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Today in Black History, 1/23/2014

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• January 23, 1837 Amanda Berry Smith, evangelist, was born enslaved in Long Green, Maryland. As a child, Smith’s father worked for years to save enough money to buy his family’s freedom and when she was 13 she moved to Pennsylvania to work. Smith became well known for her beautiful voice and evangelized throughout the South and West. In 1876, she was invited to speak and sing in England and ended up staying for a year and a half conducting religious services. After her return to the United States, she founded the Amanda Smith Orphans’ Home for African American children in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. She continued to evangelize and became known as “God’s image carved in ebony.” In 1893, her autobiography, “The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, the Colored Evangelist,” was published. Smith retired to Florida in 1912 where she lived until her death February 24, 1915.

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Today in Black History, 1/22/2014

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• January 22, 1822 Barney Launcelot Ford, businessman and civic leader, was born enslaved in Virginia. In 1840, Ford escaped and went to Chicago, Illinois. In 1848, while sailing to California, he landed in Nicaragua where he saw many business opportunities. In 1851, he opened the United States Hotel and Restaurant which became very successful and provided him $5,000 in savings. Ford returned to Denver, Colorado where he eventually owned two hotels, a restaurant, and a barbershop and by the 1870s was worth over $250,000. With his wealth, Ford gave money, food, and jobs to newly freed African Americans and opened a school for Black children. In 1882, he and his wife were the first African Americans to be invited to a Colorado Association of Pioneers dinner. Ford died December 22, 1902. His portrait, in the form of a stained glass window, is in the rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol Building. The Barney Ford House Museum is located in Breckenridge, Colorado and the Barney L. Ford Building is in Denver. In 1973, a new Denver elementary school was named in his honor. Biographies of Ford include “Adventures of Barney Ford, a Runaway Slave” (1969) and “Barney Ford: Black Baron” (1973).

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Today in Black History, 1/21/2014

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• January 21, 1913 Fannie Jackson Coppin, educator and journalist, died. Coppin was born enslaved October 15, 1837 in Washington, D.C. She gained her freedom at 12 when her aunt, who worked for $6 per month and saved $125, was able to purchase Coppin’s freedom. In 1860, Coppin enrolled at Oberlin College and was the first African American student to be appointed in the college’s preparatory department. While attending Oberlin, Coppin established an evening school for previously enslaved Black people. Coppin earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1865. She began to teach at the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney University) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1869, Coppin became principal of the institute, making her the first African American woman to receive that title. She served in that position until 1906. In addition to teaching, Coppin founded homes for working and poor women and wrote an influential column in the local newspapers that defended the rights of women and Black people. In 1902, Coppin and her husband went to South Africa and founded the Bethel Institute, a missionary school that emphasized self-help programs. Her book “Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching” was published shortly after her death. In 1926, a teacher training school was named the Fannie Jackson Coppin Normal School in her honor. That school is now Coppin State University. Coppin’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Today in Black History, 1/20/2014

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• January 20, 1888 Leadbelly, hall of fame folk musician, was born Huddle William Ledbetter in Mooringsport, Louisina. From 1915 to 1934, Leadbelly spent considerable time in prisons where hundreds of his songs, including “Midnight Special” and “Goodnight Irene,” were recorded for the Library of Congress. By 1935, Leadbelly had gained fame and Life Magazine ran a three page article in the April 19, 1937 issue title “Lead Belly-Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel.” Leadbelly performed on radio shows and toured around the world until his death December 6, 1949. Despite this, he died penniless. His vast songbook has provided material for numerous folk, country, pop, and rock acts. Leadbelly was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989. A film, “Leadbelly,” loosely based on his life was released in 1976 and in 1999 the book, “The Life and Legend of Leadbelly,” was published.

