own investigation into the primary sources. With these qualifications in mind, let me proceed to give you my take on this significant book.

The Color of Compromise attempts to paint a picture of white Christian recalcitrant race-based oppression of blacks over four centuries of America history. According to Tisby’s narrative, this oppression has been perpetuated primarily because WCs (my abbreviation for white Christians, i.e. those in power) have consistently been indifferent to the plight of blacks. The book’s thesis is that racism doesn’t go away it adapts, thus despite significant progress, “racism continues to plague the church” (15). American WCs have encouraged white supremacy “which identifies white people and white culture as normal and superior” (16). But, this white supremacy “was not inevitable” and WCs in the past could have chosen not to compromise with racism. Tisby is convinced WCs have not recognized “their failures and inconsistencies,” preferring to pass over the past to a “triumphalist view of American Christianity” which accentuates victories in race relations. To correct this, the book will provide a true history that “contradicts much of what you have been taught since childhood.” The author partially reveals his hand when he admits that one hopeful outcome for the book is to show “alternatives to political conservatism as the only Christian way” (21).

Before Tisby launches into his historical survey of WC racism, he issues a disclaimer acknowledging a “high degree of selectivity” (18) in the historical episodes discussed. Indeed his historical account accentuates the actors/events that substantiate his picture of WC complicity in racism, but he concedes, “Whenever there has been racial injustice, there have been Christians who fought against it in the name of Jesus Christ. Christianity has an inspiring history of working for racial equality and the dignity of all people, a history that should never be overlooked” (19). This side of the story gets almost no coverage throughout the book, but giving a full account of the history of white/black relations in U.S. history was not his purpose in writing the book. The chief end of the survey is to demonstrate WC unrepentant complicity with racism in America. The ultimate goal of the book, says Tisby, is more empathy for black pain, urging Christians to pray for racial reconciliation as a “reality we must receive” as believers, and a call for immediate action to “work for justice” and embrace “racial and ethnic diversity” (24).

The history chapters begin with the colonial period, arguing that a “racial caste system” was constructed in America as black heathen were captured and shipped to the New World. Blacks had captured and sold one another in Africa, and free blacks in the colonies would buy slaves, but it was the European slavers who bought or kidnapped Africans, shipping them across the Atlantic under inhumane conditions. The brutality of the middle passage has been well documented in American history books, museums, films, etc., throughout the twentieth century and thus is familiar territory, but an American story that must always be told. No one would question the barbarity of the trans-Atlantic slave trade which is the fundamental evil of African enslavement. Tisby underscores how colonists compromised by accommodating their faith to chattel slavery in the New World. He criticizes Awakening preachers Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield (both slave owners), who criticized the slave trade, and cruel treatment of blacks, but compromised with racism by permitting slavery to continue. It’s a fair judgment to see them as typical of WC slave owners of this era, who tried to ameliorate slave conditions and preach the gospel to them, but were not advocates of abolition. Tisby claims that slaves were taught a paternalistic version of the faith identified with whiteness and superior European culture. Using a twenty-first century category of “white privilege” to evaluate eighteenth century. WCs is a dubious allegation against persons who would not comprehend this classification in any meaningful way.

According to Tisby’s account, some WCs resisted slave evangelism because they worried that converted slaves would next want their freedom. And those who evangelized the slaves did so in hopes of making them more obedient. This is not what one finds in the writings of those who actually preached to the slaves. Their message focused on the good news of salvation, obedience to masters was considered a byproduct, not the purpose of evangelism. Presbyterian minister Samuel Davies baptized 200 blacks during his ministry, and always considered them his equals before the Lord. He wrote, “as to the affairs of religion and eternity, all men stand upon the same footing” with immortal souls in need of salvation. Christ gave himself for the Africans: “Did he live and die to save poor Negroes? And shall not we use all the Means in our Power, to make them Partakers of this Salvation?” Masters negligent in this duty to slaves, sin and have blood on their hands: “Do not let them sink into Hell from between your hands, for want of a little pains to instruct them. I hope you would by no means exercise barbarities upon their bodies and will you be so barbarous, as to suffer their precious never-dying souls to perish forever when thro’ the divine blessing, you might be the means of saving them? Sure you are not capable of such inhuman cruelty.” [1]

