Category: Events- Bombings, Lynches, mass murders of blacks

May 4 1961- 13 Original Freedom Fighters

GM – FBF – I had a client in Anniston, Alabama for four (4) years. Every visit I always asked where is the monument for the freedom riders who’s bus was set ablaze? I asked hotel workers, local business owners, schools principls, etc. that was 2011 through 2015. I am happy to announce that on January 12, 2017, The Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama opened. Enjoy!

Remember – “Traveling in the segregated South for black people was humiliating. The very fact that there were separate facilities was to say to black people and white people that blacks were so subhuman and so inferior that we could not even use public facilities that white people used.” ~ Diane Nash, Freedom Rides Organizer

Today in our History – May 4, 1961 – The original group of 13 Freedom Riders—seven African Americans and six whites—left Washington, D.C., on a Greyhound bus on May 4, 1961.

Freedom Riders were groups of white and African American civil rights activists who participated in Freedom Rides, bus trips through the American South in 1961 to protest segregated bus terminals. Freedom Riders tried to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters at bus stations in Alabama, South Carolina and other Southern states. The groups were confronted by arresting police officers—as well as horrific violence from white protestors—along their routes, but also drew international attention to their cause.
The 1961 Freedom Rides, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), were modeled after the organization’s 1947 Journey of Reconciliation. During the 1947 action, African-American and white bus riders tested the 1946 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Morgan v. Virginia that found segregated bus seating was unconstitutional.

The 1961 Freedom Rides sought to test a 1960 decision by the Supreme Court in Boynton v. Virginia that segregation of interstate transportation facilities, including bus terminals, was unconstitutional as well. A big difference between the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and the 1961 Freedom Rides was the inclusion of women in the later initiative.

In both actions, black riders traveled to the American South—where segregation continued to occur—and attempted to use whites-only restrooms, lunch counters and waiting rooms.

The original group of 13 Freedom Riders—seven African Americans and six whites—left Washington, D.C., on a Greyhound bus on May 4, 1961. Their plan was to reach New Orleans, Louisiana, on May 17 to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ruled that segregation of the nation’s public schools was unconstitutional.

The group traveled through Virginia and North Carolina, drawing little public notice. The first violent incident occurred on May 12 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. John Lewis, an African-American seminary student and member of the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), white Freedom Rider and World War II veteran Albert Bigelow, and another African-American rider were viciously attacked as they attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area.

The next day, the group reached Atlanta, Georgia, where some of the riders split off onto a Trailways bus.

John Lewis, one of the original group of 13 Freedom Riders, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1986. Lewis, a Democrat, has continued to represent Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Atlanta, into the early part of the 21st century.

On May 14, 1961, the Greyhound bus was the first to arrive in Anniston, Alabama. There, an angry mob of about 200 white people surrounded the bus, causing the driver to continue past the bus station.

The mob followed the bus in automobiles, and when the tires on the bus blew out, someone threw a bomb into the bus. The Freedom Riders escaped the bus as it burst into flames, only to be brutally beaten by members of the surrounding mob.

The second bus, a Trailways vehicle, traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, and those riders were also beaten by an angry white mob, many of whom brandished metal pipes. Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor stated that, although he knew the Freedom Riders were arriving and violence awaited them, he posted no police protection at the station because it was Mother’s Day.

Photographs of the burning Greyhound bus and the bloodied riders appeared on the front pages of newspapers throughout the country and around the world the next day, drawing international attention to the Freedom Riders’ cause and the state of race relations in the United States.

Following the widespread violence, CORE officials could not find a bus driver who would agree to transport the integrated group, and they decided to abandon the Freedom Rides. However, Diane Nash, an activist from the SNCC, organized a group of 10 students from Nashville, Tennessee, to continue the rides.

U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy, began negotiating with Governor John Patterson of Alabama and the bus companies to secure a driver and state protection for the new group of Freedom Riders. The rides finally resumed, on a Greyhound bus departing Birmingham under police escort, on May 20.

The violence toward the Freedom Riders was not quelled—rather, the police abandoned the Greyhound bus just before it arrived at the Montgomery, Alabama, terminal, where a white mob attacked the riders with baseball bats and clubs as they disembarked. Attorney General Kennedy sent 600 federal marshals to the city to stop the violence.