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Today in Black History, 1/19/2014

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• January 19, 1887 Clementine Hunter, folk artist, was born at Hidden Hill Plantation in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. At 15, Hunter moved to Melrose Plantation where she spent most of her life picking cotton and never learning to read or write. Hunter was a self-taught artist who produced between four and five thousand paintings in her lifetime. In the 1940s, she sold her paintings for as little as a quarter. By the 1970s, they were selling for hundreds of dollars and today they are sold for thousands of dollars. Hunter was the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art and although she became a respected artist and folk art legend, she spent most of her life in poverty. Hunter died January 1, 1988. Several biographies of Hunter have been published, including “Clementine Hunter: American Folk Artist” (1990), “Painting by Heart: The Life and Art of Clementine Hunter” (2000), and “Clementine Hunter: Her Life and Art” (2012).

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Today in Black History, 1/18/2014

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• January 18, 1856 Daniel Hale Williams, the first African American cardiologist in the United States, was born in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Williams earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical College (now Northwestern University Medical School) in 1883. On May 4, 1891, he founded Provident Hospital, the first integrated hospital in the United States, and training school for nurses in Chicago, Illinois. On July 9, 1893, Williams performed an operation on a man that had been stabbed in the chest. The operation required that he open the man’s chest, and close the wound around the heart. This is often noted as the first successful surgery on the heart. In 1895, he co-founded the National Medical Association for Black doctors. In 1913, he became a charter member, and the only Black member, in the American College of Surgeons. Williams received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard and Wilberforce Universities. Williams died August 4, 1931. Biographies of Williams include “Daniel Hale Williams: Negro Surgeon” (1968) and “Daniel Hale Williams: Open Heart Doctor” (1970). The Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine in Chicago is named in his honor.

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Crusaders in Arms: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Judge Damon J. Keith

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Judge Keith with Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Above: This photo, by Sonny Edwards Photography, was taken sometime between 1960 and 1968. Judge Keith is second from the left with his arm around the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is unknown who the other two men are in the photo. Photograph courtesy of Judge Damon Keith and the Collections and Exhibitions department of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Research, caption and scanning by Derek Thomas Sojda.)

Because of his work, Martin Luther King, Jr. was rightfully made an icon of peace and equality. But, even he knew it is impossible for one man to do everything. He needed the expertise and experience from those of other walks of life, who had different career paths and aspirations, but still held a deep passion for social justice. As such, he worked directly with teams of bright people, and kept even more people in his circles. One such person was Judge Damon Keith.

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Today in Black History, 1/17/2014

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• January 17, 1759 Paul Cuffee, businessman and abolitionist, was born on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts. At 16, Cuffee signed on to a whaling ship and by the time he was 21 owned a fleet of ships and a 116 acre farm. As Cuffee became more successful, he invested in more ships and made a sizable fortune. Cuffee believed that the emigration of Black people to colonies outside of the United States was a viable solution to the race problem in America and in 1811 launched his first expedition to Sierra Leone. While in Sierra Leone, he helped to establish the Friendly Society of Sierra Leone, a trading organization run by Black people. Cuffee died September 9, 1817. Biographies of Cuffee include “Paul Cuffee: Black America and the African Return” published in 1972 and “Paul Cuffee: Black Entrepreneur and Pan-Africanist” published in 1988. He is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church on March 4.

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Today in Black History, 1/16/2014

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• January 16, 1865 Union General William T. Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15 which confiscated as Federal property a strip of coastline stretching from Charleston, South Carolina to the St. John’s River in Florida. The order redistributed the 400,000 acres of land to newly freed Black families in 40-acre segments. In a later order, Sherman also authorized the army to loan mules to the newly settled Black farmers. This is the likely origin of the phrase “forty acres and a mule.” Unfortunately, the order was a short-lived promise for Black people. President Andrew Johnson overturned Sherman’s order in the fall of 1865 and returned the land to the planters who had originally owned it.

