GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion event took place when most American’s were afraid that something tragic was going to happen. I was proud to be a part of it by being there and having the opportunity to speak the night before to a select group of high school students that were our talented tenth for 1995. Snipers were in the trees, roof tops and naturally in the masses but no one was even charged with anything a great afternoon in Washington, D.C. Today in our History – October 16, 1995 – The Million Man March in Washington, D.C.On October 16, 1995, an estimated 850,000 African American men from across the United States gathered together at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to rally in one of largest demonstrations in Washington history. This march surpassed the 250,000 who gathered in 1963 for the March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. This assembly of black men was organized and hosted by the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who called for all able-bodied African American men to come to the nation’s capital to address the ills of black communities and call for unity and revitalization of African American communities. Although the Million Man March was proposed and organized primarily by the leader of Islam, many religions, institutions, and community organizations across the spectrum of African America joined together not only for a rally of black men but also to build what many saw as a movement directed toward a future renaissance of the black race.Those unable to attend the march in Washington were asked by Louis Farrakhan to stay home from work and keep their children at home from school in a show of solidarity and support for the objectives of the march. Farrakhan also called on march participants and supporters to refrain from spending money on October 16 to illustrate to the United States the importance of African American dollars to the national economy.Besides the keynote address by Minister Louis Farrakhan, several prominent speakers addressed those gathered at the Washington Mall including civil rights activists Benjamin Chavis, Jesse Jackson, Rosa Parks, and Dick Gregory. Stevie Wonder entertained the gathering with his songs while Maya Angelou used her poetry to offer advice to the men at the rally. The message of most of the speeches called for black men to “bring the spirit of God back into your lives.” These marchers were also encouraged to register to vote to build black political power.March participants took a public pledge to support their families, refrain from violence and physical or verbal abuse toward women and children, and renounce violence against other men “except in self-defense.” They also pledged abstinence from drugs or alcohol and to concentrate their efforts on building black businesses and social and cultural institutions in the communities where they lived. The march participants were then asked to “go back home” to implement the changes they had pledged.Although many of the changes pledged in Washington on October 16 to revitalize African American communities were not prominently in evidence in the years that followed the march, organizers claimed two notable successes. In the year after October 16, over 1.5 million black men registered to vote for the first time. There was also an upsurge in the number of black children adopted by African American families. Research more about this great American Champion event and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American orator, activist, suffragist, and reformer. Called “the best known Colored Woman in the United States,” She was among the most prominent African Americans of her time. In 2005, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.Today in our History – October 15, 1923 – Mary Burnett Talbert (September 17, 1866 – October 15, 1923) died.Mary Morris Burnett Talbert was born in Oberlin, Ohio in 1866. As the only African-American woman in her graduating class from Oberlin College in 1886, Burnett received a Bachelor of Arts degree, then called an S.P. degree. She entered the field of education, first as a teacher in 1886 at Bethel University in Little Rock. She then became assistant principal of the Union High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1887, the highest position held by an African-American woman in the state. In 1891, she married William H. Talbert, moved to Buffalo, New York, and joined Buffalo’s historic Michigan Avenue Baptist Church.Talbert earned a higher education degree at a time when a college education was controversial for European-American women and extremely rare for African-American women. When women’s organizations were segregated by race, Talbert was an early advocate of women of all colors working together to advance their cause, and reminded white feminists of their obligations towards their less privileged sisters of color.Described by her peers as “the best-known colored woman in the United States,” Talbert used her education and prodigious energies to improve the status of Black people at home and abroad. In addition to her anti-lynching and anti-racism work, Talbert supported women’s suffrage. In 1915 she spoke at the “Votes for Women: A Symposium by Leading Thinkers of Colored Women” in Washington, D.C. During her national and international lecture tours, Talbert educated audiences about oppressive conditions in African-American communities and the need for legislation to address these conditions. She was instrumental in gaining a voice for African-American women in international women’s organizations of her time.As a founder of the Niagara Movement, Talbert helped to launch organized civil rights activism in America. The Niagara Movement was radical enough in its brief life to both spawn and absorb controversy within the Black community, preparing the way for its successor, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).Central to the efforts of both organizations, Mary Talbert helped set the stage for the civil rights gains of the 1950s and 1960s. Talbert’s long leadership of women’s clubs helped to develop black female organizations and leaders in communities around New York and the United States. Women’s clubs provided a forum for African-American women’s voices at a time when they had restricted opportunities in public and civic life. In both Black and white communities, women’s clubs fostered female leadership.As a historic preservation pioneer, Talbert saved the Frederick Douglass home in Anacostia, D.C. after other efforts had failed. Buffalo’s 150-year-old Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, to which the Talbert family belonged, has been named to the United States National Register of Historic Places. Many prominent African Americans worshipped or spoke there. The church also had a landmark role in abolitionist activities. In 1998, a marker honoring Talbert, who served as the church’s treasurer, was installed in front of the Church by the New York State Governor’s Commission Honoring the Achievements of Women.In October 2005, Talbert was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. She is also remembered around the United States as the namesake of clubs and buildings.Talbert died on October 15, 1923, and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery (Buffalo). A small collection of Talbert family papers, concerned mostly with property and estate matters, survives in the Research Library of the Buffalo History Museum. The period in United States history commonly referred to as the Progressive Era spanned from 1890–1920. It represented a progressive shift in what Axinn and Stern (2005) refer to as “the lines between the countryside and the city, between workers and the middle class, between foreigners and native-born, and between men and women” (Axinn & Stern, 2005, p. 127). Not mentioned in this shift is the gruesome treatment of African-Americans under the Southern “Jim Crow” laws which excluded Blacks from political, economic, public, and educational spheres of influence.These measures represented a tightening of oppressive politics and an era of social subservience, which arguably lasts into the present time. Discriminatory efforts took shape in black segregation in white social settings and strategically limiting blacks’ right to vote with a combination of the grandfather clause, poll taxes, and violent efforts at voting sites (Woloch & Johnson, 2009). Progressive era political reform was seen as necessary, but changing the attitudes and actions toward Blacks in the South was not on this political agenda.The hostile environment of the South combined with the loss of jobs and the threat of lynching encouraged the migration of many Blacks to the north. It is estimated that from 1890 to 1910, roughly 200,000 African Americans left the South and this number continued to increase during World War I (Woloch & Johnson, 2009). The move north represented employment opportunities in the textile industry, in large factories, automobile production, and the famed meat packing industry of New York, but we’re still not free from the harassment and discrimination that characterized this period of being Black in America. Axinn and Stern (2005) surmise that “the Black population was generally unaffected by reform activities and the social welfare benefits that resulted from them. In an era marked by economic progress and social mobility, the group remained poor and powerless” .Despite the bleak picture painted by Axinn and Stern, African-American leadership was not at a shortage, and “powerless” certainly does not describe the Black pioneers of this era. Notable Black change agents including Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, and Mary McLeod Bethune helped lead the fight for Black equality and opportunity. Similarly influential but less well-noted activists include Mary Church Terrell, Nannie Helen Burroughs, and Mary Morris Burnett Talbert, who is a noted international activist, educator, leader, and social reformer. In a 1916 speech, Talbert states, “no Negro woman can afford to be an indifferent spectator of the