Category: Civil Rights Activists

August 26 2015- Boynton Robinson

GM – Today I would like to share with you a story of a black woman who was a civil rights pioneer who championed voting rights for African Americans. She was brutally beaten for helping to lead a 1965 civil rights march, which became known as Bloody Sunday and drew national attention to the Civil Rights Movement. She was also the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama. Enjoy!

Remember – “I wasn’t looking for notoriety [when we marched]. But if that’s what it took [to get attention], I didn’t care how many licks I got. It just made me even more determined to fight for our cause.” ― Amelia Boynton Robinson

Today in our History – August 26, 2015 – Boynton Robinson died on August 26, 2015 at the age of 104.

Amelia Boynton was born on August 18, 1911, in Savannah, Georgia. Her early activism included holding black voter registration drives in Selma, Alabama, from the 1930s through the ’50s. In 1964, she became both the first African-American woman and the first female Democratic candidate to run for a seat in Congress from Alabama. The following year, she helped lead a civil rights march during which she and her fellow activists were brutally beaten by state troopers. The event, which became known as Bloody Sunday, drew nationwide attention to the Civil Rights movement. In 1990, Boynton won the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom. She died on August 26, 2015 at the age of 104.

Civil rights activist Amelia Boynton was born Amelia Platts on August 18, 1911, to George and Anna Platts of Savannah, Georgia. Both of her parents were of African-American, Cherokee Indian and German descent. They had 10 children and made going to church central to their upbringing.
Boynton spent her first two years of college at Georgia State College (now Savannah State University), then transferred to the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama. She graduated from Tuskegee with a home economics degree before further pursuing her education at Tennessee State University, Virginia State University and Temple University.
After working as a teacher in Georgia, Boynton took a job as Dallas County’s home demonstration agent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Selma, Alabama.

In 1930, she met her co-worker, Dallas County extension agent Samuel Boynton. The two had in common their impassioned desire to better the lives of African-American members of their community, particularly sharecroppers. The couple married in 1936 and had two sons, Bill Jr. and Bruce Carver. Over the next three decades, Amelia and Samuel collectively worked toward achieving voting, property and education rights for poor African Americans of Alabama’s farm country.

Boynton’s early activism included co-founding the Dallas County Voters League in 1933, and holding African-American voter registration drives in Selma from the 1930s through the ’50s. Samuel died in 1963, but Amelia continued their commitment to improving the lives of African Americans.
Amelia Boynton (center) was brutally beaten during the civil rights march on March 7, 1965, which became known as Bloody Sunday.

In 1964, as the Civil Rights Movement was picking up speed, Amelia Boynton ran on the Democratic ticket for a seat in Congress from Alabama—becoming the first African-American woman to do so, as well as the first woman to run as a Democratic candidate for Congress in Alabama. Although she didn’t win her seat, Boynton earned 10 percent of vote.
Also in 1964, Boynton and fellow civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. teamed up toward their common goals. At the time, Boynton figured largely as an activist in Selma. Still dedicated to securing suffrage for African Americans, she asked Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to come to Selma and help promote the cause.

King eagerly accepted. Soon after, he and the SCLC set up their headquarters at Boynton’s Selma home. There, they planned the Selma to Montgomery March of March 7, 1965.
Some 600 protesters arrived to participate in the event, which would come to be known as “Bloody Sunday.” On the Edmund Pettus Bridge, over the Alabama River in Selma, marchers were attacked by policemen with tear gas and billy clubs. Seventeen protesters were sent to the hospital, including Boynton, who had been beaten unconscious. A newspaper photo of Boynton lying bloody and beaten drew national attention to the cause. Bloody Sunday prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965, with Boynton attending as the landmark event’s guest of honor.

Boynton remarried in 1969, to a musician named Bob W. Billups. He died unexpectedly in a boating accident in 1973.
Boynton eventually married a third time, to former Tuskegee classmate James Robinson, and moved back to Tuskegee after the wedding. When Robinson died in 1988, Boynton stayed in Tuskegee. Serving as vice chair of the Schiller Institute, she remained active in promoting civil and human rights.

