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Dr. Edwin B. Henderson: Father Of Black Basketball

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Dr. Edwin B. Henderson is credited with being the FATHER OF BLACK BASKETBALL. Henderson learned the game while attending Harvard University in 1904. He then returned to his home in Washington DC and taught it to black athletes in the segregated school system. Henderson set up several leagues for black players to compete in the sport. Due to segregation they were not allowed to play white teams. Henderson was also the first academic researcher of African American athletes. He published many writings in this area. Henderson and his wife Mary fought for equality within their communities. He was instrumental in starting an NAACP branch in Fairfax, VA. He also fought to end desegregation of sporting facilities.

Red Summer Race Riots of 1919

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James Weldon Johnson, was the first to call the race riots that occurred during the summer of 1919, “Red Summer”.  During this time, race riots broke out across the country due to the growing animosity and tension between blacks and whites.  Riots broke out in Arkansas, Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Washington, DC, Illinois, and Nebraska.  One of the most violent of these riots occurred in Chicago, IL.  Riots occurred in over three dozen cities.  The riot was started when a black teen, floated onto a white beach.  The teen was violently attacked.  From there, the beatings spilled over into white neighborhoods; with blacks passing through these neighborhoods being attacked.  Chicago police did not intervene to stop the attacks.  Blacks then responded by attacking whites that entered their neighborhoods.  It would eventually take a rain storm and the Illinois National Guard to regain order after 5 days.  It would be in Chicago, Washington, DC and Elaine, AK that the largest number of deaths occurred. Continue reading “Red Summer Race Riots of 1919”

1895 Photo Of Black Man’s Lynching Used As Table Décor At Joe’s Crab Shack In Minnesota

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A Joe’s Crab Shack location in Minnesota is in hot water. On March 10, 2016, Tyrone Williams and Chauntyll Allen visited the Joe’s Crab Shack in Roseville, MN. When seated, they noticed a picture of what appeared to be a lynching. The photo displayed a large group of whites at the public hanging of a black man. The picture was captioned, “Hanging At Groesbeck, TX on April 12, 1895”.   Added to the photo was a speech bubble near the executioner’s stand, “All I said was, I don’t like the gumbo”

Restaurant management apologized for the photo and offered the patrons a free meal which they refused.  The man depicted in the photo was Richard Burleson who was convicted of killing a man with a rock in 1894. The horrific legacy of lynching in the U.S. is well documented. It was not at all unusual for blacks to be accused of trumped up charges and not given due legal process. The patrons and the NAACP demanded a public apology and the removal of the table. They also demanded that the franchise owner, Ignite Restaurant Group make a donation to the local NAACP.  It is unknown if the picture was present in other Joe’s Crab Shack locations.  It is not clear if the picture appears at other locations of the Texas-based restaurant.

Some of our Black Mail readers may remember our previous Black Mail post about photographs from lynchings being sold as postcards.  In 2016, it seems that there are some who are still finding ways to profit off the murder and mistreatment of African Americans.  Even more surprising is that the offensive nature of the “décor” could would not have been questioned before making it all the way into the view of the general public.


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Poor People’s Campaign of 1968

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Dr. Martin Luther, King Jr. shared the idea of the “Poor Peoples Campaign” at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) staff retreat in 1967.  The campaign was to be a “middle ground” between violence and non-violence.  The campaign would be launched with an initial group of 2,000 people who would travel to Washington DC, southern states, and northern states to advocate with government officials for jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage and education for the poor.
Continue reading “Poor People’s Campaign of 1968”

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Rosa Parks!

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Rosa Parks


In honor of Rosa Parks birthday, I’m reposting, 10 THINGS YOU PROBABLY DIDNT KNOW ABOUT ROSA PARKS.  She was truly a phenomenal woman!  Many focus on her actions that launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  But she was an activist long before that!  She traveled the south on behalf of the NAACP investigating sexual assaults of black women.

Click the link to learn more!


Source: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Rosa Parks!

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.

Black Mail Trivia: Which Alabama NAACP Staffer Investigated Sexual Assault Committed Against Black Women?

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Black Mail Trivia Question:

Since the inception of slavery, through the Jim Crow era and beyond, Black women have been targets of sexual violence which they often suffered with in silence with no hope of justice or protection.  As the Civil Rights Movement began to emerge, the sexual violence of black women received more attention and advocacy.

Which NAACP staffer investigated and rallied the black community of Alabama in opposition to sexual assault committed against black women?

A)Thurgood Marshall

B)Rosa Parks

C)Roy Wilkins

D)Ella Baker

E)E.D. Nixon

Answer will be posted at 6pm EST.