social, moral, religious, economic, and uplift problems that are agitated around [her]” (Williams, 1994). Her life’s work embodies these principles of dedication and hard work to improve the plight of Blacks and all people during this era.Hallie Quinn Brown, having the opportunity to befriend Mary Talbert, details a personal side of this phenomenal woman stating, “Mrs. Talbert possessed a kind, thoughtful, generous nature. She did not hesitate to do the smallest deed to the humblest person in any possible way. For if one does not possess these qualities in the small things in life she can never fully expand to the greater ones. Her personality was most charming, her smile an object of beauty. She possessed a ready and versatile tongue and pen. A letter from her was almost equal to a face-to-face conversation. She was at once graceful and gracious. By her ability, her oratory, and her pleasing personality, she held the undivided attention of an audience…”Capturing the attention of an audience was not limited to Talbert’s speaking engagements; some of her most formidable actions came in the form of letters detailing the strategy and philosophy behind movements such as the anti-lynching crusade. In a 1922 letter printed in the Crisis magazine, Talbert outlines the urgency of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club’s commitment to an anti-lynching campaign that did not divide among racial lines. In the opening lines, she asserts: “The hour has come in America for every woman, white and black, to save the name of her beloved country from shame by demanding that the barbarous custom of lynching and burning at the stake be stopped now and forever” (Talbert, 1922).Lobbying the support of white woman’s organizations, Talbert recognized the human element in a lynching that extended beyond race to basic human rights. Her efforts were bold and likely dangerous as she elicited the contributions of Jewish women and Christian women in what she labeled “American womanhood…working for one particular objective…” (Talbert, 1922). She was well respected in the community of female leaders and Mary White Ovington, also influential in the Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People, expressed to the National Women’s Party that “Mrs. Talbert is able, liberal in thought, and perhaps the best known colored woman in the United States today” (Ovington, 1920).Although Talbert was well received in some organizational circles, there were other venues that despite her recognition and champion for women’s rights, she was still judged by the color of her skin. Mary Jane Brown (2000) highlights Talbert’s official 1920 trip to Europe to attend the International Council of Women in Christiana, Norway as a delegate.In Paris, Talbert was with three other white female delegates and was not allowed into a dining room for breakfast because of her race. In every other country on this tour, she was treated well, but not allowed to a tea sponsored by the YWCA in Paris (Brown, 2000, p. 39).This slice of history raises numerous questions regarding the status of gender and race not only in the United States but in the international community. Talbert was well aware of national and international perceptions of her prominence and the ideological environment that she sought to advance. In a short essay titled “Women and Colored Women,” Mary Talbert offers her opinion of the gender and races dynamic in terms of women’s voting right by stating, “It should not be necessary to struggle forever against popular prejudice, and with us as colored women, this struggle becomes two-fold, first because we are women and second because we are colored women. Although some resistance is experienced in portions of our country against the ballot for women, I firmly believe that enlightened men are now numerous enough everywhere to encourage this just privilege of the ballot for women, ignoring prejudice of all kinds…by her peculiar position the colored woman has gained clear powers of observation and judgment-exactly the sort of powers which are today peculiarly necessary to the building of an ideal country” (Talbert, 1915).Mary Talbert was certainly a powerful woman who reflected a lasting commitment toward improving the social welfare of women and African-Americans. In 1922 her numerous accomplishments were recognized as she became the first black woman to receive the coveted NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, not only for her successful work in anti-lynching campaigns but her leadership in the Phyllis Wheatley Club of Colored Women, charter member status of the Empire Federation of Women’s Clubs and her headship in preserving and restoring the Frederick Douglass Home in Anacostia as previously mentioned (Williams, 1993). Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM –LIF – Today’s American Champion was an American educator, anthropologist, writer, researcher, and scholar who became the first African American to hold a full faculty position at a major white university when he joined the staff of the University of Chicago in 1942, where he served for the balance of his academic life. He was considered one of the most promising black scholars of his generation.Among his students during his tenure at the University of Chicago were anthropologists St. Clair Drake and sociologist Nathan Hare. Davis, who has been honored with a commemorative postage stamp by the United States Postal Service, is best remembered for his pioneering anthropology research on southern race and class during the 1930s, his research on intelligence quotient tests in the 1940s and 1950s, and his support of “compensatory education,” an area in which he contributed to the intellectual genesis of the federal Head Start Program.Today in our History – October 14, 1902 – William Boyd Allison Davis (October 14, 1902 – November 21, 1983) was born.Born in 1902 as the first child of John Abraham and Gabrielle Davis, William Boyd Allison Davis, who would later be known as Allison Davis, was raised in a family well-acquainted with both achievement and activism. He had a younger sister, Dorothy, and a younger brother, John Aubrey Davis, Sr. Davis’s grandfather had been an abolitionist lawyer.His father led a group of 17 white clerks as the head of a government printing office before his demotion under the policies of President Woodrow Wilson’s administration and chaired the anti-lynching committee of Washington D.C.’s chapter of the NAACP. Thus, he was a leader in his community, and Davis would describe him as a “brave man” who was “already marked in a town of 236 citizens” as a large landowner who “further angered whites by registering and voting.”This contrasted sharply with the elitism of many upper-class African Americans, whom Davis would citicize throughout his life for their lack of leadership in the struggle for racial equality and attempts to distance themselves from lower-class blacks. He is the father of Allison S. Davis.Davis entered Washington D.C.’s segregated Dunbar High School in 1916 and, like his father before him, graduated as its valedictorian. The school had been founded almost a half-century before, making it the nation’s oldest public black high school, and had since developed a reputation that pulled black families to the nation’s capital for the chief purpose of gaining residency within the school district.Bucking national trends, the school had settled firmly in the Du Bois camp regarding black education and offered a rigorous college preparatory curriculum that included Greek and Latin. Though the quality of black colleges would steadily increase through the mid-century, at the time of Davis’s graduation most were still teaching primary and secondary curricula; the ticket to the white post-graduate program was most often through the white university. Williams College had a singular arrangement with Dunbar that allotted one full merit-based scholarship per year to the valedictorian. From this agreement Williams derived the majority of its black cohort, and in 1920 drew Davis into its ranks by graduating first in his class at Dunbar.Davis excelled at Williams, graduating as valedictorian in 1924 with a degree in English summa cum laude as well as membership in Phi Beta Kappa. During his studies, he gravitated toward the poetry of Robert Frost, whose stoic depiction of working class people resembled his own admiration for their resilience and adaptability. Though Williams offered a racially integrated classroom environment and had a tradition of supporting the early abolitionist movement, Davis and other black students endured segregation in campus housing; during his years there, the few black students were forced to live together to avoid the possible scandal that could accompany housing them with white students, and they were not permitted to attend social events on campus. Nonetheless, the atmosphere at Williams was relatively progressive for its time, and Davis got along well with many of his white peers, among whom were several Southerners. He also became close friends with Sterling Brown, a fellow Dunbar alumnus, who later recalled the instances of prejudice and social isolation he and other black students endured while at Williams in his essay “Oh Didn’t He Ramble.” In spite of an excellent academic performance and amicable relationships with peers and aculty, Davis was rejected for a teaching assistant position upon graduation in 1924 under the pretext that the school had too many Southern students to permit his appointment. With his post-graduation ambitions at Williams frustrated, in 1924 Davis entered Harvard University on a scholarship, where he earned his master’s degree in literature a year later. Among his professors were the well-known literary critics Bliss Perry and George Lyman Kittredge. However, the most influential intellectual tradition that Davis encountered during his year there came from Irving Babbitt and his New Humanism, in which he saw similarities with his own disdain for the materialistic culture of the black upper classes and the lack of moral leadership among blacks on a national level. This criticism