Category: 1850 – 1899

December 3 1866- John Swett Rock

GM – FBF – We are proud to be back in New Jersey for today’s story. He was a public school graduate, teacher and later became a dentist and taught blacks the practice of dentistry. He was abolitionist and became a lawyer and helped assemble the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the American War between the States. He became the first African American lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Enjoy!

Remember – “I Will Sink or Swim with My Race” – John Swett Rock

Today in our History – John Swett Rock died in Boston on December 3, 1866.

John Swett Rock was born to free black parents in Salem, New Jersey in 1825. He attended public schools in New Jersey until he was 19 and then worked as a teacher between 1844 and 1848. During this period Rock began his medical studies with two white doctors. Although he was initially denied entry, Rock was finally accepted into the American Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1852 with a medical degree. While in medical school Rock practiced dentistry and taught classes at a night school for African Americans. In 1851 he received a silver medal for the creation of an improved variety of artificial teeth and another for a prize essay on temperance.

At the age of 27, Rock, a teacher, doctor and dentist, moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1852 to open a medical and dental office. He was commissioned by the Vigilance Committee, an organization of abolitionists, to treat fugitive slaves’ medical needs. During this period Dr. Rock increasingly identified with the abolitionist movement and soon became a prominent speaker for that cause. While he called on the United States government to end slavery, he also urged educated African Americans to use their talents and resources to assist their community.

Following his own advice, Rock studied law and in 1861 became one of the first African Americans to be admitted to the Massachusetts Bar before the Civil War. Soon afterwards Massachusetts Governor John Andrew appointed Rock Justice of the Peace for Boston and Suffolk County. In 1863 Rock helped assemble the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first officially-recognized African American unit in the Union Army during the Civil War. Rock would later campaign for equal pay for these and other black soldiers.

In 1865, with support from Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, Rock became the first African American lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Previously, Rock’s health had deteriorated in the late 1850s. He underwent several surgeries and was forced to halt his medical practice. Believing he would receive more advanced care overseas, Rock made plans to sail to France in 1858. Rock, however, was denied a passport by U.S. Secretary of State Lewis Cass who, citing the 1857 Dred Scott Decision, claimed Federal passports were evidence of citizenship and since African Americans we not citizens, Rock could not be issued a passport.

Outraged abolitionist supporters in Boston persuaded the Massachusetts Legislature to demand the Secretary of State grant Rock a passport. The State Department relented and Rock sailed to France. French surgeons recommended that Rock give up his speaking engagements and his medical practice. Rock agreed but continued his abolitionist activities. Nonetheless his health continued to worsen.

On April 9, 1866 the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed which enforced the 13th Amendment. Rock enjoyed this honor for less than a year. He became ill with the common cold that weakened his already failing health, and limited his ability to commute efficiently. On December 3, 1866, John S. Rock died in his mother’s home in Boston of tuberculosis at the age of 41. He was laid to rest in Everett’s Woodlawn Cemetery, and was buried with full Masonic honors. His admittance into the Supreme Court is recorded on his tombstone. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 1 1877- Jonathon Jasper

GM – FBF – Our story for today centers on this upcoming Tuesday’s runoff elections that will be held in many states for positions that will impact you a lot closer than Washington, D.C. Please go out and vote for the race is not over yet unless you stay home. Back in the days of reconstruction in the State of South Carolina many people of color came out to vote and did something that the no one expected. Enjoy!

Remember – “I had the opportunity to hear a lot of cases and tried to help as many of our colored people as I could but like in all things everything must change nothing remains the same” – Justice Jonathan Jasper Wright, S.C.

Today in our History – December 1, 1877 – Jonathan Jasper Wright was the first Black state Supreme Court justice. He resigned on this day from the state supreme court in South Carolina after the overthrow of the Reconstruction government.

Jonathan Jasper Wright, the first African American to serve on a state Supreme Court, was born in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby Susquehanna County in the northeastern corner of the state. In 1858, Wright traveled to Ithaca, New York where he enrolled in the Lancasterian Academy, a school where older students helped teach younger ones. He graduated in 1860 and for the next five years taught school and read law in Pennsylvania.

