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Today in Black History, 1/27/2014

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• January 27, 1869 Will Marion Cook, violinist and composer, was born in Washington, D. C. Cook’s musical talents were apparent at an early age and at 15 he was sent to the Oberlin Conservatory to study violin. From 1887 to 1889, Cook studied at the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik and in 1889 made his professional debut. In 1890, he became director of a chamber orchestra and composed “Scenes from the Opera of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” His composition “Clorindy: or, The Origin of the Cakewalk” became the first all-Black show to play in a prestigious Broadway house July 4, 1898. Cook produced many successful musicals, including “Uncle Eph’s Christmas” (1901), “The Southerners” (1904), and “Swing Along” (1929). Cook died July 19, 1944. The Will Marion Cook House in New York City was declared a National Historic Landmark May 11, 1976. His biography, “Swing Along: The Musical Life of Will Marion Cook,” was published in 2008.

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Today in Black History, 1/26/2014

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• January 26, 1892 Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman, hall of fame civil aviator, was born in Atlanta, Texas. In her early 20’s, Coleman became interested in flying but could not gain admittance to American flight schools because she was Black and a woman. Therefore, she traveled to Paris, France where she learned to fly and became the first African American woman to earn an international aviation license June 15, 1921. After completing an advanced training course, Coleman became a barnstorming stunt flier known as Queen Bess. On April 30, 1926, while flying to an air show, her plane crashed and she died instantly. In 1990, a road at O’Hara Airport was renamed Bessie Coleman Drive. In 1995, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor and she was posthumously inducted into the Women in Aviation Hall of Fame. Biographies of Coleman include “Bessie Coleman: The Brownskin Lady Bird” (1994) and “She Dared to Fly: Bessie Coleman” (1997). Coleman’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, 1/25/2014

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• January 25, 1890 The National Afro-American League was formed by Timothy Thomas Fortune. The organization was dedicated to racial solidarity and self-help. It became defunct in 1893 due to lack of support and funding. In 1898, it was reformed as the National Afro-American Council and existed until 1908. Many of the supporters of the league and council later became supporters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

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Today in Black History, 1/24/2014

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• January 24, 1874 Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, historian, writer and activist, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. While in grade school, one of his teachers claimed that Black people had no history, heroes, or accomplishments. This inspired Schomburg to prove the teacher wrong. Schomburg was educated at St. Thomas College in the Virgin Islands where he studied Negro literature. He immigrated to New York City in 1891 and in 1896 began teaching Spanish. In 1911, Schomburg co-founded the Negro Society for Historical Research and later became president of the American Negro Academy. In 1925, Schomburg published his widely read and influential essay “The Negro Digs Up His Past.” In 1928, the New York Public Library system purchased his collection of literature, art, and other materials and appointed him curator of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and Art (later renamed the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). Schomburg died June 8, 1938. His biography, “Arthur Alfonso Schomburg: Black Bibliophile & Collector,” was published in 1989. Schomburg’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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The Wright Museum Hosts Screening & Discussion of “The House I Live In;” Sundance Grand Jury Prize-Winning Documentary Offers Poignant and Disturbing Look at the Devastating Impact of the War on Drugs

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The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History will host a free screening of the thought-provoking documentary, “THE HOUSE I LIVE IN” on Thursday, January 30 at 6:30 pm. Immediately following will be a panel discussion featuring the film’s producer along with local activists and educators. This event is free and open to the public, and takes place at the museum, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.

Since the 1970’s the war on drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests and cost more than $1 trillion. As a result, the United States has become the world’s largest jailer, and the high volume of drug arrests have destroyed low-income communities, creating a vicious cycle that must be stopped. Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, “THE HOUSE I LIVE IN ” offers a poignant look inside U.S. drug policy and its far-reaching impact. Executive Producers include Danny Glover, John Legend, Russell Simmons, and Brad Pitt. The film won the prestigious Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Following the screening will be panel discussion and Q&A session with the film’s producer, David Kuhn, who is partnering with a vast array of advocacy groups, legislators and law enforcement to spread the film’s message about the disastrous consequences of the failed war on drugs. Local panelists include Vondra Glass, Principal, Detroit Premier Academy; Yodit Mesfin Johnson, Director of Business Development, NEW; Kirk Mayes, Executive Director, Brightmoor Alliance; poet, author, and activist Jessica Care Moore; and author and community activist Yusef Shakur. This special event is hosted and moderated by recording and performance artist Mike Ellison.

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN Official Trailer:

WWW.THEHOUSEILIVEIN.ORG

www.Facebook.com/DrugWarMovie

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Voices of the Civil War Episode 24 "African Americans and the Confederate Army"

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JANUARY 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 end of 1863, with the Confederate army lacking resources, funds, and manpower, it had become clear to Confederate General Patrick Cleburne that the south desperately needed to find ways to recruit new soldiers for the rebel cause. Calling it “a plan which we believe will save our country,” in January 1864, he called upon the leaders of the Army of the Tennessee and proposed the emancipation of slaves in order to enlist them in the Confederate war effort. In Episode 24 we explore the role of African Americans in the Confederate States Army.

Credits

1, 9, 10 National Archives and Records Administration

2, 3, 5-8, 11-14, 17-20, 22, 24 Library of Congress

4 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

15 Alabama Department of Archives and History

16 Virginia Historical Society

21 New York Historical Society

23 Riddick’s Folly Museum House

25 Harper’s Weekly

26 Tom Farish Collection

27 Personal Collection of Andrew Chandler Battaile

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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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