recurred in his work in the late 1920s and early thirties when he participated actively in the explosion of black literature and culture known as the New Negro Renaissance.After graduation, the reality of finding a job in academics set in. Few universities would hire an African American teacher, so Davis’s choices were limited. In the Fall of 1925 he began teaching at the Hampton Institute, later Hampton University, one of the many segregated black colleges throughout the South. Davis realized that a cultural barrier separated him from his students, many of whom came from the most acutely segregated regions of the Deep South and lacked the rigorous academic training and privileged upbringing that he had enjoyed. This division, along with the paternalistic attitude of the Institute which manifested in the form of a strictly regimented campus life and an adherence to segregationist policies, frustrated him and eventually would drive him to change his academic focus from the arts to social sciences in a bid to make a greater impact on society. In the meantime, he fought the most egregious injustices at the Institute by helping students who were organizing a petition with a list of demands to the administration. The protest was quashed, but Davis continued to support a small group of promising students who grew to admire his work, among whom was St. Clair Drake, who was to make important contributions to Davis’s research during the 1930s for Deep South and who later became an important anthropologist in his own right.While at Hampton between 1925 and 1931, he remained actively involved in the literature of what was then known as the “New Negro Renaissance.” Likewise, in 1927 he published “In Glorious Company,” a narrative essay which describes a group of working-class blacks during their train ride North. This piece displayed his unique literary voice based on respect for the resilience of ordinary blacks who endured injustices every day, while at the same time it avoided an excessively romanticized depiction of African-American life or a reliance on realism as a way to scandalize the reader. This was a departure from many previous writers of the Renaissance who depicted success in the black struggle as part of an effort to highlight the artistic achievements of their race. Davis’s approach, which David Varel identifies in the tradition of “Negro Stoicism,” combined elements of Babbitt’s New Humanism as well as his own belief that literature should focus on uplifting ordinary blacks. During the same period he regularly corresponded with W.E.B. Du Bois and published several pieces in The Crisis, including the poems “To Those Dead and Gone” and “Gospel for Those Who Must,” always centered on the theme of perseverance in the lives of poor blacks. However, his most notable work during this era was the polarizing 1929 essay “The Negro Deserts His People,” in which he harshly criticized the black bourgeoisie for having abandoned the masses in their struggle for equality; the concern of class stratification continued to guide his work throughout his career, as he transitioned from the arts to social science in the early 30s and sought to directly confront class differences in the black community.By the late 1920s, Davis sought other ways to effect change on a broader scale, and he began to seek funding for an anthropological study of African Americans and their folk culture by studying its African roots, perhaps interested by the emphasis on pan-Africanism that emerged during the Renaissance. He corresponded with Bronisław Malinowski at the London School of Economics and Dietrich Westermann of the University of Berlin regarding funding to study in Europe, but eventually he decided to return first to Harvard for his M.A. in anthropology, which he did in the fall of 1931. While studying at Harvard, Davis participated in Lloyd Warner’s research for his study of Yankee City, where he helped interview the town’s black residents. The project dissected the social life of a New England town by dividing it into six social classes, which Warner maintained were reinforced by social cliques in which one’s social class determined which cliques one had access to. Warner’s theory of social classes would significantly shape Davis’s thinking, and the two would later work together on the Deep South project.Davis went on to earn a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, where he was offered a full teaching position.Davis is depicted on a United States postage stamp issued on February 1, 1994. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was a United States Navy officer. He was the first African-American aviator to complete the U.S. Navy’s basic flight training program, was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the first African-American naval officer killed in the Korean War.Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to an impoverished family, Brown was avidly interested in aircraft from a young age. He graduated as salutatorian of his high school, notwithstanding its racial segregation, and was later awarded a degree from Ohio State University. Brown enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1946, becoming a midshipman. Brown earned his pilot wings on 21 October 1948 amid a flurry of press coverage; in January 1949 he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 32 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Leyte.At the outset of the Korean War, Leyte was ordered to the Korean Peninsula, arriving in October 1950. Brown, an ensign, flew 20 combat missions before his F4U Corsair aircraft came under fire and crashed on a remote mountaintop on 4 December 1950 while supporting ground troops at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Brown died of his wounds despite the efforts of wingman Thomas J. Hudner Jr., who intentionally crashed his own aircraft in a rescue attempt, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.Brown’s successes in the segregated and desegregated U.S. military were memorialized in several books. The frigate USS Jesse L. Brown (FF-1089) was named in his honor.Today in our History – October 13, 1926 – Jesse LeRoy Brown (October 13, 1926 – December 4, 19500 was born.Brown was born on 13 October 1926 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He was one of six children born to Julia Lindsey Brown, a schoolteacher, and John Brown, a grocery warehouse worker. He had four brothers, Marvin, William, Fletcher, and Lura, as well as an older sister known as Johnny. Brown’s ancestry was African American, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. The family lived in a house without central heating or indoor plumbing so they relied on a fireplace for warmth. As a child, Jesse’s brother William fell into this fireplace and was severely burned. At the beginning of the Great Depression, John Brown lost his job and relocated the family to Palmer’s Crossing, 10 miles (16 km) from Hattiesburg, where he worked at a turpentine factory until he was laid off in 1938. John Brown moved the family to Lux, Mississippi, where he worked as a sharecropper on a farm. During this time, Jesse Brown shared a bed with his brothers (as was common among many families) and attended a one-room school 3 miles (4.8 km) away. His parents were very strict about school attendance and homework, and Jesse Brown walked to school every day. The bros also were committed Baptists and Jesse, William, and Julia Brown sang in the church choir. In his spare time, Brown also worked in the fields of the farm harvesting corn and cotton. When Brown was six years old, his father took him to an air show. Brown gained an intense interest in flying from this experience, and afterward, was attracted to a dirt airfield near his home, which he visited frequently in spite of being chased away by a local mechanic. At the age of thirteen, Brown took a job as a paperboy for the Pittsburgh Courier, a black press paper, and developed a desire to pilot while reading in the newspaper about African-American aviators of the time including C. Alfred Anderson, Eugine Jacques Bullard, and Bessie Coleman. He also became an avid reader of Popular Aviation and the Chicago Defender, which he later said heavily influenced his desire to fly naval aircraft. In his childhood he was described as “serious, witty, unassuming, and very intelligent.” In 1937, he wrote a letter to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in which he complained of the injustice of African-American pilots being kept out of the U.S. Army Air Corps, to which the White House responded with a letter saying that it appreciated the viewpoint. Because the schools closer to his family were of lower quality, in 1939, Brown lived with his aunt and attended the segregated Eureka High School in Hattiesburg. He was a member of the basketball, football, and track and field teams and he was an excellent student, graduating as the salutatorian in 1944. During this time, Brown met his future wife, Daisy Pearl Nix. Following graduation, Brown sought to enroll in a college outside of the South. His principal, Nathaniel Burger, advised he attend an all-black college, as his brother Marvin Brown had done. But he enrolled at Ohio State University as his childhood role model, Jesse Owens, had done. Burger told Brown that only seven African Americans had graduated from the university that year, but Brown was determined to enroll, believing that he could compete well with white students. Brown took several side jobs to save money for college, including waiting tables at the Holmes Club, a saloon for white U.S. Army soldiers. In this job, Brown was frequently the target of racist vitriol and abuse, but he persevered, earning $600 to pay for college. In the autumn of 1944, Brown left Mississippi on a segregated train for Columbus, Ohio, where he started at Ohio State.Brown moved into an on-campus boarding house at 61 East Eleventh Avenue in the primarily black neighborhood of the University District in Columbus. He majored in architectural engineering. Brown attempted several times to apply to the school’s aviation program, but