When Jack Daniel’s Failed to Honor a Slave, an Author Rewrote History

Fawn Weaver was on vacation in Singapore last summer when she first read about Nearest Green, the Tennessee slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.

Green’s existence had long been an open secret, but in 2016 Brown-Forman, the company that owns the Jack Daniel Distillery here, made international headlines with its decision to finally embrace Green’s legacy and significantly change its tours to emphasize his role.

“It was jarring that arguably one of the most well-known brands in the world was created, in part, by a slave,” said Ms. Weaver, 40, an African-American real estate investor and author.

Determined to see the changes herself, she was soon on a plane from her home in Los Angeles to Nashville. But when she got to Lynchburg, she found no trace of Green. “I went on three tours of the distillery, and nothing, not a mention of him,” she said.

Rather than leave, Ms. Weaver dug in, determined to uncover more about Green and persuade Brown-Forman to follow through on its promise to recognize his role in creating America’s most famous whiskey. She rented a house in downtown Lynchburg, and began contacting Green’s descendants, dozens of whom still live in the area.

Scouring archives in Tennessee, Georgia and Washington, D.C., she created a timeline of Green’s relationship with Daniel, showing how Green had not only taught the whiskey baron how to distill, but had also gone to work for him after the Civil War, becoming what Ms. Weaver believes is the first black master distiller in America. By her count, she has collected 10,000 documents and artifacts related to Daniel and Green, much of which she has agreed to donate to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. Through that research, she also located the farm where the two men began distilling — and bought it, along with a four-acre parcel in the center of town that she intends to turn into a memorial park. She even discovered that Green’s real name was Nathan; Nearest (not Nearis, as has often been reported) was a nickname.

She is writing a book about Green, and last month introduced Uncle Nearest 1856, a whiskey produced on contract by another Tennessee distillery; she says she will apply the bulk of any profits toward her expanding list of Green-related projects.

Ms. Weaver’s biggest success, however, came in May, when Brown-Forman officially recognized Green as its first master distiller, nearly a year after the company vowed to start sharing Green’s legacy. (Daniel is now listed as its second master distiller.)

“It’s absolutely critical that the story of Nearest gets added to the Jack Daniel story,” Mark I. McCallum, the president of Jack Daniel’s Brands at Brown-Forman, said in an interview. The company’s decision to recognize its debt to a slave, first reported last year by The New York Times, is a momentous turn in the history of Southern foodways. Even as black innovators in Southern cooking and agriculture are beginning to get their due, the tale of American whiskey is still told as a whites-only affair, about Scots-Irish settlers who brought Old World distilling knowledge to the frontier states of Tennessee and Kentucky. Green’s story changes all that by showing how enslaved people likely provided the brains as well as the brawn in what was an arduous, dangerous and highly technical operation. According to Ms. Weaver, Green was rented out by his owners, a firm called Landis & Green, to farmers around Lynchburg, including Dan Call, a wealthy landowner and preacher who also employed a teenager named Jack Daniel to help make whiskey. Green, already adept at distilling, took Daniel under his wing and, after the Civil War and the end of slavery, went to work for him in his fledgling whiskey operation.

In all likelihood, there were many other men like Green, scattered around the South. Records are spotty, though references to slaves skilled in distilling and whiskey making pop up in slave sales and runaway-slave ads from the early 19th century. But only one of them helped found a whiskey brand that today generates about $3 billion a year in revenue.

The company had intended to recognize Green’s role as master distiller last year as part of its 150th anniversary celebration, Mr. McCallum said, but decided to put off any changes amid the racially charged run-up to the 2016 election. “I thought we would be accused of making a big deal about it for commercial gain,” he said.

It didn’t help that many people misunderstood the history, assuming that Daniel had owned Green and stolen his recipe. In fact, Daniel never owned slaves and spoke openly about Green’s role as his mentor.

And so the company’s plans went back on the shelf, and might have stayed there had Fawn Weaver not come along. The daughter of Frank Wilson, the Motown Records songwriter who co-wrote “Love Child” and “Castles in the Sand” before becoming a minister in Los Angeles, Ms. Weaver began her career as a restaurant and real estate entrepreneur. She wrote the 2014 best seller “Happy Wives Club: One Woman’s Worldwide Search for the Secrets of a Great Marriage.” As she tells it, she was looking for a new project when she picked up that newspaper in Singapore.

“My wife often thinks and acts as a single activity,” said her husband, Keith Weaver, an executive vice president at Sony Pictures. “As her husband, I knew, ‘Here we go again.’

What was meant to be a quick trip to Lynchburg turned into a monthslong residency, as Ms. Weaver discovered an unwritten history, hidden in forgotten archives, vacant land and the collective memory of the town’s black residents.

