Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Little Known Black History Fact: 

Eliza Ann Gardner

DL Chandler

Eliza Ann Gardner was a Boston abolitionist who went on to become the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church’s missionary society. She was born on May 28, 1831, and was a strong women’s rights advocate.

Gardner was born in New York City and moved to Boston where her father became a successful ship contractor. Her parents were active in the political world, and their home in the West End served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
After school, where she was a stellar student but held back from opportunities due to her gender, Gardner aligned herself with the AME Zion church and became a dressmaker to make ends meet. She also joined the anti-slavery movement, linking with the likes of Frederick Douglass and others. She founded the missionary society in 1876, which raised funds to send missionaries to Africa. She is known as the "mother" of the society.
Gardner convinced AME Zion leaders to allow women to become ordained, and she later founded the Women's Era Club, the first Black club for women in Boston.
Gardner passed in 1922.


Monday, July 1, 2019

The Oldest Statue In the World Depicts a Black Man

Great Sphinx of Giza by Taylor Buckman

The oldest and most noted statue in the world bears the face of a Negro. It is the Sphinx of Gizeh (sp), which was worshipped as Horus, or Harmachis, the Sun-God of Light and Life. It was erected about 5,000 B.C.

The Devil which is now depicted as black, was once portrayed as White. When the black man dominated the planet he painted the forces of evil, white. When the whites came into power the shifted the colors. But as late as 1500 the Ethiopians still depicted their gods and heroes black, and their devils and villains, white. Father Fernandez, a Catholic missionary, who worked amongst them at this time, says "They paint Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and other saints in black form; and devils and wicked men, white. Thus Christ and his apostles are black and Judas, white. Annas, Caiphas, Pilate, Herod and the Jews are white, while Michael is black, and the Devil, white."

Taken from 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro, number 47, pg 16.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

On this day in Black history:

June 25, 1933  James Meredith

James Meredith walking to class at the University of
Mississippi, accompanied by U.S. Marshals
On June 25, 1933 Civil Rights leader, James Meredith was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi.   Meredith was the first African American student admitted to the University of Mississippi on October 1, 1962.  When Meredith initially applied to the University of Mississippi he was accepted, when his race was discovered, he was denied entry.  Meredith lost a suit for entry in district court and then he filed with the U.S. Supreme Court where he won the right for admittance.  Rioting occurred on September 20, 1962 when Meredith arrived to register at the University of Mississippi.  Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent 500 hundred U.S. Marshals while President John F. Kennedy sent military police troops from the Mississippi National Guard and members of the U.S. Border Patrol to protect Meredith and maintain order during the disturbance.

US Army trucks loaded with steel-helmeted US Marshals roll across
the University of Mississippi campus in the
wake of the Ole Miss riot of 1962.
Almost four years later, Meredith was seriously wounded when he was shot by a white gunman June 7, 1966 on the second day of a solo 220 mile March from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.  The march was a “March Against Fear” and to encourage voter registration.  After been taken to the hospital, supporters and other leaders committed to complete his march to Jackson and on June 26 approximately 15,000 marchers arrived in Jackson along with a recovering Meredith.  This march became the largest civil rights march in Mississippi’s history and resulted in over 4,000 Mississippi African American voter registrations.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Funeral for Emmett Till, lynched in 1955, 
unfolds every day in the nation’s capital.

People line up to file past the open, butternut-brown casket at the Smithsonian’s African American Museum, silently paying tribute. Men remove their hats, mothers wipe at tears as Mahalia Jackson’s voice fills the room.
“I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.”
Emmett Till was lynched in 1955, in a small town in Mississippi. But the teenager’s funeral unfolds every day in the nation’s capital.
America never properly buried Emmett. And we learned Thursday that the Justice Department has officially reopened the investigation into his murder.
The teen-size casket inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture re-creates the famous scene that shocked our country and helped jump-start the civil rights movement.
Emmett was 14 when he left Chicago to visit relatives in Mississippi during the hot August of 1955. The story went that he had whistled at a white woman in a family grocery store. And for that, her kin hunted him down, kidnapped and lynched him before binding his body to a 75-pound cotton gin fan with barbed wire and throwing him into the Tallahatchie River.
When his body was found and his mother saw his profoundly mangled face, she insisted that his casket be open.
Mamie Till Mobley said she “put that body on display for five days and people could walk by and see what racism had really generated.” The nation — and the world — saw those photos, saw the truth.
Until then, many people didn’t really understand what happened to lynching victims. They disappeared. They were forgotten, hidden. White America acted as though lynching never happened.