was denied because of his race. Brown joined the track and field team as well as the wrestling team, but soon dropped both for financial reasons. He took a job as a janitor at a local Lazarus department store and was hired by the Pennsylvania Railroad to load boxcars from 15:30 to midnight each day. In spite of this, he maintained top grades in his classes. Although facing difficulties with academics and the institutional segregation in the city, Brown found that most of his fellow students were friendly toward him. Brown rarely returned to Mississippi during the school year, but in the summers he worked at a dry cleaner in Hattiesburg to help pay for his classes. During his second year in college, Brown learned of the V-5 Aviation Cadet Training Program being conducted by the U.S. Navy to commission naval aviation pilots. This program operated at 52 colleges, none of which was a historically black college, so only students such as Brown, who attended integrated colleges, were eligible. In spite of resistance from recruiters, Brown passed the entrance exams.Brown enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on 8 July 1946 and was admitted to the aviation program, becoming a Seaman Apprentice in the U.S. Navy and a member of the school’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program. A $50 monthly stipend allowed him to quit his jobs and concentrate on his studies; he completed his architectural engineering degree in 1947. At this time, the NROTC was the normal route to a regular Naval commission, but only 14 of the more than 5,600 NROTC students in 1947 were black. On 15 March 1947, Brown reported to Glenview Naval Air Station in Glenview, Illinois, for Naval Flight Officer training. There, his enlistment ended 15 April and Brown reverted to the rank of midshipman, becoming the only African American in the program. Although he anticipated antagonism, he found the other cadets were generally friendly and welcoming. He found many of the black cooks and janitors hostile to him, however, possibly due to jealousy. Brown got his first flight time aboard a Stearman N2S trainer aircraft. In spite of the rigors of the initial training, Brown was encouraged by instructors and completed the first phase of training, transferring to Ottumwa Naval Air Station in Ottumwa, Iowa, for the next phase. The Ottumwa training involved intense physical fitness and technical training, which Brown completed. Thereafter, he was moved to Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, to train in aircraft flight.In Pensacola, Brown and Nix married in secret, as naval cadets were not allowed to marry until their training was complete, under threat of immediate dismissal. Nix took a room in Pensacola, and the two visited one another on weekends. In spite of overt racism from at least one instructor and several classmates at this posting, Brown completed the rigorous training in August 1947. By June 1948, Brown had begun training for carrier-based aircraft, and hoped to fly either the F4U Corsair or F6F Hellcat, both of which were fighters. He trained in carrier takeoffs and landings aboard the light carrier USS Wright, after which he was sent to Jacksonville, Florida, for final flight qualifications. On 21 October 1948, he completed his training and was given his Naval Aviator Badge. This accomplishment was widely publicized, and Brown became known nationally. The Associated Press profiled him and his photograph appeared in Life magazine. Author Theodore Taylor later wrote that through Brown’s efforts to become a pilot, he had broken the “color barrier” which had been longstanding and preventing blacks in naval aviation. Brown was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy on 26 April 1949. He was assigned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Quonset, Rhode Island, as a part of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Brown reported that incidents of racism and discrimination, which had been harsh late in his training, were substantially relieved once he became an officer. Following his commissioning, Brown was assigned to temporary duty at Norfolk Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Virginia. His daughter, Pamela Elise Brown, was born in December. In January 1949, Brown was assigned to Fighter Squadron 32 aboard USS Leyte. Over the next 18 months, the unit conducted numerous training exercises along the East Coast, many of them taking place at Quonset Point. Brown reported here his superiors treated him fairly and held others to equal standards. The unit trained rigorously in aircraft maneuvers. By the outbreak of the Korean War, he had gained a reputation among the others in the squadron as an experienced pilot and a capable section leader. He was well-liked among other pilots and the black stewards and support staff of the carrier. Brown did not socialize much with the other pilots, however, and was known to spend as much time as possible visiting his wife. He was able to reveal his marriage following his commissioning. On the night of 25 June 1950, ten divisions of the North Korean People’s Army launched a full-scale invasion of the nation’s neighbor to the south, the Republic of Korea. The force of 89,000 men moved in six columns, catching the Republic of Korea Army by surprise, resulting in a rout. The smaller South Korean army suffered from widespread lack of organization and equipment, and was unprepared for war. The numerically superior North Korean forces destroyed isolated resistance from the 38,000 South Korean soldiers on the front before it began moving steadily south. Most of South Korea’s forces retreated in the face of the invasion. The North Koreans were well on their way to South Korea’s capital of Seoul within hours, forcing the government and its shattered army to retreat farther south.To prevent South Korea’s collapse, the United Nations Security Council voted to send military forces. The United States Seventh Fleet dispatched Task Force 77, led by the fleet carrier USS Valley Forge; the British Far East Fleet dispatched several ships, including HMS Triumph, to provide air and naval support. Although the navies blockaded North Korea and launched aircraft to delay the North Korean forces, these efforts alone did not stop the North Korean Army juggernaut on its southern advance. U.S. President Harry S. Truman ordered ground troops into the country to supplement the air support. All U.S. Navy units, including Leyte, were placed on alert. At the time, the ship was in the Mediterranean Sea and Brown did not expect to be deployed to Korea, but on 8 August a relief carrier arrived in the area and Leyte was ordered to Korea. Commanders felt the pilots on the carrier were better trained, and hence needed in the theater. The ship sailed from the Strait of Gibraltar across the Atlantic Ocean and to Quonset, then through the Panama Canal and to San Diego, California, Hawaii, and Japan before arriving in Korea around 8 October. The ship joined Task Force 77 off the northeast coast of the Korean Peninsula, part of a fleet of 17 ships from the Seventh Fleet, including the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea, battleship USS Missouri and cruiser USS Juneau. Brown flew 20 missions in-country. These missions included attacks on communication lines, troop concentrations, and military installations around Wonsan, Chongpu, Songjim, and Senanju. Following the entrance of the People’s Republic of China into the war in late November 1950, Brown and his squadron were dispatched to the Chosin Reservoir, where an intense campaign was being fought between the People’s Volunteer Army and the US X Corps. Approximately 100,000 Chinese troops had surrounded 15,000 U.S. troops, and Brown and other pilots on Leyte flew dozens of close air support missions every day to prevent the Chinese from overrunning the U.S. troops. December 4, 1950, Brown was part of a six-aircraft flight supporting U.S. Marine Corps ground troops trapped by Chinese forces. At 13:38 KST, Brown took off from Leyte with squadron executive officer Lieutenant Commander Dick Cevoli, Lieutenant George Hudson, Lieutenant Junior Grade Bill Koenig, Ensign Ralph McQueen, and Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas J. Hudner Jr., who was Brown’s wingman. During this flight, Brown had the call sign “Iroquois 13”. The flight traveled 100 miles (160 km) from the Task Force’s location to the Chosin Reservoir, flying 35 to 40 minutes through very harsh wintery conditions to the vicinity of the villages of Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri. The flight began searching for targets along the west side of the reservoir, decreasing their altitude to 700 feet (210 m). The mission was a three-hour search and destroy flight as well as an attempt to probe Chinese troop strength in the area. Although the flight spotted no Chinese, at 14:40 Koenig radioed that Brown appeared to be trailing fuel. The damage had likely come by small arms fire from Chinese infantry, who were known to hide in the snow and to ambush passing aircraft by firing in unison. At least one bullet had ruptured a fuel line. Brown, losing fuel pressure and increasingly unable to control the aircraft, dropped his external fuel tanks and rockets and attempted to land the craft in a snow-covered clearing on the side of a mountain. Brown crashed into a bowl-shaped valley at approximately 40°36′N 127°06′E. The aircraft broke up violently upon impact and was destroyed.In the crash, Brown’s leg was pinned beneath the fuselage of the aircraft, and he stripped off his helmet and gloves in an attempt to free himself, before waving to the other pilots, who were circling close overhead. The other pilots had thought he had died in the crash. Brown had crash-landed near Somong-ni, 15 miles (24 km) behind Chinese lines in 15 °F (−9 °C) weather, and the other pilots began a Mayday radio to any heavy transport aircraft in the area asthey canvassed the mountain for any sign of Chinese ground forces who might threaten Brown. They received a signal that a rescue helicopter would come as soon as possible, but Brown’s