In 1990, Boynton Robinson was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom. She continued to tour the United States on behalf of the Schiller Institute, which describes its mission as “working around the world to defend the rights of all humanity to progress—material, moral and intellectual,” until 2009. In 2014, a new generation learned about Boynton Robinson’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement from the Oscar-nominated film Selma, a historical drama about the 1965 voting rights marches. Lorraine Toussaint portrayed Boynton Robinson in the film.

A year later, Boynton Robinson was honored as a special guest at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in January 2015. In March of that year, at the age of 103, Boynton Robinson held hands with President Obama as they marched alongside fellow civil rights activist Congressman John Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march.

President Barack Obama holds hands with civil rights activists Amelia Boynton Robinson, seated in a wheelchair, and John Lewis as they commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March.

After suffering several strokes, Boynton Robinson died on August 26, 2015 at the age of 104. Her son Bruce Boynton said of his mother’s commitment to civil rights: “The truth of it is that was her entire life. That’s what she was completely taken with. She was a loving person, very supportive — but civil rights was her life.

Research more about the freedom fighters and the struggles they faced during their march for freedom and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 24 1987- Bayard Rustin

GM – FBF – Today I would like to share with you a person who gave his energy, passion and knowledge to Black America. If you have ever heard of A. Phillip Randolph to Martin Luther King, Jr. To me he was the greatest mass organizer that Blacks had ever had because when you think of protest marches in cities across America or our Nation’s Capital it was a production of his from the 40’s to the 60’s. Enjoy!

Remember – “When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.” ― Bayard Rustin

Today in our History – August 24, 1987 – Bayard Rustin dies.

Bayard Rustin was one of the most important, and yet least known, Civil Rights advocates in the twentieth century. He was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania and raised by his maternal grandparents. His grandmother, Julia, was both a Quaker and an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Quakerism, and NAACP leaders W.E.B. Du Bois and James Weldon Johnson, who were frequent visitors, proved influential in Rustin’s life.

Rustin attended Wilberforce University (1932-1936) and Cheyney State Teachers College (1936), in each instance without graduating. After completing an activist training program conducted by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), he moved to Harlem, New York in 1937. In Harlem, he enrolled at the City College of New York, began singing in local clubs with black folksingers including John White and Huddie Ledbetter, became active in the efforts to free the Scottsboro Boys, and joined the Young Communist League, motivated by their advocacy of racial equality.

By 1941, Rustin quit the Communist Party and began working with union organizer A. Philip Randolph and A.J. Muste, leader of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). Together they organized the March on Washington Movement which protested segregation in the military and African Americans exclusion from employment in defense industries. Their protests resulted in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issuing Executive Order 8802 creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee.

Rustin along with FOR members George Houser, Bernice Fisher, and James L. Farmer helped create the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) which pioneered the civil rights strategy of non-violent direct action. In 1944, he traveled to California to help protect the property of Japanese Americans interned during the war. In 1947, he and Houser organized the Journey of Reconciliation, the first Freedom Ride testing the Supreme Court decision outlawing racial discrimination in interstate travel. After organizing FOR’s Free India Committee, he traveled to India to study nonviolence; and to Africa meeting with leaders of the Ghanaian and Nigerian independence movements.

As a pacifist, Rustin was arrested for violating the Selective Service Act and was imprisoned at Lewisberg Federal Penitentiary from 1944 to 1946. Throughout his civil rights career he was arrested twenty-three times, including a 1953 charge for vagrancy and lewd conduct in Pasadena, California.

Rustin was openly gay and lived with partner, Walter Naegle, at a time when homosexuality was criminalized throughout the U.S. He was subsequently fired by the FOR, but became executive secretary of the War Resisters League. He also served as a member of the AFSC task force that wrote one of the most widely influential pacifist essays in U.S. history, “Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence,” in 1955.

In 1956, Rustin went to Montgomery, Alabama and advised Martin Luther King, Jr. on nonviolent strategies of resistance during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. King and Rustin helped organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). However, in 1960 New York Congressman, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. forced him to resign from SCLC due to concerns shared by many black leaders about Rustin’s homosexuality and communist past.

