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When the past is present…

 

Abolitionists Rescue Fugitive Slave from Boston Courtroom

From the African American Registry

On this date 1851, Black [and white] abolitionists broke into a Boston courthouse and rescued Shadrach Minkins, a fugitive slave.

Advertisement of sheriff’s sale of Shadrach Minkins, 1849 Courtesy Gary Collison

Advertisement of sheriff’s sale of Shadrach Minkins, 1849
Courtesy Gary Collison

Born in Norfolk in 1800, Minkins was affected by the Nat Turner rebellion and the death of his owners Thomas and Ann Glenn.

Minkins escaped north to Boston Massachusetts in 1850. A year later working as a waiter serving breakfast at a coffeehouse in Boston history caught up with him. Arrested, he was the first runaway to be detained in New England under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. Minkins became a catalyst of one of the most dramatic episodes of rebellion and legal wrangling before the Civil War.

Attorney Robert Morris (1823–1882)  Recently admitted to the practice of law, Robert Morris served as one of the attorneys representing Shadrach Minkins. Morris was accused of opening the courtroom door to admit Shadrach’s rescuers and charged with treason for his action. After a jury trial, he was acquitted. Courtesy of the Social Law Library, Boston

Attorney Robert Morris
(1823–1882)
Recently admitted to the practice of law, Robert Morris served as one of the attorneys representing Shadrach Minkins. Morris was accused of opening the courtroom door to admit Shadrach’s rescuers and charged with treason for his action. After a jury trial, he was acquitted.
Courtesy of the Social Law Library, Boston

After his daring courthouse rescue he escaped to Canada and with other African American expatriates in Montreal created the city’s first Black community. Minkins died in 1875, without a country but a free man.

Read more about this incident and what happened to the abolitionist rescuers, here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Descendants of Lynching Victim and Lynching Perpetrator to Meet in Public Dialog

On Friday evening, February 15, ABHM Scholar-Griot Stephanie Harp, great-granddaughter of a deputy sheriff involved in the lynching of John Carter, will present a public program about the lynching with George Fulton, John Carter’s great-grandson.

John Carter lynched w:policeman

The body of John Carter, hanging from a telephone pole, with a peace officer in the foreground.

The program will take place at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 9th and Broadway, Little Rock, Arkansas, at 5:30pm.

The public will learn about the history of lynching and the many different ways this particular event was reported in the news and remembered in the community. They will see clips from Fulton’s documentary film in progress and hear personal stories from relatives of John Carter, Lonnie Dixon, Floella McDonald, and a deputy sheriff who was present that day.

After the presentation, there will be a community conversation, led by Dr. John Kirk, Chair of the History Department at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, Associate Professor of History at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Stephanie Harp and George Fulton are working together in joint pursuit of racial healing and truth telling. They have begun an occasional newsletter about his film making and her writing. You may subscribe by signing up here. You also may wish to Like or Follow Inheritance on Facebook and Twitter, where Stephanie will be adding updates about this project and related topics.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

 

 

This Day in History, the NAACP Was Founded

From Wikipedia

NAACP logoThe NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909 by a diverse group composed of W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Archibald Grimké, Henry Moscowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villard, William English Walling (the last son of a former slave-holding family), Florence Kelley, a social reformer and friend of Du Bois, and Charles Edward Russell, a renowned muckraker and close friend of Walling who helped plan the NAACP and served as acting chairman of the National Negro Committee (1909), a forerunner to the NAACP….

Founder W.E.B. DuBois

Founder W.E.B. DuBois


Founder William English Walling

Founder William English Walling

The NAACP was incorporated a year later in 1911. The association’s charter delineated its mission:

To promote equality of rights and to eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for the children, employment according to their ability and complete equality before law.

Founder Julius Rosenwald

Founder Julius Rosenwald

…[T]he leadership was predominantly white and heavily Jewish American. In fact, at its founding, the NAACP had only one African American on its executive board, Du Bois himself. It did not elect a black president until 1975, although executive directors had been African American. The Jewish community contributed greatly to the NAACP’s founding and continued financing. … Early Jewish-American co-founders included Julius Rosenwald, founder, with Booker T. Washington, of the Rosenwald Schools (see exhibit in ABHM)….

