african american history

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CultureHISTORY: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Olympics 1968

“We were just human beings who saw a need to bring attention to the inequality in our country.” - Tommie Smith

On this date (10/16) in 1968, the ‘black power’ salute at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. One of my favorite historical photos and one of the most powerful moments in black history. More background here.

Photo credits:

  1. Summer Olympics, Mexico City, 1968
  2. Summer Olympics, Mexico City, 1968
  3. San Jose State University honors former students Smith & Carlos with a statue on campus, 2005
  4. Smith and Carlos, 2011
Black LBGTQ History Icons

Marsha P. Johnson

  • A leader of the Stonewall Riots. According to several eyewitnesses, Marsha was the one who “really started it”. She was “in the middle of the whole thing, screaming and yelling and throwing rocks and almost like Molly Pitcher in the Revolution or something”
  • Dedicated her life to activism:
    • Co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (later renamed Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries)
    • Ensured that the young drag queens, trans women and other street kids on Christopher Street were fed and clothed. Marsha also housed them whenever she could. 
    • In the 1980s, she was an activist and organizer in ACT UP. 

Stormé DeLarverie

  • Also a leader in the Stonewall Riots - has been identified as the “butch lesbian that threw the first punch” against the police officers.
  • Several eye-witnesses recollections also recognize her as the cross-dressing lesbian that yelled “why don’t you guys do something” at the bystanders that evoked the reaction from them that helped make Stonewall a defining moment in history.
  • Unofficially worked at gay bars who otherwise couldn’t afford security.

Bayard Rustin

  • Was a leading strategist of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement between 1955-1968:
    • The formidable behind the scenes figure of the civil rights movement who organized the March on Washington
    • Through his influence, the civil rights leadership adopted a non-violent stance.
    • Is and was often overlooked in African-American history because of the public’s discomfort with his sexual orientation.
  • Supported LGBTQ rights and movements.
  • Was posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

  • Another leader in the Stonewall Riots.
  • Has been involved in community efforts since 1978. She has worked at local food banks, provide services for trans women suffering from addiction or homelessness. During the AIDS epidemic she also provided healthcare and funeral services.
  • Is currently serving as the Executive Director for the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project, working to assist transgender persons who are disproportionately incarcerated under a prison-industrial complex.

Alvin Ailey

  • At the young age of 22, Alvin AIley became Artistic Directer for the Horton Dance Company where he choreographed as well as directed scenes and costume designs.
  • Formed the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in 1958 but continued to choreograph for other companies.
  • Ailey’s signature works prominently reflects his Black pride.
  • Is credited for popularizing modern dance. 
  • Was also posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Feel free to add anyone I’ve missed!

talkingpointsmemo.com
MLK's Mother Was Assassinated, Too: The Forgotten Women Of Black History Month

On June 30th, 1973, Alberta Williams King was gunned down while she played the organ for the “Lord’s Prayer” at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a Christian civil rights activist, she was assassinated…just like her son, Martin Luther King, Jr. But most people remember only one. Until a month ago, I was one of those people.

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March 7th 1965: Bloody Sunday in Selma

On this day in 1965, a civil rights march took place from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama; it became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. At this stage, the Civil Rights Movement had been in motion for over a decade and already achieved legislative success with the Civil Rights Act. However the focus of the movement now became making the promise of equal franchise guaranteed in the Fifteenth Amendment a reality. While African-Americans exercised the right to vote in the years after the amendment’s passage in 1870, discriminatory measures like literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses were soon implemented across the country to deprive them of the vote. Thus in 1965 civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. made voter registration the core of their efforts, centering the campaign on the particularly discriminatory Selma, AL. On March 7th - 'Bloody Sunday’ - as the six hundred unarmed marchers were crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were descended upon by state troopers who viciously beat the protestors. The violence encountered by these peaceful marchers, which was captured on television and broadcast around the world, led to national outcry and caused President Johnson to publicly call for the passage of his administration’s proposed voting rights bill. After securing the support of federal troops, another march was held on March 21st, and with the protection of soldiers the marchers managed to arrive in Montgomery after three days. The marchers were met in Montgomery - the epicentre of the movement and the site of the 1954 bus boycott - by 50,000 supporters, who were addressed by King. Their efforts were rewarded when, in August of that year, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act that ensured all Americans could vote. This was one of the crowning achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Selma to Montgomery march is commemorated as one of the most important moments of the struggle.

