Charles H. Wright Museum Logo
Subscribe to feed The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 12/12/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Friday, 12 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 12, 1816 Robert James Harlan, entrepreneur, politician and army officer, was born enslaved in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Harlan was tutored by his two older half-brothers and at 18 opened a barbershop. He later opened a grocery store and traded animal skins with local hunters. He moved to California in 1849 and within a year and a half had amassed over $90,000 in gold. He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1851 and invested in real estate and a photographic gallery. Despite his business success, Harlan remained legally enslaved. Therefore, he returned to Kentucky and bought his freedom for $500. Also during that time, he opened the first school for African American children in Cincinnati and served as a trustee for the Cincinnati Public School System and the Colored Orphan Asylum. Harlan served one term in the Ohio State Legislature and successfully fought for repeal of Ohio’s “Black Laws.” He was a delegate to the 1872 Republican National Convention and was appointed by President Chester A. Arthur special agent for the United States Post Office and Treasury. In 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes commissioned him a colonel in the U. S. Army. Harlan died September 24, 1897.

Hits: 471 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/11/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 11 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 11, 1894 William B. Purvis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received patent number 530,650 for a Paper-Bag Machine which more perfectly formed the square bottom of paper bags. Purvis had previously received patent number 419,065 January 7, 1890 for a fountain pen. That 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 nine additional patents. He is also believed to have invented, but did not patent, several other devices. Not much else is known of Purvis’ life.

Hits: 713 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/10/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 10 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 10, 1854 Edwin C. Berry, businessman, was born in Oberlin, Ohio but raised in Athens, Ohio. Berry was often called the “Black Horatio Algier” because he erected a 22 room hotel which was one of the finest and most elegant hotels in Ohio. At the time of his retirement in 1921, he had a reputation as the most successful Black small city hotel operator in the country. He was a member of the National Negro Business League and a trustee of Wilberforce University. Berry died March 12, 1931.

Hits: 567 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/9/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 09 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 9, 1579 Saint Martin de Porres, Dominican lay brother, was born in Lima, Peru. At 15, de Porres was admitted to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary as a servant boy. His piety and miraculous cures led his superiors to drop the racial limits on admission to the Order and he was made a full Dominican brother. At 24, de Porres was given the habit of a coadjutor brother and assigned to the infirmary where many miracles were attributed to him. Although he never left Lima, many people around the world attributed their salvation to seeing him. By the time of his death November 3, 1639, de Porres was known as a saint throughout the region. Martin de Porres was beatified in 1837 and canonized May 6, 1962. Many buildings around the world are named after him, including Saint Martin de Porres High School in Detroit, Michigan. His biography, “St. Martin de Porres: Apostle of Charity,” was published in 1963.

Hits: 725 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/8/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Monday, 08 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 8, 1868 Henry Hugh Proctor, author, lecturer and clergyman, was born near Fayetteville, Tennessee. Proctor earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University in 1891, his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale University in 1894, and his Doctor of Divinity degree from Clark University in 1904. He co-founded the National Convention of Congregational Workers Among Colored People in 1903 and became its first president. The mission of the organization was to help Black Congressional churches in the South become self-sufficient, employ more of their own graduates, promote Congregationalism among African Americans, and strengthen the theological departments of the schools in the American Missionary Association. Proctor was a strong believer in self-improvement and wanted to give the Atlanta African American community tools for improving their lives. In 1910, he founded the Atlanta Colored Music Festival Association which annually presented a concert based on the belief that music could ease racial animosity and promote racial harmony. Proctor authored “Between Black and White” in 1925. He died May 12, 1933.

Hits: 681 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/7/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 07 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 7, 1859 John Merrick, entrepreneur and businessman, was born enslaved in Clinton, North Carolina. Merrick was freed after the Civil War and learned to read and write at a Reconstruction school. He moved to Durham, North Carolina in 1880 and opened a series of barbershops. The success of his barbershops and his community involvement made him prominent in both the White and Black communities. He co-founded the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association in 1898 “to relieve stress amongst poverty stricken segments of Durham’s Negro population.” The institution later changed its name to North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. Additionally, Merrick served as president of Lincoln Hospital and helped establish Durham’s first African American bank, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, and drug store, Bull City Drugs in 1901. Merrick co-founded Merrick-Moore-Spaulding Real Estate Company in 1910 to provide property insurance for Black property owners. The education of Black children was a priority for Merrick. In addition to supporting rural schools and the College for Blacks (now North Carolina Central University), he helped open a public library for the Black children of Durham. Just prior to his death August 6, 1919, the insurance company changed its name to North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. The company continues in business today. Merrick’s biography, “John Merrick: A Biographical Sketch,” was published in 1920.

