Camilla, GA: Political Rally and Massacre
James Armistead Lafayette: A Patriot Spy
Daniel Howard, a twenty-year-old African-American man, attended a political rally on September 19, 1868. He was one of hundreds of African Americans to attend this rally.
You see, earlier that month Democrats (along with some Republicans) in the state’s legislature moved to remove ALL African-American lawmakers from office that had been recently elected, earlier that year. They contended that African Americans were not given the express right to hold office and they, therefore, voted to unseat them.
The Creation by James Weldon Johnson
James Armistead was born in the 1700s. He was enslaved by a man named William Armistead in Virginia.
Virginia would turn out to be an important stage for what would effectively be the last major conflict of the Revolutionary War.
Sojourner Truth and Her Love for Her Son
James Weldon Johnson was born on June 17, 1871 to Helen and James Johnson. His mother was a school teacher and his father...a waiter. Both of his parents stressed the importance of education to their children.
Frederick Douglass - July 5, 1852
In July of 1826 Sojourner Truth simply walked away from slavery, with her youngest child. She didn't run...she didn't go very far...she simply decided she wasn't going to be a slave anymore.
Some years earlier the New York state legislature passed two laws, gradually emancipating slaves. The laws essentially provided that all adult slaves would be set free on July 4, 1827 and any child, born after a certain date, to an enslaved mother, would have to work for the mother's owner until the age of 21—at which time the child would also be free.
Henry Johnson and the Harlem Hellfighters (369th)
"Fellow-Citizens—Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings, resulting from your independence to us?
A Brave and Gallant Soldier at the Battle of Bunker Hill
William Henry Johnson was born in Winston Salem, North Carolina in 1892. While still a teenager, Johnson moved to New York...he was an industrious young man and found work as a soda mixer, in a coal yard, as a chauffeur, and eventually as a redcap porter in Albany’s train station.
In April of 1917 the United States declared war on Germany and, just two months later, William Henry Johnson volunteered to serve his country—he enlisted on June 5, 1917.
Biddy Mason: An American Pioneer
In June of 1775, Revolutionary forces got word of a British plan to capture high areas around Boston in an effort to squash the Colonial uprising. Colonial forces, made up of about 1,000 men from Connecticut and Massachusetts marched to an area on the Charlestown peninsula to lay claim to this area before British troops could get there.
Colonial leaders hoped to fortify an area called Bunker Hill. So on the night of June 16, 1775, Revolutionary forces marched to the Charlestown peninsula to set up a fortified area, in anticipation of the British advancement.
George Thomas Downing (1819 - 1903)
Biddy Mason was born, enslaved, in Hancock, Georgia in 1818. Her owner, Robert Smith, later moved to Mississippi where he became acquainted with the Mormon religion. The mid-1800s were a tumultuous time in American politics and 1850 was an important year, in many ways.
Unbeknownst to Biddy Mason, decisions being made about California and Utah were about to have a significant impact on her life.
The Red Summer and "If We Must Die"
George Thomas Downing was born in 1819, in New York City. His father was the well-known businessman, Thomas Downing. Thomas Downing moved to New York, in the early 1800s, and eventually opened up what would become a very successful business—a restaurant called the Oyster House
Charles “Buddy” Bolden: A Part of Early Jazz History
In 1919 more than 20 different racially violent events took place throughout the United States, from May of 1919 to October of 1919. The events were so violent that this time span became known as the “Red Summer.”
NOTE: THE CONTENT OF THIS POST IS VERY GRAPHIC.
Beginnings of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
In the 1800s to early 1900s, there lived a man named Charles “Buddy” Bolden, whose impact on jazz has become legendary.
He was born in 1877 and lived in New Orleans. He became the leader of a band that is recognized as being the first band to play what became known as jazz music.
Benjamin Banneker: A Renaissance Man & an Abolitionist
In some ways the beginnings of the African Methodist Episcopal Church can be found in the life of Richard Allen, but this is really a much larger story about people who chose to stand up and worship in a way that was seated in freedom and rooted in independence.
Dr. Charles Burleigh Purvis: An Activist
Benjamin Banneker was born on November 9, 1731 in what is today Baltimore County, Maryland.
According to accounts his grandmother, Molly Welsh, was a white English woman who was sent to the American colonies as an indentured servant.
After serving her indentured time, she was able to obtain her own property—which was a remarkable thing for a woman to do in the late 1600s. She then purchased enslaved people to work her land...she ended up buying two human beings—one of whom was said to be the son of an African king, whose name was Bannaka.
Mary Touvestre: Civil War Intelligence
Charles Burleigh Purvis was born in 1842 in Philadelphia, PA. His father was the well-known abolitionist, Robert Purvis, and his mother was Harriet Forten. She was the daughter of the well-known African-American activist and businessman, James Forten. Yes, Charles Purvis was Jame Forten’s grandson.
President of the Confederacy: His Last U.S. Senate Speech
Some 200,000 African Americans served in the Civil War as soldiers and sailors, but not much is known about the many men and women who provided intelligence to the Union, during the war. Mary Touvestre was one such person.
Mary Touvestre was a free (formerly enslaved) housekeeper of a Confederate engineer, during the Civil War. Before the war, the U.S. Navy had a significant naval base in Norfolk, VA. When the war began, the military ordered the destruction of ships in that base, so that they wouldn't fall into enemy hands.
Frederick Douglass: How He Became a Man
On January 21, 1861 Jefferson Davis rose on the Senate floor to explain why the state of Mississippi decided to secede from the Union—it would be his last speech as a U.S. Senator. After sharing some thoughts about nullification and secession and expressing his support for secession, even if a northern state decided to do so, he went on to explain:
“It has been a conviction of pressing necessity, it has been a belief that we are to be deprived in the Union of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us, which has brought Mississippi into her present decision.
She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis
The Riot of 1835: Washington, DC
Many times we tend to see people the way they are when they are at the height of their fame, but you never know what a person went through to get where they are...and in Frederick Douglass's case, what he went through to get into a position to help others. In 1834, on January 1st, Frederick made his way to the home of the man who was supposed to “break” him. Edward Covey was a small man who believed in harsh treatment, as a way of making sure enslaved people would be, forever, obedient.
Dr. Percy Julian: An American Chemist
In the summer of 1835 Arthur Bowen was on his way home in the evening, when he reached the front door of his owner’s residence. Bowen was about eighteen years old and he was owned by Anna Thornton, who was the widow of William Thornton—the first Architect of the Capitol. Dr. William Thornton was born in the British West Indies and his proposed design for the U.S. Capitol was accepted by George Washington, in 1793. He was awarded $500 and a lot in the city of Washington for his work. He moved to the city in 1794 and George Washington appointed him to a position as one of the city’s commissioners. Thomas Jefferson, later, appointed him head of the Patent Office, in 1802.
There Have ONLY Been Ten African-American U.S. Senators
Dr. Percy Julian was an American chemist whose work should be remembered. I never knew about him growing up, but his contributions should be taught to children.
There have been only 10 African Americans to serve in the U.S. Senate throughout the entire history of the U.S. Congress. Meet those individuals and find out a little more about them here.