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Today in Black History, 9/25/2012

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• September 25, 1824 William Craft, daring escapee from enslavement, was born enslaved in Macon, Georgia. Craft’s wife Ellen was at least three-quarters European by ancestry and very fair. In December, 1848, they escaped enslavement by traveling openly by train and steamboat. She posed as a white male planter and he as her personal servant. Their escape was widely publicized and over the next two years, they made numerous public appearances to recount their escape. As a result, they were among the most famous of fugitives from slavery. In 1850, the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act which made it a federal crime to aid an escaped slave and required law enforcement even in free states to aid efforts to recapture fugitives. Threatened by this act, the Crafts moved to England where they lived for the next 19 years. In 1860, they published their story in “Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom: Or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery.” The Crafts returned to the U.S. in 1868 and in 1870 bought 1800 acres of land near Savannah, Georgia where in 1873 they founded the Woodville Co-operative Farm School for the education and employment of freedmen. Ellen Craft died in 1897 and William died January 29, 1900.

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Today in Black History, 9/24/2012

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• September 24, 1825 Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, abolitionist and poet, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Harper had her first volume of poems, “Forest Leaves,” published in 1845 and her second book, “Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects,” published in 1854. Other works by Harper include “Poems” (1857), “The Martyr of Alabama and Other Poems” (1892), and “Atlanta Offering” (1895). In 1853, Harper joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and became a traveling lecturer for the group. She was also a strong supporter of prohibition and women’s suffrage. In 1892, Harper published “Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted,” one of the first novels by an African American woman. In 1897, she was elected vice president of the National Association of Colored Women. Harper died February 22, 1911.

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Today in Black History, 9/23/2012

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• September 23, 1863 Mary Church Terrell, civil and suffrage rights activist, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Terrell earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1884 and her Master of Arts degree in 1888 from Oberlin College, making her one of the first African American women to earn a college degree. She also served as editor of the Oberlin Review. After college, Terrell taught at a black secondary school and at Wilberforce College. In 1895, she was appointed to the District of Columbia Board of Education where she served until 1906, the first black woman to hold such a position in the United States. In 1896, she was elected the first president of the newly formed National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. In 1904, she was invited to speak at the International Congress of Women in Berlin, Germany, the only black woman at the conference. In 1909, Terrell and Ida B. Wells-Barnett were the only black women invited to attend the organizational meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1913, she was one of the organizers of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and 26 years later wrote its creed, setting up a code of conduct for Negro women. Terrell’s autobiography, “A Colored Woman in a White World,” was published in 1940 and Terrell died July 24, 1954. The Mary Church Terrell House in Washington, D.C. was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975. Terrell was among 12 pioneers of civil rights commemorated by the United States Postal Service with a series of postage stamps in 2009. Terrell’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Today in Black History, 9/22/2012

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• September 22, 1853 George Washington Murray, former Congressman and inventor, was born enslaved in Sumter County, South Carolina. After being freed, Murray attended the University of South Carolina for two years and taught school for 15 years. He served as chairman of the Sumter County Republican Party and was known as the “Republican Black Eagle.” From 1890 to 1892, Murray served as inspector of customs at the Port of Charleston. In 1893, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served from 1893 to 1895 and 1896 to 1897. During his time in Congress, Murray fought for black rights, speaking in favor of retaining Reconstruction Period laws, and highlighted African American achievement by reading into the congressional record a list of 92 patents granted to African Americans. Murray was the last black Republican to serve in Congress from South Carolina until 2010. Murray also received a number of patents, including on June 5, 1894 patent number 520,889 for a fertilizer distributer, patent number 520,890 for a planter, and patent number 520,892 for a reaper. He also received patent number 644,032 for a grain drill on February 20, 1900 and patent number 887,495 for a portable hoisting device on May 12, 1908. In 1905, he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he sold life insurance and real estate until his death on April 21, 1926. His biography, “A Black Congressman in the Age of Jim Crow: South Carolina’s George Washington Murray,” was published in 2006.

