Category: 1900 – 1949

October 12 1908- Ann Penty

GM – FBF – Toda’s story is about a Black woman who loved to write children’s books and journalism. She has been all around the globe signing books and telling her story she loved people and wanted everyone to enjoy their lives. Enjoy!
Remember – “Having solved one problem, there was always a new one cropping up to take its place.” – Ann Penty

Today in our History – October 12, 1908 – Ann Penty was born.

Ann Petry (October 12, 1908 – April 28, 1997) was an American writer of novels, short stories, children’s books and journalism. Her 1946 debut novel The Street became the first novel by an African-American woman to sell more than a million copies.

Ann Lane was born on October 12, 1908, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, as the youngest of three daughters to Peter Clark Lane and Bertha James Lane. Her parents belonged to the black minority numbering 15 inhabitants of the small town. Her father was a pharmacist and her mother was a shop owner, chiropodist, and hairdresser. Ann was also the niece of Anna Louise James.

Ann and her sister were raised “in the classic New England tradition: a study in efficiency, thrift, and utility (…) They were filled with ambitions that they might not have entertained had they lived in a city along with thousands of poor blacks stuck in demeaning jobs.”

The family had none of the trappings of the middle class until Petry was well into adulthood. Before her mother became a businesswoman, she worked in a factory, and her sisters worked as maids. The Lane girls were raised sheltered from most of the disadvantages other black people in the United States had to experience due to the color of their skin; however there were a number of incidents of racial discrimination.

As Petry wrote in “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience”, published in Negro Digest in 1946, there was an incident where a racist decided that they did not want her on a beach. Her father wrote a letter to The Crisis in 1920 or 1921 complaining about a teacher who refused to teach his daughters and his niece. Another teacher humiliated her by making her read the part of Jupiter, the illiterate ex-slave in the Edgar Allan Poe short story “The Gold-Bug”.

Petry had a strong family foundation with well-traveled uncles, who had many stories to tell her when coming home; her father, who overcame racial obstacles, opened a pharmacy in the small town; and her mother and aunts set a strong example: Petry, interviewed by the Washington Post in 1992, says about her tough female family members that “it never occurred to them that there were things they couldn’t do because they were women.”

Petry’s desire to become a professional writer was raised first in high school when her English teacher read her essay to the class and commented on it with the words: “I honestly believe that you could be a writer if you wanted to.” The decision to become a pharmacist was her family’s. After graduating in 1929 from Old Saybrook High School, she went to college and graduated with a Ph.G. degree from the University of Connecticut College of Pharmacy in New Haven in 1931 and worked in the family business for several years, while also writing short stories. On February 22, 1938, she married George D. Petry of New Iberia, Louisiana, which brought her to New York.

She worked as a journalist writing articles for newspapers including The Amsterdam News (between 1938 and 1941) and The People’s Voice (1941–44), and published short stories in The Crisis, where her first story appeared in 1943, Phylon, and other outlets. Between 1944 and 1946 she studied creative writing at Columbia University. She also worked at an after-school program at P.S. 10 in Harlem. It was during this period that she experience and understood what the majority of the black population of the United States had to go through in their everyday life. Traversing the Harlem streets, living for the first time among large numbers of poor black people, seeing neglected children up close—Petry’s early years in New York inevitably made impressions on her and led her to put her experiences to paper. Her daughter Liz explained to the Post that “her way of dealing with the problem was to write this book [The Street], which maybe was something that people who had grown up in Harlem couldn’t do.”

Petry’s first and most popular novel, The Street, was published in 1946 and won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship with book sales exceeding one million copies.

Back in Old Saybrook in 1947, Petry worked on Country Place (1947), The Narrows (1953), other stories, and books for children, but they never achieved the same success as her first book. She drew on her personal experiences of the hurricane in Old Saybrook in Country Place. Although the novel is set in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Petry identified the 1938 New England hurricane as the source for the storm that is at the center of her narrative.

Petry was a member of the American Negro Theater and appeared in productions including On Striver’s Row. She also lectured at University of California, Berkeley, Miami University and Suffolk University, and was Visiting Professor of English at the University of Hawaii.

