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Share With A Friend: Black History Pt. 3: Our Journey Continues

Eric Holder, first African American Attorney General of the United States, was sworn in on February 3, 2009

Michael Steele is the first African American to lead the Republican Party

Dorothy Irene Height (March 24, 1912 – April 20, 2010) was an American administrator, educator, and social activist. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. Height was born in Richmond, Virginia. At an early age, she moved with her family to Rankin, Pennsylvania, a steel town in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Height was admitted to Barnard College in 1929, but upon arrival, she was denied entrance because the school had an unwritten policy of admitting only two black students per year. She pursued studies instead at New York University, earning a degree in 1932, and a master's degree in educational psychology the following year. Height started working as a caseworker with the New York City Welfare Department and, at the age of twenty-five, she began a career as a civil rights activist when she joined the National Council of Negro Women. She fought for equal rights for both African Americans and women, and in 1944 she joined the national staff of the YWCA. She also served as National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority from 1946 to 1957.  She remained active with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority throughout her life. While there she developed leadership training programs and interracial and ecumenical education programs.

In 1957, Height was named president of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she held until 1997. During the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Height organized "Wednesdays in Mississippi", which brought together black and white women from the North and South to create a dialogue of understanding. American leaders regularly took her counsel, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Height also encouraged President Dwight D. Eisenhower to desegregate schools and President Lyndon B. Johnson to appoint African American women to positions in government. In the mid 1960s, Height wrote a column entitled "A Woman's Word" for the weekly African-American newspaper, the New York Amsterdam News and her first column appeared in the March 20, 1965 issue on page 8. Height served on a number of committees, including as a consultant on African affairs to the Secretary of State, the President's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped, and the President's Committee on the Status of Women. In 1974, Height was named to the National Council for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which published The Belmont Report, a response to the infamous "Tuskegee Syphillis Study" and an international ethical touchstone for researchers to this day.

In 2004, Height was recognized by Barnard for her achievements as an honorary alumna during its commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The musical stage play If This Hat Could Talk, based on her memoirs Open Wide The Freedom Gates, debuted in the middle of 2005. It showcases her unique perspective on the civil rights movement and details many of the behind-the-scenes figures and mentors who shaped her life, including Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt. Height was the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the largest civil rights organization in the USA. She was an honored guest and seated on stage at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.

She attended the National Black Family Reunion, celebrated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., every year until her death in 2010. On March 25, 2010 Height was admitted to Howard University Hospital in Washington D.C. for unspecified reasons. Her spokeswoman issued a statement stating that at that time she was in a "very serious, but stable" condition but that they were remaining optimistic about her recovery. On April 20, 2010, Height died at the age of ninety-eight. Her funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral on April 29, 2010 was attended by President and Mrs Obama plus many dignitaries and notable people. She was later interred at Fort Lincoln Cemetery.

Benjamin Lawson Hooks (January 31, 1925 – April 15, 2010) was an American civil rights leader. A Baptist minister and practicing attorney, he served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1977 to 1992, and throughout his career was a vocal campaigner for civil rights in the United States.

Benjamin Hooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the fifth of seven children of Robert B. Hooks and Bessie White Hooks. His father was a photographer and owned a photography studio with his brother Henry known at the time as Hooks Brothers, and the family was fairly comfortable by the standards of black people for the day. Still, he recalls that he had to wear hand-me-down clothes and that his mother had to be careful to make the dollars stretch to feed and care for the family.

Hooks enrolled in LeMoyne-Owen College, in Memphis, Tennessee. There he undertook a pre-law course of study 1941–43. In his college years he became more acutely aware that he was one of a large number of Americans who were required to use segregated lunch counters, water fountains, and restrooms. “I wish I could tell you every time I was on the highway and couldn’t use a restroom,” he told U.S. News & World Report in an interview. “My bladder is messed up because of that. Stomach is messed up from eating cold sandwiches.”

After graduating in 1944 from Howard University, he joined the Army and had the job of guarding Italian prisoners of war. He found it humiliating that the prisoners were allowed to eat in restaurants from which he was barred. He was discharged from the Army after the end of the war with the rank of staff sergeant.