              An undated photo of Emmett Till. (AP)
But the photo of Emmett’s friendly, open face, which was hung next to the gruesome mess in the casket, put it in gut-wrenching perspective.
The men arrested in Emmett’s killing — Roy Bryant, the husband of the woman Emmett allegedly flirted with; and J.W. Milam, Bryant’s half brother — walked free, thanks to the verdict of an all-white jury.
They are dead now. But the woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, is still alive and confessed to Duke University historian Timothy Tyson that she lied when she told a jury that Emmett flirted with her and grabbed her.
“That part’s not true,” Bryant told Tyson, who recounted the interview in his 2017 book, “The Blood of Emmett Till.” “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” she said.
One African American woman from Richmond just shook her head at the way Emmett died and the terrible legacy of racism.
“All those years, young black men were told to never, ever whistle at a white woman. Don’t even look at one,” she told me Thursday morning.
“You just knew never to do that growing up,” said Lonnie Crane, 58, who was visiting the museum from Minneapolis.
Crane wasn’t sure that reopening the investigation was a good idea. “We have so many problems now, so much to work out. Maybe we should move ahead, look to the future,” he said.
The future, moving past the casket in Adidas shoes, is still reckoning with the past.
“They could do that back then? Kill him just for flirting?” one black teen whispered to his mom.
“Uh-huh,” she said. “But not anymore.”
Lynchings may be a thing of the past, but our racism remains just as poisonous as ever.
What about driving while black?
Shopping while black?
Sitting in Starbucks while black?
Napping while black?
That’s this boy’s life. Today.
Young Emmett was killed simply for living while black.
“They need to go back and clear his name,” said Sarah Brown, 74, who was visiting the museum from Atlanta. “It’s been long enough.”
“I’m always drawn to the phrase, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied,’ ” said Lonnie Bunch, the director of the African American Museum. And that’s part of what makes the exhibit so powerful and why Bunch decided to include Emmett’s casket in the museum.
“My argument is, it’s not as though this is disconnected from where we are today,” Bunch said.
Emmett Till’s murder summoned outrage and the will to move toward change, to acknowledge that a dead boy reflected generations of racism.
“Now? People see those dead bodies. And where’s the outrage?” said Chu Solomon, 19, who is a college student in Woodbridge, Va., and saw the parallels right away.
When Emmett’s mom made that brave decision to show the world what happened to her son, she was the 1955 version of the police brutality we see captured on video over and over again today.
Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Stephon Clark, the list goes on and on.
Might as well say, Emmett Till, Emmett Till, Emmett Till.
“People — all people — need to go in there and look at that casket and say to themselves, ‘What is America?’ ” said a retired D.C. schoolteacher who brought some kids to the casket on Thursday morning. “Is America going back?”
And do we have it in us to be outraged again?

Monday, December 4, 2017

‘Insulting African American Gold Star widows has a history’


For 11 years, Bessie Strawther longed for a chance to visit her son’s grave. Pvt. Henry Strawther, a black American soldier in a segregated infantry unit, had died fighting the German army on Oct. 6, 1918, nearly five weeks before World War I ended in armistice. Veterans in his home town of Urbana, Ohio, had named an American Legion post after him, but his body remained  interred  somewhere in France — an ocean away from his mother.
Then came an extraordinary proposal from the U.S. government. The War Department in 1929 created a program to send bereaved mothers and widows like Strawther on two-week, all-expense-paid trips to Europe to visit the final resting places of their sons and husbands. The journeys became known as the Gold Star mother and widow pilgrimages, named after the newly minted organization for women who had lost family members in the war.
In summer 1930, Strawther took a train from Urbana to New York City, where the War Department had arranged for her to board a commercial steamer bound for France.
But shortly after she arrived in the city, she started having second thoughts. Government officials were requiring Strawther and the other black women to travel on a different ship and stay in different quarters from white women making the same journey.
The idea of being segregated sickened Strawther. Her son had given his life, but her government still treated her as a second-class citizen. Days before the ship set sail, she backed out. “I am not going to France,” she wrote to a prominent NAACP member at the time. She had accepted the invitation “not knowing what I do now,” she wrote. “I do not want to be a disgrace to my son and the race.”
Strawther was one of a few hundred black women who signed up to make the government-funded pilgrimage to Europe in the early 1930s, only to be told by the War Department that they couldn’t travel or share hotels with their white counterparts.
Her story was highlighted in a Journal of American History article from September 2015 that detailed the little-known story of the federal government’s well-intended but discriminatory program that brought Gold Star mothers and widows to the battlefields and cemeteries of the First World War.