Due to the combination of the homophobia of these leaders and their fear he might compromise the movement, Rustin would not receive public recognition for his role in the movement. Nevertheless, Rustin continued to work in the Civil Rights Movement, organizing the seminal 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with A. Philip Randolph

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Rustin remained politically active. Although he often shared their commitment to human rights, Rustin was a vocal critic of emerging black power politics. Toward the end of his life he continued to work as a human rights advocate, while serving on the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame. The year before he died he testified in favor of New York State’s Gay Rights Bill. Bayard Rustin died in New York on August 24, 1987 from a perforated appendix. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 19 1974

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to give you some insight on our 33rd state that entered the Union. Did you know that Oregon was set up as a place where Blacks were not welcomed? The resulting Article 1, Section 35 of the Oregon state constitution:
No free negro, or mulatto, not residing in this State at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall come, reside, or be within this State, or hold any real estate, or make any contracts, or maintain any suit therein; and the Legislative Assembly shall provide by penal laws, for the removal, by public officers, of all such negroes, and mulattoes, and for their effectual exclusion from the State, and for the punishment of persons who shall bring them into the state, or employ, or harbor them. – I want to share with you a story of a Black woman who fought to be heard. Enjoy!

Remember – “The object of the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People as you know is to make 12 million American Negroes physically free from…mentally free from ignorance, politically free from disenfranchisement and socially free from insult.” – Beatrice Morrow Cannady

Today in our History – August 19, 1974 – Beatrice Morrow Cannady dies. (1889 – 1974)

Beatrice Morrow Cannady was the most noted civil rights activist in early twentieth-century Oregon. Using her position as editor of the Advocate, Oregon’s largest, and at times the only, African American newspaper, Cannady launched numerous efforts to defend the civil rights of the approximately 2,500 African Americans in the state (in 1930) and to challenge racial discrimination in its varied forms.

Beatrice Morrow was born in 1889 in Littig, Texas. She reportedly graduated from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, in 1908, worked briefly as a teacher in Oklahoma, and then enrolled in the University of Chicago, where she studied music. In 1912, she left the city for Portland, Oregon, to marry Edward Daniel Cannady, the founder and editor of the Advocate. Upon their marriage, Beatrice Cannady became assistant editor of the newspaper, beginning an affiliation that would continue for the next twenty-four years; she would become the editor and owner of the Advocate in 1930 after her divorce from Edward. In 1922, at the age of thirty-three, Cannady became the first African American woman to graduate from Northwestern College of Law in Portland. She was one of only two women in a class of twenty-two.

Two years after joining the Advocate, Cannady became a founding member of the Portland NAACP. She quickly emerged as its most powerful voice when she directed the local protest against the controversial anti-black film, The Birth of a Nation. Cannady and other community leaders carried on a fifteen-year campaign to limit the showing of the film. In 1928, NAACP Executive Secretary James Weldon Johnson invited her to address the association’s convention in Los Angeles. In her speech, which followed the keynote by W.E.B. DuBois, she said, “It is the duty of the Negro woman to see that in the home there are histories of her race written by Negro historians. . . . The Negro mother has it within her power to invest less in overstuffed furniture . . . and more in books and music by and about the Negro race so that our youth my grow up with a pride of race which can never be had any other way.”

Through the pages of the Advocate Cannady confronted the racial discrimination routinely practiced by restaurants, hotels, and movie theaters in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. She successfully challenged the exclusion of African American children from public schools in Longview, Washington, and Vernonia, Oregon, and kept her readers informed of Ku Klux Klan activity throughout the state.

Cannady also assumed the role of unofficial ambassador of racial goodwill, writing articles, giving lectures, and using the new medium of radio to promote African American history and racial equality. Maintaining a collection of over three hundred volumes on African American history and literature, as well as a complete file of leading civil rights organization publications such as the NAACP’s Crisis magazine, Cannady transformed her living room into a reading and lending library about African Americans. In 1929, her efforts were recognized nationally when she was nominated for the Harmon Award in Race Relations, given by the Harmon Foundation in New York City.

Cannady’s activism extended far beyond U.S. race relations issues. She served as a member of the Oregon Prison Association and the Near East Relief Organization and used her affiliation with the Oregon Committee on the Cause and Cure of War to warn Oregonians about the dangers of war and militarism. Cannady also joined the Pan African Congress and in 1927 represented Oregon at its national convention in New York City. In 1932, she ran unsuccessfully for the office of state representative from District 5, Multnomah County.

