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Old 02-24-2013, 07:23 PM
Location: South Side
3,856 posts, read 9,345,406 times
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James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938)

[He] was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is remembered best for his leadership within the NAACP, as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and collections of folklore. He was also one of the first African-American professors at New York University. Later in life he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University.
Johnson also wrote the 'Negro National Anthem', which we were required to learn:

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers died
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.
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Old 02-26-2013, 01:51 PM
Location: Texas
8,117 posts, read 5,793,666 times
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The best selling album of all time...30 years ago today: Michael Jackson's Thriller album hit #1 and stayed on the charts for 37 weeks.

Ow.ly - image uploaded by @mjsunifc
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:26 PM
Location: La lune et les étoiles
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The daguerreotypist James Presley (J.P.) Ball was born in 1825 in Virginia, probably a freeman. As a young man he learned daguerreotyping and opened his first studio in Cincinnati at age twenty. The city was a center for anti-slavery activity as well as the photographic arts, and Ball became a leader in both. He wrote and published a pamphlet depicting the horrors of slavery to accompany a large panorama in his gallery, and served as the official photographer for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. By the 1850s, his business had achieved tremendous success. Frederick Douglass, Jenny Lind, and the orator Henry H. Garnet, among other notables, sought out his services, and he became quite affluent.

Ball was a lifelong entrepreneur. After more than three decades in Cincinnati, he moved to Minneapolis and ran a studio there; and in about 1887, went to Montana with son James Presley, Jr. Now well into his sixties, he opened another busy daguerreotyping studio in Helena. Among other projects, he photographed the building of the state capitol. Ball was elected a delegate to the Republican convention in Montana territory in 1894, and nominated to run for county coroner (he declined this nomination, citing the demands of his business). Ball’s son edited a newspaper, the Colored Citizen, which is a very valuable source on African Americans in territorial Montana.

The information about J.P. Ball’s personal life is sketchy. Besides James Presley, Jr., he had at least one other child, Estella Ball. In 1887 he married a schoolteacher named Annie Ewing, who was probably his second wife. It appears that he moved to Seattle in about 1900 and, now in his seventies and suffering from rheumatism, opened his last studio called Globe Photo. Records suggest he moved to Hawaii for his health within a few years, and died there in 1904.

James Presley Ball’s extensive body of photography is housed at the Cincinnati Historical Society, Cincinnati Art Museum, Montana Historical Society, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, as well as in private collections.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:27 PM
Location: La lune et les étoiles
17,611 posts, read 18,985,495 times
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Charles Bellinger, a businessman and political leader, was born in Caldwell County, Texas on April 15, 1875. From his youth on a farm he moved to Lockhart and worked in a saloon. With his savings as well as loans, he opened a saloon in San Antonio during 1906 and also became known as a gambler. His businesses grew to embrace a café, a pool hall, a baseball team, real estate sales, a taxi service, a barbershop, a theater, a private lottery, loans, and liquor sales in the prohibition era.

Bellinger became active in city politics during 1918 when he joined African American ministers to organize black voters for several successful candidates for mayor and other local offices. These city leaders responded with water and sewers, street paving and lighting, a library and auditorium, and better schools and playgrounds in African American neighborhoods. Bellinger also founded the San Antonio Register, with his son Valmo as editor, to represent his political views and the interests of the black community. African American voting in San Antonio led legislators to enact a state white primary law during the 1920s, which resulted in federal court judgments ending such disfranchisement by the 1940s.

Political conflicts in the 1930s led to charges against Bellinger for evading income taxes, which resulted in a fine and brief penitentiary time. President Franklin D. Roosevelt granted Bellinger a parole because of illness, and pleas from San Antonio leaders and his family. Charles Bellinger died June 14, 1937.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:29 PM
Location: La lune et les étoiles
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Clara Brown was a kind-hearted, generous woman whose determination led her on a life-long quest to be reunited with her daughter. Born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia in 1803, her earliest memory was of being sold on the auction block. She grew up in Logan County, Kentucky, married at age 18, and had four children. At age 36 her master, Ambrose Smith, died and her family was sold off to settle his estate. Despite her continued enslavement, Clara Brown vowed to search for her ten-year-old daughter, Eliza Jane.