Wright’s first known political activity came in October 1864 when he was a delegate to the National Convention of Colored Men meeting in Syracuse. The convention, chaired by Frederick Douglass, passed resolutions calling for a nationwide ban on slavery, racial equality under the law and universal suffrage for adult males. When Wright applied for admission to the Pennsylvania bar, however, he was refused because of his race.

In 1865 the American Missionary Association sent Wright to Beaufort, South Carolina to organize schools for the freedpeople. Wright taught and gave legal advice to the ex-slaves. In 1866 he returned to Pennsylvania and was now, with the backing of a new Federal civil rights law, accepted into the bar as the state’s first African American attorney.

Wright returned to Beaufort in January 1867 and worked as a legal advisor for the Freedman’s Bureau. He soon became active in Republican politics and was chosen as a delegate to the South Carolina Constitutional Convention that met in Charleston in January 1868. Later that year he was elected to the South Carolina state senate representing Beaufort. In 1870 the Republican-dominated legislature in Columbia named him a justice of the state supreme court even though he was 30 and had little courtroom experience. He joined two white Democrats on the bench.

By 1876 white conservatives, using fraud, intimidation and violence, managed to gain control over South Carolina’s government. However, it was Wright’s concurrence in a February 1877 decision confirming the authority of a Democratic claimant to the governor’s chair, Wade Hampton, which ended Republican rule, reconstruction in South Carolina and Wright’s tenure as a state Supreme Court Justice. When the new Democrat-controlled legislature attempted to impeach Wright for corruption and malfeasance he at first denied the charges and vowed to defend his name and record. By August 1877, however, realizing he would not win, Wright submitted his resignation.

Wright moved to Charleston where he practiced law, then to Orangeburg where he established the law department at Claflin College. Jonathan Wright died of tuberculosis in Orangeburg in 1885. He was 45 at the time of his death. Research more about Black justices and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 26 1878- Marshall Walter Taylor

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a Black man who died penniless but was the “Best” in the world at his profession. I should thank the makers of Hennessy; the liquor company for reminding the world that he existed by having an ad campaign recently on television and radio. I did a story on him last year at this time and I try to do someone one you have not heard of or know little about. So, please read about this great talent during a time no one wanted him to be the greatest of all time in his event and will go down as one of the preeminent American sports pioneers of the 20th century. Enjoy

Remember – “I pray they will carry on in spite of that dreadful monster prejudice, and with patience, courage, fortitude and perseverance achieve success for themselves.” “Life is too short for any man to hold bitterness in his heart.” – Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor
Today in our History – November 26, 1878, Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor is born, and would go on to be just the second black world champion in any sport.