Six years later, she left Oregon—and public life—when she moved to Los Angeles. Cannady died there in 1974. Research more about Black women freedom fighters and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 5 1893- Araminta Ross

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share part of a story with you. It’s a sad story because History will tell you that this person was called “Moses” for helping people escape slavery using the Underground Railroad, helped John Brown recruit men for his raid in VA during the Civil War this person was a spy, scout and nurse for the Union Army and an advocate for woman’s rights. The concept of “getting paid” for all of these deeds was a tragedy especially in her later life. The story that they won’t put in the History Books about this leader of leaders.

Remember – “I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” – Harriet Tubman

Today in our History – August 5, 1893 – Araminta Ross (Harriet Tubman) falls prey to a swindle involving gold transfer.

Two men, one named Stevenson and the other John Thomas, claimed to have in their possession a cache of gold smuggled out of South Carolina. They offered this treasure – worth about US$5,000, they claimed – for US$2,000 in cash. They insisted that they knew a relative of Tubman’s, and she took them into her home, where they stayed for several days. She knew that white people in the South had buried valuables when Union forces threatened the region, and also that black men were frequently assigned to digging duties.

Thus the situation seemed plausible, and a combination of her financial woes and her good nature led her to go along with the plan. She borrowed the money from a wealthy friend named Anthony Shimer, and arranged to receive the gold late one night. Once the men had lured her into the woods, however, they attacked her and knocked her out with chloroform, then stole her purse and bound and gagged her. When she was found by her family, she was dazed and injured, and the money was gone.

New York responded with outrage to the incident, and while some criticized Tubman for her naïveté, most sympathized with her economic hardship and lambasted the con men. The incident refreshed the public’s memory of her past service and her economic woes. Representatives Clinton D. MacDougall of New York and Gerry W. Hazelton of Wisconsin introduced a bill (H.R. 2711/3786) providing that Tubman be paid “the sum of $2,000 for services rendered by her to the Union Army as scout, nurse, and spy”. It was defeated.

In 1898, Tubman petitioned the Congress for benefits for her own service in the Civil War, outlining her “responsibilities during the war” as she was still receiving the pension of her deceased husband, Nelson Davis, payments of which had begun in 1895 after it was originally denied.

By 1899, after receiving numerous documents and letters to support Tubman’s claims, the U.S. Congress passed and President William McKinley signed H.R. 4982, a law which “authorized an increase of Tubman’s pension to twenty dollars per month for her service as a nurse.” Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

July 24 1954- Mary Eliza Church

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story of an American social activist who was co – founder and first president of the National Association of Colored Women. She was an early civil rights advocate, an educator, an author, and a lecturer on woman suffrage and rights for African Americans. Enjoy!

Remember – “”Keep on going, keep on insisting, keep on fighting injustice.” – Mary Eliza Church Terrell

Today in our History – July 24,1954 – Mary Eliza Church Terrell Annapolis, MD.. Born Sept. 23, 1863, Memphis, Tenn.,

Civil rights activist and suffragist. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee,the daughter of Robert Church and Louisa Ayers, both former slaves. Robert was the son of his white master, Charles Church. During the Memphis race riots in 1866 Mary’s father was shot in the head and left for dead.

He survived the attack and eventually became a successful businessman. He speculated in the property market and was considered to be the wealthiest black man in the South. Although she was fair skinned enough to “pass” as a white person if she had so chosen, she placed herself firmly in the struggle for African American empowerment. She was an outstanding student and after graduating from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1884, she taught at a black secondary school in Washington and at Wilberforce University in Ohio.

Through her father, Mary met Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. She was especially close to Douglass and worked with him on several civil rights campaigns. After a two year traveling and studying in France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and England (1888-1890), Mary returned to the United States where she married Robert Heberton Terrell, a lawyer who was later to become the first black municipal court judge in Washington. In 1892 Church’s friend, Tom Moss, a grocer from Memphis, was lynched by a white mob. Church and Frederick Douglass had a meeting with Benjamin Harrison concerning this case but the president was unwilling to make a public statement condemning lynching.

Terrell was an active member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and was particularly concerned about ensuring the organization continued to fight for black women getting the vote. With Josephine Ruffin she formed the Federation of Afro-American Women and in 1896 she became the first president of the newly formed National Association of Colored Women. In 1904 she was invited to speak at the Berlin International Congress of Women. She was the only black woman at the conference and, determined to make a good impression, she created a sensation when she gave her speech in German, French and English.

