african-americans

The Legend of Stagecoach Mary,

Also known as Mary Fields, Stagecoach Mary was one of the toughest ladies of the Old West.  Born as a slave on a Tennessee plantation in 1832, she gained her freedom after the Civil War and the resulting abolition of slavery.  After the Civil War Mary made her way west where she eventually settled in Cascade County, Montana.

In Montana Mary would gain a reputation as one of the toughest characters in the territory.  Unlike most women of the Victorian Era, Mary had a penchant for whiskey, cheap cigars, and brawling.  It was not uncommon for men to harass her because of her race or her gender.  Those who earned her disfavor did so at their own risk, as the six foot tall two hundred pound woman served up a mean knuckle sandwich.  According to her obituary in Great Falls Examiner “she broke more noses than any other woman in Central Montana”.

In Montana Mary made a living doing heavy labor for a Roman Catholic convent.  She did work such as carpentry, chopping wood, and stone work.  However it was her job of transporting supplies to the convent by wagon that would earn her the name “Stagecoach Mary”.  The job was certainly dangerous, as she braved fierce weather, bandits, robbers, and wild animals.  In one instance her wagon was attacked by wolves, causing the horses to panic and overturn the wagon.  Throughout the night Stagecoach Mary fought off several wolf attacks with a rifle, a ten gauge shotgun, and a pair of revolvers.  

Mary’s job with the convent ended when another hired hand complained it was not fair that she made more money than him to the townspeople and the local bishop. When the bishop dismissed his claims, he went to a local saloon, saying that it was not fair that he should have to work with a black woman (he said something much more obscene). In response, Mary shot him in the bum. The bishop fired Mary, and she was out of a job.

After a failed attempt at running a restaurant, Stagecoach Mary was hired to run freight for the US Postal Service. Today she holds the distinction of being the first African American postal employee. Despite delivering parcels to some of the most remote and rugged areas of Montana, Mary gained a reputation for always delivering on time regardless of the weather or terrain.

At the age of seventy, Stagecoach Mary retired from the parcel business and opened a laundry.  In one incident when a customer refused to pay, the 72 year old woman knocked out one of his teeth.  For the remainder of her life Mary settled down to peace and quiet, drinking whiskey and smoking cheap cigars.  She passed away in 1914 at the age of 82.

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Things never change. How society portrays African American men, the reaction of this woman speaks volume of how far we are from change. She was raised to fear our men and she will teach her sons and daughters to do the same, the cycle will continue🇺🇸

youtube

The premiere of the six-part series covering 500 years of black history, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, begins TONIGHT at 8/7c.

Watch an excerpt from Episode 1, which commences with the origins of slavery in Africa. 

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of blacks now see gun ownership as a good thing, something more likely to protect than harm. That’s up from 29 percent just two years ago. In places like Detroit, more African-Americans are getting permits to carry concealed weapons.

Police chiefs usually don’t like the idea of citizens carrying concealed guns for self-defense, but James Craig, police chief in Detroit, says he had to be realistic about the situation in his hometown.

So he endorsed a trend that was already well under way — the trend toward more people carrying legal guns.

More African-Americans Support Carrying Legal Guns For Self-Defense

Photo Credit: Martin Kaste/NPR

In 1957, Ghana’s independence was a beacon of freedom to the civil rights movement and Nkrumah, the liberator of black people worldwide.
     … African Americans had flocked to Ghana in the fifties and sixties. They came running away from Jim Crow, the Cold War, the backseat of the bus, a trail of slain leaders, spent dreams, and what they called, euphemistically, second-class citizenship. They knew either you were a citizen or you were not. They knew the outhouse wasn’t the parlor.
     …
     The architects and laborers of the Pan-Africanist dream had arrived in these first waves. They were comrades in the Black International. It was an age of possibility, when it seemed that as soon as tomorrow the legacy of slavery and colonialism would be overthrown. Richard Wright had visited the Gold Coast in 1953 and written a powerful account of the struggle for independence. In 1957, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, and Horace Mann (at the request of Nkrumah and against the expressed wishes of the U.S. State Department) had traveled to Ghana for the celebration of its independence. King, upon seeing the Black Star replace the Union Jack as the flag of the nation and listening to the audience of half a million people shout, ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ began to weep.
     An apocryphal story captures the bittersweet quality of these tears. Vice President Nixon, who attended the ceremonies as the head of the U.S. delegation, asked a group of jubilant men, 'How does it feel to be free?’ 'We don’t know,’ they replied. 'We’re from Alabama.’
—  Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007), 34, 35–36.

Cf: Penny M. Von Eschen, Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937–1957 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), 167–68; Martin Luther King, Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson (New York: Warner Books, 1998), 112; Kevin K. Gaines, American Africans in Ghana (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 5.
npr.org
How Turbans Helped Some Blacks Go Incognito In The Jim Crow Era

Here’s some excellent archival research by NPR’s Code Switch team (with help from NPR librarian Katie Daugert) on blacks passing as East Indian or using “exotica” to navigate the Jim Crow South. This perspective complicates the conversations trending on the Internet about cultural appropriation. 

“I was Jim Crowed here, Jim Crowed there, Jim Crowed all over the place. And I didn’t like being Jim Crowed.” — Jesse Routté, who pulled off what historian Paul Kramer calls the “turban trick.”

At the time, ideas of race in America were quite literally black and white. But a few meters of cloth changed the way some people of color were treated.

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U.S. Capitol Gov Doc: Rosa Parks Lying in Honor

From October 30-31, 2005, Rosa Parks lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. Parks was the first woman to lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda and the second African-American. Parks is best known as a civil rights pioneer. She died on October 24, 2005, in Detroit, Michigan. Authority for use of the Rotunda granted by Senate Concurrent Resolution 61, 109th Congress, 1st Session, agreed to October 29, 2005.

the obsession.

a lot of people outside of the african american race don’t understand the obsession with black women wanting long hair. personally for me, I have always had a head full of thick hair, but never had hair past my shoulder blades, or flowing down down my back. ever since I could remember I would daydream all day about it, thinking I could never have it. when my teenage years arrived and I learned about sew-ins, my eyes lit up! it wouldn’t be “mine”, but just being able to have extensions on my head that was longer than my hair had ever been was more than enough!

oddly enough, there are millions of african-american women with similar, if not the same, story as I. so when we “go natural” & start growing our hair to lengths we would have never imagined and become obsessed with it, you have to understand that many of us lacked this as we were growing up.

I remember at the beginning of my journey, I would CONSTANTLY talk about it (lol) & I noticed others would kind of mock me for it. I feel that this is unfair and I’ll give a few reasons why. Example 1: When someone has been overweight all their life and they start to incorporate a much healthier diet and exercise regimen in their lifestyle, that’s going to be the main topic of most of their conversations. they’re excited about this new change in their life!!! Example 2: I used to work in retail and would encounter some customers who would buy a TON of certain things: shoes, clothes, jewelry, etc. They would tell me that as they were growing up, they were deprived of it, so now they buy excessive amounts of certain things they had a lack of before.

here is my point: we are EXCITED about the fact that we can actually grow our hair long! many of us have grown up thinking that it was never possible, so now that we have figured out how to reach long lengths, we will obsess about it! have a problem? I don’t know what to tell you, but get over it! we will CONTINUE to obsess about it!!!