Did you miss yesterday’s post?  Click here to learn about Dr. Patricia Bath and her invention of a medical device to remove cataracts (a leading cause of blindness among African Americans).

Lynching Postcards: Death and Torture Captured on Film and Sold For Profit

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lynching 2

Note: This blog post may contain images that may be disturbing. At the very end of the blog post a picture depicting a lynching is displayed.

Many of us, (unfortunately) are likely familiar with the history of lynching of blacks in America. However, some may not realize that these heinous acts were often photographed, and, the photos widely sold and circulated in the form of postcards. At the time, many did not see the postcards as depictions of a terrible crimes, but rather, as the commemoration of an act of justice. Lynching laws had made these acts of murder “permissible”. The term lynching did not always mean “hanging”; but, this method became a very common way to murder blacks and maintain white supremacy. Between 1882 and 1968, 4,738 lynchings were reported by newspaper outlets.

A lynching was viewed as being a “community/social” event. It was not unusual for a lynching to draw hundreds of people including small children. It would also normally attract photographers as well. These photographers would produce photo postcards of a lynching and sell them as souvenirs. In 1912, Congress officially passed a law to prohibit postcards depicting lynching from being mailed. But it would not pass a law to prevent lynching. It would not be until 1946 that someone would be convicted for lynching.

Below is a picture of a postcard of a lynching sent by the Klu Klux Klan to Rev. John Haynes Holmes, one the founding members of the NAACP. It was sent to intimidate him. The postcard message, indicates that Holmes would be “added” to the mailing list and that he could expect to receive a post card “about once a month”. W.E.B. DuBois published the postcard in the NAACP magazine, “The Crisis” in 1912 along with the photographs of many other lynchings. “The Crisis” was very outspoken in advocating against lynching and wanted to publicize it to advocate for it being stopped.

Postcard of lynching sent to Rev. John Haynes Holmes
Postcard of lynching sent to Rev. John Haynes Holmes

It is sad and sickening to think about the thousands of men and women who lost their lives as victims of lynchings.

“The Brownies”: The First African American Children’s Magazine

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Image:  Library of Congress
Image: Library of Congress

The Brownies Book is recognized as the first magazine published for African American children and youth. Its first issue was published in January 1920 and it would eventually be hailed as an important event in establishing black children’s literature. W.E.B Du Bois, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Augustus Granville Dill were the three creators of, “The Brownies Book”. It began under the umbrella of The NAACP’s national publication, “The Crisis”.

Each year, “The Crisis” published a children’s edition called the “Children’s Number”. It included stories, photos, poetry, and educational achievements of black children. The issue also contained more serious content, such as lynching and discrimination against blacks. The target audience was children between the ages of 6-16 years old. Its creators Dill and Du Bois established Du Bois and Dill Publishers in New York to publish The Brownies. One of the primary goals of the magazine was to dispel negative stereotypes about Africa and its people. At the time, it was a common occurrence to use children’s literature as a medium for spreading negative messages and images about blacks. Du Bois felt strongly that children should be educated on and take pride in their racial identity. The name of the magazine came from fables and folklore where stories were told of creatures called “brownies” who did household chores at night in exchange for food. It played on the stereotype of blacks being servants and slaves. However, the goal was not to reinforce the negative stereotype but rather to empower children to take pride in and embrace their racial identity. Another goal for the publication was to expand the availability of black children’s literature and increase youth participation in the NAACP.

The seven goals stated in “The True Brownies” were

  • To make colored children realize that being “colored” is a normal, beautiful thing.
  • To make them familiar with the history and achievements of the Negro race.
  • To make them know that other colored children have grown into beautiful, useful and famous persons.
  • To teach them a delicate code of honor and action in their relations with white children.
  • To turn their little hurts and resentments into emulation, ambition and love of their homes and companions.
  • To point out the best amusements and joys and worth-while things of life.
  • To inspire them to prepare for definite occupations and duties with a broad spirit of sacrifice.

It was a publication of very high quality and its cover pages were designed by prominent black artists. Each issue cost 15 cents, with a yearly subscription costing $1.50. The content of the magazine highlighted Du Bois’ opposition to Booker T. Washington and Washington’s belief that blacks should be more passive in working towards racial equality. It was long known that Du Bois did not agree with the philosophy of Booker T. Washington in achieving racial equity. A little know fact, is that in 1921, The Brownies became the first publication to print the poetry and literary work of Langston Hughes. Due to financial trouble, The Brownies ceased publication in 1921.

The Library of Congress’ Rare Book and Special Collections Division provides to all but the last issue of the Brownies’ Book. Click here to see copies of The Brownies.

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