Monday, January 31, 2011

EH Winter 2010-2011 Spotlight

Each season EH spotlights people, organizations and issues related to art, music, empowerment and our youth. Be sure to check out our Spring 2011 spotlights in March.
Here are January's Spotlights:
Canvas & Pen: Winter Spotlight:

Jessie Redmon Fauset's "There is Confusion"

“There Is Confusion” was written by Jessie Edmon Fauset. (first copywright 1924 by Boni & Livertight, Inc., ISBN 1-5553-006-4). The book primarily takes place in New York and Philadelphia right before the Harlem Renaissance, “There Is Confusion” traces the lives of Joanna Marshall and Peter Bye, whose families must come to terms with an inheritance of prejudice and discrimination as they struggle for legitimacy and respect.
Jessie Redmon Fauset was born in 1882 in Fredericksville, New Jersey into an affluent family. Her father, Redmon Fauset, was a minister whose family hailed from Philadelphia. Her mother, Anna, died when Jessie Fauset was a child. Fauset attended Cornell University from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1905. She began her professional life as a teacher, taking a teaching post in French and Latin in Washington DC in 1906. In 1919 she received a Master's degree in French from the University of Pennsylvania and honed her skills at the Sorbonne before coming to New York City.
Between 1919 and 1926, at the height of that explosion of creative activity centered in New York which was known as the Harlem Renaissance, Jessie Fauset was the literary editor of the NAACP's publication The Crisis, under the direction of W.E.B. DuBois. In addition to writing regular articles for the magazine, Fauset was responsible for fostering such notable literary greats as Langston Hughes and Jean Toomer. In the early 1920s, she also edited The Brownies Book, an NAACP publication geared toward African American children. Upon leaving her post at The Crisis, Fauset returned to teaching and taught French in the New York City schools for much of the rest of her life.
Jessie Fauset wrote all four of her novels in the remarkably prolific years between 1924 and 1931. All of these works explore race through characters and situations in which the division between black and white seems to blur. Jessie Fauset has often been criticized for portraying her almost exclusively upper-middle class characters as exemplars of "what the race is capable of doing" (Christian 41). Her detractors argue that her emphasis on blacks of so-called "genteel" culture as standard-bearers for the race silences the lives and contributions of others who are not so economically advantaged. Others assert that a close examination of the novels themselves reveals "a thematic and ironic complexity, a stylistic subtlety that few critics have seen" (McDowell x), which makes her seeming adherence to bourgeois "conventions seem less the badge of a hidebound traditionalist with prudish mid-Victorian sensibilities, and more that of a burgeoning progressive."

Melody & Drama: For Colored Girls
Winter Spotlight:

EH Pick for Favorite 2010 Drama:  For Colored Girls

Check out our post:

Empowerment Winter Spotlight:

2010 Black History Month Theme - Black Economic Empowerment

Every year the ASALH provides a theme for Black History Month in an effort to focus the attention of the public to certain issues that merit emphasis. Last year's theme was "The History of Black Economic Empowerment"

"to honor the African Americans who overcame injustice and inequality to achieve financial independence and the security of self empowerment."
President Barack Obama
The following statement was published by the ASALH regarding the 2010 theme for Black History Month:

The need for economic development has been a central element of black life. After centuries of unrequited toil as slaves, African Americans gained their freedom and found themselves in the struggle to make a living. The chains were gone, but racism was everywhere. Black codes often prevented blacks from owning land in towns and cities, and in the countryside they were often denied the opportunity to purchase land. Organized labor shut their doors to their brethren, and even the white philanthropist who funded black schools denied them employment opportunities once educated. In the South, whites sought to insure that blacks would only be sharecroppers and day labors, and in the North whites sought to keep them as unskilled labor.

Pushing against the odds, African Americans became landowners, skilled workers, small businessmen and women, professionals, and ministers. In the Jim Crow economy, they started insurance companies, vocational schools, teachers colleges, cosmetic firms, banks, newspapers, and hospitals. To fight exclusion from the economy, they started their own unions and professional associations. In an age in which individuals proved unable to counter industrialization alone, they preached racial or collective uplift rather than individual self-reliance. The late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed an unprecedented degree of racial solidarity and organization.  

