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Today in Black History, 6/16/2014

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• June 16, 1792 Francis B. “Frank” Johnson, bugler, bandleader and composer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Not much is known of Johnson’s early life but by 1818 he was a well- known musician in Philadelphia. That year, Johnson published “A Collection of New Cotillions,” the first published African American composer. He went on to compose more than 300 pieces of music with over 250 of his pieces being published. In 1837, he led his band to Europe, the first Black American musicians to visit Europe, where they performed for Victoria shortly before she became Queen of England. Johnson returned to the United States at the end of 1838 and toured widely through the U. S. and Canada until 1844. White bands often refused to perform in parades when Johnson’s band was performing. Johnson died April 6, 1844 but his band continued to perform until about the time of the Civil War. A Pennsylvania state historical marker in Philadelphia was dedicated to Johnson in 1992.

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Today in Black History, 6/15/2014

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• June 15, 1755 John Marrant, one of the first African American preachers and missionaries, was born in New York City but raised in Charleston, South Carolina. During the Revolutionary War, the British forced him into the navy where he served for seven years. In 1782, Marrant began training as a Methodist minister and was ordained in 1785. That year, he was sent to Nova Scotia to minister to several thousand African Americans who had fled north during the Revolutionary War. In 1788, Marrant became the chaplain of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1790, Marrant traveled to London, England where he died April 15, 1791. He published his memoir, “A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black,” in 1785. His memoir was so popular that it was reprinted more than 17 times. A sermon he delivered in 1789 and his journal from 1785 to 1790 were also published.

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Today in Black History, 6/14/2014

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• June 14, 1854 Nat Love, one of the most famous cowboys of the Old West, was born enslaved in Davidson County, Tennessee. Although he had no formal education, Love learned to read and write on his own. After the end of the Civil War, Love was freed and headed west. Over the next few years, he worked as a ranch hand for several different ranches. In 1876, he entered a 4th of July competition in Deadwood, South Dakota involving roping, bridling, saddling, and shooting. Love won every competition and was nicknamed Deadwood Dick. Love continued to work as a cowboy until 1889 when he married and took a job as a Pullman porter. He published his autobiography, “Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in Cattle Country as Deadwood Dick,” in 1907. Love died in 1921.

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Today in Black History, 6/13/2014

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• June 13, 1828 St. Francis Academy, the oldest continuously operated school for Black Catholic children in the United States, opened in Baltimore, Maryland under the name Baltimore School for Colored Girls. The founding mission was to teach children of color to read the bible. In 1870, the school moved to its current location where its main building has served as a convent, an orphanage, a dormitory, and a school for young women. By the turn of the 20th century, the school had been renamed St. Francis Academy. In 2002, the campus was expanded with a facility housing additional classrooms, new computer labs, a health suite, meeting rooms, and a gymnasium. Since its inception, the academy has addressed the societal forces disrupting the potential of children and their families.

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Today in Black History, 6/12/2014

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• June 12, 1868 King Solomon White, hall of fame Negro league baseball player, manager, executive and author, was born in Bellaire, Ohio. White joined the Pittsburgh Keystones of the National Colored Baseball League in 1887, starting a playing career that lasted until 1912. He made a name for himself in the predominantly White minor leagues before Black men were excluded from playing. White was instrumental in the 1902 formation of the Philadelphia Giants and the later development and operation of various leagues. In 1907, his book “Sol White’s History of Colored Baseball” was published, the first definitive history of Black baseball. White spent most of his remaining years as a journalist for African American newspapers. White died August 26, 1955. He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Today in Black History, 6/11/2014

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• June 11, 1850 Henry Johnson, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Boydton, Virginia. On October 5, 1879, Johnson was serving as a sergeant in Company D of the 9th Cavalry Regiment at Milk River, Colorado during the Indian Wars when his actions earned him the medal. His citation reads, “Voluntarily left fortified shelter and under heavy fire at close range made the rounds of pits to instruct the guards and fought his way to the creek and back to bring water to the wounded.” In recognition of his heroic actions, Johnson was awarded the medal , America’s highest military decoration, September 22, 1890. Not much else is known of Johnson’s later life except that he died January 31, 1904 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Good News: Wright museum gets $1M from Kellogg foundation