After the war he enrolled at the DePaul University College of Law in Chicago to study law. No law school in his native Tennessee would admit him. He graduated from DePaul in 1948 with his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.

Legal Career

Upon graduation Hooks immediately returned to his native Memphis. By this time he was thoroughly committed to breaking down the practices of racial segregation that existed in the United States. Fighting prejudice at every turn, he passed the Tennessee bar exam and set up his own law practice. “At that time you were insulted by law clerks, excluded from white bar associations and when I was in court, I was lucky to be called Ben,” he recalled in an interview with Jet magazine. “Usually it was just ‘boy.’ [But] the judges were always fair. The discrimination of those days has changed and, today, the South is ahead of the North in many respects in civil rights progress.”

The NAACP

On November 6, 1976, the 64-member board of directors of the NAACP elected Hooks executive director of the organization. In the late 1970s the membership had declined from a high of about 500,000 to only about 200,000. Hooks was determined to add to the enrollment and to raise money for the organization’s severely depleted treasury, without changing the NAACP’s goals or mandates. “Black Americans are not defeated,” he told Ebony soon after his formal induction in 1977. “The civil rights movement is not dead. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop agitating, they had better think again. If anyone thinks that we are going to stop litigating, they had better close the courts. If anyone thinks that we are not going to demonstrate and protest, they had better roll up the sidewalks.”

FCC

Hooks had been a producer and host of several local television shows in Memphis in addition to his other duties and was a strong supporter of Republican political candidates. In 1972, President Richard Nixon appointed Hooks to be one of the five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Senate confirmed the nomination, and Benjamin and Frances Hooks moved to Washington, D.C. in 1973. As a member of the FCC, Hooks addressed the lack of minority ownership of television and radio stations, the minority employment statistics for the broadcasting industry, and the image of blacks in the mass media. Hooks completed his five-year term on the board of commissioners in 1978, but he continued to work for black involvement in the entertainment industry.

Preacher

Hooks still felt the calling to the Christian ministry that he had felt in his youth. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1956 and began to preach regularly at the Greater Middle Baptist Church in Memphis, while continuing his busy law practice. He joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (then known as Southern Negro Leaders Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration) along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also became a pioneer in the NAACP-sponsored restaurant sit-ins and other boycotts of consumer items and services.

Honors

Hooks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in November 2007.

He was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1986.

Which 50 Cent?

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50 Cent: "Watch what I do, not exactly what I say, because that's the entertainment portion."

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor, and public intellectual. He serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he is director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.

Cambridge arrest

On July 16, 2009, Gates returned home from a trip to China to find the door to his house jammed. His driver attempted to help him gain entrance. A passer-by called police reporting a possible break-in and a Cambridge police officer was dispatched. The resulting confrontation resulted in Gates being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Prosecutors later dropped the charges. The incident spurred a politically charged exchange of views about race relations and law enforcement throughout the United States. The arrest garnered national attention after U.S. President Barack Obama declared that the police "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates. The President eventually extended an invitation to both Gates and the officer involved to share a beer with him at the White House.

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On March 9, 2010, Gates claimed on the Oprah Winfrey Show that he and Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer in the Cambridge incident, share a common ancestor.

On June 30, 2010, an independent panel with experts from across the nation published a report that states "Sergeant Crowley and Professor Gates each missed opportunities to 'ratchet down' the situation and end it peacefully" and share responsibility for the controversial July 16 arrest. Crowley could have better explained how uncertain and potentially dangerous it is to respond to a serious crime-in-progress call and why this can result in a seemingly rude tone. Gates could have tried to understand Crowley’s view of the situation and could have spoken respectfully to Crowley. The report cites research that shows people’s feelings about a police encounter depend significantly on whether they feel the officer displays respect and courtesy.

