Category: 1850 – 1899

June 18 1889- The Baby Carriage Is Patient

GM – GFB – Today I will Introduce you to a Black Inventor, whose Invention which will still see millions of every day. Enjoy!

Remember – “When I patened my Invention, I knew it would offer hundreads of Americans a way to get exercise and a way for parents to get looks any where they went.” – William H Richardson

Today in our History June 18, 1889 – The Baby Carriage is patent.

African American inventor William H. Richardson was born on January 5, 1850 in Baltimore, Maryland. patented an improvement to the baby carriage in the United States on June 18, 1889. It is U.S. patent number 405,600. His design ditched the shell shape for a basket-shaped carriage that was more symmetrical. The bassinet could be positioned to face either out or in and rotated on a central joint.

A limiting device kept it from being rotated more than 90 degrees. The wheels also moved independently, which made it more maneuverable. Now a parent or nanny could have the child face them or face away from them, whichever they preferred, and change it at will.

The use of prams or baby carriages became widespread among all economic classes by the 1900s. They were even given to poor mothers by charitable institutions. Improvements were made in their construction and safety. Going for a stroll with a child was believed to have benefits by providing light and fresh air. He died December 12, 1925. Research more about this great American and work with your babies. Make it a champion day!

June 15 1864- Law Equalizing The Pay Of Black Soldiers

GM – FBF – Today in our History, we look back on the Civil War or War between the States or here in the South it was called “The War of Northern Agression”. The Colored Troops were getting paid 1/2 of the white soulders were getting paid until this day. Let’s read how our Congress will correct that mistake. Enjoy!

Remember – ” A negro soulder can take a bullit just as good as a white soulder but for half pay. Rip it up or will you take slave wages?” – Fredrick Douglass

Today in our History – June 15, 1864

Law Equalizing the Pay of Black Soldiers

CHAP. CXXIV.–An Act making Appropriations for the Support of the Army for the Year ending the thirtieth June, eighteen hundred and sixty-five, and for other Purposes.
. . . .
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That all persons of color who have been or may be mustered into the military service of the United States shall receive the same uniform, clothing, arms, equipments, camp equipage, rations, medical and hospital attendance, pay and emoluments, other than bounty, as other soldiers of the regular or volunteer forces of the United States of like arm of the service, from and after the first day of January, eighteen hundred and sixty-four; and that every person of color who shall hereafter be mustered into the service shall receive such sums in bounty as the President shall order in the different states and parts of the United States, not exceeding one hundred dollars.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That all persons enlisted and mustered into service as volunteers under the call, dated October seventeen, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, for three hundred thousand volunteers, who were at the time of enlistment actually enrolled and subject to draft in the state in which they volunteered, shall receive from the United States the same amount of bounty without regard to color.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That all persons of color who were free on the nineteenth day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, and who have been enlisted and mustered into the military service of the United States, shall, from the time of their enlistment, be entitled to receive the pay, bounty, and clothing allowed to such persons by the laws existing at the time of their enlistment. And the Attorney-General of the United States is hereby authorized to determine any question of law arising under this provision. And if the Attorney-General aforesaid shall determine that any of such enlisted persons are entitled to receive any pay, bounty, or clothing, in addition to what they have already received, the Secretary of War shall make all necessary regulations to enable the pay department to make payment in accordance with such determination.
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That all enlistments hereafter made in the regular army of the United States, during the continuance of the present rebellion, may be for the term of three years.

APPROVED, June 15, 1864.

Research more on why The United States Congress passed this Act for the brave black troops and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

June 12 or 13 1893- Amanda America Dickson

GM- FBF – Today I will examine one of the great American History Stories. The story you are about to read is part my own DNA. Although on my Father’s side of the family many people say that is part of my family tree. Amanda American Dickerson Toomer had a lot challanges in her life. Enjoy!

Remember – I had to go to all of the courts, just to keep the money my Father left me. – Amanda America Dickson

Today in our History – June 12 or 13,1893 – Amanda America Dickson: Mixed Experience History Month. Amanda America Dickson Toomer dies (1849 – 1893).

Heiress and socialite Amanda America Dickson Toomer was, in her time, the wealthiest African Aerican woman in Georgia, and one of the wealthiest women in the United States.

Born November 20, 1849, on the Dickson Plantation, near Sparta, Georgia (Hancock County), Amanda America was the product of her 12-year-old mother, an enslaved house servant, Julia Francis Lewis, and 40-year-old David Dickson, a well-known agricultural reformer of that era and one of the wealthiest planters in the area. In her youth, Amanda was taken into the Dickson family home and raised by her paternal grandmother where she was taught to read, write, and play the piano. According to Dickson family tradition, David Dickson eventually doted on his only daughter.