“We are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. We are on the move now…not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom
- King’s 'Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March’ - 25th March, 1965

50 years ago today

KELIS GRADUATED FROM LE CORDON BLEU — NOW SHE’S WRITTEN HER FIRST COOKBOOK

A professional musician since the age of 17, Kelis made her mark with hits including “Milkshake” and “Bossy” before she enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in 2008. She had helped her mother with a catering business since childhood, and collected recipes from around the world while on tour, so the career change wasn’t as random as it might appear. And her desire to formalize her innate culinary skills coincided with a need to separate her identity from her musician self.

The book captures Kelis’ essence: colorful, straightforward and brimming with personal stories. Her page of kitchen essentials, both equipment and food, is simple and manageable. It takes the intimidation out of the cooking process for any novice, and returns the experienced culinarian back to basics.

“I wanted to make a book for living,” she says. “People don’t know what’s healthy. They expect me to be grilling chicken breast and steaming. That sucks. Why eat?“

“I don’t want that — but I will have a really great piece of chicken with herbs and seasonings,” she adds. “We sacrifice with everything else in life, why suffer with our food?”

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CultureHISTORY: #WhiteCoats4BlackLives - #Ferguson #EricGarner Protests - December 2014 

An incredible day of protests from medical students across the nation. The story and more photos here

  1. USC, Los Angeles, CA 
  2. Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 
  3. Boston University, Boston, MA 
  4. Morehouse, Atlanta, GA
  5. University of California, San Francisco
  6. Harvard Medical Students, Boston, MA 
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December 1st 1955: Rosa Parks on the bus

On this day in 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old black seamstress from Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. A member of the NAACP, Parks was returning home from a long day at work when the bus driver ordered her to give up her seat on the full bus for a white man. No stranger to civil rights activism, she was subsequently arrested for civil disobedience in defying the state’s Jim Crow racial segregation laws. Through this act of defiance, Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during which time African-Americans - under the leadership of a young, charismatic reverend called Martin Luther King Jr. - refused to use the city buses, arguing that they should be integrated per the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. The boycott was successful in forcing Montgomery to end its discriminatory segregation laws, and marked the beginning of the main phase of what is now known as the Civil Rights Movement. From Montgomery, African-Americans across the United States went on to lead sit-ins, freedom rides, and political marches, in an attempt to bring an end to segregation laws which had oppressed their community for so long. These activists were all indebted to Rosa Parks - known as the ‘mother of the Civil Rights Movement’ - for her simple act of defiance, firmly asserting her humanity and her rights as an American citizen. As the movement grew, Parks remained an influential symbol and leader of the movement, which ultimately brought an end to legal segregation and forced Congress to pass the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts. As for Parks herself, the affair of her arrest and the subsequent boycott caused her to lose her job and made her a victim of harassment and threats. She moved to Detriot and in 1965 began to work in the office of Congressman John Conyers. In 1999, Rosa Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her role in transforming American race relations, and upon her death in 2005 she lay in state at the U.S. Capitol. Today, 60 years on, we remember Rosa Parks’s personal bravery, the successes of the movement she inspired, and the steps yet to be taken as the struggle against systemic racism continues.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”

60 years ago today

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CultureTRIBUTE: First Lady Michelle Obama – Happy 51st Birthday

A celebration of the nation’s First Lady on her birthday (1/17). With her warm grace, her shrewd intellect, her honest humor about life in the West Wing, her commitment to America’s youth through mentoring and educational programs, and her groundbreaking nutritional program to reduce childhood obesity, Michelle Obama has become one of the most consequential First Ladies in American history.

She’s the first White House fashion icon since Jackie O and the most significant since Eleanor Roosevelt, Mrs. Obama has captured the world’s attention for the last six years. For the black community especially, she remains a source of deep enduring pride. As a woman, a mother, a wife, a policy maker, and a role model, she has reshaped the image of the African American woman in the 21st century.

(And let’s not forget the Fallon Evolution of Mom Dancing clip from 2013. Go ‘head Michelle.)

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If you think all this brilliant scientist did for America was to create peanut butter… you’re clueless. There’s a reason he was called to testify before Congress - twice. He single-handedly saved the American agricultural industry at crucial times in our nation’s economic history. There is a reason Henry Ford hired Dr. Carver to work for him. There is a reason that Dr. Carver was recruited by Booker T. Washington to come to Tuskegee by paying him the highest salary of any professor there.

Look him up again, this time with adult eyes.

Let’s see
  • IrishAmerican Heritage Month: *silence*
  • Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month:*silence*
  • Jewish American Heritage Month:*silence*
  • Hispanic Heritage Month:*silence*
  • Native American Heritage Month:*silence*
  • Black History Month: “Omfg this is so  #racist and unnecessary why do you get special treatment?? why isnt there a white history month?? We’re all american and why be so divided??