Through dozens of conversations, local people, many of whom worked or still work for Jack Daniel’s, told her about learning Green’s story from their parents and grandparents, holding it as fact even as the company kept silent.

“It’s something my grandmother always told us,” said Debbie Ann Eady-Staples, a descendant of Green who lives in Lynchburg and has worked for the distillery for nearly 40 years. “We knew it in our family, even if it didn’t come from the company.”

Nothing stays quiet in Lynchburg (population 6,319) for long, especially when it involves the biggest employer in town, and by late March Ms. Weaver was meeting with Mr. McCallum, the brand president, in the makeshift office she had set up in a run-down house on her newly acquired farm.

With a sampling of her estimated 10,000 documents and artifacts spread across a table between them, it quickly became obvious that Ms. Weaver, who had no previous background in whiskey history, knew more about the origins of Jack Daniel’s than the company itself. What was supposed to be a preliminary meeting turned into a six-hour conversation.

Mr. McCallum says he left reinvigorated, and within a few weeks he had plans in place to put Green at the center of the Jack Daniel’s story line. In a May meeting with 100 distillery employees, including several of Green’s descendants, he outlined how the company would incorporate Green into the official history, and that month the company began training its two dozen tour guides.

At one point Jack Daniel’s proposed adding a Nearest Green bottle to its “Master Distiller” series, a limited-edition run of bottles that celebrate its former master distillers, but dropped the idea over concerns from inside and outside the company about appearing to cash in on Green’s name.

Instead, Ms. Weaver has released her own whiskey, Uncle Nearest 1856, which she bought in bulk from another distillery. She is planning to produce a second, unaged spirit, made according to her specifications, which she says will mimic the style of whiskey that Green and Daniel probably made.

Jack Daniel’s seems unfazed, for now, by the use of Green’s name on someone else’s liquor. “We applaud Ms. Weaver for her efforts to achieve a similar goal with the launch of this new product,” a Brown-Forman spokesman said.

Ms. Eady-Staples, who met privately with Mr. McCallum before the big meeting, said she was proud that her employer was finally doing the right thing. “I don’t blame Brown-Forman for not acting earlier, because they didn’t know,” she said. “Once they did, they jumped on it.”

And although there is no known photograph of Green, the company placed a photo of Daniel seated next to an unidentified black man — he may be Green or one of his sons who also worked for the distillery — on its wall of master distillers, a sort of corporate hall of fame.

“We want to get across that Nearest Green was a mentor to Jack,” said Steve May, who runs the distillery’s visitors center and tours. “We have five different tour scripts, and each one incorporates Nearest. I worked some long days to get those ready.”

Mr. May said that so far, visitor response to the new tours spotlighting Green’s contribution has been positive. It’s not hard to see why: At a rough time for race relations in America, the relationship between Daniel and Green allows Brown-Forman to tell a positive story, while also pioneering an overdue conversation about the unacknowledged role that black people, as slaves and later as free men, played in the evolution of American whiskey.

For her part, Ms. Weaver isn’t finished with her search for Green — and may never be.

“I’ve lost track of him after 1884,” the year when Jack Daniel moved his distillery to its current location, and Green disappeared from the fledgling company’s records, she said. She is still hoping to find Green’s gravesite, and has recently been traveling to St. Louis to meet with a branch of the family there.

“I could be doing this the rest of my life,”


BABY Interracial Couple Has A Very Rare Set Of Twins With Different Skin Colors

Genetics can be a tricky thing sometimes, but it can also be really incredible.

Usually, when two people have a baby together, they’ll get a relatively equal amount of genes from Mom and from Dad.

People used to think that I looked more like my mom, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve definitely noticed that I am actually strikingly similar to my father.

I have his smile, for sure, but if you look at my mother and I, there’s no mistaking that I’m her daughter. My brothers are the exact same way.

However, both of my parents have brown eyes, but my brother and I both have some variation on blue eyes. That’s because babies can still get the recessive genes that have been hiding in their parents genes that they got from their ancestors. It really is fascinating to think about the possibilities of genetics.

When this interracial couple found out they were having twins, they were already shocked at the fact that they’d have more than one child to take care of. But on the day they were born? They had another surprise that no ultrasound would’ve been able to show them.

Their daughter was born with lighter skin, while their son was born with a darker shaded pigment. This is pretty rare, but obviously not impossible.

Can you imagine how many questions these parents must get every day? What a beautiful occurrence!

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En Algérie, des milliers de femmes organisent la "révolte du bikini"

A l'initiative d'une jeune Algérienne originaire de la ville côtière d'Annaba, des femmes se réunissent pour revendiquer leur droit à porter des maillots deux pièces sur les plages du pays.

