Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Making Room for Everybody, by Frances FitzGerald

Welcome to the fall 2015 issue of MU Voices.

At Madonna University--and in MU Voices--we don't believe we all have to be the same. Indeed, what a colorless environment this would be if we were! Instead, as a reflection of our Franciscan values, we hold our arms open to everyone, even those we disagree with or don't understand. A recent Mission Matters message reads, "We promote a culture that is nonjudgmental, nurturing, faith-filled and responsive to persons..."
However, Franciscan values face a formidable challenge in this era of great divisiveness. We see it in our political systems, among races, within religious faiths, and throughout the world. Extremism leads to each side demonizing the other, a devolution that leeches away our humanity.
We can't afford it.
MU Voices tries to take at least one infinitesimal step toward inclusiveness. We hold our arms open to all Madonna writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers. We may not be comfortable with everyone's message, but we welcome them all the same. Their voices count, too.
Trying to live up to Franciscan values will never be easy, but let's demand no less from ourselves. As Pope Francis continues to show us, we're better off opening our hearts instead of closing our minds.
We'll be adding submissions to MU Voices over the next few weeks--specifically, our memories of Patrick Moore and Christine Burchett--so please check in often.

Frances E. FitzGerald
MU Voices editor

Heart-breaking Losses

It's been a difficult week for the Madonna University community. Patrick Moore, director of sports information, passed away Sunday, November 29. Another unexpected loss occurred on Wednesday, December 2, with the passing of Nursing Professor Christine Burchett.

Student Shannon Dusute has generously shared excerpts from a memory book on Patrick Moore that she is helping to compile. I would also gratefully welcome stories and fond memories of Christine Burchett so I can include them here. Both were a integral part of the fabric of Madonna, and both will be sorely missed.

Blaire Schmalenberg

The memories I have shared with Pat during my four years at Madonna are endless. Pat was truly a spectacular person who impacted so many people’s lives in just such a short time. When I first came to Madonna as a freshman, the word was that Pat’s office was the hangout spot, whether it was just to talk, stop in and say hello, or to grab a piece of candy. By the time I was a senior, I realized how true this statement really was.
Walking down the athletic hallway and peaking around the corner to see if Pat’s door is open is a daily routine of mine. He was someone that I could always count on to say “Hello, friend” when I was having a bad day. He was always there when I needed something and, most importantly, was always there to cheer us athletes on.
Although I have many memories of Pat, my favorite one was after one of my soccer games this season against University of Detroit Mercy. After the game, I was walking to the bench with my head down after a very tough overtime loss. I heard Pat say very quietly, “Blaire, good job. I’m proud of you.” That moment defined Pat’s true support and compassion for his Madonna athletes. That is only one memory of many in which he demonstrated this during my four years at Madonna.
This school will never be the same without Pat; however, Madonna athletics would never be what they are today without him, either. Pat was not only an athletic director to us students, he also made an effort to get to know us individually and build friendships with many of us. Every time I entered Pat’s office he would say, “Hello Ms. Schmalenberg, what can I do for you?” Every time I left his office he would say “Stay out of trouble and get good grades.”
The love and compassion that Pat had for his job and for his students will never be forgotten. I pray that Pat knows the impact he has left on this world. It takes a very special person to leave this world touching so many people’s lives. The person he was and what he has done will never be forgotten, and he will be in our hearts forever.

Emily Lipe
Pat Moore was an unbelievable man who taught me so much about life. Not only was I honored to share in so much of his joy, laughter, and happiness, but I was also able to share in the joy, laughter, and happiness that he gave to my best friend, Amanda Geraci. Seeing their relationship grow into what it was, was truly something that I will never forget. My favorite memories of Pat include his incessant need to constantly talk in a British accent whenever I was around (may I add that this annoyed Amanda to no end!), the way he was constantly “grammar policing” any and every email that came by his desk and, most importantly, the constant love he shared with everyone he came in contact with. Spending most of my evenings with Pat and Amanda after a long day always brought a smile to my face. I will always remember Pat as the encourager when things got difficult, and I know that he is looking down on us with his encouraging smile forever and always.
-- Frances FitzGerald (

I’m Running out of Hashtags, by Delvonta’ Pinkston

I feel so many things that it’s hard to even write this sentence. I don’t really have any words. I just have hurt and pain and anger and tears that won’t mean a thing because they, along with my life and body, aren’t valued. How long can I numb myself to pain that has been inflicted on me long before I was here to feel it? How long can I go on creating and sharing hashtags before the next black person is killed, unarmed and unjustly?

