Category: Inventors/ or firsts

September 26 1929- Meredith C. Gourdine

GM – FBF – Today’s story in our history is a story of pure greatness during his time. He was an was a pioneer researcher and inventor in the field of electrogasdynamics. He also made the U.S. Summer Games in 1952 held in Helsinki, Finland and won a silver medal. His academic curriculum centered on Engineering Physics. I first was first introduced to him when I participated in the Centennial Summer Olympics Games held in Atlanta back in 1996. Enjoy!

Remember – My father always told me – “If you don’t want to be a laborer all your life, stay in school.” Dr.Meredith C. Gourdine

Today in our History – September 26, 1929 – Meredith C. Gourdine was born.

Meredith Charles “Flash” Gourdine was born in Newark, New Jersey. His father worked as a painter and janitor and instilled within his son the importance of a strong work ethic. Meredith attended Brooklyn Technical High School and after classes he helped his father on various jobs, often working eight hour days. However, his father believed that education was more important than just developing into a hard worker and he told him “If you don’t want to be a laborer all your life, stay in school.” Meredith minded his father’s advice, excelling in academics.

He was also an excellent athlete, competing in track and field and swimming during his senior year. He did well enough in swimming to be offered a scholarship to the University of Michigan, but he turned it down to enter Cornell University. He paid his way through Cornell for his first two years before receiving a track and field scholarship after his sophomore year. He competed in sprints, hurdles and the long jump. Standing 6′ and weighing 175 lbs., he starred for his school, winning four titles at the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America championship and led Cornell to a second place finish at the 1952 NCAA Track and Field Championship (The University of Southern California won the meet but boasted 36 athletes while Cornell had only five c).

Gourdine was so heralded that he was chosen to represent the United States at the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. He received a silver medal in the long jump competition, losing to fellow American Jerome Biffle by one and a half inches. “I Would have rather lost by a foot,” he would later say. “I still have nightmares about it.”
After graduating from Cornell with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics in 1953, he entered the United States Navy as an officer. He soon returned to academia, entering the California Institute of Technology, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He received a Ph.D. in Engineering Science in 1960.

During his time at Cal. Tech., he served on the Technical Staff of the Ramo-Woolridge Corporation and then as a Senior Research Scientist at the Cal. Tech. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After graduation, he became a Lab Director for the Plasmodyne Corporation until 1962 when he joined the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, serving as Chief Scientist.
In 1964, Gourdine borrowed $200,000.00 from family and friends and opened Gourdine Laboratories, a research laboratory located in Livingston, New Jersey and at its height he employed 150 people. In 1973, he founded and served as CEO for Energy Innovation, Inc. in Houston, Texas which produced direct-energy conversion devices (converting low-grade coal into inexpensive, transportable and high-voltage electrical energy).

Meredith Gourdine started his qwn company’s performed research and development, specifically in the fields of electrogasdynamics. Electrogasdynamics refers to the generation of energy from the motion of ionized (electrically charged) gas molecules under high pressure. His biggest creation was the Incineraid system, which was used to disperse smoke from burning buildings and could be used to disperse fog on airport runways. The Incineraid system worked by negatively charging smoke or fog, causing the airborne particles within to be electro magnetically charged and then to fall to the ground. The result was clean air and a clear area. He also received patents for the Focus Flow Heat Sink, which was used to cool computer chips as well as for processes for desalinating sea water, for developing acoustic imaging, and for a high-powered industrial paint spray.

Over his career Gourdine held over 30 patents and many of his creations serve as the basis for allergen-filtration devices common to households across the world. He was inducted into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame in 1994. Towards his latter years, he suffered from diabetes, and lost his sight as well as one leg due to the disease.

Meredith Gourdine died on November 20, 1998, due to complications from multiples strokes. He left behind a legacy of research, design and innovation that will continue to have an impact for many years. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 23 1884- Judy W. Reed

GM – FBF – Today, I will share with you as much as I know for at times in our history, we can only go so far. It would have been easier to find another person for today but this history should be know also. Make It A Champion Day!

Remember – “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey

Today in our History – September 23, 1884 – Judy W. Reed received Patent No. 305,474 for her invention.

