Category: Inventors/ or firsts

October 11 1887- Alexander Miles

GM – FBF – Today I would like to share with you a story about an Inventor who came up with an Invention that is still being used today. We don’t think about it that much but without his Invention many of the tallest buildings in the word could not have been built. Enjoy!

Remember -“I think it is time that the nation should awaken to the fact that the negro is a citizen and not a pest,” Alexander Miles.

Today in our History – October 11, 1887 Alexander Miles was awarded the patent, U.S. Patent 371,207 for his automatic opening and closing elevator door design.

Alexander Miles was an African-American inventor who was best known for being awarded a patent for an automatically opening and closing elevator door design in 1887. Contrary to many sources, Miles was not the original inventor of this device. In 1874, 13 years before Miles’ patent was awarded, John W. Meaker was awarded U.S. Patent 147,853 for the invention of the first automatic elevator door system.

Alexander Miles was born in 1838 in Duluth, Minnesota. He moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin where he earned a living as a barber in the 1860s. After a move to Winona, Minnesota in 1870, he met his wife, Candace J. Dunlap, a white woman born in New York City in 1834. Together they had a daughter named Grace who was born in April 1879. Shortly after her birth, the family relocated to Duluth, Minnesota.

While in Duluth, Alexander operated a barbershop in the four-story St. Louis Hotel and purchased a real estate office. His wife found work as a dress maker. Miles became the first black member of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. In 1884, Miles built a three-story brownstone building at 19 West Superior Street in Duluth. This area became known as the Miles Block. It was at this time that Miles was inspired to work on elevator door mechanisms.

While riding in an elevator in with his young daughter, Alexander Miles saw the risk associated with an elevator shaft door carelessly left ajar. This led him to draft his design for automatically opening and closing elevator doors and apply for a patent. When the elevator would arrive or depart from a given floor, the doors would move automatically. Previously, the opening and closing of the doors of both the shaft and the elevator had to be completed manually by either the elevator operator or by passengers, contributing greatly to the hazards of operating an elevator.

Miles attached a flexible belt to the elevator cage, and when the belt came into contact with drums positioned along the elevator shaft just above and below the floors, it allowed the elevator shaft doors to operate at the appropriate times. The elevator doors themselves were automated through a series of levers and rollers.

Before working on elevator engineering, Miles experimented with the creation of hair products. The influence of his elevator patent is still seen in modern designs, since the automatic opening and closing of elevator and elevator shaft doors is a standard feature.

By 1900, Alexander, Candace, and Grace had moved to Chicago. In Chicago, Alexander created an insurance agency with the goal of eliminating discriminatory treatment of blacks. In his own words, Miles stated that insurance companies “persist in holding out discriminative rates to these colored people…” In 1900, it was believed that Alexander Miles was the “wealthiest colored man in the Northwest.”

Alexander Miles died sometime after 1905 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007. Research more about American Black Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion Day!

October 1 1897- Virginia Proctor Florence

GM – FBF – Today I want to share with you a story of a Black woman who was the first woman to be accepted into the Carnegie Library School, being the first black person admitted into the program. She went to college and afterwards since she loved children she was exposed to Library science. Enjoy!

Remember – “Visiting Florence was like attending a surprise party every day.” – Jennifer Coburn, author

Today in our History – October 1, 1897 – Virginia Proctor Florence was born on this date. . She was an African American educator and the first Black woman to receive professional training in library science in the United States.

Born in Wilkinsburg, PA, Florence Virginia Proctor Florence Powell received her early education in local public schools. After both her parents died, Powell moved to Pittsburgh to live with her aunt. In 1915, she graduated from Fifth Avenue High School. She also received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Oberlin College in 1919. Her first job was in St. Paul, MN, with the YWCA’s Colored girls’ section as a secretary. After a year, she returned to Pittsburgh to work in her aunt’s beauty parlor. Her aspirations for employment in the Pittsburgh school system were discouraged because of racism but her fiancé, Charles, aware of her love of children and literature, introduced Powell to the idea of a career in library science.

After applying to the Carnegie Library School, she was admitted in 1922, and completed the course of study within one year. Unfortunately, because school official were uncertain about placing the first Black graduate, Powell did not receive her diploma until several years later. Powell began her new career in 1923 at the New York Public Library, continuing there for four years.

