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Lloyd Hall: Trailblazing Chemist And Pioneer In Food Preservation

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Black food chemist Lloyd Augustus Hall was born in Elgin, Illinois, in 1894. Attending high school in Aurora, IL, he was one of only five black students at his high school. Hall graduated with honors in 1912. In 1914, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmaceutical chemistry from Northwestern University. In 1916 received a Master of Science degree from the University of Chicago. He married Myrrhene Newsome on September 23, 1919. She was a teacher from Macomb, IL. The couple had two children. Following graduation, He was offered a position by Western Electric Company through a telephone interview. However, when he showed up for his first day of work, he was told, “We don’t take niggers”. Hall then interviewed and was hired by the City of Chicago as a chemist. He would go on to work for several organizations including the U.S. government and United Nations. The majority of his 34-year career was spent at Griffith Laboratories. 

Hall developed methods to keep food fresh while maintaining flavor. Many of the chemicals still used to preserve food today resulted from his pioneering research. Before his groundbreaking discoveries, food preservation was challenging, and the methods used often significantly altered the taste and flavor of foods. The most common food preservatives consisted of a mixture of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite. This combination often made foods bitter and unpalatable. One of Hall’s most successful inventions addressed this problem. In 1932, he developed a variety of complex chemical salts that could be used as a preservative without negatively impacting the taste of food. This discovery prompted his employer at the time, Griffith Laboratories, to open a factory dedicated to producing his chemical salt compounds. He also invented processes to sterilize spices, other food materials, and pharmaceuticals still being used today. He also developed an innovative method to preserve meats known as “flash-drying”

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Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr:  Trailblazing Mathematician And Physicist

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Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. (1923-2011) was a renowned African American mathematician and physicist. He worked at the University of Chicago on the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was a scientific research and development initiative to support nuclear weapons production. It was a partnership between the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In solidarity with 70 other Manhattan Project scientists, Wilkins signed Leo Szilard’s petition to President Truman. This petition sought to alert President Truman and the U.S. government of the harm that could be done by deploying the atomic bomb. However, the President nor the Secretary of War received the petition before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Wilkins, along with many other scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, was interested in how the use of atomic energy might be applied peacefully. 

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Viola Mitchell Turner: Trailblazing Investor

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Welcome To Black Mail…..where we bring you Black History:  Special Delivery!

Viola Mitchell Turner (1900-1988) was a black executive at North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.  Born in Macon, Georgia, she was the only child of teen parents.  Her parents were very poor.  Against many odds, Viola Mitchell Turner blazed a trail of success for herself which included being appointed as the first African American member of the North Carolina Mutual Board of Directors. 

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NATIONAL EQUAL RIGHTS LEAGUE (1864-1921)

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Welcome To Black Mail…..where we bring you Black History:  Special Delivery!

The National Equal Rights League (NERL) was founded in New York in 1864.   It is considered one of the first human rights organizations in the country.  The National Equal Rights League was established at a National Convention of Colored Citizens in Syracuse, NY.  142 delegates attended representing 17 states and Washington DC.  The organization advocated for full and immediate citizenship for African Americans.  It is It’s formation during the Civil War was a catalyst for its focus on full citizenship as compensation for the service of African Americans in the military during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  Founders of the organization including Henry Highland Garnet, Frederick Douglass, and John Mercer Langston, argued that the African American men engaging in military services should be given the right to vote and that both black men and women should have the right of full citizenship.  Over time NERL launched other organizations including the National Negro Bar Association, National Negro Business League, as well as investment groups. 

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The Second Emancipation Proclamation (1962)

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Welcome To The Black Mail Blog and Podcast! At Black Mail, we bring you, Black History: Special Delivery.

Our topic today is the 1962 Second Emancipation Proclamation.

In 1962 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders urged President Kennedy to issue a Second Emancipation Proclamation Order.  The first Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, to free the enslaved.  This second proclamation was being prompted as a call to action for ending racial segregation. 

