Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Black History Fact No.7: The Father of Black History

(In the fall of 1995, the city of Huntington erected a statue in honor of Dr. Carter G. Woodson)

The son of former slaves, Carter Godwin Woodson understood the importance of gaining a proper education. He did not begin his formal education until he was 20 years old, however that did not stop him from being dedicated to continuing his education after he received his high school diploma. He went on to earn a bachelor and master's degrees from the University of Chicago a few years later. Woodson became the second African American to earn a PhD at Harvard University in 1912. The now Dr.Woodson began recognizing the amount of information on the accomplishments of blacks that did not have anything to do with slavery. Prior to this time, most people thought that people of color had done little in history outside of slavery. In 1915, Dr. Woodson founded the Association of the Study of Negro Life and History, which is now known as the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

This Association established the Journal of Negro History (1916) and the Negro History Bulletin (1937). For Woodson this was not enough and in 1926, he initiated the celebration of Negro History Week which corresponded with thte birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. (Note: February was the month chosen and not the month given to black people just because it was the shortest month!) This week celebration was expanded to the entire month in 1976 and is now known as Black History Month!

"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his "proper place" and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary."
- Dr. Carter G. Woodson, "The Miseducation of the Negro"

Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson

Woodson Roadside Marker, West Virginia

2.29.12 Thought Of The Day

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vote Or Die: Many Have Killed and Died So You Can't and CAN!

The Literacy Test and Right To Vote

African Americans secured the right to vote after the Civil War through the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. After that the southern states decided to quickly restrict the voting rights of those same people of color. In addition to poll taxes, white primaries, and property requirements, some states like Alabama instituted literacy tests.
See below for an actual list of real literacy test questions (would you be able to pass?):


(After applicant has read, not aloud, the foregoing excerpts from the Constitution, he will answer the following questions in writing and without assistance)
1) In case the president is unable to perform the duties of his office, who assumes them?______________________

2) "Involuntary servitude" is permitted in the United States upon conviction of a crime. (True or False)___________

3) If a state is a party to a case, the Constitution provides that original jurisdiction shall be in_________________

4) Congress passes laws regulating cases which are included in those over which the United States Supreme Court has____________________________ jurisdiction.

I hereby certify that I have received no assistance in the completion of this citizenship and literacy test, that I was allowed the time I desired to complete it, and that I waive any right existing to demand a copy of same. (If for any reason the applicant does not wish to sign this, he must discuss the matter with the board of registrars.)


Source: Proceedings of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, Eighty-Ninth Congress, First Session on S. 1564, March 23-April 5, 1965 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1965) p. 762

Jim Crow Is Dead!

2.27.12 Thought Of The Day

"Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide." - Marva Collins

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why Do We Need Black History Month?

Over the past few weeks I have seen multiple comments from people about February being Black History month on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even other blogs. These people are from all backgrounds and ethnicities with the bulk of the comments questioning the “why”.  Each day I look at the calendar and see the year 2012 while at the same time wondering to myself why these people don’t know why yet? So this blog post is an attempt to provide the explanation of why we have a month dedicated to Black History. The reason is the same for why there is a month dedicated to Women in History as well as others.

"An educated person is one who has learned that information almost always turns out to be at best incomplete and very often false, misleading, fictitious, mendacious - just dead wrong." - Russell Baker

My question to you my dear reader is who is responsible for writing and teaching history? Think about it for a second. I’m waiting…. Does the phrase the pen is mightier than the sword ring a bell? This is my point and my reason for explaining Black History month. If you look at the historical time line of black people in the United States, the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964 with another signing in 1968. That is only 44 and 48 years ago, if my math is correct and I do think it is. So if black people have been in this country since 1619, when slaves were first sold at the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, that means out of 393 years they have been in this country they have only been considered equal and free for 48 years (and that’s according to the law).  So if the majority black people are considered property for 244 years and then less than equal for another 105 years, can we really assume their contributions in American history have been considered significant enough to be taught? The answer is a big fat “NO!” There was a very small percentage of black people educated enough to write their own history, it was against the law for them to be educated. I went to public schools all of my life and time spent on American History was focused on everyone and everything except black people. The only exception was a couple of mentions regarding slavery and who Martin Luther King, Jr. was but that was it. If it were left up to history books and public schools, one would think that nothing significant in American History was contributed by a black person. This is why there is a need for a focus on Black History. I don’t care if it is just for a month.   

In order to do our part, as if you haven’t noticed, Real. Life. Woman. Talk., has dedicated the entire month of February to Black History month. It is amazing how much I am still learning about black history even today.