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The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police shooting of Oscar Grant refers to the fatal shooting of unarmed civilian Oscar Grant by BART Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California, United States, in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Oscar Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer were restraining Grant, who was prostrate and allegedly resisting arrest. Officer Mehserle stood, drew his gun and shot Grant once in the back. Grant was unarmed. During his court testimony, Mehserle said that Grant then exclaimed, "You shot me!" Grant was pronounced dead the next morning at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

The events were captured on multiple digital video and cell phone cameras. The footage was disseminated to media outlets and to various websites, where it was watched hundreds of thousands of times. The following days saw both peaceful and violent protests.

Police officer with Johannes Mehserle

The shooting has been variously labeled an involuntary manslaughter and a summary execution. On January 13, Alameda County prosecutors charged Mehserle with murder for the shooting. He resigned his position and pleaded not guilty. The trial began on June 10, 2010. Michael Rains, Mehserle's criminal defense attorney, has claimed Mehserle intended to fire his Taser, but mistakenly shot Grant with a pistol when he thought Grant was reaching for a gun.Pretrial filings argue that his client did not commit first-degree murder and asked a Los Angeles judge to instruct the jury to limit its deliberations to either second-degree murder or acquittal.

Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART on behalf of Grant's family.

On July 8, 2010, the jury returned its verdict: Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Initial protests against the ruling were peacefully organized; looting, arson, destruction of property, and small riots broke out after dark. Nearly 80 people were eventually arrested.

On Friday, July 9, the U.S. Justice Department opened a civil rights case against Mehserle; the federal government can prosecute him independently for the same act under the separate sovereigns exception to double jeopardy. The Department of Justice will be working with the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco and the FBI.

On November 5, 2010 Mehserle was sentenced to two years, minus time served. He will be eligible for release after around a year. 

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Charles Bernard "Charlie" Rangel  is the U.S. Representative for New York's 15th congressional district, serving since 1971. He is a member of the Democratic Party. As the most senior member, he is the Dean of New York's congressional delegation. In January 2007, Rangel became Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the first African-American to do so. He is also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Beginning in 2008, Rangel faced a series of allegations of ethics violations and failures to comply with tax laws. The House Ethics Committee focused on whether Rangel improperly rented multiple rent-stabilized New York apartments, improperly used his office in raising money for the Rangel Center at the City College of New York, and failed to disclose rental income from his villa in the Dominican Republic. In March 2010, Rangel stepped aside as Ways and Means Chair. In November 2010, the Ethics Committee found Rangel guilty of 11 counts of violating House ethics rules, and on December 2, the full House approved a sanction of censure against Rangel.

Dr. L.D. Britt, the first black person in America to have an endowed chair in surgery, will soon be president of the American College of Surgeons. Above, he works with an Eastern Virginia Medical School student at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Dr.Britt is a graduate of The University of Virginia and Harvard University where he received his M.D.

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Dr. Maya Angelou is a remarkable Renaissance woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she continues to travel the world, spreading her legendary wisdom. Received Presidential Medal of Honor on Feb.15, 2011.

John Lewis first visited the White House and President John Kennedy in 1963 as a 23-year-old son of sharecroppers intent on changing the world.

He would go on to help do just that -- at sit-ins in Nashville, at bus stops in Rock Hill, S.C. and on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama, when he was nearly beaten to death by police on a fateful, hate-filled day that changed the course of the civil rights movement and later became known as Bloody Sunday.

Nearly 50 years later, Lewis (Feb.15,2011) -- now Rep. Lewis of Atlanta -- was back at the White House, one of 15 recipients of the presidential Medal of Freedom.

 

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., southwest of the National Mall . The memorial is America's 395th national park.

Although this is not the first memorial to an African-American in Washington, D.C., Dr. King is the first African-American honored with a memorial on or near the National Mall and only the fourth non-President to be memorialized in such a way. 

The Memorial conveys three themes that were central throughout Dr. King’s life – democracy, justice, and hope. The centerpiece of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is the “Stone of Hope”, a 30-foot statue of Dr. King, gazing into the horizon and concentrating on the future and hope for humanity. The sculpture was carved from 159 granite blocks that were assembled to appear as one singular piece. There is also a 450-foot inscription wall, made from granite panels, that is inscribed with 14 excerpts of King's sermons and public addresses to serve as living testaments of his vision of America. Landscape elements of the Memorial include American Elm trees, Yoshino Cherry Trees, Liriope plants, English yew, jasmine and sumac. 