Indianapolis, Indiana’s cyclist Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor began racing professionally when he was 18 years old. By 1900, Taylor held several major world records and competed in events around the globe. After 14 years of grueling competition and fending off intense racism, he retired at age 32. He died penniless in Chicago on June 21, 1932.
Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was born November 26, 1878, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the early years of his life, Taylor was raised without much money. His father, a farmer and Civil War veteran, worked as carriage driver for a wealthy white family.
Taylor often joined his dad at work and became close to his father’s employers, especially their son, who was similar in age. Eventually, Taylor moved in with the family, a radical change that gave the young boy a more stable home situation with opportunities for a better education.
Taylor was essentially treated as one of the family’s own, and one of their early gifts to him was a new bike. Taylor took to it immediately, teaching himself bike tricks that he showed off to his friends.
When Taylor’s antics caught the attention of a local bike shop owner, he was hired to exhibit his tricks outside the shop to attract more customers. Often, he donned a military uniform, which earned him the nickname “Major” from the shop’s clientele. The nickname remained with him for the rest of his life. 
With the encouragement of the bike shop owner, Taylor entered his first bike race when he was in his early teens, a 10-mile event that he won easily. By the age of 18, Taylor had relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts, and started racing professionally. In his first competition, an exhausting six-day ride at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Taylor finished eighth.
From there, he pedaled into history. By 1898, Taylor had captured seven world records. A year later, he was crowned national and international champion, making him just the second black world champion athlete, after bantamweight boxer George Dixon. He collected medals and prize money in races around the world, including Australia, Europe and all over North America.
As his successes mounted, however, Taylor had to fend off racial insults and attacks from fellow cyclists and cycling fans. Though black athletes were more accepted and had less overt racism to contend with in Europe, Taylor was barred from racing in the American South. Many competitors hassled and bumped him on the track, and crowds often threw things at him while he was riding. During one event in Boston, a cyclist named W.E. Becker pushed Taylor off his bike and choked him until police intervened, leaving Taylor unconscious for 15 minutes.
Despite his fame and talent, Taylor was subject to intense racism and discrimination. He was barred from races, turned away from restaurants and hotels, and subjected to racist insults throughout his career. At one point he was banned from a track in his hometown of Indianapolis after defeating white cyclists (and breaking two world records in the process).
Exhausted by his grueling racing schedule and the racism that followed him, Taylor retired from cycling at age 32. In 1910, despite the obstacles, he had become one of the wealthiest athletes — black or white — of his time.
Sadly, Taylor found his post-racing life to be more difficult. Business ventures failed, and he wound up losing much of his earnings. He also became estranged from his wife and daughter. For Taylor, a retired black athlete, there were few options after retirement. There were no speaking engagements or endorsements. With his health deteriorating and his investments dwindling, Taylor eventually fell into poverty and faded into obscurity.
Taylor moved to Chicago in 1930, and boarded at a local YMCA as he tried to sell copies of his self-published autobiography, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World. Taylor died alone and penniless in the charity ward of a Chicago hospital on June 21, 1932.
Buried in an unmarked grave in the welfare section of Mount Glenwood Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois, Taylor’s body was exhumed in 1948 through the efforts of a group of former pro racers and Schwinn Bicycle Company owner Frank Schwinn, and moved to a more prominent area of the cemetery.
It would be another forty years before Taylor’s accomplishments were more formally recognized. In the 1980s, Taylor was inducted to the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame, and Indianapolis built the Major Taylor Velodrome, naming their new track after the man who had once been banned from it.
More recently, Taylor was posthumously awarded the Korbel Lifetime Achievement Award by USA Cycling, and the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, Taylor’s adopted home, erected a statue honoring Taylor outside their library. Marshall “Major” Taylor was a pioneer black athlete and his incredible achievements are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.

November 4 1872- Pinckney Benton Stewart

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about the first Black man to sit as Governor in one of the U.S. States. This man was from Macon, GA. but found his way to the streets of New Orleans and to fame. Just like Revered S. Howard Woodson who sat in as Governor of New Jersey when as Lt. Governor the circumstances were right. This Black leader of reconstruction, civil rights, homeland defense and business. Will always be remembered as the first to sit as a Black Governor. Enjoy!

Remember – “A large number of white people feel just as sad as we do, but unfortunately for them, they dare not come out and express their opinion. They are ground down in a slavery worse than ours. They are slaves to a mistaken public opinion.” – P. B. S. Pinchback

Today in our History – November 4, 1872 – Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was elected congressman at large from Louisiana.

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was born on May 10, 1837 to parents William Pinchback, a successful Virginia planter, and Eliza Stewart, his former slave. The younger Pinchback was born in Macon, Georgia during the family’s move from Virginia to their new home in Holmes County, Mississippi. In Mississippi, young Pinchback grew up in comfortable surroundings on a large plantation.

At the age of nine, he and his older brother, Napoleon, were sent by his parents to Ohio to receive a formal education at Cincinnati’s Gilmore School. Pinchback’s education was cut short, however, when he returned to Mississippi in 1848 because his father had become seriously ill. When his father died shortly after his return, his mother fled to Cincinnati with her children for fear of being re-enslaved in Mississippi. Shortly thereafter, Napoleon became mentally ill, leaving 12 year old Pinckney as sole-provider for his mother and four siblings.

Pinchback found work as a cabin boy on a canal boat and worked his way up to become a steward on the riverboats which ran the Ohio, Mississippi, and Red Rivers. He was taken under the wing of professional gamblers who worked the riverboats, and soon became a skilled swindler himself. During these years, he sent as much money as possible to Cincinnati to help support his mother and his siblings. In 1860 when he was 23, Pinchback married Nina Hawthorne, a 16 year-old from Memphis, Tennessee with whom he would have four children. When the Civil War began the following year, Pinchback ran the Confederate blockade on the Mississippi River to reach Union-occupied New Orleans, Louisiana where he raised a company of black volunteers to fight for the North. In 1863, after being passed over for promotion a number of times, Pinchback resigned from service.