The following night, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. led a service at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, which was attended by more than one thousand supporters of the Freedom Riders. A riot ensued outside the church, and King called Robert Kennedy to ask for protection.

Kennedy summoned the federal marshals, who used teargas to disperse the white mob. Patterson declared martial law in the city and dispatched the National Guard to restore order.

On May 24, 1961, a group of Freedom Riders departed Montgomery for Jackson, Mississippi. There, several hundred supporters greeted the riders. However, those who attempted to use the whites-only facilities were arrested for trespassing and taken to the maximum-security penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi.

During their hearings, the judge turned and looked at the wall rather than listen to the Freedom Riders’ defense—as had been the case when sit-in participants were arrested for protesting segregated lunch counters in Tennessee. He sentenced the riders to 30 days in jail.

Attorneys from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights organization, appealed the convictions all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed them.

The violence and arrests continued to garner national and international attention, and drew hundreds of new Freedom Riders to the cause.

The rides continued over the next several months, and in the fall of 1961, under pressure from the Kennedy administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations prohibiting segregation in interstate transit terminals. Research more about the summer of ’61 in the south and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 26, 1984- Count Basie

GM – FBF – Now it’s time over the next two day to set objectives for the next quarter and the balance of 2018. Exeutive meeting still going on so I won’t be able to answer ant of your threads but I am glad that you stopped by. Today is N.J.’s own Count Basie!

Remember – “I decided that I would be one of the biggest new names; and I actually had some little fancy business cards printed up to announce it, ‘Count Basie. Beware, the Count is Here.” – Count Basie

Today on our History – April 26, 1984 – The Count Passes –

One of jazz music’s all-time greats, bandleader/pianist Count Basie was a primary shaper of the big-band sound that characterized mid-20th century popular music.

Count Basie was born on August 21, 1904, in Red Bank, New Jersey. A pianist, he played vaudeville before eventually forming his own big band and helping to define the era of swing with hits like “One O’Clock Jump” and “Blue Skies.” In 1958, Basie became the first African-American male recipient of a Grammy Award. One of jazz music’s all-time greats, he won many other Grammys throughout his career and worked with a plethora of artists, including Joe Williams and Ella Fitzgerald. Basie died in Florida on April 26, 1984.

His father Harvey was a mellophonist and his mother Lillian was a pianist who gave her son his first lessons. After moving to New York, he was further influenced by James P. Johnson and Fats Waller, with Waller teaching Basie organ-playing techniques.

Basie played the vaudevillian circuit for a time until he got stuck in Kansas in the mid-1920s after his performance group disbanded. He went on to join Walter Page’s Blue Devils in 1928, which he would see as a pivotal moment in his career, being introduced to the big-band sound for the first time.
He later worked for a few years with a band led by Bennie Moten, who died in 1935. Basie then formed the Barons of Rhythm with some of his bandmates from Motten’s group, including saxophonist Lester Young. With vocals by Jimmy Rushing, the band set up shop to perform at Kansas City’s Reno Club.

During a radio broadcast of the band’s performance, the announcer wanted to give Basie’s name some pizazz, keeping in mind the existence of other bandleaders like Duke Ellington and Earl Hines. So he called the pianist “Count,” with Basie not realizing just how much the name would catch on as a form of recognition and respect in the music world.

Producer John Hammond heard the band’s sound and helped secure further bookings. After some challenges, the Count Basie Orchestra had a slew of hits that helped to define the big-band sound of the 1930s and ’40s. Some of their notable songs included “One O’Clock Jump”—the orchestra’s signature tune which Basie composed himself—and “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.”

With the group becoming highly distinguished for its soloists, rhythm section and style of swing, Basie himself was noted for his understated yet captivating style of piano playing and precise, impeccable musical leadership. He was also helming one of the biggest, most renowned African-American jazz groups of the day.