As a matter of fact, I am angry. I am extremely angry at the never-ending, systematic racism and discrimination that people of color have to face on a daily basis. I’m upset that I always end up explaining a system of oppression to the same damn people who benefit from the same damn system. It’s aggravating as hell. It’s like shooting someone in the face and then asking them to prove how much it hurts or prove that the shot was even fired in the first place.
It’s exhausting and I’m not sure how much more I can take. I’m running out of hashtags because by the time I type and post one, another unarmed black person has been unjustly murdered. Murdered by the very same who are sworn to protect, but then I have to remember that that oath never included me or any other person of color. Not really, anyway. We were never included in that oath to protect or serve because our humanity has never been accepted.

It’s a harsh reality, but it’s one that black people and other people of color are all too accustomed to in this country. It’s living in this reality that makes me wonder if a hashtag is enough to combat this system of oppression. Promoting awareness certainly has its purpose, but how do we move forward? How do we move forward before the hurt and the pain of oppression erode and consume us? I am honest enough to admit that I don’t have the answer.

I don’t have a solution. All I have right now is hurt and pain and anger and tears. Those and hashtags, but like I said, I’m running out. 

Stay Sane,
Delvonta' P.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

“Maybe That’s Just the Way I Read It," with Apologies to Billy Collins, by Jill Mikolaizyk

Workshopping poetry sometimes feels like
making your way through a verbal minefield.
You don’t know how much of someone
goes into the stanzas you’re meant to critique.

What if that image that didn’t work for you,
where the evening bumps into the stars,
is the half remembered fears of a child
who fell from a tree one night
and watched as the night sky came crashing down?
Or what if the blue jeans but standoffish voice
is something cultivated from years of code-switching,
a lifetime of language you thoughtlessly dismissed?
Maybe you just want to go home;
you’re roaming the decaffeinated streets
with a mind full of meetings and due dates
and you’re picking stanzas at random,
praising an image that was inspired
by the cough drops on the writer’s desk
and critiquing a metaphor drawn from
a traumatic memory involving a gardening hose.
How can you know what the author is thinking?
You do your best; you qualify until your words spiral,
say, I don’t know if anyone else was feeling that.
You weren’t trained to diffuse bombs, after all.
The least you can do is give everyone warning,
and hope that no one critiques that line in your poem
that made your eyes sting when you wrote it.

The Confederados: The Last Remaining Unreconstructed Confederates, by James Routhier


They were the conquered but not the defeated. Their experiment at independence had ended in failure. Yet, despite the surrender of their government, they refused to acknowledge the new postbellum reality. They were the truly diehard Confederates. For them, there would be no swearing of allegiance to the Union; there would be no Reconstruction. Between 1866 and the late 1870s, and despite pleas from both Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee to remain and rebuild the South,[1] some 40,000 of these people who found themselves without a country would emigrate from the former Confederacy to various countries throughout Latin America.

Several Latin American nations sought out these disaffected Confederates and extended invitations for them to begin a new life in a new country. Among these countries, four played the largest role: Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, and Brazil. Each of these countries extended offers intended to entice the Southerners to their shores. Out of the 40,000 who chose immigration, half chose to accept the offer from Brazil. This paper specifically reviews the Brazilian offer and subsequent acceptance of the 20,000 who chose to forever leave the shores of the United States for life in Brazil. These Confederates would go on to be known as The Confederados.