At the close of the war, he moved his family to Alabama to test out their new freedom. After encountering dreadful levels of prejudice in Alabama, Pinchback moved his family to New Orleans.

Upon settling in New Orleans, Pinchback organized the Fourth Ward Republican Club, and was a member of the delegation that established a new constitution for the state of Louisiana in 1868. Later that year, he was elected to the Louisiana State Senate, and subsequently became the institution’s president pro tempore. In 1871, the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, Oscar Dunn, died of pneumonia and Pinchback was chosen by the state senate to succeed Dunn. He served as lieutenant governor until the winter of 1872 when impeachment proceedings were initiated against Governor Henry Clay Warmouth. From December 9, 1872, to January 13, 1873 Pinchback served as acting governor of Louisiana, making him the first person of African descent to serve as governor of any state.

Before ascending to the office of governor, Pinchback had run for both a U.S Senate seat and a seat in the U.S. Congress simultaneously in 1872. He won both contests but was barred from taking his congressional post when his opponent contested the election and was awarded the position. Pinchback was denied his seat in the senate as well as a result of charges of election fraud.

In 1887, at age 50, Pinchback decided to embark on a new career and entered law school at New Orleans’ Straight College, where he graduated in 1889. He moved his family to New York City, New York in the 1890s where he served as U.S. Marshall from 1892 to 1895, before relocating again to Washington, D.C. Pinchback remained in Washington and was active in politics until his death on December 21, 1921. Research more about blacks in politics and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 2 1894- Benedict College Opens

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a school of higher education, some people believe today there is no reason to go to college and spend all of that money to have a degree in a field that you can’t get a job or further that profession. I agree why take something just to be taking it, it must serve a purpose besides a place to party and extend your high school foolishness. This school was one of the top HBCU’s in the country until Blacks were allowed to attend the bigger Intuitions around it. I have had the honor of speaking to the students on campus back in the day. Enjoy!

Remember – “Education is your ticket to the next phase in your life, don’t sleep on it” – Fredrick Douglass

Today in our History – November 2, 1894 – Benedict College opens.

Located within walking distance of downtown Columbia, South Carolina, Benedict College is a private four-year, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA. Benedict College was founded in 1870 by Rhode Island native Mrs. Bathsheba Benedict and the Baptist Home Mission. Its long-term goal was to educate emancipated African Americans and produce citizens with “powers for good in society.” Originally called Benedict Institute, on November 2, 1894, through a charter granted by the South Carolina legislature, the institution became a liberal arts college and changed its name to Benedict College. From 1870 until 1930 Benedict was led by northern white Baptist ministers, but in April 1930 Reverend John J. Starks became the first African American president of the college. Starks was a Benedict alumnus, class of 1891.

Benedict College is currently one of the fastest growing of the 39 United Negro College Fund schools. Amongst the twenty independent colleges in the state of South Carolina, Benedict with 2,770 students, has the largest undergraduate enrollment, and the second largest enrollment overall. On two occasions Money magazine has named Benedict among the top seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) nationally that offer the best value in American education. Benedict College has also been recognized by the Knight Foundation for its “commitment to high standards of quality in education” and for its “distinguished record of providing educational opportunities to African-American students.”

Today, Benedict College offers courses in business, government, social and health services, public and private school instruction, and in the civic, cultural, religious, and scientific fields. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Institute of Physics, Benedict ranks second in the nation in producing African American physics majors. Of the 2,700 students attending Benedict during the 2008-2009 academic year, 97% attended full time, 55% were from South Carolina, 69% lived in on-campus housing, and 3% were from outside the United States. A recent count showed that the balance between genders on campus was almost precisely equal. During that same academic year, Benedict had a total faculty of 158, 121 of whom taught full time. Research more about other HBCU’s and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

October 29- 1862- William Dominick Mattews

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a Black business man, part of the Underground Railroad and Civil War Officer. He had a lot of obstacles in his way in trying to help our people but he never gave up. Enjoy!

Remember – Our people need help In all parts of the United Sates, it is my mission to do them as much as I can. – William Dominick Marlon Matthews
Today in our History – October 29, 1862 – Black troops under Matthews’s command fought and defeated Confederate forces at the Battle of Island Mound in Bates County, Missouri. This battle is generally recognized as the first known engagement that black troops participated in during the Civil War.