Due to changing fortunes and an altered musical landscape, Basie was forced to scale down the size of his orchestra at the start of the 1950s, but he soon made a comeback and returned to his big-band structure in 1952, recording new hits with vocalist Joe Williams and becoming an international figure. Another milestone came with the 1956 album April in Paris, whose title track contained psyche-you-out endings that became a new band signature.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Basie recorded with luminaries like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson. Basie ultimately earned nine Grammy Awards over the course of his career, but he made history when he won his first, in 1958, as the first African-American man to receive a Grammy. A few of his songs were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as well, including “April in Paris” and “Everyday I Have the Blues.”

Basie suffered from health issues in his later years, and died from cancer in Hollywood, Florida, on April 26, 1984. He left the world an almost unparalleled legacy of musical greatness, having recorded or been affiliated with dozens upon dozens of albums during his lifetime.

My wife and I would travel from Edgewater Park, NJ to attend a lot of great performances at Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ taht was before we moved to Georgia in 2006. Research more about this great American Hero and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 19, 1968- Operation Equity

GM – FBF – I don’t think we can fix poverty without fixing housing, and I don’t think we can address housing without understanding landlords. – Fredrick Duglass

Remember – Good education, housing and jobs are imperatives for the Negroes, and I shall support them in their fight to win these objectives, but I shall tell the Negroes that while these are necessary, they cannot solve the main Negro problem. – Malcolm X

Today in our History – April 19, 1968 Operation Equity

Although racially restricted housing covenants had been banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948, various forms of de facto housing segregation kept African Americans relatively isolated spatially in urban areas, including the city of Seattle. Many white homeowners in the years following the Court’s decision were apprehensive about letting black families into their communities for fear that it would lead to the deterioration of the neighborhood. In 1960, King County Superior Judge James W. Hodson ruled that private property owners had the right to choose who to sell to, effectively granting permission to realtors and homeowners to discriminate based on race.

Local civil rights leaders created the open housing movement in Seattle to challenge the type of thinking that was behind the 1960 county court decision. They advocated open housing which argued that people with resources should be able to purchase a home in any section of the city. They called for legislation which would make it illegal for individuals to discriminate against someone when selling property. Proponents of open housing were opposed to the isolation of black families in the Central District (the city’s African American area) where higher poverty rates and poor schools plagued the community. Local civil rights groups used various tactics to promote open housing, including a fair housing program known as Operation Equity, a program that would encourage black home purchases throughout the city and in its suburbs.

In 1967, the Seattle Urban League received a $138,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to expand Operation Equity. The program helped arrange the sale of property in white neighborhoods to black families. With help from the grant, Operation Equity was able to place an average of ten families per month in formerly all-white neighborhoods.

Despite some opposition from the black power movement and from conservative white home owners, open housing was eventually welcomed by blacks and whites in Seattle. On April 19, 1968, after two decades of civil rights activists fighting de facto residential segregation, the city council finally passed an open housing ordinance. Operation Equity was an important program in facilitating that transformation in Seattle. Research more about fair housing in your community and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

I will not be able to respond to any posts past 7:00 AM, I will be the MC at a automotive group walk around finals in Atlanta, GA. The Jim Ellis Automotive Group competition starts at 9:00 AM

April 16, 1908- Allen Allensworth

GM – FBF – “Create sentiment favorable to intellectual and industrial liberty” – Allen Allensworth

Remember – “Can I be of any service to your committee as a speaker driving the campaign?” – Allen Allensworth

Today in our History – April 16, 1908 – All Black Town Is Created!

Allen Allensworth (7 April 1842 – 14 September 1914), born into slavery in Kentucky, escaped during the American Civil War and became a Union soldier; later he became a Baptist minister and educator, and was appointed as a chaplain in the United States Army. He was the first African American to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel. He planted numerous churches, and in 1908 founded Allensworth, California, the only town in the state to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans.

After the army, Allensworth and his family settled in Los Angeles. He was inspired by the idea of establishing a self-sufficient, all-black California community where African Americans could live free of the racial discrimination that pervaded post-Reconstruction America. His dream was to build a community where black people might live and create “sentiment favorable to intellectual and industrial liberty.”

In 1908, he founded Allensworth in Tulare county, about thirty miles north of Bakersfield, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. The black settlers of Allensworth built homes, laid out streets, and put up public buildings. They established a church, and organized an orchestra, a glee club, and a brass band.