In 1866, 17-year-old Amanda married her white first cousin, Charles Eubanks, a recently returned Confederate Army veteran and together they had two children, Julian Henry and Charles Green. It was an unhappy marriage, and in 1870, Amanda left her husband, and returned to the Dickson Plantation, where she was legally given the surname of Dickson for herself and her sons. Eubanks died two years later.

Dickson left home briefly again between the years of 1876 and 1878, to attend the Normal School of Atlanta University. When her father David Dickson died in 1885, and his will was read, it was revealed that he left all of his property, over 15,000 acres of land in Hancock and Washington Counties as well as his personal possessions, and money, together estimated at slightly over $300,000, to his daughter Amanda Dickson and her two sons. Although the will specifically warned Dickson family members not to contest his wishes, 79 relatives filed a lawsuit to prevent Amanda Dickson from inheriting the property.

The Superior Court of Hancock County upheld her claim and the family appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. That court ruled in 1887 that Amanda Dickson was legally entitled to the inheritance under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that property rights are equal for blacks and whites, including the offspring of black and white citizens.

On July 15, 1886, before the Georgia Supreme Court ruling, pressure from other family members forced Dickson to leave the family plantation where she had spent most of her life. She moved to Augusta, Georgia before the town mandated residential segregation by race and purchased a large brick home at 484 Telfair Street, in the most prominent neighborhood in the city.

On July 14, 1892, Amanda married Nathan Toomer of Perry, Georgia. Born in 1839 in Chatham County, North Carolina, Toomer had been the slave of Richard Pilkinson of Chatham County, North Carolina but was later sold to John Toomer of Houston County, Georgia. When John Toomer died, he became the property of Colonel Henry Toomer, John’s brother. 
Amanda and Nathan were married about a year when Amanda America Dickson Toomer died on June 11or 12 1893, in Augusta from neurasthenia, or nervous exhaustion, considered to be caused by an unbearably hot train ride home from a month’s stay in Baltimore, Maryland for her health.

She was only 43 years old. Amanda America Dickson Toomer was buried in her wedding dress, in a metallic coffin, which was lined in rose colored plush fabric. The funeral was held at Trinity Colored Methodist Church, and she is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Richmond County, Georgia. Nathan Toomer later married Nina Pinchback. The couple had one son, the prominent Harlem (New York) Renaissance author Jean Toomer.

Dickson’s biography titled Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege: Amanda America Dickson 1849-1893, Dickson defined herself as a “no nation” among both her black relatives and white relatives. When her father died in 1885, he left the bulk of his estate to Dickson (estimated at more than $300,000 plus land). White relatives contested the will, but ultimately lost their lawsuit in the Georgia Supreme Court which ruled: the “rights of each race were controlled and governed by the same enactment on principles of the law.” In 1892, Dickson married Nathan Toomer, a wealthy man of color, who fathered Harlem Renaissance writer Jean Toomer later in life (with Nina Pinchback). The movie A House Divided, starring Jennifer Beals, is based on Dickson’s life.

Research more about great woman of American History and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

June 9 1891- George Washington Johnson

GM – FBF – Black Music Month was initiated by President Jimmy Carter who, on June 7, 1979, decreed that June would be the month of black music. So today I will tell you the story of the first black man to be recorded in America. I know that some of you never knew this. Make it a champion day!

Remember – In his 2016 proclamation, President Obama noted that African-American music and musicians have helped the country “to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.”

Today in our History – June 9, 1891 – George Washington Johnson, sings for Thomas A. Edison in his West Orange, N.J. laboratory.

Johnson was born in Virginia, either in Fluvanna County or near Wheatland in Loudoun County. His father may have been a slave; if so, he was likely freed in 1853. From an early age, Johnson was raised near Wheatland as the companion and servant of a prosperous white farmer’s son. During his time with this family, he developed his musical ability and even learned to read and write, which was unusual for a black child in Virginia before the American Civil War. Johnson later worked as a laborer, and in his late twenties he moved to New York City. By the late 1870s he was making his living as a street entertainer in New York, specializing in whistling popular tunes.

Some time between January and May 1890, Johnson was recruited by two different regional phonograph distributors who were looking for recording artists for their coin-operated machines. Charles Marshall of the New York Phonograph Company and Victor Emerson of the New Jersey Phonograph Company both heard Johnson performing in Manhattan, probably at the ferry terminals on the Hudson River. Both of them invited Johnson to record his loud raggy whistling on wax phonograph cylinders for a fee of twenty cents per two-minute performance. Although Johnson could whistle all the tunes of the day, one of his first recordings for both companies was a popular vaudeville novelty song called “The Whistling Coon”. Johnson sang as well as whistled, and also was able to give a boisterous laugh in musical pitch. From this he developed the second performance that made him famous, “The Laughing Song”. Although he recorded other material, including whistling the song “Listen to the Mockingbird” and some short minstrel show performances done with other performers, it was these two songs that Johnson would perform and record over and over for years.