William Dominick Matthews was a Civil War officer in the Union Army and is best known for leading the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry. Matthews was born a free man in October 25th, 1827, on the eastern shore of Maryland to parents who were interracially married. His father Joseph was a native of Delaware and of African ancestry. Matthews’s mother was the bi-racial slave daughter of a Frenchman, but she eventually gained her freedom when her father passed away.

In 1840 thirteen-year-old Matthews moved to Baltimore and labored as a sailor until he acquired a commercial ship of his own in 1854, which he sailed on both Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. He left Maryland for Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1856 because the discriminatory laws in his home state made it difficult for him to earn a living.

In Leavenworth, Matthews soon became a successful businessman. He was also involved in helping escaped slaves via the Underground Railroad in that region of the nation. In 1860 Matthews converted his home into a station for the railroad to help fugitive slaves escaping from neighboring Missouri, Arkansas, and Indian Territory. Because he had to worry about retaliation by pro-slavery forces across the river in Missouri, Matthews organized one hundred mostly African American men to protect the home when fugitive slaves were hiding there.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Matthew attempted to offer his men to the national government to fight in the Union Army, but they were turned away because they were African American. In 1862 U. S. Senator James H. Lane of Kansas ignored federal regulations in regard to African-Americans in the federal army and allowed black men to enlist in the war effort in Kansas.

Matthews took this opportunity to establish his own company of soldiers and convinced a number of ex-slaves to enlist. He was soon made captain of the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry, a regiment that soon totaled six hundred men. Matthews was, at that point, the highest-ranking black officer in the Union Army. On October 29, 1862, troops under Matthews’s command fought and defeated Confederate forces at the Battle of Island Mound in Bates County, Missouri. This battle is generally recognized as the first known engagement that black troops participated in during the Civil War.
The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 signaled the formal acceptance of black soldiers into the United States Army. Unfortunately, Matthews was stripped of his captain’s rank and replaced by a white officer who was made captain of the First Kansas Colored Infantry. Matthews served as a non-commissioned officer with the First Kansas Colored almost until the end of the war but was finally promoted in 1865 to the rank of first lieutenant in the Independent Colored Kansas Battery, also known as the Independent Battery, U.S. Colored Light Artillery. That unit was commanded by another black Kansan, H. Ford Douglas.

Matthews returned home to Leavenworth in October 1865 after the Civil War. He and his wife Fanny raised four children. He became involved in local politics and became an important figure on the Kansas State Republican Central Committee. Very little is known about Matthews after 1870. In 1906 William Matthews passed away quietly in Leavenworth, Kansas. Research more about Blacks in the civil war and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

October 25 1892- Irene McCoy

GM – FBF – Today our story centers around a civil rights activist, who like some others who left the streets and moved into the political field. While in politics she had an opportunity to really make a change for her and her people. Enjoy!

Remember – ” Helping others in time of need is the best that anyone of us can do” – Irene McCoy Gains.

Today in our History – Irene McCoy Gaines was born October 25, 1892.

Irene McCoy Gaines was a civil rights activist and a community leader. Born October 25, 1892, in Ocala, Florida, to Charles and Mamie McCoy, she had one older sister who died while Gaines was a child. Her family moved to Chicago, Illinois when she was an infant. In 1903, Gaines’s mother became a single parent after a divorce. After she graduated from Wendell Phillips High in Chicago in 1908, Gaines attended Fisk University (Nashville, Tennessee) from 1908 to 1910, and then the University of Chicago from 1910 to 1912. She studied civics and social work at both campuses.

When she returned to Chicago in 1910, Gaines began working at the Cook County Juvenile Court as a stenographer, which helped her become aware of the problems affecting the youth in her community. After World War I started, she found a new job with the US Department of Labor’s War Camp Community Service Program as an organizer for the girls division.

On October 7, 1914, McCoy married Harris Barrett Gaines, a law student at the time. They had two sons, Harris Barrett, Jr., in 1922, and Charles Ellis in 1924. Her children’s public school education offered a window into the desperate inequality between segregated schools.