Hits: 1035 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/6/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 06 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 6, 1865 The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted. The amendment officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. This completed the abolition of the institution of slavery that had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation issued in 1863.

Hits: 877 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/5/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Friday, 05 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 5, 1775 A petition signed by fourteen White officers was issued to the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony recognizing the exemplary service of Salem Poor at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The petition stated that he had “behaved like an experienced officer” and that in Poor “centers a brave and gallant soldier.” Not much is known of Poor’s life except that he was born enslaved in Andover, Massachusetts around 1747 and bought his freedom in 1769. In 1775, he enlisted in the Continental Army and fought at Bunker Hill, Monmouth, and Saratoga. He was one of approximately 5,000 African Americans that fought for the patriots in the Revolutionary War. “The Negro in the American Revolution,” published in 1961, is a comprehensive history of the many and important roles played by African Americans during the American Revolution. In 1975, Poor was honored by the United States Postal Service with a commemorative postage stamp in the “Contributors to the Cause” series.

Hits: 700 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/4/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 04 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 4, 1807 Prince Hall, the founder of Black Freemasonry, died. Hall was born September 14, 1735 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. When the British Army left, the Black Masons were granted a dispensation for limited operations as African Lodge No. 1 which then served as mother lodge to new Black lodges in other cities July 3, 1776. 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. Hall was buried on Copp’s Hill in Boston and a tribute monument in his honor was unveiled next to his grave marker June 24, 1835. The African Grand Lodge was later renamed the 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.

Hits: 643 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/3/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 03 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 3, 1847 Fredrick Douglass published the first edition of the North Star. In the first edition the paper stated, “It has long been our anxious wish to see, in this slave-holding, slave-trading, and Negro-hating land, a printed-press and paper, permanently established, under the complete control and direction of the immediate victims of slavery and oppression.” The North Star’s slogan, “Right is of no sex, Truth is of no color, God is the father of us all, and we are all brethren,” spoke to the scope of their coverage, including emancipation, women’s suffrage, and education. The newspaper was published until June, 1851 when Douglass and Gerrit Smith agreed to merge the North Star with the Liberty Party Paper to form Frederick Douglass’ Paper. That paper was published for another ten years before Douglass was forced to shut it down for financial reasons.

Hits: 506 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/2/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 02 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 2, 1811 Lewis Hayden, abolitionist and businessman, was born enslaved in Lexington, Kentucky. When he was ten, Hayden’s owner traded him for two carriage horses. In the mid-1830s, he married but his wife and son were later sold and he never saw them again. Hayden remarried in 1842 and in 1844 he and his wife escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad to Canada. In 1845, they moved to Detroit, Michigan where Hayden founded a school for Black children and helped organize the Colored Methodist Society (now Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church). Hayden moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1846 where he owned a clothing store which became the second largest Black owned business in Boston. Hayden also worked as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society and was on the executive committee of the Boston Vigilance Committee. He also contributed money to John Brown for his raid on Harpers Ferry. Hayden was also active with the Prince Hall Freemasons and after the Civil War traveled throughout the South establishing and supporting African American masonic lodges. He published several works, including “Caste among Masons” (1866) and “Negro Masonry” (1871). In 1873, he was elected to serve one term in the Massachusetts legislature. Hayden died April 7, 1889.

Hits: 663 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 12/1/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Monday, 01 December 2014
in Today in Black History

• December 1, 1874 Turner Byrd, Jr. of Williamsville, Michigan received patent number 157,370 for an improvement in railcar couplings. Byrd’s invention provided a means of uncoupling railcars without the necessity of an individual going between the cars. Byrd had previously received patent numbers 123,328 February 6, 1872 for an improved harness rein holder, 124,790 March 19, 1872 for an improved apparatus for detaching horses from carriages, and 126,181 April 30, 1872 for an improved neck-yoke for wagons. Not much else is known of Byrd’s life.

