From Brown v. Board to reclaiming Thomas Jefferson's other kids. Tomorrow, September 24th, WVFC readers in the Philadelphia area may want to stop by the Central Branch of the Free Library, to meet a groundbreaking writer telling a perhaps essential American story:

Presidential scholar and Professor of Law at New York Law School, Annette Gordon-Reed is the author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy,
a study of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave
Sally Hemings. In her new book—set against the backdrop of 1790s
Philadelphia, revolutionary Paris, and plantation life at
Monticello—Gordon-Reed tells the compelling saga of the Hemings
family. Along with Hemings, Jefferson, and their children, she brings
to life Hemings’s siblings, who shared a father with Jefferson’s wife,

Last week, Gordon-Reed told the New York Times that her book, which she'll also be discussing at the New-York Historical Society next month, springs from the life she's lived as well as years of hard work.

“I wanted to tell the story of this family in a way not done before” so that readers can “see slave people as individuals." … When it comes to blacks in America, Ms. Gordon-Reed said, social history has trumped biography. “We tend to think of group identity instead of individuals,” she said, which leads us to “miss the complexity of black lives.”

Ever since she was a child in Conroe, Tex., Ms. Gordon-Reed has been interested in Thomas Jefferson. In the third grade she read a children’s biography of him that showed him as a child with a slave his own age. “Jefferson was smart,” she said, but the black boy in that book “was a person of no consequence and no curiosity.” The depiction bothered her, she recalled: “That was supposed to be a stand-in for me.”

Before integration, her mother was an English teacher at a black high school; Ms. Gordon-Reed went to the better-financed white elementary school. She was the only black in her first-grade class. “Delegations of people would stand in the doorway,” she remembered, as if they were thinking, “Let’s see how this experiment is going.” Though she was mostly accepted, she said, she did break out in hives, probably from the stress. The following year the schools were legally integrated.

Not a glass ceiling but that stone Wall Street?
Last week, the Newsmix noted Forbes Executive Woman's observations about how even at the top, women still suffer from pay gaps and high burn rates. Yesterday, we learned that Sallie L. Krawcheck, director of global wealth management for Citigroup and one of Wall Street's most powerful women, is now out of a job:

The departure of Ms. Krawcheck, announced on Monday, highlights just how few women can be found in the corner offices as Wall Street reshapes itself for a new era. Before her, the credit crisis had felled Erin Callan of Lehman Brothers and Zoe Cruz of Morgan Stanley.

Ms. Krawcheck, 43, who led the global wealth management division, had disagreed with Mr. Pandit over the direction of Citigroup, its management structure and the settlement of claims over investor losses, The Times said, citing several Citigroup officials who were not authorized to publicly comment on the departure. Approaching the conflict in a more delicate fashion than asking for her resignation, Mr. Pandit offered Ms. Krawcheck a senior advisory role — chairwoman of global wealth management — and she formally turned it down Monday, according to The Times. Ms. Krawcheck did not have another job, The Times said….

Ms. Krawcheck’s departure leaves few mentors in the top ranks of women on Wall Street. Ms. Callan was forced out in mid-June as the chief financial officer of Lehman Brothers while Richard S. Fuld Jr. fought to hold onto his job as chief executive. (She has resurfaced in a lower-profile role at Credit Suisse.) Ms. Cruz was dismissed last November as co-president of Morgan Stanley as it posted billions in mortgage-related losses.

Good, we'll serve it at the AA meeting: Those who cringed every time yet another report came out about the health benefits of red wine can stop cringing and start drinking. Not wine, that is, but grape juice:

Grape juice may not provide much buzz, but you can still toast to good health when it comes to its ability to avert heart disease. Alcohol in moderation can relax blood vessels and increase levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. But the substances believed to provide much of red wine’s heart benefits — resveratrol and flavonoids — are also found in grape juice, especially the variety made from red and dark purple Concord grapes. Independent studies have found that like alcohol, grape juice can reduce the risk of blood clots and prevent LDL (“bad” cholesterol) from sticking to coronary arteries, among other cardiac benefits.

Breathe. Don't call your broker. Breathe some more. 
Writer Laura Zinn Fromm reports that with many relatives and friends on Wall Street, she's developing her own strategies for weathering the current imbroglio:

— Start the day with a large cup of strong coffee. Thank you, Starbucks, for being an addiction and a luxury that I can still afford. End the day (occasionally) with a glass of wine. Cheap, white, refrigerated and after dinner is perfect.

— Purchase a new bottle of Scotch for my husband. (We ran out last night.)

— Attempt to get six or seven hours of sleep.

— Run 4-5 miles outside with my dog, who is invariably faster and happier than I am, but is still willing to pull me along. For both of us, fresh air and long runs up the hill are key.

— Kiss my kids and not yell at them for not fully understanding that there is a serious financial meltdown going down in this country. My 12-year old sort of gets it and wants to know more; my almost 8-year old just knows that everyone he knows is stressed. He wants to start his own "big" company and make a lot of money, after he launches his acting career. Godspeed.

— Do not check my Blackberry every fifteen minutes to see what the bad news is.

— Read something other than The Wall Street Journal and business section of The New York Times. (Last night, I read The New Yorker profile on the trials of Cindy McCain. I was glad, yet again, to read about her life as a sort-of-single mother, her father's beer money, her drug addiction and her recovery from it. It was a total guilty pleasure, and after I finished it, I moved on to the trials of the Agnellis in Vanity Fair.) Since both articles had been written weeks ago, there was no mention of the Fed, investment banks, billion dollar bail-outs or bad real estate investments.

These are my distractions. The reality is, life goes on and kids can't come home to a crying Mommy. Yesterday, my neighbor and I walked our dogs and our youngest sons to school. The tension in the school yard was palpable. We all live near the school, and the school is near the train station, which means there's a good chance that most of the adults in the schooyard, and/or our spouses, commute to the city. Some of us were dressed for work, some were dressed to work out. We were all struggling to stay calm and cheerful for our children and ourselves. We looked at each other, said hello, smiled wanly, kissed our kids goodbye and walked back into our day.

….The bad news had to stop. So this morning, after drop-off, I put our dog Roxy in the car and drove to Starbucks. I stopped in at the nail salon to make an appointment. Even in this crappy economic climate, I still need a manicure (don't I?). I have a bar mitzvah to go to Saturday morning, I can't show up with chipped, claw-like, overgrown nails. The salon was busy, to my surprise and delight, and I saw a woman I know whose husband is at one of the banks in distress. She was getting her hair done and reading a magazine. It occurred to me that vanity is only three letters [sic] away from sanity. I smiled at the back of her head.

— Chris L.

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