Video: President Abraham Lincoln

Emancipation Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America:
Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the executive will on the 1st day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State or the people thereof shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such States shall have participated shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-In-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for supressing said rebellion, do, on this 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the first day above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Palquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebone, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac, Morthhampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all case when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known that such persons of suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

2.23.12 Thought Of The Day

"The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within - strength, courage, dignity." - Ruby Dee

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Black History Fact No.5: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

In 1938, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt challenged the segregation rules at the Southern Conference on Human Welfare in Birmingham, Alabama, so she could sit next to African-American educator Mary McLeod Bethune, whom she referred to as "her closest friend in her age group.

Virginia Civil Rights Memorial - Richmond, VA

On April 23, 1951, 16-year-old Barbara Johns and fellow students led a strike to protest the conditions at their racially segregated school. Under the leadership of Rev. L. Francis Griffin, students and parents contacted NAACP attorneys. The lawsuit that followed was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court and joined with four other cases as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954), in which the Court banned school segregation on the grounds that racially separate educational systems are inherently unequal and unconstitutional.

2.22.12 Thought Of The Day

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Video Tribute To The little Rock Nine

To The Little Rock Nine: Thank You!

The Little Rock Nine was a group of African-American students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. On their first day of school, troops from the Arkansas National Guard would not let them enter the school and they were followed by mobs making threats to lynch. It was only after President Eisenhower intervened that the students were allowed to enter the school. The courage that it took for these nine high school students to be the first to integrate Little Rock Central High is considered to be one of the most important events of the Civil Rights Movement.

2.21.2012 Thought Of The Day

Monday, February 20, 2012

Black History: 1968 Olympics

Love Is by Nikki Giovanni

Some people forget that love is
tucking you in and kissing you
"Good night"
no matter how young or old you are

Some people don't remember that
love is
listening and laughing and asking
no matter what your age

Few recognize that love is
commitment, responsibility
no fun at all

Love is
You and me

1968 Olympics Black Power

Gold Medallist Tommie Smith (center) and Bronze medallist John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200m in the 1968 Summer Olympics wearing Olympic Project for Human Rights badges.

2.20.12 Thought Of The Day

"Those that don't got it, can't show it. Those that got it, can't hide it."
     - Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Black Agenda...

a song in the front yard

I've stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it's rough and untended and hugry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but i say it's fine
How they don't have to go in at quarter to nine.
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George'll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it's fine. Honest, I do.
And I'd like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.

- Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000)

Gwendolyn Brooks - American Poet

(June 7, 1917 – December 3, 2000) 

12.17.12 Thought Of The Day

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Black History Fact No.4: James C. Napier

James C. Napier was born in Nashville, Tennessee a slave, but he was freed along with his parents when he was about three years old. He became the first black non-janitorial employee at the Treasury Department. In more than a decade (1878 - 1889) on the Nashville City Council, he authored legislation allowing the hiring of black school teachers, police officers, and firefighters, and became the first African-American to preside over the Council. He lost his Council seat as his Republican Party gradually shifted from supporting blacks' rights to advocating what was called a "lily white" government. He was appointed Register of the Treasury Department in 1911. His signature appeared on US currency until he resigned this post in 1913, to protest President Woodrow Wilson's decision to allow continued segregation in federal office buildings. Returning to Nashville, Napier used his own savings to establish the Nashville One-Cent Savings Bank (now Citizens Savings Bank & Trust Company), the nation's first bank owned and operated by African-Americans.

"I got my start by giving myself a start!" - Madame C.J. Walker

"I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations. I have built my own factory on my own ground" - Madame C.J. Walker (1867-1919)

2.16.12 Thought Of The Day

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Diane Nash: A Real Life SHEro!

For those of you ladies that may not have heard of Diane Nash before, please be prepared to be inspired by her story. She is described as soft spoken but a force to be reckoned with at the same time. Diane was a leader of the Nashville Student Movement in 1961. On her 23rd birthday, Diane Nash agreed to coordinate a second wave of Freedom Rides in order to keep the movement alive. This was after several days of bloodshed, the original group of Freedom Riders were stranded in Alabama. No bus drivers were willing to take them any further, and they were surrounded by a hostile, racist mobthe Freedom Rides were thought to be over and unsuccessful. In the middle of final exams, 21 students from various Nashville colleges left school to join the fight for equality. U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy heard that more students were continuing the Freedom Rides, he called his assistant, John Seigenthaler and opened the phone call with, 'Who the hell is Diane Nash? Call her and let her know what is waiting for the Freedom Riders.'" Seigenthaler called Diane to try to stop the Freedom Riders from Nashville. He told her that they would be killed. Diane responded to him by letting him know that the students knew of the danger that lay ahead. The night before they left Nashville, Diane told him they all signed their last wills and testaments. Diane chose to lead the Nashville Freedom Rides because she'd had enough.

