african history

Can we talk about American Gods? We really have a dark-skin black woman playing a Biblical Queen and a Love Goddess. We have Black People portraying Egyptian Gods. The lead of the show is black. They have West African Gods being portrayed on mainstream media. Seeing black people’s mythology and history represented on screen by black actors is a big thing. People aren’t even aware of nor regard the several figures in Abrahamic religions being African. .

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February 11th 1990: Mandela released

On this day in 1990, the South African activist and politician Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Mandela had spent twenty-seven years in prison for his role as an anti-apartheid activist at the head of Umkhonto we Sizwe, which translates as Spear of the Nation. The controversial organisation served as the militant armed wing of the African National Congress political party, born out of a frustration among anti-apartheid activists that their non-violence was met with brutality by white authorities against black citizens. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life in prison, during which time he was largely condemned as a terrorist by Western nations. He served most of his twenty-seven years on Robben Island, then Victor Verster Prison near Cape Town, and during his imprisonment his reputation grew as a significant black leader both in South Africa and internationally. Mandela was finally freed after the ban on the ANC was lifted by the apartheid government. Upon his release, Mandela led the ANC in the successful negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to end apartheid, and was overwhelmingly elected President of South Africa in the first multi-racial elections in 1994, serving until 1999. In 2013, Nelson Mandela died aged 95 and has been mourned around the world as a hero who fought for freedom in South Africa, and as a symbol of resistance for oppressed peoples everywhere.

“Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.”

Hand-colored tintype portrait of three unidentified African American women, c. 1856.

Source: Harvard Library.

For decades, there have been few photographic images of Harriet Tubman depicting how the abolitionist and Civil War spy looked in her lifetime.

Now there’s one more.

New York City auction house Swann Galleries has announced that it will auction a newly discovered photo of Tubman March 30.

Kate Clifford Larson, author of the biography “Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero,” estimated that Tubman was between 43 and 46 years old when the photo was taken, placing it shortly after the end of the Civil War. At the time, Tubman was living in Auburn, where she had purchased land in 1859 from then-Sen. William H. Seward — land that will soon become the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

Larson said that in her 20 years of researching Tubman, she’s been sent dozens of photos of black women by people claiming to have discovered a new image of the soon-to-be face of the $20. But not one has actually depicted Tubman.

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March 21st 1960: Sharpeville massacre

On this day in 1960, police opened fire on peaceful anti-apartheid protestors in the South African township of Sharpeville, killing 69. The over 5,000 strong crowd gathered at Sharpeville police station to protest the discriminatory pass laws, which they claimed were designed to limit their movement in designated white only areas. The laws required all black men and women to carry reference books with their name, tax code and employer details; those found without their book could be arrested and detained. The protest encouraged black South Africans to deliberately leave their pass books at home and present themselves at police stations for arrest, which would crowd prisons and lead to a labour shortage. Despite the protestors’ peaceful and non-violent intentions, police opened fire on the crowd. By the day’s end, 69 people were dead and 180 were wounded. A further 77 were arrested and questioned, though no police officer involved in the massacre was ever convicted as the government relieved all officials of any responsibility. The apartheid government responded to the massacre by banning public meetings, outlawing the African National Congress (ANC) and declaring a state of emergency. The incident convinced anti-apartheid leader and ANC member Nelson Mandela to abandon non-violence and organise paramilitary groups to fight the racist system of apartheid. In 1996, 36 years later, then President Mandela chose Sharpeville as the site at which he signed into law the country’s new post-apartheid constitution.

“People were running in all directions, some couldn’t believe that people had been shot, they thought they had heard firecrackers. Only when they saw the blood and dead people, did they see that the police meant business”
- Tom Petrus, eyewitness to the Sharpeville massacre

Celebrating African-American Social Dance

This is the Bop. The Bop is a type of social dance. Dance is a language, and social dance is an expression that emerges from a community. A social dance isn’t choreographed by any one person. It can’t be traced to any one moment. Each dance has steps that everyone can agree on, but it’s about the individual and their creative identity Because of that, social dances bubble up, they change, and they spread like wildfire. They are as old as our remembered history.

In African-American social dances, we see over 200 years of how African and African-American traditions influenced our history. The present always contains the past. And the past shapes who we are and who we will be.

Now, social dance is about community and connection; if you knew the steps, it meant you belonged to a group. But what if it becomes a worldwide craze? Enter the Twist.

It’s no surprise that the Twist can be traced back to the 19th century, brought to America from the Congo during slavery. But in the late ‘50s, right before the Civil Rights Movement, the Twist is popularized by Chubby Checker and Dick Clark. Suddenly, everybody’s doing the Twist: white teenagers, kids in Latin America, making its way into songs and movies. Through social dance, the boundaries between groups become blurred.

The story continues in the 1980s and '90s. Along with the emergence of hip-hop, African-American social dance took on even more visibility, borrowing from its long past, shaping culture and being shaped by it. Today, these dances continue to evolve, grow and spread.

Why do we dance? To move, to let loose, to express.

Why do we dance together? To heal, to remember, to say: “We speak a common language. We exist and we are free.”

From the TED-Ed Lesson The history of African-American social dance - Camille A. Brown

Camille A. Brown is a choreographer fusing dance and social commentary to explore race, sexuality and femininity.