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Hundreds of Detroit residents and guest await to enter the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History during the final 2013 Detroit Mayoral Debate hosted by WADL Detroit in Detroit on Tuesday, July 30, 2013. The final debate featured the top six candidates including Tom Barrow, Krystal Crittendon, Mike Duggan, Fred Durhal, Lisa Howze and Benny Napolean. Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press
 
Hundreds of Detroit residents and guest await to enter the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History during the final 2013 Detroit Mayoral Debate hosted by WADL Detroit in Detroit on Tuesday, July 30, 2013. The final debate featured the top six candidates including Tom Barrow, Krystal Crittendon, Mike Duggan, Fred Durhal, Lisa Howze and Benny Napolean. Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press / Jarrad Henderson

By Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press (June 10, 2014)

 

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has received a $1-million donation from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as well as a $100,000 donation from a prominent Birmingham businessman, the Free Press has learned.

Kellogg President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron said Monday that the foundation awarded the million-dollar grant “to help the organization grow and become even more effective and imbedded into the community.”

“A lot of foundations give money for programs, and that’s fine,” she said. “But there are certain organizations that, because we believe in their value in the community, sometimes need general support that allows them to pursue their missions with a little less burden of continuous fund-raising.”

And the businessman, Jon Barfield, said he was moved by A. Paul Schaap’s donation of $5 million to help the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collections and city retirees’ pensions.

The Schaap donation led to millions of dollars in subsequent gifts from individuals and foundations — and, on Monday, the auto industry — in what has become the equivalent of $816 million over 20 years for a grand bargain making the DIA an independent entity and helping pensioners.

Barfield wants a grand bargain for the Wright.

“I think we can best make our case to the foundations and the state if we step up and help ourselves,” Barfield, a Wright board member and CEO of LJ Holdings Investment, said Monday. “Hopefully this will provide a spark for additional significant support, and then we can go to the foundations and go to Gov. (Rick) Snyder and say this museum deserves to be saved. We want to go from hand-to-mouth culture to the point where we sustain the museum.”

That hand-to-mouth culture has led to the museum to the brink of death more than once. The city funded 75% of the museum’s construction costs in 1997 and pledged to pay half its operating costs every year. But the city never met that pledge. Its contribution was 48% in 2010 and fell to 21% this year.

The Wright nearly closed 10 years ago until U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith rallied donors to save it. Ironically, Barfield’s wife, Dr. Vivian Carpenter, gifted the Wright with $100,000 in that campaign.

The museum’s current budget is $4.7 million, which is half of what museum officials say is needed. The museum is now operating at a $200,000 deficit, said President and CEO Juanita Moore.The financial woes have resulted in “layoffs and a dwindling number of programs for our children,” Barfield said.

The museum has seen a surge in donations since a Free Press report in January, but officials want to raise enough money not to seek grants regularly to survive.

That is Barfield’s hope.

“I consider the Charles Wright Museum to be a part of the cultural global solution for the city of Detroit, to not just be saved, but to prosper and grow,” said Barfield, who grew up in Ypsilanti and is retired chairman, president and chief executive of the Bartech Group, one of the largest independent professional services and management companies in the country.

“Do you recall the gentleman in Grosse Pointe?” Barfield said, referring to Schaap. “It occurred to me that if I were to do what he did, it might provide a little bit of a spark in the community for others who have the capacity to do more to support the museum. That’s why I did it.”

Changing the way the museum raises funds is music to the ears of Moore, CEO of the Wright, who called Barfield’s gift “significant and a signal to other people to encourage them to give.”

“We hope that will unite others to step up and give major gifts,” she said.

Moore said Barfield’s contribution was the second $100,000 gift after a private one given earlier by Howard Sims, the architect who designed the museum.

She declined to say how much money the museum has raised since revealing that it did not have enough money to sustain itself. But the staff continues to apply for grants and is hard at work on the annual Wright Gala, its largest fund-raiser, which is scheduled for September. The gala celebrates a different exhibit every year, and this year honors the black theater costumes exhibit that opens in July.

