Month: December 2018

December 31 1994- Woodrow Wilson (Woody)

GM – FBF – This is last entry for the year 2018 and I have a different story for every day of this year. I want to thank all of you who have stopped by and gotten something from the daily posts and for the ones who went on to share the daily posts.

One hundred years ago 1919 was called “The Red Summer” with all of the lynching’s that Black people faced. I will tell many of those stories in 2019.

Today’s Story is about a Black athlete who broke the color barrier in professional football in 1946 (a year before Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball) and is regarded as having the first dignified role for a black actor in a feature motion picture. Enjoy!

Remember – “ I have been able to serve my country, play professional football and do acting in Hollywood. I have a good life” – Woodrow Wilson Stride

Today in our History – December 31, 1994 – Woodrow Wilson Woolwine (Woody) Strode dies.

(B. 28 July 1914 in Los Angeles, California; d. 31 December 1994 in Glendora, California), Strode was one of two sons of Baylous Strode, Sr., a brick mason, and Rose Norris Strode, a homemaker; Baylous Jr. was the couple’s only other child.

Strode was tall and thin as a youngster, and his athletic ability did not materialize until he reached junior high school. After a growth spurt, he developed into a fine all-around athlete, earning all-city honors in football and all-state recognition in track and field at Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. His athletic ability interested several major colleges on the West Coast. He chose the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), at the time a relatively young institution that had recently moved to a new campus in the Westwood section of Los Angeles. In going to college, Strode fulfilled his father’s wish that he “get an education.”

During the late 1930s Jackie Robinson and Kenny Washington, also black athletes, were the bright stars on the UCLA gridiron, but Strode was also outstanding. It was at this time that Strode prepared for the decathlon (a ten-event track and field sport) in the 1936 Olympic trials.

Because of his muscular physique, Strode was asked to pose for an art class. He also caught the attention of the acclaimed German cinematographer Leni Riefenstahl, who took several still photographs of Strode and had him pose for a sculptor. The Nazi leader Adolf Hitler saw the photographs and sent Riefenstahl to America to film Strode. A painting of Strode was used, ironically—given Hitler’s thoughts on Aryan supremacy—as part of the Berlin Olympic Festival in 1936.

When Strode finished his schooling at UCLA, the National Football League (NFL) was still an all-white organization. Blacks had no opportunity to play in the nation’s only major professional football league. However, Strode and Washington did play with the Hollywood Bears of the Pacific Coast League, a minor league, and they actually earned more money than many NFL players.

During the late 1930s Strode and his UCLA teammate Washington began working in the service department at Warner Brothers Studio. After he left UCLA, Strode’s contacts at Warner Brothers allowed him to secure small roles in motion pictures, including Sundown (1941), Star-Spangled Rhythm(1942), and No Time for Lave (1943). But Strode was mainly an athlete during this time. When not playing football, he trained as a wrestler and won several professional matches. In 1941 he married Luana Kalaeloa, a Hawaiian princess. They later had two children: a son, Kalaeloa (known as Kalai), and a daughter, June.

When World War II broke out, Strode joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was stationed at March Field in Riverside, California, where he was a member of one of the top service football teams, the Fourth Air Corps Flyers. Commenting on Strode, Paul Stenn (“Stenko”), a ten-year NFL player, recalled, “I played along side of him—and he was good. I had played pro football and I can tell you Woody Strode was as good as the NFL players. He just needed a chance to prove it.”

Strode got that chance after the war. When the Cleveland Rams moved their franchise to Los Angeles in 1946, they became the first major league team to play on the West Coast. The Rams wanted to play in Memorial Coliseum, a 100,000-seat stadium. Leaders of the black community reasoned that if the team was going to play in a public facility, then all Americans should be entitled to play on the team. Pressure was brought to bear, and in the spring of 1946 Strode and Washington signed on with the Rams, becoming the first blacks to play in the NFL since the league’s pioneering days in the 1920s. Unfortunately, both Strode, then age thirty-two, and Washington, then twenty-nine, were past their athletic prime. Underutilized by the Rams, Strode caught only four passes for thirty-seven yards and was waived at the end of the 1946 season.

The next season, Strode signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Age and football injuries caught up with him by 1950, and Strode returned to the United States to pursue a professional wrestling career in Los Angeles. The “movie crowd” often attended the wrestling matches, and this led to Strode’s full-time acting career.

A talent agent signed him, and he appeared in several movies that today would be known as “action” films. Strode often played the role of a gladiator or jungle warrior. He gained notoriety as a gladiator in the 1960 epic film Spartacus. That same year Strode starred in the title role of Sergeant Rutledge, a part that many consider to be the first dignified black character in American cinema. Strode continued to land meaningful roles throughout the 1960s and made films in Italy in the 1970s. He also made regular television appearances, ranging from a starring role in Ramar of the Jungle to a part in The Quest.

One of Strode’s last major roles was in the 1984 film The Cotton Club. After he did several other feature films and a television movie (A Gathering of Old Men, 1987), Strode retired to a ranch in Glendora, California, with his second wife, Tina (Strode remarried on 10 May 1982 after Luana’s death in 1980 from Parkinson’s disease). Strode died on New Year’s Eve, 1994, in Glendora of natural causes about a year after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was buried with full military honors in Riverside National Cemetery in California.