In 1910, a group of dedicated reformers, black and white, gathered to create an organization to address the needs of African Americans as they migrated to the cities of the United States. The organization that they created a century ago became what we all know as the National Urban League. For a century, they have struggled to open the doors of opportunity for successive generations, engaging the challenges of each age. ASALH celebrates the centennial of the National Urban League by exploring racial uplift and black economic development in the twentieth century.

Read more about the National Urban Leage here:

Legacy Winter Spotlight- National Legacy Visionary Project

The National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP)
The National Visionary Leadership Project is doing a wonderful work as it aims to empower future leaders by gathering the wisdom of elder generations and passing it on to the next generation. The project was co-founded in 2001 by Camille O. Cosby, Ed.D and Renee Poussaint.  What makes this project a most valuable contribution to our legacy is the fact that hands on learning opportunities are provided as students are equippred and trained on how to conduct interviews of community leaders themselves.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January in Black History

At the end of each month we'll post a recap in Black History for the montFor the current month's black history notes, check out the Today in Black  History.

January 31 in Black History
Etta Moten
In 1865 - Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment which, on ratification, abolished slavery in America. The vote in the House was 121 to 24. See the original proposal for the 13th proposal.
In 1988 - Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, the first African American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl game, is named MVP in Super Bowl XXII.
In 1963 - James Baldwin's influential collection of essays, The Fire Next Time is published.
In 1962 - Lt Comdr. Samuel L. Gravely assumed command of destroyer escort, USS Falgout. Navy said he was the first Black to command a U.S. warship.
In 1962 - Samuel L Gravely becomes first Black person to command a U.S. warship
In 1934 - Etta Moten sings for President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt at a White House Dinner. It is the first time an African American actress performs at the White House
In 1931 - Baseball star Ernie Banks, former Chicago Cub star, was born in Dallas, TX.
In 1920 - Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, founded at Howard was incorporated.
In 1919 - Baseball Great Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball, was born. In Cairo, Georgia on this date baseball great Jackie Robinson was born. The fifth African American to play major league baseball with a white team, Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, ending five decades of segregated baseball. At the time of his retirement in October 1972, Robinson is believed to have been the most respected of all baseball players.
In 1914 - Boxer Jersey Joe Walcott born; Boxer Jersey Joe Walcott was born Arnold Raymond Cream in Merchantville, New Jersey. Walcott won the World Heavyweight Championship from Ezzard Charles, whom he knocked out in the 7th round of their 1951 title bout in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Walcott had 69 professional fights. He won 30 of them by knock-out and was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1969.

January 30 in Black History...
In 1979 - Franklin Thomas was named president of the Ford Foundation.
Satchel Paige
In 1965 - Leroy "Satchel" Paige, major league baseball player, named all-time outstanding player by National Baseball Congress In 1956 - Home of Martin Luther King Jr, Montgomery bus boycott leader, was bombed.
In 1945 - U.S. Rep. Floyd Flake was born in Los Angeles, California. A businessman and minister, Flake established the Allen Christian School and Allen Home Care Agency.
In 1944 - Sharon Pratt Dixon, first woman Mayor of Washington, was born
In 1927 - Harlem Globetrotters formed
In 1910 - Inventor Granville T. Woods dies in New York City on January 30, 1910.
John Parker
In 1900 - John Parker, Underground Railroad Conductor died; Born: 1827 Died: January 30, 1900 Birthplace: Norfolk, Virginia John P. Parker was born in Norfolk, Virginia , the son of a white father and a slave mother. He was sold to a slave agent from Richmond, Virginia at age eight. Parker worker for two years at a foundry and the New Orleans docks as a stevedore and purchased his freedom from his earnings. The price of freedom for John P.Parker in 1845 was $1800. In 1845, Parker obtained a pass to travel north to Indiana, where he was lured by the work offered in foundries near New Albany or Jefferson, Indiana. Near Cincinnati, Parker began his career as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. Helping a local Negro barber, Parker was able to remove two young girls from Kentucky to freedom in Indiana and Ohio. "He devoted his life to forays in Kentucky, to scouting on both sides of the Ohio River, to taking care of the helpless slaves who had found their way to Ohio and could not get across, to actual fighting for them and against their pursuing masters." Parker before the Emanicipation Proclamation, took an active role in removing an estimated 1000 slaves from bondage. Unlike other abolitionists Parker remained separate from organized church groups, which he viewed as an 'enemy of the people.'
In 1858 - William Wells Brown, novelist and dramatist, publishes first Black drama, "Leap to Freedom"
In 1844 - Richard Theodore Greener becomes the first African American to graduate from Harvard University
In 1800 - United States population: 5,308,483 Black population 1,002,037 (18.9 per cent).
In 1797 - Congress refused to accept the first recorded petitions from American Blacks.
In 1797 - Birth of Sojourner Truth was born a slave in Hurley, New York.
In 1797 - 1st Black Interstate organization; Boston Masons, led by Prince Hall, established first Black interstate organization, creating lodges in Philadelphia and Providence, Rhode Island.