Upon taking and passing the New York high school librarian exam, she was appointed librarian at the Seward High School in Brooklyn, remaining there until 1931. That same year she married her fiancé and moved to Jefferson City, MO, where her husband was president and she was called the “First Lady” of Lincoln University. The couple moved back east in 1938. Florence resumed her career, and Charles became chairman of the English department at Virginia Union University in Richmond.

She was also librarian at Cardoza High School in Washington, D.C., until 1945. After an illness, she continued at Maggie L. Walker Senior High School. Florence Powell was widowed in 1974, and in 1991 she died in Richmond, VA Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

January 7 1890- William B. Purvis

GM – FBF – The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.

Remember – There’s something special about writing by hand, writing with a fountain pen. – W.B. Purvis

Today in our History – January 7,1890 – William B. Purvis (August 12,1838 – August 10,1914) he was an inventor in the late 1800’s. He was a African American inventor who decided to make a better mouse trap. Mr. Purvis turned reality upside down when he invented what is known as the “Fountain Pen”.

On January 7, 1890, W.B. Purvis, one of our great African-American inventors, received a patent for the fountain pen. Purvis saw the need for a more convenient way to sign letters and documents and decided to take action. The fountain pen made the use of an ink bottle obsolete by storing ink within a reservoir within the pen which is then fed to the tip of the pen.
Of his accomplishment, Purvis said, “the object of my invention is to provide a simple, durable, and inexpensive construction of a fountain pen adapted to general use and which may be carried in the pocket.” The invention of the fountain pen is something that individuals and businesses all over the world are thankful for. They are cleaner and more efficient to use than a bottle of ink.

Between 1884 and 1897 Purvis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native,also invented several other inventions including two machines for making paper bags (which Purvis sold to the Union Paper Bag Company of New York), a bag fastener, a self-inking hand stamp, and several devices for electric railroads. His first paper bag machine (patent #293,353) created satchel bottom type bags in an improved volume and greater automation than previous machines.

W.B. Purvis has played a major role in our lives. He’s just one of the many African-Americans whose inventions impact our lives on a daily basis. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

January 5 1943- George washington Carver

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

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

Today in our History – January 5, 1943

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 2 1898- Sadie Tanner Mossell

GM – FBF – A winner is a person that gets up one more time than she is knocked down

Remember – I knew well that the only way I could get that door open was to knock it down; because I knocked all of them down. – Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander

Today in our History – Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander (January 2, 1898 – November 1, 1989), was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in economics in the United States (1921), and the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She was the first African-American woman to practice law in Pennsylvania. She was the first national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, serving from 1919 to 1923.
In 1946 she was appointed to the President’s Committee on Civil Rights established by Harry Truman. She was the first African-American woman appointed as Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia. She and her husband were both active in civil rights. In 1952 she was appointed to the city’s Commission on Human Relations, serving through 1968. She was President of John F. Kennedy Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (1963). Research more about this great American and teach your babies. Make it a champion day!

Febuary 1 1998- Lillian E. Fishburne

GM – FBF – If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.

Remember – The promotion to Rear Admiral was a goal that I set for myself to obtaining while in the U.S. Navy. With God’s help and my dedication to the job it was done. – Rear Admiral U.S. Navy – Lillian Elaine Fishburne,

Today on our History – February 1, 1998 – Lillian E. Fishburne, the first African American woman to become a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy, was born on March 25, 1949 in Patuxent River, Maryland. Fishburne was raised in Rockville, Maryland where she attended Richard Montgomery High School. In 1971, she graduated from Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. In February 1973, Fishburne became an Ensign after graduating from the Women Officers School at Newport, Rhode Island.

Fishburne’s first naval assignment was at the Naval Air Test Facility, Lakehurst, New Jersey, as a Personnel and Legal Officer. From August 1974 to November 1977, Fishburne was an Officer Programs recruiter in Miami, Florida. For the next three years, 1977 to 1980, Fishburne was the Officer in charge of the Naval Telecommunications Center at the Great Lakes, Illinois Naval Base.