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Today in Black History, 9/21/2012

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• September 21, 1872 The United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland admitted the first black midshipman, John Henry Conyers of South Carolina. After enduring ostracism and being subjected to discrimination, Conyers resigned from the academy. Two other black midshipmen also attempted to endure the hostile environment at Annapolis but both resigned after a few months. It was not until 1949 that an African American, Wesley Brown, graduated from the academy and received his commission.

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Today in Black History, 9/20/2012

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• September 20, 1664 Maryland enacted the first Anti-Amalgamation Law to specifically outlaw marriage between black men and white women. Soon after, similar laws were passed in a number of other colonies. Prior to the laws, interracial marriages were fairly common between white indentured servants and enslaved blacks. It was not until the 1960s that the United States Supreme Court, in the Loving vs. Virginia case, declared all such laws unconstitutional and not until 2000 that Alabama became the last state to eliminate its law banning interracial marriages.

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Chatting with a relative of my "She-ro"

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The definition of inspire is to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc

Inspiration took place during my recent conversation with Michelle Duster, the great-granddaughter of my "She-ro" Ida B. Wells, the activist and anti-lynching crusader.

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Today in Black History, 9/19/2012

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• September 19, 1889 Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany, educator, author, and civil rights pioneer, was born in Lynch Station, Virginia. Delany graduated from Saint Augustine’s School (now college) in 1910 and moved to New York City in 1916 where she began teaching in the public school system. She earned her bachelor and master’s degrees in education from Columbia University in 1920 and 1925, respectively. Delany was the first black person permitted to teach domestic science at the high school level in New York City public schools. She retired from teaching in 1960. In 1993, Delany and her sister Bessie published “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years” which dealt with the trials and tribulations the sisters had faced during their century of life. The book was on the New York Times hardcover best seller list for 28 weeks and on the paperback list for 77 weeks. In 1999, it was made into a television movie. In 1994, the sisters published “The Delany Sisters’ Book of Everyday Wisdom” and after Bessie’s death, Delany in 1997 published “On My Own at 107: Reflections on Life Without Bessie.” In 1993, Delany and her sister were included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest authors. Delany died January 25, 1999.

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Voices of the Civil War Episode 8 "Battle of Antietam"

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SEPTEMBER 2012: 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 on the links below to view prior episodes:

• Episode 1 Part 1 click here
• Episode 1 Part 2 click here
• Episode 2 click here
• Episode 3 click here
• Episode 4 click here
• Episode 5 click here
• Episode 6 click here
• Episode 7 click here

The Battle of Antietam, fought on September 17, 1862, produced the most casualties of any single day in the Civil War. The battle was a draw and neither the Union nor the Confederacy came out ahead. Nevertheless, this battle gave President Lincoln the fuel and momentum to issue one of the most important documents in American History.

Credits

1 - 8 Library of Congress
9 National Park Service, Paintings of Captain James Hope
10 - 22 Library of Congress

 

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Today in Black History, 9/18/2012

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• September 18, 1895 Booker T. Washington delivered his famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. Considered the definitive statement of Washington’s accommodationist strategy, it is regarded as one of the most significant speeches in American history. In the speech, Washington responded to the “Negro problem,” what to do about the abysmal social and economic conditions of blacks. Washington promised the audience that he would encourage blacks to become proficient in agriculture, mechanics, commerce, and domestic services, and to encourage them to “dignify and glorify common labor.” Washington also eased many white’s fears about social integration by stating that both races “could be as separate at the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” The entire speech can be easily found on the internet.