Strode was a versatile athlete who made his mark in the world of sports, but he is best remembered as one of the first blacks to integrate the modern NFL. He also left an important legacy of more than fifty feature films. His many significant roles opened the door for other black actors to follow—much like his role as a black pioneer in professional football led the way for future black athletes. Research more about Black athletes turning to movie stars and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 30 1928- Elias ” Bo Diddley” McDaniel

GM – FBF – Today’s Story is about an artist who broke new ground in rock and roll’s formative years with his unique guitar work, indelible African rhythms, inventive songwriting and larger-than-life persona.

He will forever be known for popularizing one of the foundational rhythms of rock and roll. This African-based 4/4 rhythm pattern (which goes bomp-bomp-bomp bomp-bomp) was picked up by other artists and has been a distinctive and recurring element in rock and roll through the decades. Enjoy!

Remember – “I thank you in advance for the great round of applause I’m about to get.” – Bo Diddley

Today in our History – December 30, 1928 – Ellas “Bo Diddley” McDaniel is born.

Bo Diddley, original name Ellas Bates, later Ellas McDaniel, (born December 30, 1928, McComb, Mississippi, U.S.—died June 2, 2008, Archer, Florida), American singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the most influential performers of rock music’s early period.

He was raised mostly in Chicago by his adoptive family, from whom he took the surname McDaniel, and he recorded for the legendary blues record company Chess as Bo Diddley (a name most likely derived from the diddley bow, a one-stringed African guitar popular in the Mississippi Delta region).

Diddley scored few hit records but was one of rock’s most influential artists nonetheless, because he had something nobody else could claim, his own beat: chink-a-chink-chink, ca-chink-chink. That syncopated beat (also known as “hambone” or “shave-and-a-haircut—two-bits”) had surfaced in a few big-band rhythm-and-bluescharts of the 1940s, but Diddley stripped it down and beefed it up. He made it, with its obvious African roots, one of the irresistible dance sounds in rock and roll. It was appropriated by fellow 1950s rockers (Johnny Otis’s “Willie and the Hand Jive” [1958]), 1960s garage bands (the Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy” [1965]), and budding superstars (the Rolling Stones’ version of Buddy Holly’s Diddley-influenced “Not Fade Away” [1964]). For all that, Diddley hit the pop charts just five times and the Top 20 only once (even though his 1955 debut single, “Bo Diddley,” backed with “I’m a Man,” was number one on the rhythm-and-blues charts).

After playing for several years on Chicago’s legendary Maxwell Street, Diddley signed with Chess subsidiary Checker in 1955. The lyrics to his songs were rife with African-American street talk, bluesy imagery, and raunchy humour (e.g., “Who Do You Love” [1957]). He used tremolo, fuzz, and feedback effects to create a guitar sound on which only Jimi Hendrix has expanded (consider sonic outbursts like “Bo Diddley”). His stage shows—featuring his half sister the Duchess on vocals and rhythm guitar and Jerome Green on bass and maracas—made an art out of bad taste. Commonly dressed in a huge black Stetson and loud shirts, Diddley no doubt influenced the dress of British Invasion groups such as the Rolling Stones. The odd-shaped guitars that he played reinforced his arresting look.

In the 1960s he recorded everything from surf music to straight-ahead blues with equal aplomb. But his last conquest was the sublime “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” (1962), until the British Invasion put him back on the map long enough for a minor 1967 hit, “Ooh Baby.” He was always outspoken about how black musicians had been underpaid, and he toured only sporadically after the 1970s, appeared in a few movies, and made occasional albums. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Research more about Black Rock and Roll stars and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 29 1929- Dorothy Bennett

GM – FBF – How many Black people that you have in your family that were the first to graduate as a person of color from a University or College with a Bachelors or Master’s Degree? How many in your family had a professional physician or a sports champion as a Mother and Father? To whom a lot is given – a lot is expected. Today’s story is an example of such for our people. Enjoy!

Remember – “The story of our people needs to be told the correct way, not just our hardships but all of the knowledge and power that we have done for the human race. Rise up and tell the true story” – Dorothy Bennett

Today in our History – December 29, 1929 – Dorothy Bennett married James Amos Porter.

Dorothy Porter Wesley (1905-1995), a scholar-librarian and bibliographer was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1905, and grew up in Montclair, New Jersey to her father, Hayes Joseph Burnett, a physician, and her mother, Bertha Ball Burnett, a tennis champion. After receiving her A.B., from Howard University in 1928, she became the first African American woman to complete her graduate studies at Columbia University receiving a Bachelors (1931) and a Masters (1932) of Science in Library Science.

Porter Wesley once remarked that “Too much of our heritage, until recently, has been lost because there were not enough collectors among us.” Fortunately for those of us who are and have been involved in Black history, one of those collectors was Dr. Porter Wesley. Beginning in 1930 and continuing for more than four decades, Dr. Porter Wesley devoted her life to identifying and acquiring for Howard University many thousands of books, newspapers, journals and other materials which provided the documentation of the Black experience in Africa, the Americas and other parts of the world.

While Dr. Jessee E. Moorland receives the well-earned acknowledgement of having provided at Howard University a foundation for historical research on people of African descent, it is Dorothy Porter Wesley who deserves the credit for transforming the potential of Moorland’s gift and other related material into a repository widely hailed as one of the very best at the time of her retirement in 1973. Scholars and librarians continue to marvel at the success she was able to achieve under often difficult circumstances. All that the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center is today is a result of the groundwork laid by her.

In 1973, Letitia Woods Brown said Porter Wesley “has the broadest understanding of Black bibliography of anyone living. If it has been written or even spoken about, Dorothy Porter knows.” A few years earlier, Faith Berry described her in an article on Black archives as “a human encyclopedia who can tell you everything about Negro life and history that’s ever been printed or unprinted.” While caution tells us that such accolades must be tempered with reality, experience tells us that neither writer greatly exaggerated the depth and breadth of Dr. Porter Wesley’s prodigious knowledge of Black history and culture.