Fishburne earned her Master of Arts in Management from Webster College in St. Louis, Missouri in 1980 and for the next two years was a student at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. In 1982, Fishburne earned her Master of Science in Telecommunications Systems Management at the Naval Postgraduate School. After graduating, Fishburne served for two years at the Command, Control, Communications Directorate for the Chief of Naval Operations.

Fishburne held assignments in Japan, Washington, D.C., and Key West, Florida for the next decade. In December 1994, she became Chief of the Command and Control Systems Support Division for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. She then served as commander of the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station in Wahiawa, Hawaii from 1995 to 1998. On February 1, 1998, she attained the rank of Rear Admiral and was promoted by the President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

After three years as the Director of the Information Transfer Division for the Space, Information Warfare for the Chief of Naval Operations, in Washington, D.C., Fishburne retired in February 2001. Her decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, and the Navy Achievement Medal. Fishburne is married to Albert J. Sullivan, a native of Daytona Beach, Florida. They have a daughter named Cherese. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 29 1929- Dorothy Bennett

GM – FBF – How many Black people that you have in your family that were the first to graduate as a person of color from a University or College with a Bachelors or Master’s Degree? How many in your family had a professional physician or a sports champion as a Mother and Father? To whom a lot is given – a lot is expected. Today’s story is an example of such for our people. Enjoy!

Remember – “The story of our people needs to be told the correct way, not just our hardships but all of the knowledge and power that we have done for the human race. Rise up and tell the true story” – Dorothy Bennett

Today in our History – December 29, 1929 – Dorothy Bennett married James Amos Porter.

Dorothy Porter Wesley (1905-1995), a scholar-librarian and bibliographer was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1905, and grew up in Montclair, New Jersey to her father, Hayes Joseph Burnett, a physician, and her mother, Bertha Ball Burnett, a tennis champion. After receiving her A.B., from Howard University in 1928, she became the first African American woman to complete her graduate studies at Columbia University receiving a Bachelors (1931) and a Masters (1932) of Science in Library Science.

Porter Wesley once remarked that “Too much of our heritage, until recently, has been lost because there were not enough collectors among us.” Fortunately for those of us who are and have been involved in Black history, one of those collectors was Dr. Porter Wesley. Beginning in 1930 and continuing for more than four decades, Dr. Porter Wesley devoted her life to identifying and acquiring for Howard University many thousands of books, newspapers, journals and other materials which provided the documentation of the Black experience in Africa, the Americas and other parts of the world.

While Dr. Jessee E. Moorland receives the well-earned acknowledgement of having provided at Howard University a foundation for historical research on people of African descent, it is Dorothy Porter Wesley who deserves the credit for transforming the potential of Moorland’s gift and other related material into a repository widely hailed as one of the very best at the time of her retirement in 1973. Scholars and librarians continue to marvel at the success she was able to achieve under often difficult circumstances. All that the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center is today is a result of the groundwork laid by her.

In 1973, Letitia Woods Brown said Porter Wesley “has the broadest understanding of Black bibliography of anyone living. If it has been written or even spoken about, Dorothy Porter knows.” A few years earlier, Faith Berry described her in an article on Black archives as “a human encyclopedia who can tell you everything about Negro life and history that’s ever been printed or unprinted.” While caution tells us that such accolades must be tempered with reality, experience tells us that neither writer greatly exaggerated the depth and breadth of Dr. Porter Wesley’s prodigious knowledge of Black history and culture.