She died in Old Saybrook at the age of 88 on April 28, 1997. She was outlived by her husband George, who died in 2000, and her only daughter, Liz Petry. Research more about Black writers abd share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

October 9 1944- Nona Hendryx

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about one of the greatest entertainers of all time. She hails from the Capitol City of New Jersey. I am going back home again, so for my friends on FB who don’t live in the city of Trenton, N.J. you might not understand. She is still one of the greatest entertainers out today and if you go to the Smithsonian African American History on the top floor you will find one of her outfits that is on display. Please enjoy the story!

Remember – “The title song is the reunion song by Patti, Sarah and I, and that will be in the film’s credits and also in the trailer “ – -Nona Hendryx

Today in our History – October 9,1944 -Nona Hendryx is born in Trenton, New Jersey.

One-third of the pop/soul act Labelle (their big hit was “Lady Marmalade”), Nona Hendryx, by far and away, made the hippest solo records of any member of that group (the others being Patti LaBelle and Sarah Dash). After LaBelle called it quits in 1976, Hendryx released her self-titled debut record, which was an amazingly strong amalgam of soul and hard rock. It also went almost completely ignored by critics, soul fans, and even Labelle fans, and Hendryx took her strong, clear, booming voice and did lots of session work in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

It was here that she fell in with a hip crowd of musicians, including David Johansen, Peter Gabriel, Prince, Yoko Ono, Cameo, Garland Jeffreys, and Afrika Bambaataa, and sang backup for a time with Talking Heads. The association with the Heads’ David Byrne led to her working with bassist/producer/conceptualist Bill Laswell, who, along with his band Material, helped Hendryx put together a second solo record entitled Nona. A strong album not as wild-eyed as her debut, Nona did spark greater interest in Hendryx’s considerable talents, and after that, her solo career flourished to the point where she no longer needed d studio work to supplement her income.

In 1984, Hendryx again collaborated with Laswell on The Art of Defense. She returned with Heat, produced by Arthur Baker in 1985. The latter album featured a stellar cast of players including guitarists Ronnie Drayton and Keith Richards, bassists Doug Wimbish and Bernard Edwards, saxophonist Lenny Pickett, and vocalists Will Downing and Gang of Four’s Hugo Burnham. Female Trouble appeared in 1987 with a slew of producers and featured guest spots from Gabriel and David Van Tieghem.

In 1989, Hendryx shifted gears; she issued the almost solely keyboard-driven Skin Diver on former Tangerine Dream member Peter Baumann’s Private Music label. After a three-year break, Hendryx surprised again with You Have to Cry Sometime, in 1992. The album, a collection of soul covers in collaboration with Billy Vera, was issued as part of a benefit offering 50-percent of its profits to the Rhythm and Blues Foundation charity. Exhausted by touring, switching labels, and the changing nature of the music business in general, she stopped releasing her own records for the remainder of the decade.

Hendryx returned to studio work in the ’90s and throughout the 21st century, appearing on recordings by Lisa Lisa, Morgan Heritage, and the reunited Bush Tetras, as well as on soundtrack recordings.

LaBelle reunited in 2007 and issued Back to Now on Verve in 2008. The set was produced by the legendary Philadelphia International team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and included several Hendryx compositions. She also scored playwright Charles R. Wright’s Blue, guested on Terri Lynne Carrington’s Mosaic Project album, and contributed a cut to the soundtrack for the film Precious.

Apparently, the Labelle reunion was the impetus for Hendryx to begin recording and touring as a solo artist again. She released the jazz-funk It’s Time in collaboration with Kahil El’zabar’s Ethnics in 2011 to critical acclaim. In the summer of 2012, she followed it with the self-produced Mutatis Mutandis, for Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label. Hendryx collaborated with eclectic guitarist Gary Lucas for the 2017 album The World of Captain Beefheart, featuring new interpretations of the music of the experimental rock icon. Research more about this great artist and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

January 5 1943- George washington Carver

GM -FBF – The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.