Hits: 609 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 11/30/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 30 November 2014
in Today in Black History

• November 30, 1875 Alexander P. Ashbourne of Oakland, California received patent number 170,460 for an improved biscuit-cutter. Prior to his invention, cooks would roll and shape their biscuits by hand. His invention consisted of a board to roll the biscuit dough out which was hinged to a metal plate with various biscuit cutter shapes mounted to it. The plate was brought down on the dough creating many biscuit shapes at once. The cutters were spring-loaded, allowing the biscuit shapes to be easily released. Additionally, Ashbourne received patent number 163,962 for a process for refining coconut oil June 1, 1875, patent number 194,287 for a process for treating coconut August 21, 1877, and patent number 230,518 for a process for preparing coconut July 27, 1880. Not much else is known of Ashbourne’s life except that he was a successful dry goods grocer.

Hits: 1081 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 11/29/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 29 November 2014
in Today in Black History

• November 29, 1887 Granville T. Woods of Cincinnati, Ohio was granted patent number 373,915 for the synchronous multiplex railway telegraph. His invention allowed communication between train stations from moving trains. Woods was born April 23, 1856 in Columbus, Ohio and dedicated his life to developing a variety of improvements related to the railroad industry and controlling the flow of electricity. In 1884, he and his brother formed the Woods Railway Telegraph Company to manufacture and sell telephone and telegraph equipment. In addition to the synchronous multiplex railway telegraph, Woods received approximately 60 other patents and was known to many people of his time as the “Black Thomas Edison.” Despite this, Woods died virtually penniless January 30, 1910. The Granville T. Woods Math and Science Community Academy in Chicago, Illinois is named in his honor. Woods was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006. “Grandville T. Woods: African American Communications and Transportation Pioneer” was published in 2013.

Hits: 527 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 11/28/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Friday, 28 November 2014
in Today in Black History

• November 28, 1868 William Henry Lewis, college hall of fame football player and coach, lawyer and politician, was born in Berkley, Virginia but raised in Portsmouth, Virginia. Lewis played football at Amherst College, and is thought to have been the first African American college football player, where he was the team captain in 1891 and graduated in 1892 as the class orator. He then attended Harvard Law School where he also played football and was named All-American in 1892 and 1893, the first African American All-American. Lewis earned his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1895 and then coached the Harvard football team from 1895 to 1906, compiling a record of 114 wins, 15 losses, and 5 ties. In 1896, he published one of the first books on football titled “A Primer of College Football.” He was elected to the Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council where he served from 1899 to 1902 and was appointed to the Massachusetts legislature for one year in 1903. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Lewis an Assistant United States Attorney, the first African American to hold that position, and in 1910 President William H. Taft appointed him U. S. Assistant Attorney General which was reported as “the highest office in an executive branch of the government ever held by a member of that race.” In 1911, Lewis became the first African American admitted to the American Bar Association. Lewis was outspoken on issues of race and discrimination, calling for “an army of Negro lawyers of strong hearts, cool heads, and sane judgment, to help the large number of Negroes who are exploited, swindled and misused.” He was one of the signatories to a call for a National Conference on Lynching in 1919. Lewis died January 1, 1949. He was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. A Virginia Historical Marker commemorating his life is located in Norfolk, Virginia.

Hits: 762 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 11/27/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 27 November 2014
in Today in Black History

• November 27, 1891 John Denny was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, for his actions during the Indian Wars. Denny was born around 1846 in Big Flats, New York. He joined the United States Army and served as a sergeant in Company C of the 9th Cavalry Regiment (Buffalo Soldiers). On September 18, 1879 at Las Animas Canyon, New Mexico his unit was involved in battle when Denny’s actions earned him the medal. His citation reads, “removed a wounded comrade, under a heavy fire, to a place of safety.” Not much else is know of Denny’s life except that he died November 26, 1901.

Hits: 665 Continue reading
0 votes

Voices of the Civil War Episode 34: "Lincoln's Re-election"

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 November 2014
in Voices of the Civil War

NOVEMBER 2014: The Voices of the Civil War is a five-year film series dedicated to celebrating and commemorating the Civil War over the course of the sesquicentennial. Each month, new episodes cover pertinent topics that follow the monthly events and issues as they unfolded for African Americans during the Civil War. Within these episodes there are various primary sources – letters and diaries, newspaper reports, and more - to recount various experiences of blacks during this period. We encourage your feedback and commentary through our Voices of the Civil War web blog.