American Journal of History cover
The article received renewed attention this week after President Trump was accused of insulting a black Gold Star widow whose husband, U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, was recently killed in an ambush in Niger. On Monday, as Trump clashed openly with the widow over allegations that he was insensitive during his condolence call to her, the Journal of American History announced it was posting the article free online for the next month. “Insulting African American gold star widows has a history,” the journal wrote in a tweet.
The article was written by Rebecca Jo Plant, an associate professor of history at the University of California at San Diego, and Frances M. Clarke, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Sydney. Their research, along with a 1999 essay in the National Archives’ Prologue magazine, represents some of the only publicly available scholarship on the segregation of black women who took part in the pilgrimage program.
The article received renewed attention this week after President Trump was accused of insulting a black Gold Star widow whose husband, U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, was recently killed in an ambush in Niger. On Monday, as Trump clashed openly with the widow over allegations that he was insensitive during his condolence call to her, the Journal of American History announced it was posting the article free online for the next month. “Insulting African American gold star widows has a history,” the journal wrote in a tweet.
The article was written by Rebecca Jo Plant, an associate professor of history at the University of California at San Diego, and Frances M. Clarke, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Sydney. Their research, along with a 1999 essay in the National Archives’ Prologue magazine, represents some of the only publicly available scholarship on the segregation of black women who took part in the pilgrimage program“I’m incredibly happy that people are reading it now,” Plant told The Washington Post on Tuesday, “but I’m also sad that this is what it has come to, that it’s getting all this attention because it’s so resonant in the current moment.”
The call for government-sponsored pilgrimages to Europe began in the 1920s. Two national organizations, the American War Mothers and the American Gold Star Mothers, lobbied successfully for the all-expenses-paid journeys after learning that many women couldn’t afford to travel overseas to see where their loved ones were buried.
After the program was authorized by Congress, the War Department decided to segregate the women. Integrated trips were “impracticable,” the department said. Plus, the mothers and widows “would prefer to seek solace in their grief from companions of their own race.”
The move set off a sustained protest against the pilgrimages, led primarily by black male leaders from the NAACP and black newspapers, according to Plant and Clarke’s research. The Chicago Defender urged a boycott, calling the program the “crowning insult” in a long list of abuses by the administration of President Herbert Hoover. Some Democratic politicians spread rumors that the women would be sent over in cattle boats.
The women were presented with a wrenching choice: Join the protest and take a stand against segregation, or make what would probably be a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to see where their sons and husbands were buried.
Ultimately, most would choose the latter. Plant and Clarke found that 279 black women made the pilgrimage, traveling in all-black groups between 1930 to 1933.
It was an easy decision for some. “Ever since I lost my son in 1918 I have been wanting to come,” one mother said. “I would have come over on a cattle-boat. I would have swam if possible. I love my race as strongly as any other but when I heard that the United States was going to send us over I could not refuse.”
But others agonized for years.
Bessie Strawther
Strawther, the mother from Ohio, was hesitant. She canceled her trip in 1930 but sailed to France with the last all-black party in 1933, according to Plant and Clarke.
Carrie Brown of Eatonton, Ga., had twice booked the trip to see her son’s grave, only to cancel her reservations. It was “enough to go there to see the last of my son with a weeping heart,” she wrote to a protest organizer in 1930, according to the article. Combined with the segregation, the experience seemed “dreadful,” she added. “As Mr. Patrick Henry said, ‘Give me Liberty or give me death.’” But eventually, she, too, went on the journey, shipping out with the last party, according to Plant and Clarke.
About two-dozen women canceled their reservations and never looked back. For them, the ignominy of a segregated voyage outweighed the desire to visit the gravesites.
 One Philadelphia widow told the War Department she would “not be a party to this

 conspiracy against the dead,” according to the article. Another wrote: “I am a 

Massachusetts born woman and my parents before me and I strongly resent any such 

stand as the United States government has taken. feel they have grossly insulted our 

race and that they can never make amends.”

