Search

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Month

December 2018

So Why Do We Eat Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens On New Year’s Day Anyway?

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

black eyed peas

Eating black eyed peas and/or collard greens is a New Year’s Day holiday tradition for many African Americans.  But what’s the story behind these two food  staples?  Collard greens and black-eyed peas have long been hailed as symbols of prosperity and good luck; the tradition being that black eyed peas represent money in the form of coins and collard greens represent paper money.

Black eyed peas (which are actually beans by the way) were a food staple that was grown in Africa over 5,000 years ago.  They have been cultivated since pre-historic times; perhaps first cultivated in China and India.  During the 1700’s black eyed peas were exported to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade and were give as food rations to the enslaved as well as being used to feed livestock.  Once black eyed peas began being cultivated in the U.S., they were initially a food that was largely consumed by enslaved peoples and poor whites.  However, the staple dish would eventually find popularity in more affluent households.

There is an oral tradition widely shared that during the Civil War, when the Union Army raided Confederate army food supplies, the only thing that they left behind was black eyed peas and a few other crops that they deemed beneath their station.  It is believed that the Confederate army was able to use black eyed peas as a food source that helped them survive the winter.

We should also recognize that black eyed peas also represent good fortune in the Jewish culture as well.  Black eyed peas were eaten for good luck in North Africa to celebrate the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashannah) and also dating back to the era of the Babylonian Talmud.  The Sephardic Jewish tradition also encouraged eating black eyed peas for fertility and good fortune.  It is also a Jewish tradition to eat bitter greens during Passover as a reminder of the hard times endured by the Jews during their captivity.

Happy New Year!!

 

Sources:

https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/blackeyedpeas.html

https://mic.com/articles/163513/collard-greens-and-black-eyed-peas-the-history-of-why-we-eat-them-on-new-year-s#.BDS0eaOhj

 

W.E.B.DuBois Quote

Black History: Special Delivery!!


But what of black women?… I most sincerely doubt if any other race of women could have brought its fineness up through so devilish a fire.

-W.E.B. Dubois

Mahalia Jackson: Serious About Securing The Bag!!

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Quote: “If you want me to sing this Christmas song with the feeling and the meaning, you better see if you can locate that check.”
-Mahalia Jackson

Mahaila Jackson (1927-1971) is celebrated as one of the greatest gospel singers of all time. She is referred to as “The Queen Of Gospel”. As a child she shared a small “shot gun” house with 13 people. Raised by an aunt after the death of her mother, Jackson quit school in 4th grade to help out at home. Her amazing vocal skills were evident even when she was a young child. She moved to Chicago at age 16 looking for better opportunities. Instead she found only low income domestic work. While in Chicago she joined Greater Salem Baptist Church and began touring with the Johnson Brothers as a “fish and bread” singer (singing for donations). She would later sell 10 cent tickets for her performances and also found work singing at funerals and revivals. She promised to live a pure life and not use her vocal skills for secular entertainment….a promise she kept.

She made her first recording in 1937, “God’s Gonna Separate The Wheat From The Tares”. She would later partner with Thomas Dorsey, a gifted African American composer. Together they issued ushered in the golden age of gospel. In 1954 she launched her own radio show, “The Mahalia Jackson Hour”. It was the first all gospel radio hour. When she wanted to move into TV, executives declined feeling that a “negro” would not be well received in southern markets. Her radio show was canceled after 5 months because it failed to secure a national sponsor.
By 1960 she was an international singing sensation. Her financial success resulted in a racist backlash. She received threats from whites who didn’t want a black woman living in their community. Her own challenges with racism fueled her participation in the Civil Rights Movement. She lended her voice and finances to the movement. She soon became friends with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Her final performance took place I’m 1971 in Germany. She died at 60 of heart failure in 1972 after a surgery on her abdomen.

Sources:

http://www.mahaliajackson.us/biography/1969.php

http://www.britanica.com/biography/Mahalia-Jackson

Harriet Tubman’s 1854 Christmas Eve Rescue

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Christmas Eve 1854 – Harriet Tubman returned to her Maryland home to free her brothers Ben and Henry. Her coded message: “Tell my brothers to be always watching unto prayer and when the good old ship of Zion comes along, to be ready to step on board.” This was the second time that she attempted to help them escape. The first time was 1849 when she escaped. Ben and Henry became scared and turned back.

Traveling more than 100 miles, they arrived at William Still’s Anti-Slavery office in Philadelphia on Dec. 29, 1854.

