• September 28, 1785 David Walker, abolitionist and author of “David Walker’s Appeal,” was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. Walker moved to Boston, Massachusetts during the 1820s where he served as the local distributor of “Freedom’s Journal,” a weekly abolitionist newspaper, and began to speak and write against slavery and racism. In 1828, he joined the Massachusetts General Colored Association which was committed to promoting the interest and rights of African Americans. In 1829, Walker published a 76 page pamphlet entitled “Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America.” In the appeal, Walker argued that African Americans suffered more than any other people in the history of the world and called for immediate, universal, and unconditional emancipation. He also openly praised enslaved people who used violence in self-defense against their masters and overseers and suggested that enslaved people kill their masters in order to gain freedom. Many historians believe that this was the first written assault on slavery and racism to come from a Black man in the United States. Southern slave owners labeled the pamphlet seditious and placed a price on Walker’s head. On June 28, 1830, Walker was found dead on the doorsteps of his home. “To Awaken My Afflicted Brethren: David Walker and the Problem of Antibellum Slave Resistence” was published in 1996.
• September 27, 1827 Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to serve in the United States Senate, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Revels was ordained an African Methodist Episcopal minister in 1845 and in 1846 was given a pastorship in Natchez, Mississippi. Revels was elected an alderman in Natchez in 1868 and elected to the Mississippi State Senate in 1869. At that time the state legislature elected U. S. Senators and Revels was elected to finish the term of one of the state’s seats left vacant since the Civil War. On February 25, 1870, he took the seat in the senate where he served until resigning March 3, 1871, two months before the end of his term, to become the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University) where he served until his retirement in 1882. Revels died January 16, 1901.
• September 26, 1795 Alexander Lucius Twilight, educator, minister, politician and the first Black person known to have earned a bachelor’s degree from an American college, was born in Corinth, Vermont. From 8 to 21, he was forced to work as an indentured servant. Twilight earned his bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in 1823. He also studied for the ministry with the Congregational Church. In 1829, Twilight was hired as principal of Vermont Grammar School and in 1836 designed and built a massive four-story granite building called Athenian Hall to serve as a dormitory for the school, the first granite public building in Vermont. The building now serves as the Orleans County Historical Society and Museum. Also in 1836, he was elected to the Vermont General Assembly, the first African American elected to a state legislature. Twilight died June 19, 1857. The Alexander Twilight House was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Brownington Village Historic District May 9, 1973. The Alexander Twilight Auditorium at Lyndon State College and Alexander Twilight Hall at Middlebury College are named in his honor. Alexander Twilight College Preparatory Academy is located in Sacramento, California. His biography, “Alexander Twilight, Vermont’s African American Pioneer,” was published in 1998.
• September 25, 1824 William Craft, daring escapee from enslavement, was born enslaved in Macon, Georgia. Craft’s wife Ellen was at least three-quarters European by ancestry and very fair. In December, 1848, they escaped enslavement by traveling openly by train and steamboat. She posed as a White male planter and he as her personal servant. Their escape was widely publicized and over the next two years, they made numerous public appearances to recount their escape. As a result, they were among the most famous of fugitives from slavery. In 1850, the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act which made it a federal crime to aid an escaped slave and required law enforcement, even in free states, to aid efforts to recapture fugitives. Threatened by this act, the Crafts moved to England where they lived for the next 19 years. In 1860, they published their story in “Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom: Or, The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery.” The Crafts returned to the U. S. in 1868 and in 1870 bought 1800 acres of land near Savannah, Georgia where in 1873 they founded the Woodville Co-operative Farm School for the education and employment of freedmen. Ellen Craft died in 1897 and William died January 29, 1900.
• September 24, 1786 Jupiter Hammon delivered his “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York” at the inaugural meeting of the African Society. In that speech he stated “if we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being Black, or for being slaves.” He also said that, while he personally had no wish to be free, he did wish others, especially “the young Negroes, were free.” Hammon went on to say that Black people should maintain their high moral standards precisely because slaves on earth had already secured their place in heaven. Hammon was born enslaved October 17, 1711 in Long Island, New York. Unlike most enslaved people, he was allowed to attend school and could read and write. He published his first poem, “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries,” Christmas Day, 1760, the first African American published writer in America (several years earlier Phyllis Wheatley’s poems had been published in England). Hammon remained enslaved his whole life and died around 1806. His story is told in “America’s First Negro Poet: The Complete Works of Jupiter Hammon of Long Island” (1970) and “Jupiter Hammon and the Biblical Beginnings of African American Literature” (1993).