Remember – From a child, I had an inordinate desire for knowledge and especially music, painting, flowers, and the sciences, Algebra being one of my favorite studies. – George Washington Carver

Today in our History – January 5, 1943

Born in Missouri around 1864 during the years of Civil War (the exact date and year in which he was born not being known), George Washington Carver was a son of an enslaved couple, Mary and Giles. Only a week after his birth, invaders from Arkansas, a neighboring state, kidnapped him along with his sister and mother. They were sold in Kentucky. However, George was found and sent back to Missouri.

With the end of slavery in Missouri post the Civil War, Moses Carver, the owner of the slaves, kept George and his brother at his home, raising and educating them. With no school accepting black pupils at the time, Moses himself taught George how to read and write.

George struggled a lot to receive education, travelling miles to reach a school for black students. He then went on to receive a diploma from the Minneapolis High School in Kansas. Later, he was accepted in Highland College in Kansas but once the college realized about George’s race, his acceptance was reversed. Thus he resorted to conducting biological experiments on his own.

While science was his primary area of interest, George was also fond of arts. He started studying music and art at Simpson College, Iowa, in 1890 and later moved to Ames to study botany at the Iowa State College of Agriculture where he was the first black student. After completing his bachelors and masters degree from the college, he gained popularity as an excellent botanist.

He then started his journey as a teacher and researcher. Booker T. Washington, the principal of the Tuskegee Institute built for African Americans, hired him to head the institute’s agricultural department in 1896. Under the guidance of Carver, Tuskegee’s agricultural department helped to stabilize many people’s livelihoods by developing new crops and introducing a diversified crop range that could bare harsh weather conditions.

At Tuskegee, Carver’s work as a researcher on plant biology brought him into the limelight. His work focused on finding out how crops such as peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes can be used as raw materials for many other products. His inventions included plastics, dyes and paints amongst others. His speech in 1920 to the Peanut Growers Association highlighting the importance of peanuts as commercial crops led to a tariff being introduced on imported peanuts. He rose to fame for his work as a scientific expert and achieved worldwide popularity in both professional and political groups.

George Washington Carver’s work was admired by President Roosevelt and Carver gave advice to the United States of America on matters pertaining to US agriculture. He was also honored membership of the British Royal Society of Arts in 1916. For ten years following 1923, Carver worked for Interracial Cooperation by visiting white Southern colleges.

While Carver was surely involved in government funded projects and research work, he tried his best to isolate himself from the political activities going on. Nevertheless, Carver did manage to greatly enhance the lives of many farming families and was particularly famous amongst African-Americans and Anglo-Americans. Having left a strong presence on many people, Carver died by falling from his house’s staircase on January 5, 1943.

However, George Washington Carver left this world as a legacy and several monuments have been made after him including one at Diamond Missouri where he was born. Several schools have been named after him and in 1948 and 1998, Carver’s name also appeared on U.S. commemorative postal stamps. Around more than 7 decades after his death, his name largely remains known as one of the most intellectuals African Americans to have graced the world. There is so much to know about this great American, research more to understand what he ment to our be and the world. Share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!

January 4 1920- The Negro Leagues

GM – FBF – We in the Negro leagues felt like we were contributing something to baseball, too, when we were playing. We played with a round ball, and we played with a round bat. And we wore baseball uniforms, and we thought that we were making a contribution to baseball. We loved the game, and we liked to play it.

Remember – Like the Negro League players, I traveled through the segregated south as a young man. Because I was black, I was denied service at many restaurants and could only drink from water fountains marked ‘Colored.’ When I went to the movies, I would have to sit in the Colored balcony. – Walter Dean Myers (Negro League Player)

Today in our History – January 4, 1920 – The Negro leagues were United States professional baseball leagues comprising teams predominantly made up of African Americans and, to a lesser extent, Latin Americans. The term may be used broadly to include professional black teams outside the leagues and it may be used narrowly for the seven relatively successful leagues beginning in 1920 that are sometimes termed “Negro Major Leagues”.

The league was racially segregated due to racism in the United States, with non whites prevented from playing in the major and minor baseball leagues. In 1885 the Cuban Giants formed the first black professional baseball team. The first league, the National Colored Base Ball League, was organized strictly as a minor league but failed in 1887 after only two weeks owing to low attendance. The Negro American League of 1951 is considered the last major league season and the last professional club, the Indianapolis Clowns, operated as a humorous sideshow rather than competitively from the mid-1960s to the 1980s. There is a great deal more about this American Institution, please research and tell your babies. Make it a champion day!

