Today in Black History for February 11th
- 1990 - Nelson Mandela is released
Nelson Mandela’s greatest pleasure, his most private moment, is watching the sun set with the music of Handel or Tchaikovsky playing. Locked up in his cell during daylight hours, deprived of music, both these simple pleasures were denied him for decades. With his fellow prisoners, concerts were organized when possible, particularly at Christmas time, where they would sing. Nelson Mandela finds music very uplifting, and takes a keen interest not only in European classical music but also in African choral music and the many talents in South African music. But one voice stands out above all - that of Paul Robeson, whom he describes as our hero. The years in jail reinforced habits that were already entrenched: the disciplined eating regime of an athlete began in the 1940s, as did the early morning exercise. Still today Nelson Mandela is up by 4.30am, irrespective of how late he has worked the previous evening. By 5am he has begun his exercise routine that lasts at least an hour. Breakfast is by 6.30, when the days newspapers are read. The day s work has begun. With a standard working day of at least 12 hours, time management is critical and Nelson Mandela is extremely impatient with unpunctuality, regarding it as insulting to those you are dealing with. When speaking of the extensive traveling he has undertaken since his release from prison, Nelson Mandela says: I was helped when preparing for my release by the biography of Pandit Nehru, who wrote of what happens when you leave jail. My daughter Zinzi says that she grew up without a father, who, when he returned, became a father of the nation. This has placed a great responsibility of my shoulders. And wherever I travel, I immediately begin to miss the familiar - the mine dumps, the colour and smell that is uniquely South African, and, above all, the people. I do not like to be away for any length of time. For me, there is no place like home. Mandela accepted the Nobel Peace Prize as an accolade to all people who have worked for peace and stood against racism. It was as much an award to his person as it was to the ANC and all South Africa s people. In particular, he regards it as a tribute to the people of Norway who stood against apartheid while many in the world were silent. We know it was Norway that provided resources for farming; thereby enabling us to grow food; resources for education and vocational training and the provision of accommodation over the years in exile. The reward for all this sacrifice will be the attainment of freedom and democracy in South Africa, in an open society which respects the rights of all individuals. That goal is now in sight, and we have to thank the people and governments of Norway and Sweden for the tremendous role they played. Personal Tastes Breakfast of plain porridge, with fresh fruit and fresh milk. A favourite is the traditionally prepared meat of a freshly slaughtered sheep, and the delicacy Amarhewu (fermented corn-meal).
- 1989 - Penn’s 1996 Baccalaureate Speaker is The Right Reverend Barbara
Clementine Harris, a Philadelphian who was the first woman ever to
become a bishop in the Anglican Communion. Bishop Harris entered the
priesthood after a long and successful career in public and community
relations in Philadelphia between 1949 and 1977. On graduation from the
Charles Morris Price School she joined Joseph V. Baker Associates Inc
and rose to president. She also held senior posts with the Sun Company
from 1968 until 1977, when she began her theological studies at
Villanova University. Studying later at the Urban Theology Unit in
Sheffield, England, she then graduated from the Pennsylvania Foundation
for Pastoral Counseling, and was ordained a deacon in 1979 and a priest
Before she was consecrated a bishop in 1989, she had been
Priest-in-Charge of St. Augustine of Hippo in Norristown, serving also
as as a prison chaplain and as counsel to industrial corporations for
public policy issues and social concerns. Named executive director of
the Episcopal Church Publishing Company in 1984, she was also publisher
of The Witness, and she held the additional post of interim rector of
Philadelphia’s Church of the Advocate in 1988. Bishop Harris is a member
of the Union of Black Episcopalians, and among other activities she
represents the national Episcopal Church on the board of the Prisoner
Visitation and Support Committee, and is vice president of Episcopal
City Mission of the Diocese of Massachusetts.
- 1976 - Clifford Alexander Jr
Clifford Alexander, Jr. is confirmed as the first African American Secretary of the Army. He will hold the position until the end of President Jimmy Carter’s term.
- 1971 - Whitney Young Jr., National Urban League director
Whitney M. Young, Jr. was Executive Director of the National Urban League from 1961 until his tragic, untimely death in 1971. He worked tireless to bring the races together, and joined the tenets of social work, of which he was an outstanding practitioner, to the social activism that brought the Urban League into the forefront of the civil rights arena. Whitney was constantly in search of solutions to the racism that plagued Americans and caused black Americans to be regulated to second-class citizenship in the land they fought and died for. A relentless advocate for the poor, he visited rural and urban communities and advocated their cause to the nation. He was a close adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and conferred with President Nixon; helping to shape the policies of three administrations and playing a major role in the development of the War on Poverty. He was a key figure in bringing the now-legendary 1963 March on Washington to fruition; and was a major force in bringing black leadership together in a united front for progress. Whitney’s eloquent testimony before Congressional committees and his powerful appeals to business, professional and civic leaders helped create an environment in which African Americans forged ahead to win new opportunities.
- 1961 - February 11, Robert Weaver sworn in as administrator of the Housing and
Home Finance Agency, highest federal post to date by a Black American.
- 1898 - Owen L. W. Smith of North Carolina, AME Zion minister and educator, named minister to Liberia.
- 1783 - Jarena Lee was born
The daughter of former slaves, born in Cape May, New Jersey. Jarena Lee is the considered the first female preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1836, she published her autobiography, THe Life and Religious Experiences, of Jarena Lee, a Coloured Lady, Giving an Account of Her Call to Preach the Gospel. Her maiden name is unknown and the year of her death is uncertain. She married Joseph Lee, a minister of a Black church in Snow Hill (Lawnside - about 6 miles from Philadelphia) in 1811.
- 1644 - First Black legal protest in America pressed by eleven Blacks who
petitioned for freedom in New Netherlands (New York). Council of New
Netherlands freed the eleven petitioners because they had “served the
Company seventeen or eighteen years” and had been “long since promised
their freedom on the same footing as other free people in New