Depuis quelques semaines, des Algériennes réunies sur Facebook dans un groupe privé se donnent rendez-vous à la plage dans le cadre d'"opérations bikini", rapporte L'Obs. Le but est d'essayer de changer les mentalités dans leur pays, et de faire accepter cette tenue sur les plages.

Une jeune femme de 27 ans, qui a choisi le pseudo de "Sara", a raconté au quotidien algérien Le Provincial comment ce mouvement de libéralisation des femmes est né.

Le mouvement prend de l'ampleur

Fin juin, elle se rend à la plage pour fêter la fin du Ramadan avec d’autres membres de sa famille. Elle n’ose alors se mettre en maillot de bain lorsqu'elle réalise qu’elle est la seule femme. De retour chez elle, elle crée un groupe Facebook privé, où elle invite des proches à se rassembler en maillot de bain à la plage.

Le groupe, rapidement élargi à d’autres habitantes de la ville côtière d’Annaba dont "Sara" est originaire, se réunit pour la première fois le mercredi 5 juillet. Elles sont alors une quarantaine. Au rendez-vous suivant elles sont 200. Aujourd’hui, plusieurs milliers d'Algériennes ont rejoint le mouvement sur Facebook.

"Inculquer la tolérance"

Si le maillot de bain deux pièces est autorisé sur les plages d'Algérie, il est souvent mal vu, voire considéré comme choquant. "J'ai toujours refusé de restreindre mes libertés à cause de certains hommes, mais beaucoup de femmes n'ont pas ce 'courage'", explique Randa, une participante, à Marianne.net. "Ici, nous devons composer avec le harcèlement, que ça touche à nos tenues vestimentaires ou aux lieux que nous fréquentons. C'est extrêmement frustrant".

Aussi les commentaires insultants de type: "Où sont vos pères?" ou "Filles faciles" ont fusé sur les réseaux sociaux. "Nous ne voulons pas changer leur vision des choses, mais simplement leur inculquer la tolérance et l’acceptation de l’autre," explique Sara, interrogée par le quotidien algérien.

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Kids create lemonade stand to help buy school clothes and supplies

Two North Carolina kids who wanted to give back to their families are showing their entrepreneurial colors under the vibrant yellow tent of their lemonade business.

Aniyah Williams, 11, and Isaiah Lattimer, 12, said they started "Sweet and Sour Lemonade" in Raleigh to help buy new clothes and school supplies for the upcoming school year.

A local community advocate Geraldine Alshamy said she noticed Lattimer trying to run a makeshift lemonade stand using an old refrigerator box and saw an opportunity to help the children get the business off the ground.

"I live near there and when I saw him I asked why they were selling it," Alshamy told ABC News. "They wanted new clothes and school supplies, so I decided to see how I could help."

"We got them a tent, a table and a recipe for lemonade and I taught them how to roll the lemons and mix all the ingredients so they could make fresh squeezed lemonade for people," she continued. "Everything else was on them."

Alshamy helped teach them basic business skills and believes the experience will teach them valuable social skills.

"There's math involved when they're tracking their money each day and they deduct the amount they pay for ingredients," she said. "So they're learning the basics of good business and how to get along, respect people, be grateful and share."

The local grocery stores and police department have been extremely supportive donating lemons and water to help their cause, Alshamy said.

"I just wanted to help them because they wanted to help themselves,"she said.

Alshamy estimated that the young pair has raised more than $800 in just over a month running the lemonade stand.

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Mailman about to leave mail for 94 year old woman – then hears crying inside the house and breaks in

Josh Hefta is a mailman in North Dakota, USA. Seeing he delivers to the same houses on a daily basis, he has a pretty good idea of who is who in his local area.

One customer he was well acquainted with was 94-year-old Alice Paschke. For Alice, Josh would go the extra mile and would usually leave the mail at her door so that the elderly lady wouldn’t have to walk all the way to her mailbox.

One day, in January this year, while on his usual route, Josh noticed something was not quite right when he got to Alice’s.

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Elderly man has an accident in his pants at the store – this woman’s reaction is the best

I came across this story which simply restored my faith in humanity. It occurs on a perfectly ordinary day, when a woman, Lisa Lemming Jackson, from Georgia, USA, was out shopping at the supermarket. She then encounters a man – who appears to be in need of help.

What unfolds next is a testament to the strength and bond humans continue to share with one another, despite all the conflict we see in our world. Moments of compassion such as the one that transpired between Lisa, the man in need of help, and then the store staff, is, to me, simplest proof that “humanity still does care about one another.”

Read on, and you’ll understand why.