Herman Cain (born December 13, 1945) is an American author, business executive, radio host, syndicated columnist, and Tea Party activist from Georgia.

He was a candidate for the 2012 U.S. Republican Party presidential nomination and at one point was the leading candidate.

Famous quote during the primary: "999 plan".

JZ and Beyonce supported the re-election of President Obama and was recognized as one of America's most powerful couples.

Rev. Al Sharpton became the host of his own TV show " Politics Nation"  on  MSNBC. His voice for black America was instrumental in creating support for President Obama .

Melissa Harris-Perry also became a potent advocate for women and middle class America with her own MSNBC Saturday morning show.

Other MSNBC anchors who led the charge for the Democrats were Chris Matthews (Hard Ball), Al Sharpton (Politics Nation)

Ed Schultz (The Ed Show), Rachel Maddow (Rachel Maddow Show) and Lawrence O'Donnell (The Last Word). MSNBC became the counter programmed alternative to FOX News. MSNBC'S ratings exploded and greatly contributed to the large turnout by Democrats.

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Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West continued to criticize the White House for its lack of support for those in poverty.  Their message is that President Obama has not done enough to help the downtrodden.

Congressman Allen West was elected to Congress in 2010. He ran as a conservative Republican (Florida) and was a Tea Party favorite . He was very critical of Democrats in general and President Obama specifically. West said  he’d “heard” up to 80 House Democrats were communists. He was defeated after only one term.

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Voter suppression laws disguised as voter fraud laws were passed in many states.  Various courts overturned many of them but several states used them to restrict the number of minorities, college students, etc. from voting. These constituencies were strongholds of support for Democrats. These laws and restrictions resulted in long waits and lines for some voters (in some cases up to eight hours). Florida was noteworthy of exercising this technique.

President Obama Re-Elected to Second Term

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Dr.  Susan Rice on Thursday, 13 December withdrew from consideration for the U.S. Secretary of State position. She had been targeted by Republicans for her statements and involvement in the Benghazi US diplomatic post attack .

She was unfairly accused by Republicans but fully supported by President Obama.

Representative Tim Scott spoke at the Republican National Convention in August.

Tim Scott, a conservative republican, was named to a South Carolina Senate seat. Mr. Scott, a Tea Party favorite, also offers a unique story and background.  Raised by a single mother, he was, by his account, a lost child who struggled with school and with life until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him on as a protégé and schooled him in conservative principles.

 

President Obama' s Second Inauguration (January 21, 2013)

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the official swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House on Inauguration Day, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk down Pennsylvania Ave during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade

2013: The Year Of Partisanship

Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity

Pelosi, Reid, Schumer

Debt Ceiling

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Sequestration

No Justice / Trevon Martin

No Justice / Michael Brown, Jr.

Michael Brown Ferguson, Missouri

Attorney General Eric Holder greets Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol 

Robert P. McCulloch is the Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County

 No Justice / Eric Garner

'The time for remorse was when my husband was yelling to breathe': Eric Garner's widow lashes out at NYPD cop who put her husband in fatal chokehold

Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right

Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot in their patrol car (NYC)

Selma :  Understanding History So We Don't Have To Repeat It

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Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay

 

President Obama Selects New Attorney General of The United States

Loretta Lynch, sworn in on April 27, 2015

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Black Lives Matter Activists disrupt Bernie Sanders speech

 

Simone Biles Olympic Super Star

 

2016 Election

 

Donald Trump meeting with a group of Black Evangelical Leaders 

 

 

Standing On Their Shoulders 

 

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Katherine Johnson sits at her desk with a globe known as a celestial training device. The lives of Johnson and other black female mathematicians and engineers are featured in the film "Hidden Figures."

Katherine Johnson Sits At Her Desk at NASA


According to NASA, Mary Jackson "may have been the only black female aeronautical engineer in the field" in the 1950s. 