In 1969, Dr. Porter Wesley wrote that “the wise accumulation of books and documents by the early great bibliophiles … was doubtless the seed of a tremendous harvest. But if we are not to be overwhelmed by its very richness and excess in the domain of Black studies, it must be met with a steady and dedicated and confident librarianship as much as with appreciative, systematic, and productive exploitation by knowledgeable and competent scholars. In these critical times we can hardly afford to neglect the advantages of such an intellectual and practical partnership.”
Not only did Dr. Porter Wesley promote such partnership, but she was long the embodiment of the scholar-librarian. She knew the great bibliophiles and collectors like Moorland, Arthur B. Spingarn, C. Glenn Carrington, Arthur A. Schomburg, Henry P. Slaughter, Clarence Holte, and Charles Blockson. She knew and assisted the many important scholars at Howard University, and scholars elsewhere who shared an interest in Black history. She knew the writers, historians and others who would contribute to the corpus of our history.
She was not only a professionally trained librarian, but also a prolific author and bibliographer who published numerous books and scores of articles, reviews and other pieces. In addition to her master’s thesis, “Afro-American Writings Published Before 1835,” Dr. Porter Wesley also wrote “African and Caribbean Creative Writing,” Afro-Braziliana, “… American Negro Writers About Africa,” and on such disparate subjects as family records in New England, David Ruggles, Howard University, Maria Louise Baldwin, Sarah Parker Remond, “The Negro in American Cities,” “The Negro in the Brazilian Abolition Movement,” Negro literary societies, archival preservation, Negro protest pamphlets, and Africa. Her major works include The Negro in the United States (1970) and Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837, republished by Black Classic Press in 1995.

Dr. Porter Wesley received honorary degrees from Syracuse University, Radcliffe College and Susquehanna University, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University, a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for research in Latin American literature, a Ford Foundation study and travel grant which took her to Scotland, Ireland, England and Italy, and a fellowship from the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. Dr. Porter Wesley served as a Ford Foundation consultant to the National Library in Lagos, Nigeria (1962-64), and she attended the 1st International Congress of Africanists in Accra, Ghana, in 1962.

Dr. Porter Wesley also contributed her talents to the Society of American Archivists, the Nigerian Historical Society, the African Studies Association the Bibliographical Society of America, the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Trust for the Preservation of Historic Sites, and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
In 1994 President Clinton presented her with the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Charles Frankel Award.
She was unstinting in the time she spent as a librarian and a scholar in sharing her knowledge with a host of scholars, prompting Benjamin Quarles to say, in 1973, that “without exaggeration, there hasn’t been a major history book in the last 30 years in which the author hasn’t acknowledged Mrs. Porter’s help.” While this may have abated somewhat in more recent years, the need for Dr. Porter Wesley’s advice and counsel was still very much evident among the current generation of students and scholars.

Those of us who know how difficult the task is of documenting a people’s history realize and appreciate the extraordinary success Dr. Porter Wesley achieved in times far more difficult than those we face today. She built the house and we are its caretakers — trying our best to deserve the wonderful legacy she has left for this and future generations.

Dorothy Porter Wesley stands among those giants of historical inquiry who have helped to focus an understanding of the contributions people of African descent have made to world society. She embodied the spirit of our people and inspired all of those who love our people’s history. She has left her mark, and it is truly indelible. Research more about Black’s who writers are or poet’s and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 28 1829- Elizabeth Freeman

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about the first enslaved African American to file and win a freedom suit in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling, in her favor, found slavery to be inconsistent with the 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution. Her suit, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781), was cited in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appellate review of Quock Walker’s freedom suit. When the court upheld her freedom under the state’s constitution, the ruling was considered to have implicitly ended slavery in Massachusetts. She also was the step-great-great-grandmother of the great W. E. B. Du Bois. Enjoy!

Remember – “Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God’s airth [sic] a free woman— I would.” — Elizabeth Freeman

Today in our History – December 28, 1829 – Elizabeth “MumBet” Freeman dies.

Freeman was illiterate and left no written records of her life. Her early history has been pieced together from the writings of contemporaries to whom she told her story or who heard it indirectly, as well as from historical records.

Freeman was born into slavery around 1744 at the farm of Pieter Hogeboom in Claverack, New York, where she was given the name Bet. When Hogeboom’s daughter Hannah married John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Hogeboom gave Bet, around seven years old, to Hannah and her husband. Freeman remained with them until 1781, during which time she had a child, Little Bet. She is said to have married, though no marriage record has been located. Her husband (name unknown) is said to have never returned from service in the American Revolutionary War.

Throughout her life, Bet exhibited a strong spirit and sense of self. She came into conflict with Hannah Ashley, who was raised in the strict Dutch culture of the New York colony. In 1780, Bet prevented Hannah from striking a servant girl with a heated shovel; Elizabeth shielded the girl and received a deep wound in her arm. As the wound healed, Bet left it uncovered as evidence of her harsh treatment. John Ashley was a Yale-educated lawyer, wealthy landowner, businessman and leader in the community. His house was the site of many political discussions and the probable location of the signing of the Sheffield Resolves, which predated the Declaration of Independence.

In 1780, Freeman heard the newly ratified Massachusetts Constitution read at a public gathering in Sheffield, including the following:

All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. — Massachusetts Constitution, Article 1.