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Today in Black History, 1/15/2014

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• January 15, 1891 Bridget “Biddy” Mason, nurse, real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist, died. Mason was born enslaved August 15, 1818 in Hancock County, Georgia. She was given to a couple as a wedding present and they took her to Mississippi and then to California. California was a free state and any enslaved person brought into the state was supposed to be free. The couple refused to free Mason. Therefore, she petitioned a Los Angeles court and was granted her freedom. Mason worked as a nurse and a midwife and was one of the first African Americans to purchase land in the city. She amassed a fortune of nearly $300,000 which she shared with charities. She was instrumental in founding a traveler’s aid center and an elementary school for Black children. In 1872, Mason donated the land to, and was a founding member of, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the city’s first and oldest Black church. Mason is an honoree in the California Social Work Hall of Distinction and is annually celebrated on Biddy Mason Day November 19th. Her biography, “The Life and Times of Biddy Mason,” was published in 1976.

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Today in Black History, 1/14/2014

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• January 14, 1904 Issac Payne, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died. Payne was born in 1854 in Coahuila, Mexico. He was a descendant of runaway enslaved Black people who lived with the Seminole Indian tribe. Payne immigrated to the United States in 1871 when the U. S. Army promised the Black Seminoles land, rations, and pay to serve as scouts. He enlisted as a trumpeter and on April 25, 1875 he and three other men “participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol” by the Pecos River in Texas. His actions earned him the medal, America’s highest military decoration. Payne left the army in 1901 and not much else is known of his life.

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Today in Black History, 1/13/2014

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• January 13, 1835 Isaac Myers, labor leader, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Myers received his early education from a private day school because Maryland provided no public education for African American children. At 16, he became an apprentice to a Black ship caulker. Four years later, he was supervising the caulking of clipper ships operating out of Baltimore. Soon after the end of the Civil War, Myers founded the Colored Caulkers Trade Union Society. On February 12, 1866, the society purchased a shipyard and railway which they named the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company. Within months, the company employed 300 Black caulkers. The company ceased operation in 1884. On January 13, 1869, the Colored National Labor Union was founded with Myers as the first president. The union was founded to pursue equal representation for African Americans in the workforce. Although the CNLU welcomed all workers no matter their race, gender, or occupation, the dominant society and government did not take it seriously and it disbanded in 1871. Myers went on to organize and become president of the Maryland Colored State Industrial Fair Association, the Colored Businessmen’s Association of Baltimore, the Colored Building and Loan Association, and the Aged Ministers Home of the A.M.E. Church. Myers died in 1891. The Frederick Douglass – Isaac Myers Maritime Park in Baltimore is an educational and national heritage site that highlights African American maritime history.

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Today in Black History, 1/12/2014

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• January 12, 1870 Adah Belle Thoms, hall of fame nurse, was born in Richmond, Virginia. Thoms graduated from the Women’s Infirmary and School of Therapeutic Massage in 1900 and the Lincoln Hospital and Home School of Nursing in 1905. She served as acting director at Lincoln from 1906 to 1923 but could not receive the official title of director because of her race. Thoms was a co-founder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908 and served as president from 1916 to 1923. She played a significant role in lobbying for the rights of African American women to serve in the United States military during World War I. In 1936, Thoms was the first recipient of the Mary Mahoney Medal from the NACGN. Thoms died February 21, 1943. She was an inaugural inductee into the American Nursing Association Hall of Fame in 1976.

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Today in Black History, 1/11/2014

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• January 11, 1948 Madeline Manning, hall of fame track and field athlete, author and speaker, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Manning ran track at Tennessee State University where she won ten national titles, set a number of American records, and graduated in 1972. She participated in the 1968, 1972, and 1976 Summer Olympic Games. At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, she won a Gold medal in the 800-meter race and at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games she won a Silver medal as a member of the 4 by 400-meter relay team. In 1984, Manning was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame. Manning is founder and president of the United States Council for Sports Chaplaincy and has served as U. S. team chaplain at the 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens, and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. She also founded Ambassadorship, Inc., a ministry through sports and the arts. Manning has received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oral Roberts University.