Stressing the similarities rather than the differences between the Jewish and Black experience in America, Jewish leaders emphasized the idea that both groups would benefit the more America moved toward a society of merit, free of religious, ethnic and racial restrictions.” Pbs.org states,…”About 50 percent of the civil rights attorneys in the South during the 1960s were Jews, as were over 50 percent of the Whites who went to Mississippi in 1964 to challenge Jim Crow Laws.”

In its early years, the NAACP concentrated on using the courts to overturn the Jim Crow statutes that legalized racial segregation….

Attorneys Thurgood Marshall (center), chief counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, George E. C. Hayes (left) and James M. Nabrit (right) celebrate their achievement in the Brown decision.

Attorneys Thurgood Marshall (center), chief counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, George E. C. Hayes (left) and James M. Nabrit (right) celebrate their achievement in the Brown decision.

The NAACP devoted much of its energy during the interwar years to fighting the lynching of blacks throughout the United States by working for legislation, lobbying and educating the public….

The NAACP campaign for desegregation culminated in a unanimous 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that held state-sponsored segregation of elementary schools was unconstitutional. Bolstered by that victory, the NAACP pushed for full desegregation throughout the South. Starting on December 5, 1955, NAACP activists, including E.D. Nixon, its local president, and Rosa Parks, who had served as the chapter’s Secretary, helped organize a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama….

Current NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous

Current NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous

Read more about the NAACP and learn about its current activities here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

 

 

The “Black National Anthem” First Performed on This Date in 1900

From Wikipedia

Lift Every Voice and Sing” — sometimes referred to as “The Negro National Hymn” or “The African-American National Anthem”—

ames Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is remembered best for his leadership within the NAACP, as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore and folksongs.

James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist.
Johnson is remembered best for his leadership within the NAACP, as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore and folksongs.
Aged around 30 at the time of this photo, James W. Johnson had already written Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing and been admitted to the Florida bar.

John Rosamond Johnson, was an American composer and singer during the Harlem Renaissance. He was trained in music at the New England Conservatory and active in various musical roles during his career.

John Rosamond Johnson, was an American composer and singer during the Harlem Renaissance. He was trained in music at the New England Conservatory and active in various musical roles during his career.

is a song written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) in 1899 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) in 1900.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was publicly performed first as a poem as part of a celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, 1900, by 500 school children at the segregated Stanton School. Its principal, James Weldon Johnson, wrote the words to introduce its honored guest Booker T. Washington. The poem was later set to music by Johnson’s brother John in 1905.

Read more about  the multitalented and prolific brothers, James Weldon Johnson and J.Rosamond Johnson.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Meet the Newest Black Senator

By Keli Goff, theRoot.com

William “Mo” Cowan has been appointed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to replace newly confirmed Secretary of State Sen. John Kerry in the U.S. Senate.

For the first time in history, two black Senators will serve at the same time. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

For the first time in history, two black Senators will serve at the same time. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

Cowan will fill the role in an interim capacity until his successor is chosen in a special election in June.

The selection of Cowan, Patrick’s former chief of staff, has surprised political observers. Many of them assumed that the governor would do as he did after the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy and select an elder statesman of some sort — perhaps former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis or retired Rep. Barney Frank. But according to Boston-based political consultant Michael Goldman, who has previously advised Patrick, Cowan makes sense.

“He was one of the governor’s most respected advisers, and one thing this governor wants to do is make history and start to create the next generation of black leadership, and Mo Cowan is that,” Goldman said during a brief phone interview with The Root. Calling Cowan a “terrific guy,” Goldman added, “Gov. Patrick could have picked someone at the end of his career to fill this role, but instead he picked someone still near the beginning. Twenty-five years from now, Mo Cowan will still be making a difference in government and politics, and this governor will have played a role in that.”

Cowan’s appointment means that Massachusetts is now home to two of America’s highest-profile African-American politicians.

Read key facts about Senator Cowan here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Read about how the “Party of Lincoln” became so white and the Democratic Party became so diverse, here.