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Cops Arrest Lady On Meth Charges. Quickly Become Embarrassed When Drug Test Results Come Back

When a Georgia woman was found with what police officers thought was methamphetamine residue, she was arrested and thrown in jail. For days, she waited behind bars, as the pleaded for the officers to check the spoon with the residue on it again. And when they checked, they realized their error and set her free.

23-year-old Ashely Gabrielle was arrested and charged with the possession of methamphetamine or crystal meth. Gainesville officers pulled her over for a routine traffic stop and found the residue in her car. She told the officers that the residue was simply dried pasta sauce from a can of SpaghettiOs but they refused to believe her.

When they checked the evidence again, they realized the “meth residue” was only pasta sauce…

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Child battling rare brain cancer becomes honorary cop for a day

The newest member of the Evesham Police Department was sworn in on Thursday, and the rest of the force couldn't help but smile. Four-year-old Chase Gilchrist has been battling a rare brain cancer and it was his dream to get to be a cop for the day, his family told ABC station WPVI.

Officers in Evesham, New Jersey, helped make it happen, making Gilchrist an honorary member on Thursday.

WPVI reported that the boy's day started with a ride in a police car, where he got his own uniform and ID. "Doesn't feel really comfortable when you're wearing a vest," Chase Gilchrist remarked after donning his uniform for the first time. "Now that he's got the official shirt on and the official police car, he's going to go nuts. He's loving it," Chase's father, Scott Gilchrist, told WPVI.

The newest member of the force also inspired his much-older colleagues.

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Just About Every Major Medical Group Hates the GOP Health Care Plans

Groups representing pediatricians, cancer specialists, heart doctors and family physicians all agree: Both the House and the Senate offerings for fixing health care in the U.S. would make things worse, not better.

Within hours of its release, groups representing medical professionals were denouncing the Senate version, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act or BCRA.

“The Senate draft health care bill is literally heartless,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said.

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Disabled boy beats odds to become swimming champion

Six-year-old Bosnian boy Ismail Zulfic was born without arms and with a deformed foot into a society that often neglects and marginalizes children with disabilities.

But his parents and an inspirational sports instructor have helped him overcome his physical limitations - and a fear of water - to win a gold medal at a regional competition for disabled swimmers and the hearts of many people in the Balkans.

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Girl gets into Yale after penning essay on Papa John's pizza

Carolina Williams, of Brentwood, Tennessee, said it was “surreal” when she found out in March she was accepted at Yale University.

Even more bewildering for the high school student was when a few weeks later, Williams received notes from the Ivy League university's admissions team that singled out an application essay she wrote about her love for Papa John’s pizza.

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University of Maryland Fatal Stabbing Investigated by FBI as Possible Hate Crime

Maryland authorities have asked the FBI to help them investigate whether the fatal stabbing of a black student at a college campus over the weekend was a hate crime.

The tragedy comes as civil rights groups expressed great concern over what they said was a rise of bias incidents across the nation's schools.

Richard Wilbur Collins III, 23, was killed early Saturday while visiting friends at the University of Maryland's College Park campus. Collins, a senior at Bowie State University, was just days away from his graduation.

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Guess Why Trump’s White House Easter Egg Roll Was Mostly White Kids

Yesterday, the White House’s held the annual Easter Egg Roll and while Trump’s gaffes inevitably took the spotlight away from the focus of the event – the children – and placed it back on our attention-obsessed narcissist-in-chief, it wasn’t long before it was noticed that an important tradition had been abandoned.

After the event had concluded, shrewd observers noticed something very disturbing but was perhaps to be expected from the AmericaFirst White Supremacy House.

The attendees were almost overwhelmingly white children. The reason? Donald and Melania chose not to invite the local DC public school children that traditionally are invited to the White House Easter Roll.

In an interview with The New York Daily News, Assistant Superintendent for the D.C. Arlington Public School District Linda Erdos said that:

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Ten Things White People Need To Quit Saying

While I’ve never been especially fond of political correctness for its own sake, I’ve encountered enough well-meaning white people embarrassing themselves to know that a brief tutorial can’t hurt. For those who insist that they could never say anything racist because they are not racists, I present a quick reminder: Just because you didn’t intend for something to sound racist, doesn’t mean it isn’t, and just because you don’t think you’re a racist, doesn’t mean you’re not. I refer you to the Washington Redskins and every idiot who insists that Native Americans should be “honored” to be so warmly insulted. Newsflash: Determining whether this team’s name is racist is not up to anyone but Native Americans. If you are not Native American, your opinion on the issue is at best irrelevant. I know it’s hard for some to accept, but white people don’t get to determine what is and isn’t racist.

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