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Today in Black History, 1/10/2014

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• January 10, 1750 James Varick, founder and the first Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, was born near Newburgh, New York. Varick acquired an elementary education and for many years worked as a shoemaker and tobacco cutter. In 1800, after leaving the predominantly White church he had been associated with for 30 years over their racial policies, Varick and other Black members established the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Varick was ordained a deacon in 1806 and in 1822 was elected the first bishop. He was re-elected in 1824. Varick was a fierce opponent of slavery and fought for equal rights for African Americans. He was one of the Black leaders that petitioned the New York State Constitutional Convention to grant Black people the right to vote. He also actively supported the establishment of Freedoms Journal, the first Black newspaper in the United States. Varick died July 22, 1827. The James Varick Community Center was established in New York City in 1973.

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Today in Black History, 1/9/2014

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• January 9, 1886 Aaron Anderson, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died. Anderson was born in 1811 in Plymouth, North Carolina. He enlisted in the Union Navy at 52 during the Civil War. On March 17, 1865, while serving as a landsman on board the U.S.S. Wyandank on a mission to attack Confederate forces in Mattox Creek in Virginia, his actions earned him the medal. His citation partially reads, “carried out his duties courageously in the face of a devastating fire which cut away half the oars, pierced the launch in many places and cut the barrel off a musket being fired at the enemy.” Anderson was awarded the medal, America’s highest military decoration, June 22, 1865. He left the navy after his term of service expired and little is known of his post-war life.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at The Wright Museum; Museum’s most popular day of the year features Commemorative Breakfast celebration, activities for the entire family

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The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History presents the 14th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Commemorative Breakfast Monday, January 20, 2014 beginning at 8 am. The breakfast precedes a full day of activities honoring Dr. King and his legacy at the museum,located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, on its most popular day of the year.

Hosted by the Women’s and Friends’ Committees of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the breakfast, an annual fundraiser for the museum, will feature a keynote by Reverend Dr. Carlyle Fielding Stewart III, Senior Pastor, Hope United Methodist Church; Charleston, South Carolina contemporary violinist Daniel Davis performing a MLK tribute entitled The Dream Today; China Cochran, Lyric Soprano; 2013 Miss Michigan American Sweetheart Isabella Vesprini; and the Institute of Music & Dance at Marygrove College. To mark the 40th anniversary of the city’s first African American mayor taking office, the posthumous Honorary Chair of the breakfast is Mayor Coleman A. Young, with his friend, the Honorable Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, as Honorary Co-Chair.

The Wright Museum opens to the public at 9 am with a full day of activities, and will remain open until 7 pm. The day’s schedule includes arts & crafts, children’s activities and workshops; a musical performance by contemporary violinist Daniel Davis; screenings of the museum-produced documentary, A King Among Us; displays of Martin Luther King artifacts including a recently donated, signed copy of Dr. King’s 1964 book, Why We Can’t Wait, and two gifts of General Motors: the Table of Brotherhood, signed by luminaries such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Spike Lee, and an official maquette (scale model) of the Martin Luther King National Memorial in Washington, D.C.; and a morning book signing by the Honorable Damon J. Keith for Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith, written by Peter J. Hammer and Trevor W. Coleman with a foreword by Mitch Albom.

Additionally, the museum will open its latest traveling exhibition, Point of View: African American Art Masters from the Elliot and Kimberly Perry Collection, which features works by modern masters such as Henry Ossawa Tanner, William Edouard Scott, Elizabeth Catlett, James Van Der Zee, and many others. Point of View is a two-part exhibit drawn from the impressive African American and African Diaspora art collection of Elliot and Kimberly Perry, presented in partnership with the Flint Institute of Arts, which is displaying the collection’s contemporary works. Elliot Perry, a former professional basketball player, started to collect mid-to late 20th century African American art in 1996, and has said that his passion for art now rivals his love for basketball. This collaboration allows visitors to see both exhibitions with the purchase of one ticket.