During the First World War Terrell and her daughter Phillis joined Alice Paul and Lucy Burns of the Congressional Union for Women Suffrage (CUWS) in picketing the White House. She was particularly upset when in one demonstration outside of the White House, leaders of the party asked the black suffragist, Ida Wells-Barnett, not to march with other members. It was feared that identification with black civil rights would lose the support of white women in the South. Despite pressure from people like Mary White Ovington, leaders of the CUWS refused to publicly state that they endorsed black female suffrage. In 1909 Terrell joined with Ovington to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The first meeting of the NAACP was held on 12th February, 1909. Early members included Josephine Ruffin, Jan Addams, Inez Milholland, William B. DuBois, Charles Darrow, Charles Edward Russell, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Terrell wrote several books including her autobiography, “A Colored Woman in a White World” (1940). In the early 1950s she was involved in the struggle against segregation in public eating places in Washington. Her motto was “Keep on going, keep on insisting, keep on fighting injustice.” Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

July 18 1863- William Harvey Carney

GM – FBF – Today, I want to remind you of the brave men who served in The Civil War. They like in the American Revaluation wanted to show that they (Negro’s) should be looked upon as free men. This individual today was one of the rare people who received one of the highest honors that one can get during battles. Enjoy!

Remember – “The bullet I now carry in my body came whizzing like a mosquito, and I was shot. Not being prostrated by the shot, I continued my course, yet had not gone far before I was struck be a second shot.” – William Carney

Today in our History – William H. Carney earns the Medal of Honor for his bravery during this Battle.

William Harvey Carney (February 29, 1840 – December 9, 1908) was an African American soldier during the American Civil War. Born as a slave, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1900 for his gallantry in saving the regimental colors (American Flag) during the Battle of Fort Wagner in 1863. Because his actions preceded those of other medal honorees, he is considered to be the first African American to be granted the Medal of Honor.

William H. Carney was born as a slave in Norfolk, Virginia, on February 29, 1840. How he made his way to freedom is not certain. According to most accounts, he escaped through the Underground Railroad, and joined his father in Massachusetts. Other members of their family were freed by purchase or by the death of their master.

Carney joined the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in March 1863 as a Sergeant. He took part in the July 18, 1863, assault on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. His actions there ultimately earned him the Medal of Honor. When the color guard was killed, Carney retrieved the American flag and marched forward with it, despite multiple serious wounds. When the Union troops were forced to retreat under fire, he struggled back across the battlefield, eventually returning to his own lines and turning over the colors to another survivor of the 54th, saying, “Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground!” He received an honorable discharge due to disability from his wounds in June 1864.

After his discharge, Carney returned to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and took a job maintaining the city’s streetlights. He then delivered mail for thirty-two years. He was a founding vice president of the New Bedford Branch 18 of the National Association of Letter Carriers in 1890. He married Susannah Williams, and they had a daughter, Clara Heronia. He spent a few years in California, then returned again in 1869.

Carney received his Medal of Honor on May 23, 1900, nearly 37 years after the events at Fort Wagner. (More than half such awards from the Civil War were presented 20 or more years after the fact.) Twenty African Americans had received the medal before him, but because his battle actions happened earlier than the others, he is generally considered the first. His citation reads,

When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded.
Carney died at the Boston City Hospital on December 9, 1908, of complications from an elevator accident at the Massachusetts State House where he worked for the Department of State. His body lay in state for one day at the undertaking rooms of Walden Banks 142 Lenox Street at the wish of his wife and daughter. It was buried in the family plot at Oak Grove Cemetery in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Engraved on his tombstone is an image of the Medal of Honor.

Carney’s face is shown on the monument to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th on the Boston Common designed by Augustus Saint Gaudens. A New Bedford, Massachusetts, elementary school was named in his honor, and his New Bedford home at 128 Mill Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2015, Carney was honored as one of the Library of Virginia’s “Strong Men & Women in Virginia History” because of his actions during the Civil War.In December 1908, all the flags in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were lowered to half-mast in tribute to Sgt. William H. Carney, who had died on Dec. 8. Never before had this honor been paid to an ordinary citizen and African American; but Carney was far from ordinary.