aircraft was smoking and a fire had started near its internal fuel tanks. Before it became clear Brown was seriously injured, Hudner attempted in vain to rescue Brown by radioing him instructions for escaping his damaged aircraft. Hudner then intentionally crash-landed his aircraft, ran to Brown’s side and attempted to wrestle him free from the wreck. While Brown’s condition worsened by the minute, Hudner attempted in vain to put out the aircraft fire using snow and to pull Brown from the aircraft.In great pain, Brown began slipping in and out of consciousness. A rescue helicopter arrived around 15:00; its pilot, Lieutenant Charles Ward, and Hudner were unable to put out the engine fire with a fire extinguisher, and tried unsuccessfully to free Brown with an axe for 45 minutes. They even considered, at Brown’s request, amputating his trapped leg.Brown lost consciousness shortly thereafter. His last known words to Hudner were, “Tell Daisy I love her.” The helicopter, which was unable to operate in the darkness, was forced to return to base at nightfall with Hudner, leaving Brown behind. Brown is believed to have died shortly thereafter of his injuries and exposure to the extreme cold. No Chinese forces threatened the site, likely owing to the heavy air presence of Brown and Hudner’s unit. Hudner begged superiors to allow him to return to the wreck to help extract Brown, but he was not allowed, as other officers feared an ambush of the vulnerable helicopters resulting in casualties. To prevent the body and the aircraft from falling into Chinese or North Korean hands, the U.S. Navy bombed the aircraft with napalm two days later, with pilots reportedly reciting the Lord’s Prayer over the radio as they watched Brown’s body be consumed by flames. The pilots observed that Brown’s body was still stuck in the aircraft, but his clothes were gone. The remains of both Brown and the aircraft were never recovered. Brown was the first African-American U.S. Navy officer killed in the war.For his actions in Korea leading up to his death, Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart Medal, and the Air Medal. For the failed rescue attempt, Hudner received the Medal of Honor, the highest valor award presented by the U.S. military. Brown’s shipmates memorialized him in a shipwide newspaper as “a Christian soldier, a gentleman, a shipmate, and friend … His courage and faith … shone like a beacon for all to see.” As word of his death spread, Brown inspired numerous other African Americans to become pilots, notably Seaman Apprentice Frank E. Petersen. Petersen would become the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general, graduating from the Naval Aviation Training Program in 1952 and retiring from the military after 38 years in 1988 with the rank of lieutenant general.On 17 February 1973, the Navy commissioned the Knox-class frigate USS Jesse L. Brown (FF-1089), the third U.S. ship named in honor of an African American. Present at the commissioning ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts, were Daisy Brown Thorne (who had remarried), Pamela Brown, and Hudner, who gave a dedication.The ship was decommissioned on 27 July 1994 and renamed Damiyat after being commissioned with the Egyptian Navy. Brown also has a VA Hospital in Chicago named after, formerly known as the West Side VA Hospital.In July 2013, Hudner visited Pyongyang in an attempt to recover Brown’s remains from the crash site. He was told by North Korean authorities to return in September when the weather is more predictable. While Brown is often cited as the first African-American Naval Aviator, historian Robert J. Schneller has maintained that Lieutenant (junior grade) Oscar W. Holmes preceded Brown, earning the designation of Naval Aviator in 1943 with an exemption from the Navy’s basic aviation training program due to his prior civilian piloting experience. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion event is a U.S. National Historic Landmark (designated as such on October 12, 1994), located two miles north of St. Augustine, Florida, on the edge of a salt marsh on the western side of the waterway separating the mainland from the coastal barrier islands. The original site of the 18th-century fort was uncovered in a 1986 archeological dig. The 24-acre (9.7 ha) site is now protected as a Florida State Park, administered through the Anastasia State Recreation Area. Fort Mose is the “premier site on the Florida Black Heritage Trail”. In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida, Manuel de Montiano, had Fort Mose (pronounced [ˈmose]) constructed and established it as a free black settlement, the first to be legally sanctioned in what would become the territory of the United States. The fort has also been called Fort Moosa or Fort Mossa, variants of the Spanish pronunciation.Today in our History – October 12, 1994 – Fort Mose Historic State Park (originally known as Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose is designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.As early as 1689, the colonial authorities of Spanish Florida had begun to offer asylum to escaped slaves fleeing from the Virginia Colony. In 1693, King Charles II of Spain issued a royal decree proclaiming that runaways would be granted asylum in Florida in return for converting to Catholicism, which required baptism with Christian names and serving for four years in the colonial militia. By 1742 the community had grown into a maroon settlement similar to those in other European colonies in the Americas, and the Spanish utilized the settlement as the first line of defense against outside incursions into Florida. In 1738, Governor Montiano ordered the construction of the Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose military fort, about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of St. Augustine. Any fugitive slaves discovered by the Spanish were directed to head there. If they accepted Catholicism and were baptized with Christian names, and those capable served in the colonial militia, the Spanish treated them as free. The military leader at the fort, who had since 1726 been the appointed captain of the free black militia at St. Augustine, was a Mandinga born in the Gambia region of Africa and baptized as Francisco Menéndez. He had been captured by slave traders and shipped across the Atlantic to the colony of Carolina, from where, he, like many other black enslaved persons, escaped and sought refuge in Spanish Florida. His status as a leader was solidified with the Spanish colonial authorities when he helped defend the city from a British attack led by John Palmer in 1728, and distinguished himself by his bravery. He was the de facto leader of the maroon community at Mose.Fort Mose was the first free African settlement legally sanctioned in what would become the United States and had a population of about 100. The village had a wall around it with dwellings inside, as well as a church and an earthen fort.Hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans were imported in the 18th century to the Carolinas, where their labor was essential to the plantation economy. Word of the settlement of free blacks at Mose reached the colonies of South Carolina and Georgia and attracted escaping slaves. Fellow blacks and their Indian allies helped runaways flee southward to Florida. The Spanish colony needed skilled laborers, and the freedmen strengthened St. Augustine’s military forces. In 1738 the Spanish governor established the runaways in their own fortified town (officially known as Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, but usually referred to simply as “Mose” in governmental documents of the period). This administrative action followed the example of colonial governments in the Caribbean, enabling the Spanish to hold and populate territory threatened by the Carolinians. The existence of Fort Mose is believed to have helped inspire the Stono Rebellion in September 1739. This was led by slaves who were “fresh from Africa”. During the Stono revolt, several dozen Africans believed to be from the Kingdom of Kongo tried to reach Spanish Florida. Some were successful, and they rapidly adjusted to life there, as they were already baptized Catholics (Kongo was a Catholic nation) and spoke Portuguese. As a military outpost, Mose defended the northern approach to St. Augustine, the capital of La Florida. Most of its inhabitants came originally from numerous different tribal and cultural groups in West Africa (predominately Kongos, Carabalis, and Mandinka) and had been sold into slavery in the colonies of North and South Carolina. While struggling to make their way to freedom in Florida, they had frequent interactions with many Native American peoples. By successfully defending their freedom and Spanish Florida in the mid-18th century, the black inhabitants of Fort Mose had a significant role in contemporary political conflicts between European colonial powers in the southeast. The people of Mose made political alliances with the Spaniards along with their Indian allies and took up arms against their former masters. The black militia fought beside Spanish regular soldiers against British forces under James Oglethorpe, who launched an attack on St. Augustine in 1740 during the War of Jenkins’ Ear; these troops also participated in the unsuccessful Spanish counterattack against the colony of Georgia in 1742.Following the murder of some inhabitants at the fort by Indian allies of the British, Montiano ordered it abandoned and its inhabitants resettled in St. Augustine. In 1740, the colonial militia of Georgia led by James Oglethorpe attacked and captured the fort in the Siege of Fort Mose. During the ensuing conflict, a Floridian force consisting of Spanish troops, Indian auxiliaries, and free black militia counterattacked Oglethorpe’s troops and defeated them, destroying the fort in the process. Oglethorpe was eventually forced to withdraw his forces back to Georgia. Because the fort was destroyed, its inhabitants stayed in St. Augustine. By 1752, the Spanish had rebuilt Fort Mose. The new governor forcibly