In the earliest days of the recording industry, every record was a “master”. A singer with a strong voice could make three or four usable recordings at once, with as many machines running simultaneously with their recording horns pointed towards the singer’s mouth. Johnson would sometimes sing the same song over and over again in the recording studio fifty or more times a day.

By 1895, Johnson’s two tunes “The Whistling Coon” and “The Laughing Song” were the best-selling recordings in the United States. The total sales of his wax cylinders between 1890 and 1895 have been estimated at 25,000 to 50,000, each one recorded individually by Johnson. Remarkably, the New Jersey record company marketed Johnson as a black man, during an era when much of American life was strongly segregated by race. “The Whistling Coon” was characterized by a light-hearted tune and lyrics which would be unacceptable today, in which a Black man is compared to a baboon.

Johnson continued recording for the New York and New Jersey companies, and in 1891 also started recording for their parent company, the North American Phonograph Company. On June 9, 1891, Johnson traveled to sing for a few recording sessions held at Thomas Edison’s laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. Johnson also made appearances on Vaudeville. His repertory on stage was pretty much limited to his two famous songs, but this was sufficient to get him bookings on bills.

In 1894, Johnson began recording with Len Spencer, a Vaudeville star of the era, and the two would remain friends until the end of Johnson’s life. In 1895, Johnson made his first recordings on the new disc technology for Berliner Gramophone. In addition to Berliner, Johnson recorded for Edison Records, Columbia, the Victor Talking Machine Company, the Chicago Talking Machine Company, Bettini and numerous other small cylinder and disc companies through the 1890s and up to 1909 or 1910.

In 1897, Johnson recorded two new songs, “The Laughing Coon” and “The Whistling Girl”. They remained in the Edison and Columbia catalogs for years, although neither was as popular as his two original tunes.By 1905, Johnson’s popularity had declined. New recording technology enabled the pressing of thousands of duplicate records from a single master, and Johnson was no longer needed to record each copy individually. His friend Len Spencer, now a successful artist and booking agent, hired Johnson as an office doorman. Johnson worked for Spencer and lived in his office building for several years, then moved back to Harlem. In 1914, at the age of 67, George W. Johnson died from pneumonia and myocarditis. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. Research more about the early black singers who were recorded in America and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

June 3 1833- Fourth Black invention In Philadelphia With Sixty Delegates From Eight States

GM – FBF – Today, we examine an orgainization that met annually every first week in June to discuss the state of the Negro Race in America. If you never heard of it – that’s alright let’s learn now. Enjoy!

Remember – Resistance! Resistance! No opressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance. – Henry Highland Garnet

Today in our History – June 3,1833 – Fourth national Black convention met in Philadelphia with sixty-two delegates from eight states. Abraham D. Shadd of Pennsylvania was elected president.

After more than a decade of organized abolition among northern free blacks, a group of prominent free African American men organized the National Negro Convention Movement. The convention movement among northern free blacks symbolized the growth of a black activist network by the mid-nineteenth century. Between its first meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1831 and its last in Syracuse, New York in 1864, the conventions charted important shifts in rhetoric and focus and the development of a black nationalist political consciousness.

The National Convention met a dozen times before the Civil War in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York state. The catalyst for the first meeting in Philadelphia centered upon a proposal by city leaders to oust Cincinnati’s black population as a response to conflict that had emerged over job competition between black and white men. The Cincinnati Riot of 1829 led black leaders to organize throughout the Midwest and Northeast in protest against anti-black violence, discrimination, and slavery.

The first decade of convention meetings revealed growing interracial cooperation between black and white abolitionists. By the late 1840s the gathering were dominated by frustration and disillusionment among many black activists with the “moral suasion” approach of the abolitionist movement which appeared to have little impact on the slave system in the South. The passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 led to the crystallization of black nationalist consciousness as many African American leaders began to believe the United States would never act justly toward black people. As a result, the Negro conventions at mid-century debated the merits of voluntary African American emigration to places like Canada, Liberia, and the Caribbean versus the solidification of a black nationalist movement in the United States.

During this period convention delegates consistently linked the status of free blacks and slaves in their calls for meetings. In 1855, for example, organizers of the Philadelphia convention wrote that “the elevation of the free man is inseperable (sic) from, and lies at the very threshold of the great work of the slave’s restoration to freedom.”