For twenty years Clara worked for George Brown raising her new master’s children instead of her own. In 1856 she was freed upon Master Brown’s death allowing her, at age fifty-three, to set out to find her daughter. Three years of searching in Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas proved fruitless. Clara thought that perhaps Eliza Jane had joined the multitude of people that had gone to Pikes Peak hoping to find gold. Thus Clara’s search took her 700 miles west to the Colorado Territory gold fields. She had secured a job as a cook on a wagon train in exchange for the free transportation of her laundry pots. Her wagon train arrived in Cherry Creek, which was comprised of the rival twin cities of Denver and Auraria. There she set up a laundry business to serve the miners. After six months Clara left Denver and set up business in Mountain City (later Central City). Brown invested her earnings in real estate and acquired a small fortune. She became known in the community as “Aunt Clara” as she provided food, shelter, and nursing care to the townspeople.

When the Civil War ended in 1865 Clara Brown returned east, first to Logan County, Kentucky and then, Sumner County, Tennessee in search of her daughter Eliza Jane. Brown offered her $10,000 in savings and earnings as a reward for news of her daughter. When her search proved unsuccessful Brown returned to Gilpin County, Colorado, bringing with her impoverished freed people she had befriended. In 1879, at the age seventy-six, Brown traveled to Kansas as an official representative of Colorado’s Governor Frederick Walker Pitkin who had offered to assist thousands of destitute “Exodusters” to relocate in Colorado.

Clara Brown’s continual search for her daughter, her support for local churches and charities and her financial assistance to young women who were educated at Oberlin College in Ohio, eliminated most of her wealth. In February 1882, however, when Brown was almost eighty years old, she received news that her daughter, Eliza Jane had been located in Iowa. In 1884 seventy-nine-year-old Brown traveled to Iowa to reunite with her fifty-six -year old daughter. The same year Brown became the first woman member of the Colorado Pioneer Association which also provided a stipend for her lifetime of good works. Clara Brown died in Denver, Colorado in 1885. Slightly over a century later Brown was inducted into the Colorado Woman’s Hall of Fame in 1989.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:30 PM
Location: La lune et les étoiles
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Walter Moses Burton holds the distinction of being the first black elected sheriff in the United States. Burton was also a black state senator in Texas.
Burton was brought to Fort Bend County, Texas as a slave from North Carolina in 1850 at the age of twenty-one. While enslaved, he was taught how to read and write by his master, Thomas Burton. After the Civil War his former owner sold Burton several large plots of land for $1,900 making him one of the wealthiest and most influential blacks in Fort Bend County. In 1869, Walter Burton was elected sheriff and tax collector of Fort Bend County. Along with these duties, he also served as the president of the Fort Bend County Union League.

In 1873 Burton campaigned for and won a seat in the Texas Senate, where he served for seven years, from 1874 to 1875 and from 1876 to1882. In the Senate he championed the education of African Americans. Among the many bills that he helped push through was one that called for the establishment of Prairie View Normal School (now Prairie View A&M University). Burton also served the Republican Party as a member of the State Executive Committee at the state convention of 1873, as vice president of the 1878 and 1880 conventions, and as a member of the Committee on Platform and Resolutions at the 1892 state convention.
In January 1874, Burton was granted a certificate of election from the Thirteenth Senatorial District, but a white Democrat contested the election. The Texas Senate confirmed Burton's election on February 20, 1874. Burton ran for and was reelected to the Senate in 1876. He left the Senate in 1882 but remained active in state and local politics until his death in 1913.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:33 PM
Location: La lune et les étoiles
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Alvin Aaron Coffey was born a slave in Mason County, Kentucky on July 14, 1822 as the property of Margaret Cooke. His parents were Lewis (Larkin) Coffey and Nellie Cook[e]. Coffey arrived in California in 1849 at the beginning of the Gold Rush. He was one of the few Californians who left a written account, Book of Reminiscences, which described his journey to California and his subsequent history in the Golden State.