Judy W. Reed was an American alive during the 1880s, whose only record is known from a US patent. Reed, from Washington, D.C., is considered the first African American woman to receive a US patent. Patent No. 305,474 for a “Dough Kneader and Roller” was granted September 23, 1884. The patent was for an improved design of existing rollers with dough mixing more evenly while being kept covered and protected. It is unknown if she was able to read, write, or even sign her name, as her patent is sighed with an “X”.

Reed may not have been able to read, write or sign her name, 
It should be remembered that during the time of slavery, it was unlawful for slaves to be taught to read and write. Any slaves found reading, writing or teaching others, would be harshly punished or killed.

Since women sometimes used their first and/or middle initials when signing documents, often to disguise their gender, and patent applications didn’t require the applicant to indicate his or her race, it is unknown if there are earlier African American women inventors before Reed.

Besides the patent registration, there are no other records of Reed or her life. There is a possibility that an earlier African-American woman received patent rights; however, since there was no requirement to indicate race, and women often used only their initials to hide their gender, it is unknown. It is also of significance that during the time period, it was illegal for any slaves to be literate, and those found reading, writing or teaching others could be punished severely or killed.

Additionally, the first African-American woman to sign her patent with her own signature (as opposed to making her mark) was Sarah E. Goode of Chicago. Her patent, 322,177, granted on July 14, 1885, was for a Cabinet-bed, ” that class of sectional bedsteads adapted to be folded together when -not in use, so as to occupy less space, and made generally to resemble some article of furniture when so folded.” Research more about Black Woman Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 22 1891- Jan Metzeliger

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story that many of you know about but still today as we buy or footwear do we take in mind of his Invention? Today’s controversy with Nike supporting NFL football player Colin Kaepernick and the right to protest is a far cry from what he Invented over a century ago. Enjoy!

Remember – “A shoe is not only a design, but it’s a part of your body language, the way you walk. The way you’re going to move is quite dictated by your shoes” – Jan Ernst Matzeliger.

Today in our History – September 22, 1891 – Jan Metzeliger of Lynn, MA posthumously received patent number 459,899 for improvements in the lasting machine for shoes.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852, in Paramaribo, Suriname—known at the time as Dutch Guiana. Matzeliger’s father was a Dutch engineer, and his mother was Surinamese. Showing mechanical aptitude at a young age, Matzeliger began working in machine shops supervised by his father at the age of 10. At 19, he left Suriname to see the world as a sailor on an East Indian merchant ship. In 1873, he settled in Philadelphia, PA.

After settling in the United States, Matzeliger worked for several years to learn English. As a dark-skinned man, his professional options were limited, and he struggled to make a living in Philadelphia. In 1877, Matzeliger moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, to seek work in the town’s rapidly growing shoe industry. He found a position as an apprentice in a shoe factory. Matzeliger learned the cordwaining trade, which involved crafting shoes almost entirely by hand.

Cordwainers made molds of customers’ feet, called “lasts,” with wood or stone. The shoeswere then sized and shaped according to the molds. The process of shaping and attaching the body of the shoe to its sole was done entirely by hand with “hand lasters.” This was considered the most difficult and time-consuming stage of assembly. Since the final step in the process was mechanized, the lack of mechanization of the penultimate stage, the lasting, created a significant bottleneck.
Matzeliger set out to find a solution to the problems he discerned in the shoemaking process. He thought there had to be a way to develop an automatic method for lasting shoes. He began coming up with designs for machines that could do the job. After experimenting with several models, he applied for a patent on a “lasting machine.”

On March 20, 1883, Matzeliger received patent number 274,207 for his machine. The mechanism held a shoe on a last, pulled the leather down around the heel, set and drove in the nails, and then discharged the completed shoe. It had the capacity to produce 700 pairs of shoes a day—more than 10 times the amount typically produced by human hands.

Matzeliger’s lasting machine was an immediate success. In 1889, the Consolidated Lasting Machine Company was formed to manufacture the devices, with Matzelinger receiving a large amount of stock in the organization. After Matzeliger’s death, the United Shoe Machinery Company acquired his patent.

