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An Untold Story: Slavery In Canada

Black History: Special Delivery!!

 canada

We are often told about the history of slavery in the United States. However, Canada also participated in the slave trade.  In comparison to the U.S., the number of people estimated to be enslaved in Canada was much lower.  Still those enslaved in Canada experienced the same mistreatment and abuse.  We often hear narratives of enslaved people escaping to freedom in Canada.  However there were also groups of slaves in Canada who escaped to freedom in the United States by crossing the border into to Detroit, MI.  The stories of those enslaved in Canada has often gone untold or been ignored.  Slavery was legal in Canada for 200 years.  Continue reading “An Untold Story: Slavery In Canada”

Fab New Photo Of Harriet Tubman & 10 Amazing But Little Known Facts About Her Life

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harriet-tubman-younger
Harriet Tubman (1819?-1913) She is believed to be between 43-46 years old in this photo

 

A newly discovered photo of a “younger” Harriet Tubman (1819? – 1913) is getting lots of publicity in the media! The photo was discovered among other pictures belonging to a deceased friend of Tubman’s.  It is estimated that Tubman is in her early to mid 40’s in the picture.  Her photo along with 44 other photos will be auctioned on March 30 by Swann Galleries.  The photo was likely taken just after the Civil War.  Tubman was then residing in Auburn, NY on land that would later become the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

Tubman also made the news in 2016 after it was announced that her image would be added to the $20 bill beginning in 2030 replacing, President Andrew Jackson. While many of us are familiar with Tubman’s bravery and heroism in bringing hundreds of people to freedom, via the Underground Railroad, I’d like to share some lesser known facts about her life!

  1. Tubman’s was given the name Araminta Ross at birth (nickname: Minty). She adopted the name Harriet after running away to escape slavery to aid in disguising her identity. Harriet was her mother’s name. Her last name, “Tubman” was taken when she married her first husband John Tubman who was a free man.
  2. It is estimated that Tubman walked approximately 90 when she escaped slavery. No one knows exactly how long it took her to make the trip.
  3. Tubman’s husband was not interested in following her North. He remarried a free woman of color after Tubman’s escape and had several children with her; leaving Harriet heart-broken. She would later remarry Nelson Davis in 1869.  He was 22 years younger than Tubman.  They remained married for 19 years until his death.
  4. Tubman suffered from a health condition that would cause her to fall asleep suddenly without warning. She also experienced severe headaches, and seizures. The condition (possibly temporal epilepsy) was caused due to a head injury she received while enslaved at the age of 12. She was hit in the head with a 2 pound iron weight that was thrown at another enslaved African but hit Tubman instead. After her head injury she began to see visions which she believed were from God.
  5. Tubman never had any biological children.  However, she and her second husband Nelson Davis adopted a child (a girl), Gertie in 1874.
  6. When rescuing enslaved persons, she threatened to shoot any of her “passengers” who thought to turn back.
  7. Tubman was a soldier, spy, and nurse for the Union Army during the civil war. She was known for her ability to treat dysentery successfully using native herbs.
  8. She was the first woman to lead an armed war expedition during the Combahee River Raid with 300 other African American soldiers. 3 gun boats were used in the raid to liberate 700 enslaved blacks in South Carolina. She would later be denied payment for her war time service and was only able to collect a widow’s pension from her husband’s death which was $20/month. Ironically, in 2016, Tubman was selected to replace Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill which will be released in 2030.
  9. In the late 1890’s Tubman had brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital due to pain and “buzzing” in her head which made it difficult for her to sleep (likely related to her childhood injury). She refused to take anesthesia and instead chewed a bullet during the operation. This was something she had seen soldiers do during the civil war when their limbs were amputated.
  10. She established a home for the aged and indigent in Auburn, NY where she spent the last years of her life.

Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy is certainly one that deserves to be celebrated! She was truly a phenomenal woman.

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/harriet-tubman-whos-being-recognized-more-and-more-is-a-total-10-in-rare-portrait_us_589b44c9e4b0c1284f29b3b9

http://www.harriet-tubman.org/death/

Christina Jenkins: Inventor of The “Sew In” Hair Weave

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 christina-jenkins

 Christina Jenkins is credited with inventing the sew in hair weave technique. The process of adding in hair extensions was centuries old.  Jenkins improved on these techniques by creating a process of sewing in hair extensions rather than pinning them to the scalp.  While employed by a wig maker in 1949, Jenkins became aware that customers often complained that their wigs would fall off their heads frequently.  She began to explores ways to rectify this concern.  Jenkins sew in technique was considered revolutionary when it was first introduced.  She obtained a patent in 1951 for the process. Her technique was extremely popular with clients and cosmetologists.  Jenkins traveled the world sharing her technique.  The technique she used was a very lengthy process.

Jenkins opened the “Hairweev Academy” to train licensed cosmetologists. People came from all over the country to be trained in the technique. She offered the cosmetologists that she trained franchising opportunities to use the technique.   However, many students did not fulfil the financial obligations of the franchise agreement.  As a result, Jenkins quickly lost control of her invention and personal finances began to suffer.  She attempted to take legal action against these individuals.  However, Jenkins lacked the finances she needed to do so and was unable to continue running the business.

The sale of hair extensions is currently a billion dollar industry. There are many different hairweaving techniques today.  Her invention was a game changer for the hair industry.  Christina Jenkins died in 2003.

Before Brown vs. Board of Education: Roberts v. City of Boston 1849

 Black History: Special Delivery!!