The majority of delegates to the conventions were men, despite the active participation of free black women in the convention meetings and in the black abolitionist and nationalist movement in general. At the Philadelphia meeting, only two women, Elizabeth Armstrong and Rachel Cliff, served as official delegates.

The Convention Movement died during the Civil War as emancipation came to the four million enslaved people in the South and soon afterwards the promise of citizenship during Reconstruction led, prematurely as it turned out, to the belief that African Americans would fully participate in the nation’s politics. Research more about early black national organizations and share with your babies and make it a champion day!

June 2 1863- Tubman And Montgomery

GM – FBF – Today, I want you to look at one of the shero’s of all time Harriet Tubman, not for the Underground Railroad but during the Civil War she was a spy for the Union Army. Her most talked about success was “The Combahee River Raid”. Enjoy!

Remember – “I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.” – Harriet Tubman

Today in our History – June 2,1863 –

One hundred and fifty – five years ago today, Union forces led by Harriet Tubman and Colonel James Montgomery engaged in a daring and wildly successful raid up the Combahee River in South Carolina.

The Combahee River Raid crippled local Confederate infrastructure, liberated 756 enslaved blacks, and earned Tubman well-deserved accolades as the first woman in U.S. history to plan and lead a military raid.

Tubman and Montgomery had set out the night before from Beaufort in three U.S. Navy gunboats. Montgomery commanded a detachment of soldiers from the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers, an all-black infantry regiment, while a company from the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery manned the ships’ guns. Tubman, who had scouted the area and received widespread credit for planning the raid, accompanied Montgomery and was widely seen as jointly leading the operation.

The two Union gunboats which reached the Combahee on the morning of June 2, 1863 proceeded up the river, landing troops as they went. One gunboat, the Harriet A. Weed, anchored near a plantation, while the other, the John Adams, continued upriver, eventually destroying a pontoon bridge and shelling Confederate troops.

The Commonwealth, a Boston newspaper, reported on July 10 that the expedition’s successes included “destroying millions of dollars worth of commissary stores, cotton, and lordly dwellings, and striking terror into the heart of rebeldom,” all “without losing a man or receiving a scratch.” The raid was also intended to remove mines (“torpedoes”) placed by Confederate forces along the river, and thanks to Tubman’s intelligence efforts, this, too, was accomplished.

The raid had one final objective: to confiscate valuable Confederate property, what Union forces still tended to refer to as “contraband.”

This goal proved rather simple for Tubman and Montgomery. As word spread of the operation moving along the river, slaves began leaving their work in the fields and rushing to the riverbanks to board the gunboats, overwhelming overseers and soldiers trying to stop them.

Tubman described the chaotic scene as follows:

“I nebber see such a sight … we laughed, an’ laughed, an’ laughed. Here you’d see a woman wid a pail on her head, rice a smokin’ in it jus as she’d taken it from de fire, young one hangin’ on behind, one han’ roun’ her forehead to hold on, ‘tother han’ diggin’ into de rice-pot, eatin’ wid all its might; hold of her dress two or three more; down her back a bag wid a pig in it. One woman brought two pigs, a white one, an’ a black one; we took ’em all on board; named de white pig Beauregard, an’ de black pig Jeff Davis. Sometimes de women would come wid twins hangin’ roun’ der necks; ‘pears like I nebber see so many twins in my life; bags on der shoulders, baskets on der heads, and young ones taggin’ behin’, all loaded; pigs squealin’, chickens screamin’, young ones squallin”

In all, Tubman reported that the raid liberated 756 enslaved blacks along the Combahee (or, perhaps more precisely, gave them the opportunity to liberate themselves), and that nearly all of the able-bodied male slaves promptly joined the Union’s colored regiments.

The raid’s success, and the role of blacks in leading and conducting it, as well as the hundreds of slaves who rose up at the first sight of Union troops, made a deep impact on the Union public. At the same time, it was frightening and demoralizing for the Confederate side, all the more so because of what the raid implied about what the South’s enslaved population wanted, and was capable of.

In fact, in an effort to minimize the impact on morale and ideology, the official Confederate report was forced to lay the blame for the raid on:

a parcel of negro wretches, calling themselves soldiers, with a few degraded whites.

The broader significance of the Combahee River Raid, I think, is that it shattered two persistent myths which had long impeded the arrival of emancipation for black Americans. First, the raid demonstrated very publicly that black troops were not merely fit as laborers or cannon fodder, but were every bit as capable as their white brethren at executing complex military operations under the most challenging circumstances. Second, the raid’s success in liberating hundreds of blacks (or, in allowing them to liberate themselves) electrified the northern and southern publics and defied the Confederacy’s insistence on the quiet loyalty of its enslaved population. The raid showed convincingly that enslaved blacks were, in fact, eager for freedom and willing to rise up on a moment’s notice, if given the opportunity, and to then join Union forces in droves and fight back.