In 1969, Dr. Porter Wesley wrote that “the wise accumulation of books and documents by the early great bibliophiles … was doubtless the seed of a tremendous harvest. But if we are not to be overwhelmed by its very richness and excess in the domain of Black studies, it must be met with a steady and dedicated and confident librarianship as much as with appreciative, systematic, and productive exploitation by knowledgeable and competent scholars. In these critical times we can hardly afford to neglect the advantages of such an intellectual and practical partnership.”
Not only did Dr. Porter Wesley promote such partnership, but she was long the embodiment of the scholar-librarian. She knew the great bibliophiles and collectors like Moorland, Arthur B. Spingarn, C. Glenn Carrington, Arthur A. Schomburg, Henry P. Slaughter, Clarence Holte, and Charles Blockson. She knew and assisted the many important scholars at Howard University, and scholars elsewhere who shared an interest in Black history. She knew the writers, historians and others who would contribute to the corpus of our history.
She was not only a professionally trained librarian, but also a prolific author and bibliographer who published numerous books and scores of articles, reviews and other pieces. In addition to her master’s thesis, “Afro-American Writings Published Before 1835,” Dr. Porter Wesley also wrote “African and Caribbean Creative Writing,” Afro-Braziliana, “… American Negro Writers About Africa,” and on such disparate subjects as family records in New England, David Ruggles, Howard University, Maria Louise Baldwin, Sarah Parker Remond, “The Negro in American Cities,” “The Negro in the Brazilian Abolition Movement,” Negro literary societies, archival preservation, Negro protest pamphlets, and Africa. Her major works include The Negro in the United States (1970) and Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837, republished by Black Classic Press in 1995.

Dr. Porter Wesley received honorary degrees from Syracuse University, Radcliffe College and Susquehanna University, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University, a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for research in Latin American literature, a Ford Foundation study and travel grant which took her to Scotland, Ireland, England and Italy, and a fellowship from the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. Dr. Porter Wesley served as a Ford Foundation consultant to the National Library in Lagos, Nigeria (1962-64), and she attended the 1st International Congress of Africanists in Accra, Ghana, in 1962.

Dr. Porter Wesley also contributed her talents to the Society of American Archivists, the Nigerian Historical Society, the African Studies Association the Bibliographical Society of America, the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Trust for the Preservation of Historic Sites, and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
In 1994 President Clinton presented her with the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Charles Frankel Award.
She was unstinting in the time she spent as a librarian and a scholar in sharing her knowledge with a host of scholars, prompting Benjamin Quarles to say, in 1973, that “without exaggeration, there hasn’t been a major history book in the last 30 years in which the author hasn’t acknowledged Mrs. Porter’s help.” While this may have abated somewhat in more recent years, the need for Dr. Porter Wesley’s advice and counsel was still very much evident among the current generation of students and scholars.

Those of us who know how difficult the task is of documenting a people’s history realize and appreciate the extraordinary success Dr. Porter Wesley achieved in times far more difficult than those we face today. She built the house and we are its caretakers — trying our best to deserve the wonderful legacy she has left for this and future generations.

Dorothy Porter Wesley stands among those giants of historical inquiry who have helped to focus an understanding of the contributions people of African descent have made to world society. She embodied the spirit of our people and inspired all of those who love our people’s history. She has left her mark, and it is truly indelible. Research more about Black’s who writers are or poet’s and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 28 1829- Elizabeth Freeman

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about the first enslaved African American to file and win a freedom suit in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling, in her favor, found slavery to be inconsistent with the 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution. Her suit, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781), was cited in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appellate review of Quock Walker’s freedom suit. When the court upheld her freedom under the state’s constitution, the ruling was considered to have implicitly ended slavery in Massachusetts. She also was the step-great-great-grandmother of the great W. E. B. Du Bois. Enjoy!

Remember – “Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God’s airth [sic] a free woman— I would.” — Elizabeth Freeman

Today in our History – December 28, 1829 – Elizabeth “MumBet” Freeman dies.

Freeman was illiterate and left no written records of her life. Her early history has been pieced together from the writings of contemporaries to whom she told her story or who heard it indirectly, as well as from historical records.

Freeman was born into slavery around 1744 at the farm of Pieter Hogeboom in Claverack, New York, where she was given the name Bet. When Hogeboom’s daughter Hannah married John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Hogeboom gave Bet, around seven years old, to Hannah and her husband. Freeman remained with them until 1781, during which time she had a child, Little Bet. She is said to have married, though no marriage record has been located. Her husband (name unknown) is said to have never returned from service in the American Revolutionary War.

Throughout her life, Bet exhibited a strong spirit and sense of self. She came into conflict with Hannah Ashley, who was raised in the strict Dutch culture of the New York colony. In 1780, Bet prevented Hannah from striking a servant girl with a heated shovel; Elizabeth shielded the girl and received a deep wound in her arm. As the wound healed, Bet left it uncovered as evidence of her harsh treatment. John Ashley was a Yale-educated lawyer, wealthy landowner, businessman and leader in the community. His house was the site of many political discussions and the probable location of the signing of the Sheffield Resolves, which predated the Declaration of Independence.