The Allensworth colony became a member of the county school district and the regional library system and a voting precinct. Residents elected the first African-American Justice of the Peace in post-Mexican California. In 1914, the California Eagle reported that the Allensworth community consisted of 900 acres (360 ha) of deeded land worth more than US$112,500.

Allensworth soon developed as a town, not just a colony. Among the social and educational organizations that flourished during its golden age were the Campfire Girls, the Owl Club, the Girls’ Glee Club, and the Children’s Savings Association, for the town’s younger residents, while adults participated in the Sewing Circle, the Whist Club, the Debating Society, and the Theater Club. Col. Allensworth was an admirer of the African-American educator Booker T. Washington, who was the founding president and longtime leader of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Allensworth dreamed that his new community could be self-sufficient and become known as the “Tuskegee of the West”.

The Girls’ Glee Club was modeled after the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, who had toured internationally. They were the community’s pride and joy. All the streets in the town were named after notable African Americans and/or white abolitionists, such as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The dry and dusty soil made farming difficult. The drinking water became contaminated by arsenic as the water level fell.

The year 1914 also brought a number of setbacks to the town. First, much of the town’s economic base was lost when the Santa Fe Railroad moved its rail stop from Allensworth to Alpaugh. In September, during a trip to Monrovia, California, Colonel Allensworth was crossing the street when he was struck and killed by a motorcycle. The town refuses to die. The downtown area is now preserved as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park where thousands of visitors come from all over California to take part in the special events held at the park during the year. The area outside the state park is also still inhabited.

Allensworth is the only California community to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. The founders were dedicated to improving the economic and social status of African Americans. Uncontrollable circumstances, including a drop in the area’s water table, resulted in the town’s decline. Research more about Black towns in America and Share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 14, 1912- Joseph Phillipe Lenmercier Laroche

GM – FBF – “There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers.”-Phillip Franklin, White Star Line Vice-President

Remember – “We the members of the NAACP would like to note that Joseph Phillipe Lemercier Laroche, the only negro (Haitian) who died on the sinking of the great ship R.M.S. Titanic for he will be forgotten or just a footnote in history” – W.E.B. Du Bois

Today in our History – April 14, 1912 – Titanic’s Black Passenger: Creating Historical Fiction From Historical Fact –

Joseph Phillipe Lemercier Laroche, the only passenger of known African ancestry who died on the Titanic, was born on May 26, 1889 in Cap Haiten, Haiti. He was the son of a white French army captain and a Haitian woman who was a descendant of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the first ruler of independent Haiti. Laroche’s uncle, Dessalines M. Cincinnatus, was president of Haiti from 1911 to 1912.
Joseph Laroche grew up among the privileged upper class in Haiti and received his early education from private tutors. Fluent in French and English, he decided on a career in engineering and at the age of 15 traveled to Beauvais, France with his teacher Monsignor Kersuzan, the Lord Bishop of Haiti, for his training. He attended classes in Beauvais and Lille, France, and received his certificate in engineering in 1907.

Laroche married Juliette Marie Louise Lafargue, the daughter of a widowed Paris wine merchant in 1908. They had two daughters, Simonne, born on February 19, 1909, and Marie Louise, on July 2, 1910. Although Laroche worked briefly on the Paris Metro line, he had great difficulty finding and keeping a job in France due to racial discrimination. As a consequence the new family was forced to reside with Juliette’s father. Their youngest child, Marie Louise, had medical problems which also strained the family’s finances and by 1912 they were expecting a third child. This situation led Laroche to decide to return to Haiti where he believed his family’s political connections would guarantee a handsome income for his work.

Laroche’s mother sent the family tickets to return to Haiti aboard the La France. However, the ocean liner’s policy banning children dining with their parents in the dining room led Laroche to exchange their first class tickets for the La France for second class tickets on the R.M.S. Titanic.

On April 10, 1912, Laroche and his family boarded the Titanic from the harbor of Grande Rade near Fort de l’Quest. The Laroches enjoyed the opulent amenities of the ship, dining in the same dining room as its first-class passengers. However, they were subjected to stares and some insults from fellow passengers and crew who frowned upon their interracial marriage. After the sinking of the Titanic, the White Star Line extended a public apology for the racism exhibited by its crew members toward its non-white passengers including Laroche.