The museum also is pushing its “Give a Grand, Make a Million” campaign that encourages supporters across the state to give $1,000 gifts to the museum.

As museum staff and supporters work to save the Wright, Barfield recalled a moment that made his gift easy to make.

“I’ve dedicated the latter part of my life to increased philanthropy and being more active in the community … and I love giving back to the museum and to institutions that need our support,” he said. “Sometimes when I come to board meetings, particularly in winter and you walk through the multipurpose room, sometimes, it is full of young black children and teachers who have come there out of the cold, and sometimes I’m moved to tears because the children look so engaged and so happy to have found a safe haven and a nurturing space, which is the museum.”

 

Contact Rochelle Riley: 313-223-4473


Source: Detroit Free Press, June 10, 2014

http://www.freep.com/article/20140610/COL10/306100034/Rochelle-Riley-Wright-museum-gets-1M-from-Kellogg-foundation

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Today in Black History, 6/10/2014

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• June 10, 1799 Joseph Bologne the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, musician, swordsman and equestrian, died. Saint-Georges was born December 25, 1745 in Guadeloupe but raised in France. While still a young man, he acquired reputations as the best swordsman in France, as a violin virtuoso, and as a classical composer. In 1771, he was appointed maestro of the Concert des Amateurs and later director of the Concert de la Loge Olympique, the biggest orchestra of his time. He was eventually selected for appointment as director of the Royal Opera of Louis XVI but was prevented from taking the position because three Parisian divas felt that “it would be injurious to their professional reputations for them to sing on stage under the direction of a mulatto.” Saint-Georges also served in the French army and was appointed the first Black colonel, commanding a regiment of a thousand free colored volunteers. Despite his successes, Saint-Georges died destitute. Biographies of Saint-Georges include“Joseph Boulogne called Chevalier de Saint-Georges” (1996) and “Joseph de Saint-Georges, le Chevalier Noir (The Black Chevalier)” (2006).

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Today in Black History, 6/9/2014

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• June 9, 1845 James Carroll Napier, businessman and community activist, was born enslaved in Nashville, Tennessee. He and his family were freed when he was three years old. Napier earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Oberlin College in 1868 and his Bachelor of Laws degree from Howard University in 1872. In 1870, he became the first Black non-janitorial employee at the United States Treasury Department. From 1878 to 1889, Napier served on the Nashville City Council where he authored legislation allowing the hiring of Black teachers, police officers, and firefighters. He also became the first African American to preside over the council. On November 5, 1903, Napier and other Black members of the Nashville business community founded the Nashville One-Cent Savings Bank (now Citizens Saving Bank & Trust Company), the nation’s first bank owned and operated by African Americans. He also was instrumental in the establishment of Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School for Negroes (now Tennessee State University) which opened its doors June 19, 1912.. In 1911, Napier was appointed register of the Treasury Department. He resigned that position in 1913 to protest President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to allow continued segregation in federal office buildings. Napier also served as a trustee at Fisk University and Howard University. Napier died April 21, 1940. The Napier-Looby Bar Association in Nashville is named in his honor.

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Today in Black History, 6/8/2014

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• June 8, 1823 Robert Morris, one of the first Black lawyers in the United States, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. He became the student of a well-known abolitionist and lawyer and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1847. Shortly after starting his practice, Morris became the first Black lawyer to file a lawsuit on behalf of a client in the U. S. The jury ruled in favor of Morris’ client. Morris was active in abolitionist causes and worked in opposition of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. He also filed the first U. S. civil rights challenge to segregated schools in the 1848 Roberts v. Boston case. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against Morris in 1850. In the early 1850s, he was appointed a justice of the peace and was admitted to practice before U. S. district courts. When the Civil War began, Morris helped in the recruitment of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first officially sanctioned African American unit in the U. S. Army, while also advocating for equal treatment of African American soldiers. Morris died December 12, 1882.