In order to understand why these former Americans felt motivated to leave, it is important to understand what conditions were like throughout much of the South by April 1865. At the conclusion of the Civil War, much of the South lay in ruins. It was not just the vision of a Confederacy that had been destroyed. Throughout the region, homes, livelihoods, and entire communities had been lost. As one Confederate contemporary recalled, “The banks were ruined. The railroads were destroyed. Their few manufactories were desolated. Their vessels had been swept from the seas and rivers. The livestock consumed. Notes, bonds, mortgages, all the money in circulation…became alike worthless. The communities were without clothes and without food.”[2]  If the deplorable physical conditions were not enough, the psychological impact was also playing a role. As one Confederado descendant described, his ancestors were “helpless under military occupation and burdened by the psychology of defeat, a sense of guilt, and the economic devastation wrought by the war, many felt they had no choice but to leave.”[3] However, there were less than admirable reasons as well. As historians C.B Dawsey and J.M Dawsey succinctly stated, “The idea of living and working alongside their freed black labor frightened many Southerners.”[4] Regardless of the reasons, if staying was not an option, the question that needed to then be answered was where were these disillusioned Confederates to go?


The response to that question was to come from four Latin American countries: Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, and Brazil. Each of these countries saw an opportunity in the defeat of the South. There was valuable agricultural experience among the defeated Confederates. Each country extended offers in an attempt to persuade the Confederates to emigrate and bring that knowledge with them. Under Emperor Maximillian, Mexico went as far as to appoint a commissioner of colonization, naming former Confederate General John B. Magruder as chief of the land office.[5] The offers that came from Mexico, Honduras, and Venezuela were essentially the same. They included free passage from the Confederacy, 640 acres of land to heads of families, 320 acres to single men, freedom to worship as they saw fit, no taxation for one year, and a five year exemption from military service.[6] Families without a male head of household were not included in the offers extended by the would-be host countries.

Yet, it was Brazil that would make the most favorable offer – and the nation to which many of the Southerners felt the strongest bond. While the Brazilian offer included all that the other countries offered, Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II took several additional steps, such as offering to extend the existing railroad and road networks to the new communities. Brazil also had a favorable history with the Confederacy, not only harboring and resupplying their ships, but granting the Confederacy belligerent status during the war.[7] In addition to the economic benefits that Brazil offered, the climate of the country was alluring to many of the Southern planters. Unlike the depleted soils of the South, Brazil’s lush climate and fertile soils permitted high-quality cotton to be grown and harvested twice each growing year. This cotton could then potentially be sold to England, which was paying more for Brazilian cotton than it had for Southern cotton.[8]  Other crops, such as sugar cane, corn, rice and tobacco, also flourished in the Brazilian climate.

What most differentiated Brazil’s offer from the others was Emperor Dom Pedro II’s consideration of the entire community, and not just the planters. Brazil took the unusual step of reaching out to not only the planters, but the professional classes among the Southerners, as well. Through colonization of societies that soon began to appear in some Southern communities, the Brazilian Emperor reached out to doctors, dentists, teachers, merchants and artisans, as well as planters.[9] Several of these communities soon organized themselves into colonies and began to make arrangements to travel to Brazil. 
Security and economic concerns prompted these colonists to travel in large groups. As plans progressed, several groups merged plans, resulting in three large colonies and a scattering of smaller, independent groups. One colony was planned along the Iguape River region of Sao Paulo. A second colony was planned for the Espirto Santo region of Brazil, with the last colony, Santa Barbara, being located near Campina on the western end of the Sao Paulo region. All three colonies were eventually established. Of the three colonies, the Iguape River and Espirto Santo colonies soon failed because of a combination of poor climate, poor soil and the unfulfilled promise of road and rail extensions. The last surviving colony, Santa Barbara, would evolve into the current-day town of Americana. By then, Santa Barbara was known as the Norris colony, in honor of Alabama Colonel William Norris.[10] This town would become synonymous with the Confederados.