Tickets for the Commemorative Breakfast are $35 and can be purchased online at www.TheWright.org, by calling (800) 838-3006, or at the museum during normal business hours. Discounted group tickets are available for $30 each when purchased in groups of 10, and all breakfast tickets include admission to MLK Day activities at the museum. Doors open at 7 am and breakfast will be served promptly at 8 am in the museum’s Ford Freedom Rotunda.  Valet parking will be available.

crusaderforjustice smMLK Day activities and exhibits are free with museum admission, which is $8 for adults (ages 13-61), $5 for seniors (62+) and youth ages (3-12), and free for museum members and children under 3. The first 100 visitors to the daylong celebration will receive a signed copy of Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith with the purchase of a museum membership or Commemorative Breakfast ticket, courtesy of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

About Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith

The Honorable Damon J. Keith was appointed to the federal bench in 1967 and has served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since 1977, where he has been an eloquent defender of civil and constitutional rights and a vigorous enforcer of civil rights law. In Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith, authors Peter J. Hammer and Trevor W. Coleman presents the first ever biography of native Detroiter Judge Keith, surveying his education, important influences, major cases, and professional and personal commitments. Along the way, the authors consult a host of Keith's notable friends and colleagues, including former White House deputy counsel John Dean, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and industrialist Edsel Ford II for this candid and comprehensive volume.

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Today in Black History, 1/8/2014

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• January 8, 1811 The German Coast Uprising, a slave revolt that took place in the Territory of Orleans, began. The uprising was led by Charles Deslondes, a free person of color from Haiti, and lasted for two days. During that time between 200 and 500 enslaved persons participated, burning five plantation houses and killing two White men. A total of 95 insurgents were killed in the aftermath of the rebellion, including Deslondes who was captured and “had his hands chopped off then shot in one thigh and then the other until they were broken, then shot in the body, and before he had expired was put into a bundle of straw and roasted.” The legislature of the Orleans Territory approved compensation of $300 to planters for each enslave person killed or executed. Books about the uprising include “On to New Orleans! Louisiana’s Heroic 1811 Slave Revolt” (1996), and “American Uprising” (2010).

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Liberation Film Series presents The FBI’s War on Black America & The Assata Shakur Autobiography Documentary; Free double feature & discussion focus on historic and continuing persecution

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Long before the revelations of potentially unconstitutional activities by the NSA and other governmental agencies, as recently disclosed by high profile whistleblowers Mark Klein, Julian Assange, Michael Hastings, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden, there emerged in the 1950s COINTELPRO (Counterintelligence Program), a covert operation crafted by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his Deputy Director, William Sullivan. COINTELPRO was initially aimed at U.S. communists and their organizations, but its focus later shifted to discredit, disrupt, and destroy the Black Nationalist Liberation Movement, and to neutralize its leaders. There was also evidence the CIA, State Department, Army Intelligence and other federal, state and local governmental agencies conspired to destroy global anti-colonial liberation movements, of which the U.S. Black Liberation Movement was an integral part.

The Liberation Film Series’ 2013 – 2014 season continues with a special double-feature screening of The FBI’s War on Black America and The Assata Shakur Autobiography Documentary, followed by a discussion and Q&A on historic and continuing attacks on the Black Liberation Movement and its activists with "Comrade Mother" Akua Njeri, widow of Chairman Fred Hampton, Sr., and her son, Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. This free event takes place Saturday, January 18, 2014, at 2 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.

At 4:30 am on December 4, 1969, fourteen Chicago policemen, aided by a floor plan provided by paid informant William O’Neal, raided the apartment of Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton. The policemen, who were allegedly there to serve a search warrant for illegal weapons, were armed with shotguns, handguns and a .45 caliber machine gun. Hampton, just twenty-one years old, and apparently drugged by the informant, was repeatedly shot in his bed. Black Panther Defense Captain Mark Clark was also assassinated in this criminal raid.

Illinois State Attorney General Edward V. Hanrahan and the media claimed the Panthers had opened fire on the police, evidence later emerged that told a much different story: that the FBI, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, and the Chicago police conspired to assassinate Chairman Fred Hampton. Noam Chomsky described Hampton’s killing as “the gravest domestic crime of the Nixon administration” which “overshadow[ed] the entire Watergate affair by a substantial margin.”