Inspired by these words, Bett sought the counsel of Theodore Sedgwick, a young abolition-minded lawyer, to help her sue for freedom in court. According to Catherine Sedgwick’s account, she told him, “I heard that paper read yesterday, that says, all men are created equal, and that every man has a right to freedom. I’m not a dumb critter; won’t the law give me my freedom?” After much deliberation Sedgwick accepted her case, as well as that of Brom, another of Ashley’s slaves. He enlisted the aid of Tapping Reeve, the founder of Litchfield Law School, one of America’s earliest law schools, located in Litchfield, Connecticut. They were two of the top lawyers in Massachusetts, and Sedgwick later served as US Senator. Arthur Zilversmit suggests the attorneys may have selected these plaintiffs to test the status of slavery under the new state constitution.

The case of Brom and Bett v. Ashley was heard in August 1781 before the County Court of Common Pleas in Great Barrington. Sedgwick and Reeve asserted that the constitutional provision that “all men are born free and equal” effectively abolished slavery in the state. When the jury ruled in Bett’s favor, she became the first African-American woman to be set free under the Massachusetts state constitution.
The jury found that “…Brom & Bett are not, nor were they at the time of the purchase of the original writ the legal Negro of the said John Ashley…” The court assessed damages of thirty shillings and awarded both plaintiffs compensation for their labor. Ashley initially appealed the decision, but a month later dropped his appeal, apparently having decided the court’s ruling on constitutionality of slavery was “final and binding.”

After the ruling, Bett took the name Elizabeth Freeman. Although Ashley asked her to return to his house and work for wages, she chose to work in attorney Sedgwick’s household. She worked for his family until 1808 as senior servant and governess to the Sedgwick children, who called her “Mumbet.” The Sedgwick children included Catharine Sedgwick, who became a well-known author and wrote an account of her governess’s life. Also working at the Sedgwick household during much of this time was Agrippa Hull, a free black man who had served with rebel forces for years during the Revolutionary War.

From the time Freeman gained her freedom, she became widely recognized and in demand for her skills as a healer, midwife and nurse. After the Sedgwick children were grown, Freeman moved into her own house on Cherry Hill in Stockbridge near her daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Freeman’s real age was never known, but an estimate on her tombstone puts her age at about 85. She died on December 28,1829 and was buried in the Sedgwick family plot in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Freeman remains the only non-Sedgwick buried in the Sedgwick plot. They provided a tombstone, inscribed as follows:
ELIZABETH FREEMAN, also known by the name of MUMBET died Dec. 28th 1829. Her supposed age was 85 Years. She was born a slave and remained a slave for nearly thirty years; She could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she had no superior or equal. She neither wasted time nor property. She never violated a trust, nor failed to perform a duty. In every situation of domestic trial, she was the most efficient helper and the tenderest friend. Good mother, farewell.

The decision in the case of Elizabeth Freeman was cited as precedent when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard the appeal of Quock Walker v. Jennison later that year and upheld Walker’s freedom. These cases set the legal precedents that ended slavery in Massachusetts. Vermont had already abolished it explicitly in its constitution.

Civil Rights leader and historian W. E. B. Du Bois claimed Freeman as his relative and wrote that she married his maternal great-grandfather, “Jack” Burghardt. But, Freeman was 20 years senior to Burghardt, and no record of such a marriage has been found. It may have been Freeman’s daughter, Betsy Humphrey, who married Burghardt after her first husband, Jonah Humphrey, left the area “around 1811”, and after Burghardt’s first wife died (c. 1810). If so, Freeman would have been Du Bois’s step-great-great-grandmother. Anecdotal evidence supports Humphrey’s marrying Burghardt; a close relationship of some form is likely.

Season 1, episode 37 of the television show Liberty’s Kids, titled “Born Free and Equal”, is about her. It was first aired in 2003, and in it she is voiced by Yolanda King. Research more about the struggle of Black’s and the courts and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December27 1932- Ruth Carol

GM – FBF – During this holiday season many people of color will use air as the transportation of choice. When boarding an aircraft today, passengers are greeted by cabin crew from all races, nationalities and back grounds. But in 1950s America, the flying world was very different. Racial prejudices and a mountain of strict regulations meant there were NO African-American flight attendants working for a US carrier. One woman intended to change all of that. She first worked as a nurse, before turning her attentions to changing the color barriers that existed in American aviation by becoming a flight attendant. This is her story that I will call “The Angel of the sky” Enjoy!.

Remember – “It irked me that people were not allowing people of color to apply… Anything like that sets my teeth to grinding”. – Ruth Carol Taylor

Today in our History – December 27, 1932 -Ruth Carol Taylor was born in Boston, to Ruth Irene Powell Taylor also a nurse, and William Edison Taylor, a barber.

At the time, black civil rights in North America were virtually non-existent. This was many years before Martin Luther King would make his famous “I have a dream speech” in 1963, and times were hard for many African-Americans. Later, the family moved to upstate New York to set up a farm, before Taylor went on to follow in her mother’s footsteps and study nursing at the Bellevue School.

Racial prejudices were not the only thing hindering many hopefully flight attendants. Weight, height, overall appearance, marital status and age, all played a part in how long your career would last at an airline, or indeed if you would be hired at all. These barriers would exist for many years, until crew such as Taylor and others like Iris Peterson, began to fight for equality in the industry.