Click here to visit the Voices of the Civil War blog to see previous episodes.

By the fall of 1864, with the war in its fourth year, President Abraham Lincoln faced many challenges on his road to reelection. Americans certainly recognized that the 1864 election would determine the entire direction of the war: if Lincoln won, the war would be fought until the South had surrendered unconditionally; however, if George B. McClellan proved victorious, there would almost surely be a reconciliation between the North and the South. Many African Americans, and especially black men serving in the USCT regiments, actively supported Lincoln’s bid for reelection. Black soldiers, few of whom had the right to vote, inundated black newspapers with letters urging family and friends to support Lincoln’s campaign and to vote, if they could, in the November election. On Tuesday, November 8, 1864, Americans participated in an election that truly changed the course of American history.

Hits: 1112 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 11/26/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 November 2014
in Today in Black History

• November 26, 1878 Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, hall of fame bicyclist, was born in rural Indiana. At thirteen, Taylor was hired to perform cycling stunts outside a bicycle shop while wearing a soldier’s uniform, hence the nickname” Major.” Taylor was banned from bicycle racing in Indiana because of his race and therefore moved to the East Coast. In 1896, he entered his first professional race in Madison Square Garden and won. Over his career, he raced in the United States, Australia, and Europe, including winning the world one mile track cycling championship in 1899 and becoming known as “The Black Cyclone.” Although he was celebrated in Europe, Taylor’s career was held back in the United States and he retired in 1910, saying he was tired of the racism. Although he was reported to earn between $25,000 and $30,000 a week while racing, Taylor died a pauper June 21, 1932. Taylor was posthumously inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1989. A statue to memorialize Taylor was unveiled May 21, 2008 in Worcester, Massachusetts and Indianapolis, Indiana named the city’s bicycle track the Major Taylor Velodrome in 1982, the first building in Indianapolis built with public funds to be named after a Black person. Nike markets a sports shoe called the Major Taylor. Taylor published his autobiography, “Autobiography: The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World,” in 1929. Other biographies of Taylor include “Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer” (1988) and the television miniseries “Tracks of Glory: The Major Taylor Story” (1992).

Hits: 782 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 11/25/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 25 November 2014
in Today in Black History

• November 25, 1868 John Van Surly DeGrasse, the first Black doctor admitted to a United States medical society, died. DeGrasse was born in June, 1825 in New York City. He received his medical degree, with honors, from Bowdoin College Medical School in 1849, the second African American to receive a medical degree in the U. S. After graduating, DeGrasse went to Paris, France and studied with one of the most noted surgeons of the time. He became fluent in French and German and returned to the U. S. in 1851. He established his medical practice in Boston, Massachusetts in 1854 and was admitted to the state medical society August 24, 1854. DeGrasse was an active abolitionist and helped organize vigilante groups to counter slave hunters in Boston. In 1863, he joined the Union Army and was commissioned an assistant surgeon with the 35th U. S. Colored Infantry. After the Civil War, DeGrasse returned to his practice in Boston where he died.

Hits: 918 Continue reading
0 votes

Today in Black History, 11/24/2014

Posted by The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, t
User is currently offline
on Monday, 24 November 2014
in Today in Black History

• November 24, 1868 Scott Joplin, hall of fame composer and pianist, was born near Texarkana, Texas. At eleven, Joplin was taught music theory, keyboard technique, and an appreciation of folk and opera music. As an adult, he also studied at George R. Smith College, a historically Black college in Missouri. He achieved fame for his unique ragtime compositions and was known as the “King of Ragtime.” Over his career, Joplin wrote 44 ragtime pieces, a ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, “Maple Leaf Rag,” became ragtime’s first and most influential hit and sold over one million copies of sheet music. Joplin died April 1, 1917 but his music returned to popularity with the 1970 release of “Scott Joplin Piano Rags,” which sold over a million albums, and the 1973 movie “The Sting” which featured several of his compositions and won the Academy Award for Best Music. Joplin was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize for his contribution to American music in 1976. In 1983, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor. Several books have been published about Joplin, including “King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era” (1996) and “Dancing to a Black Man’s Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin” (2004). The biographical film, “Scott Joplin,” was released in 1977.

Hits: 840 Continue reading
0 votes

Comments