 

Confederate past: Uproar over changing park names

by Adrian Sainz, Associated Press, in theGrio.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The statue of Confederate fighter Nathan Bedford Forrest astride a horse towers above the Memphis park bearing his name.

A statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest stands in Nathan Bedford Forrest Park in Memphis, Tenn. Nearly 150 years after the Civil War ended, Forrest continues to spark new political battles and racial discord in Memphis.

A statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest stands in Nathan Bedford Forrest Park in Memphis, Tenn. Nearly 150 years after the Civil War ended, Forrest continues to spark new political battles and racial discord in Memphis.

It’s a larger-than-life tribute to the warrior still admired by many for fiercely defending the South in the Civil War — and scorned by others for a slave-trading past and ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

Though the bloodiest war on American soil was fought 150 years ago, racially tinged discord flared before its City Council voted this week to strip Forrest’s name from the downtown park and call it Health Sciences Park. It also voted to rename Confederate Park as Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis Park as Mississippi River Park….

The changes have drawn praise from those who said bygone reminders of the Confederacy had to be swept away in what today is a racially diverse city. Critics cried foul, saying moves to blot out such associations were tantamount to rewriting the history of a Mississippi River city steeped in Old South heritage.

The struggle over Forrest’s legacy and moves to rename other parks highlights a broader national debate over what Confederate figures represent in the 21st century as a far more diverse nation takes new stock of the war on its 150th anniversary with the hindsight of the civil rights era….

Kennith Van Buren, a local African-American civil rights activist, said stripping away park names tied to the Confederacy or its leading figures were overdue.

“It’s very offensive,” he said. “How can we have unity in the nation when we have one city, right here in Memphis, which fails to be unified?”

Most of the emotion over the council’s action has centered on Forrest. His defenders, mostly white, cite Forrest’s accomplishments as an alderman, businessman and military leader. Critics, black and white, say honoring Forrest glorifies a slave trader and Ku Klux Klan member.

Read more about Forrest and the controversy here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Happy Birthday, Alice Walker!

From Wikipedia

Alice Malsenior Walker (born February 9, 1944) is an American author, poet, and activist. She has written both fiction and essays about race and gender.

Alice Walker, awardwinning American writer and activist, author of The Color Purple, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and other novels.

Alice Walker, awardwinning American writer and activist, author of The Color Purple, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and other novels.

She is best known for the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple(1982) for which she won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Walker was born in Eatoton, Georgia, the youngest of eight children, to Willie Lee Walker and Minnie Lou Tallulah Grant. Her father, who was, in her words, “wonderful at math but a terrible farmer,” earned only $300 a year from sharecropping and dairy farming. Her mother supplemented the family income by working as a maid. She worked 11 hours a day for USD $17 per week to help pay for Alice to attend college.

Living under Jim Crow laws, Walker’s parents resisted landlords who expected the children of black sharecroppers to work the fields at a young age. A white plantation owner said to her that black people had “no need for education.” Minnie Lou Walker said, “You might have some black children somewhere, but they don’t live in this house. Don’t you ever come around here again talking about how my children don’t need to learn how to read and write.” Her mother enrolled Alice in first grade at the age of four.

Growing up with an oral tradition, listening to stories from her grandfather (the model for the character of Mr. in The Color Purple), Walker began writing, very privately, when she was eight years old. “With my family, I had to hide things,” she said. “And I had to keep a lot in my mind.”

Read more of Walker’s biography here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Happy Birthday, Reverend John Rankin, Dedicated Abolitionist!

From Wikipedia

The Reverend and Mrs. John Rankin

John Rankin (February 5, 1793 – March 18, 1886) was an American Presbyterian minister, educator and abolitionist.

Upon moving to Ripley, Ohio in 1822, he became known as one of Ohio’s first and most active “conductors” on the Underground Railroad. Prominent pre-Civil War abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe were influenced by Rankin’s writings and work in the anti-slavery movement.

When Beecher was asked after the end of the Civil War, “Who abolished slavery?,” she answered, “Reverend John Rankin and his sons did.”