Initially, the groups of Confederate colonists arriving in Rio de Janeiro were greeted with much fanfare. Arriving ships were often met with speeches, and on several occasions, ships were greeted personally by Emperor Dom Pedro II as a band played “Dixie.”[11] In the beginning, Brazil lived up to its offer and provided accommodations and support to the arriving immigrants. As one former Confederate general wrote after arriving, “Balls and parties and serenades were our nightly accompaniment and whether in town or in the country it was one grand unvarying scene of life, love
and seductive friendship.”[12] For most of the arriving Southerners, conditions in their new home would never be as elegant again.  

Life in Brazil

As the boatloads of Southern immigrants arrived in Rio, circumstances for them began to change. While their initial welcome was both warm and sincere, Brazil and her emperor were soon distracted by other events of the day. By chance, 1865, which saw the end of the U.S. Civil War, also saw the beginning of the War of the Triple Alliance, pitting Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina against Paraguay. Further complicating matters, following the generous offers made by Brazil, was the collapse of the booming Brazilian economy, which plunged the country into depression.[13] This change in economic fortune meant that many of the promises of the Brazilian government went unfulfilled as Brazil struggled with a depressed economy, a bitter war, and eventually the failing health of its emperor.[14] These changing conditions would lead to the end of new arrivals by the mid-1870s.

For those who did make the journey, establishing the new colonies proved to be more difficult than expected. Once in Brazil, many members of the professional class chose to remain in the urban areas, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, rather than travel on to the often primitive, newly established colonies.[15] Additionally, many of the newly arrived immigrants, upon arriving to the land they intended to farm, found that the vast size of Brazil meant that they were located far from those who had come before. Even for those who stayed, many found life as a pioneer difficult. As the other colonies failed, many of their inhabitants either returned to the United States or migrated to the Norris colony, which soon became the prominent Confederado colony in Brazil.

Former Confederate Colonel Anthony T. Oliver was one of the first to immigrate to Brazil and the Norris colony.[16] Accompanying him on the journey was his wife, Beatrice, and two teenage daughters. After settling in the Norris colony, Oliver purchased slaves and attempted to reconstruct his life as it had been in the antebellum South. By the end of the Oliver family’s first year in Brazil, Beatrice was dead from “consumption” <tuberculosis>, followed shortly by both teenage daughters. Upon being informed by locals that his Protestant wife could not be buried in the Catholic cemetery, Oliver donated a plot of land to be used as a Protestant cemetery. This cemetery soon came to be used exclusively by the Confederados. Soon, a chapel was built nearby, which became a center of worship – and community gathering space – for the colonists.[17]
As if the loss of his wife and daughters was not tragic enough, Oliver’s life would come to a sudden end four years following the loss of his wife. According to local legend, Oliver – who was one of the few colonists to actually own slaves – caught one of his slaves stealing and whipped him as punishment. The next day, this same slave broke into Oliver’s home and clubbed him to death with a hoe.[18] Whether factual or not, the tale illustrates the difficulties that would-be slave owners faced.

Those who purchased slaves and sought to recreate their antebellum way of life soon found disappointment. Not one of the Confederado attempts to recreate the plantation system in Brazil succeeded.[19] The failure of the Southern plantation system to transplant successfully was due to several factors, but mainly the fact that slavery was already being abolished in Brazil through such laws as 1871’s Law of the Free Womb.[20] This law made children born to slaves free citizens of Brazil. This gradual move towards the abolition of slavery meant that the slaves of Brazil would not be as subservient as had been their northern American counterparts. By 1888, Dom Pedro II had signed the Lei Aurea (Golden Law) and abolished slavery forever.


When The Confederados arrived in Brazil, they brought not only agricultural knowledge but introduced several farming implements previously unknown to Brazilian farmers. Among these newly introduced tools were the spade, the rake, and the mold-board plow.[21] Many of the transplanted farmers soon saw their crops flourishing and, in addition to native Brazilian crops, soon introduced pecans and watermelons to the region.[22] One particular type of watermelon, known as the “Georgia Rattlesnake,” proved to be so popular that by the late 19th century, Confederado growers were shipping more than 100 carloads of melons daily from Americana to various parts of Brazil.[23] These new crops, including the highly successful watermelon, contributed to the economic success and growth of the area.