Matzeliger’s shoe lasting machine increased shoe production tremendously. The result was the employment of more unskilled workers and the proliferation of low-cost, high-quality footwear for people around the world. Unfortunately, Matzeliger was able to enjoy his success for only a short time. He contracted tuberculosis in 1886 and died on August 24, 1889, at the age of 37, in Lynn. In 1991, the United States government issued a “Black Heritage” postage stamp. Research more about black Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 21 2008 – Nancy Alene Hicks Maynard

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story of a Black women who was a great believer of the press, who would go on to become the first Black woman to own a newspaper. Enjoy!

Remember – A newspaper is the center of a community, it’s one of the tent poles of the community, and that’s not going to be replaced by Web sites and blogs.- Nancy Alene Hicks Maynard

Today in our History – September 21, 2008 – Nancy Alene Hicks Maynard dies.

Nancy Alene Hicks Maynard (1 November 1946 – 21 September 2008) was an American publisher, journalist, former owner of The Oakland Tribune, and co-founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. She was the first African-American female reporter for The New York Times, and at the time of her death, The Oakland Tribune was the only metropolitan daily newspaper to have been owned by African Americans.

Maynard was born Nancy Alene Hall in Harlem, New York City, to jazz bassist Alfred Hall and Eve Keller, a nurse. Maynard first became interested in journalism when, after a fire destroyed the elementary school she once attended, she was unhappy with the portrayal of her community in the coverage by the news media. She went on to attend Long Island University Brooklyn and graduated with a journalism degree in 1966.

Maynard began her journalism career as a copy girl and reporter with the New York Post. She was hired by The New York Times in September 1968, at the age of 21. Almost immediately, she was sent to Brooklyn to help cover the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school decentralization controversy, which drew accusations of racism and anti-Semitism and resulted in a citywide teachers’ strike and the establishment of new school districts throughout the city. After less than one year at the Times, Maynard was hired as a full-time reporter, becoming the first African-American woman to work as a reporter at the newspaper.

During her first few years at The New York Times, Maynard covered important race-related stories such as race riots and Columbia and Cornell University black student takeovers, as well as politically significant events like a memorial for Robert F. Kennedy. She later wrote for the paper’s education and science news departments, primarily on health-care coverage. In 1973, she spent a month in China analyzing its medical system, including stories about the use of acupuncture in surgical operations. Among her other story topics were the Medicare system, an explanation of the arrangement of whiskers on a lion’s face and coverage of Apollo program.

Maynard and her husband Robert C. Maynard left their jobs and founded the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Oakland, California where she served as its first president in 1977. Since its founding, the institute has been credited with training and preparing hundreds of minority students for careers in news editing, newsroom managers, and other careers in journalism. Maynard served as a member of the board until 2002.

In 1983, Maynard and her husband purchased The Oakland Tribune, which was in poor financial shape at the time. The Oakland Tribune became the first and, at the time of Maynard’s death, the only major metropolitan daily newspaper to be owned by African Americans. The two served as co-publishers for almost 10 years together, and were credited with bringing a significant amount of diversity into the newsroom. After Robert C. Maynard died in 1993, Maynard sold the paper, which was experiencing declining revenues, to ANG Newspapers.

Not long after graduation, Maynard was married to Daniel D. Hicks, with whom she had her first child, her son David. After Hicks’s death in 1974, she married Robert C. Maynard in 1975 after they met at a convention. He already had a daughter, Dori. As a couple, they had their third child, Alex.
Maynard, who made her home with partner Jay T. Harris in Santa Monica, California, died at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles on September 21, 2008 at the age of 61 after an extended illness. Research more about Black women in the press and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 17 1970- Flip Wilson

GM – FBF – Today, I want to share with you a story of the first successful Black television variety show, Nat “King” Cole tried in the ‘50’s but they were not ready to sponsor his show. Bill Cosby showed that the 60’s were better to be a co-star in a hour show. While Black singing groups and others had summer one show specials even the great Sammy Davis, Jr. tried in 1966 but in 1970, Clerow Wilson Jr.from Jersey City, N.J. struck gold. Enjoy!

Remember – “I was number one in the ratings four times last year and twice this season. What could be more damn equal than that? If they get any more equal, I don’t want it”. Flip Wilson

The Flip Wilson Show was an hour-long variety show that originally aired in the U.S. on NBC from September 17, 1970 to June 27, 1974. The show starred American comedian Flip Wilson; the program was one of the first American television programs starring a black person in the title role to become highly successful with a white audience. Specifically, it was the first successful network variety series starring an African American.[1] During its first two seasons, its Nielsen ratings made it the nation’s second most watched show.