January 29 in Black History...
Sharon Barnes
In 1991 - Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi held the first talks for almost 30 years between predominantly Zulu Inkatha and the ethnically mixed African National Congress.
In 1991 - Sharon J. Barnes, Chemist at Dow Chemical; Sharon J. Barnes, Chemist at Dow Chemical part of a team of five (two African Americans) who were assigned U.S. Patent #4,988,211 for an application in Infra-Red Thermography In 1981 - William R. "Cozy" Cole, jazz drummer, dies. His recording of "Topsy" became the only drum solo to sell more than one million records.
In 1966 - Charles Mahoney, first Black American delegate to the UN, died
In 1955 - Heavyweight Boxer John Tate born; Birthday of heavyweight boxer John Tate, who was born in Marion City, Arkansas. Tate won the vacant World Boxing Association title in 1979 from South African Gerrie Coetzee.
In 1954 - Oprah Winfrey birthday; American television personality whose syndicated daily talk show is among th most popular was born in Kosciusko, Miss.
In 1926 - Violette Neatley Anderson the first African American woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court
In 1913 - Fiftieth Anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation; Black Americans celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation. Major celebrations were held at Jackson, Mississippi, New Orleans and Nashville. Three states--Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey--appropriated money for official celebrations of the event.
In 1908 - Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, founded at Cornell, is incorporated.
In 1872 - Franics L Cardoza elected State Treasurer of South Carolina

January 28 in Black History...
In 1997, At South Africa's Truth Commission, police confessed to the 1977 murder of Steve Biko.
In 1989, Darkie Tooth Paste Changed. After 62 years, the Colgate-Palmolive Co. redesigned packaging for its "Darkie" tooth paste made and sold only in Asia. The nickname for Darkie tooth paste was renamed "Darlie" and the blackface sambo like character was changed into a "non-racially offensive" silhouette.
In 1986, Astronaut Ronald McNair died in the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Surviving him are his wife Cheryl McNair and children.
In 1970, Arthur Ashe, first Black male to win Wimbledon, is denied entry to compete on the US Team for the South African Open tennis championships due to Ashe's sentiments on South Africa's racial policies
In 1963, Black student Harvey Gantt entered Clemson College in South Carolina, the last state to hold out against integration.
In 1944, Matthew Henson receives a joint medal by Congress for his role as co-discoverer of the North Pole. In 1938, Crystal Byrd Fauset was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Fauset was the first Black woman elected to a state legislature.
In 1934, Baseball Outfielder William "Bill" White was born in Lakewood, Ohio. Now baeball's National League President, White played in 1,673 games and ended his career with a .286 batting average on 1,706 hits. He won the Golden Glove award in 1960 and 1966
In 1901, Richmond Barthe, sculptor, was born.
In 1787, Free Africa Society organized in Philadelphia.
In 1960, Zora Neale Hurston ~ (celebrated writer of the Harlem Renaissance) dies in Durham, North Carolina

January 27 in Black History...
1. 1973 - Joseph Lowze named auxillary Bishop of Missippii
2. 1972 - Mahalia Jackson, gospel music legend, dies this day in Evergreen Park,ILL.
3. 1961 - Leontyne Price, world renowed opera singer, makes her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House
4. 1952 - Ralph Ellison's powerful novel, Invisible Man, wins the National Book Award.
5. 1869 - Will Marion Cook, noted composer and conductor, was born.
6. 1863 54th Regiment, a Black infantry unit, was formed.
7. 1893 Bessie Coleman, first Black American woman aviator, was born.
8. 1948 Executive Order 9981, to end segregation in US Armed Forces is signed by President Harry Truman