 
Melba Roy 
led the the group human computers who tracked the Echo satellites in the 1960s. (NASA)


President Obama Gives Farewell Speech

January 10, 2016

 

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Our Lives Matter

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11 Year Old Naomi Wadler/ Speaker At Our Lives Matter / March 24 2017

LeBron Gives Ohio Multimillion-Dollar I Promise School as Parting Gift

 Lady Of Soul / Aretha Franklin / 1942-2018

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Worth Remembering !

 "Darkness cannot drive out darkness , only light can do that. 
   Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that ." Dr. Martin L. King Jr.

"Low aim, not failure, is a sin." Dr. Benjamin Mays

"Prepare, Pursue, Perform, and Prevail."- Dr. Benjamin Mays 

"We do not have to be victims of circumstance." - Kweisi Mfume

"Our past choices are what have brought us our Today. Today's choices are what will bring us our Tomorrows"

- Dr. Ben Carson

" Give Back....A fist which is too tight for anything to get out  is too tight for anything to come in ."

  L. E. Lewis

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl,
  but whatever  you do you have to keep moving forward." Dr. Martin L.King Jr. 

"Show me the heroes the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the 
future of your country." Idowu Koyenikan

 

Disclaimer: BlackAmericans.com does not imply ownership of or creative rights for the artwork, illustrations and photography in the exhibit “No Time to Rest: Our Journey Continues.”

 

Thank You for visiting BlackAmericans.com.  Also see:

Black History Pt 1:  400 Years of "Yes We Can" (1619-2019) 

Black History Pt 2 : Our President Barack Obama

Black History Pt 3: Our Journey Continues

 

Wikipedia.org and Other Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_obama

Share With A Friend: Black History Pt. 2 Barack Obama Our President

Hopes and Dreams Can Be Powerful

Barack Hussein Obama II (born August 4, 1961) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2008 United States presidential election.

Obama is the first African American to be nominated by a major political party for president. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003. After a primary victory in March 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the Senate in November 2004 with 70 percent of the vote.

As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he helped create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. During the 110th Congress, he helped create legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel. Obama announced his presidential campaign in February 2007, and was formally nominated at the 2008 Democratic National Convention with Delaware senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

Barack Obama was born at the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black Kenyan from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya, and Ann Dunham, a white American from Wichita, Kansas. His parents met while attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was a foreign student. They separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father returned to Kenya and saw his son only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982. After her divorce, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Soetoro's home country of Indonesia in 1967, where Obama attended local schools in Jakarta until he was ten years old. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending Punahou School from the fifth grade in 1971 until his graduation from high school in 1979.Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 for several years and then back to Indonesia to complete fieldwork for her doctoral dissertation. She died of ovarian cancer in 1995. As an adult Obama admitted that during high school he used marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol, which he described at the 2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency as his greatest moral failure.

Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983, then worked for a year at the Business International Corporation and then at the New York Public Interest Research Group.

After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago, where he was hired as director of Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland, West Pullman, and Riverdale) on Chicago's far South Side, and worked there for three years from June 1985 to May 1988. During his three years as the DCP's director, its staff grew from one to thirteen and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000, with accomplishments including helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization in Altgeld Gardens. Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a community-organizing institute. In mid-1988, he traveled for the first time to Europe for three weeks and then for five weeks in Kenya, where he met many of his Kenyan relatives for the first time.

Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988. At the end of his first year, he was selected, based on his grades and a writing competition, as an editor of theHarvard Law Review. In February 1990, in his second year, he was elected president of the Law Review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the Law Review's staff of eighty editors. Obama's election as the first black president of the Law Review was widely reported and followed by several long, detailed profiles. During his summers, he returned to Chicago where he worked as a summer associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990. After graduating with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago.

The publicity from his election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations. In an effort to recruit him to their faculty, the University of Chicago Law School provided Obama with a fellowship and an office to work on his book. He originally planned to finish the book in one year, but it took much longer as the book evolved into a personal memoir. In order to work without interruptions, Obama and his wife, Michelle, traveled to Bali where he wrote for several months. The manuscript was finally published in mid-1995 as Dreams from My Father.