 Roberts v. The City of Boston was a court action litigated by attorney Charles Sumner, a white abolitionist lawyer, and Robert Morris, an African American lawyer and abolitionist in 1849. Morris was one of the country’s first African American attorneys.  Slavery had been abolished in the 1700’s in the state of Massachusetts.  So schools were not segregated.  However, African American children faced much discrimination and mistreatment in the desegregated schools they attended.  African American parents sought to improve treatment of their children in public schools.  When this did not happen, they petitioned to have their own separate schools established in 1798.  The initial request was denied by the state.  However white philanthropic donors decided to fund the school.  Two schools for blacks were established, one in 1820 and a second in 1831. New schools for white children continued to open and by the 1850’s there were only 150 and only 2 for black children. All of these schools were controlled by the State who appointed the General School Committee to provide oversight.  The schools for blacks were not maintained well and were in poor condition compared to the other school for whites. Continue reading “Before Brown vs. Board of Education: Roberts v. City of Boston 1849”

Madison Washington: Architect Of The Most Successful Slave Revolt In U.S. History

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In 1841, Madison Washington, an enslaved African American started a slave revolt aboard the ship, “Creole”. The vessel was taking 130 enslaved people from Virginia who were to be sold in New Orleans.  Madison Washington had escaped to freedom in Canada, but returned to try and free his wife.  He was captured and returned to slavery in Virginia. Washington and the enslaved men and women traveling aboard the “Creole” endured deplorable conditions and abuse. Led by Washington, 12 other enslaved people onboard the “Creole”, launched a revolt.  One of the slave traders was killed and crew members were also wounded.  Washington and the other slaves were able to take control of the ship and demanded that it be sailed to Nassau, Bahamas.  Continue reading “Madison Washington: Architect Of The Most Successful Slave Revolt In U.S. History”

Shirley Chisholm Quote

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sc-quote

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

-Shirley Chisholm

Onesimus: An Enslaved African Who Saved Many Lives Through An African Healing Practice

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small-pox

Onesimus was an enslaved African. He was owned by Cotton Mather, a Puritan minister in Boston. His knowledge of traditional African healing practices helped to save many people from a small pox epidemic in 1721. Onesimus informed his owner about the centuries old inoculation procedure practiced in Africa. The process involved extracting material from the pustule of someone who was infected and scratching it into the skin of someone who was unaffected. The intentional introduction of the disease inoculated the person, providing them with immunity from the disease. For some, there was no reaction. In most other cases, a mild non fatal form of the disease occurred.

Continue reading “Onesimus: An Enslaved African Who Saved Many Lives Through An African Healing Practice”

Ellenae Fairhurst: 1st Black Woman To Own A Lexus & Infiniti Dealership

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Ellenae Fairhurs

Less than 8% of car dealerships are owned by women. That number is only 1% for the number of dealerships owned by black women. However, women influence over 85% of the auto purchases. Ellenae Fairhurst has made history in Huntsville, AL becoming the first African American woman to own a Lexus dealership. She accomplished this mile stone in the early 1990’s!! A native of Dayton, OH, she started her career in the auto industry as a secretary at Ford Motor Company in 1968 in Detroit, MI. Fairhurst attended Miami University in Ohio. After graduation, she moved to Detroit and began her career with Ford. She had originally been selected to participate in Ford’s management training program but after finding out that she had recently been married, they did not permit her to participate in the management training program. Fairhurst held a number of positions throughout her 17 year tenure with Ford.

In 1988 she opened her first dealership.   Fairhurst sought out the opportunity at a time when many corporate professionals were being downsized. Fairhurst became aware of Ford’s dealership training program. She found it very difficult to get information on how she could be considered for participation. However she was supported in her efforts by several African American dealers. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful in entering the dealership program at Ford, but was able to enter the dealership training program for Chrysler. Her first Chrysler dealership was it in Fayetteville, NC opened in 1988 was very successful. Fairhurst was able to pay off her dealership in 8 years which is nearly half the time (15 years) that it would normally take to do so. To enter the dealing training program, you had to prove that she had $50k of disposable income. The actual cost of her first dealership was $150k. Ford had an employee stock purchase program which had a company match. Fairhurst participated in this program and was able to use these funds to help fund her efforts to purchase the Chrysler dealership. Most of the remaining funds for the dealership purchase came from severance pay she received after being down-sized from Ford.

Fairhurst believes that most women have an innate ability to be excellent entrepreneurs. Fairhust identifies some of her challenges in owning her first dealership as being lack of access to information and opportunity as well as constantly being told what she could not do. While dealers of color did eventually did make inroads in owning main line dealerships, there was not much progress in owning luxury dealerships. Fairhurst left her Chrysler dealership to come to acquire an Infiniti dealership in Huntsville, AL. This was also a milestone for Fairhurst as she was the first African American woman to acquire an Infiniti car dealership in the 1990’s. She is now the owner both the owner of two luxury dealerships in Alabama (Infiniti and Lexus)

Click the link to hear an interview with Ellenae Fairhurst

https://soundcloud.com/auto-trends-with-jeffcars

The Dark Side Of The Chocolate Industry: Child Labor & Slavery

Black History: Special Delivery!!

 

The cocoa bean which is used to produce chocolate grows mainly in areas of Western Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Western African countries supply more than 70% of the world’s cocoa.  Cocoa produced in West Africa is sold to many chocolate companies around the globe.  The rampant use of child labor in the production and harvesting of cocoa is beginning to receive media attention.   West African farms supply companies such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle; which begs the question…….Are these companies getting rich on the backs of child labor and slavery from West African countries?
Continue reading “The Dark Side Of The Chocolate Industry: Child Labor & Slavery”

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