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      News — black history snippet

      Black History Snippet--Ida B. Wells

      Black History Snippet--Ida B. Wells

      Black History Profile:

      Ida. B. Wells (1862-1931)

      --though born in slavery and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation AND the 13th Amendment, living in Mississippi was extremely harsh due to the Black Codes all southern (and some northern) states enacted

      --Wells received her schooling at Shaw University as a child, but dropped out at 16 when both her parents and one sibling died of yellow fever; she obtained a job teaching--claiming she was 18

      --at 22, on a train ride to Nashville, even though she'd bought a first-class ticket, she was forcibly removed and thrown into the "black car"--she bit the hand of one of the men who threw her off the train; she sued and won $500, but the win was overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court--ordering her to pay court costs

      --this sparked her to write about the injustices of race in the south; eventually becoming the owner of three Memphis newspapers

      --while campaigning against the squalid conditions in black schools, she was fired from several teaching jobs for her stances

      --in 1892, three African-American men—Tom Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart—set up a grocery store in Memphis. Their new business drew customers away from a white-owned store in the neighborhood, and the white store owner and his supporters clashed with the three men on a few occasions. One night, Moss and the others guarded their store against attack and ended up shooting several of the white vandals. They were arrested and brought to jail, but they didn't have a chance to defend themselves against the charges—a lynch mob took them from their cells and murdered them

      --the Memphis police refused to investigate and Ida's pleas fell on deaf ears, so she went on a crusade to bring attention to lynching deaths, cataloging them and publishing them in her newspaper; after she published the stories AND the names of the lynch-men, a mob stormed her offices, destroying them and threatened her death if she returned to Memphis

      --In 1898, Wells brought her anti-lynching campaign to the White House, leading a protest in Washington, D.C., and calling for President William McKinley to make reforms--showing proof that most lynching were a direct result of blacks competing with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts

      --lynching became her platform and she documented every known case she could find--discovering around 3500 known cases in 33 years

      --called out numerous racist women's organizations, including the Women's Temperance Christian Union (a 200,000 member "anti-racism" suffrage group) for the comments made about black people and their fight to gain white women suffrage, but not black women

      --considered a founding member of the NAACP, she left because she felt the organization lacked action-based initiatives--and was deliberately excluded by W.E.B. DuBois

      --as part of her work with the National Equal Rights League, called for President Woodrow Wilson to put an end to discriminatory hiring practices for government jobs and was a fierce advocate of women's suffrage

      --a leading proponent of the Dyer Anti-Lynching bill, which proposed fines and jail-time for offenders--it failed along with 200 other attempts to stop lynching

      --after a lifetime of fighting, Ida B. Well died mid-sentence while writing her autobiography; succumbing to kidney failure

      --"I'd rather go down in history as one lone negro who dared to tell the government that it had done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I said."

      Ida. B Wells

      Black History Profile--Zora Neale Hurston

      Black History Profile--Zora Neale Hurston

      Black History Profile:

      Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

      --one of the most prolific American writers in history; focused on the struggles of African-American women

      --born the 6th of 8 children, her parents struggled and had numerous jobs through her early years

      --when she was young, her family moved to Eatonville,FL--one of the first mostly black towns--where her father became mayor and minister of it's largest church

      --when her mother passed at age 13 and she was quickly shipped off to boarding school by her new step-mother, who subsequently stopped paying tuition and she was expelled

      --living among random family members and taking odd jobs for years, when she was 26 (and claimed to be 17), she was given a free high school education and went to Howard University--becoming one of the earliest members of Zeta Phi Beta and co-founded the Hilltop, Howard's newspaper

      --throughout her college career, she studied: Spanish, English, Greek, Anthropology, Ethnography ( a scientific description of people and their cultures) and Public Speaking--graduating with a B.A. in Anthropology

      --she became a fixture during the Harlem Renaissance, she traveled abroad studying blackness, culminating a her best known work--Their Eyes Were Watching God--to which black men (based on their portrayals in her book), called her book a minstrel show made for white audiences

      --an avid fighter for civil rights, her reputation was severely damaged when she was accused of molesting a 10 year old boy despite strong evidence that the accusation was false; she was also a fierce opponent of integration, criticizing the ruling of Brown vs. Board of Education

      --due to her reputation and criticisms--despite numerous awards--she had trouble getting money for her works and essentially died in poverty--her body laid to rest in an unmarked grave

      --more than a decade after her death, her works were revitalized and she once again received awards posthumously

      --though her body was never actually found, she was given a marked grave and proper funeral

      --based on the many works she wrote, she gave birth to the idea now known as intersectionality.

      "If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it."