Febraury 14 1936

AGM – FBF – If all that you know is that Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics – you need to see the video – Olympic Pride and American Prejudice. To hear about the other 17 African Americans who also were there.

Remember – I was both honored and ashamed that when I got back home to the states I was the centerpiece and no reporter talked to the other blacks who with me at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games – Jesse Owens – Olympic Hall of Fame

Today in our History – February 14, 1936 -Black Athletes Meet to see if they should go to the 1936 Summer Olympic Games -in Berlin, Germany. Soon after Adolf Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, observers in the United States and other western democracies questioned the morality of supporting Olympic Games hosted by the Nazi regime.

The International Olympic Committee obtained a pledge from the German Olympic committee in June 1933 that Germany would abide by the Olympic Charter. The charter banned all discrimination in sport. With concerns about the safety of black athletes in Nazi Germany thus put to rest, most African American newspapers opposed boycotting the 1936 Olympic Games.

Writers for such papers as the Philadelphia Tribune and the Chicago Defender argued that victories by black athletes would undermine racism and the emphasis on “Aryan” supremacy found in Nazi racial views. They also hoped that such victories would foster a new sense of black pride at home. The Chicago Defender reported, on December 14, 1935, that African American track stars Eulace Peacock, Jesse Owens, and Ralph Metcalfe favored participating in the Olympics because they felt that their victories would serve to repudiate Nazi racial theories. (An injury would prevent Peacock from participating.)


In 1936 a large number of black athetes were Olympic contenders, and in the end, 18 African Americans—16 men and 2 women—went to Berlin. This was three times the number who had competed in the 1932 Los Angeles games. The difference reflected the migration of blacks to northern cities beginning in the 1910s and the growing interest of northern colleges in recruiting black athletes.

African American Medalists

David Albritton
High jump, silver

Cornelius Johnson 
High jump, gold

James LuValle 
400-meter run, bronze

Ralph Metcalfe 
4×100-meter relay, gold
100-meter dash, silver

Jesse Owens 
100-meter dash, gold
200-meter dash, gold
Broad (long) jump, gold
4×100-meter relay, gold

Frederick Pollard, Jr. 
110-meter hurdles, bronze

Matthew Robinson 
200-meter dash, silver

Archibald Williams 
400-meter run, gold

Jack Wilson 
Bantamweight boxing, silver

John Woodruff 
800-meter run, gold


For the black athletes, the Olympics provided a special opportunity. In the 1930s, blacks suffered discrimination in most areas of American life. “Jim Crow” laws, designed by whites to keep blacks powerless and segregated, barred African Americans from many jobs and from entering public places such as restaurants, hotels, and other facilities. In the South especially, blacks lived in fear of racially motivated violence. The United States military was still segregated during World War II.


In the area of sports, opportunities for blacks were limited at both the college and professional levels. Black journalists criticized supporters of the Olympic boycott for talking so much about discrimination against athletes in foreign lands but not addressing the problem of discrimination against athletes at home. They pointed out that all the black Olympians came from northern universities that served mostly white students. They said that this showed the inferiority of training equipment and facilities at traditionally black colleges, where most African American students were educated in the 1930s.


The African American athletes who competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin won 14 medals. The continuing social and economic discrimination black athletes faced after returning to the United States showed that even winning medals for one’s country did not immediately change anything. Because the Nazi regime had so well camouflaged their state-sanctioned racism, some black athletes ironically commented that they had felt more welcomed in Berlin than at home.

Still, the victories of Owens and others were a source of great pride for African Americans and inspired future black Olympians. These were beginning steps in the slow progress toward equal. Research more about this American story with the video – Olympic Pride and American Prejudice, you will discover that there were 17 other blacks who won fame and medals besides Jesse Owens. Share with your babies. Make it a champion day! I will be facilitating a sales training class and won’t be able to respond to any posts. 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!

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 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!