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Today in Black History, 9/17/2012

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• September 17, 1858 Dred Scott, an enslaved black man that unsuccessfully sued for his freedom, died. Scott was born enslaved in Southampton County, Virginia in the 1790s. In 1847, Scott sued for his freedom in a Missouri state court on the basis that he and his wife had been taken by their owner to states and territories where slavery was illegal. Scott lost that case, but pursued the issue to the United States Supreme Court in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. The Supreme Court ruled against him finding that he, nor any person of African ancestry, could claim citizenship in the United States and therefore could not bring suit in federal court. In effect, the Court ruled that enslaved people were property and not citizens and therefore had no claim to freedom. Ironically, Scott was granted his freedom by his owner less than three months after the Supreme Court decision. “Dred and Harriett Scott: A Family’s Struggle for Freedom” was published in 2004.

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Today in Black History, 9/16/2012

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• September 16, 1839 James Daniel Gardner, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Gloucester, Virginia. He worked as an oysterman before enlisting in the Union Army in 1863. On September 29, 1864, Gardner was serving as a private in Company I of the 36th Regiment United States Colored Troops when his actions at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm earned him the medal, America’s highest military decoration. Gardner’s regiment was among a division of black troops assigned to attack the Confederate defenses. The attack was met with intense fire and over fifty percent of the black troops were killed, captured, or wounded. Gardner advanced ahead of his unit into the Confederate fortifications, “shot a rebel officer who was on the parapet rallying his men, and then ran him through with his bayonet.” The day after the battle, Gardner was promoted to sergeant and on April 6, 1865 was issued the medal. Gardner died September 29, 1905 and in 2006 a memorial commemorating him was unveiled in his hometown.

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Today in Black History, 9/15/2012

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• September 15, 1830 The first National Negro Convention began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Forty African Americans from nine states attended the meeting to consider if blacks should be encouraged to emigrate to Canada. From the meeting emerged a new organization, The American Society of Free People of Colour for Improving Their Condition in the United States; for Purchasing Lands; and for the Establishment of a Settlement in the Province of Canada. Bishop Richard Allen was named president.

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Today in Black History, 9/14/2012

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• September 14, 1735 Prince Hall, the founder of “Black Freemasonry,” was born in Barbados. Not much is known of his youth and how he ended up in Boston, Massachusetts. It is known that he was a property owner and a registered voter and that he worked as an abolitionist and civil rights activist. He fought for laws to protect blacks from kidnapping by slave traders and campaigned for schools for black children. On March 6, 1775, Hall and fourteen other free black men were initiated into Military Lodge No. 441, a lodge attached to the British Army. When the British Army left, on July 3, 1776 the Black Masons were granted a dispensation for limited operations as African Lodge No. 1 which then served as the mother lodge to new black lodges in other cities. In 1791, Black Freemasons formed the African Grand Lodge of North America and unanimously elected Hall Grand Master, a position that he held until his death on December 4, 1807. The African Grand Lodge was later renamed Prince Hall Grand Lodge in his honor. Hall’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, 9/13/2012

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• September 13, 1881 Lewis H. Latimer of New York City shared patent number 247,097 for improvements in incandescent electrical lamps. The improvements related to the method of mounting the carbons and connecting them with wires. This resulted in better electrical contact between the carbons and the wires which reduced the cost of the lamps. Latimer was born September 4, 1848 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He joined the United States Navy at the age of 15 and after receiving an honorable discharge joined a patent law firm as a draftsman at the age of 17. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell employed Latimer to draft the drawings required to receive a patent for Bell’s telephone. Although Thomas Edison is credited with the invention of the light bulb, Latimer made significant contributions to its further development. On January 17, 1882, he received patent number 252,386 for the Process of Manufacturing Carbons, an improved method for the production of carbon filaments for light bulbs. In total, Latimer received seven patents before his death on December 11, 1928. He was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006 and Lewis H. Latimer School in Brooklyn, New York is named in his honor. His biography, “Lewis Latimer: Bright Ideas,” was published in 1997. Latimer’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, 9/12/2012

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• September 12, 1840 Mary Jane Patterson, the first black woman to graduate from an established college with a four year degree, was born enslaved in Raleigh, North Carolina. Patterson’s family gained their freedom in 1852 and moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1856. Patterson enrolled in Oberlin College in 1857 and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors in 1861. After graduation, Patterson taught at various schools, including the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia and the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (later named Dunbar High School) in Washington, D.C. Patterson served as the latter school’s first black principal from 1871 to 1872. She was reappointed to the position from 1873 to 1884. During her administration, the school grew from less than 50 students to 172 students. Patterson continued to teach at the school until her death on September 24, 1894.