In 1920, Gaines became the industrial secretary for the first African American branch of the YWCA in Chicago, and during the 1920s, she became involved with and took leadership positions in many different activist groups. Because of her association with groups such as the Chicago Urban League, Woman’s City Club, Woman’s Trade Union League, Illinois Women’s Voters’ League, the District Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, University Society, and Household of Ruth, she quickly gained a great reputation in Chicago’s African American community for her extensive social work. Beginning in 1930, Gaines began working for the welfare department of Cook County, where she would remain until 1945.

In 1939, Gaines founded the Chicago Council of Negro Organizations and remained its first president until 1953, and used her position to protest the inequality caused by segregated schooling. She was able to secure improved facilities and establish one of the first integrated nursery schools.

In 1940 Gaines became the first African American woman to run for the Illinois State Legislature. Although she lost that election, she became one of the organizers of the first march on Washington in 1941, and led 50 Chicago-area protesters to Washington, D.C., to meet with other demonstrators from across the nation. They formed committees that visited heads of government agencies to protest discrimination against blacks in employment. The national March on Washington Movement eventually resulted in President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802 which banned discrimination in companies which received federal funds.

She also championed the condition of women, and in 1947 she testified before the United Nations about discrimination and oppression of women of color in the US, becoming one of the first individuals in the world to address that issue before this international body.

In 1958, at the age of 66, Gaines received the George Washington Medal of Honor for her lifelong efforts in improving her community. In the following year, she received the Fisk University Distinguished Alumni Service Award, and in 1962 Wilberforce University awarded her an honorary degree.
Irene McCoy Gaines died of cancer on April 7, 1964, in Chicago at the age of 72. Research more about civil rights workers and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

October 15 1890- The Alabama Penny Savings Bank Founded

GM – FBF – Today let’s remind you that blacks are still operating in American. It was challenging for you to Invest in a bank at all during this time in America. The people of America in the state of Alabama did take advantage of this. Enjoy!

Remember – “The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil water-way leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky–seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.” – W. W. Cox

The Alabama Penny Savings Bank, founded October 15,

1890, was the first African-American owned and operated financial institution in Birmingham, and one of the first three in the United States. One of the organizers of the Penny Savings Bank was 16th Street Baptist Church pastor William Pettiford, who provided the initial $2,000 in capital. Other officers included physician Ulysses Mason, Indianola banker W. W. Cox, and an unnamed saloonkeeper. In its early years the bank’s officers did not take salaries, helping the bank survive the 1893 panic which spelled failure for other institutions.

Educator Booker T. Washington said this about the institution in an address given in Birmingham on January 1, 1900:
“I wish to congratulate you among other things upon the excellent and far reaching work that has been done in Birmingham and vicinity through the wide and helpful influence of the Alabama Penny Savings Bank. Few organizations of any description in this country among our people have helped us more, not only in cultivating the habit of saving, but in bringing to us the confidence and respect of the white race. The people who save money, who make themselves intelligent, and live moral lives, are the ones who are going to control the destinies of the country.”

The bank’s first building, a three story stone and brick structure, was located at 217 18th Street North. In 1913 the bank constructed a new six-story building one block north, now known as the Pythian Temple. It was built by the black-owned Windham Construction and some have identified its style with the work of African American architect Wallace Rayfield, who kept an office in the building for a time. The bank did provide financing for many of the homes that Rayfield designed for Birmingham’s black professionals.

In 1915 both black-owned banks operating in the city, the Alabama Penny Savings Bank and the Prudential Savings Bank, founded by Ulysses Mason in 1910, were faced with bankruptcies. Washington helped to coordinate assistance in the form of secured loans and a last-minute effort to effect a merger. Later that year the Penny Savings Bank closed. The building was purchased by the Grand Lodge of the Knights of Pythias, and. since then, their building has been known as the Pythian Temple. Research more about Black banks in American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 23 1884- Judy W. Reed

GM – FBF – Today, I will share with you as much as I know for at times in our history, we can only go so far. It would have been easier to find another person for today but this history should be know also. Make It A Champion Day!

Remember – “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey

Today in our History – September 23, 1884 – Judy W. Reed received Patent No. 305,474 for her invention.

Judy W. Reed was an American alive during the 1880s, whose only record is known from a US patent. Reed, from Washington, D.C., is considered the first African American woman to receive a US patent. Patent No. 305,474 for a “Dough Kneader and Roller” was granted September 23, 1884. The patent was for an improved design of existing rollers with dough mixing more evenly while being kept covered and protected. It is unknown if she was able to read, write, or even sign her name, as her patent is sighed with an “X”.