 King announced the idea in a New York City press conference in 1961.  At the press conference, King reminded the crowd of President Lincoln’s statement that the United States could not exist being “half-slave and half-free.”  Bringing the issue forward to the present-day, King asserted that the Kennedy administration should recognize that the nation cannot continue being half segregated. and half segregation free. 

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Lusia “Lucy” Smith: 1st Woman Drafted By The NBA

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Welcome To Black Mail…..where we bring you Black History:  Special Delivery!

Known as “The Queen of Basketball”, Lusia Smith was a trailblazing Olympic athlete who became the first woman to be drafted by the NBA in 1977. Although she was selected by an NBA team, she chose not to try out for the New Orleans Jazz because she was pregnant at the time. She went on to become the head coach of her high school basketball team, Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, Mississippi.

Smith was described as a dominant 6 foot 3 inch center. She was Mississippi’s first All American basketball player. While a student at Delta State (1973-1977), she won 3 consecutive championships. Basketball great, Shaquille O’Neal made a documentary about her life. In the documentary, Smith is transparent about her struggles with mental health after she stopped playing basketball. Her success predated the launch of the WNBA.

Lusia Smith passed away on January 18, 2022.

Another installment of melanated mail has been delivered. Ponder, reflect, and pass it on. 

Stuff You Might Not Know About Stevie Wonder

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When we think about musical icons, Stevie Wonder definitely is one of the greatest of all time!  His career spans nearly six decades and is still going strong.  Today we will be sharing some little known facts about his life. 

He wasn’t born blind.

Stevie Wonder’s (1950 – ) lost his sight due to medical complications.  As an infant he was placed in an incubator where he received too much oxygen. He was also born with an eye disorder, retinopathy that was related to his premature birth.  He was born 6 weeks early.  This error combined with the complications associated with his premature birth resulted in permanent blindness.

He was the youngest solo artist to have a #1 Billboard song.

 “Fingertips – Part 2”, reached #1 on the Billboard Top 100 when he was just 13 years old.  The song also reached #1 the R & B charts in the U.S.  This was also a first!

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The Hidden History Of Slavery In Michigan

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Image result for gateway to freedom memorial
Gateway To Freedom Memorial in Detroit, MI, by African American artist, Ed Dwight

Detroit, MI is known for being an important stop on the Underground Railroad.  You may not know that people were also enslaved in Detroit and surrounding areas prior to Michigan obtaining statehood. Many roads, schools, and other institutions in the Detroit area are named after wealthy slave-owning families.  If you live in or near Detroit, you will recognize these names, Macomb, Campau, Beaubien, McDougall, Brush, Cass, Hamtramck, Dequindre, Groesbeck Livernois, Rivard, and many others. From its founding in 1750, slavery existed during Detroit’s existence as a French, British, and then American settlement. The Burton Collection of the Detroit Public Library has an original ledger book of William Macomb.  The ledger lists his property and includes over 20 enslaved individuals.  The first mayor of Detroit, John R. Williams, who has two streets in Detroit that bear his name, also owned slaves along with priests of the Catholic Church in Detroit.  The men who financed the Detroit Free Press were also former slave owners.  The Free Press used its platform to support slavery prior to the Civil War. 

People of African and Native/Indigenous descent were both enslaved in Detroit.  Enslavement of native peoples occurred first. Slavery played an integral role in the relationship between European settlers and Native tribes.  The Native system of enslavement involved taking captives to settle conflicts or build alliances. This would occur by women and children of rival factions being exchanged or given to confirm an alliance or settle a dispute.  When the French arrived, they also adopted this practice to establish trade alliances with Native peoples as well.  Native women were victims of labor trafficking and sexual violence.  The enslaved were used as pawns to help bolster trading alliances between European settlers and Native tribes.  Slavery continued to exist in the Northwest Territory (which included Michigan) even though it was abolished in 1787.  Slave owners used loopholes or flat-out ignored the law to maintain their ownership of the enslaved.

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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

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