Rankin was born at Dandridge, Jefferson County, Tennessee, and raised in a strict Calvinist home. Beginning at the age of eight, his view of the world and his religious faith were deeply affected by two things — the revivals of the Second Great Awakening that were sweeping through the Appalachian region, and the incipient slave rebellion led by Gabriel Prosser in 1800.

Anti-Slavery Movement Poster, Salem MA, 1850 (Library of Congress)

Anti-Slavery Movement Poster, Salem MA, 1850 (Library of Congress)

[D]espite Tennessee’s status as a slave state, he summoned the courage to speak against “all forms of oppression” and then, specifically, slavery. He was shocked when his elders responded by telling him that he should consider leaving Tennessee if he intended ever to oppose slavery from the pulpit again. He knew that his faith would not allow him to keep his views to himself, so he decided to move his family to the town of Ripley across the Ohio River in the free state of Ohio, where he had heard from family members that a number of anti-slavery Virginians had settled….On the night of December 31, 1821, he rowed his family across the icy river….

During the Rankins’ first few months there, hecklers and protesters often followed the new preacher through town and gathered outside his cabin while their first permanent home was being built just yards from the river at 220 Front Street. When the local newspaper began publishing his letters to his brother on the topic of slavery (see next section), Rankin’s reputation grew among both supporters and opponents of the anti-slavery movement. Slave owners and hunters often viewed him as their prime suspect and appeared at his door at all hours demanding information about fugitives. Soon, Rankin realized that the home was too accessible a place for him to properly raise his family.

Rankin built these stairs to his house so that runaways slaves could easily get up the long hill. None of the 2000 slaves he helped to escape was ever captured there.

Rankin built these stairs to his house so that runaways slaves could easily get up the long hill. None of the 2000 slaves he helped to escape was ever captured there.

In 1829, Rankin moved his wife and nine children (of an eventual total of thirteen) to a house at the top of a 540-foot-high hill that provided a wide view of the village, the River and the Kentucky shoreline, as well as farmland and fruit groves that could provide sources of income. From there the family could raise a lantern on a flagpole to signal fleeing slaves in Kentucky when it was safe for them to cross the Ohio River. Rankin also constructed a staircase leading up the hill to the house for slaves to climb up to safety on their way further north. For over forty years leading up to the Civil War, many of the 2000 slaves who escaped to freedom through Ripley stayed at the family’s home, and none was ever recaptured there. It became known as the Rankin House and is now a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

During a visit by Rankin to Lane Theological Seminary to see one of his sons, he told Professor Calvin Stowe the story of a woman the Rankins had housed in 1838 after she escaped by crossing the frozen Ohio River with her child in her arms. Stowe’s wife (Harriet Beecher Stowe) also heard the account and later modeled the character Eliza in her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin after the woman.

A view of the Ohio River from the Rankin House. The house is now a National Historic Site.

A view of the Ohio River from the Rankin House. The house is now a National Historic Site.

The film, “Brothers of the Borderland,” is a permanent feature of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati that depicts Rankin’s work in the Underground Railroad in Ripley.

Early in his time in Ripley, Rankin learned that his brother Thomas, a merchant in Augusta County, Virginia, had bought slaves.

John Rankin's influential book, Letters On Slavery, published in 1826, was a collection of letters he wrote to his brother Thomas. These letters convinced Thomas to free his slaves and join the anti-slavery movement.

John Rankin’s influential book, Letters On Slavery, published in 1826, was a collection of letters he wrote to his brother Thomas. These letters convinced Thomas to free his slaves and join the anti-slavery movement.

He was provoked to write a series of anti-slavery letters to his brother that were published by the editor of the local Ripley newspaper The Castigator. When the letters were published in book form in 1826 as Letters on Slavery, they provided one of the first clearly articulated anti-slavery views printed west of the Appalachians. Thomas Rankin, convinced by his brother’s words, moved to Ohio in 1827 and freed his slaves.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Two Black Scientists Receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation

From Good Black News

Two African-American scientists have been named as part of a group that received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation Award by the Obama Administration, the White House announced.

Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr. and President Barack Obama share a laugh at the awards ceremony. (Getty Images)

Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr. and President Barack Obama share a laugh at the awards ceremony. (Getty Images)

Among the 12 recipients are James Gates, a physicist at the University of Maryland, and George Carruthers, an inventor, physicist, space scientist and professor at Howard University.