When discussing the American Revolution, the author highlights how the U.S. Constitution tolerated slavery, and the founding fathers owned slaves, yet there is no mention of WC writers who adamantly insisted that a declaration of “all men are created equal” was an indictment of slavery. For example Dr. Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence, deplored the wickedness of the slave trade which had stolen the Africans from their kindred, and caused thousands to die by sickness and suicide in the voyages to America. In 1773 Rush wrote, “Slavery is a Hydra sin, and includes in it every violation of the precepts of the Law and Gospel.” Those who attempt to “vindicate the traffic of buying and selling of slaves … to sanctify their crimes by attempting to reconcile it to the sublime and perfect Religion of the Great Author of salvation,” should seek some new religion to support it. How shall this evil be remedied? Rush calls for stopping the importation of slaves, and “Let such of our countrymen as engage in the slave trade, be shunned as the greatest enemies of our country.” Clergy who know all men are immortal and equal, must take opportunities “to put a stop to slavery … declaring what punishment awaits this evil … that it cannot pass with impunity, unless God shall cease to be just or merciful.” [2] In 1774 Rush helped establish the first American abolition society, the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage and for Improving the Condition of the African Race.

Tisby recounts the important story of the first permanent black denomination in America, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and its founder Richard Allen of Philadelphia. After coming to faith, Allen began preaching on his plantation and in Methodist churches, many were converted under his ministry, including his master. Purchasing his freedom, he was licensed to preach, and began an itinerant ministry. Returning to Philadelphia he joined St. George’s Methodist Church, and was instrumental in many blacks joining the church. The white leadership insisted on segregation during Sunday services which led to an exodus of black members who eventually founded the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1794. The author uses Allen’s story to affirm his assertion, “there would be no black church without racism in the white church” (52). The sad failure of WCs to treat blacks as equals was the catalyst for departure, but Tisby’s account omits a significant detail in Allen’s story. Absent is the role of American Methodist bishop Francis Asbury (a lifelong friend of Benjamin Rush) and his helping blacks establish their own denomination. Asbury despised slavery, petitioned George Washington to enact antislavery legislation, and it was Asbury who had dedicated Bethel Church in 1794 and ordained Allen as a Methodist deacon in 1799. Allen served as the first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church when the denomination became independent in 1816.

The United States did outlaw the Atlantic slave trade in 1808, a tacit admission that American slavery had been evil from the beginning. Many WCs were onboard with this viewpoint. The Presbyterian General Assembly (“with entire unanimity”), issued a strong anti-slavery statement in 1818, calling for the abolition of slavery: “We consider the voluntary enslaving of one part of the human race by another, as a gross violation of the most precious and sacred rights of human nature as utterly inconsistent with the laws of God, which requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves, and as totally irreconcilable with the spirit and principles of the gospel of Christ … it is manifestly the duty of all Christians who enjoy the light of the present day, when the inconsistency of slavery, both with the dictates of humanity and religion, has been demonstrated, and is generally acknowledged, to use their honest, earnest, and unwearied endeavours to correct the errors of former times, and as speedily as possible to efface this blot upon our holy religion, and to obtain the complete abolition of slavery throughout Christendom, and if possible throughout the world.” [3]

According to Tisby, during the antebellum era white supremacy became more defined. This section does a respectable job of covering the basic history of political compromises to protect slavery, slave rebellions and southern reactions, the raping of slave women, the disruption of black families in the domestic slave trade, and WCs general attitude towards blacks as “perpetual children” (67). Tisby claims that blacks and whites worshipping together at this time was not an expression of “egalitarian aspirations” by WCs but “a means of controlling slave beliefs and preventing slave insurrection” (66). While a WC slave owner would care for his slaves, theoretically as a member of his household, the blacks would not be considered “full and equal human beings” (66). Undoubtedly, plantation owners wanted to control the slaves, but assuming the worst motives in all WC slave owners seems a stretch. The story of Nat Turner’s 1831 murderous insurrection is told, but remarkably there is no mention of William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist paper, The Liberator, which began publication that same year. Historians typically consider 1831 to be the turning point in increasing sectional division, due to both Turner’s rebellion and Garrison’s abolitionist papers that flooded the South, producing a hardened proslavery position.