In 1958, Taylor applied for a job with US major, Trans World Airlines (TWA). Her application was immediately rejected, simply because of her skin color. This angered Taylor immensely and she was determined to fight back. And fight back she did, filing a complaint against TWA with the New York State Commission of Discrimination. No action was brought against the airline, but other companies began to re-think their policies on hiring ‘minority’ crew members.

The first to do so was Mid-Atlantic carrier Mohawk Airlines and Ruth, along with 800 other black applicants applied. Taylor was the only successful candidate, and in December of 1957 she was hired. This was the first in a number of milestones for Mohawk and when they eventually merged with Allegheny Airlines in 1972, they had broken numerous molds within the industry, including becoming the first regional airline to use a centralized computer reservations system, first to utilize flight simulators and the first regional carrier to inaugurate jet aircraft into service.

By early the following year, Taylor’s training was complete and she was ready to take to the skies. On February 11, 1958 history was made as Ruth Carol Taylor became the first ever African-American flight attendant, operating her flight from Ithaca Tompkins, Regional Airport to New York, JFK.

This was a ground-breaking moment in both American and civil aviation history. Just three months later TWA repented on its decision and finally hired Margaret Grant, the first major US carrier to hire a ‘minority’ crew member.

But as Taylor’s role as cabin crew had broken racial barriers within the industry, it would be another ridiculous regulation of the time that would ultimately lead to her departure, just six months later. Before applying to the airlines, Taylor had been engaged to Red Legall, but being a married woman was forbidden by all carriers in the 50’s and 60’s and as her wedding day approached she was forced to resign from Mohawk.

Her flying career, although short-lived, had not only changed the aviation industry forever, it had also been a major coup in the fight for black civil rights in America.

Shortly after she left, Taylor and her husband moved to the British West Indies but much like her flying career, her marriage was short and the couple divorced after the birth of their daughter.

Her fight for racial equality didn’t stop when she left Mohawk. Taylor continued working to improve civil rights, reporting on the 1963 ‘March On Washington’, as well as becoming an activist for consumer affairs and women’s rights. She returned to New York in 1977, where she co-founded the Institute for Inter Racial Harmony. This institute developed a test to measure racist attitudes known as the ‘Racism Quotient’. In 1985 she wrote ‘The Little Black Book: Black Male Survival In America’, a survival guide for young black men living in the United States.

Speaking to JET Magazine in 1995, Taylor admitted that she had never actually wanted to become a stewardess; she merely did it to break the racial barriers that existed in the industry.

It took 50 years after her first historic flight for her achievement to be recognized when in 2008, her accomplishments were acknowledged by the New York State Assembly.

Although Taylor’s hard-fought victory at Mohawk and the subsequent hiring of Margaret Grant by TWA had broken boundaries, the promises airlines made to change their ways were not forthcoming. No further African-American flight attendants were hired by American carriers, until Capital Airlines took on Patricia Banks in 1960. Her employment was only made possible, after the company was ordered to do so by the New York State Commission Against Discrimination.

Banks had applied four years earlier and had fared well in their initial screening process. But the airline failed to follow her application and did not make it clear why they would not give her a position. A public hearing in February 1960, ruled that Capital had illegally discriminated against Banks because of her race and they would have to hire her.

Even when African-American crew finally did begin flying careers with the major airlines, they still faced an uphill struggle for equality. In 1962, Northwest Airlines employed Marlene White, who later claimed that the carrier had singled her out for degrading treatment and although she had graduated within the upper third of her class, she was fired with no just cause. She was later re-instated after she too filed a complaint.

Today, cabin crew of all creeds, colors, nationalities and ethnic backgrounds work together for the same goal, to ensure the safety and comfort of the travelling public. It took a long time for airlines especially in America, to accept African-Americans as equals and hire them as flight attendants and it is with no doubt, that if it hadn’t been for the battle carried out by those first incredible women, Marlene White, Margaret Grant and of course Ruth Carol Taylor, it would have taken much longer for the fight for racial equality within our industry to be won. Research more about Blacks in the commercial aviation Industry and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 26 1849 – David Ruggles

GM – FBF – Our story today is about an African-American abolitionist in Manhattan, New York who resisted slavery by his participation in a Committee of Vigilance and the Underground Railroad to aid fugitive slaves reach free states.

He was a printer in New York City during the 1830s, who also wrote numerous articles, and “was the prototype for black activist journalists of his time.” He claimed to have led more than 600 fugitive slaves to freedom in the North, including Frederick Douglass, who became a friend and fellow activist.

He is also credited with opening the first African American bookstore in the United States. Did you know those things? Enjoy!

Remember – “A man is sometimes lost in a dust of his own raising” – David Ruggles

Today in our History – December 26, 1849 – David Ruggles dies.

David Ruggles (March 15, 1810 – December 26, 1849) was an African-American abolitionist in Manhattan, New York who resisted slavery by his participation in a Committee of Vigilance and the Underground Railroad to aid fugitive slaves reach free states. He was a printer in New York City during the 1830s, who also wrote numerous articles, and “was the prototype for black activist journalists of his time.” He claimed to have led more than 600 fugitive slaves to freedom in the North, including Frederick Douglass, who became a friend and fellow activist. Ruggles is also credited with opening the first African American bookstore in the United States.

Ruggles was born free in Lyme, Connecticut in 1810. His parents were David, Sr. and Nancy Ruggles, both free blacks. The family moved to Norwich, when David was very young and set up home in Bean Hill, a wealthy suburb. They lived in a small hut owned by his maternal aunt, Sylvia. His father David Sr. was a blacksmith and woodcutter, while his mother Nancy was a noted caterer, whose cakes were sought after for local social events. They were devout Methodists. David was the oldest of eight children. He was educated at Sabbath Schools, and was so bright that Bean Hill residents paid for a tutor from Yale to teach him Latin.