As the ship sank in the early morning of April 14, Laroche stuffed the pockets of his coat with money and jewels and took his wife and children up to the boat deck. He wrapped the coat around his wife, and his last words to her were: “Here, take this, you are going to need it. I’ll get another boat. God be with you. I’ll see you in New York.”

Joseph Laroche died in the sinking of the Titanic. His body was never recovered. His wife Juliette returned to Paris with her daughters and gave birth to their son, Joseph Lemercier Laroche on December 17, 1912.

Now you know the rest of the story and not the movie, share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 8, 1936- The Negro Motorist Green book

GM – FBF – I enjoyed seeing my Father’s side of the family but travel from Trenton, NJ to Perry, GA. still in the late 50’s was tough driving straight through. My Father before he took sick in Dec. ’61 and died in April ’63 only used the Green Book for emergencies.

Remember – ““There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.” – Victor Green

Today in our History – April 8, 1936 – In time for the spring/summer traveling season. The Negro Motorist Green Book, popularly known as the Green Book, was a travel guide intended to help African American motorists avoid social obstacles prevalent during the period of racial segregation, commonly referred to as Jim Crow. The Green Book listed businesses that would accept African American customers. 
The book was the vision of Victor Green, an African American US postal employee from Harlem, New York. The first guide focused on Metropolitan New York. The next year, in 1937, Green expanded listings to other locations. His book would eventually include every state and several international destinations before ceasing publication in 1964. Before its demise the book was the most popular of several tourist guides created specifically for an African American audience.

These types of travel guides were necessary during the Jim Crow era because African Americans were subject to acts of discrimination and occasional intimidation as many businesses refused to accept them as customers. African American motorists, for example were warned to avoid sundown towns which required minorities to be outside the city limits before sundown, hence the name. African American travel could be fraught with risk and guides like the Green Book were an important resource.

The Green Book also provided a service that made lodging reservations for clients. The listings were verified annually to ensure accuracy. In addition to business listings, the books included travel articles, driving tips, and essays highlighting locations of interest. An important sponsor for the Green Book was the Esso Standard Oil Company, which distributed the books and solicited African American customers through them.

The guide’s format varied and early versions listed a variety of businesses such as hotels, tourist homes, restaurants, barber shops, beauty parlors, service stations, and taverns. As the geographic scope of the guide expanded, entry types were reduced. For example, between 1949 and 1959, listings expanded to all 48 states, with a 13% increase in the number of cities. However, the 1959 Green Book listed only hotels, motels, and tourist homes.

Calvin Alexander Ramsey, book author and playwrite wrote a book “Ruth and the Green Book” and a play “The Green Book – A Play” and started a documentary film on the Green Book which he wanted to do a major film on but competition from other media sources has scaled that project back. You can find on you tube and other outlets mant stories about that time in American History and what black people went through to travel.

Green wrote that his book would not be necessary “when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges.” He died in 1960 and the last edition of his guide was published in 1964. The 1956 creation of the national highway system diminished the need for these travel guides because highways minimized contact with local communities, decreasing chances for discrimination against African American motorists. Eventually, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act made the Green Book and similar publications obsolete, just as Green predicted. Research more about the Green Book or watch a video on youtube and share with your babies. Make It A Champion Day!

April 7, 1712- San Miguel De Guadalupe

GM – FBF – San Miguel de Guadalupe and Gaspar Yanga are the two largest recorded enslaved revolts by Africans in the Northern Hemisphere. (1526 & 1579) Once the Dutch lost (New Amsterdam) presant day [New York] to the English who set up the Royal African Company, a slave market near present-day Wall Street; this event became the largest revolt by African enslaved peoples to date.

Remember – “The genius of any slave system is found in the dynamics which isolate slaves from each other, obscure the reality of a common condition, and make united rebellion against the oppressor inconceivable.” – Esteban

Today in our History –

The New York Slave Revolt of 1712 was an uprising in New York City, in the British Province of New York, of 23 enslaved Africans. They killed nine whites and injured another six before they were stopped. More than three times that number of blacks, 70, were arrested and jailed. Of these, 27 were put on trial, and 21 convicted and executed.

