Black Mail Blog

Black History: Special Delivery!!


October 2015

Power Center Academy: Athletic Trailblazers In The Sport of Rugby

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

power center academy

African American athletes can be found in most major U.S. sports such as basketball, football, baseball, etc.   However,  there are some sports that are very popular internationally  but not as popular here in the United States.   One such sport is rugby.  The Power Center Academy,   a high school in Memphis Tennessee may be helping to put rugby on the map in the United States.  Located in the inner city the school has an all Black rugby team that is being noticed nationally and internationally.  Players on the team describe the sport as being “football and soccer put together”  The game is also played with no pads and no helmets; which helps to cut down on the cost.

The school initially had many players who wanted to play football. However the school could not afford the cost of having a football team. So rugby was introduced as an alternative. The team is coached by Shane Young who came to Memphis as part of Teach for America.  Rugby is usually associated with prep schools and elite colleges. An inner-city team is certainly rare.  An all black team is pretty much unheard of.

Since Power Center Academy started its first team they have gone from losing every game in its first season, to last year winning most of their games. Three of the teams players are national all-stars which means that scholarship opportunities could also come with their recognition as high school standouts.   By spring of 2016, Memphis will have a total of 6 rugby teams in the inner rcity comprising approximately 170 players.  The team was recently featured on NPR.  Click on the link below to check out the article.


Did you miss our earlier Black Mail post?  Check out a thought provoking African Proverb by clicking here.

African Proverb: “The Axe Forgets. The Tree Remembers”

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

african proverb



African Proverb: A speaker of truth has no friends. -African Proverb

Black History:  Special Delivery!!


Vince and Marian Cullers: Founders Of The 1st African American Full Service Advertising Agency.

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Vincent Cullers
Vincent Cullers

 Vincent Cullers and his wife Marian founded the Vince Cullers Group in 1956. It was recognized as the first African-American owned full service advertising agency in the United States. Vince Cullers developed a passion for advertising while attending the Art Institute of Chicago and studying business at the University of Chicago. Launching a black-owned advertising agency was no small feat. The number of blacks working in the industry at that time was extremely small. The Cullers found, that very often, white clients were not interested in marketing directly to the black community.

Vincent Cullers felt strongly that selling to the black community required an advertising approach that was specifically targeted to the black community. In the 1950’s and early 60’s blacks were estimated to have $28 billion in annual disposable income. It was very challenging for Cullers to break into the industry. He was able to do so by landing his first national account, with a cigarette manufacturer. The company then landed contracts with Bristol Myers and Bufferin. Perhaps one of their most noted advertising campaigns was for the Afro-Sheen line of Johnson Products. The campaign was called, “Watu-Wasuri” which was Swahili for “beautiful people”. It featured blacks showing their pride in their cultural and family heritages.

Vincent Cullers was an industry pioneer in the advertising industry. By the late 1990’s the agency had 25 employees and annual billings of $18 billion. In 1997, Jeffrey B. Cullers, the son of Vince Cullers assumed the role of president from his father. The organization has received numerous awards and national recognition. They were unique to other advertising they chose not to pursue acquisition by a larger agency as a growth strategy. Vince Cullers is known as “The Dean” of African American Advertising. Following a long illness, Vince Cullers died in 2003 at age 79.


Did you miss yesterday’s post?  Click here to view!

Quote: People Say That Slaves Were Taken From Africa. This Is Not True. People Were Taken From Africa And Made Into Slaves. -Unknown

Black History:  Special Delivery!!


Did you miss our last  Black Mail post?  Click here to learn about Philip Downing who invented the street letter box. 

Philip B. Downing: Mailbox Inventor

 Black History: Special Delivery!!

Street Letter Box
Street Letter Box

For many years, anyone wishing to mail a letter, would have to go to their local post office. That all changed when Philip B. Downing designed a metal box for storage of mail. He patented this device on October 27, 1891. He called the device a “street letter box”. It is the predecessor of today’s mailbox.

Prior to the “street letter box”, Downing also patented an electrical switch that could be used by railroads. The switch allowed workers to turn power off and on to trains at the appropriate times. Downing’s electrical switch was catalyst for later inventors who would create other types of electrical switches such as light switches.


Did you miss you yesterday’s post: “Scientific Racism: The Drapetomania Diagnosis”? Click here to view the post..

Scientific Racism: The Drapetomania Diagnosis

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Dr. Samuel Cartwright
Dr. Samuel Cartwright (1793 – 1863)

American physician Dr. Samuel Cartwright (1793 – 1863) observed black slaves who fled from captivity and saw an illness.  In 1851 he named the illness, “Drapetomania or the “disease causing Negroes to flee”. He used this diagnosis to explain that black slaves did not really want freedom and that if they did try to escape, they were actually “ill”. Cartwright suggested that the cause of Drapetomania was slave masters treating their slaves in too humane of a manner. He also suggested the illness was further caused by slaves perceiving themselves to be individuals of worth. For Cartwright, the slave’s desire for freedom was an illness and Cartwright felt that he had the cure. Continue reading “Scientific Racism: The Drapetomania Diagnosis”

Andre Reboucas: Inventor Of The Torpedo

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Andre Reboucas
Andre Reboucas

Andre Reboucas was born in 1838 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was the son of a former slave and a Portuguese tailor. Reboucas was educated at the Military School of Rio de Janeiro and became an engineer after completing studies in Europe. He became famous in Rio de Janeiro for improving water supply to the city, bringing it from fountain heads outside the town. In 1864, Reboucas was named a lieutenant during the Paraguayan War. Naval warfare played a significant role in this military conflict. Reboucas designed an immersible device which could be projected under water, causing an explosion with any ship it hit. The device became known as the torpedo.

After his military service Reboucas began teaching at the Polytechnical School in Rio de Janeiro. He became very wealthy and used his finances to aid in the Brazilian abolition movement to end slavery there. He eventually moved to Funchal Madeira off the coast of Africa. He died there in 1898.

Black Mail Trivia Answer: Which NAACP staffer investigated sexual assault against black women in Alabama?

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Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks

Earlier today, we asked our Black Mail Readers:  Which NAACP staffer investigated and rallied the black community of Alabama in opposition to sexual assault committed against black women?  The answer is “B”-Rosa Parks. 

Though she is known for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery Alabama bus  launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott; Ms. Parks was also a field secretary for the NAACP in Montgomery.  In this role she investigated and advocated for victims of sexual assault.  Parks herself was the victim of an attempted sexual assault.  A white man who employed her as a housekeeper attempted to rape her in 1931. Below is an excerpt from a document handwritten by Parks detailing the attempted assault.

Excerpt of document detailing attempted rape of Rosa Parks in 1931
Excerpt of document detailing attempted rape of Rosa Parks in 1931

One case in particular championed by Parks in work with the NAACP was the rape of Recy Taylor.  In 1944, Recy Taylor was gang raped by 7 white men.  Though the men admitted to the crime, they were never indicted or brought to trial.  In her role with the NAACP, Rosa Parks rallied the local community and tried to seek justice on behalf of Recy Taylor.  Taylor is still alive.  There is no statute of limitations on rape cases in Alabama.  So her attackers (if they are still alive)  could still be brought to trial.  Recy Taylor’s experience as well as that of other victims was highlighted in the book, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – “A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power” by Danielle McGuire. 

 In those days, though many black victims sought justice very few received it.  I have personally read this book and it really brings to light the heroism and bravery of the black women were victims of sexual assault and the brave women and men who risked their lives and personal safety to seek justice on behalf of sexual assault victims.

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