In 1826, at the age of sixteen, Ruggles moved to New York City, where he worked as a mariner before opening a grocery store. Nearby, other African-Americans ran grocery businesses in Golden Hill (John Street east of William Street), such as Mary Simpson (1752-March 18, 1836). After 1829, abolitionist Sojourner Truth (born Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree; c. 1797 – November 26, 1883) also lived in lower Manhattan. At first, he sold liquor, then embraced temperance. He became involved in anti-slavery and the free produce movement. He was a sales agent for and contributor to The Liberator and The Emancipator, abolitionist newspapers.

After closing the grocery, Ruggles opened the first African American-owned bookstore in the United States. He edited a New York journal called The Mirror of Liberty, and also published a pamphlet called The Extinguisher. He also published “The Abrogation of the Seventh Commandment” in 1835, an appeal to northern women to confront husbands who kept enslaved black women as mistresses.

Ruggles was secretary of the New York Committee of Vigilance, a radical biracial organization to aid fugitive slaves, oppose slavery, and inform enslaved workers in New York about their rights in the state. New York had abolished slavery and stated that slaves voluntarily brought to the state by a master would automatically gain freedom after nine months of residence. On occasion, Ruggles went to private homes after learning that enslaved blacks were hidden there, to tell workers that they were free. In October 1838, Ruggles assisted Frederick Douglass on his journey to freedom, and reunited Douglass with his fiance Anna Murray.

Rev. James Pennington, a self-emancipated slave, married Murray and Douglass in Ruggles’ home shortly thereafter. Douglass’ autobiography ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass’ explains “I had been in New York but a few days, when Mr. Ruggles sought me out, and very kindly took me to his boarding-house at the corner of Church and Lespenard Streets. 
Mr. Ruggles was then very deeply engaged in the memorable Darg case, as well as attending to a number of other fugitive slaves, devising ways and means for their successful escape; and, though watched and hemmed in on almost every side, he seemed to be more than a match for his enemies.”

Ruggles was especially active against “kidnappers,” bounty hunters who made a living by capturing escaped slaves. With demand high for slaves in the Deep South, there was also risk from men who kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery, as was done to Solomon Northup of Saratoga Springs, New York in 1841. With the Vigilance committee, Ruggles fought for fugitive slaves to have the right to jury trials and helped arrange legal assistance for them.

His activism earned him many enemies. Ruggles was physically assaulted and his business was destroyed through arson. He quickly reopened his library and bookshop. There were two known attempts to kidnap him and sell him into slavery in the South. His enemies included fellow abolitionists who disagreed with his tactics. He was criticized for his role in the well-publicized Darg case of 1838 involving a Virginia slaveholder named John P. Darg and his slave, Thomas Hughes.

Ruggles suffered from ill health, which intensified following the Darg case. In 1841, his father died, and Ruggles was ailing and almost blind. In 1842, Lydia Maria Child, a fellow abolitionist and friend, arranged for him to join a radical utopian commune called the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, in the present-day village of Florence, Massachusetts.

Applying home treatment upon hydropathic principles, he regained his health to some degree, but not his eyesight. He began practicing hydrotherapy, and by 1845, had established a “water cure” hospital in Florence. This was one of the earliest in the United States. Joel Shew and Russell Thatcher Trall (R.T. Trall) had preceded him in using this type of therapy. Ruggles died in Florence in 1849, due to a bowel infection. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 25 1760- Jupiter Hammon

GM – FBF – Our story for today is about a person who was a black poet and 1761 became the first African-American writer to be published in the present-day United States. Additional poems and sermons were also published. Born into slavery, never was never emancipated. He was living in 1790 at the age of 79, and died by 1806. A devout Christian, he is considered to be one of the founders of African-American literature.

Remember – “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.” – Jupiter Hammon

Today in our History – December 25, 1760 – Jupiter Hammon Publishes “An Evening Thought, by Christ, with Penitential Cries” 
Born in 1711 in a house now known as Lloyd Manor in Lloyd Harbor, NY – per a Town of Huntington, NY historical marker dated 1990 – Hammon was held by four generations of the Lloyd family of Queens on Long Island, New York. His parents were both slaves held by the Lloyds. His mother and father were part of the first shipment of slaves to the Lloyd’s estate in 1687. Unlike most slaves, his father, named Obadiah, had learned to read and write.

The Lloyds encouraged Hammon to attend school, where he also learned to read and write. Jupiter attended school with the Lloyd children. As an adult, he worked for them as a domestic servant, clerk, farmhand, and artisan in the Lloyd family business. He worked alongside Henry Lloyd (the father) in negotiating deals. Henry Lloyd said that Jupiter was so efficient in trade deals because he would quickly get the job done. He became a fervent Christian, as were the Lloyds.

His first published poem, “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760,” appeared as a broadside in 1761. 
Eighteen years passed before his second work appeared in print, “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley.” Hammon wrote this poem while Lloyd had temporarily moved himself and the slaves he owned to Hartford, Connecticut, during the Revolutionary War.

Hammon saw Wheatley as having succumbed to pagan influences in her writing, and so the “Address” consisted of twenty-one rhyming quatrains, each accompanied by a related Bible verse, that he thought would compel Wheatley to return to a Christian path in life. He would later publish two other poems and three sermon essays.