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January 26 in Black History...
1. 1990 - Pioneering Black Women - In 1990, Elaine Weddington Steward was named assistant general manager of the Boston Red Sox, making her the first Black woman executive of a professional baseball organization.
2. 1990 - Pioneering Black Women - In 1990, Elaine Weddington Steward was named assistant general manager of the Boston Red Sox, making her the first Black woman executive of a professional baseball organization.
3. 1948 - Executive Order 9981, to end segregation in US Armed Forces is signed by Preside - Executive Order 9981, to end segregation in US Armed Forces is signed by President Harry Truman
4. 1944 - Activist, Angela Davis was born - Activist, Angela Davis was born
5. 1940 - Army Brig. Gen. Sherian Grace CAdoria born. - Birthday of Army Brig. Gen. Sherian Grace Cadoria, in Marksville, Louisiana. A graduate of Southern University, Gen. Cadoria was the highest ranking African American woman officer in the US Armed Forces at the end of 1990.
6. 1893 - First Black American woman aviator - First Black American woman aviator, Bessie Coleman was born, 1893
7. 1893 - First Black American woman aviator, Bessie Coleman was born, 1893 - First Black American woman aviator, Bessie Coleman was born, 1893
8. 1863 - 54th Regiment was formed - Black infantry unit, 54th Regiment was formed, MA 1863
9. 1863 - War Department authorized Massachusetts governor - War Department authorized Massachusetts governor to recruit Black troops. The Fifty-fourths Massachusetts Volunteers was first Black regiment recruited in North.
10. 1863 - USCT - The Secretary of War authorizes the governor of Mass. to recruit African American troops.

January 25 in Black History...
1. 1980 - Black Entertainment Television - BET - Black Entertainment Television {BET} - first black owned company to be listed on the NYSE, begins broadcasting from Washington, DC.  Check out EH post here:

2. 1999 - Rev. Henry Lyons goes on trial for embezzlement - Rev. Henry Lyons, president of National Baptist Convention, USA goes on trial for 54 counts of embezzlement, bank/wire fraud and extortion. NBC, USA is the largest Black denominational convention in the US with an estimated membership of 8.5 million.
3. 1972 - Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm begins her campaign - Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm begins her campaign for President of the U.S.
4. 1966 - Constance Baker Motley - Constance Baker Motley - becomes the first african american woman to be appointed to a federal judgeship
5. 1950 - Gloria Naylor, born - Writer, Gloria Naylor, born
6. 1890 - National Afro-American League, Pioneer Black - National Afro-American League, Pioneer Black protest organization, founded at Chicago meeting. Joseph C. Price, President of Livingstone College, was elected president.
7. 1851 - Sojourner Truth addressed the first Black Women's Rights Convention, Akron Ohio - Sojourner Truth addressed the first Black Women's Rights Convention, Akron Ohio

January 23 in Black History
In 1941,Richard Wright wins the Spingarn Medal for "Native Son."
In 1837, Amanda Berry Smith, born into slavery, becomes an independent missionary and travels the U.S. and three other continents.
In 1964, the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified. It abolishes poll tax
Check out EH post here:

January 22 in Black History
In 1920, William Warfield, concert bass-baritone singer, was born
In 1931, Sam Cook was born.
Check out EH post here:

January 20 in Black History
In 2009 President Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American president of the United States.
Check out EH post here:

January 18 in Black History
In 1975, "The Jeffersons" premiered on television.
Check out EH post here:

January 16 in Black History
In 1776, Continental Congress approved Washington's order on the enlistment of free Blacks.
In 1920, Zeta Phi Beta was founded at Howard University.
Check out EH post here:

January 15 in Black History
In 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. born in Atlanta.  MLK day is celebrated the 3rd Monday in January each year.  Check out EH post here:
In 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded at Howard Universityin Washington, D.C.
In 1961, "The Supreme" signed with Motown.
Check out EH post here:

January 14 in Black History
In 1972 "Sanford and Son" premeired on NBC.
Check out EH post here:

January 13 in Black History
In 1953, Don Barksdale became the first Black person to play in an NBA All-Star Game.
In 1913, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was founded at Howard University
Check out EH post here:

January 12 in Black History
In 2010 Haiti has an earthquake that leaves the nation paralyzed.  Check out EH post here:
January 9 in Black History

In 1866, Fisk University opened for classes in Nashville, Tennessee
In 1914, Phi Beta Sigma was founded at Howard University
Check out EH post here:

January 7 in Black History...
In 1955, Marian Anderson becomes first Black person to appear in the Metropolitan Opera House in Verdi's Masked Ball.
In 1901, Zora Neale Hurston was born.
Check out the EH post here:
In 2011, Bobby Robinson, Harlem record producer dies.  Check out EH post here:

January 6 in Black History
In 1968, John Singleton, director and screenwriter was born.
Check out the EH post here:

January 5 In Black History
In 1943….. George Washington Carver Day is now celebrated on January 5 in honor of the brilliant agricultural chemist who died on this day in 1943.
In 1911, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was founded at Indiana University.
Check out the EH post here:

January 1 in Black History...