"If you went downtown in Nashville during the lunch hour, blacks would be sitting on the curb eating their lunch that they had brought from home or had bought from a restaurant on a take-out basis. It was humiliating, and I hated it." - Diane Nash

The Biography of Diane Nash...

2.15.12 Thought Of The Day

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We Will Miss You Whitney! R.I.P.!! 

Yesterday the world lost an icon at far too young an age. I know myself and many of my peers have listened to Whitney since we were young kids in the car with our parents. She was a true talent who sadly struggled with her addiction for many years. I myself am guilty of making a Whitney Houston joke but the truth is we are all human. We all have faults and struggles and things that threaten to keep us from our full and true glory. Sadly in our world it is not uncommon for those with amazing talent to also be afflicted with addiction or any number of things to overcome. My heart goes out to her family but most of all to Bobbi Kristina. She will suffer most going through these formative years without her mother in her life. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Movie Review: The Vow

Do you believe there is someone out there for everyone?  Based on a true story, THE VOW makes one believe in soul mates.  Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige’s (Rachel McAdams) world is turned upside down by one of life’s moments of impact.  Paige wakes up in the hospital after the couple’s car accident with no memory of Leo or their life together.  Her last memory is five years prior when she was engaged to another man and living a completely different life.  The doctor suggests she jump back into her daily routine, but she is uneasy about going home with her husband Leo, a man she no longer knows.  Another obstacle is her parents are pulling for her to return home with them, but she does not remember they have not spoken in five years.  It is heart wrenching watching Leo fight for the love of Paige when she only remembers loving her ex-fiancĂ©.  Leo works tirelessly to make his wife fall in love with him again. Although a bit slow in the beginning, it is worth a matinee. Go check it out this weekend!
Opens February 10, 2012
Run time approximately 1 hour 44 minutes.

2012 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Diana Ross!

Hard To Believe Diana Ross Never Won A Grammy

2.10.12 Thought Of The Day

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Black History Fact No.3: Sojourner Truth

(In This Photo: The Sojourner Truth Monument - The 12-foot high sculpture of Sojourner Truth was dedicated in 1999. For more information, contact the Sojourner Truth Institute. It was designed by internationally recognized sculptor Tina Allen - Admission Is FREE! )

Sojourner Truth (originally named Isabella Baumfree), was born a slave in Ulster County, New York State, in about 1797. With the help of a white friend, Olive Gilbert, she published her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth. In an introduction to the book, William Lloyd Garrison wrote that he believed it would "stimulate renewed efforts to liberate all those still in slavery in America".

Lift Every Voice and Sing...

Just To Think This Was The Norm...

2.9.12 Thought Of The Day

"We the people." It is a very eloquent beginning. But when that document [the Preamble to the US Constitution] was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787 I was not included in that "We, the people." I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in "We, the people." - Barbara C. Jordan (1936-1996)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Black Woman, Nothing Else

There used to be a time when
I was ashamed of my skin.
I received tormenting jokes
from all of my friends.

Of course it wasn't done
to make me feel this way
But being black gave me much dismay.

"African, charcoal, Black Baby",
I would hear
But no one even noticed or knew
That I had silent tears.

Those names became nicknames and
I'd hear them everyday at school
‘Cause when I was young and growing up
I'd play by my peers rules.

One day when I was still young
My father left us all
And married a white woman
Who beckoned his every call.

I was really ashamed of my skin then,
I thought it was very bad,
I thought the white woman had something
Which I could never have.

But one day when I was still young
I met a black lady darker than I was,
She cherished and boasted that her
Color was a gift from above.

She told me that I was beautiful -
Something no one had ever done.
She said, "your skin is
So black and smooth-
Which shows the perfecting of the sun".

She said, "To match the pretty black skin
Your teeth are white as snow
And I'm sure that you will show them
Everywhere that you go".

Everyday she would tell me this
And her words began to spread.
They came from other people
I never even met.

The words of my friends changed to,
"Let me feel your face

And let me see you grin"-
For sister, you are beautiful-
Be proud of the color of your skin.

Now, I'm not ashamed of my skin
Though obstacles it may bring.
I proclaim to the world that I am
A Black Woman, the element of spring.

I blossom with happiness
And pride within myself
For I am A Black Woman
And I wish to be nothing else
- Annie Ruth