The show consisted of many skits in a 60-minute variety format. It also broke new ground in American television by using a “theatre-in-the-round” stage format, with the audience seated on all sides of a circular performance area (with some seats located behind the sketch sets on occasion).
Wilson was most famous for creating the role of Geraldine Jones, a sassy, modern woman who had a boyfriend named Killer (who, when not in prison, was at the pool hall). Flip also created the role of Reverend Leroy, who was the minister of the Church of What’s Happening Now! New parishioners were wary of coming to the church as it was hinted that Reverend Leroy was a con artist. Wilson popularized the catchphrase “The Devil made me do it!”.

Geraldine Jones was a huge part of The Flip Wilson Show and was played by Wilson wearing women’s clothing. Some of “Geraldine’s” most famous quotes are, “The Devil made me buy this dress!”, “Don’t you touch me, honey, you don’t know me that well! You devil, you!” and “What you see is what you get!”

In one episode of the show, “Geraldine” and Bill Cosby were in a skit called “The Night Nurse” in which Geraldine and Bill were in a hospital. Cosby was supposed to be the sick patient and Geraldine was the nurse. “She” was convinced that he was there for a swollen ego. It ends with Geraldine lying in the hospital bed watching her favorite show, Iron Hips, while Cosby leaves. In another, she is with Ray Charles and presents him with a reward from the Ray Charles Fan Club, which is a kiss on the cheek. Ray asks what he can do for her, and she says that she has been rehearsing a song in the shower for the past week that she wanted to sing with him.

All in all, Geraldine Jones was a favorite of Flip Wilson Show fans, and a major part of the show and the years that the show was running.
In addition to the skits, Wilson also signed many popular singers to provide entertainment. African-American singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Pointer Sisters, Charley Pride, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, and The Supremes appeared on the program, as well as many contemporary white entertainers like Bobby Darin (a frequent guest on his show), Bing Crosby (two appearances),[2] Roy Clark, Joan Rivers, The Osmonds, Johnny Cash, Roger Miller, and Pat Boone. Usually, the singers also chose to partake in skits with Wilson.

Wilson’s clout allowed him to get both the new breakout performers (such as The Jackson 5, Roberta Flack, Sandy Duncan, Lily Tomlin, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Albert Brooks, Lola Falana, and Melba Moore, all of whom became very popular during this period) as well as established singers. In late 1971, gospel legend Mahalia Jackson made one of her last public performances on The Flip Wilson Show.
While The Flip Wilson Show first shared a studio with other television series, Wilson’s massive popularity allowed for him to get his own set of soundstages, starting in the fall 1972 season. As the seasons went on, however, the show’s ratings slipped; ratings across the variety show genre began a terminal decline in the mid-1970s. This, coupled with Wilson’s repeated demands for higher raises in his salary, caused the series to go over its budget and led to its cancellation.

Half-hour versions of the series aired on TV Land from 1997 to 2006. From 2011 to 2012, the show aired on TV One. From 2012 to 2016, half-hour versions of the show aired on the Aspire network. Research more about blacks on television and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 6 1904- Sarah Boone

GM – FBF – Today I want to share a story with you about an Inventor that created something that is used by millions of people every day. Like most you jus use it and never really think about its beginning. Enjoy!

Remember – “ I wanted to make my work a little easier so I thought about it and said done” – Sarah Boon

Today in our History – September 6, 1904 -Sarah Boone Inventor of the Ironing Board dies.

Sarah Boone (1832–1904) was an African American inventor who on April 26, 1892, obtained United States patent rights for her improvements to the ironing board. Boone’s ironing board was designed to improve the quality of ironing sleeves and the bodies of women’s garments. The board was very narrow, curved, and made of wood. The shape and structure allowed it to fit a sleeve and it was reversible, so one could iron both sides of the sleeve. Along with Miriam Benjamin, Ellen Eglin, and Sarah Goode, Boone was one of four African American women inventors of her time who developed new technology for the home.

Sarah Marshall was born in Craven County, North Carolina, near the town of New Bern in January 1st 1832. She was a former slave. On November 25, 1847, in New Bern, she married James Boone (or Boon); they would have eight children.