relocated most of the free blacks back into the defensive settlement, from the more cosmopolitan, multilingual culture of St. Augustine. After East Florida was ceded to the British in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, most of the free black inhabitants emigrated to Cuba with the evacuating Spanish settlers. At that time, the black population at St. Augustine and Fort Mose totaled about 3,000, of whom about three-quarters were escaped, slaves. A haven for refugee slaves from the Southern colonies to the north, Fort Mose is considered the “premier site on the Florida Black Heritage Trail”. The National Park Service highlights it as a precursor site of the Underground Railroad. This was the network in the antebellum years preceding the American Civil War by which slaves escaped to freedom, most often to the North and Canada, but also to the Bahamas and Mexico.The site was abandoned when Spanish Florida was ceded to the British in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, with the community being evacuated by the Spanish to Cuba. The empty site was demolished by the British in 1812, during the War of 1812. In 1968, motivated by the recent (1963–1964) racial violence in St. Augustine (see St. Augustine Movement), Frederick Eugene “Jack” Williams, a long time St. Augustine resident, historian, and amateur archaeologist, located the site from an old map, purchased the land, and began a campaign, supported by the Black Caucus in the Florida legislature, to have the site excavated. During 1986-1988 a team of specialists, the Fort Mose Research Team, led by Kathleen Deagan of the Florida Museum of Natural History and under the supervision of John Marron of the University of Florida, performed an archaeological and historical investigation at Fort Mose. Their discoveries showed that Africans played important roles in the geopolitical conflicts between European colonial powers in the southeast of what is now the United States.Documents examined by historian Jane Landers in the colonial archives of Spain, Florida, Cuba, and South Carolina reveal who lived in Mose and some idea of what their lives were like in the settlement. In 1759 the village consisted of twenty-two palm-thatched huts housing thirty-seven men, fifteen women, seven boys, and eight girls. The people of Mose grew their own crops and their men stood guard at the fort or patrolled the frontier in service to the crown. They attended Mass in a wooden chapel where their priest also lived. Most of them married other refugees, but some married Indian women or slaves who lived in St. Augustine.In the first year of excavating the archaeologists uncovered remains of fort structures, including its moat, clay-daubed earthen walls, and the wooden structures inside the walls. They found a wide assortment of artifacts: military paraphernalia such as gunflints, lead shot, metal buckles, and hardware; household items such as pipestems, thimbles, nails, ceramics, and bottle glass; and food remnants such as burnt seeds and bone. Fort Mose’s location on the small tidal channel called Mose Creek (Caño Mose) gave the Mose settlers access to the estuarine mudflats, oyster bars, salt marshes, and other tidal creeks of the North River, which joins the Matanzas River to form Matanzas Bay, St. Augustine’s harbor. This tidal estuary was a rich source of food. Analysis of faunal remains found at the site by the team zooarchaeologist Elizabeth Reitz indicated that the Mose villagers had a diet very similar to that of the nearby Indian communities, with a heavy dependence on marine proteins and wild foods. An archeological excavation in 1986, led by Kathleen A. Deagan and historian Jane Landers revealed the site of the original Fort Mose, as well as the second facility constructed in 1752. Today, artifacts are displayed in the museum within the Visitor Center at the park. On the grounds, interpretive panels are used to illustrate the history of the site. Three replicas of historic items have been installed within the park: a choza or cooking hut, a small historic garden, and a small Spanish flat boat called a barca chata.The story of Fort Mose is told in a juvenile book published in 2010. It contains material not typically found in a children’s book: an index, a long list of sources, internet resources, and documentation for all the illustrations. Research more about this American Champion event and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American inventor and businessman, best known for being awarded a patent for automatically opening and closing elevator doors. Today in our History – October 11, 1887 – Alexander Miles (May 18, 1838 – May 7, 1918) – He was awarded U.S. Patent 371,207 on October 11, 1887Alexander Miles was born in Pickaway County near the town of Circleville, Ohio, in 1838, the son of Michael and Mary Miles. He was African-American. Miles may have resided in the nearby town of Chillicothe, Ohio, but subsequently moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he earned a living as a barber.After a move to Winona, Minnesota, he met and married Mrs. Candace J. (Shedd) Dunlap, of La Porte, Indiana, a widow with two children, who was four years his senior and a native of New York. Together they had a daughter, born in 1876, named Grace. It is believed by some that Alexander got the idea for his elevator door mechanism after Grace accidentally fell down a shaft, almost ending her life. Shortly after her birth, the family relocated to Duluth, Minnesota. Here, Alexander became the first Black member of the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. The family moved to Montgomery, Alabama by 1889, where Miles was listed in the city directories as a laborer. In 1899, he moved to Chicago where he founded The United Brotherhood as a life insurance company that would insure black people, who were often denied coverage at that time.Around 1903, they moved again, to Seattle, Washington, where he worked in a hotel as a barber. Miles died in 1918 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007. In his time, doors of the elevators had to be closed manually, often by dedicated operators. If the shaft was not closed, people could fall through it leading to some horrific accidents. Miles improved on this mechanism by designing a flexible belt attachment to the elevator cage, and drums positioned to indicate if the elevator has reached a floor. The belt allowed for automatic opening and closing when the elevator reached the drums on the respective floors, by means of levers and rollers. Miles was granted a patent for this mechanism in 1887, thus greatly improving the safety and efficiency of elevators. John W. Meaker was granted a patent 13 years earlier for another related mechanism of automatic closing of elevator doors. He is a “part of a very select group” of African-American inventors and scientists. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American rhythm-and-blues singer, songwriter, and pianist. After a series of hits on the US R&B chart starting in the mid-1940s, he became more widely known for his hit recording “Since I Met You Baby” (1956). He was billed as The Baron of the Boogie, and also known as The Happiest Man Alive. His musical output ranged from R&B to blues, boogie-woogie, and country music, and he made a name in all of those genres. Uniquely, he was honored at both the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Grand Ole Opry.Today in our History – October 10, 1914 – Ivory Joe Hunter (October 10, 1914 – November 8, 1974) was born.Hunter was born in Kirbyville, Texas. Ivory Joe was his given name, not a nickname nor a stage name. As a youngster, he developed an early interest in music from his father, Dave Hunter, who played guitar, and his gospel-singing mother. He was a talented pianist by the age of 13. He made his first recording for Alan Lomax and the Library of Congress as a teenager, in 1933. Hunter was the uncle of Rick Stevens, the original lead vocalist for Tower of Power. In the early 1940s, Hunter had his own radio show in Beaumont, Texas, on KFDM, for which he eventually became program manager. In 1942 he moved to Los Angeles, joining Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers in the mid-1940s. He wrote and recorded his first song, “Blues at Sunrise”, with the Three Blazers for his own label, Ivory Records, it became a nationwide hit on the R&B chart in 1945. In the late 1940s, Hunter founded Pacific Records. In 1947, he recorded for Four Star Records and King Records. Two years later, he recorded further R&B hits; on “I Quit My Pretty Mama” and “Guess Who” he was backed by members of Duke Ellington’s band. After signing with MGM Records, he recorded “I Almost Lost My Mind”, which topped the 1950 R&B charts and would later (in the wake of Hunter’s success with “Since I Met You Baby”) be recorded by Pat Boone, whose version became a number one pop hit. “I Need You So” was a number two R&B hit that same year. With his smooth delivery, Hunter became a popular R&B artist, and he also began to be noticed in the country music community. In April 1951, he made his network TV debut on You Asked for It. He toured widely with a backing band and became known for his large build (he was 6 feet 4 inches tall), his brightly colored stage suits, and his volatile temperament.By 1954, he had recorded more than 100 songs and moved to Atlantic Records. His first song to cross over to the pop charts was “Since I Met You Baby” (1956). It was to be his only Top 40 pop song, reaching number 12 on the pop chart. While visiting Memphis, Tennessee, in the spring of 1957, Hunter was invited by Elvis Presley to visit Graceland. The two spent the day together, singing “I Almost Lost My Mind” and other songs together. Hunter commented, “He is very spiritually minded… he showed me every courtesy, and I think he’s one of the greatest.” Presley recorded several of his songs, including “I Need You So”, “My Wish Came True” and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby”. Later, Presley would record “I Will Be True” and “It’s Still Here” in May 1971. Hunter was a prolific songwriter, and some estimate he wrote more than 7,000 songs.Hunter’s “Empty Arms” and “Yes I Want You” also made the pop charts, and he had a minor hit with “City Lights” in 1959, just before his popularity began to decline. Hunter came back as a country singer in the late 1960s, making regular Grand Ole Opry appearances and recording an album titled I’ve Always Been Country. The country singer Sonny James issued a version of “Since I Met You Baby”, which topped the country charts in 1969, paving the way for Hunter’s album The Return of Ivory Joe Hunter and his appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. The album was recorded in Memphis with a band that included Isaac Hayes, Gene “Bowlegs” Miller and Charles Chalmers. Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a cover version of the song in 1969.Hunter died of complications due to lung cancer in 1974, at the age of 60, in Memphis, Tennessee. His remains were buried in Spring Hill Community Cemetery. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champions event started out on September 18, 1932 as a black pilot, took off from Dycer Airport, Los Angeles in an orange and black Alexander Eaglerock biplane along with his mechanic, to embark on a historic 3,000 mile journey across the U.S.A in a rickety airplane put together with surplus parts and a sputtering 14-year old Curtiss engine. Zigzagging across the country, through Arizona and Texas, then northeast through Oklahoma, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh, PA, they reached their final destination, touching down in Valley Stream, Long Island after a total of 41 hours and 27 minutes aloft, in a span of 21 days. Today in our History – October 9, 1932 – James Banning and his mechanic Thomas C. Allen, touched down in Valley Stream, Long Island. Becoming the first African Americans to fly across the country. Fondly now called “The Flying Hobos” with a great touring play telling their story.While a total of 41 hours and 27 minutes to cross the United States by air may not seem so impressive in this day and age, one must consider the financial and societal challenges that confronted the two men over the course of the 21 day journey that made Banning’s successful flight both groundbreaking and inspiring for the next generation of African American pilots who were to follow in his path.At the height of the Great Depression with unemployment rising to 23%, some 300 thousand companies out of business and hundreds of thousands of families losing their homes, the challenge for Banning and Allen to successfully complete their trans-continental flight in 1932 was thought to be insurmountable when two black airmen, who called themselves, ‘’The Flying Hoboes’, left Los Angeles with a total of $25 between them in their pockets. But Banning’s dream of becoming the first black pilot to fly cross-country was fueled by his belief that freedom in the sky would create freedom on the ground.James Herman Banning was born in Oklahoma on November 5, 1899. His love of airplanes and dream of becoming a pilot began as a young boy in the years after the Wright Brother’s historic powered flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 and Wilbur Wright’s subsequent flight in 1905 which covered an unprecedented 24 miles in 39 minutes and 23 seconds.In 1919 the Banning family moved to Ames, Iowa and there James enrolled at Iowa State where he studied engineering. By the spring of 1920 James took his first airplane ride at an air circus that came to town and as his calling to fly grew, he ended his studies and made the choice to pursue aviation instead. Along with that pursuit, Banning was repeatedly denied entry into American flight schools because of the color of his skin. Eventually he learned to fly privately from an army aviator who instructed him at the Raymond Fisher Flying Field in Des Moines and from 1922 to 1928 Banning owned and operated an auto repair shop in Ames. Since no individual or flight school would lend Banning an airplane so that he could complete required solo hours, he purchased an engine from a Fisher Flying Field crashed plane and gathered automobile and airplane scraps to build his own biplane which he named “Miss Ames’. By 1927, James H. Banning became the first African American in the United States to obtain a pilot’s license, number 1324, from the U.S. Department of Commerce. (Note: Emory Malick, is believed to be the first African American male to receive an FAI (Federal International) license in 1912). Leaving Iowa for Los Angeles in 1929 Banning became the chief pilot for the Bessie Coleman Aero Club, an organization whose mission was to encourage interest in aviation among African Americans, founded by visionary black aviator, William Powell.Banning barnstormed in air circuses and in 1930 he flew Illinois representative Oscar De Priest, the first black to serve in Congress since Reconstruction, on an excursion over South Los Angeles.During the 1930s ‘Golden Age of Aviation’, record-setting flights, air racing and aviators dominated the news and wealthy financiers and corporations jumped at the opportunity to sponsor these daring flights and aviators. At the height of the Depression, when Americans sought aviation heroes to take their minds off the dire economic straits of The Depression, James Banning wanted to be one of those heroes. With that in mind, after hearing a rumor of a $1,000 prize to the first black aviator to fly across the continent, he formulated a plan to be the one to accomplish that goal. Banning, however, would have no sponsors, nor would any of the mainstream media cover his story. Undeterred and without fanfare, he sought after his own backers. Enlisting mechanic, Thomas C. Allen to accompany him on the flight, Allen came up with the idea of soliciting small donations, a warm meal, a place to overnight and money for a tank of gas, from individuals they would meet at each of the towns that they landed at along the way. Donors would inscribe their names on the wing of their airplane which Banning and Allen called ‘The Gold Book’. As they made their way across the United States, stopping at some twenty-four communities, 65 contributors signed their names into ‘The Gold Book’ and with each take-off, the hopes and blessings of their donors soared along with them. As word of their flight attempt made it into the local black press, radio and newspapers began to report their progress, drawing people to watch for their anticipated arrival. By the time ‘The Flying Hoboes’ made it to St. Louis, thousands stood by to greet them. In Pittsburgh, with increasing press coverage and Election Day approaching, Democratic party officials enlisted Banning and Allen to publicize Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential campaign by dropping some 15,000 leaflets supporting the Democratic ticket along their flight over Pennsylvania. In exchange the campaign would fund the rest of the flight, and the men’s expenses, as well as the cost of care for the flight-worn Eaglerock on its return trip to California. On October 9th, after an arduous 21-day journey, Banning, with Allen, completed the flight, landing at Curtiss Airfield in Valley Stream, Long Island. Upon their arrival New York City mayor Jimmy Walker gave them the keys to the city and a parade in their honor in Harlem. Shortly after Banning completed the flight, he wrote an article for the Pittsburgh Courier entitled, “The Day I Sprouted Wings” in which he describes his first solo flight in a plane he had assembled with his own two hands. Only three and half months after his historic trans-continental flight, on February 5, 1933, Banning, who had returned to Los Angeles, attempted to rent an airplane so that he could participate in a San Diego airshow. Refused because of his race, Banning instead participated as a passenger in a biplane, sitting in the front cockpit with a white Navy pilot at the controls. After the pilot brought the plane into a steep climb, its engine stalled and the relatively inexperienced pilot was unable to gain control of the plane, causing it to crash in front of hundreds of spectators, killing both men. Banning was 34 years old at the time of his death. But the legacy of flight that he left behind still lives on. Research more about this great American Champion event and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF _ Today’s American Champion event was only 50 years after the defeat of the British at Yorktown, most Americans had already forgotten the extensive role black people had played on both sides during the War for Independence. At the 1876 Centennial Celebration of the Revolution in Philadelphia, not a single speaker acknowledged the contributions of African Americans in establishing the nation. Yet by 1783, thousands of black Americans had become involved in the war. Many were active participants, some won their freedom and others were victims, but throughout the struggle blacks refused to be mere bystanders and gave their loyalty to the side that seemed to offer the best prospect for freedom.Today in our History – October 8, 1775—Slaves and free Blacks are officially barred by the Council of Officers from joining the Continental Army to help fight for American independence from England. Nevertheless, a significant number of Blacks had already become involved in the fight and would distinguish themselves in battle. Additional Blacks were barred out of fear, especially in the South, that they would demand freedom for themselves if White America became free from Britain.African Americans and the American RevolutionBy 1775 more than a half-million African Americans, most of them enslaved, were living in the 13 colonies. Early in the 18th century a few New England ministers and conscientious Quakers, such as George Keith and John Woolman, had questioned the morality of slavery but they were largely ignored. By the 1760s, however, as the colonists began to speak out against British tyranny, more Americans pointed out the obvious contradiction between advocating liberty and owning slaves.In 1774 Abigail Adams wrote, “it always appeared a most iniquitious