In the early 18th century, New York City had one of the largest slave populations of any of England’s colonies. Slavery in the city differed from some of the other colonies because there were no large plantations. Slaves worked as domestic servants, artisans, dock workers and various skilled laborers. Enslaved Africans lived near each other, making communication easy. They also often worked among free blacks, a situation that did not exist on most Southern plantations. Slaves in the city could communicate and plan a conspiracy more easily than among those on plantations.

Events that presumably led to the revolt include a decrease in freedom and status when the English took over the colony in 1664. Under Dutch rule, when the city was part of New Netherland, freed slaves had certain legal rights, such as the rights to own land and to marry. After the English took over New Amsterdam and made it the colony of New York, they enacted laws that restricted the lives of enslaved peoples. A slave market was built near present-day Wall Street to accommodate the increase in slaves being imported by the Royal African Company.

By the early 1700s, about 20 percent of the population were enslaved black people. The colonial government restricted this group through several measures: requiring slaves to carry a pass if traveling more than a mile (1.6km) from home; discouraging marriage among them; prohibiting gatherings in groups of more than three persons; and requiring them to sit in separate galleries at church services.

A group of more than twenty black slaves gathered on the night of April 7, 1712, and set fire to a building on Maiden Lane near Broadway. While the white colonists tried to put out the fire, the enslaved blacks, armed with guns, hatchets, and swords, attacked the whites and then ran off, but were soon recaptured.

Colonial forces arrested seventy blacks and jailed them. Six are reported to have committed suicide. Twenty-seven were put on trial, 21 of whom were convicted and sentenced to death. Twenty were burned to death and one was executed on a breaking wheel. This was a form of punishment no longer used on whites at the time. The severity of punishment was an expression of white slaveowners’ fear of slave insurrections.

After the revolt, the city and colony passed more restrictive laws governing black and Indian slaves. Slaves were not permitted to gather in groups of more than three, they were not permitted to carry firearms, and gambling was outlawed. Crimes of property damage, rape, and conspiracy to kill qualified for the death penalty. Free blacks were still allowed to own land, however. Anthony Portuguese (alternate spelling is Portugies), owned land that makes up a portion of present-day Washington Square Park; this continued to be owned by his daughter and grandchildren.

The colony required slave owners who wanted to free their slaves to pay a tax of (200 – 900) per person, then an amount much higher than the cost of a slave. In 1715 Governor Robert Hunter argued in London before the Lords of Trade that manumission and the chance for a slave to inherit part of a master’s wealth was important to maintain in New York. He said that this was a proper reward for a slave who had helped a master earn a lifetime’s fortune, and that it could keep the slave from descending into despair. Research more about the early enslaved African people in this new world and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 31, 2002- Bessie Stringfield

GM – FBF – I would like to thank everyone who visited my daily posts during Woman’s History Month, just like Black History month there is not enough time to tell all of the great stories that women have and still do everyday. We now will travel into the Month of April telling and reminding all that our history is 365 – 24/7 and I will share individuals and organizations that school books have left out and please share with our babies. PEACE!

Remember – ” I can ride and do as many stunts with a motor bike as any man but I am still proud to be a woman” – Bessie Stringfield

Today in our History – March 31, 2002 Bessie Stringfield was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Bessie Stringfield (February 9, 1911 – February 16, 1993), nicknamed “The Motorcycle Queen of Miami”, was the first African-American woman to ride across the United States solo, and during World War II she served as one of the few motorcycle despatch riders for the United States military.

Credited with breaking down barriers for both women and Jamaican-American motorcyclists, Stringfield was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. the award bestowed by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) for “Superior Achievement by a Female Motorcyclist” is named in her honor.
Stringfield was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1911 to a black Jamaican father and a white Dutch mother. The family migrated to Boston when she was still young. Her parents died when Stringfield was five and she was adopted and raised by an Irish woman.

At the age of 16 Stringfield taught herself to ride her first motorcycle, a 1928 Indian Scout. In 1930, at the age of 19, she commenced traveling across the United States. She made seven more long-distance trips in the US, and eventually rode through the 48 lower states, Europe, Brazil and Haiti. During this time, she earned money from performing motorcycle stunts in carnival shows. Due to her skin color, Stringfield was often denied accommodation while traveling, so she would sleep on her motorcycle at filling stations. Due to her sex, she was refused prizes in flat track races she entered.

