Was Beethoven Black?

A Twitter meme reveals more about race and music than the composer’s origins. Social media trend is a new twist on a century-old question

Was Beethoven Black?The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, and in mid-June this year, he started trending on Twitter. Perhaps it wasn’t so strange that Beethoven was popping up on social media platforms, but what was unusual and certainly unforeseen: the claim that “Beethoven was Black.” Where did this idea come from?…

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failure

How great plans quickly descended into decades of dictatorship, corruption, kleptocracy and violence

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failureThe year 1960 was auspicious for European decolonization of Africa. In rapid succession, no fewer than 17 countries became independent. One of them was the Central African territory previously known as the Belgian Congo. June 30 was its magic date. And given its vast natural resources, some people had high hopes. Alas, things quickly turned…

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 4

Until his death in 1970, Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves never had a single regret about the lives that were lost as a result of the Manhattan Project

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 4Right up until practically the last minute, only an elite few knew about the building, testing and ultimate plans to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the "gadget" was about to be tested, Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves – who ran the project from its inception – tried to explain it as the…

Louis Riel’s trial continues 135 years later

Riel's transformation from rebel traitor to cultural icon hasn't come without backlash, says U of A professor

Louis Riel’s trial continues 135 years laterOne hundred and thirty-five years ago on July 20, Canada put Louis Riel on trial for high treason for precipitating the North West Resistance (traditionally called the North West Rebellion in mainstream settler history). Today, Riel is considered one of Canada’s most popular figures, easily eclipsing the country’s founding prime minister and his nemesis, John A. Macdonald. The political metamorphosis of Riel illustrates…

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 3

The majority of people who worked on the Manhattan Project were only told what they needed to know to do their jobs

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 3While Oak Ridge, Tenn., would make U-235, the fuel for the Hiroshima atomic bomb, Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves looked for a site in the West that was far from population centres. It also needed a generous supply of electricity to run the bomb factories and water to cool the reactors. Hanford, Wash., downriver from…

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 2

The beginnings of the Manhattan Project can be traced to research into uranium-238 conducted at the University of California, Berkeley

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 2The beginnings of the Manhattan Project can be traced to early science and technology research into uranium-238 conducted at the University of California, Berkeley. U-238 is the most common radioactive element, making up about 99 per cent of the Earth's supply of uranium. Uranium-238 does not sustain a fission chain reaction, however, and must be…

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 1

Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves and the Manhattan Project

The building of the Atomic Bomb Part 1On July 16, 1945, the world's first nuclear device was tested at a remote location in New Mexico, the Alamogordo Test Range, the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death). The word "bomb" was never used. Instead, it was referred to as the "gadget" or the "thing." The Manhattan Project was named after the Manhattan Engineer…

Facing up to racism in Canada and around the world

The whitewashed fences of racist lies, hidden behind the pages of history books, are collapsing when exposed to truth

Facing up to racism in Canada and around the worldOn June 30, the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, King Philippe of Belgium expressed regret for the “acts of violence and cruelty” committed by his ancestor King Leopold II. The day also saw the state-sanctioned removal of another statue of this forgotten villain of history. Leopold II was the…

Gerald Ford blew his chances to be Reagan’s running mate

During 1980’s Republican convention, backroom negotiations and media speculation over a running mate dominated

Gerald Ford blew his chances to be Reagan’s running mateIn July 1980, U.S. Republicans met in Detroit to formally nominate their ticket for the upcoming presidential election. It wasn’t supposed to be an eventful gathering. Ronald Reagan, the former movie star and California governor, had vanquished an array of opponents during the primary season and was thus assured of the top spot. The only…

How did we become so untrusting?

A look at the last 50 years shows a great deal of social change – and a great deal we should have misgivings about

How did we become so untrusting?I’ve been challenged by the content on social media (and televised news) of late. Several friends and colleagues are recoiling from it as well. It all feels so dramatic, so polarizing, so one-sided. How did we get here? How did we become those people? Did we stop trusting everyone suddenly or did the feeling creep…
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