In total, about 6,700 women of all races made the pilgrimage, as archivist Constance Potter has written in the National Archives‘ Prologue magazine.
Backlash against the program embarrassed President Herbert Hoover, who was facing a tough reelection fight that he would ultimately lose. So his administration tried to mend things by making sure the women were cared for in every other way possible, according to Plant and Clarke.
Col. Benjamin O. Davis Sr., the Army’s highest-ranking black officer, was tapped to oversee the effort. A staff of black civil servants and other workers handled day-to-day operations on every leg of the journey. Black officials from the Quartermaster Corps, the Army’s logistics branch, bought suitcases for women who showed up without luggage. They repaired eyeglasses and shoes, and coordinated health care for those with medical needs, Plant and Clarke wrote.
When they got to Paris, crowds of cheering Parisians and American expatriates greeted them (“France Seeks to Make Up for U.S. Jim Crow,” read one headline in the Baltimore Afro-American). The American jazz bandleader Noble Sissle and other black performers played for them. The women were treated to meals at top-notch restaurants and visits to the Louvre, Versailles and Napoleon’s tomb. Then they took the more solemn trips to the battlefields and cemeteries where the fallen soldiers were buried.
A tea reception for black Gold Star mothers and widows at the Restaurant Laurent in Paris in 1931. (Courtesy National Archives, Journal of American History)

Plant and Clarke noted that there were some disparities in the accommodations. White women sailed on ocean liners, while black women traveled on modified freight ships. In New York, white women stayed in expensive hotels while black women stayed in Harlem’s YWCA. In Paris, white women stayed near the center of the city while black women were housed closer to the edge of town.
Still, many of the women returned home with glowing words about the journey and high praise for the federal government, according to Plant and Clarke’s research. “Uncle Sam is doing his best for us,” one woman told a Jamaican American newspaper reporter. “Nothing more could be done for us unless they presented us with a sack of gold.”
In an interview last week with the history blog Process, Plant and Clarke said the black Gold Star women had essentially fought their own two-front war over the pilgrimage — against black male activists on one side and government officials on the other.
“The pilgrims declined to assume the role of the self-sacrificing race mother who upheld the memory of her son by foregoing the government-funded trip, regardless of her heart’s desire,” they said. “Nor did they stick to the role the federal government had scripted for them: that of the grieving and grateful supplicant who gained peace of mind through the benevolent actions of the state.”
My apologies for the length of this piece, I decided to post it in its entirety because it was so interesting and I didn't want to make the  readers go to another page if they wanted the whole story. This article was written back when #hesnotmypresident caused such a stir by reneging on his promise to a Gold Star widow. You can read it here: Trump Offered the Father of a Fallen Soldier $25,0...   Please leave a comment, tell me how you feel about it.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author, and in no way express the views of the Washington Post, the American Journal of History, Blogger, Google or any other entity (i.e. news services) whose content and/or services may have been accessed for use in this blog. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Unknown Story of “The Black Cyclone,” the Cycling Champion Who Broke the Color Barrier

This is definitely a 'little known black history fact'; I don't recall ever being taught this in school, and even now in this time of supposed 'equality', no one I spoke with could recall being taught about this  young athlete. His achievement in history is a big one, and one that should be recognized by all, especially by young black men. It might help, with a few of them, to foster a sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride in their race, and in hearing the complete story they might better understand what blacks went through in their ongoing quest for equality.
The full article is rather long, but VERY interesting....

Marshall "Major" Taylor (1878–1932)

Major Taylor had to brave more than the competition to become one of the most acclaimed cyclists of the world