During WWII Stringfield served as a civilian courier for the US Army, carrying documents between domestic army bases. She completed the rigorous training and rode her own blue 61 cubic inch Harley-Davidson. During the four years she worked for the Army, she crossed the United States eight times. She regularly encountered racism during this time, reportedly being deliberately knocked down by a white male in a pickup truck while traveling in the South.

In the 1950s Stringfield moved to Miami, Florida, where at first she was told “nigger women are not allowed to ride motorcycles” by the local police. After repeatedly being pulled over and harassed by officers, she visited the police captain. They went to a nearby park to prove her riding abilities. She gained the captain’s approval to ride and didn’t have any more trouble with the police.

She qualified as a nurse there and founded the Iron Horse Motorcycle Club. Her skill and antics at motorcycle shows gained the attention of the local press, leading to the nickname of “The Negro Motorcycle Queen”. This nickname later changed to “The Motorcycle Queen of Miami”, a moniker she carried for the remainder of her life. In 1990 the AMA paid tribute to her in their inaugural “Heroes of Harley-Davidson” exhibition she having owned 27 of their motorcycles. Stringfield died in 1993 at the age of 82 from a heart condition, having kept riding right up until the time of her death.

In 2000 the AMA created the “Bessie Stringfield Memorial Award” to recognize outstanding achievement by a female motorcyclist. Stringfield was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002. She married and divorced six times, losing three babies with her first husband. She ended up keeping the last name of her third husband, Arthur Stringfield, since she had made it famous. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 20, 1887- Anne Julia Cooper and George C. Cooper

GM – FBF – It is not the intelligent woman v. the ignorant woman; nor the white woman v. the black, the brown, and the red, it is not even the cause of woman v. man. Nay, tis woman’s strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice. – Anna Julia Cooper

Remember – The old, subjective, stagnant, indolent and wretched life for woman has gone. She has as many resources as men, as many activities beckon her on. As large possibilities swell and inspire her heart. – Anna Julia Cooper

Today in our History – March 20, 1887 – Anna Julia Cooper and George C. Cooper who was also a former slave in, 1877

Anna Julia Cooper was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on August 10, 1858. Cooper was the eldest of two daughters born to an enslaved black woman, Hannah Stanley and her white master George Washington Haywood (Rashidi, 2002). According to Rashidi (2002) “Cooper possessed an unrelenting passion for learning and a sincere conviction that black women were equipped to follow intellectual pursuits (on-line).” This was a claim that seemed reasonable, because at the age of seven, Cooper was accepted into a teacher’s training program at St. Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute, a placement that required prior academic training (Biography Resource Center, 2001 (BRC), 2001).
Cooper eventually graduated to the teachers level and married George C. Cooper who was also a former slave in, 1877. She was forced to leave her teaching position because of her marriage, which was quite an unfortunate situation because her husband died two years later (BRC, 2001). Cooper never remarried.

Although she was born into slavery she had no recollection of the events of her slavery as a child, but she does recall events from the civil war as well as the earlier stages or the feminist movement. Cooper declared herself “the voice of the South (BRC, 2001, on-line, extracted 10/30/2002),”because during the “fledging” of the feminist movement, it all but ignored minority women. According to the BRC (2001) when Cooper’s first book “A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South” was released to the public, it was declared the first work of an African-American feminist.

Cooper died of an heart attack on February 27, 1964 at the age of 105 in Washington, D.C. (BRC, 2001). She lived an eventful life that lead her from the belly of slavery to the dawn of the civil rights movement lead by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent black leaders of the time. Cooper wrote two additional book from the one mentioned earlier, “L’Attitude de la France a l’Egard de l’Esclavage pendant la Revolution” and “Le Pelerinage de Charlemagne: Voyage a Jerusalem et a Constantinople.”

Cooper’s life is one that exemplifies an individual committed to social change and anyone’s ability to overcome the obstacles of sexism and or racism and this is why her work as a “scholar, educator, and activist is evidence of the tremendous energy demanded of those who wanted to create change in the black community during the tumultuous period in which she lived” – Research more about this proud America hero and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 7, 1961- The Selma To Montgomery March

GM – FBF – “How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.: – 
Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.