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Today in Black History, 9/11/2012

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• September 11, 1854 Christopher J. Perry, Sr., founder of the Philadelphia Tribune, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of 13, Perry began writing articles for the local newspapers. In 1881, he began writing for the Northern Daily and eventually became editor of the colored section of The Sunday Mercury. On November 22, 1884, Perry founded the Philadelphia Tribune which quickly became one of the leading African American newspapers in the country. Perry died in 1921, but the Tribune continues to be published and is the oldest continuously published African American newspaper in the nation.

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Today in Black History, 9/10/2012

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• September 10, 1847 John Roy Lynch, the first African American Speaker of the House in Mississippi, was born enslaved in Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Lynch and his family were freed in 1863 after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. After the Civil War, Lynch learned the photography trade and managed a successful business. He educated himself by reading books and newspapers and eavesdropping on classes at a white school. From 1869 to 1873, he served in the Mississippi House of Representatives, serving the last term as Speaker of the House. In 1873, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served until 1877. He was re-elected in 1880 and served from April, 1882 to March, 1883. During his time in Congress, Lynch worked to support the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to ban discrimination in public accommodations. During the Spanish – American War of 1898, Lynch was appointed treasury auditor and paymaster. In 1901, he joined the Regular Army and served until his retirement in 1911. After leaving the army, he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he practiced law until his death on November 2, 1939. He was buried with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1913, Lynch authored “The Facts of Reconstruction” which argued that blacks had made substantial contributions to the country during the Reconstruction Period. Lynch’s biography, “Reminiscences of an Active Life: The Autobiography of John Roy Lynch,” was published in 1970.

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Today in Black History, 9/9/2012

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• September 9, 1739 The Stono Rebellion, the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies, began. The rebellion started with about 20 enslaved Africans at the Stono River in the colony of South Carolina. As the group marched south, they were joined by nearly 60 additional enslaved Africans. The Africans killed about 25 whites before encountering a South Carolina militia. In that battle, 20 whites and 44 Africans were killed and the rebellion was ended. In response to the rebellion, the South Carolina legislature passed the Negro Act of 1740 restricting slave assembly, education and movement. It also enacted a 10 year moratorium against importing African slaves and established penalties against slaveholders’ harsh treatment of slaves. The site where the rebellion began was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974. “Cry Liberty,” an interpretation of the events of the rebellion, was published in 2010.

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Today in Black History, 9/8/2012

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• September 8, 1882 Sarah Mapps Douglass, abolitionist, teacher, and lecturer, died. Douglass was born September 9, 1806 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her family was prosperous and among several free black families who formed the core of Philadelphia’s abolitionist movement. Douglass was educated at home by private tutors. Around 1827, Douglass established a school for black children. In 1837, she served on the ten member committee for the Antislavery Convention of American Women. This was the first national convention of antislavery women to integrate black and white members. Douglass also served as librarian, corresponding secretary, and on the board of directors of the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society. In 1853, she took over the girl’s preparatory department at the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth, offering courses in literature, science, and anatomy. She served at the institute until 1877. During this time, she also acquired basic medical training at the Female Medical Collage of Pennsylvania and at Pennsylvania Medical University. After the Civil War, Douglass became a leader in the Pennsylvania branch of the American Freedman’s Aid Commission which worked to provide services to the formerly enslaved in the south.

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