The Boone family left North Carolina for New Haven, Connecticut, before the outbreak of the American Civil War; they settled into a house at 30 Winter Street. James Boone worked as a brick mason until his death on January 18, 1876 while his wife was listed in New Haven directories as a dressmaker.

Sarah Marshall Boone died in 1904 and is buried in a family plot in Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven. Research more about women Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 2 1884- John Parker

GM – FBF – Today I would like to tell you a story about a black Inventor who was a slave but learned to read and write which would change his life. Enjoy!

Remember – ” Buying my freedom was the first step in becomming a person that could help others”

Today in our History – September 2, 1884 – John Parker patents ” Parker Pulverizer” – It was a follower – Screw for Tobacco Process U.S. Patent # 304,552
The story is below and make it a champion day! I will be traveling today and will not be able to respond to your words until this afternoon. Sorry for the layout but the computer at the hotel limits my ability to tell the story the way I want. Research the story and share with your babies.



John Parker | The Black Inventor Online Museum

Created a Screw for a Tobacco Press.

August 31 1842- Ruffin

GM – FBF – Today is the last day of sales training class and I will be able to once again respond to your posts tomorrow. Today, I would like to share with you a great story of an African American woman who you might not have heard of but her story needs to be told. Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin was an African-American publisher, journalist, civil rights leader, suffragist, and editor of the Woman’s Era, the first newspaper published by and for African-American women. Enjoy her story!

Remember –“ [W]e need to talk over not only those things which are of vital importance to us as women, but also the things that are of especial interest to us as colored women.”
Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin

Today in our History – August 31,1842 – Ruffin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to John St. Pierre, of French and African descent from Martinique, and Elizabeth Matilda Menhenick from Cornwall, England. Her father was a successful clothier and founder of a Boston Zion Church. She attended public schools in Charlestown and Salem, and a private school in New York City because of her parents’ objections to the segregated schools in Boston. She completed her studies at the Bowdoin School (not to be confused with Bowdoin College), after segregation in Boston schools ended.

Ruffin supported women’s suffrage and, in 1869, joined with Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Stone to form the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) in Boston. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “American Woman Suffrage Association.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 12 June 2015, A group of these women, Howe and Stone also founded the New England Women’s Club in 1868. Josephine Ruffin was its first bi-racial member when she joined in the mid-1890s. Ruffin also wrote for the black weekly paper, The Courant and became a member of the New England Woman’s Press Association.

When her husband George died at the age of 52 in 1886, Ruffin used her financial security and organizational abilities to start the Woman’s Era, the country’s first newspaper published by and for African-American women. She served as the editor and publisher from 1890 to 1897. While promoting interracial activities, the Woman’s Era called on black women to demand increased rights for their race.

In 1894, Ruffin organized the Woman’s Era Club, an advocacy group for black women, with the help of her daughter Florida Ridley and Maria Baldwin, a Boston school principal
In 1895, Ruffin organized the National Federation of Afro-American Women. She convened The First National Conference of the Colored Women of America in Boston, which was attended by women from 42 black women’s clubs from 14 states. The following year, the organization merged with the Colored Women’s League to form the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC). Mary Church Terrell was elected president and Ruffin served as one of the organization’s vice-presidents.

Just as the NACWC was forming, Ruffin was integrating the New England Woman’s Club. When the General Federation of Women’s Clubs met in Milwaukee in 1900, she planned to attend as a representative of three organizations – the Woman’s Era Club, the New England Woman’s Club and the New England Woman’s Press Club. Southern women were in positions of power in the General Federation and, when the Executive Committee discovered that all of the New Era’s club members were black, they would not accept Ruffin’s credentials Ruffin was told that she could be seated as a representative of the two white clubs but not the black one.

She refused on principle and was excluded from the proceedings. These events became known as “The Ruffin Incident”[ and were widely covered in newspapers around the country, most of whom supported Ruffin.[ Afterwards, the Woman’s Era Club made an official statement “that colored women should confine themselves to their clubs and the large field of work open to them there.”

The New Era Club was disbanded in 1903, but Ruffin remained active in the struggle for equal rights and, in 1910, helped form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Ruffin was one of the charter members of NAACP. Along with other women who had belonged to the New Era Club, she co-founded the League of Women for Community Service, which still exists today.