Today, descendants of the original settlers continue to keep many of their traditions and customs alive. A startling example is that up until after World War II, descendants of the original settlers continued to speak English as their first language.[24] Even now, with English being a second language, linguists have determined that “The Confederados perhaps have retained a notably pure form of late nineteenth-century Southern accent, which has changed and disappeared in the United States.”[25] This gives historians the opportunity to study just how Southern Americans once spoke. The so-called Southern drawl that we associate with the American South is, in fact, a latter-day development.[26] In 1972, Jimmy Carter, then Georgia governor, journeyed to the region, where Rosalynn Carter’s great-uncle is buried. Carter was moved enough by the way the locals spoke that he remarked, “The most remarkable thing was, when they spoke, they sounded just like people in South Georgia.”[27] What is spoken is essentially a Southern accent minus any trace of what modern Americans would call a “Southern drawl.”


While Brazil was not the only destination for disaffected Confederates at the end of the Civil War, it is the only place where a colony was not only successfully established, but flourished. The Confederados who stayed built a community that continues to thrive to the present day. There are now descendants of the original Confederados living throughout Brazil. As historian C.B. Dawsey indicates, “They are proud to have Brazil as their mother country, and the United States as their grandmother country.”[28] They are a people of two lands.

Any white supremacist beliefs that may have accompanied the Confederados on their journey have long ago lost their potency in the multi-racial make-up of Brazil. The current heirs of The Confederado heritage view their ancestors as trailblazers and freedom seekers, not racists. As one descendent indicated, “We’re the most Southern and the only truly unreconstructed Confederates that there are on Earth.”[29] They see themselves as continuing to carry on –and honor—the Confederate heritage bequeathed to them by their ancestors.

Throughout Brazil, families with names like Macknight, Miller, Oliver, Norris and Carlton continue to speak of a group of people who, rather than rejoin the Union, successfully sought to live their lives on their own terms. Leaving the United States, they blazed a trail forward and, despite often difficult conditions, built a life for themselves in Brazil. History will forever remember them as The Confederados.

End Notes

1.       Bennett-Pennell, “The Confederacy’s Lost. Now What?,” 121.
2.      Soodalter, “The Confederados,” 62.
3.       Ibid.
4.      Dawsey, Dawsey, and Azevedo, “The Confederados : Old South Immigrants in Brazil,” 1223.
5.      Soodalter, “The Confederados,” 62.
6.       Ibid.
7.      Ibid., 63.
8.      Ibid.
9.      Dawsey, Dawsey, and Azevedo, “The Confederados : Old South Immigrants in Brazil”, 1223.
10.  Ibid.
11.  Ibid.
12.  Ibid.
13.  Ibid., 64.
14.  Ibid.
15.   Ibid.
16.   Ibid.
17.   Ibid.
18.   Ibid.
19.   Ibid.
20.   Bennett-Pennell, “The Confederacy’s Lost. Now What?,” 122.
21.   Soodalter, “The Confederados,” 65.
22.   Ibid.
23.   Ibid.
24.   Lowe, “Reconstruction Revisited: Plantation School Writers, Postcolonial Theory, and Confederates in Brazil”, 20.
25.   Ibid.
26.   Ibid.
27.  Soodalter, “The Confederados,” 65.
28.  Ibid.
29.  Ibid.


Bennett-Pennell, Linda. “The Confederacy’s Lost. Now What?” History Imagined, 2015.

Dawsey, Cyrus B, James M Dawsey, and Celia M Azevedo. “The Confederados : Old South Immigrants in Brazil.” The Journal Of American History 82, no. 3 (1995): 12–23.

Lowe, John. “Reconstruction Revisited: Plantation School Writers, Postcolonial Theory, and Confederates in Brazil.” The Mississippi Quarterly 57, no. 1 (2003): 5–26.

Soodalter, Ron. “The Confederados.” America’s Civil War, 2013.