In 1997 - The former prison for Nelson Mandela and many other South Africans is turned into a museum at Robben Island.
2. 1997 - Kofi Annan of Ghana becomes first black secretary of United Nations.
3. 1996 - Picture of Rosa Parks taken by Bob Bozarth at Langston University
4. 1960 - Cameroon gains independence
5. 1959 - Edimnia Lewis was born to a Chippewa mother and African father...given the indian name Wildfire. In the fall of 1859 she admiting in Oberlin College, and later studied sculpting privately with Edmund Brackett. Lewis became known for her busts of famous figures as Abraham Lincoln, Longfellow and John Brown. Her Staue ''The Death of Cleopatra', received critical acclaim. Most popular was her "Forever Free..depicting African American man and woman removing their shackles.

6. 1956 - Sudan proclaimed independent
7. 1916 - First issue of Journal of Negro History published
8. 1912 - Second annual report of the NAACP listed total receipts from May through December, 1911, of $10,317.43. Organization had local chapters in Chicago, Boston and New York.
9. 1863 - President Lincoln signed Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves in rebel states with exception of thirteen parishes (including New Orleans) in Louisiana, forty-eight countries in West Virginia, seven countries (including Norfolk) in Eastern Virginia. Proclamation did not apply to slaves in Border States.
10. 1863 - The Emancipation Proclamation,(freed all the slaves in the slave states), 1863
11. 1860 - Black Code in Arkansas - A law went into effect in Arkansas which prohibited the emplotyment of free blacks on boats and ships navigating the rivers of that state.
12. 1854 - The oldest Historically Black University in the US, Lincoln University is incorporated, 1854
13. 1854 - Lincoln University, one of the first Black colleges, chartered as Ashmun Institute in Oxford, Pennsylvania.
14. 1831 - William Lloyd Garrison published first issue of abolitionist journal, The Liberator.
15. 1808 - The African Benevolent Society for Education is found, 1808
16. 1808 - International Slave Trade was abolished.
17. 1808 - the federal law prohibiting the importation of African slaves went into effect.
18. 1804 - Jean Jacques Dessalines proclaimed independence of Haiti, the second republic in the Western Hemisphere.
19. The Last day of Kwanzaa  is Imani which means Faith

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ohio Mom Kelley Williams-Bolar Jailed for Sending Kids to Better School District

Kelley Willams-Bolar, American Mom
 This article was posted in the Daily Outrage section of the San Francisco Examiner:
WHAT: Single mother Kelley Williams-Bolar of Akron, Ohio, used her father’s address to falsely claim residency status to allow her two daughters to attend a higher-performing suburban school. She was convicted by a jury and served nine days in jail.
WHY IT’S OUTRAGEOUS: It is hardly uncommon for parents to lie about school-district residency, but prosecuting such cases is virtually unheard of. As a convicted felon, Williams-Bolar might now lose her job as a teachers’ aide.
WHAT’S HAPPENING NEXT: Williams-Bolar’s plight has drawn national attention to the iniquities of locking children into underperforming and unsafe inner-city school systems. She is being offered backing for a potential appeal of her verdict.
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:
Watch video here:
Ohio Mom Kelley Williams-Bolar Jailed for Sending Kids to Better School District - ABC News

Seriously?! Is this how we're fixing our problem on inequality in schools? Putting the mom in jail and charging the dad with a felony? So now in addition to these kids being poor, they are kicked out of a good school and their mom goes to jail. Seriously?! Is this the message we want to send to our American kids?!?!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Voice for Black Entertainment

On January 25 in Black History...