• September 23, 1863 Mary Church Terrell, civil and suffrage rights activist, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Terrell earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1884 and her Master of Arts degree in 1888 from Oberlin College, one of the first African American women to earn a college degree. She also served as editor of the Oberlin Review. After college, Terrell taught at a Black secondary school and at Wilberforce College. In 1895, she was appointed to the District of Columbia Board of Education where she served until 1906, the first Black woman to serve in that capacity in the United States. In 1896, she was elected the first president of the newly formed National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. In 1904, she was invited to speak at the International Congress of Women in Berlin, Germany, the only Black woman at the conference. In 1909, Terrell and Ida B. Wells-Barnett were the only Black women invited to attend the organizational meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1913, she was one of the organizers of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and 26 years later wrote its creed, setting up a code of conduct for Negro women. Terrell’s autobiography, “A Colored Woman in a White World,” was published in 1940. Terrell died July 24, 1954. The Mary Church Terrell House in Washington, D. C. was designated a National Historic Landmark May 15, 1975. Terrell was among 12 pioneers of civil rights commemorated by the United States Postal Service with a series of postage stamps in 2009. Terrell’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
• September 22, 1839 Michael Augustine Healy, the first person of African descent to command a United States government ship, was born enslaved near Macon, Georgia. Although he was three-quarters European ancestry, he was considered enslaved and could not be formally educated in Georgia. Therefore, his father sent him North for education. In 1854, while in England, Healy signed on to an American East Indian clipper as a cabin boy. He quickly became an expert seaman and rose to the rank of officer. In 1864, he returned to the United States and was accepted as a third lieutenant in the Revenue Cutter Service (now the U. S. Coast Guard). He attained the rank of captain in 1880 and in 1882 was given command of the USRC Thomas Corwin. For the next twenty years, Healy was the federal government’s law enforcement presence in the Alaskan territory. Healy died August 30, 1904. The USCGC Healy was commissioned by the United States Coast Guard November 10, 1999. Healy’s biography, “Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: from American slave to Arctic hero,” was published in 2009. “Passing for White: Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, 1820-1920” was published in 2003.
• September 21, 1872 The United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland admitted the first Black midshipman, John Henry Conyers of South Carolina. After enduring ostracism and being subjected to discrimination, Conyers resigned from the academy. Two other Black midshipmen also attempted to endure the hostile environment at Annapolis but both resigned after a few months. It was not until 1949 that an African American, Wesley Brown, graduated from the academy and received his commission.
• September 20, 1664 Maryland enacted the first Anti-Amalgamation Law to specifically outlaw marriage between Black men and White women. Soon after, similar laws were passed in a number of other colonies. Prior to the laws, interracial marriages were fairly common between White indentured servants and enslaved Black people. It was not until June 12, 1967 that the United States Supreme Court, in the Loving v. Virginia case, declared all such laws unconstitutional and not until 2000 that Alabama became the last state to eliminate its law banning interracial marriages.
• September 19, 1889 Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany, educator, author and civil rights pioneer, was born in Lynch Station, Virginia. Delany graduated from Saint Augustine’s School (now college) in 1910 and moved to New York City in 1916 where she began teaching in the public school system. She earned her bachelor and master’s degrees in education from Columbia University in 1920 and 1925, respectively. Delany was the first Black person permitted to teach domestic science at the high school level in New York City public schools. She retired from teaching in 1960. In 1993, Delany and her sister Bessie published “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” which dealt with the trials and tribulations the sisters had faced during their century of life. The book was on the New York Times hardcover best seller list for 28 weeks and on the paperback list for 77 weeks. In 1999, it was made into a television movie. In 1994, the sisters published “The Delany Sisters’ Book of Everyday Wisdom” and after Bessie’s death, Delany in 1997 published “On My Own At 107: Reflections on Life Without Bessie.” In 1993, Delany and her sister were included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest authors. Delany died January 25, 1999.
• September 18, 1895 Booker T. Washington delivered his famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. Considered the definitive statement of Washington’s accommodationist strategy, it is regarded as one of the most significant speeches in American history. In the speech, Washington responded to the “Negro problem,” what to do about the abysmal social and economic conditions of Black people. Washington promised the audience that he would encourage Black People to become proficient in agriculture, mechanics, commerce, and domestic services, and to encourage them to “dignify and glorify common labor.” Washington also eased many White people’s fears about social integration by stating that both races “could be as separate at the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” The entire speech can be easily found on the internet.