Title Design by Kozmonot Animation Studio 

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87-year-old visits slave cabin she was born in, now at African-American History Museum

  • On Tuesday, Isabell Meggett Lucas, 87, visited the home where she was born in Edisto Island, South Carolina. Except she had to go visit it in Washington, D.C. That’s because Lucas’s childhood home was a slave cabin on display at the African-American History Museum. 
  • According to local television station WRC, the Edisto Island slave cabin is the only one remaining of 10 such cabins that were built on a patch of land owned by Charles Bailey, who became wealthy through slavery.  
  • Lucas told WRC that, though she was born there, she did not know it was a slave cabin when she was growing up. Read more. (4/13/2017 11:30 AM)

Someone today tried to tell me that the Songhai Empire (one of the most powerful in African history) shouldn’t count as a historically black kingdom because it was “built and ruled by Arabs”. I had made a comment about historically black kingdoms in response to someone’s “WE WUZ KANGS” joke and this redpilled motherfucker thought he knew better than me.

For those who don’t know, the Songhai are an ethnic group in Western Africa who are, you guessed it, black. Songhai built the empire, Songhai lived in it, Songhai fought for it, and Songhai ruled it. I don’t even know if I’m using the proper grammar for that but at least I fucking know what it means.

And then he had the sheer dumbass gall to call my assessment inaccurate and claim that I’m a dirty SJW historical revisionist. I’m not even an SJW. I usually can’t stand SJWs, to be completely honest. 

I’m just a fucker who likes historical accuracy.

Tell me again how Askia the Great wasn’t black, shithead.

Oh but that wasn’t all, because apparently MALI wasn’t a black empire either.

You may remember Mali. It was the fabulously rich kingdom ruled by black, Muslim Western Africans, most notably Mansa Musa. He was the man who, thanks to his ridiculous wealth and charity during his Hajj to Mecca changed the price of gold throughout the ENTIRE MEDITERRANEAN:

Oh and also Ethiopia didn’t count either because the Jewish kingdoms there were “semites, not blacks” and Haile Selassie was “too modern to count”.

Now first off, the Jews in Ethiopia are like 99% black. They’re called Beta Israel (Beyte Yisreal in Hebrew) and they’ve been black since the beginning. 

Even ignoring that vital fact, that statement forgets about the ENTIRE GIDEON DYNASTY, rulers of the Kingdom of Semien from around 400 AD to 1627 AD, when their Kingdom was absorbed into the Ethiopian Empire ruled by ANOTHER BLACK DYNASTY HOLY HELL WHO’D HAVE THUNK IT, THE SOLOMONIC DYNASTY.

So apparently Haile Selassie (Solomonic Dynasty),

Queen Gudit (or Yodit) of Semien (Gideon Dynasty),

and Menelik II (Solomonic Dynasty, the dude who beat a modernized Italian invasion with guerrilla tactics, spears, and a few muskets), among a hundred other rulelrs,

don’t count as historical black rulers because this anti-SJW son of a bitch couldn’t be bothered to read a goddamn history book and started pulling shit outta his contrarian ass.

And then he tried to pull the whole “oh the Egyptians were BROWN not BLACK lololol you sjw scum” thing.

THE ENTIRE 25TH DYNASTY WAS BLACK. They were ALL from Nubian Kush, and they oversaw some of Egypt’s most prosperous periods, as well as one of the great pyramid-building crazes.

But the best part of this was when he tried to tell me that the capital of the Kingdom of Great Zimbabwe,  pictured below, was nothing more than “a glorified medieval peasant’s hut”. 

(For scale, those big walls are up to five meters (or 16 feet) high and built without mortar. They’re held up by masterful architecture alone.)

IT WAS A CITY OF UP TO EIGHTEEN THOUSAND PEOPLE,

Go fuck yourself, whatever your name was. Fuck off back to your echo chamber and leave history to the grownups. 

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Mother and daughter goals 👩‍👧👸🏾

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March 29th 1879: Battle of Kambula

On this day in 1879, the Battle of Kambula occurred, marking a decisive moment in the Anglo-Zulu War. The war in South Africa began in 1878 after the murder of several British citizens by Zulus and the Zulu king’s refusal to hand over the perpetrators for trial. However, authorities in Britain had long been seeking pretense to launch an assault on the Zulu Kingdom to consolidate British rule in the area. The indigenous Zulu warriors had some initial success against the European invaders, including at the battle of Isandlwana in January 1879, though this victory was offset by defeat at Rourke’s Drift. Wary of the enemy, British forces in the Zulu Kingdom led by Evelyn Wood fortified an area near Kambula. On March 29th the Zulu army launched an attack on the British position, but their advance was halted by a British mounted force. The Zulu forces continued their attack, and 11,000 fighters charged head-on into a hail of British fire. They sustained heavy losses, but the Zulu army successfully exerted pressure on the British stronghold and forced the defenders to retreat. Despite putting up a considerable attack, the Zulu forces were eventually forced to retreat under British fire. The battle was a decisive British victory, with the defenders losing 29 soldiers and the Zulu up to 3,000. Kambula also severely weakened the Zulu forces, allowing the British to ultimately defeat the Zulu and imprison their king in July. British victory spelled the end of the independence of the Zulu nation in South Africa.