At the dawn of the 20th century, cycling was the most popular sport in both America and Europe, with tens of thousands of spectators drawn to arenas and velodromes to see highly dangerous and even deadly affairs that bore little semblance to bicycle racing today. In brutal six-day races of endurance, well-paid competitors often turned to cocaine, strychnine and nitroglycerine for stimulation and suffered from sleep deprivation, delusions and hallucinations along with falls from their bicycles. In motor-paced racing, cyclists would draft behind motorcycles, reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour on cement-banked tracks, where blown bicycle tires routinely led to spectacular crashes and deaths.
Yet one of the first sports superstars emerged from this curious and sordid world. Marshall W. Taylor was just a teenager when he turned professional and began winning races on the world stage, and President Theodore Roosevelt became one of his greatest admirers. But it was not Taylor’s youth that cycling fans first noticed when he edged his wheels to the starting line. Nicknamed “the Black Cyclone,” he would burst to fame as the world champion of his sport almost a decade before the African-American heavyweight Jack Johnson won his world title. And as with Johnson, Taylor’s crossing of the color line was not without complication, especially in the United States, where he often had no choice but to ride ahead of his white competitors to avoid being pulled or jostled from his bicycle at high speeds.
Taylor was born into poverty in Indianapolis in 1878, one of eight children in his family. His father, Gilbert, the son of a Kentucky slave, fought for the Union in the Civil War and then worked as a coachman for the Southards, a well-to-do family in Indiana. Young Marshall often accompanied his father to work to help exercise some of the horses, and he became close friends with Dan Southard, the son of his father’s employer. By the time Marshall was 8, the Southards had for all intents and purposes adopted him into their home, where he was educated by private tutors and virtually lived the same life of privilege as his friend Dan.
When Marshall was about 13, the Southards moved to Chicago. Marshall’s mother “could not bear the idea of parting with me,” he would write in his autobiography. Instead, “I was dropped from the happy life of a ‘millionaire kid’ to that of a common errand boy, all within a few weeks.”
Aside from the education, the Southards also gave Taylor a bicycle, and the young man was soon earning money as a paperboy, delivering newspapers and riding barefoot for miles a day. In his spare time, he practiced tricks and caught the attention of someone at the Hay and Willits bicycle shop, which paid Marshall to hang around the front of the store, dressed in a military uniform, doing trick mounts and stunts to attract business. A new bicycle and a raise enabled Marshall to quit delivering newspapers and work for the shop full-time. His uniform won him the nickname “Major,” which stuck.
Major Taylor racing in Paris in 1908. Photo: Wikipedia
To further promote the store, one of the shop’s owners, Tom Hay, entered Taylor in a ten-mile bicycle race—something the cyclist had never seen before. “I know you can’t go the full distance,” Hay whispered to the terrified entrant, “but just ride up the road a little way, it will please the crowd, and you can come back as soon as you get tired.”
The crack of a starter’s pistol signaled the beginning of an unprecedented career in bicycle racing. Major Taylor pushed his legs beyond anything he’d imagined himself capable of and finished six seconds ahead of anyone else. There he “collapsed and fell in a heap in the roadway,” he wrote, but he soon had a gold medal pinned to his chest. He began competing in races across the Midwest; while he was still 13, his cycling prowess earned him a notice in the New York Times, which made no mention of his youth.
By the 1890s, America was experiencing a bicycle boom, and Taylor continued to work for Hay and Willits, mostly giving riding lessons.  While white promoters allowed him to compete in trick riding competitions and races, Taylor was kept from joining any of the local riding clubs, and many white cyclists were less than welcoming to the black phenom. In August 1896, Taylor’s friend and new mentor, Louis D. “Berdi” Munger, who owned the Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company in Massachusetts, signed him up for an event and smuggled him into the whites-only races at the Capital City Cycling Club in Indianapolis. He couldn’t officially compete against the professionals, but his time could certainly be measured.
Some of the other riders were friendly with Taylor and had no problems pacing him on tandem bicycles for a time trial. In his first heat, he knocked more than eight seconds off the mile track record, with the crowd roaring when they learned of his time. After a rest, he came back on to the track to see what he could do in the one-fifth-mile race. The crowd tensed as Taylor reached the starting line.  Stopwatches were pulled from pockets. He exploded around the track and, at age 17, knocked two-fifths of a second off the world record held by professional racer Ray MacDonald. Taylor’s time could not be turned in for official recognition, but everyone in attendance knew what they had seen. Major Taylor was a force on two wheels.
To Read the Full Story, click here.
Books: Andrew Richie, Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Marshall W. Taylor, Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World: The Story of a Colored Boy’s Indomitable Courage and Success Against Great Odds, Ayer Co. Pub, 1928. Andrew M. Homan, Life in the Slipstream: The Legend of Bobby Walthour Sr., Potomac Books Inc., 2011. Marlene Targ Brill, Marshall “Major” Taylor: World Champion Bicyclist , 1899-1901, Twenty-First Century Books, 2008.
Articles: “Major Taylor—The World’s Fastest Bicycle Racer,” by Michael Kranish, Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, September 16, 2001. “‘Worcester Whirlwind’ Overcame Bias,” by Lynne Tolman, Telegram & Gazette, July 23, 1995. “Draw the Color Line,” Chicago Tribune, April 10, 1898. “Trouble on Taunton’s Track,” New York Times, September 24, 1897. “Taylor Shows the Way,” Chicago Tribune, August 28, 1898.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author, and in no way express the views of Smithsonian Magazine, Blogger, Google or any other entity (i.e. news services) whose content and/or services may have been accessed for use in this blog.