Together, these two powerful truths helped to show the necessity and rightness of emancipation, at a time when the northern public, in particular, was only beginning to wrestle with that very issue. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

May 28 1885- Horace King

GM – FBF – Happy Memorial Day, Horace King did a lot of things during his lifetime but will be rememberd as a builder of bridegs. Enjoy!

Remember – I loved to build bridges in order for the every day person could have an easier travel. – Horace King

Today in our History – May 28, 1885 – Horace King dies after leaving a great mark on Alabama, Georgia’s history.

Horace King, born a slave on September 8, 1807 in Chesterfield District, South Carolina, was a successful bridge architect and builder in West Georgia, Northern Alabama and northeast Georgia in the period between the 1830s and 1870s. King worked for his master, John Godwin who owned a successful construction business. Although King was a slave, Godwin treated him as a valued employee and eventually gave him considerable influence over his business. Horace King supervised many of Godwin’s business activities including the management of construction sites. In 1832, for example, King led a construction crew in building Moore’s Bridge, the first bridge crossing the lower Chattahoochee River in northwest Georgia. Later in the decade, Godwin and King constructed some of the largest bridges in Georgia, Alabama, and Northeastern Mississippi. By the 1840s King designed and supervised construction of major bridges at Wetumpka, Alabama and Columbus, Mississippi without Godwin’s supervision. Godwin issued five year warranties on his bridges because of his confidence in King’s high quality work.

In 1839, Horace King married Frances Thomas, a free African American woman. The couple had had four boys and one girl. The King children eventually joined their father at working on various construction projects. In addition to building bridges, King constructed homes and government buildings for Godwin’s construction company. In 1841, King supervised the construction of the Russell County Courthouse in Alabama. Despite the success of the company in attracting work, Godwin nonetheless fell into debt. King was emancipated by Godwin on February 3, 1846 to avoid his seizure by creditors. King continued to work for Godwin’s construction company and when his former owner died in 1859, King assumed controlled of Godwin’s business.

During the Civil War, King continued to work on construction projects usually for the Confederacy including a building for the Confederate navy near Columbus, Georgia. Confederate officials also forced King to block several waterways to prevent Union access to strategic points in Georgia and Alabama.

In 1864 Frances Thomas King died. Immediately after the Civil War ended King married Sarah Jane Jones McManus. Also after the war King began to prosper as he worked on the reconstruction of bridges, textile mills, cotton warehouses and public buildings destroyed during the conflict. After passing down the family business to his son, John Thomas King, Horace King was elected as a Republican to the Alabama House of Representatives, serving from 1870 to 1874.

Horace King died on May 28, 1885 in LaGrange, Georgia. Reserach more about this great American and share with your babies, Make it a champion day!

May 20 1851- Francis Ellen

GM – FBF- Today, I give you the history of the woman who was called – ” The mother of woman’s activisim” Enjoy!

Remember – “Political life in our country has plowed in muddy channels, and needs the infusion of clearer and cleaner waters.” – Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Today in our History – May 20,1851 – Worked with the Underground Railroad to help get escaped slaves to Canada.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825-February 22, 1911), was an African-American writer, lecturer, and political activist, who promoted abolition, civil rights, women’s rights, and temperance. She helped found or held high office in several national progressive organizations. She is best remembered today for her poetry and fiction, which preached moral uplift and counseled the oppressed how to free themselves from their demoralized condition.
Frances was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to free parents whose names are unknown. After her mother died in 1828, Frances was raised by her aunt and uncle. Her uncle was the abolitionist William Watkins, father of William J. Watkins, who would become an associate of Frederick Douglass. She received her education at her uncle’s Academy for Negro Youth and absorbed many of his views on civil rights. The family attended the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church.

Following the passage in 1850 of the Fugitive Slave Law, conditions for free blacks in the slave state of Maryland deteriorated and the Watkins family fled Baltimore. Frances Watkins moved on her own to Ohio, where she taught sewing at Union Seminary. She moved on to Pennsylvania in 1851. There, alongside William Still, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, she helped escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad on their way to Canada.

Watkins continued to write, and in 1854 her Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects attracted critical notice and became her biggest commercial success. In these poems she attacked not only racism but also the oppression of women. Most of the earnings from this and her other books went to help free the slaves. In 1854 she also began her lecturing career. She was much in demand on the anti-slavery circuit and she traveled extensively in the years before the Civil War.