Ford Supports Second Season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on PBS
Ford is supporting the airing of the second season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., which debuts Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. ET
Each hour-long episode will feature a 30-second spot that looks back at the history of Henry Ford and his visionary, family-owned company
Ford will engage viewers throughout the program with several digital and social media executions, including an original digital content series
As fall arrives and new shows debut on the small screen, one television show in particular will allow viewers to learn more about the heritage and ancestries of 30 of today’s leading entertainers, athletes, chefs and media personalities, including hip-hop superstar Nas and author Stephen King.
Ford has joined forces with Public Television to bring the second season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. back this season. The 10-part series finds Henry Louis Gates, Jr. continuing on his quest to – as he puts it – “get into the DNA of American culture.” By weaving a group of celebrity stories together, each episode takes viewers on a journey through layers of ancestral history, uncovering familial secrets.
“This is one of the most fascinating ways history is uncovered, a true example of the significance our past plays in where we are today,” said Shawn Thompson, manager, Ford Multicultural Marketing. “The role Professor Gates is undertaking to show how all Americans are connected is something we – as a company – can stand by. Ford is thrilled to be a part of this project.”
Each hour-long episode will highlight three celebrity guests bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden link. With the help of a team of genealogists, Gates travels thousands of years into the past to discover the origins of today’s game changers.
In addition, each episode will feature a 30-second spot that looks back at the history of Henry Ford and his visionary, family-owned company. For Gates, one of Henry Ford’s lasting contributions was his willingness to pay a fair wage to African American workers employed in his factories, which led Southern sharecroppers to Detroit as part of the early 20th century’s great migration.
Ford set to launch original digital content series tied to program As part of Ford’s support, the Ford brand has created an original digital content series that will launch on YouTube on Tuesday, Sept. 23. The 10-part series will highlight individual user stories as the featured guests share the impact their family history has had on their lives. In addition, Ford and THIRTEEN, the flagship station of PBS, will team up on a live online screening and chat on Sunday, Sept. 21, whereby fans of the program will have the chance to interact and receive behind-the-scenes access to the premier episode in a real-time environment.
Gates kicks off season premiere with live Q&A in Detroit
As Ford gears up for the airing of the first episode of the show, Gates will join award-winning journalist Ed Gordon on the stage for a live Q&A session tied to the program and a book signing at the 9th Biennial Awards for ExcellenceLegacy Dinner, which takes place at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Gates will be the featured guest during the program on Saturday, Sept. 20 and will share with attendees a sneak peek of the first episode of the program.
“Our collaboration with THIRTEEN on this program is rooted in our shared commitment to empower, as well as our goals as a company to go further when it comes to not only our products, but our communities,” said Thompson. “We are very excited about the airing of the first episode, and the opportunity we have to share a slice of Ford’s rich history with the viewers of this award-winning program.”
Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. ET and will run until Tuesday, Nov. 25.
Be sure to join the social conversation throughout the program by using hashtag #MyFordRoots and #FindingYourRoots.
To learn more about Ford’s newest products, log on to www.ford.com.
To learn more about the Legacy dinner, go to http://www.thewright.org/component/eventlist/details/1127-9th-biennial-awards-for-excellence-legacy-dinner
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About Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 186,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.
• September 17, 1858 Dred Scott, an enslaved Black man that unsuccessfully sued for his freedom, died. Scott was born enslaved in Southampton County, Virginia in the 1790s. In 1847, Scott sued for his freedom in a Missouri state court on the basis that he and his wife had been taken by their owner to states and territories where slavery was illegal. Scott lost that case but pursued the issue to the United States Supreme Court in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. The Supreme Court ruled against him finding that he, nor any person of African ancestry, could claim citizenship in the United States and therefore could not bring suit in federal court. In effect, the Court ruled that enslaved people were property and not citizens and therefore had no claim to freedom. Ironically, Scott was granted his freedom by his owner less than three months after the Supreme Court decision. “Dred and Harriett Scott: A Family’s Struggle for Freedom” was published in 2004.
• September 16, 1839 James Daniel Gardner, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Gloucester, Virginia. He worked as an oysterman before enlisting in the Union Army in 1863. On September 29, 1864, Gardner was serving as a private in Company I of the 36th Regiment United States Colored Troops when his actions at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm earned him the medal, America’s highest military decoration. Gardner’s regiment was among a division of Black troops assigned to attack the Confederate defenses. The attack was met with intense fire and over fifty percent of the Black troops were killed, captured, or wounded. Gardner advanced ahead of his unit into the Confederate fortifications, “shot a rebel officer who was on the parapet rallying his men, and then ran him through with his bayonet.” The day after the battle, Gardner was promoted to sergeant and received the medal April 6, 1865. Gardner died September 29, 1905. In 2006, a memorial commemorating him was unveiled in his hometown.