The American Colonization Society, founded by a WC in 1816, initiated a movement to relocate free blacks to Africa. Tisby argues it was a paternalistic, racist scheme for WCs to “rid themselves of the endlessly troublesome racial issue” (67). Free black writers were opposed to the idea. Period documents however reveal that some WC abolitionist supporters of the colonization project genuinely believed that free blacks would have a better chance for flourishing in Africa, and gave of their resources to that end. Reading period texts, one discovers that some slave holders viewed the institution as an evil and curse, but didn’t know how to undo what they had inherited. How can we educate the young slaves for freedom, take care of sick and elderly slaves, provide them with resources to provide for themselves? These were real problems with few easy answers. Of course, this was no excuse for passivity towards a speedy emancipation for all slaves, but it does help explain the dilemmas of the antebellum period.

A second Awakening came to the U.S. in the early decades of the nineteenth century. The prominent evangelist of the revivals was Charles G. Finney an outspoken abolitionist. Tisby argues that Finney, though an abolitionist who forbade slave owners from church membership, was “not a proponent of black equality” because “he did not see the value of the ‘social integration’ of the races” (68). In other words, Finney was still a white supremacist. To expect Finney to hold twenty-first century perspectives on racial integration is anachronism, a fallacy in historical analysis. The historian’s task is not to evaluate the past based on modern assumptions but to drill down into a historic person’s particular context to determine the meaning of his values for the day in which he lived. Judging Finney against the nineteenth century slave society in which he lived demonstrates just how extraordinary he was in exercising church discipline against persons who owned slaves. In the early decades of that century most WCs favored gradual emancipation, and Finney was considered a radical.

When Tisby arrives at his analysis of the Civil War, he insists on “two facts” – the war was over slavery, and “countless devout Christians fought and died to preserve it as an institution” (71). Both assertions are partially true, but of course history is always more complicated than simple interpretations may imply. The War Between the States was about sectional power – politics is always about power. “States’ rights” was about losing power in Congress through ongoing conflicts over the political parity of the slave states and free states. Slavery was indeed the presenting issue in the states’ rights power struggle. In terms of fighting to defend slavery, the answer would be “yes” on the larger political question, but “no” as far as numerous WCs were concerned. Multitudes of WC southerners opposed slavery, and thought talk about secession was foolhardiness. A conspicuous example would be Confederate General Robert E. Lee who opposed both secession and slavery, yet felt compelled to defend Virginia when the die was cast. Many southern soldiers resented the wealthy plantation owners, did not believe slavery was worth fighting over, and simply saw themselves as defending their communities against Union troops invading the South. As in most wars, soldiers in the trenches (Union and Confederacy) thought all the killing was madness, and just wanted it to be over.

The book explains the “theological crisis” of WCs grappling with biblical teaching on slavery. Tisby touches on pertinent texts, and seems to appreciate the density of it all. He describes the division within three southern denominations over the slavery question – the Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians. There is no mention of the abolitionist Wesleyan Methodist Church established in 1843 as a protest to the Methodist Episcopal Church’s toleration of slavery. In the Presbyterian section he concentrates on the Old School division in 1861. There is no mention of the large abolitionist New School Presbyterian Church which relentlessly pressured its southern congregations to discipline slave owners, nor does he reference the smaller Reformed Presbyterian Church (Covenanters) or the Free Presbyterian Church, both of which banned slave owners from church membership. The discussion of southern Presbyterian theologians surveys the well-known writings of Robert L. Dabney and James H. Thornwell, both supporters of the slave system in the South. Moderns read proslavery material with incredulity, but awareness of these ideas is crucial, and Tisby offers a helpful summary of their perspectives. Of particular interest for Tisby is the “spirituality of the church” doctrine which claimed that slavery was primarily a political question, for which the Church did not have responsibility. He asserts that this doctrine has been conveniently invoked on issues like slavery and segregation, but not for other social crises where Christians engaged the political process. That assertion is arguable, because significant numbers of WCs did choose to combat slavery and segregation, on the other hand, many WCs have chosen to remain disengaged on other social issues as well.