John Brown, who had been principal at Union Seminary when Watkins had worked there,* led the unsuccessful uprising at Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Watkins gave emotional support and comfort to Mary Brown during her husband’s trial and execution. In a letter smuggled into John Brown’s prison cell, Watkins wrote, “In the name of the young girl sold from the warm clasp of a mother’s arms to the clutches of a libertine or profligate,—in the name of the slave mother, her heart rocked to and fro by the agony of her mournful separations,—I thank you, that you have been brave enough to reach out your hands to the crushed and blighted of my race.”

In 1859 Watkins’s tale “The Two Offers” appeared in the Anglo-African, the first short story to be published by an African-American. Although cast in fictional form, the piece is actually a sermon on the important life choices made by young people, women in particular. The tale relates the tragedy of a woman who mistakenly thinks romance and married love to be the only goal and center of her life. “Talk as you will of woman’s deep capacity for loving,” Watkins preached, “of the strength of her affectional nature. I do not deny it; but will the mere possession of any human love, fully satisfy all the demands of her whole being? . . . But woman—the true woman—if you would render her happy, it needs more than the mere development of her affectional nature. Her conscience should be enlightened, her faith in the true and right established, and scope given to her Heaven-endowed and God-given faculties.”

In 1860, Frances Watkins married Fenton Harper, a widower with three children, and moved to Ohio. Their daughter, Mary, was born in 1862. Fenton died in 1864. After the war was over, Frances Harper toured the South, speaking to large audiences, encouraging education for freed slaves, and aiding in reconstruction.

Harper first became acquainted with Unitarians before the war, due to their support of abolition and the Underground Railroad. Her friend Peter H. Clark, a noted abolitionist and educator in Ohio, had become a Unitarian in 1868. When Harper and her daughter settled in Philadelphia in 1870, she joined the First Unitarian Church.

With slavery a thing of the past, Harper turned her energy to women’s rights. She spoke up for the empowerment of women and worked with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to secure votes for women. Unlike Anthony and Stanton, Harper supported the Fourteenth Amendment, which, together with the Fifteenth, granted the vote to black men but not to women. Recognizing the ever-present danger of lynching, she reasoned that the African-American community needed an immediate political voice. With that would come the possibility of securing further legal and civil rights.

During the next few decades, Harper wrote a great deal and had her works published frequently. Because of her many magazine articles, she was called the mother of African-American journalism. At the same time she also wrote for periodicals with a mainly white circulation.

Long fascinated with the character of Moses, whose modern equivalents she sought in the women and men of her own era, Harper treated this theme in poetry, fiction, and oratory. Before the Civil War, in her 1859 speech, “Our Greatest Want,” she had challenged her fellow blacks: “Our greatest need is not gold or silver, talent or genius, but true men and true women. We have millions of our race in the prison house of slavery, but have not yet a single Moses in freedom.”

The poems in Harper’s Sketches of Southern Life, 1872, present the story of Reconstruction, as told by a wise and engaging elderly former slave, Aunt Chloe. Harper’s serialized novel, “Sowing and Reaping,” in the Christian Recorder, 1876-77, expanded on the theme of “The Two Offers.” In “Trial and Triumph,” 1888-89, the most autobiographical of her novels, Harper presented her program for progress through personal development, altruism, non-discrimination, and racial pride.

In 1873 Harper became Superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women’s Christian Temperance Union. In 1894 she helped found the National Association of Colored Women and served as its vice president, 1895-1911. Along with Ida B. Wells, Harper wrote and lectured against lynching. She was also a member of the Universal Peace Union.

Although busy as a writer and active in public life, Harper continued to engage personally in social concerns at the local level. She worked with a number of churches in the black community of north Philadelphia near her home, feeding the poor, preventing juvenile delinquency, and teaching Sunday School at the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church.

Both Unitarians and the AME church have claimed Harper as a member. She was reluctant to choose between the two. AME was the church she had been raised in. It was family and home to her, and she always remembered where she came from and what her people had been through. Her reasons for joining the Unitarian church, on the other hand, may have been partly political. Although she had had personal and professional contacts in both black and white communities ever since her first book of poems was published, many doors remained closed to her. In a society where color lines were clearly drawn, a Unitarian church provided a rare opportunity for the races to meet. The Unitarians she knew could help to advance the causes she supported in places she could never go.

Harper’s christology was Unitarian. Christ was not a distant God to her, but a role model for the kind of exalted existence that all human beings could attain. In Iola Leroy, 1892, her final and famous novel (which, until recently, was her only-remembered novel), she envisioned a Christ-like role for African-Americans, who, by transcending their suffering, had the opportunity to transform society.