• September 15, 1830 The first National Negro Convention began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Forty African Americans from nine states attended the meeting to consider if Black people should be encouraged to emigrate to Canada. From the meeting emerged a new organization, The American Society of Free People of Colour for Improving Their Condition in the United States; for Purchasing Lands; and for the Establishment of a Settlement in the Province of Canada. Bishop Richard Allen was named president.
• September 14, 1735 Prince Hall, the founder of “Black Freemasonry,” was born in Barbados. Not much is known of his youth and how he ended up in Boston, Massachusetts. It is known that he was a property owner and a registered voter and that he worked as an abolitionist and civil rights activist. He fought for laws to protect Black people from kidnapping by slave traders and campaigned for schools for Black children. On March 6, 1775, Hall and 14 other free Black men were initiated into Military Lodge No. 441, a lodge attached to the British Army. On July 3, 1776, the Black Masons were granted a dispensation for limited operations as African Lodge No. 1 which then served as the mother lodge to new Black lodges in other cities. In 1791, Black Freemasons formed the African Grand Lodge of North America and unanimously elected Hall Grand Master, a position he held until his death December 4, 1807. Hall was buried on Copp’s Hill in Boston and a tribute monument was unveiled next to his grave marker June 24, 1835. The African Grand Lodge was later renamed Prince Hall Grand Lodge in his honor. “Prince Hall: life and Legacy” was published in 1983. Hall’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
• September 13, 1856 Maria Louise Baldwin, educator and civic leader, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Baldwin graduated from the Cambridge training school for teachers in 1875 and taught in Chestertown, Maryland for two years. In 1881, she was hired to teach at the Agassiz Grammar School of Cambridge. She became principal of the school in 1889, the first African American female principal in Massachusetts. In 1916, a new school was erected, including higher grades, and Baldwin was made master, supervising twelve White teachers and 500 mostly White students. She was one of two women and the only African American master in the Cambridge school system. Baldwin served as master of Agassiz for forty years and under her leadership it was considered one of the best schools in Cambridge. She also taught summer courses for teachers at Hampton Institute and the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney State University). Baldwin also lectured throughout the country on women’s suffrage, poverty, and history. Baldwin died January 9, 1922. Her home in Cambridge was designated a National Historic Landmark May 11, 1976 and February 12, 2004 the Agassiz school was renamed the Maria L. Baldwin School.
• September 12, 1840 Mary Jane Patterson, the first Black woman to graduate from an established college with a four year degree, was born enslaved in Raleigh, North Carolina. Patterson’s family gained their freedom in 1852 and moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1856. Patterson enrolled in Oberlin College in 1857 and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, with highest honors, in 1861. After graduation, Patterson taught at various schools, including the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (now Cheyney University) and the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth in Washington, D. C. (now Dunbar High School). Patterson served as the latter school’s first Black principal from 1871 to 1872. She was reappointed to the position from 1873 to 1884. During her administration, the school grew from less than 50 to 172 students. Patterson continued to teach at the school until her death September 24, 1894.
• September 11, 1854 Christopher J. Perry, Sr., founder of the Philadelphia Tribune, was born in Baltimore, Maryland but raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 13, Perry began writing articles for the local newspapers. In 1881, he began writing for the Northern Daily and eventually became editor of the colored section of The Sunday Mercury. On November 22, 1884, Perry founded the Philadelphia Tribune which quickly became one of the leading African American newspapers in the country. Perry died in 1921 but the Tribune continues to be published and is the oldest continuously published African American newspaper in the nation.
• September 10, 1836 Caesar Carpentier “C. C.” Antoine, businessman and former Lieutenant Governor of the State of Louisiana, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Antoine attended private school as a youth and became fluent in French and English. During the Civil War, he organized Company I of the Seventh Louisiana Colored Regiment and was commissioned a captain. After the war, he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and established a grocery business. Antoine was elected a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention and served in the Louisiana State Senate from 1868 to 1872. He also edited the semiweekly New Orleans Louisianan from 1870 to 1872. In 1872, Antoine was elected lieutenant governor, a position he held until 1876 when he was defeated for re-election. In 1880, he became president of the Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Company. Antoine also served as vice president of the citizen’s committee formed in 1890 to wage a legal battle against racial discrimination. The committee also unsuccessfully challenged a state law forbidding interracial marriage. Antoine died September 12, 1921. In 1982, a park in Shreveport was dedicated in Antoine’s honor with a six-foot monument listing his accomplishments. His home in Shreveport is a state historical site.