Ruffin married George Lewis Ruffin (1834–1886), who went on to become the first African-American male graduate from Harvard Law School, the first African American elected to the Boston City Council, and the first African-American municipal judge. Josephine and Ruffin were married in 1858 when she was 16 years old. The couple moved to Liverpool but returned to Boston soon afterwards and bought a house in the West End. They had five children: Hubert, an attorney; Florida Ridley, a school principal and co-founder of Woman’s Era; Stanley, an inventor; George, a musician; and Robert, who died in his first year of life. The couple became active in the struggle against slavery. During the Civil War, they helped recruit black soldiers for the Union Army, the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments. The couple also worked for the Sanitation Commission, which provided aid for the care of soldiers in the field.

She died of nephritis at her home on St. Botolph Street, Boston, in 1924, and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge. Research more about black female publishers and journalists and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 27 1963- W.E.B Dubois

GM – FBF – Today I would like to share with you a story of one of the greatest Black people in our time. Many know of his story but just in case you don’t by the end of the reading you will. Enjoy!

Remember – “To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” – W. E. B. Du Bois

Today in our History – W.E.B. DuBois died in Accra on August 27, 1963.

Educator, essayist, journalist, scholar, social critic, and activist W.E.B. DuBois, was born to Mary Sylvina Burghardt and Alfred Dubois on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He excelled in the public schools of Great Barrington, graduating valedictorian from his high school in 1884. Four years later he received a B.A. from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1890 DuBois earned a second bachelor degree from Harvard University. DuBois began two years of graduate studies in History and Economics at the University of Berlin in Germany in 1892 and then returned to the United States to begin a two year stint teaching Greek and Latin at Wilberforce University in Ohio. I

n 1895, DuBois became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University. His doctoral thesis, “The Suppression of the African Slave Trade in America,” became the first book published by Harvard University Press in 1896. Later that year DuBois married Nina Gomer and the couple had two children. After the death of his first wife in 1950, DuBois married Shirley Graham who remained his wife until his death.

Before the close of the 19th century, DuBois also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Atlanta University. During this time, he became the first scholar to systematically study African American urban life. DuBois’s first post-dissertation book, The Philadelphia Negro, released in 1899, determined that housing and employment discrimination were the principal barriers to racial equality and black prosperity in the urban North. His work and conclusions initiated the field of African American urban history.

DuBois lacked black public appeal of his contemporaries such as Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and Paul Robeson. He remained scathingly critical of white racism his entire life and unlike Washington he was unwilling to seek compromise in the quest for civil rights and racial justice. In 1903, DuBois published a groundbreaking collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, which challenged the civil rights strategies of black leaders like Washington while inspiring a cadre of young black activist scholars to use their work to combat racial oppression. 
In 1905 DuBois and other black leaders created the Niagara Movement to provide an organizational challenge to segregation and discrimination. DuBois edited the organization’s magazines, the Moon and the Horizon. As the Niagara Movement declined, DuBois became the co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and served as the editor of its magazine, The Crisis, until 1934 when he was fired by the organization.

DuBois’s departure from the NAACP reflected his disillusionment over the continuing power of white racism and what he felt was the compromising approach of black leaders, including his NAACP colleagues. Moreover, DuBois’s speeches and editorials made him unpopular with many whites and some blacks who, fearing white backlash, refused to support his positions on race.

DuBois, however, continued to believe scholarship could promote racial equality. He wrote numerous books and articles including Black Reconstruction in America in 1935. Largely discounted by scholars at the time, the book eventually became the basis for a dramatic reappraisal of the Reconstruction era by scholars in the 1960s and 1970s. His conclusions regarding the progress made by African Americans during the decade of Reconstruction have now been accepted by almost all mainstream historians.

By the early 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, DuBois devoted much of his energy to promoting peace between the United States and the Soviet Union. He embraced this controversial position at great personal and professional peril. His only foray into politics, a failed run in 1950 as a Socialist for the US Senate seat from New York, drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Stripped by the State Department of his passport in 1950 and criticized by many former allies and associates in the civil rights struggle, DuBois became a Communist, believing it offered the only hope for working class people around the world and the only major challenge to racism.

