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The Berlin Conference: How 14 European Countries Took Control Of Africa

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

The Berlin Conference ignited the “Scramble For Africa.”  Colonial domination and control of Africa’s economic resources, natural resources, and trade routes was the goal.  The conference was convened on November 15 1884, and was comprised of 14 western powers.    At the time of the convening, approximately 80% of the African continent remained under local control.  The western powers seeking to gain control would establish fragmented boundaries developed to serve their interests. No African leaders were part of the Berlin Conference.  By 1914, European colonizers had accomplished their goal. Africa was now divided into 50 countries mapped out across hundreds of indigenous groups and regions.

The new configuration forced indigenous Africans into poverty while colonizers became wealthy as their lands were confiscated, and they were forced to labor at meager wages to support colonial exploitation of natural resources.  European leaders viewed Africans as inferior and barbaric.  It reminiscent of the concept of manifest destiny, which was the belief that expansion of the US throughout American continents was justifiable, inevitable, and justified by God.  14 western powers were in attendance at the Berlin Conference.  Countries in attendance included Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway (unified from 1814 to 1905), Turkey, and the United States of America.  France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal emerged as the major power brokers at the conference. 

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Jason Wright: 1st Black President & General Manager Of An NFL Team

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In August 2020, Jason Wright (1982 – ) was hired as the Washington Football Team president, making him the first Black president of an NFL team.  Wright is also currently the youngest president of an NFL team.  He spent seven years as a running back with the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, and Cleveland Browns. Wright earned an MBA from the University of Chicago.  He then spent seven years at McKinsey and Company, where he focused on helping to turn around struggling companies. 

Wright’s key focus in his new role will be improving team culture, addressing allegations of sexual harassment, and advancing its legacy after its name change. Wright is confident about his ability to make a positive impact.  He states that the “psychological and emotional well-being” of his employees is his top priority. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Wright’s mother was a flight attendant, and his father was a civil rights activist and entrepreneur in the insurance industry.  Wright is married and has two children

Sources:

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/01/23-black-leaders-who-are-shaping-history-today.html

https://www.wusa9.com/article/sports/nfl/washington-nfl/washington-football-team-black-gm-martin-mayhew-black-team-president-jason-wright-jennifer-king/65-3c97e0fe-ad03-4840-a5ca-947b8a09cbfd

Ancient African Origins Of Birth Control

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Early forms of birth control were documented in Africa, dating as far back as 1850 BC.  Papyrus scrolls have been discovered with instructions on making birth control with ingredients such as honey, acacia leaves, and lint which was used as a type of cervical cap to prevent sperm from entering the womb.  The Kahun Gynecological Papyrus of 1850 also documents descriptions of pessaries of acacia gum used as a contraceptive.   A pessary is a device placed in the vagina to prevent conception. Another method of birth control was to extend breastfeeding for up to three years. Perhaps the most famous form of birth control native to North Africa was the silphium plant.  The use of the plant as a means of contraception was widespread among ancient Greeks and Romans.  Found only in Cyrene (modern-day Lybia), it was exported to other regions and bought great wealth to the city. 

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African American Immunization Expert Accuses CDC and Deloitte Of Stealing Her Concept For A Vaccination Tracking System

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African American immunization expert Tiffany Tate has accused the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with multinational services firm, Deloitte of stealing her idea for a mass vaccination tracker.   Tate’s vaccination tracker is known as PrepMod.  She is seeking $15 million in damages.  A cease and desist letter was issued to the CDC and Deloitte in August 2020.  Tate asserts that the CDC and Deloitte took concepts from her vaccination tracker and used them to develop a system with similar features.  The Deloitte and CDC vaccination tracking system is called the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).  Deloitte also reportedly tried to hire Tate in June 2021 to help develop their system.  Tate claims the Deloitte system is the same system she already has with PrepMod. 

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Officers Of Color Barred From Guarding Derek Chauvin, Former Officer Charged With Killing George Floyd – Lawsuit Alleges

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Eight officers of color filed a racial discrimination suit on February 9, 2021, stating that they were barred from guarding the former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with the death of George Floyd.  Officers state they were reassigned to work on other floors within the jail so that they would not come into contact with Chauvin.  Court documents indicate the officers identifying as African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and mixed-race were “segregated and prevented from doing their jobs by defendant solely because of the color of their skin”.  Officers also stated that Chauvin received special treatment from a white lieutenant. 

Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter after video footage recorded May 25, 2021, showed him placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes, during which time Floyd repeatedly stated that he could not breathe.  Attorney for the eight officers, Lucas Kaster said, “When Officer Chauvin arrived, they were prepared to do the jobs they had done every single day up to that point, until, that is, Superintendent Lydon’s order prevented them from doing so.”

Attorney Kaster also stated, “The impact on our clients has been immense. They’re deeply humiliated and distressed, and the bonds necessary within the high-stress and high-pressure environment of the ADC have been broken,”  The lawsuit asserts that Superintendent Lydon gave orders that all officers of color were not allowed to guard Chauvin or have any interaction with him, or even to be on the same floor where he was being held.  Attorney Kaster describes the officers as being “extremely upset and offended.” Devin Sullivan, one of the plaintiffs states in court documents that he was in the midst of patting down Chauvin when he was told to stop by Superintendent Lydon and then was replaced by a white officer.  

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Robert Robinson Taylor: Trailblazing African American Architect

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Robert Robinson Taylor (1858 – 1942) is recognized as the first academically trained Black architect in the U.S.  Taylor grew up in North Carolina, where he worked for his father (Henry Taylor) as a carpenter and foreman.  Henry Taylor was a successful builder. Robert Taylor’s mother was Emilie Taylor.  Both Henry Taylor and Emilie Taylor were reported to be of mixed race.    

Robert Taylor graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  The final project he completed for his bachelor’s degree in Architecture was “Design for a Soldier’s Home.”  The project examined suggested a design to provide housing for aging civil war veterans. He graduated from MIT in 1892 at the top of his class with a bachelor of science degree in architecture.  Taylor was the first black person to graduate from MIT with an architectural degree. 

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Esteban Hotesse: The Tuskegee Airmen’s Forgotten Afro-Latinx Pilot

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Esteban Hotesse (1919 – 1946) is the only known Latinx member of the Tuskegee Airmen.  The Tuskegee Airmen was a black military unit that saw combat during World War II.  Hotesse was born in Moca, Dominican Republic and immigrated to the U.S. with his mother and younger sister in 1923.  The family settled in Manhattan.  Hotesse enlisted into the Army Air Corp in 1942.  He was first assigned to the 619th Bombadier Squadron, which later merged with the 477th Bomdadier Group M in 1944.  The 477th was one of the Tuskegee Airmen squadrons that remained stationed in the U.S. and did not see combat overseas. The 477th did, however have to combat racism and discrimination on U.S. soil.  The 477th and 619th merged after the military leaders began receiving pressure to provide more opportunities for black soldiers to fill key positions in the air corp. 

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McKissack & McKissack: The Oldest African-American Owned Architecture, Construction, & Engineering Firm

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McKissack & McKissack is the oldest black-owned architecture, construction, and engineering company in the U.S.  The company was started in 1905 by brothers Moses McKissack III (l879-1952) and Calvin Lunsford McKissack (1890-1968).  Their knowledge of the construction trade was passed down from their father (Gabriel Moses II) and enslaved grandfather (Moses McKissack I).  Calvin and Moses III were educated at Pulaski Colored High School and attended Fisk University, a historically black college. They started the company in Pulaski, TN, and then relocated the business to Nashville, TN. 

State requirements for architects changed in 1922, requiring all architects to be licensed and registered.  The McKissack brothers took correspondence courses and obtained architectural degrees to meet the licensing requirements.  When the brothers passed the state licensing exam in 1922, they were some of the state’s first registered architects.  Some of their most well known projects were several public schools in the 1930’s and the Tennessee State University Library in 1927. McKissack & McKissack architects was awarded its largest contract in 1942, a $5-$7 million contract with the U.S. government to design and build Tuskegee Army Airfield.  The airfield was the training site for the Tuskegee Airmen.  The firm attend greater notoriety as a result of this project and by 1945 were licensed to work in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and Mississippi. 

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The Southern Underground Railroad: The Saltwater Railroad

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The “Saltwater Railroad” is the name of the waterway traveled by enslaved persons fleeing from the South to Florida to reach freedom in the British-controlled Bahamas.  The Salt Water Railroad was similar to the Underground Railroad that the enslaved used to flee to northern states enroute to Canada.  The enslaved fleeing to the Bahamas began around the time that the U.S. invaded Spanish Florida.  Spanish Florida had been a location to which many seeking to escape slavery in the South would flee.  However, the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty finalized the U.S. takeover of Florida, making it an unsafe destination for those seeking freedom.    

Accessing freedom in the Bahamas via The Saltwater Railroad began as early as 1821 and continued for 40+ years.  It was primarily used by the enslaved freeing from Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. 

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