In 1780, Freeman heard the newly ratified Massachusetts Constitution read at a public gathering in Sheffield, including the following:

All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. — Massachusetts Constitution, Article 1.

Inspired by these words, Bett sought the counsel of Theodore Sedgwick, a young abolition-minded lawyer, to help her sue for freedom in court. According to Catherine Sedgwick’s account, she told him, “I heard that paper read yesterday, that says, all men are created equal, and that every man has a right to freedom. I’m not a dumb critter; won’t the law give me my freedom?” After much deliberation Sedgwick accepted her case, as well as that of Brom, another of Ashley’s slaves. He enlisted the aid of Tapping Reeve, the founder of Litchfield Law School, one of America’s earliest law schools, located in Litchfield, Connecticut. They were two of the top lawyers in Massachusetts, and Sedgwick later served as US Senator. Arthur Zilversmit suggests the attorneys may have selected these plaintiffs to test the status of slavery under the new state constitution.

The case of Brom and Bett v. Ashley was heard in August 1781 before the County Court of Common Pleas in Great Barrington. Sedgwick and Reeve asserted that the constitutional provision that “all men are born free and equal” effectively abolished slavery in the state. When the jury ruled in Bett’s favor, she became the first African-American woman to be set free under the Massachusetts state constitution.
The jury found that “…Brom & Bett are not, nor were they at the time of the purchase of the original writ the legal Negro of the said John Ashley…” The court assessed damages of thirty shillings and awarded both plaintiffs compensation for their labor. Ashley initially appealed the decision, but a month later dropped his appeal, apparently having decided the court’s ruling on constitutionality of slavery was “final and binding.”

After the ruling, Bett took the name Elizabeth Freeman. Although Ashley asked her to return to his house and work for wages, she chose to work in attorney Sedgwick’s household. She worked for his family until 1808 as senior servant and governess to the Sedgwick children, who called her “Mumbet.” The Sedgwick children included Catharine Sedgwick, who became a well-known author and wrote an account of her governess’s life. Also working at the Sedgwick household during much of this time was Agrippa Hull, a free black man who had served with rebel forces for years during the Revolutionary War.

From the time Freeman gained her freedom, she became widely recognized and in demand for her skills as a healer, midwife and nurse. After the Sedgwick children were grown, Freeman moved into her own house on Cherry Hill in Stockbridge near her daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Freeman’s real age was never known, but an estimate on her tombstone puts her age at about 85. She died on December 28,1829 and was buried in the Sedgwick family plot in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Freeman remains the only non-Sedgwick buried in the Sedgwick plot. They provided a tombstone, inscribed as follows:
ELIZABETH FREEMAN, also known by the name of MUMBET died Dec. 28th 1829. Her supposed age was 85 Years. She was born a slave and remained a slave for nearly thirty years; She could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she had no superior or equal. She neither wasted time nor property. She never violated a trust, nor failed to perform a duty. In every situation of domestic trial, she was the most efficient helper and the tenderest friend. Good mother, farewell.

The decision in the case of Elizabeth Freeman was cited as precedent when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard the appeal of Quock Walker v. Jennison later that year and upheld Walker’s freedom. These cases set the legal precedents that ended slavery in Massachusetts. Vermont had already abolished it explicitly in its constitution.

Civil Rights leader and historian W. E. B. Du Bois claimed Freeman as his relative and wrote that she married his maternal great-grandfather, “Jack” Burghardt. But, Freeman was 20 years senior to Burghardt, and no record of such a marriage has been found. It may have been Freeman’s daughter, Betsy Humphrey, who married Burghardt after her first husband, Jonah Humphrey, left the area “around 1811”, and after Burghardt’s first wife died (c. 1810). If so, Freeman would have been Du Bois’s step-great-great-grandmother. Anecdotal evidence supports Humphrey’s marrying Burghardt; a close relationship of some form is likely.