In “Reconstructing White Supremacy in the Jim Crow South,” the author explains the ongoing struggle for black equality. He writes, “White people in the North and South sought to limit the civic and social equality of black people across the country. They devised political and economic schemes to push black people out of mainstream American life. To keep power, white Americans used terror as a tool through lynching and rape, violently solidifying the place of people of color as second-class citizens” (88). While it was only a violent minority who perpetrated these reprehensible deeds, this perverse part of the American story must not be ignored. Tisby takes disparaging shots at southerners for attempting to find some meaning in it all when the war ended. He dismisses the “manly Christianity” (95) of Robert E. Lee, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, monuments to soldiers etc. – a distasteful invective against people whose lives had been devastated by war in their own backyard. Under “Christianity and the KKK,” Tisby discusses the Klan’s use of the Bible and supposed ties to Christianity. Of course, folks claiming to be Christian may have no connection to reality nominal Christianity has been multiform throughout American history. He contends that the KKK was not a marginal group, citing what seems like exaggerated statistics, including 40,000 members of the clergy. Whatever the accurate figures are, it is also true that many WCs found the KKK disturbing, and its use of the Bible sickening. Jim Crow policies were “new ways to reinforce racial hierarchy” (103) segregating blacks in American society and perpetuating myths about black inferiority and racial mixing. Tisby concludes, “The American church’s complicity with racism contributed to a context that continued to discriminate against black people” (110).

Next Tisby turns to the first half of the twentieth century and white supremacy among northern WCs. Blacks fled the South for other parts of the U.S., resulting in increased racial tensions and riots in multiple cities. Fundamentalists with “race-laced” conservative theology focused on converting souls, ignoring the plight of blacks in urban environments in contrast to Social Gospel advocates who addressed urban poverty. Residential segregation was facilitated by racist housing practices and “white flight” as neighborhoods became integrated. There is some discussion of the prolonged modernist/fundamentalist debates during the era which is crucial to understanding the Christian landscape of the early twentieth century Conservatives were focused on defending historic orthodoxy versus a liberal Protestantism that increasingly abandoned biblical faith. To infer fundamentalists were driven by racism is a stretch. Tisby relates the amazing story of the 1906 Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles under the black preacher William J. Seymour, a son of former slaves. Under Seymour’s humble leadership hundreds were converted and revived as Hispanics, Asians, blacks and whites worshipped together at the Azusa Street building for three years. As one eye witness declared, “the ‘color line’ was washed away in the blood” (114). It is good to see Seymour get some press as he is too often an unsung hero of twentieth century Christianity outside of Pentecostal/Charismatic circles. Eventually, as the Pentecostal movement expanded across the country, blacks and whites established their own Pentecostal denominations.

The book progresses to the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, using Martin Luther King Jr. and Billy Graham as foils for “two vastly different perspectives.” The chapter’s focus is “Christian moderates – mostly white and evangelical but also some black churches and ministers – who played it safe, refusing to get involved in the civil rights movement” (132). Tisby shows how some WCs attempted to support segregation and opposition to interracial marriage as consistent with Christianity. Graham is characterized as a “racial moderate” on segregation, but Tisby admits he went further than many WCs in efforts to desegregate his crusades. He censures Graham’s view that an evangelist is simply “a proclaimer of the gospel” and not a social reformer. It’s certainly true that Graham believed genuine conversion was the key to changing racial attitudes. Graham invited King to share the platform with him at a 1957 crusade in New York. The author doesn’t tell the reader that King told Graham, “You stay in the stadiums, Billy, because you would have far more impact on the white establishment there than you would if you marched in the streets.” Graham was on solid biblical ground when he affirmed that the minister’s primary calling is preaching the gospel. The author rehearses King’s fearless personal story of peacefully fighting for black equality despite the opposition he faced from WCs criticizing the protests. Tisby highlights the eloquent “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and its indictment of white moderates, hailing the letter as “one of the greatest works of Christian political theology ever produced by an American” (138). WCs opposed to civil rights activists, demanded “law and order” as a response. He argues that WC complicity in opposing Civil Rights is partially responsible for some blacks turning to Black Power and the Nation of Islam. WCs were exercised about public education and started private schools (“segregation academies”). Of course, the Christian school movement was about more than racist attitudes. Parents were concerned about the secular world view taught in public schools (which has progressively worsened), and many private schools offered scholarships to minority students.