In 1980, BET begins broadcasting.  After stepping down as a lobbyist for the cable industry, Freeport, Illinois, native Robert L. Johnson decided to launch his own cable television network. Johnson would soon acquire a loan for $15,000, and earned a $500,000 investment from John Malone to start the network.[3] BET began broadcasting on January 25, 1980. Initially, the network lineup consisted of music videos and reruns of popular black sitcoms.  Black Entertainment Television (BET, part of BET Networks) is a currently a Viacom-owned cable network based in Washington, D.C.. Currently viewed in more than 90 million homes worldwide, it is the most prominent television network targeting young Black-American audiences and is the leading provider of Black-American cultural and entertainment-based programming. The network was launched on January 25, 1980, by its founder, Robert L. Johnson. Most programming of the network comprises mainstream rap and R&B music videos and urban-oriented movies and series. 
Its urban music programming includes 106 & Park, a show taped before a live audience counting down the top videos requested by viewers and inviting rap and R&B artists to promote their music. The Deal is BET's flagship program for hip hop music. BET has been the target of criticism and protests for broadcasting videos and programs accused of promoting immorality and stereotypes.[1][2] Additionally, the channel shows syndicated television series, original programs, and some public affairs programs. On Sunday mornings, BET broadcasts a lineup of network-produced Christian programming and gospel music; other, non-affiliated Christian programs are also shown during the early morning hours daily.

What else happened today in Black History?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Native Son and the 24th Amendment

  On January 23 in Black History...Richard Wright, Amanda Smith and the 24th Amendment

In 1941,Richard Wright wins the Spingarn Medal for "Native Son,"  a novel which tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty.  Bigger lived in Chicago's South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into trouble as a youth, but upon receiving a job at the home of the Daltons, a rich, white family, he experienced a realization of his identity. He thinks he accidentally killed a white woman, runs from the police, rapes and kills his girlfriend and is then caught and tried. "I didn't want to kill", Bigger shouted. "But what I killed for, I am! It must've been pretty deep in me to make me kill." 
Richard Wright was author of powerful, sometimes controversial novels, short stories and non-fiction. Much of his literature concerns racial themes. His work helped redefine discussions of race relations in America in the mid-20th century.   It is generally agreed that Wright's influence in Native Son is not a matter of literary style or technique. His impact, rather, has been on ideas and attitudes, and his work has been a force in the social and intellectual history of the United States in the last half of the twentieth century. "Wright was one of the people who made me conscious of the need to struggle", said writer Amiri BarakaWright received several different literary awards during his lifetime including the Spingarn Medal in 1941, the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1939, and the Story Magazine Award
Amanda Smith

In 1837, Amanda Berry Smith, born into slavery, becomes an independent missionary and travels the U.S. and three other continents.   Smith was a former slave who became an inspiration to thousands of women both black and white. She was born in Long Green, Maryland, a small town in Baltimore County. Her father's name was Samuel Berry while her mother's name was Mariam. Her father, a slave, worked for years at night and after long days of field labour, he had to make brooms and husk mats to pay for freedom for his whole family of 7.  She worked hard as a cook and a washerwoman to provide for herself and her daughter after her husband was killed in the American Civil War. Prayer became a way of life for her as she trusted God for shoes, the money to buy her sisters freedom and food for her family. She became well known for her beautiful voice and hence, opportunities to evangelize in the South and West opened up for her. Wherever she travelled, she wore a plain poke bonnet and a brown or black Quaker wrapper, and she carried her own carpetbag suitcase.
In 1876, she was invited to speak and sing in England travelling on a first class cabin provided by her friends. The captain invited her to conduct a religious service on board and she was so modest that the other passengers spread word of her and resulted in her stay in England and Scotland for a year and a half. After her trip, she returned to her homeland and eventually founded the Amanda Smith Orphans' Home for African-American children in a suburb of Chicago. She continued to visit various nations and gained a reputation as "God's image carved in ebony."  Smith's autobiography was published in 1893.
In 1964, the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified. It abolishes poll tax, which was used as a means of preventing African-Americans from voting. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

From Bass Baritone to the King of Soul

On January 22 in Black History...William Warfield and Sam Cook 

In 1920, William Warfield, concert bass-baritone singer, was born.  Warfield had a long career as an operatic baritone, and eventually became one of the world leading experts on Negro Spirituals and German Lieder.  He was also President of the National Association of Negro Musicians (1985-1990)

"William Warfield was know for specializing in educating the emotions of his audience, not playing "upon" or "to" their emotions. "

Warfield and his success story continues to inspire young singers around the world, especially African American classical singers. The William Warfield Scholarship Fund continues to support young minority singers at the Eastman School of Music. To date the fund has awarded scholarships to over 50 students.