Although not emancipated, Hammon participated in new Revolutionary War groups such as the Spartan Project of the African Society of New York City. At the inaugural meeting of the African Society on September 24, 1786, he delivered his “Address to the Negroes of the State of New-York”, also known as the “Hammon Address.” He was seventy-six years old and had spent his lifetime in slavery. He said, “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.” He also said that, while he personally had no wish to be free, he did wish others, especially “the young negroes, were free.”

The speech draws heavily on Christian motifs and theology. For example, Hammon said that Black people should maintain their high moral standards because being slaves on Earth had already secured their place in heaven. He promoted gradual emancipation as a way to end slavery.[5] Scholars think perhaps Hammon supported this plan because he believed that immediate emancipation of all slaves would be difficult to achieve. New York Quakers, who supported abolition of slavery, published his speech. It was reprinted by several abolitionist groups, including the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

In the two decades after the Revolutionary War and creation of the new government, northern states generally abolished slavery. In the Upper South, so many slaveholders manumitted slaves that the proportion of free blacks among African Americans increased from less than one percent in 1790 to more than 10 percent by 1810. In the United States as a whole, by 1810 the number of free blacks was 186,446, or 13.5 percent of all African Americans.

Hammon’s speech and his poetry are often included in anthologies of notable African-American and early American writing. He was the first known African American to publish literature within the present-day United States (in 1773, Phillis Wheatley, also an American slave, had her collection of poems first published in London, England). His death was not recorded. He is thought to have died sometime around 1806 and is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on the Lloyd property.

While researching the writer, UT Arlington doctoral student Julie McCown stumbled upon a previously unknown poem written by Hammon stored in the Manuscripts and Archives library at Yale University. The poem, dated 1786, is described by McCown as a ‘shifting point’ in Jupiter Hammon’s worldview surrounding slavery. Research more about Black writers during the revolutionary war and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 24 1989- Ernest Nathan

GM – FBF – Today’s story takes us to the “Crescent City” of New Orleans, LA. Where a lot of U.S. History was made and still making history. The culture of the bayou is different than anywhere else in our country. The foods, music, dance and heritage keeps a lot of people from all over the world to visit and be part of it. So, when it comes to politics it is the same way. Enjoy!

Remember – “The people of New Orleans, work together, play together and make history together” – Mayor Ernest Nathan Morial

Today in our History – December 24,1989 – Ernest Nathan Morial dies.

Ernest Nathan Morial, known as Dutch Morial (October 9, 1929 – December 24, 1989), was an American political figure and a leading civil rights advocate. He was the first African-American mayor of New Orleans, serving from 1978 to 1986. He was the father of Marc Morial, who subsequently served as Mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002.

Morial, a New Orleans native, grew up in the Seventh Ward. His father was Walter Etienne Morial, a cigarmaker, and his mother was Leonie V. (Moore) Morial, a seamstress. He attended Holy Redeemer Elementary School and McDonogh No. 35 Senior High School. He graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1951. In 1954, he became the first African American to receive a law degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Morial came to prominence as a lawyer fighting to dismantle segregation and as president of the local from 1962 to 1965.

He followed in the cautious style of his mentor A.P. Tureaud in preferring to fight for Civil and political rights in courtroom battles,rather than through sit-ins and demonstrations. After unsuccessful electoral races in 1959 and 1963, he became the first black member of the Louisiana State Legislature since Reconstruction when he was elected in 1967 to represent a district in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood. He ran for an at-large position on New Orleans’ City Council in 1969 and 1970, and lost narrowly. He then became the first black Juvenile Court judge in Louisiana in 1970. When he was elected to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal in 1974, he was the first black American to have attained this position as well.

New Orleans renamed its convention center, which spans over 10 blocks, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in 1992 for the late mayor. The convention center has been a major economic engine for the city’s large tourist industry and, in 2005, became a highly publicized national symbol when it served as a makeshift evacuation center in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 1997, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center posthumously honored Morial with the dedication of the Ernest N. Morial Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Disease Center. The facility is Louisiana’s first comprehensive center for the education, prevention, treatment and research of asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“Dutch” suffered and eventually died from complications associated with asthma. Morial was the 23rd general president of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter organization established for African Americans. In 1993, Morial was named one of the first thirteen inductees into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, the first African American so honored.

A public school in New Orleans East was named after him: Ernest N. Morial Elementary. Research more about black Mayors in American Cities and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 23 1925- George Taylor

GM – FBF – As we all near the Christmas day celebration with family, friends and fellow church parishioners. Today’s story could be told in Sunday school, at dinner or conversation later in the day. Once again I go back to my Undergraduate and Graduate home for ten years, the Great State of Wisconsin, as I get older I see that my U.S. History professors were very astute to Wisconsin Black History (None were black).

Today’s story is about a black man living in La Crosse, WI., he ran America’s first back Labor Party newspaper, Wisconsin Labor Advocate, was the first Black American who was the candidate of the National Negro Liberty Party for the office of President of the United States in 1904 against Theodore Roosevelt who ran as the Republican and Alton B Parker who ran as the Democrat. Our Person in today’s story received 1.9% of the vote running as the National Liberty Party (NLP) candidate, did you know that? Or do you think that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were the only Black males before Barack Hussein Obama II our 44th President and first elected President? Enjoy!

Remember – “Why are the Black People who live in the District of Columbia without any right to rule themselfs? They know more about their needs than Congress who rules them.” – George Taylor – U.S. Presidential Cadidate (NLP) 1904

Today in our History – December 23,1925 – George Taylor – U.S. Presidential Cadidate dies.