In the final chapters of the book Tisby arrives at his metanarrative on contemporary WC racism which is rooted in the “Religious Right” of the 70s and continues today. He chronicles the case of Bob Jones University and its racist policies. Current racial problems in America are attributable to conservative politics. The catalog of issues he characterizes as “racist” include: law and order politics, an aggressive criminal justice establishment, concerns about integrated schools, attacks on welfare, the war on drugs, racially segregated private schools, etc., – all of which were designed “to grant advantages to white people and put people of color at various disadvantages.” Tisby leans heavily on the analysis of Divided by Faith [4] wherein the authors describe America as a “racialized” society in which racism is covert. Black and white Christians use different cultural “tool kits,” thus have differing views of American life and government. Coming up to current times, the attention shifts to Black Lives Matter and the presidential election of 2016. Admitting that Black Lives Matter as an organization is not faith-based and has supported “advocate[es] for gay, queer, and transgender rights,” Tisby thinks there is value in the phase itself which expresses a black “longing for others to recognize their full, unqualified humanity” (180). What follows is the author’s case for the president being a racist, and then he raises the question: why did so many white evangelicals support him “despite his obvious racist tendencies” (187)? Tisby answers: his pro-life stance and commitment to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices. WC complicity in twenty-first century racism is visible in dismissing Black Lives Matter, supporting a racist president, telling blacks that bringing up racial concerns is divisive, and unwillingness to discuss systemic solutions. He opines, “Perhaps Christian complicity in racism has not changed much after all. Although the characters and specifics are new, many of the same rationalizations for racism continue”(191). A concluding chapter offers a list of practical steps that will address America’s racism, including among other things – reparations, taking down Confederate monuments, learning from the black church, participating in the modern-day civil rights movement, making Juneteenth a national holiday, and publicly denouncing racism.


Access options

1. Neville , John F. , The Press, the Rosenbergs, and the Cold War ( Westport, CT : Praeger , 1995 ), 133 Google Scholar .

2. League of American Theatres and Producers, Inquest, Internet Broadway Database, www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=3076 (accessed December 4, 2004).

3. Freed , Donald , Inquest ( New York : Samuel French , 1969 ), 6 – 7 Google Scholar , emphasis in original. Unless otherwise noted, references to the play will come from this publication of the script, which was the one used for the Broadway production.

4. Freed , Donald , “The Case and the Myth: The United States of America v. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg,” in Voicings: Ten Plays from the Documentary Theater , ed. Favorini , Attilio , ( Hopewell, NJ : Ecco Press , 1995 ), 199 – 203 Google Scholar , at 201.

5. Schneir , Walter and Schneir , Miriam , Invitation to an Inquest (1965 reprint, New York : Delta , 1968 )Google Scholar Wexley , John , The Judgment of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg ( New York : Cameron & Kahn , 1955 )Google Scholar .

6. Introduction to “The Documentary Theatre,” World Theatre 17.5–6, ed. René Hainaux (1968), 375.

7. Attilio Favorini, “After the Fact: Theater and the Documentary Impulse,” in Voicings, xi–xxxix.

8. Weiss , Peter , “ Fourteen Propositions for a Documentary Theatre ,” World Theatre 17.5–6 ( 1968 ): 375 –89, at 375Google Scholar .

9. Isaac , Dan , “ Theatre of Fact ,” TDR 15.3 (Summer 1971 ): 109 –35, at 109Google Scholar .


He was born in Chicago to a Jewish family and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana (Johnson, Mikulan), "where he lived mostly with his mother and stepfather, a successful merchant selling clothing for a time, then military gear, and later soft drinks. His biological father was an attorney. After World War II, when the wartime boom deflated and prices soared, his stepfather’s business collapsed and he committed suicide" (Johnson). " 'We’ve all known a Willy Loman in our life,' Freed said, referring to Arthur Miller's classic play, 'Death of a Salesman,' [emended] in which the protagonist Willy Loman commits suicide hoping that in death he may provide for his family. Freed's mother, who sold insurance 'in the back roads of Louisiana,' supported the family until she died of cancer at 42" (Johnson).

He and his wife, Patricia Rae Freed, a former teacher who represents him, live in Los Angeles (Johnson, Mikulan, Another America). After his visiting appointment in Leeds and York, they returned to USC, where he has taught in the nation's first multidisciplinary master's program in creative writing for 22 years" ("Author Biography").


An American in Paris—also starring Gene Kelly also built around a particular songwriter’s work also featuring a large-scale dream ballet sequence—was released in November of 1951. It was a hit, eventually winning six Oscars, including Best Picture. Three weeks after the Oscar ceremony, Singin’ in the Rain came out. It did well enough with audiences and critics, but it got very little awards attention, and it wasn’t perceived as being nearly as successful as its predecessor. Over time, public sentiment changed. An American in Paris is still highly regarded today, but it’s Singin’ in the Rain that shows up on the “best” and “favorite” lists.

Additional sources: Featurettes and commentary track on the 60th anniversary Blu-ray.


Watch the video: Καθαριστες ρολογιων (July 2022).


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