Season 1, episode 37 of the television show Liberty’s Kids, titled “Born Free and Equal”, is about her. It was first aired in 2003, and in it she is voiced by Yolanda King. Research more about the struggle of Black’s and the courts and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 25 1760- Jupiter Hammon

GM – FBF – Our story for today is about a person who was a black poet and 1761 became the first African-American writer to be published in the present-day United States. Additional poems and sermons were also published. Born into slavery, never was never emancipated. He was living in 1790 at the age of 79, and died by 1806. A devout Christian, he is considered to be one of the founders of African-American literature.

Remember – “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.” – Jupiter Hammon

Today in our History – December 25, 1760 – Jupiter Hammon Publishes “An Evening Thought, by Christ, with Penitential Cries” 
Born in 1711 in a house now known as Lloyd Manor in Lloyd Harbor, NY – per a Town of Huntington, NY historical marker dated 1990 – Hammon was held by four generations of the Lloyd family of Queens on Long Island, New York. His parents were both slaves held by the Lloyds. His mother and father were part of the first shipment of slaves to the Lloyd’s estate in 1687. Unlike most slaves, his father, named Obadiah, had learned to read and write.

The Lloyds encouraged Hammon to attend school, where he also learned to read and write. Jupiter attended school with the Lloyd children. As an adult, he worked for them as a domestic servant, clerk, farmhand, and artisan in the Lloyd family business. He worked alongside Henry Lloyd (the father) in negotiating deals. Henry Lloyd said that Jupiter was so efficient in trade deals because he would quickly get the job done. He became a fervent Christian, as were the Lloyds.

His first published poem, “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760,” appeared as a broadside in 1761. 
Eighteen years passed before his second work appeared in print, “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley.” Hammon wrote this poem while Lloyd had temporarily moved himself and the slaves he owned to Hartford, Connecticut, during the Revolutionary War.

Hammon saw Wheatley as having succumbed to pagan influences in her writing, and so the “Address” consisted of twenty-one rhyming quatrains, each accompanied by a related Bible verse, that he thought would compel Wheatley to return to a Christian path in life. He would later publish two other poems and three sermon essays.

Although not emancipated, Hammon participated in new Revolutionary War groups such as the Spartan Project of the African Society of New York City. At the inaugural meeting of the African Society on September 24, 1786, he delivered his “Address to the Negroes of the State of New-York”, also known as the “Hammon Address.” He was seventy-six years old and had spent his lifetime in slavery. He said, “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.” He also said that, while he personally had no wish to be free, he did wish others, especially “the young negroes, were free.”

The speech draws heavily on Christian motifs and theology. For example, Hammon said that Black people should maintain their high moral standards because being slaves on Earth had already secured their place in heaven. He promoted gradual emancipation as a way to end slavery.[5] Scholars think perhaps Hammon supported this plan because he believed that immediate emancipation of all slaves would be difficult to achieve. New York Quakers, who supported abolition of slavery, published his speech. It was reprinted by several abolitionist groups, including the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

In the two decades after the Revolutionary War and creation of the new government, northern states generally abolished slavery. In the Upper South, so many slaveholders manumitted slaves that the proportion of free blacks among African Americans increased from less than one percent in 1790 to more than 10 percent by 1810. In the United States as a whole, by 1810 the number of free blacks was 186,446, or 13.5 percent of all African Americans.

Hammon’s speech and his poetry are often included in anthologies of notable African-American and early American writing. He was the first known African American to publish literature within the present-day United States (in 1773, Phillis Wheatley, also an American slave, had her collection of poems first published in London, England). His death was not recorded. He is thought to have died sometime around 1806 and is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on the Lloyd property.

While researching the writer, UT Arlington doctoral student Julie McCown stumbled upon a previously unknown poem written by Hammon stored in the Manuscripts and Archives library at Yale University. The poem, dated 1786, is described by McCown as a ‘shifting point’ in Jupiter Hammon’s worldview surrounding slavery. Research more about Black writers during the revolutionary war and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 23 1925- George Taylor

GM – FBF – As we all near the Christmas day celebration with family, friends and fellow church parishioners. Today’s story could be told in Sunday school, at dinner or conversation later in the day. Once again I go back to my Undergraduate and Graduate home for ten years, the Great State of Wisconsin, as I get older I see that my U.S. History professors were very astute to Wisconsin Black History (None were black).