Harper died on 22 February 1911, nine years before women gained the right to vote. Her funeral service was held at the Unitarian Church on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. She was buried in Eden Cemetery, next to her daughter, who had died two years before.

Although an extremely popular writer during her lifetime, Harper was not acclaimed by literary critics. Following her death W.E.B. Du Bois, whose ideal of high style was Henry James, eulogized her with faint praise: “She was not a great singer, but she had some sense of song; she was not a great writer, but she wrote much worth reading.” Shortly after, Harper’s communicative and intentionally popular style was dismissed as sentimental hackwork by African-American male critics and her message held in suspicion because her mixed-race protagonists were not sufficiently black.

During the 20th century, as her reputation waned and the best of her poetry languished unread. Harper’s gravestone fell over and was covered by grass. In her celebrated poem, “Bury Me In a Free Land,” she wrote,

I ask no monument, proud and high, 
To arrest the gaze of passers-by; 
All that my yearning spirit craves, 
Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

In recent decades, however, black women and feminists in general have resurrected Harper’s legacy. In 1992 African-American Unitarian Universalists honored her and commemorated the one-hundredth anniversary of Iola Leroy by installing a new headstone. In the excavation, the old headstone was uncovered, forgotten but still enduring. Harper’s call for full human development—black and white, male and female—also endures, as urgent and vital during these decades following the Civil Rights movement and Women’s Liberation as it was during Reconstruction and its aftermath. Make It A Champion Day!

May 18 1896- May Plessy V. Ferguson a Supreme Court Case

GM – FBF – This one case after the Dread Scott decesion will legally let Jim Crow stand for decades. Enyoy!

Remember – “But in view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guarantied by the supreme law of the land are involved.” ― John Marshall Harlan

Today in our History – May Plessy v. Ferguson a Supreme Court Case that will legaly keep people of color back for decades.

Plessy v. Ferguson, case in which the U.S. Supreme Court, on May 18, 1896, by a seven-to-one majority (one justice did not participate), advanced the controversial “separate but equal” doctrine for assessing the constitutionality of racial segregation laws. Plessy v. Ferguson was the first major inquiry into the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment’s (1868) equal-protection clause, which prohibits the states from denying “equal protection of the laws” to any person within their jurisdictions. Although the majority opinion did not contain the phrase “separate but equal,” it gave constitutional sanction to laws designed to achieve racial segregation by means of separate and supposedly equal public facilities and services for African Americans and whites. It served as a controlling judicial precedent until it was overturned by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954).

The case originated in 1892 as a challenge to Louisiana’s Separate Car Act (1890). The law required that all railroads operating in the state provide “equal but separate accommodations” for white and African American passengers and prohibited passengers from entering accommodations other than those to which they had been assigned on the basis of their race. In 1891 a group of Creole professionals in New Orleans formed the Citizens’ Committee to Test the Constitutionality of the Separate Car Law. They hired Albion Tourgée, a Reconstruction-era judge and social reformer, as their legal counsel. As plaintiff in the test case the committee chose a person of mixed race in order to support its contention that the law could not be consistently applied, because it failed to define the white and “coloured” races. Homer Plessy, who was seven-eighths white and one-eighth African American, purchased a rail ticket for travel within Louisiana and took a seat in a car reserved for white passengers. (The state Supreme Court had ruled earlier that the law could not be applied to interstate travel.) After refusing to move to a car for African Americans, he was arrested and charged with violating the Separate Car Act. At Plessy’s trial in U.S. District Court, Judge John H. Ferguson dismissed his contention that the act was unconstitutional. After the state Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, and oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1896. The court rendered its decision one month later, on May 18.

Majority Opinion
Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Henry Billings Brown rejected Plessy’s arguments that the act violated the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment, which granted full and equal rights of citizenship to African Americans. The Separate Car Act did not conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment, according to Brown, because it did not reestablish slavery or constitute a “badge” of slavery or servitude. In reaching this conclusion he relied on the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Civil Rights Cases (1883), which found that racial discrimination against African Americans in inns, public conveyances, and places of public amusement “imposes no badge of slavery or involuntary servitude…but at most, infringes rights which are protected from State aggression by the XIVth Amendment.”