      ---Zora Neale Hurston


      Black History Snippet-Jesse Owens

      Black History Snippet-Jesse Owens

      Black History Profile:
      James Cleveland Owens (Jesse Owens)
      --fallaciously called 'Jesse' by his school teacher, his nickname comes from J.C., his first two initials--which he then legally changed to 'Jesse'
      --his high school track coach pushed him and would never reveal his track times--until he tied the world record for the 100 yard dash, which his coach made him run 3 consecutive times to be sure
      --in college, he won 8-straight individual championships, but The Ohio State University refused him a scholarship--so he had to work part-time to cover tuition
      --while traveling, he was not allowed to eat with team and was only permitted to stay on 'black-only' hotels, which he credited with furthering his drive to destroy his competition
      --in Ann Arbor, he had what is considered one the the 'greatest sports days ever' by setting 3 world records and tying a 4th within a 46 minute span (his long jump stood for 25 years--another record)
      --during the Olympics in Berlin, Owens undermined Hitler's propaganda of the racially superior Aryan and inferior African by winning 4 gold medals--but German women loved him, cutting off his clothes with scissors whenever they saw him; culminating in him being allowed to stay in 'white-hotels' with the other athletes
      --after his victories, Hitler "was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens." And said: People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive; their physiques were stronger than those of civilized whites and hence should be excluded from future game"
      --after the Olympics, it was said that Hitler actually shook hands with Jesse Owens (behind a set of bleachers and where no one would see), but FDR was "too busy" to acknowledge Owens--so Owens campaigned for his opponent claiming "It wasn't Hitler who snubbed me, it was our president who snubbed me."
      --after the games had finished, the Olympic team and Owens were all invited to compete in Sweden. He decided to capitalize on his success by returning to the United States to take up some of the more lucrative commercial offers. United States athletic officials were furious and withdrew his amateur status, ending his career immediately. Owens was angry, saying, "A fellow desires something for himself.
      --became the first sponsored black athlete when Adi Dassler (Adidas) asked him to wear his shoes
      --spent the rest of his life working odd jobs before being prosecuted for tax evasion
      --after initially rejecting the black power salute from the 1968 Olympics (Smith/Carlos), Owens admitted that "any black man who wasn't a militant in 1970 was either blind or a coward."
      --"For a time, at least, I was the most famous person in the entire world."
      --Jesse Owens

      Black History Profile--Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson

      Black History Profile--Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson

      Black History Month profile:

      Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson (1935-2017)

      --one of three women to play in the Negro League, the only pitcher and won the first game she ever pitched in

      --stood 5'4, weighed 120 pounds and gained the name 'Peanut' after teammates mocked her for looking like a peanut and also being 98 lbs., soaking wet

      --as a starting pitcher, amassed a 33-8 record--credited to having an unhittable curve, with a .262 lifetime batting average

      --officially "drafted" by MLB in 2008, making her also one of the exceptionally few only women ever drafted by a male dominated sport

      --Born Mamie Belton on September 27, 1935 in Ridgeway, South Carolina, she is the only daughter of Della Belton Havelow and eldest of Gentry Harrison

      --grew up loving baseball so much that even when they couldn't afford the necessary tools, improvised bats out of tree limbs, bases out of pie plates and balls from rocks wrapped in tape

      --gained strength and control by targeting the crows that landed on her grandmother's fence 

      --played with boys most of her life and when trying out for the All-American Girls Baseball League (as seen in a League of Their Own), was denied because she was black

      --with this motivation, she began learning how to outsmart batters rather than simply overpower them

      --by the time she was 20, the Negro league was in decline due to MLB drawing away the best talent, Mamie left baseball behind and became a nurse

      --during her 30-year nursing career, Johnson often coached youth league baseball teams and after she retired, worked in a Negro League Baseball memorabilia shop that her son owned in Capitol Heights, MD

      Black History Profile

      Black History Profile

      Black History Month Profile:

      Bessie Coleman (1892-1926)

      --born on January 26, 1892 in Texas to two former slaves

      --only made it to eighth grade because she was so impoverished that her and her siblings were needed in the fields to help their families harvest cotton

      --she worked as a laundress for some years and saved her pay until 1910 when she left for Oklahoma to attend Langston University; left after one year when she ran out of money

      --in 1915, she moved to Chicago months, became a manicurist and moved to a place of her own while continuing to seek—and finally, in 1920, to find—a goal for her life: to become a pilot

      --there were no African American pilots in the area and, when no white pilot was willing to teach her, Coleman turned to a friend, who suggested that she go to France; the French, he insisted, were not racists and were the world's leaders in aviation

      --Coleman left for France late in 1920. There she completed flight training at the best school in France and was awarded her Fédération Aéronautique Internationale license on June 15, 1921,becoming the first black female pilot in aviation history

       --She then traveled around Europe, meeting with pilots, mechanics and engineers to learn more about planes and gaining further flying experience so that she could perform in air shows

      --Invited to important events and often interviewed by newspapers, she was admired by both blacks and whites. She primarily flew Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplanes and other aircraft which had been army surplus aircraft left over from the war. She made her first appearance in an American airshow on September 3, 1922, at an event honoring veterans of the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment of World War I

      --Moving back to US, she wanted to build a school where all races were welcome to learn to fly; and performed in front of any audience to spark the interests of black people--Coleman would often be criticized by the press for her opportunistic nature and the flamboyant style she brought to her exhibition flying. However, she also quickly gained a reputation as a skilled and daring pilot who would stop at nothing to complete a difficult stunt. In Los Angeles she broke a leg and three ribs when her plane stalled and crashed on February 22, 1923., but when she returned, she came back better than ever earning the name Queen Bess and enough money to build her school

      --Even with her fame, no one would sell her a reputable plane, she was forced to buy old planes and fix them up for her shows--using most of her money to patch the poorly maintained planes

      --On April 30, 1926 during a trial flight for an upcoming show Bessie Coleman sat in the other cockpit alongside her other pilot, William Wills, surveying the area over which she was to fly and parachute jump the next day; her seat belt was unattached because she had to lean out over the edge of the plane while picking the best sites for her program. At an altitude of 2,000 feet, the plane dived, then flipped over, throwing Coleman out. Moments later Wills crashed. Both were killed.

      --Although the wreckage of the plane was badly burned, it was later discovered that a wrench used to service the engine had jammed the controls. Coleman was 34 years old.

      I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly.” 

      --Bessie Coleman