Check out this great story about a group of black women who cycled to the nation’s capital in 1928!
Easter weekend, 1928, 5 African American women set out on a 250 mile journey by bicycle. Marylou Jackson, Velma Jackson, Ethyl Miller Leolya Nelson and Constance White rode from New York to Washington DC.
In 1941, the National Negro Opera Company was founded by Mary Cardwell Dawson in Pittsburgh, PA. Dawson attended the New England Conservatory. Graduating in 1925, she was the only African American in her class. She faced significant discrimination trying to pursue an career in opera. She used this as motivation to become an advocate and activist for black musicians. The National Negro Opera Company provided training to talented, aspiring black musicians.
Prior to founding the National Negro Opera Company, Mary Cardwell Dawson organized the Cardwell Dawson Choir in 1939. At this point in her career she had become an accomplished promoter of young black artists. She also was the president of the National Organization of Negro Musicians. The first performance of the National Negro Opera Company was a production of Aida in 1941. Though other black opera companies were in existence before this one, the National Negro Opera Company experienced greater longevity.
The National Negro Opera Company achieved success and expanded, opening chapters in Washington, DC, Chicago, New York and Cleveland. Despite its growth, the company experienced financial trouble. In spite of the financial challenges, Mary Cardwell Dawson continued to be a well respected teacher and musician and she continued to train and promote black musicians. In 1955, The National Negro Opera Company was the first black company as well as the first independent company to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House. Mary Cardwell-Dawson died of a heart attack in 1962 and the National Negro Opera Company disbanded soon after. Its first home was designated as a historical landmark in the state of Pennsylvania in 2007. It was also featured in a documentary aired on Pittsburgh public television.
Click on the link below to see an excerpt from the documentary:
A black delivery driver from Lowes was taken off a delivery in Danville, VA because customer didn’t want a black delivery person.
When interviewed by reporters, the customer said:
“No. I don’t feel bad about nothing….I got a right to have whatever I want and that’s it.”
The drive was enroute to the customer’s home when he was notified not to make the delivery. The fact that Lowes would facilitate this type of blatant racism is sad. Another example of institutional racism!
Click the link below to read the news article from The Root.com:
Born a slave in approximately 1830, Benjamin Bradley was the first person to invent a working model of a war ship steam engine. Born in Annapolis Marylands faculty. While at the Naval Academy he was able to sell his invention. It was powerful enough to operate a small boat. He used the proceeds from this sale to create an even larger model.
Around 1856, Bradley built an engine that was capable of moving a small war ship 16 knots per hour. It was the first sloop of war (war ship with guns on the deck). His invention of the engine is significant because it the first invention capable of powering a war ship. Bradley was unable to get a patent for his invention because he was a slave. The Patent Act of 1793 and 1836 barred enslaved Africans from obtaining patents because they were not considered citizens. He did however end up selling the invention and used the proceeds to purchase his freedom.
Click on the link below to read about Benjamin Bradley other black inventors who were unable to patent their inventions due to being slaves.
All of the men below escaped slavery. Which person used his profession as a sailor as a way to escape slavery?
A) Lewis Williams
B) Matthew Henson
C) Fredrick Douglass
D) William Kraft
The answer is C. Fredrick Douglass
In 1838, Douglass successful escaped from slavery. He was 20 years old. It was actually his second attempt. 2 years earlier he had attempted to escape but another slave told his master of his plan. As a result he was jailed and then sent to Baltimore where he was hired out to work in the shipyards. His cover was almost blown several times, but eventually he made it to freedom. Another interesting fact to note is that upon escaping to freedom, is when he took the surname “Douglass” prior to that, his last name had been Bailey.
To read more about his escape, click on the link below:
Many of us know about Harriet Tubman’s heroism as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and how she helped hundreds of slave escape to freedom in the north. But did you that she also established a home for the elderly? In 1896 Hariett Tubman purchased 25 acres of land adjacent to her home for $1,450 in Auburn, NY to build a home for elderly blacks. The Thompson AME Zion Church in Auburn, NY assisted her financially. That support along with a mortgage from a local bank helped her to pay for the property.
Unable to make tax payments on the property, she donated it to the AME Zion Church in 1903, with the stipulation that the church would continue to operate the home. It took 5 years to fully staff and equip the home. On June 23, 1908 the Harriet Tubman Home for the Elderly was inaugurated. Tubman, herself, eventually was cared for in the home for the elderly when her health began to deteriorate in 1911. It was there that she died in 1913. All 3 properties, Harriet Tubman’s residence, Thompson AME Zion Church, and the Harriet Tubman Home For The Elderly are all considered National Historic Landmarks. The Harriet Tubman Home for The Elderly continues to be operated by The AME Zion church in Auburn, NY.
“Disruption Is necessary for change” -Bree Newsome
Some of you may remember Bree Newsome the courageous, African American Activist who was arrested for removing the confederate flag in South Carolina.
She recently published an article on “The Root”. The title of the Article is:
“When Oppression Is the Status Quo, Disruption Is a Moral Duty”
Article focuses on why strategic “disruption” is necessary to achieve change. Ms. Newsome reminds us of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his Letter From Birmingham Mail. They still ring true today!
“I’m struck by the way society can commemorate the movement of the past while condemning the movement of the present.”
Ms. Newsome shares her perspective on Black Lives Matter movement and why it’s necessary to address issues of oppression and violence in the black community.