Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass are perhaps two of the most well-known African Americas of the Civil War time period. The two shared mutual respect and admiration for one another. Tubman and Douglass were both born enslaved. Both lived on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and escaped slavery as young adults; Douglass in 1838 and Tubman in 1849. After escaping enslavement both sat about, in their own way, to liberate other enslaved peoples. Continue reading “Harriet Tubman’s Letter of Endorsement From Frederick Douglass”→
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Jassmine McBride (1988 – 2018) died on February 12, 2019, of Legionnaires disease. She contracted the lung disease due to using contaminated water in her hometown of Flint, MI. She was only 30 years of age. She was diagnosed with Legionnaires disease in 2014. The total number of Flint residents who have died from Legionnaires disease due to the Flint Water Crisis stands at 13. A total of 90 individuals have been diagnosed with the disease so far. Continue reading “Flint Water Crisis Claims Its Youngest Legionnaires’ Victim To Date, Jassmine McBride”→
Garrett Morgan (1877-1963) was a prolific inventor and businessman. His inventions of the gas mask and traffic signal are still having an impact even today. The invention that led the way and financed these inventions was hair straightening cream accidentally invented by Morgan. His hair straightening cream made hair less curly and easier to straighten. His accidental discovery of a chemical straightening cream occurred when Morgan observed fabric straightened by a liquid compound. He turned the liquid into cream and launched the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company. Morgan also invented a black oil hair dye and a curved tooth comb hair straightener in 1910. His inventions were wildly successful and he used the proceeds to finance his other projects including the gas mask, traffic signal, and a self-extinguishing cigarette.
Born in 1877, Morgan only completed elementary school education. He was the 7th of 11 children. Morgan moved to Cleveland Ohio as a teenager to look for work. He began his career as a mechanic; working on sewing machines. He would later patent an improved version of a sewing machine and opened his own repair shop. His sewing machine repair business was successful. During this time he also married a Bavarian woman, Mary Anne Hasssek. The couple had 3 sons.
It was his patented sewing machine that unexpectedly led to the invention of his hair refining cream. In 1909, he was working on a sewing machine and working with wool fabric, he experimented a chemical solution applied to his sewing needles to reduce friction and prevent scorching of the fabrics by the needle. Morgan noticed that the solution had a smoothing effect on the fabrics. He tested the solution out on a dog and then tried it on himself. He then launched the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company. He sold the straightening cream to black customers and used the proceeds to finance other inventions.
In 1914 was when Morgan patented the “safety hood” (gas mask) which facilitated safe breathing. He worked diligently to market the device; even hiring a white man to act as the inventor; after he realized that people weren’t buying his invention because he was black. Morgan would later go on to invent the traffic signal in 1923. He later sold the rights to General Electric for $40,000. He began developing glaucoma in 1943; losing most of his vision as a result. Morgan died in 1963.
The Black Panthers are well known for their activism throughout the United States. They also deserve recognition for their community service efforts and innovative programming. In this blog post we will share info about some of these programs which include medical centers, ambulance services, youth empowerment programming and much more.
In 1968, The Black Panthers launched their free breakfast program for children in Berkley, California. provided free breakfast for school children. It was their first large scale community action program. The program grew to cover 19 cities by the end of 1969 and served more than 20,000 children.
Health Clinics, known as the “Peoples Free Medical Centers” offered medical care in 13 cities across the United States. The Black Panther’s women members were integral to the success of this effort. Unfortunately many were not able to stay open for very long. Services offered included various health screenings, immunizations, physicals, etc.
Established in 1971, the Intercommunal Youth Institute was launched to empower black youth to achieve success. The first graduating class was in 1974 and the programs name was changed to the Oakland Community School. In 1977 California Governor Jerry Brown, Jr. gave the program a special award for “having set the standard for the highest level of elementary education in the state.”
Maya Angelou (left) visiting Oakland Community School
Seniors Against A Fearful Environment (SAFE) was a non-profit organization organized by the Black Panthers. A group of senior residents asked the Black Panthers to launch the organization to help seniors learn self-defense techniques to prevent robberies, muggings and other attacks on seniors. These seniors had originally approached the Oakland police department to provide additional patrols and protection. The SAFE program offered free transportation services which allowed seniors to conduct banking transactions more safely.
The Peoples Free Ambulance Service provided rides to the hospital for sick or injured people. At least one ambulance was available 24 hours per day for emergencies and from 8am-5pm for non-emergencies (doctor visits and other medical appointments).
The Black Panther’s Free Food Program provided food to black communities and also assisted other individuals as well. The program was initiated to supplement grocery purchases. The program also provided mass distribution of food items on occasion which included giving away food such as eggs, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, and other food items. Each bag distributed contained a week’s worth of food.
The Black Panther Party Black Student Alliance was started in 1972. It brought together Black Student Union groups in California to establish Black Panther programming on college campuses. The goal was to unify students with their local black communities so that the schools and community would be more responsive to the needs of black residents. The Black Student Alliance initiated programs which provided supplies and books to students at no cost, free child care, food distribution, transportation services, financial aid programs, etc. The program also advocated for securing better instruction for students.
The Black Panther Newspaper was published and distributed weekly starting in 1967 both locally and nationally. The publication provided updates on Black Panther initiatives being carried out by its various chapters across the United States. It also provided commentary on oppression in black and other marginalized communities in the U.S., African and around the world.
As you can see The Black Panther Party was heavily involved in providing resources and empowerment to oppressed groups within local communities!
“Forty Acres and a Mule” refers to an 1865 promise many formerly enslaved African Americans felt that the United States government had made to them at the close of the Civil War when Union General George T. Sherman ordered that lands confiscated from confederate landowners be redistributed be given to the formerly enslaved. As the Union Army marched through the south, many blacks followed them in order to flee enslavement. Sherman’s decision to re-assign the confiscated lands came after he met with a group of 20 black ministers led by baptist minister Garrison Frazier. Sherman asked the group what they wanted for their people and Fraizer told him that people needed land to farm in orderto make a living. Sherman authorized the redistribution of lands under “Special Field Order No. 15”.