Born in the pre-Civil War South to a mother who was free and a father who was enslaved, George Edwin Taylor became the first African American selected by a political party to be its candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Taylor was born on August 4, 1857 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Amanda Hines and Bryant (Nathan) Taylor. At the age of two, George Taylor moved with his mother from Arkansas to Illinois. When Amanda died a few years later, George fended for himself until arriving in Wisconsin by paddleboat in 1865.

Raised in and near La Crosse by a politically active black family, he attended Wayland University in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin from 1877 to 1879, after which he returned to La Crosse where he went to work for the La Crosse Free Press and then the La Crosse Evening Star. During the years 1880 to 1885 he produced newspaper columns for local papers as well as articles for the Chicago Inter Ocean.

Taylor’s newspaper work brought him into politics—especially labor politics. He sided with one of the competing labor factions in La Crosse and helped re-elect the pro-labor mayor, Frank “White Beaver” Powell, in 1886. In the months that followed, Taylor became a leader and office holder in Wisconsin’s statewide Union Labor Party, and his own newspaper, the Wisconsin Labor Advocate, became one of the newspapers of the party.

In 1887 Taylor was a member of the Wisconsin delegation to the first national convention of the Union Labor Party, which met in Ohio in April, and refocused his newspaper on national political issues. As his prominence increased, his race became an issue, and Taylor responded to the criticism by increasingly writing about African American issues. Sometime in 1887 or 1888 his paper ceased publication.

In 1891 Taylor moved to Oskaloosa, Iowa where he continued his interest in politics, first in the Republican Party and then with the Democrats. While in Iowa Taylor owned and edited the Negro Solicitor, and became president of the National Colored Men’s Protective Association (an early civil rights organization) and the National Negro Democratic League, an organization of blacks within the Democratic Party. From 1900 to 1904 he aligned himself with the Populist faction that attempted to reform the Democratic Party.

Taylor and other independent-minded African Americans in 1904 jonied the first national political party created exclusively for and by blacks, the National Liberty Party (NLP). The Party met at its national convention in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904 with delegates from thirty-six states. When the Party’s candidate for president ended up in an Illinois jail, the NLP Executive Committee approached Taylor, asking him to be the party’s candidate.

While Taylor’s campaign attracted little attention, the Party’s platform had a national agenda: universal suffrage regardless of race; Federal protection of the rights of all citizens; Federal anti-lynching laws; additional black regiments in the U.S. Army; Federal pensions for all former slaves; government ownership and control of all public carriers to ensure equal accommodations for all citizens; and home rule for the District of Columbia.

Taylor’s presidential race was quixotic. In an interview published in The Sun (New York, November 20, 1904), he observed that while he knew whites thought his candidacy was a “joke,” he believed that an independent political party that could mobilize the African American vote was the only practical way that blacks could exercise political influence. On Election Day, Taylor received a scattering of votes.

The 1904 campaign was Taylor’s last foray into politics. He remained in Iowa until 1910 when he moved to Jacksonville, FL. There he edited a succession of newspapers and was director of the African American branch of the local YMCA. He was married three times but had no children. George Edwin Taylor died in Jacksonville on December 23, 1925. Research more about the “First” Black man to run for President of the United States, 102 years before Barack Hussein Obama II our 44th President and first elected President of our country. Share with your babies and make it a champion day!

December 22 1924- Arthur A. Fletcher

GM – GBF – Today’s story is about a person who was called the “Father of affirmative action,” who headed the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in the 1990s and advised four Republican presidents had many Kansas ties.

Remember – “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” – Arthur A. Fletcher

Today in our History – December 22, 1924 – Arthur A. Fletcher was born.

Arthur A. Fletcher organized his first civil rights protest at the Junction City Junior/Senior High School in 1943: he refused to allow his high school picture and those of the other African American students in his class to appear at the back of the school yearbook. He Fletcher continued to fight for civil rights by devising and implementing strategies to move America’s social culture to one of inclusion. He served under two U.S. presidents, in government positions at all levels, as head of nonprofit organizations, and was the highest-ranking African American official in President Richard Nixon’s administration.

Born in 1924 in Phoenix, Arizona, the Fletcher family moved frequently until Fletcher graduated from high school in Junction City, Kansas. Fletcher graduated from Washburn University, Topeka, with a degree in political science and sociology. Football was Fletcher’s sport and he excelled on Washburn’s team before joining the Los Angeles Rams in 1950. He went on to play for the Baltimore Colts as their first African American team member. Following a short stint on a Canadian football team, Fletcher retired from the sport and turned his attention to social change.

Fletcher’s political career began in Kansas where he worked on Fred Hall’s campaign for governor in 1954. His first position in state government was with the Kansas Highway Commission. By learning how government contracts were awarded, Fletcher encouraged African American business to compete.

In 1969 President Nixon appointed Fletcher to the post of assistant secretary of wage and labor standards in the Department of Labor. Here he developed and administered the “Philadelphia Plan” to enforce equal employment and opportunity for minority businesses pursuing government-funded contracts. Fletcher believed that without economic security all of the social gains made by African Americans would be meaningless. Later Fletcher was appointed by President Gerald Ford as deputy advisor of Urban Affairs. Here Fletcher became known as the father of the Affirmative Action Enforcement Movement.

In 1972, following his career with the federal government, Fletcher took the position of executive director of the United Negro College Fund and helped coin the phrase “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Fletcher later operated a business that trained companies to comply with the governmental equal opportunity regulations. He died July 12, 2005 in Washington, D.C. Research more about black people who served in government and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!