scheme to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.”Widespread talk of liberty gave thousands of slaves high expectations, and many were ready to fight for a democratic revolution that might offer them freedom. In 1775 at least 10 to 15 black soldiers, including some slaves, fought against the British at the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill. Two of these men, Salem Poor and Peter Salem, earned special distinction for their bravery. By 1776, however, it had become clear that the revolutionary rhetoric of the founding fathers did not include enslaved blacks. The Declaration of Independence promised liberty for all men but failed to put an end to slavery; and although they had proved themselves in battle, the Continental Congress adopted a policy of excluding black soldiers from the army.In spite of these discouragements, many free and enslaved African Americans in New England were willing to take up arms against the British. As soon states found it increasingly difficult to fill their enlistment quotas, they began to turn to this untapped pool of manpower. Eventually every state above the Potomac River recruited slaves for military service, usually in exchange for their freedom. By the end of the war from 5,000 to 8,000 blacks had served the American cause in some capacity, either on the battlefield, behind the lines in noncombatant roles, or on the seas.By 1777 some states began enacting laws that encouraged white owners to give slaves for the army in return for their enlistment bounty, or allowing masters to use slaves as substitutes when they or their sons were drafted. In the South the idea of arming slaves for military service met with such opposition that only free blacks were normally allowed to enlist in the army.Most black soldiers were scattered throughout the Continental Army in integrated infantry regiments, where they were often assigned to support roles as wagoners, cooks, waiters or artisans. Several all-black units, commanded by white officers, also were formed and saw action against the British. Rhode Island’s Black Battalion was established in 1778 when that state was unable to meet its quota for the Continental Army. The legislature agreed to set free slaves who volunteered for the duration of the war, and compensated their owners for their value.This regiment performed bravely throughout the war and was present at Yorktown where an observer noted it was “the most neatly dressed, the best under arms, and the most precise in its maneuvers.”Although the Southern states were reluctant to recruit enslaved African Americans for the army, they had no objections to using free and enslaved blacks as pilots and able-bodied seaman. In Virginia alone, as many as 150 black men, many of them slaves, served in the state navy.After the war, the legislature granted several of these men their freedom as a reward for faithful service. African Americans also served as gunners, sailors on privateers and in the Continental Navy during the Revolution. While the majority of blacks who contributed to the struggle for independence performed routine jobs, a few, such as James Lafayette, gained renown serving as spies or orderlies for well-known military leaders.Black participation in the Revolution, however, was not limited to supporting the American cause, and either voluntarily or under duress thousands also fought for the British. Enslaved blacks made their own assessment of the conflict and supported the side that offered the best opportunity to escape bondage. Most British officials were reluctant to arm blacks, but as early as 1775, Virginia’s royal governor, Lord Dunmore, established an all-black “Ethiopian Regiment” composed of runaway slaves. By promising them freedom, Dunmore enticed over 800 slaves to escape from “rebel” masters. Whenever they could, enslaved blacks continued to join him until he was defeated and forced to leave Virginia in 1776. Dunmore’s innovative strategy met with disfavor in England, but to many blacks the British army came to represent liberation. Research more about this great American Tragity and share it with your babies. Make it a chqmpion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an African-American politician in South Carolina during the Reconstruction era. A Republican, he was elected to the state legislature in 1870 and as Secretary of State in 1872. While serving as secretary of state in 1873, He enrolled as the first student of color in the University of South Carolina medical school.Born into slavery, he was of mixed race; his enslaved mother was of mixed ethnicity. His father was a white planter and state politician who acknowledged Hayne and helped him get some education. October 7, 1873 – Henry E. Hayne enrolled as the first student of color in the University of South Carolina medical school. Henry E. Hayne was born in 1840 into slavery; his mixed-race mother was enslaved. His father was a white planter and state politician. His father acknowledged him and arranged for him to get some education, to provide social capital to help him in his later life.During Reconstruction, Hayne became active in the Republican Party, which had supported citizenship and suffrage for freedmen. He was elected in 1870 to represent Marion County in the South Carolina Senate. He was next elected as Secretary of State of South Carolina, serving from 1872 to 1877. The legislature had passed a new constitution in 1868 making public facilities available to all students, and while serving as secretary of state in the fall of 1873, Hayne enrolled in the medical school of the University of South Carolina, becoming the university’s first student of color. He was majority white in ancestry. The event made national news and was covered by The New York Times; it described Hayne “as white as any of his ancestors”. Some faculty resigned in protest. In 1870 the university had hired its first black faculty member, Richard Greener, a recent graduate of Harvard University.After Democrats regained control of the state legislature and governor’s office in the election of 1876, in early 1877 they closed the college by legislative fiat. The Assembly passed a law prohibiting blacks from admission to the college, and authorized Claflin College in Orangeburg as the only institution for higher education for African Americans in the state. Hayne completed his education elsewhere.South Carolina’s electoral politics provided unique venues for Black empowerment during Reconstruction. Though largely overlooked in the historiography, the state’s flagship institution, the University of South Carolina, was a crucial piece of its Reconstruction philosophy. By 1868, legislators and university trustees radically altered their approach to higher education by expanding student scholarships and declaring it was a “tuition-free” institution open to all, regardless of race or class. These adjustments allowed Black men to matriculate by 1873, and they eventually comprised the majority of students until it was resegregated in 1877. This article reviews the Reconstruction government’s policies toward educational equality, the public response to the governmental shifts, and how students viewed their time at the institution. I reveal how African American politics in South Carolina directly intersected with educational concerns throughout the Reconstruction period. I conclude the essay by exploring how this historical moment was remembered or denied by subsequent generations.Legislator, secretary of state. Hayne was born on December 30, 1840, in Charleston, the son of a white father, James Hayne, and his free black wife, Mary. He was the nephew of Robert Y. Hayne, a former U.S. senator and governor of South Carolina. Henry Hayne was educated in Charleston and worked in the city as a tailor. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he volunteered for the Confederate army, but with the intention of escaping to Union lines. In July 1862 he crossed through enemy lines and joined Union forces, enlisting at Beaufort in the Thirty-third Regiment of United States Colored Troops (First South Carolina Volunteers), commanded by Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Enlisting as a private, Hayne was promoted to commissary sergeant in 1863.Following his discharge in early 1866, Hayne moved to Marion County. In 1868 the Freedmen’s Bureau hired him as principal of Madison Colored School, and he later served as a subcommissioner for the South Carolina Land Commission from 1869 to 1871. He served on the Republican state executive committee in 1867 and represented Marion County in the 1868 state constitutional convention. He was chairman of the Marion County Republican Party in 1870 and vice president of the state Union League. He represented Marion County in the state Senate from 1868 to 1872, and as South Carolina’s secretary of state from 1872 to 1877. As secretary of state, he took charge of the land commission and was credited for bringing honest and efficient leadership to what had previously been a notoriously mismanaged program.In 1873 Hayne enrolled in the medical school at the University of South Carolina. Though he left before earning his degree, Hayne was the first black student in the school’s history and inaugurated the institution’s first attempt at integration, which lasted until 1877.The Republican Party renominated him for secretary of state in 1876. He also served as a member of the state board of canvassers, which certified a Republican victory in the hotly contested election of 1876. The state supreme court, however, found the board to be in contempt, and jailed its members for a time. On May 3, 1877, under intense pressure, Hayne gave up his position as secretary of state to the Democratic candidate, Robert Moorman Sims.Little is known about Hayne’s personal life. He reportedly married on April 29, 1874, but the name of his wife was not given. Sometime before August 1877, Hayne left South Carolina. In January 1885 he was living in Cook County, Illinois with his wife Anna M. His later whereabouts are unknown. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!