Research more about Black Americans fighting in U.S. Wars and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

July 15 1864- Maggie Lena

GM – FBF – Today, I want to share with you a story of a great 
black woman who as an activist and business woman who rose to be a role model for her community and the Nation. Enjoy!

Remember – “Let us put our moneys together; let us use our moneys; let us put our money out at usury among ourselves, and reap the benefit ourselves … Let us have a bank that will take the nickels and turn them into dollars.” – Maggie Lena Walker

Today in our History – July 15,1864 – the first woman—white or black—to establish and become president of a bank in the United States is born.

Maggie Lena Walker was grand secretary of the Independent Order of St. Luke, an organization dedicated to the social and financial advancement of African Americans.

Maggie Lena Walker was born on July 15, 1864, in Richmond, Virginia. She attended school and graduated in 1883, having been trained as a teacher. She married a brick contractor in 1886 and left her teaching job, at which point she became more active within the Independent Order of St. Luke, an an organization dedicated to the social and financial advancement of African Americans. In 1899, Maggie Walker became grand secretary of the organization—a position that she would hold for the rest of her life. During her tenure, she founded the organization’s newspaper, and opened a highly successful bank and a department store. By the time she died, on December 15, 1934, Walker had turned the nearly bankrupt organization into a profitable and effective one.

Maggie Lena Walker was born Maggie Lena Draper on July 15, 1864, in Richmond Virginia. Her mother, Elizabeth Draper, was a former slave and the assistant cook for Elizabeth Van Lew, an abolitionist on whose estate Maggie was born. Maggie’s biological father was Eccles Cuthbert, an Irish American who had met Elizabeth on the Van Lew estate. The two were never married, and shortly after Maggie’s birth, Elizabeth married William Mitchell, the butler of the estate. In 1870, the Mitchells had a child, Maggie’s half-brother Johnnie.

Soon thereafter, William obtained a job as the headwaiter at the St. Charles Hotel in Richmond, and the family moved away from the estate and into a small house of their own. Tragedy struck, however, when in 1876 William was found drowned in the river. His death was ruled a suicide by police, though Elizabeth maintained that he had been murdered. William’s death left Elizabeth and her children in poverty. To make ends meet, Elizabeth began a laundry business, with which Maggie assisted by delivering clean laundry to their white patrons. It was during this time that she first developed an awareness of the gap between the quality of life for whites and blacks in the United States—a gap that she would soon devote her life to narrowing.

In her teens, Maggie attended the Lancaster School and, later, the Richmond Colored Normal School, both institutions dedicated to the education of African Americans. While attending the latter, she also joined the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal organization dedicated to the advancement of African Americans in both financial and social standing.

Maggie graduated in 1883, having completed her training as a teacher. She returned to the Lancaster School to teach and remained there until 1886, when she married Armstead Walker Jr., a brick contractor, and was forced to leave her job, due to the school’s policy against married teachers. Over the next decade, Maggie Walker’s life was split between family and her work for the Order of St. Luke. In 1890, she gave birth to her first son, Russell, and in 1893, Armstead, who died while still an infant.

In 1895, Walker, who had been rising quickly through the ranks of the Order, became grand deputy matron. She also established a youth arm of the order to inspire social consciousness in young African Americans. In 1897, Walker gave birth to another son, Melvin, and two years later, became the Order of St. Luke’s grand secretary.

When Maggie Walker assumed control of the Order of St. Luke, the organization was on the verge of bankruptcy. In a speech she gave in 1901, she outlined her plans to save it, and in the coming years, she would follow through on each item she had described. In 1902, Walker founded the St. Luke Herald to carry news of the Order of St. Luke to local chapters and to help with its educational work. The following year, she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank (of which she would be remain president until 1929). In 1905, she opened the St. Luke Emporium, a department store that offered African-American women opportunities for work and gave the black community access to cheaper goods.

In the midst of all of these accomplishments, however, tragedy visited Maggie Walker once more: In 1915, Russell Walker, mistaking his father for an intruder, shot and killed him as he was returning home one night. Russell was tried for murder, but was found innocent. Also around this time, Maggie Walker developed diabetes. Yet this did not deter her in her work.