Obama directed Illinois' Project Vote from April to October 1992, a voter registration drive with a staff of ten and seven hundred volunteers; it achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African-Americans in the state, and led to Crain's Chicago Business naming Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be.

Beginning in 1992, Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, being first classified as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and then as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004.

He also, in 1993, joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a twelve attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002.

Obama was a founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife, Michelle, became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago in early 1993. He served from 1993 to 2002 on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund the Developing Communities Project, and also from 1994 to 2002 on the board of directors of The Joyce Foundation. Obama served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from 1995–2002, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995–1999.He also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Lugenia Burns Hope Center.

State legislator, 1997–2004

Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from Illinois' 13th District, which then spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn. Once elected, Obama gained bipartisan support for legislation reforming ethics and health care laws. He sponsored a law increasing tax credits for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare. In 2001, as co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Obama supported Republican Governor Ryan's payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending regulations aimed at averting home foreclosures.

Obama was reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998, and again in 2002. In 2000, he lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.

In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee when Democrats, after a decade in the minority, regained a majority. He sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations. During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, police representatives credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty reforms. Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the US Senate.

2004 U.S. Senate campaign

 

In mid-2002, Obama began considering a run for the U.S. Senate; he enlisted political strategist David Axelrod that fall and formally announced his candidacy in January 2003. Decisions by Republican incumbent Peter Fitzgerald and his Democratic predecessor Carol Moseley Braun not to contest the race launched wide-open Democratic and Republican primary contests involving fifteen candidates. Obama's candidacy was boosted by Axelrod's advertising campaign featuring images of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and an endorsement by the daughter of the late Paul Simon, former U.S. Senator for Illinois. He received over 52% of the vote in the March 2004 primary, emerging 29% ahead of his nearest Democratic rival.

Obama's expected opponent in the general election, Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race in June 2004.

In July 2004, Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. After describing his maternal grandfather's experiences as a World War II veteran and a beneficiary of the New Deal's FHA and G.I. Bill programs, Obama spoke about changing the U.S. government's economic and social priorities. He questioned the Bush administration's management of the Iraq War and highlighted America's obligations to its soldiers. Drawing examples from U.S. history, he criticized heavily partisan views of the electorate and asked Americans to find unity in diversity, saying, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. Broadcasts of the speech by major news organizations launched Obama's status as a national political figure and boosted his campaign for U.S. Senate.

In August 2004, two months after Ryan's withdrawal and less than three months before Election Day, Alan Keyes accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan. A long-time resident of Maryland, Keyes established legal residency in Illinois with the nomination. In the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes's 27%, the largest victory margin for a statewide race in Illinois history.

U.S. Senator, from 2005 

Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 4, 2005. Obama was the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history, and the third to have been popularly elected. He is the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus. CQ Weekly, a nonpartisan publication, characterized him as a "loyal Democrat" based on analysis of all Senate votes in 2005–2007, and the National Journal ranked him as the "most liberal" senator based on an assessment of selected votes during 2007. In 2005 he was ranked sixteenth, and in 2006 he was ranked tenth. In 2008, he was ranked by Congress.org as the eleventh most powerful Senator.

Legislation

Senate bill sponsors Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Obama discussing the Coburn-Obama Transparency Act

Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and cosponsored the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. In September 2006, Obama supported a related bill, the Secure Fence Act. Obama introduced two initiatives bearing his name: Lugar–Obama, which expanded the Nunn–Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons, and the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act, which authorized the establishment of USAspending.gov, a web search engine on federal spending. On June 3, 2008, Senator Obama, along with Senators Thomas R. Carper, Tom Coburn, and John McCain, introduced follow-up legislation: Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008.

Obama sponsored legislation requiring nuclear plant owners to notify state and local authorities of radioactive leaks. In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor. In January 2007, Obama and Senator Feingold introduced a corporate jet provision to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which was signed into law in September 2007. He introduced Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections. Obama also introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007.

