Black History: Special Delivery!!


Black History Month

Matthew Cherry – Black Inventor

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ma cherry

Inventor Matthew Cherry is known for his patent and invention of the velocipede (forerunner to todays tricycle and bicycle) in 1886 and a street car fender in 1888. Little is known about the life of this inventor.

Charles Haley: 1st Five Time Super Bowl Champion

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Charles Haley is the first five-time super bowl champion. He is one of only two such players to do so. The other player to do so is Tom Brady. Haley won two Super Bowls championships with the 49ers and three with the Cowboys. He was a defensive starter in all five championship games.

Haley was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 2015.


The National Association of Colored Women: Activists for Racial Justice

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Established in July 1896, the National Association of Colored Women was founded by Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin after Southern journalist, James Jacks called African American women, “prostitutes”, “thieves and liars”.  Ruffin believed the best way to halt racial and sexist attacks on women was by initiating social and political activism.  Her goal was to create positive images of African American women and leverage their collective strength to fight injustice. Ruffin is quoted as saying, “Too long have we been silent under the unjust and unholy charges; we cannot expect to have them removed until we disprove them through ourselves.”

She united with other African American women who also had the same goal.  NACW was the result of merging several African American women’s clubs including the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro American Women to form NACW as the first African American National Organization.  The organization underwent a name change in 1957, becoming the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC).

NACW counted a number of influential women as part of it’s membership including:  Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Margaret Murray Washington.   NACW’s national motto is, “Lifting As We Climb.”  The organization’s nine objectives include:

To work for the economic, moral, religious and social welfare of women and youth

  • To protect the rights of women and youth
  • To raise the standard and quality of life in home and family
  • To secure and use our influence for the enforcement of civil and political rights for African Americans and all citizens
  • To promote the education of women, youth and young adults through scholarship funds available through our region, state and local club levels including the NACWC’s
  • Hallie Q. Brown Scholarship Fund and the Dr. Patricia Fletcher Scholarship Funds.
  • Foster mentorship through the NACWC National Association of Youth Clubs (NAYC) and the NACWC Grandparents Academy Program
  • To obtain for women of color, opportunities for reaching the highest levels in all fields of human endeavor.
  • To promote understanding between the races so that justice and good will may prevail among all people.


. NACWC remains active with 30+ chapters across the U.S.



George Branham III:  1st African American Bowler To Win A Major PBA Title

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George Branham, III (1962 – )

George Branham III (1962 – ) was the first African American to win the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) title. Branham was born in Detroit, MI. His father, George Branham, Jr., taught him how bowl in 1968. The family relocated to San Fernando Valley, CA. After high school, Branham played on bowling leagues, and worked at bowling alleys to perfect his skills. He turned pro at age 23. His pro career started with eight consecutive tournament wins between 1985-1987. In 1986, he became the first African American to win a major PBA event.

Continue reading “George Branham III:  1st African American Bowler To Win A Major PBA Title”

1886 Carroll County Courthouse Massacre

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Carroll County Courthouse – Carroll County, MS

On March 17, 1886, in Carroll County, Mississippi, 23 people lost their lives in the “Carroll County Courthouse Massacre”. The circumstances leading up to the massacre occurred in January 1886 when two brothers Ed and Charley Brown dropped molasses on Robert Moore, a white man. The brothers transporting the molasses to a saloon. Ed and Charley were of Native American and African American ancestry. The situation was initially resolved without incident. Moore did mention the incident to a friend as well as Carollton attorney James Liddell. Liddell decided to take matters into his on hands.
Liddell challenged Ed and Charley, accusing them of dropping the molasses on Robert Moore intentionally. The men began to argue but the verbal altercation was broken up by bystanders before it became physical. Later in the day, Liddell heard that the Brown brothers had been speaking negatively about him, after which an argument ensued. The argument resulted in shots being fired. All 3 men were wounded. The Brown brothers pressed charges against Liddell for attempted murder. The white residents of the town were not happy that black men had decided to press charges against a white person.
On the day of the trial, March 17, 1886, over 50 white men armed with guns ran into the courtroom and began firing at the Brown brothers and other blacks in attendance. The Brown brothers were killed. Other blacks in the courtroom tried to escape by jumping out of second floor windows but were shot by armed white men outside of the courthouse. 23 blacks lost their lives during the massacre. No whites were injured. There were no arrests from the incident nor was anyone ever charged. Bullet holes on the courtroom walls were not covered until the courthouse renovation in the early 1990s. Governor Robert Lowry stated that the “riot” was initiated by the the “conduct of negroes”. News of the massacre received national press attention. However, there was no formal investigation of the incident. African American U.S. Senator Blanche K. Bruce requested federal action from President Grover Cleveland. The president denied his request. The massacre has received little attention and remains unsolved.


Black Panther: 1st Black Superhero In Mainstream American Comics

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Black Panther was the first major black superhero in mainstream American comics. He made his debut in Fantastic Four No. 52 in July 1966. His debut preceded Marvel’s Luke Cage, the Falcon, Storm and Blade; and DC Comics’ Tyroc, Black Lightning and John Stewart.

John S Rock:  1st African American Lawyer To Argue A Case Before The Supreme Court

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john s rock

 John S. Rock was born to free parents in Salem, NJ. He began his professional career at age 19 working as teacher from 1844-1848.  While still a teacher, he began studying medicine with two white doctors.  Initially denied entry, he, was eventually admitted to American Medical College in Philadelphia, PA.  Rock graduated from medical school in 1852.  He also married Catherine Bowers in 1852.  While attending medical school Rock maintained a dental practice and also continued to teach classes for blacks at a night school.  Continue reading “John S Rock:  1st African American Lawyer To Argue A Case Before The Supreme Court”

Ethel Lois Payne:  “The First Lady” Of The Black Press

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Ethel Lois Payne (1891-1991)

Ethel Lois Payne (1911-1991) embarked on a career in journalism that would ultimately position her as one of the leading African American journalists of her era. She was born in Chicago, IL. Her father was a Pullman Porter. Her family resided in the all black community of Englewood. She was the 5th of 6th children. Her father died when she was 12, leaving her family with little financial support. Her mother worked as a domestic and also took in borders to help support the family following her husband’s death. Payne’s mother recognized her talent for writing early-on and encourage her to perfect her skills. Payne attend Lindblom High School. To get to school, she had to walk through a segregated neighborhood each day where she was subjected to racial slurs and having rocks thrown at her.

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Despite these challenges, she excelled in English and History. Her English teacher urged her to submit one of her stories to a magazine. Her submission was approved for publication. Initially Payne decided to pursue a law degree. However, her application to the University of Chicago Law School was denied because of her race.

Payne began working as a journalist for the Chicago Defender in 1951. She covered many significant events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, March On Washington, Vietnam War, Apartheid, and many other stories. She also accompanied Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on a six nation tour of Africa in 1976. Payne was well known for asking tough questions. Payne considered her role as a journalist to also be a platform for civil rights advocacy and she didn’t hesitate to use it as such. In 1972 she became the first African-American woman radio and television commentator on a national network, working on CBS’s program Spectrum from 1972 to 1978, and after that with Matters of Opinion until 1982. She ws the first African American woman to serve in those roles. She remained with CBS for 10 years. A few years before her death, Payne said,

I stick to my firm, unshakeable belief that the black press is an advocacy press, and that I, as a part of that press, can’t afford the luxury of being unbiased . . . when it comes to issues that really affect my people, and I plead guilty, because I think that I am an instrument of change.

–Ethel Lois Payne


Lena Horne Quote

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Came across a quote from the incomparable Lena Horne that we just had to share!

“I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m me. I’m like nobody else”

-Lena Horne

So delighted that a postage stamp has been issued in her honor!

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