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Today in Black History, 6/7/2014

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• June 7, 1917 Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks, hall of fame poet and novelist, was born in Topeka, Kansas but raised in Chicago, Illinois. Brooks published her first poem in a children’s magazine at 13 and by the time she was 16 had a portfolio of 75 published poems. In 1945, her first book of poetry, “A Street in Bronzeville,” was published and it received instant critical acclaim. She was selected one of Mademoiselle magazine’s Ten Young Women of the Year. She also won her first Guggenheim Fellowship and became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her second book of poetry, “Annie Allen,” was published in 1949 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry May 5, 1950, the first won by an African American. In 1962, Brooks began teaching creative writing at several institutions, including Northeastern Illinois University and Columbia University. Her book length poem, “In the Mecca” (1968), was nominated for the National Book Award for Poetry. Also in 1968, Brooks was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois and in 1985 was selected the Library of Congress’s Consultant in Poetry (now titled Poet Laureate). Brooks was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1988 and in 1994 was chosen as the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Jefferson Lecturer, the highest honor in the humanities given by the federal government. She was presented the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, by President William Clinton October 5, 1995. Brooks was awarded more than 75 honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities worldwide and there are a number of schools in Illinois named in her honor. Brooks died December 3, 2000. Her biography, “A Life of Gwendolyn Brooks,” was published in 1990.

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Today in Black History, 6/6/2014

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• June 6, 1902 James Melvin Lunceford, bandleader and alto saxophonist, was born in Fulton, Mississippi but raised in Denver, Colorado. Lunceford earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Fisk University in 1926. While teaching high school in Memphis, Tennessee, he formed a student band which eventually became the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra. In 1934, the band began an engagement at the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York and by 1935 they had achieved a national reputation as one of the top Black swing bands. The Lunceford Orchestra recorded 22 hits, including the number one “Rhythm Is Our Business” in 1935. It was the first Black band to play New York’s Paramount Theater and tour White colleges. Glen Miller was quoted as saying, “Duke Ellington is great, Count Basie remarkable, but Lunceford tops them all.” By 1942, the band began to have internal problems and suffered a decline in popularity. Lunceford died July 12, 1947. The Jimmy Lunceford Jamboree Festival is held annually in Memphis and in 2011 a Mississippi Blues Trail marker dedicated to Lunceford was unveiled.

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Today in Black History, 6/5/2014

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• June 5, 1889 Ernest Charles Tanner, labor leader, was born in Indianapolis, Indianan but raised in Tacoma, Washington. Tanner briefly attended Whitworth College and was the first African American to play collegiate football in the Pacific Northwest. He also played in the local Negro league. In 1918, he joined the Tacoma chapter of the International Brotherhood of Longshoreman and over time rose to become a member of the executive board. Tanner insisted that African American dockworkers be paid the same wages and work under the same conditions as White dockworkers. Tanner died in 1956. The Ernest C. Tanner Labor and Ethnic Studies Center on the campus of the University of Washington is named in his honor.

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Today in Black History, 6/4/2014

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• June 4, 1895 Joseph Lee of Auburndale, Massachusetts received patent number 540,553 for a machine that made bread crumbs. Lee sold the rights for the machine to the Royal Worchester Bread Crumb Company and the machine was soon in major restaurants around the world. Lee had previously received patent number 524,042 for an improved dough-kneading machine for use in hotels August 7, 1894. Lee was born July 19, 1849 in Boston, Massachusetts and began working in a bakery as a boy. He soon began preparing and serving food, eventually opening two successful restaurants. For 17 years beginning in the late 1890s, he owned the Woodland Park Hotel in Newton, Massachusetts. In 1902, Lee opened the Lee Catering Company which served the wealthy population of Boston. At the same time, he also operated the Squantum Inn, a summer resort that specialized in seafood. Lee died in 1905.

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Today in Black History, 6/3/2014

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• June 3, 1871 Miles Vandahurst Lynk, pioneering physician, was born in Brownsville, Tennessee. In 1888, Lynk took a job teaching in Black rural schools to earn money to further his education. In 1891, he earned a medical degree from Meharry Medical College and in 1892 founded The Medical and Surgical Observer, the first national medical journal for Black physicians. The monthly journal was published until 1894, focusing on Black medical issues and offering the latest information available on treatments and professional ethics. Lynk was one of the twelve founders of the National Association of Colored Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists, predecessor to the National Medical Association, in 1895. In 1900, Lynk founded the University of West Tennessee, a Black university that taught medicine, dentistry, and law that operated until 1924. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Medical Association in 1952. Lynk died December 29, 1957. The Tennessee Historical Commission erected a historical marker near his home in Brownsville to commemorate his life.