“I am proud to honor these inspiring American innovators,” President Obama said, in a statement. “They represent the ingenuity and imagination that has long made this Nation great — and they remind us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are unleashed in an entrepreneurial environment.”

Gates has become well known for his work on supergravity and supersymmetry and is a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He has been featured on the PBS program NOVA and other shows on physics.

Physicist and inventor George Carruthers built his first telescope at age 10, and has spent the rest of his life making important contributions to the study of outer space.

Physicist and inventor George Carruthers built his first telescope at age 10, and has spent the rest of his life making important contributions to the study of outer space.

Carruthers is a prolific inventor, having developed a camera that was used in the Space Shuttle Mission. He invented the first moon-based observatory, which was used in the Apollo 16 mission. He also made the first examination of molecular hydrogen in space. He served as editor of the Journal of the National Technical Association.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980 and is administered for the White House by the Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office.The award recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the nation’s technological workforce.

The recipients received their awards at a White House ceremony on February 1, 2013.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Black History Month Has Been an Epic Failure

By Dion Rabouin, the Huffington Post

Malcolm X was fond of saying, “Our history did not begin in chains.” Yet every year that’s where Black History Month lesson plans in schools across America begin. They begin telling the story of our history — black history — in chains.

ancient manuscripts Timbuktu

A selection of manuscripts from a small family library includes a text with astrology diagrams (center). Timbuktu’s libraries contain over 100,000 manuscripts, and experts believe many thousands remain undiscovered. Timbuktu, an ancient city that still exists in modern Mali, was a center of learning and the African book trade.

Young black school children don’t learn that our people mapped, calculated and erected some of the greatest monuments ever, like the pyramids, the sphinx and the obelisks (after which the Washington Monument is modeled) or that our people were literally the lifeblood of some of history’s greatest civilizations. They don’t learn that calculus, trigonometry and geometry all trace their origins back to African scholars….

Our history isn’t taught in popular culture and it is conspicuously absent from the history that most professors in high school classrooms and on college campuses deem to be important. That’s why Black History Month was created. It wasn’t a chance to glow over the achievements we’ve heard about time and time again and to recount stories of the Bad Ol’ Days and what we did to get through. Black History Month was a time to bring to light the stories of people from Africa who have contributed so much to who and what we all are today in human society.

T291185_02

Carter G. Woodson, son of former slaves, earned his PhD from Harvard and came to be called the “Father of Black History.” He founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 1912.

When Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week in 1926, his goal was to teach children and adults throughout the African Diaspora about the proud history and tradition that Africans have. He wanted to teach young boys and girls in the U.S. and around the world that Africa was and is so much more than people living in huts, hunting antelope and dancing around campfires. He wanted all people to know and understand that being African was not something to be ashamed of, but instead should be a point of pride and exceptionalism.

Woodson, one of the first black men ever to graduate with a Ph.D from Harvard, doing so in 1912, was devoted to teaching all people about the contributions in our society that come from Africa and Africans, and it pains me to say, so far we have failed in his mission.

If you don’t believe me, find anyone still in school, I’m talking K-12, and ask them to tell you something about black history that predates the slave trade….

Sankoré Masjid (university) is one of three ancient centers of learning located in Timbuktu. It could house  25,000 students and had one of the largest libraries in the world with between 400,000 to 700,000 manuscripts.

Sankoré Masjid (university) is one of three ancient centers of learning located in Timbuktu. It could house 25,000 students and had one of the largest libraries in the world with between 400,000 to 700,000 manuscripts.

Black History Month is about Mansa Musa, the King of Mali who extended the empire’s reach into one of the largest on the planet and imposed the system of provinces and territorial mayors and governors we still use in the United States today. It’s about Lewis Latimer, the man who invented the filament that took Thomas Edison’s light bulb into the next century. It’s about Robert Abbott, the United States’ first black newspaper publisher and one of the nation’s first ever black millionaires….

The march from slavery and the Civil Rights Movement clearly demonstrated the struggle and the power that black people are capable of, but it’s not all we have contributed to the world.

Read the full article here

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