African American

African-Americans made up less than 1 percent of the North’s population but were 10 percent of the Union Army- 4th United States Colored Infantry, Company E, about 1864

Black men weren’t allowed to join the army until 1863. About 180,000 black men, more than 85 percent of eligible African-Americans in the Northern states, fought. While white soldiers earned $13 a month, black soldiers earned only $10 — and then were charged a $3 clothing fee that lowered their monthly pay to $7. The highest paid black soldier made less than the lowest paid white one. After protesting by refusing to accept their wages and gaining support from abolitionist Congressmen, black soldiers finally received equal pay in 1864 — paid retroactively to their enlistment date.

Happy Birthday Dinah Washington! (born Ruth Lee Jones; August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963)

“Queen of the Blues”

Portrait of Dinah Washington. Printed on back: “Dinah Washington. Dinah Washington, Queen of the Blues, was born Ruth Jones, August 29, 1924, Virgo and died 39 years later in 1963. Her presence was a commanding as her title. She was the greatest natural blues singer since Bessie Smith and was known to be just as ‘salty.’ Dinah updated the sound of blues. If you want to be nurtured, listen to the Queen. Her power and strength, her passion and compassion are infectious. She wails and moans and shouts and cries with affirmation, authority and independence. She can also be as gentle and comforting as a caring lover. She represents, in her singing, courage, honor, integrity and an heroic attitude toward life. Dinah innately combines gospel, blues and jazz in everything she sings, even ballads and pop tunes. She filters everything through her unique sensibility; all woman, all American. 'Miss D’ recorded almost 400 sides in 18 years. At 19, while singing with Lionel Hampton’s band, she cut her first hit, Evil Gal Blues. That was 1943 and it is just as firm today. Her hit of 1959, What a Difference a Day Makes sold over a million copies when it came out. Dinah was a big favorite at Birdland and at the Apollo in Harlem. Photo courtesy of Molly Major. Stride Card Company, 115 W. 16 St., N.Y., 10011. 5003." 

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

Just Another Crazy Friday Night. by Joel Christian Gill ‏

“Bessie Stringfield (1911–1993), nicknamed “The Motorcycle Queen of Miami”,  was the first African-American woman to ride across the United States solo, and during World War II she served as one of the few motorcycle despatch riders for the United States military.Credited with breaking down barriers for both women and African American motorcyclists. 

Stringfield was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.; the award bestowed by the American Motorcyclist Association for ‘Superior Achievement by a Female Motorcyclist’ is named in her honor.” X

Joel Christian Gill is the creator of Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black HistoryBass Reeves: Tales of the Talented Tenth.


Black Teen’s Response To Violence In His Community: ‘What’s The Limit?’

A video of a New York teen asking his community to get off the streets and get an education has gone viral since it was posted Thursday morning.

Violence rocked the town of Rochester on Wednesday, when a drive-by shooting left four people injured and three others dead. It was the final straw for 18-year-old Semaj Rock, who took to Facebook to share the pain and frustration he feels.

Watch this teen’s full message here. 


Black Folks Can Totally Go Wine-Tasting in Napa. Just Don’t Laugh Too Loud.

The saga began on Saturday morning when the women, who are part of a book club called “Sisters on the Reading Edge,” set off on the Napa Valley Wine Train. They did what any group of friends would do on a wine train: drank, laughed and had fun. But this stopped when a train manager came and asked them to quiet down. After some back and forth and a follow up confrontation, the women were escorted off the train, past all of the other paying customers, and met by four local police officers. The train company offered a response, but it’s hardly an apology. 

No Graduation For Philadelphia Students Without Successfully Completing A Course In African-American History

Philadelphia is taking a different approach to bridging the gap between the classes of race and the significant difference in relations.  Their educational system is now mandating the students to pass a year-long course in African-American history before they can graduate.  There seems to be some “reservations” about the course and whether its approach and content will be enough to keep the…

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Emmett Till was murdered 60 years ago today. His story is more relevant and resonant than ever. 

Sixty years ago today, on Aug. 28, 1955, Till was kidnapped from his great-uncle’s home in Money, Mississippi, and taken to a barn by two white men. There they beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, shot him through the head and dumped his body into the nearby Tallahatchie River with a cotton gin fan tied around his neck to weigh it down under the water.

He was 14 years old. They killed him because they thought he had whistled at a white woman at a grocery story two days prior.

In a staggering development, Till’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley, decided to hold an open-casket memorial for her son. The world needed to see him, she said. She allowed photographers from news outlets across the country to snap pictures of his caved-in face and feature the image in their pages, drawing national attention to the South’s ongoing humanitarian crisis and galvanizing what became the Civil Rights Movement. The parallels to today are remarkable. 


“I am that queer man — I was that queer boy who had no problem opting into clothing that seemingly wasn’t marketed to me, but resonated with me.”

As a designer, Charles Elliot Harbison is fascinated with gender play and manipulation. Now, as the founder and creative director of the eponymous fashion line Harbison, this young creative is slowly recharging and transforming an industry that rarely embraces black designers.

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