Yet the act did not conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment either, Brown argued, because that amendment was intended to secure only the legal equality of African Americans and whites, not their social equality. Legal equality was adequately respected in the act because the accommodations provided for each race were required to be equal and because the racial segregation of passengers did not by itself imply the legal inferiority of either race—a conclusion supported, he reasoned, by numerous state-court decisions that had affirmed the constitutionality of laws establishing separate public schools for white and African American children. In contrast, social equality, which would entail the “commingling” of the races in public conveyances and elsewhere, did not then exist and could not be legally created: “If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.” In response to Plessy’s comparison of the Separate Car Act to hypothetical statutes requiring African Americans and whites to walk on different sides of the street or to live in differently coloured houses, Brown responded that the Separate Car Act was intended to preserve “public peace and good order” and was therefore a “reasonable” exercise of the legislature’s police power.

Dissenting Opinion
In his lone dissenting opinion, which would become a classic of American civil rights jurisprudence, Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan insisted that the court had ignored the obvious purpose of the Separate Car Act, which was, “under the guise of giving equal accommodation for whites and blacks, to compel the latter to keep to themselves while traveling in railroad passenger coaches.” Because it presupposed—and was universally understood to presuppose—the inferiority of African Americans, the act imposed a badge of servitude upon them in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, according to Harlan. The effect of the law, he argued, was to interfere with the personal liberty and freedom of movement of both African Americans and whites. Because it thus attempted to regulate the civil rights of citizens on the arbitrary basis of their race, the act was repugnant to the principle of legal equality underlying the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal-protection clause. “Our Constitution is color-blind,” Harlan wrote,

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.

He concluded that “in my opinion, the judgment this day rendered will, in time, prove to be quite as pernicious as the decision made by this tribunal in the Dred Scott Case” (1857), which had declared (in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney) that African Americans were not entitled to the rights of U.S. citizenship. Research more about the courts and people of color in the Country and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

May 17 1897- Edward William Anderson

GM – FBF – A story about a black man and his reaction to unfair treatment of blacks in Southern California.

Remember – “We as a people and me as a black man, will not take this discrimination any more.” – Edward William Anderson

Today in our History – May 17, 1897 – Edward William Anderson and his wife Mary, could not get floor seats at the
famous Fisher Opera House in San Diego, CA.

Entrepreneur, political organizer, and civilian pioneer, Edward William Anderson was born the son of former slaves, Wyatt and Fannie Anderson, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, September 26, 1871. He arrived in San Diego, California, in the mid-1890s with just $1.25 in his pocket but was confident in his ability to thrive as a business owner. His first successful venture was as owner, at age twenty-five, of IXL (I Excel) Laundry which grew to become the largest steam laundry in the region with thirty-five employees.

Anderson unwittingly involved himself in the struggle for equal rights for people of color in California when on May 17, 1897, he and his wife, Mary, arrived with tickets in hand to claim their seats for a performance of Around the World in Eighty Days at the city’s premier entertainment venue, the elegant Fisher Opera House. Instead of being ushered to the choice seats near the orchestra, the theater manager, who redirected him to the balcony, said, “I do not allow colored people on that floor.” Anderson refused the balcony seats, accepted a refund of the tickets, and a week later filed a lawsuit for $299 in damages. Due mainly to a recently enacted provision of the state’s civil rights law, Anderson prevailed and was awarded $50. The judgment was reversed on appeal and further legal action by Anderson did not succeed; however, his challenge set legal precedent as the first racial discrimination court case of its kind in Southern California.

Over the next four decades, Anderson became the most prosperous black businessman in San Diego County. In 1910 he acquired one hundred and sixty acres along the California-Mexico border and quickly resold it at a 50 percent mark-up. Next, he bought his uncle’s grocery store and soon after launched Economy Waste Paper Company and the even more prosperous San Diego Rubbish & Garbage Company which held an exclusive seven-year city contract. After winning another garbage disposal contract with the nearby city of Coronado, Anderson used some of the gathered refuse to feed hogs on his adjacent Silver Strand Ranch where he owned a meat-packing operation and Anderson Meat Market which sold its own special sausage brand. His porkers won prizes at fairs throughout the state, earning him the nickname “Hog King of San Diego.” In 1943 Anderson launched Anderson Mortuary (later Anderson-Ragsdale Mortuary) which continues to serve the community.

Anderson’s social activism continued with his growing business success. He remained a central figure in the quest for equal rights, co-founding the San Diego branch of the NAACP in 1919 and serving three terms as its president between 1931 and 1943. He also assisted the branch in various official capacities and as a confidential advisor. A Prince Hall Mason, he also was president of the Negro Business League, the Independent Voters League, and the Douglass League as well as treasurer of the Negro Civic League and a member of the Elks and the San Diego Republican Central Committee.

Edward W. Anderson died August 11, 1953, in San Diego and buried in Mount Hope Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Mary, and a sister, Rosa Little. I could not find many pictures of him or his wife. Research more about how blacks reacted to discrimination and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!