On May 2, 1973, Black Panther activist Assata Olugbala Shakur, formerly Joanne Deborah Chesimard, was stopped by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice with her arms raised, and charged with the murder of a police officer. Assata spent six and a half years in prison before escaping from the maximum-security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving, as a political refugee, to Cuba. 

Assata made the following statement,My name is Assata (‘she who struggles’) Olugbala (‘for the people’) Shakur (‘the thankful one’), and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the U.S. government's policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969, the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it ‘greatest threat to the internal security of the country’ and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.”

On May 2, 2013, Assata Shakur was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, becoming the first woman to do so. In addition, the state of New Jersey announced it was adding $1 million to the FBI’s $1 million reward for her capture.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Liberation Film Series: 2013 - 2014 Season, entitled Injustice & Resistance!, brings into focus the escalating injustice experienced by people of African descent in America today. The purpose is to leverage the collective knowledge of scholars, students, community activists and the grassroots community in a meaningful conversation that focuses on the examination of important films of our history.

The Liberation Film Series is supported by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Black Studies Departments of Michigan State University, University of Michigan - Dearborn, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne County Community College District, Oakland University, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and Dr. Errol Henderson (University of Pennsylvania), Media Education Foundation, National Council of Black Studies, The Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Wayne State University Press, Black White Look Optical, ASALH-Detroit, community activists, and individual contributors. Charles Ezra Ferrell, a consultant to The Wright Museum, is the LFS Founder and Program Director.

The 2013 - 2014 season of the Liberation Film Series runs through June 2014, and is free and open to the public. For more information, including the complete series schedule and respective speaker profiles, discussion topics, trailers, reading lists, supplemental educational links, and insightful statements of endorsement, please visit www.TheWright.org/liberation.

About “Comrade Mother” Akua Njeri

“Comrade Mother” Akua Njeri (also known as Deborah Johnson) is a former member of the Illinois Chapter Black Panther Party. She is a survivor of the December 4, 1969 assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark. She is the widow of Chairman Fred and the mother of Chairman Fred Jr.

Njeri is the Chairperson of the December 4th Committee that fights to defend and maintain the legacy of the Black Panther Party. December 4th co-coordinates, with Prisoners of Conscience Committee (P.O.C.C.), the annual August 30th birthday celebration of Chairman Fred Hampton, and the life, work, and commemorative events around the annual December 4th International Revolutionary Day, and the anniversary of the "Massacre on Monroe" - the assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark.

Njeri is the co-author of the proposal to name 1 Chicago Block of 2300 W. Monroe "Chairman Fred Hampton Way," a campaign that exposed the dividing line between the interests of the state against the demands of the people. Njeri coordinates free clothing and fresh vegetable giveaways with P.O.C.C. and other survival programs. She also is on the board of the Advisory Committee for P.O.C.C.

About Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr.

Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. is a political activist and the son of Fred Hampton, Sr. His father was a Black Panther who was killed by the Chicago Police in 1969. Hampton's mother “Comrade Mother” Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson), who was also shot, was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with him when Hampton Sr. was killed in her presence during the pre-dawn police raid. Hampton Sr. was 21 at the time of his death; Johnson was 19.

Hampton, Jr. has followed his father's legacy, becoming prominent in Black Nationalist politics. In 1990, he became the president of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement, is currently the chairman of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (P.O.C.C.), and actively tours the country as a speaker and community activist.

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Today in Black History, 1/7/2014

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• January 7, 1890 William B. Purvis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received patent number 419,065 for the fountain pen. Purvis’ invention made the use of an ink bottle obsolete by storing ink in a reservoir within the pen which was then fed to the tip of the pen. Over his lifetime, Purvis received ten additional patents. He is also believed to have invented, but not patent, several other devices. Little else is known of Purvis’ life.

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