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Today in Black History, 6/2/2014

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• June 2, 1868 John Hope, educator and political activist, was born in Augusta, Georgia. Hope graduated from Worcester Academy in 1890 and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University in 1894. In 1898, Hope became professor of classics at Atlanta Baptist College (now Morehouse College) and in 1906 was appointed the institution’s first Black president. Hope also joined W. E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter as founders of the Niagara Movement. In 1928, Morehouse and Spelman College affiliated with Atlanta University to form the Atlanta University Center and Hope was chosen to be president, a position he held until his death February 20, 1936. Later in 1936, Hope was posthumously awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. Hope was awarded honorary doctorate degrees by several colleges and universities, including Brown University, Bates College, and Howard University. Hope’s biography, “The Story of John Hope,” was published in 1948 and “A Clashing of the Soul: John Hope and the Dilemma of African American Leadership and Black Higher Education in the Early Twentieth Century” was published in 1998.

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Today in Black History, 6/1/2014

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• June 1, 1875 Alexander P. Ashbourne of Oakland, California received patent number 163,962 for a process for refining coconut oil for domestic use. His process allowed the coconut to retain its flavor for years without depreciation. Additionally, Ashbourne received patent number 170,460 for an improved biscuit cutter November 30, 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.

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Today in Black History, 5/31/2014

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• May 31, 1834 Anthony Burns was born enslaved in Stafford County, Virginia. In 1853, Burns escaped slavery to Boston, Massachusetts. There he worked for a clothing dealer until May 24, 1854 when he was arrested under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. On May 26, a crowd of abolitionist stormed the courthouse in an unsuccessful attempt to free Burns. Burns was tried and ordered to be returned to his Virginia owner. On the day of his return, the streets between the courthouse and the harbor were lined with federal troops to hold back the protesters as Burns was escorted to the ship. The Burns case fueled anti-slavery sentiments across the North. The abolitionist community of Boston raised $1,300 to buy Burns’ freedom and he returned to Boston to live. Burns subsequently received an education at Oberlin College and moved to Upper Canada to accept a call to preach at a Baptist church. He died July 17, 1862. “Imperfect Revolution: Anthony Burns and the Landscape of Race in Antebellum America” was published in 2011.

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Today in Black History, 5/30/2014

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• May 30, 1902 Stepin Fetchit, hall of fame comedian and film actor, was born Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry in Key West, Florida. Stepin Fetchit was his stage name and Perry parlayed his persona as “the laziest man in the world” into a successful film career, appearing in 54 films between 1925 and 1976, and becoming the first Black actor to become a millionaire. His films included “The Mysterious Stranger” (1925), “The Prodigal” (1931), and “Amazing Grace” (1974). In his personal life, Perry was highly literate and had a concurrent career writing for the Chicago Defender. Perry was often criticized by civil rights leaders for his roles but in 1976 the Hollywood Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded him a special NAACP Image Award and in 1978 he was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Perry also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Perry died November 19, 1985. Biographies of Perry include “Stepin Fletchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry” (2005) and “Shuffling to gnominy: The Tragedy of Stepin Flechit” (2005).

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Today in Black History, 5/29/2014

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• May 29, 1851 Sojourner Truth delivered her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. Her simple short speech was a powerful rebuke of antifeminist arguments of the day. It is still considered a classic expression of women’s rights. Truth was born Isabella Baumfree enslaved in Swartekill, New York November 19, 1797. When she was nine, she was sold with a flock of sheep for $100. In 1826, Truth escaped to freedom and in 1843 changed her name and began traveling and preaching about abolition. Her memoir, “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave,” was published in 1850. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit Black soldiers for the Union Army and later met with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Truth died November 26, 1883. She was posthumously inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1981, in 1986 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor, and in 2009 she became the first Black woman to be honored with a bust in the United States Capitol. A number of books have been published about Truth, including “Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend” (1993) and “Glorying in Tribulation: The Lifework of Sojourner Truth” (1994). Truth’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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