Today’s story is about a black man living in La Crosse, WI., he ran America’s first back Labor Party newspaper, Wisconsin Labor Advocate, was the first Black American who was the candidate of the National Negro Liberty Party for the office of President of the United States in 1904 against Theodore Roosevelt who ran as the Republican and Alton B Parker who ran as the Democrat. Our Person in today’s story received 1.9% of the vote running as the National Liberty Party (NLP) candidate, did you know that? Or do you think that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were the only Black males before Barack Hussein Obama II our 44th President and first elected President? Enjoy!

Remember – “Why are the Black People who live in the District of Columbia without any right to rule themselfs? They know more about their needs than Congress who rules them.” – George Taylor – U.S. Presidential Cadidate (NLP) 1904

Today in our History – December 23,1925 – George Taylor – U.S. Presidential Cadidate dies.

Born in the pre-Civil War South to a mother who was free and a father who was enslaved, George Edwin Taylor became the first African American selected by a political party to be its candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Taylor was born on August 4, 1857 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Amanda Hines and Bryant (Nathan) Taylor. At the age of two, George Taylor moved with his mother from Arkansas to Illinois. When Amanda died a few years later, George fended for himself until arriving in Wisconsin by paddleboat in 1865.

Raised in and near La Crosse by a politically active black family, he attended Wayland University in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin from 1877 to 1879, after which he returned to La Crosse where he went to work for the La Crosse Free Press and then the La Crosse Evening Star. During the years 1880 to 1885 he produced newspaper columns for local papers as well as articles for the Chicago Inter Ocean.

Taylor’s newspaper work brought him into politics—especially labor politics. He sided with one of the competing labor factions in La Crosse and helped re-elect the pro-labor mayor, Frank “White Beaver” Powell, in 1886. In the months that followed, Taylor became a leader and office holder in Wisconsin’s statewide Union Labor Party, and his own newspaper, the Wisconsin Labor Advocate, became one of the newspapers of the party.

In 1887 Taylor was a member of the Wisconsin delegation to the first national convention of the Union Labor Party, which met in Ohio in April, and refocused his newspaper on national political issues. As his prominence increased, his race became an issue, and Taylor responded to the criticism by increasingly writing about African American issues. Sometime in 1887 or 1888 his paper ceased publication.

In 1891 Taylor moved to Oskaloosa, Iowa where he continued his interest in politics, first in the Republican Party and then with the Democrats. While in Iowa Taylor owned and edited the Negro Solicitor, and became president of the National Colored Men’s Protective Association (an early civil rights organization) and the National Negro Democratic League, an organization of blacks within the Democratic Party. From 1900 to 1904 he aligned himself with the Populist faction that attempted to reform the Democratic Party.

Taylor and other independent-minded African Americans in 1904 jonied the first national political party created exclusively for and by blacks, the National Liberty Party (NLP). The Party met at its national convention in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904 with delegates from thirty-six states. When the Party’s candidate for president ended up in an Illinois jail, the NLP Executive Committee approached Taylor, asking him to be the party’s candidate.

While Taylor’s campaign attracted little attention, the Party’s platform had a national agenda: universal suffrage regardless of race; Federal protection of the rights of all citizens; Federal anti-lynching laws; additional black regiments in the U.S. Army; Federal pensions for all former slaves; government ownership and control of all public carriers to ensure equal accommodations for all citizens; and home rule for the District of Columbia.

Taylor’s presidential race was quixotic. In an interview published in The Sun (New York, November 20, 1904), he observed that while he knew whites thought his candidacy was a “joke,” he believed that an independent political party that could mobilize the African American vote was the only practical way that blacks could exercise political influence. On Election Day, Taylor received a scattering of votes.

The 1904 campaign was Taylor’s last foray into politics. He remained in Iowa until 1910 when he moved to Jacksonville, FL. There he edited a succession of newspapers and was director of the African American branch of the local YMCA. He was married three times but had no children. George Edwin Taylor died in Jacksonville on December 23, 1925. Research more about the “First” Black man to run for President of the United States, 102 years before Barack Hussein Obama II our 44th President and first elected President of our country. Share with your babies and make it a champion day!