Coffey was sold to Henry H. Duvall in 1834 who took him to Missouri. Duvall then sold him to Dr. William Bassett in 1846. In the spring of 1849, Bassett joined a wagon train that assembled in St. Joseph, Missouri for a departure for California. Dr. Bassett took Coffey with him, separating him from his wife, Mahala, and two children. Mahala was also pregnant with a third child. On May 2, 1849, the wagon train left St. Joseph, Missouri on a five month journey to California.

Alvin Coffey arrived at Redding Springs, California on October 13, 1849. He searched for gold on behalf of Dr. Bassett and himself. Bassett, who had been ill the entire time, decided to return to Missouri in 1851. Coffey had saved $616 from his diggings which Bassett kept as his own, and then returned to Missouri with Coffey. Once there in 1852, Bassett sold Coffey for $1,000 to Mary Tindall. Another slaveholder, Nelson Tindall, already owned Coffey's wife, Mahala, and their three children. Since he was already familiar with the California gold fields, Coffey persuaded Nelson Tindall to allow him to return to California to earn money to purchase his freedom. He agreed and Coffey was back in the gold fields by the fall of 1854. By 1856, 34-year-old Alvin Coffey earned enough to purchase his freedom for $1,000. He then earned another $3,500 to purchase the freedom of the rest of his family by 1857. Coffey returned to Missouri to bring his wife and three sons to California while two older daughters were left with a grandmother in Canada until he was able to reunite them with the family in 1860. On December 22, 1858, their next child, Charles Oliver Coffey, was born free in California.

The Coffey family settled in Shasta County, California where he homesteaded a small plot of land. The 1870 Census listed the Coffey family as having $1,500 in property. During the Modoc Indian Wars in 1872, Coffey provided horses to the U.S. Army and offered his services as a teamster. Later, Coffey operated a laundry and raised turkeys. He and his wife raised their children on property he had homesteaded. Those children attended a school for African American and Native American children in Shasta County that Coffey had helped found in 1858.
In 1887 Alvin Coffey was inducted into the California Society of Pioneers and was a member for more than 15 years prior to his death. He is the only African American to achieve that distinction. Coffey died in Beulah, Alameda County, California on October 28, 1902.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:34 PM
Location: La lune et les étoiles
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Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood, born a free woman in 1828, is known as the mother of desegregated education for children of color in California. Flood led the battle to open the public schools of California to her own children and paved the way for integrated public schools throughout the state.

Elizabeth Thorn received her education in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She and her husband Joseph Scott came west during the gold rush era to Placerville, California. After Joseph died, Elizabeth and her young son moved to Sacramento in the early 1850s which, along with San Francisco, had a sizable black community.

Elizabeth Thorn Scott’s son was not allowed to enter Sacramento’s public school. Scott’s first response was to open a private school for her son and other black children in the city. That school was established on May 29, 1854 in her Sacramento home and was soon open to Native American and Asian American pupils as well. The Sacramento School Board offered to assume the administration of the school as a segregated institution although it did not commit public school tax revenue to support the school. Despite this limitation Scott and other black parents accepted the arrangement and in 1855 the school opened as part of the Sacramento school system. Scott continued to teach at the school and became the first African American public school instructor in California history.

In 1855 Elizabeth Scott married her second husband, Isaac Flood. The couple moved to Brooklyn, a community just outside Oakland, California. In 1857 Elizabeth Flood began a second school for black children in her new home. One year later Flood helped establish Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Oakland, the first AME church in the city which eventually took control of her school.