In 1961 DuBois gave up his citizenship and left the United States permanently for Accra, Ghana. With the support of Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, DuBois became the editor of the proposed Africana Encyclopedia. Before the project was completed, DuBois died in Accra on August 27, 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington, the largest civil rights demonstration in the US to that date. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 22 1791- Toussaint L’Ouverture

GM – FBF – On this day in our History, the peoples of a small Island refused to be treated like slaves and fought for their freedom. Since this was the first time it has happened successfully in the Western Hemisphere, the word got out to other European slave owners to start taking harsher measures toward their property or they too will be in battled with the Africans. Once this Island nation was free an embargo went out to most countried not to conduct any trade with them. As you know if you live on an Island trade is Important to your survival. Let’s take a closer look at this story. Enjoy!

Remember – “Citizens, not less generous than myself, let your most precious moments be employed in causing the past to be forgotten; let all my fellow-citizens swear never to recall the past; let them receive their misled brethren with open arms, and let them, in future, be on their guard against the traps of bad men.” – Toussaint Louverture

Today in our History – August 22, 1791 – “The “Night of Fire” in which slaves revolted by setting fire to plantation houses and fields and killing whites. 
Known to his contemporaries as “The Black Napoleon,” Toussaint L’Ouverture was a former slave who rose to become the leader of the only successful slave revolt in modern history that created an independent state, the Haitian Revolution.

Born into slavery on May 20, 1743 in the French colony of Saint Dominque, L’Ouverture was the eldest son of Gaou Guinon, an African prince who was captured by slavers. At a time when revisions to the French Code Noir (Black Code) legalized the harsh treatment of slaves as property, young L’ Overture instead inspired kindness from those in authority over him. His godfather, the priest Simon Baptiste, for example, taught him to read and write. Impressed by L’Ouverture, Bayon de Libertad, the manager of the Breda plantation on which L’Ouverture was born, allowed him unlimited access to his personal library. By the time he was twenty, the well-read and tri-lingual L’Ouverture—he spoke French, Creole, and some Latin—had also gained a reputation as a skilled horseman and for his knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs. More importantly, L’Ouverture had secured his freedom from de Libertad even as he continued to manage his former owner’s household personnel and to act as his coachman. Over the course of the next 18 years, L’Ouverture settled into life on the Breda plantation marrying fellow Catholic Suzanne Simon and parenting two sons, Isaac and Saint-Jean.

The events of August 22, 1791, the “Night of Fire” in which slaves revolted by setting fire to plantation houses and fields and killing whites, convinced the 48-year-old L’Ouverture that he should join the growing insurgency, although not before securing the safety of his wife and children in the Spanish-controlled eastern half of the island (Santo Domingo) and assuring that Bayon de Libertad and his wife were safely onboard a ship bound for the United States.

Inspired by French Revolutionary ideology and angered by generations of abuse at the hands of white planters, the initial slave uprising was quelled within several days, but ongoing fighting between the slaves, free blacks, and planters continued. Although he was free, L’Ouverture joined the slave insurgency and quickly developed a reputation first as a capable soldier and then as military secretary to Georges Biassou, one of the insurgency’s leaders. When the insurgency’s leadership chose to ally itself with Spain against France, L’Ouverture followed. Threatened by Spain and Britain’s attempts to control the island, the French National Convention acted to preserve its colonial rule in 1794 by securing the loyalty of the black population; France granted citizenship rights and freedom to all blacks within the empire.

Following France’s decision to emancipate the slaves, L’Ouverture allied with France against Spain, and from 1794 to 1802, he was the dominant political and military leader in the French colony. Operating under the self-assumed title of General-in-Chief of the Army, L’Ouverture led the French in ousting the British and then in capturing the Spanish controlled half of the island. By 1801, although Saint Dominque remained ostensibly a French colony, L’Ouverture was ruling it as an independent state. He drafted a constitution in which he reiterated the 1794 abolition of slavery and appointed himself governor for “the rest of his glorious life.”

L’Ouverture’s actions eventually aroused the ire of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1802 Napoleon dispatched his brother-in-law, Charles Leclerc, to capture L’Ouverture and return the island to slavery under French control. Captured and imprisoned at Fort de Joux in France, L’Ouverture died of pneumonia on April 7, 1803. Independence for Saint Dominque would follow one year later under the leadership of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of L’Ouverture’s generals. Research more about this Island and its people and share with your babes and make it a champion day!