In 1931, Sam Cook was born.  Cook was an American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. He is commonly known as The King of Soul for his unmatched vocal abilities and impact and influence on the modern world of music. His contribution in pioneering Soul music led to the rise of Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and popularizing the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown.

Cooke began his career singing gospel with his siblings in a group called The Singing Children. He first became known as lead singer with the Highway QC's as a teenager. In 1950, Cooke replaced gospel tenor R.H. Harris as lead singer of the landmark gospel group The Soul Stirrers. Under Cooke's leadership, the group signed with Specialty Records and recorded the hits "Peace in the Valley", "How Far Am I From Canaan?", "Jesus Paid the Debt", and "One More River", among many other gospel songs.

His first pop single, "Lovable" (1956), was released under thealias"Dale Cooke" in order not to alienate his gospel fan base (he sang with the Soul Stirrers until 1957); there was a considerable stigma against gospel singers performing secular music. However, it fooled no one - Cooke's unique and distinctive vocals were easily recognized  Like most R&B artists of his time, Cooke focused on singles; in all he had twenty-nine top-40 hits on the pop charts, and more on the R&B charts. In spite of this, he released a well received blues-inflected LP in 1963, Night Beat, and his most critically acclaimed studio album Ain't That Good News, which featured five singles, in 1964.,
See this video of Sam Cooke recording with Mohammad Ali: 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

President Obama and His Family Make History

On January 20 in Black History...

"Let it be said by our children's children that ...with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
President Barack Obama

In 2009 President Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American president of the United States.  Scroll down for full text of inauguration speech below.  President Obama is the first native Hawaiin to serve as president.  In 2009, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School.  Prior to his political career as senator and now president, he worked as a community organizer, a civil rights attorney and a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.

"'I'm a Christian by choice...also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we allhave to have as human beings, that we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God" President Barack Obama, 9/28/10

Where are we two years later?

 Well there's been alot of debate about this question, but here are a few highlights for now...
  • The first bill signed into law by President Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, relaxing the statute of limitations for equal-pay lawsuits. Five days later, he signed the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover an additional 4 million children currently uninsured.  President Obama has appointed two women to serve on the Supreme Court in the first two years of his Presidency - Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
  • In the first quarter of 2010, the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.7% pace after growing at its fastest rate in six years in the fourth quarter, 5.7%. In July 2010, the Federal Reserve expressed that although economic activity continued to increase, its pace had slowed and its Chairman, Ben Bernanke, stated that the economic outlook was "unusually uncertain."
  • Stay tuned for more to come tomorrow...

Where were you when President Obama was sworn in?

I was working on a client in Anchorage, so I took the day off and watched the inauguration at the University of Alaska at Anchorage with friends.  As part of their Civil Rights Month celebration, UAA was showing the inauguration on the big screen in the auditorium of their student union.  There were hundreds of people in attendance and we all participated as if we were there….standing, applauding laughing and even crying. They also provided reflection cards for attendees to write down their reflections on what the day meant to them so they could display them all as part of the Alaska Civil Rights Exhibit later in the month. Later that night there were celebration parties/balls around Anchorage.

Inaugural Address
January 20, 2009
By President Barack Hussein Obama

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you've bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation -- (applause) -- as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.

So it has been; so it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many -- and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met. (Applause.)

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. (Applause.)

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip, and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched. But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers -- (applause) -- our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.
And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.
We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the role that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who at this very hour patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.
We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service -- a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.
And yet at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do, and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.
What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall; and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At the moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words to be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Well We're Moving On Up!

On January 18 in Black History...
In 1975, "The Jeffersons" premiered on television, one of the first sitcoms about an African-American family. Formerly neighbors of the Bunkers on "All in the Family," the Jeffersons moved to Manhattan's East Side. The Jeffersons was broadcast on CBS from January 18, 1975, through June 25, 1985, lasting 11 seasons (and 2 Lionel's) and a total of 253 episodes. The Jeffersons is the longest-running comedy (or series of any genre) with a predominantly African American castin the history of American television.
Check out this episode with Sammy Davis, Jr.

The Jeffersons Theme Song, "Movin' Up" was co-written and sung by Janey Du'Bois, who played the sassy Willona Woods on Good Times.
Moving Up
Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.
Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
Beans don't burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin'
Just to get up that hill.
Now we're up in the big leagues
Gettin' our turn at bat.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby
There ain't nothin wrong with that.
Well we're movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.

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