And there are MANY more non ethnic/racially based awareness days/months but basically what my point is that most of yall are fake and anti Black and your beef with BHM has nothing to do with there being a month to celebrate Black history but everything to do with the fact that yall just cant stand to see Black people to have some attention without feeling jealous and bitter.

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February 21st 1965: Malcolm X assassinated

On this day in 1965, African-American civil rights leader Malcolm X was assassinated aged 39. Born as Malcolm Little in Nebraska in 1925, his family were forced to relocate when the Ku Klux Klan threatened his father, who was active in the black nationalist movement. Malcolm’s father was ultimately murdered by white supremacists - but the white police insisted it was suicide - and the family disintegrated. The young Malcolm dropped out of school and became involved in crime, eventually going to prison for burglary in 1946. While imprisoned, he was exposed to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, who argued that the white man is the devil and cannot live peaceably with blacks, who should establish a separate black nation. Malcolm was powerfully affected by this ideology, and changed his last name to reject the ‘slave’ name he had been given. After his release from prison, Malcolm X became a preacher in New York, calling for black self-defence against white aggression. His eloquent advocacy of black nationalism and the neccessity of securing civil rights “by any means necessary”, including violence, made him a respected, but also feared, figure. Malcolm X was feared by white and black Americans, as some civil rights activists worried that his more radical message threatened the strategy of non-violence espoused by Martin Luther King Jr.. While his fame contributed to the Nation of Islam’s growing popularity, Malcolm began to split from the organisation, disillusioned by Elijah Muhammad’s hypocrisy and alleged corruption. He formally left the organisation in 1964, and visited Mecca, an experience which tempered his rhetoric and led him to abandon the argument that whites are devils. At this point, Malcolm changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, returning to America influenced by socialism and pan-Africanism and more hopeful for a peaceful resolution to America’s race problems. As he was preparing to speak at a rally for his recently-founded Organisation of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, Malcolm X was shot 15 times by three members of the Nation of Islam. In death, his legacy loomed large over the civil rights movement, and African-American activists increasingly urged black power for black people. Malcolm X remains one of the most famous and respected figures of the civil rights movement, and his seminal autobiography is considered one of the most important books of the twentieth century.

“We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

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CultureHISTORY: The NYPD Murder of Eric Garner - 2014 

It was reported on Friday that the NY Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide. So much for the NYPD holding out hope that he had some pre-existing medical condition which caused his death. 

No, it was straight up murder. He and his family deserve justice. 

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EVERYTHING Has A History

If your discussion of BLACK MEN and their HYPERMASCULINITY problem doesn’t include an analysis of the effects of WHITE SUPREMACY and historic emasculation and degradation at the hands of WHITE MEN on their psyche, your assessments will never lead to the BLACK UNITY or BLACK LOVE necessary between Black men and women to heal our communities.

Missing Chapter From America’s History Books

One In Four Of America’s Cowboys Were African-American

Many of the slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries were familiar with cattle herding from their homelands of West Africa. This brings historians the question of the name “Cowboy” and whether or not it was made from slave cow herders.

  • On some Texas trails, about a quarter of cowboys were black.

African American cowboys were largely African American freedmen after the Civil War who were drawn to cowboy life, in part because there was not quite as much discrimination in the west as in other areas of American society at the time. For enslaved Blacks the West offered freedom and refuge from the bonds of slavery. It also gave African Americans a chance at better earnings. . After the Civil War many were employed as horsebreakers and for other tasks, but few of them became ranch foremen or managers. Some black cowboys took up careers as rodeo performers or were hired as federal peace officers in Indian Territory. Others ultimately owned their own farms and ranches.

  • Hundreds of black cowboys were among the very first hands who drove huge herds along trails to Abilene, Kansas, the cattle-selling center of the Old West.  They were especially skilled in vetting horses. When herding cattle, many black riders rode “on point,” ahead of the dust. Black cowboys were forced to do the hardest work with cattle, such as bronco busting, they had special skills with breaking in steeds.

Photo: No original source found, possible circa 1913 http://www.geni.com/projects/Black-Cowboys/1986

http://blackamericaweb.com/2012/11/19/little-known-black-history-fact-black-cowboys/

http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=24166

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15 Rare Photos of Black Rosie the Riveters

During World War II, 600,000 African-American women entered the wartime workforce. Previously, black women’s work in the United States was largely limited to domestic service and agricultural work, and wartime industries meant new and better-paying opportunities – if they made it through the hiring process, that is. White women were the targets of the U.S. government’s propaganda efforts, as embodied in the lasting and lauded image of Rosie the Riveter.

Though largely ignored in America’s popular history of World War II, black women’s important contributions in World War II factories, which weren’t always so welcoming, are stunningly captured in these comparably rare snapshots of black Rosie the Riveters.