In 1867 Elizabeth Thorn Scott Flood died at the age of thirty-nine. She did not live to see integrated education in California but her youngest daughter, Lydia Flood, was among the first students to attend Oakland’s integrated public school in 1872.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:35 PM
Location: La lune et les étoiles
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Matthew Gaines, black senator and Baptist preacher, was born on August 4, 1840, to a slave mother on the plantation of Martin G. Despallier in Pineville, near Alexandria, Louisiana. He learned to read by candlelight from books smuggled to him by a white boy who lived on the same plantation. Gaines escaped to freedom twice but each time was caught and returned to slavery. His first escape came after 1850, when he was sold to a white Louisianan and was subsequently hired out as a laborer on a steamboat. Using a false pass, he escaped to Camden, Arkansas. He left Arkansas six months afterwards and made his way to New Orleans, where he was caught and brought back to his master.

Later, Gaines was sold to a Texas planter from Robertson County, and in 1863, he made another escape attempt. His destination was Mexico, but he made it only as far as Fort McKavett in Menard County before being caught by the Texas Rangers. He was taken back to Fredericksburg, Texas, and remained in that area until the end of the Civil War. During his tenure as a slave in Fredericksburg, Gaines worked as a blacksmith and a sheepherder. After Emancipation Gaines settled in Burton, Washington County, where he soon established himself as a leader of the black community, both as a minister and a politician. During Reconstruction he was elected as a state senator to represent the Sixteenth District in the Texas Legislature.

Gaines was a vigilant guardian of the rights and interests of African Americans. Among the many issues he addressed were education, prison reform, black voting rights, the election of blacks to public office, and tenant-farming reform. To encourage educational and religious groups to work toward educational improvement in their communities, Gaines sponsored a bill that called for exempting such organizations from taxation. Buildings and equipment used for charitable or literary associations were also exempted; the bill became law on June 12, 1871. Gaines also supported a Militia Bill which promised protection for freedmen seeking to vote and he made a concerted, but unsuccessful, effort to drum up support to elect a black Texan to the United States House of Representatives.

Gaines was elected to a six-year term in the Texas Senate, but served only four years because his seat was challenged when he was convicted on the charge of bigamy in 1873, and he subsequently relinquished his post. Gaines continued to be active in politics and made his political views known in conventions, public gatherings, and from his pulpit. He died in Giddings, Texas, on June 11, 1900.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:37 PM
Location: La lune et les étoiles
17,611 posts, read 18,985,495 times
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William Jefferson Hardin (1831-1889)

One of Colorado Territory’s most interesting African American citizens spoke eloquently on behalf of black suffrage between 1863 and 1873, a decade of great debate on this particular subject. William Jefferson Hardin had been born to a free quadroon woman and a white father in Russellville, Kentucky in 1831. Raised and educated by Kentucky Shakers, he became a teacher for “free children of color” in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He came to Colorado Territory in 1863 because all men in the territories over the age of twenty-one had the right to vote. When the law was amended in 1864 to exclude black men, Hardin began to use his considerable skills as a speaker to challenge the characterization of black men as “uncivilized.” Soon he began making direct appeals to newspapers and members of Congress for a repeal of suffrage restrictions and for public education for black children. Congress gave African American males in all United States territories the right to vote in 1867.

Despite his efforts on their behalf, Hardin alienated many black Denverites by lecturing them on manners and publicly suggesting that they deserved to be excluded from public places if they did not “observe expected decorum.” He also alienated some of Denver’s black leaders by failing to acknowledge their efforts toward voting rights and education.

Hardin supported the Republican Party, becoming an at-large delegate to the national convention in 1872. He also earned an appointment as a weigher at Denver’s United States Mint. His reputation suffered when he married a white Denver woman in 1873 and was confronted by a Caroline K. Hardin who appeared with documents proving he was already married to her. He lost his job in the ensuing scandal and moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he took up the barbering profession. Hardin remained active in politics, serving in the Wyoming territorial legislature between 1879 and 1882. Hardin is believed to have died in Leadville in 1889 or 1890.
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