Remember – ” Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom.” – Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.

Today in our History – March 7, 1961 – The Selma to Montgomery march was part of a series of civil-rights protests that occurred in 1965 in Alabama, a Southern state with deeply entrenched racist policies. In March of that year, in an effort to register black voters in the South, protesters marching the 54-mile route from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery were confronted with deadly violence from local authorities and white vigilante groups. As the world watched, the protesters—under the protection of federalized National Guard troops—finally achieved their goal, walking around the clock for three days to reach Montgomery. The historic march, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s participation in it, raised awareness of the difficulties faced by black voters, and the need for a national Voting Rights Act.


Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in voting on the basis of race, efforts by civil rights organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to register black voters met with fierce resistance in southern states such as Alabama.

In early 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC decided to make Selma, located in Dallas County, Alabama, the focus of a black voter registration campaign. King had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and his profile would help draw international attention to the events that followed.

Alabama Governor George Wallace was a notorious opponent of desegregation, and the local county sheriff in Dallas County had led a steadfast opposition to black voter registration drives.

As a result, only 2 percent of Selma’s eligible black voters (about 300 out of 15,000) had managed to register to vote.
EDMUND PETTIS BRIDGE. On February 18, white segregationists attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators in the town of Marion, Alabama. In the ensuing chaos, an Alabama state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African-American demonstrator.

In response to Jackson’s death, King and the SCLC planned a massive protest march from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery, 54 miles away. A group of 600 people, including activists John Lewis and Hosea Williams, set out from Selma on Sunday, March 7.

The marchers didn’t get far before Alabama state troopers wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas rushed the group at the Edmund Pettis Bridge and beat them back to Selma. The brutal scene was captured on television, enraging many Americans and drawing civil rights and religious leaders of all faiths to Selma in protest.

Hundreds of ministers, priests, rabbis and social activists soon headed to Selma to join the voting rights march.


On March 9, King led more than 2,000 marchers, black and white, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge but found Highway 80 blocked again by state troopers. King paused the marchers and led them in prayer, whereupon the troopers stepped aside.

King then turned the protesters around, believing that the troopers were trying to create an opportunity that would allow them to enforce a federal injunction prohibiting the march. This decision led to criticism from some marchers, who called King cowardly.

That night, a group of segregationists attacked another protester, the young white minister James Reeb, beating him to death. Alabama state officials (led by Wallace) tried to prevent the march from going forward, but a U.S. district court judge ordered them to permit it.


Six days later, on March 15, President Lyndon B. Johnson went on national television to pledge his support to the Selma protesters and to call for the passage of a new voting rights bill that he was introducing in Congress.

“There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem,” Johnson said, “…Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negros, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”

Some 2,000 people set out from Selma on March 21, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that Johnson had ordered under federal control. After walking some 12 hours a day and sleeping in fields along the way, they reached Montgomery on March 25.

Nearly 50,000 supporters—black and white—met the marchers in Montgomery, where they gathered in front of the state capitol to hear King and other speakers including Ralph Bunche (winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize) address the crowd.

“No tide of racism can stop us,” King proclaimed from the building’s steps, as viewers from around the world watched the historic moment on television.


On March 17, 1965, even as the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers fought for the right to carry out their protest, President Lyndon Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress, calling for federal voting rights legislation to protect African Americans from barriers that prevented them from voting.

That August, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed the right to vote (first awarded by the 15th Amendment) to all African Americans. Specifically, the act banned literacy tests as a requirement for voting, mandated federal oversight of voter registration in areas where tests had previously been used, and gave the U.S. attorney general the duty of challenging the use of poll taxes for state and local elections.

Along with the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act was one of the most expansive pieces of civil rights legislation in American history. It greatly reduced the disparity between black and white voters in the U.S. and allowed greater numbers of African Americans to participate in politics and government at the local, state and national level. Events like this reminds us of how Important It is to have strong women. Bless of our Mothers, Sisters, Aunts and Daughters who took a moment and converted it to MOVEMENT, make ita champion day!