In 1921, Walker ran for the seat of superintendent of public instruction on the Republican ticket, though she was defeated along with the other black Republican candidates. Her work for the Order of St. Luke, however, was meeting with much more favorable results. By 1924, under Maggie Walker’s continued leadership, the bank served a membership of more than 50,000 in 1,500 local chapters. Additionally, she managed to keep the bank alive during the Great Depression, despite the fact that many were failing, by merging it with two other banks in 1929.

For the last few years of her life, Maggie Walker was confined to a wheelchair and continued to suffer from her diabetic condition, and on December 15, 1934, at age 70, she died from complications of the disease. She was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond. In 1979, her home on East Leigh Street, in the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond, known as the “Harlem of the South,” was purchased by the National Parks Service and became a National Historic Site. Research more about Black women in finance and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

July 12 1967- “BURN BABY BURN”

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story about New Jersey’s largest City. The Riots during that summer of 1967 not only hit Newark but from Jersey City down to New Brunswick. I f you lived in Trenton, our city had a few people around town but thank God not as bad as North Jersey.

Remember – ” It was a scene in the old west, people shooting at police and police shooting back” – Mayor Hugh Addonizio of Newark, NJ.

Today in our History – July 12, 1967 – “BURN BABY BURN”

The Newark Riot of 1967 which took place in Newark, New Jersey from July 12 through July 17, 1967, was sparked by a display of police brutality. John Smith, an African American cab driver for the Safety Cab Company, was arrested on Wednesday July 12 when he drove his taxi around a police car and double-parked on 15th Avenue. According to a police report later released to the press, the police claimed that Smith was charged with “tailgating” and driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street. Smith was also charged with using offensive language and physical assault.

A witness who had seen Smith’s arrest called members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the United Freedom Party, and the Newark Community Union Project. These civil rights leaders were given permission to see Smith in his 4th Precinct holding cell. After noticing his injuries inflicted by the police, they demanded that he be transported to a hospital. Their demands were granted and Smith was moved to Beth Israel Hospital in Newark.

Around 8:00 p.m. black Newark cab drivers began to circulate the report of Smith’s arrest on their radios. Word spread down 17th Avenue, west of the precinct police station where Smith had been held. Residents in this predominantly black city recalled a long history of similar events with the Newark Police. Many of them angrily gathered on the streets facing the 4th Precinct.

At 11:00 p.m. one of the civil rights leaders informed the police that a peaceful protest would be organized across the street from the precinct. A police officer handed the leader a bullhorn to address the crowd. Bob Curvin, a member of CORE, was joined by Timothy Still, the president of a poverty program, and Oliver Lofton, who was the administrator of the Newark Legal Services Project. Although the three speakers urged a nonviolent protest march, an unidentified local resident took the bullhorn and urged violence. Young men from the neighborhood began to pick up bricks and bottles and searched for gasoline. Shortly afterwards, objects were thrown at the precinct windows.

Shortly after midnight, two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the precinct. Then a group of 25 people on 17th Avenue began to loot stores. The looting drew larger crowds and Newark was now engulfed in rioting.

Despite the violence, on Thursday morning Newark Mayor announced that Wednesday night’s activities were isolated incidents and were not of riot proportions. At 6:00 p.m. Thursday night, a large group of young kids gathered on the street where traffic had been blocked. Word spread along 17th Avenue that people would again demonstrate against the precinct. Human Rights Commission Director James Threatt arrived and told the crowds to disperse. They refused and rioting commenced for a second night.

After midnight Thursday, looting spread throughout the major commercial district of the ghetto in Newark. Groups of young adults smashed windows while chanting “Black Power.” At the same time the looting spread, the police were given clearance to use firearms to defend themselves. At 2:20 a.m. Mayor Addonizio asked New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes to send in the National Guard to help in restoring order.

At around 4:00 a.m. a looter was shot while trying to flee from two police officers. By early Friday morning five people had been killed and 425 people were jailed. Hundreds were wounded. More than 3,000 National Guardsmen arrived later in the day along with five hundred state troopers. By mid-afternoon, the Guardsmen and the troopers arrived, formed convoys, and were moving throughout the city.