Sources:

http://www.harriet-tubman.org/escape/

http://www.harriettubmanbiography.com/harriet-tubman-s-flight-to-freedom.html

TO WOMEN OF COLOR

Black History: Special Delivery!!

“To Women Of Color,

Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry.”

-Rupi Kaur

Nancy Wilson Has Died

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Iconic vocalist Nancy Wilson died on December 13, 3018 at the age of 81. Her career spanned five decades. Well known known hits included, “Love Won’t Let Me Wait”, “If I Had My Way”, and “How Glad I Am”. Wilson was born in Chilcothe, OH and began singing as a young child. She retired in 2011. Many don’t know that Wilson was active in the Civil Rights Movement and that she participated in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. Suprisingly she did not consider herself to be a traditional jazz singer; but rather an “interpreter” of lyrics she sang. She was the epitome of style and grace. It was said of Wilson that she, “turned songs into to stories”……and that she did!! May she rest well.

#ripnancywilson #nancywilson #blackentertainer #chilicotheohio #blackwoman #blackhistory #africanamericanhistory #jazzsinger #lovewontletmewait
#selmatomontgomery

Sources:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.express.co.uk/celebrity-news/1058801/Nancy-Wilson-dead-jazz-singer-Grammys-Nancy-Wilson-songs-cause-of-death-pictures/amp

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/obituaries/nancy-wilson-dead-jazz-singer.amp.html

Happy Birthday Shirley Chisholm!!

Black History: Special Delivery!!

I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that…I am the candidate of the people of America, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history.” -Shirley Chisholm

63rd Anniversary Of The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Honoring The Unsung HE-roes and SHE-roes

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

rosa parks

December 5, 2018 marks the 63rd anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  On May 21, 1954, just a few days after the groundbreaking Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision (declaring segregated schools unconstitutional) Jo Ann Robinson penned a letter to the mayor of Montgomery, AL on behalf of the Women’s Political Council (WPC).  The WPC was a civic organization for black women.  It was originally started because the local chapter of the League of Women Voters refused to accept black women as members.  Robinson’s letter demanded better conditions and treatment for African American riders on city buses.  She threatened a boycott if conditions did not improve.

On December 1, 1955, just a year and a half later, Rosa Parks, a then 42 year old seamstress and NAACP field secretary refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery.  Her courageous effort was an act of planned and deliberate resistance.  Of her efforts, activist, Eldridge Cleaver said, “somewhere in the universe a gear in the machinery shifted.”   Parks was arrested and fined $10.  Though Parks is historically recognized as the face of the boycott, there were many other unsung individuals who were critical to the success of the boycott.

Jo Ann Robinson and the Women’s Political Council had long been civil rights advocates; even before the Montgomery Bus Boycott galvanized leaders such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.  The role that women played in the Montgomery Bus Boycott deserves more recognition.  Many women, at that time were employed as domestic workers and used the bus for transportation; more so than men in the community.  This often made them targets of mistreatment.  The WPC began taking action even before the “Montgomery Improvement Association” had selected Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr as its leader.  On the night of Rosa Parks’ arrest they began distributing flyers calling for a boycott.  Their efforts were an essential catalyst for the boycott.  The majority of the 50,000 African Americans living in Montgomery refused to ride the buses during the 54 week long bus boycott.  Instead they walked, bicycled and carpooled.

WPC flyer
Women’s Political Council Flyer

The revenue lost by the City of Montgomery due to the boycott was significant.  While the boycott was under-way, the constitutionality of segregating public transportation was was being litigated in U.S. District Court (Browder vs. Gayle).  On June 5, 1956, a panel of judges ruled 2 to 1 that segregation was unconstitutional citing the president set by the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the President of the Montgomery Improvement Association at the time.  It was the organization that was coordinating the efforts of the boycott.  Dr. King refused to end the boycott until the ruling was fully implemented.  This occurred on November November 13, 1956.  The City of Montgomery appealed the decision.  Their appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Today we salute not only the heroic efforts of Rosa Parks, and also the unsung efforts of Jo Ann Robinson, The Women’s Political Council (WPC), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the thousands of men, women, and children participated in the boycott.

 

Sources:

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/browder-v-gayle-352-us-903

https://timeline.com/this-unheralded-woman-actually-organized-the-montgomery-bus-boycott-db57a7aa50db

https://www.biography.com/people/jo-ann-robinson-21443551

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: