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.
December 5, 2018 marks the 63rd anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. On May 21, 1954, just a few days after the groundbreaking Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision (declaring segregated schools unconstitutional) Jo Ann Robinson penned a letter to the mayor of Montgomery, AL on behalf of the Women’s Political Council (WPC). The WPC was a civic organization for black women. It was originally started because the local chapter of the League of Women Voters refused to accept black women as members. Robinson’s letter demanded better conditions and treatment for African American riders on city buses. She threatened a boycott if conditions did not improve.
On December 1, 1955, just a year and a half later, Rosa Parks, a then 42 year old seamstress and NAACP field secretary refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery. Her courageous effort was an act of planned and deliberate resistance. Of her efforts, activist, Eldridge Cleaver said, “somewhere in the universe a gear in the machinery shifted.” Parks was arrested and fined $10. Though Parks is historically recognized as the face of the boycott, there were many other unsung individuals who were critical to the success of the boycott.
Jo Ann Robinson and the Women’s Political Council had long been civil rights advocates; even before the Montgomery Bus Boycott galvanized leaders such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. The role that women played in the Montgomery Bus Boycott deserves more recognition. Many women, at that time were employed as domestic workers and used the bus for transportation; more so than men in the community. This often made them targets of mistreatment. The WPC began taking action even before the “Montgomery Improvement Association” had selected Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as its leader. On the night of Rosa Parks’ arrest they began distributing flyers calling for a boycott. Their efforts were an essential catalyst for the boycott. The majority of the 50,000 African Americans living in Montgomery refused to ride the buses during the 54 week long bus boycott. Instead they walked, bicycled and carpooled.
The revenue lost by the City of Montgomery due to the boycott was significant. While the boycott was under-way, the constitutionality of segregating public transportation was was being litigated in U.S. District Court (Browder vs. Gayle). On June 5, 1956, a panel of judges ruled 2 to 1 that segregation was unconstitutional citing the president set by the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the President of the Montgomery Improvement Association at the time. It was the organization that was coordinating the efforts of the boycott. Dr. King refused to end the boycott until the ruling was fully implemented. This occurred on November November 13, 1956. The City of Montgomery appealed the decision. Their appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court.
Today we salute not only the heroic efforts of Rosa Parks, and also the unsung efforts of Jo Ann Robinson, The Women’s Political Council (WPC), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the thousands of men, women, and children participated in the boycott.
Dr. Francis Sumner was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in Psychology. Sumner was born in 1895 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. After elementary school, Sumner was home-schooled by his parents. He was able to pass the entrance exam for Lincoln University even without having attended high school. He began his studies at age 15 and graduated magna cum laude with honors in 1915. Sumner then attended Clark University obtaining a bachelor of arts in English in 1916. He returned to Clark University to complete his Ph.D. in psychology but was unable to start his doctoral studies due to being drafted into the army during World War I. He re-enrolled after completing military service and graduated with his Ph.D in 1920 at Clark University. Sumner became a professor and also began to publish research.
His first teaching position was at Wilberforce University in Ohio. He would later teach at other universities as well. In publishing his research, he encountered many barriers. Many research agencies refused to fund his research because he was black. In publishing articles, Sumner was outspoken in criticism of colleges and universities and their treatment of African American students. He would later go on to become one of the founders of the psychology department at Howard University. He chaired the department from 1928 until his death in 1954
Throughout his career, Sumner investigated ways to refute racism and bias prevalent in many psychological theories that suggested the inferiority of African Americans.
Thomas, R. (2006). “Sumner, Francis Cecil.” African American National Biography, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr, edited by Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. Oxford African American Studies Center.
Dr. Florence Goodenough was a trailblazing pioneer in the field of intelligence testing for children. She is perhaps most well known for her “Draw-A-Man” test; which was non-verbal too used to measure intelligence.
Born in 1886 in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, Goodenough was an African American Psychologist. She was the youngest of 9 children. Her parents were farmers. Goodenough obtained her Bachelors Degree in 1908 from Millersville Pennsylvania Normal School. She then attended Columbia University where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in 1920 and an M.A. in 1921. She then worked in several public schools as the director of research (school psychologist). Goodenough later obtained her Ph.D at Stanford. She was heavily involved in Lewis Terman’s giftedness research and was a significant contributor to the work. She graduated from Stanford in 1924. She accepted a position at the Institute of Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota. Goodenough remained at the University of Minnesota until her retirement in 1947. Continue reading “Florence Goodenough: Pioneer In The Field Of Intelligence Testing For Children”→
Today we are sharing 7 little known facts about the life of the incomparable Muhammad Ali who died on June 3, 2016 at the age of 74.
Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay. He was named at birth after an abolitionist. When he converted to the Muslim faith, he changed his name initially to Cassius X. At the time, Ali, was also good friends with Malcolm X. When Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam, Cassius X decided to change his name to show that chose to remain loyal to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad rather than following Malcolm X. In 1964, he changed to Muhammad Ali
Ali inspired Sylvester Stallone to make “Rocky”. Ali fought a little known boxer, Chuck Wepner. Ali did beat Wepner, but it took him the full 15 rounds. Wepner was recognized for his grit in going the distance with the champ. Rocky’s opponent, “Apollo Creed” was inspired by Ali.
He never turned down an autograph request. As a young boy he was denied an autograph by Sugar Ray Robinson. He vowed that should he become famous he would never deny his fans. He even had a special P.O. Box for anyone wanting an autograph.
He used to race the school bus. Instead of “riding” the bus, he “raced” the bus to school as a child in Louisville, KY.
He threw away his gold medal. Ali won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics. He wore the medal frequently. When he was refused service at a restaurant because of his race, he then threw his Gold medal into the Ohio River stating that he would not wear in a country where he would be denied service.
A stolen bicycle launched is boxing career. When he was 12, his new bike was stolen. When he went to the police station to report the bike stolen, he met an officer there who introduced him to boxing. He also vowed that he was going “whip” whoever stole his bike. However the bike was never found.
He recorded an album. In 1963, he made of recording of Ben E. King’s, “Stand By Me”. It was released in 1964 by Columbia Records. The recording was part of Ali’s, “I Am The Greatest” spoken-word album.
The Colored Female’s Free Produce Society was formed in January 1831 at Philadelphia’s “Mother” Bethel AME Church. The organization was part of the “free produce movement” which encouraged boycotts against the purchase of items produced by slave labor. The movement was launched as a way to fight slavery and sought to encourage the purchasing “produce” (goods and services) from “free” men and women of color who were paid for their labor. The movement was active in the U.S. starting the 1790’s until the end of slavery in the 1860’s.
The free produce movement originated with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). In 1830 African American men formed the Colored Free Produce Society of Pennsylvania and then in the 1831 the women’s organization of the same name was founded. As a result, here were some black businesses that began to feature “free” products which were not made with slave labor. However, the free produce organization did not gain substantial momentum. The national association disbanded in 1847. However Philadelphia Quakers continued advocating for the free produce movement until 1856.