Despite the presence of National Guardsmen and state troopers rioting continued for three more days. As the riot approached its final hours, 26 people, mostly African Americans, were reported killed, another 750 were injured and over 1,000 were jailed. Property damage exceeded $10 million. The riot, the worst civil disorder in New Jersey history, ended on July 17, 1967. Research more about this wild time in “BRICK CITY” and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

June 23 1997- Betty Shabazz

GM – FBF – Today I will take you to a women who suffered a lot when her husband was killed which was a tragedy. The hard thing is that she will pass in a most horrific fashion. PEACE!

Remember – “One of the things Malcolm always said to me is, ‘Don’t be bitter. Remember Lot’s wife when they kill me, and they surely will. You have to use all of your energy to do what it is you have to do,'” – Betty Shabazz

Today in our History – June 23,1997

Betty Shabazz, the widow of civil rights leader Malcolm X, died Monday, three weeks after being severely burned in a fire allegedly set by her 12-year-old grandson.

Shabazz, 61, had suffered third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body in the June 1 incident at her home in Yonkers, just north of New York City. She had remained in extremely critical condition, undergoing several operations as doctors struggled to replace damaged skin and save her life.

“Millions of people look to her for some kind of understanding of the history of the struggle,” said black activist and poet Amiri Baraka. “She’s the wife of one of the greatest African-American leaders of history.”

Within hours of the fire, Shabazz’s grandson was arrested and accused of setting the blaze, reportedly because he was unhappy he had been sent to live with his grandmother. He is being held in juvenile custody.

Doctors had said Shabazz might linger for weeks in critical condition but that patients with her severity of injuries usually have less than a 10 percent chance of survival.

Future Betty Shabazz went to Tuskegee, New York
As a young woman, Shabazz left the comfortable home of her adoptive parents in Detroit to study at the Tuskegee Institute, a well-known historically black college in Alabama. She later went to New York, where she became a registered nurse.

In New York, friends invited her to lectures by Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad. He gave all of his followers the last name “X,” representing the African family name they would never know.

It was in 1956 that Betty X met Malcolm X, then a rising star in the Nation of Islam. Two years later they married, and within five years they had four daughters.

After splitting from Muhammad in 1964, Malcolm and Betty X adopted the Muslim surname Shabazz. In early 1965, Malcolm was gunned down while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. Betty Shabazz, pregnant with twins, was in the audience and covered her girls on the floor as the bullets flew.

“Sister Betty came through the people, herself a nurse, and people recognizing her moved back; she fell on her knees, looking down on his bare, bullet-pocked chest, sobbing, ‘They killed him!'” wrote Alex Haley in the book “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

Betty Shabazz was left to bring up six daughters alone.

“Betty was fortunate enough to have the wisdom to raise several individuals in her family, to give them their own personality, their own motivation, their own skills,” said Wilbert Tatum, publisher of The Amsterdam News, an African-American newspaper in New York. “She did a superb job in raising those children.”

After assassination, Shabazz earned doctorate
After her husband’s death, Shabazz returned to school, eventually earning a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1975. She went to work as an administrator at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and traveled widely, speaking on topics such as civil rights and racial tolerance.

“One of the things Malcolm always said to me is, ‘Don’t be bitter. Remember Lot’s wife when they kill me, and they surely will. You have to use all of your energy to do what it is you have to do,'” Shabazz said in a May 1995 speech.

In 1994, Shabazz spoke publicly about the long-held suspicion that Louis Farrakhan, the current leader of the Nation of Islam, had been behind the assassination of her husband.

A year later, her daughter Qubilah Shabazz was charged in Minneapolis with trying to hire a hit man to kill Farrakhan. Betty Shabazz stood behind her daughter, insisting that an FBI informant entrapped her.

Qubilah Shabazz made a deal with prosecutors in which they agreed to drop charges if she completed treatment for alcohol and psychiatric problems. She signed an affidavit accepting responsibility for her conduct but maintained her innocence.

It is Qubilah Shabazz’s son who now stands accused of starting the fire that killed Betty Shabazz.

Betty Shabazz eventually reconciled with Farrakhan, shaking his hand on the stage of Harlem’s Apollo Theater as 1,400 people cheered at a fund-raiser for her daughter’s defense. She also spoke at Farrakhan’s Million Man March in October 1995. Research more about this American and share with your babies. 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!