Reed may not have been able to read, write or sign her name, 
It should be remembered that during the time of slavery, it was unlawful for slaves to be taught to read and write. Any slaves found reading, writing or teaching others, would be harshly punished or killed.

Since women sometimes used their first and/or middle initials when signing documents, often to disguise their gender, and patent applications didn’t require the applicant to indicate his or her race, it is unknown if there are earlier African American women inventors before Reed.

Besides the patent registration, there are no other records of Reed or her life. There is a possibility that an earlier African-American woman received patent rights; however, since there was no requirement to indicate race, and women often used only their initials to hide their gender, it is unknown. It is also of significance that during the time period, it was illegal for any slaves to be literate, and those found reading, writing or teaching others could be punished severely or killed.

Additionally, the first African-American woman to sign her patent with her own signature (as opposed to making her mark) was Sarah E. Goode of Chicago. Her patent, 322,177, granted on July 14, 1885, was for a Cabinet-bed, ” that class of sectional bedsteads adapted to be folded together when -not in use, so as to occupy less space, and made generally to resemble some article of furniture when so folded.” Research more about Black Woman Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 22 1891- Jan Metzeliger

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story that many of you know about but still today as we buy or footwear do we take in mind of his Invention? Today’s controversy with Nike supporting NFL football player Colin Kaepernick and the right to protest is a far cry from what he Invented over a century ago. Enjoy!

Remember – “A shoe is not only a design, but it’s a part of your body language, the way you walk. The way you’re going to move is quite dictated by your shoes” – Jan Ernst Matzeliger.

Today in our History – September 22, 1891 – Jan Metzeliger of Lynn, MA posthumously received patent number 459,899 for improvements in the lasting machine for shoes.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852, in Paramaribo, Suriname—known at the time as Dutch Guiana. Matzeliger’s father was a Dutch engineer, and his mother was Surinamese. Showing mechanical aptitude at a young age, Matzeliger began working in machine shops supervised by his father at the age of 10. At 19, he left Suriname to see the world as a sailor on an East Indian merchant ship. In 1873, he settled in Philadelphia, PA.

After settling in the United States, Matzeliger worked for several years to learn English. As a dark-skinned man, his professional options were limited, and he struggled to make a living in Philadelphia. In 1877, Matzeliger moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, to seek work in the town’s rapidly growing shoe industry. He found a position as an apprentice in a shoe factory. Matzeliger learned the cordwaining trade, which involved crafting shoes almost entirely by hand.

Cordwainers made molds of customers’ feet, called “lasts,” with wood or stone. The shoeswere then sized and shaped according to the molds. The process of shaping and attaching the body of the shoe to its sole was done entirely by hand with “hand lasters.” This was considered the most difficult and time-consuming stage of assembly. Since the final step in the process was mechanized, the lack of mechanization of the penultimate stage, the lasting, created a significant bottleneck.
Matzeliger set out to find a solution to the problems he discerned in the shoemaking process. He thought there had to be a way to develop an automatic method for lasting shoes. He began coming up with designs for machines that could do the job. After experimenting with several models, he applied for a patent on a “lasting machine.”

On March 20, 1883, Matzeliger received patent number 274,207 for his machine. The mechanism held a shoe on a last, pulled the leather down around the heel, set and drove in the nails, and then discharged the completed shoe. It had the capacity to produce 700 pairs of shoes a day—more than 10 times the amount typically produced by human hands.

Matzeliger’s lasting machine was an immediate success. In 1889, the Consolidated Lasting Machine Company was formed to manufacture the devices, with Matzelinger receiving a large amount of stock in the organization. After Matzeliger’s death, the United Shoe Machinery Company acquired his patent.

Matzeliger’s shoe lasting machine increased shoe production tremendously. The result was the employment of more unskilled workers and the proliferation of low-cost, high-quality footwear for people around the world. Unfortunately, Matzeliger was able to enjoy his success for only a short time. He contracted tuberculosis in 1886 and died on August 24, 1889, at the age of 37, in Lynn. In 1991, the United States government issued a “Black Heritage” postage stamp. Research more about black Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!