Obama and Richard Lugar visit a Russian mobile launch missile dismantling facility

Later in 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality disorder military discharges. He sponsored the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry, and co-sponsored legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism. Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program providing one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.

Committees

Obama held assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veterans' Affairs through December 2006. In January 2007, he left the Environment and Public Works committee and took additional assignments with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. He also became Chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on European Affairs.As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama has made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. He met with Mahmoud Abbas before he became President of Palestine, and gave a speech at the University of Nairobi condemning corruption in the Kenyan government.

2008 presidential campaign

On February 10, 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. The choice of the announcement site was symbolic because it was also where Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic "House Divided" speech in 1858. Throughout the campaign, Obama has emphasized the issues of ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care, at one point identifying these as his top three priorities.

Marc PoKempner: LESSONS LEARNED Barack Obama campaigning for the Illinois State Senate in 1996, a race he easily won

Obama announcing his presidential campaign in Springfield, Illinois

Obama's campaign raised $58 million during the first half of 2007, of which "small" donations of less than $200 accounted for $16.4 million. The $58 million set the record for fundraising by a presidential campaign in the first six months of the calendar year before the election. The magnitude of the small donation portion was outstanding from both the absolute and relative perspectives. In January 2008, his campaign set another fundraising record with $36.8 million, the most ever raised in one month by a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries.

 

Among the January 2008 DNC-sanctioned state contests, Obama tied with Hillary Clinton for delegates in the New Hampshire primary and won more delegates than Clinton in the Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina elections and caucuses. On Super Tuesday, he emerged with 20 more delegates than Clinton. He again broke fundraising records in the first two months of 2008, raising over $90 million for his primary to Clinton's $45 million. After Super Tuesday, Obama won the eleven remaining February primaries and caucuses. Obama and Clinton split delegates and states nearly equally in the March 4 contests of Vermont, Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island; Obama closed the month by winning Wyoming and Mississippi.

In March 2008, a controversy broke out concerning Obama's former pastor of twenty years, Jeremiah Wright. After ABC News broadcast clips of his racially and politically charged sermons. Initially, Obama responded by defending Wright's wider role in Chicago's African American community, but condemned his remarks and ended Wright's relationship with the campaign. Obama delivered a speech, during the controversy, entitled "A More Perfect Union" that addressed issues of race. Obama subsequently resigned from Trinity United Church "to avoid the impression that he endorsed the entire range of opinions expressed at that church."

General David Petraeus gives an aerial tour of Baghdad to Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel

During April, May, and June, Obama won the North Carolina, Oregon, and Montana primaries and remained ahead in the count of pledged delegates, while Clinton won the Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and South Dakota primaries. During the period, Obama received endorsements from more super delegates than did Clinton. On May 31, the Democratic National Committee agreed to seat all of the Michigan and Florida delegates at the national convention, each with a half-vote, narrowing Obama's delegate lead while increasing the delegate count needed to win. On June 3, with all states counted, Obama passed the threshold to become the presumptive nominee. On that day, he gave a victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota. Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed him on June 7. Since then, he has campaigned for the general election race against Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee.

On June 19, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976, reversing his earlier intention to accept it.

On August 23, 2008, Obama selected Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, Obama's former rival Hillary Clinton gave a speech in strong support of Obama's candidacy and later was the person that called for Obama to be nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate by acclamation. On August 28, Obama delivered a speech in front of 84,000 supporters in Denver and viewed by over 38 million on television. During the speech he accepted his party's nomination and presented details of his policy goals.

Political positions

The young contender and the liberal lion...Barack Obama and Senator Ted Kennedy

Obama campaigning in Pennsylvania, October 2008

Obama was an early opponent of the Bush administration's policies on Iraq. On October 2, 2002, the day President George W. Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War, Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally in Federal Plaza, speaking out against the war. On March 16, 2003, the day President Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Obama addressed an anti-Iraq War rally and told the crowd that "it's not too late" to stop the war.

Obama stated that if elected he would enact budget cuts in the range of tens of billions of dollars, stop investing in "unproven" missile defense systems, not "weaponize" space, "slow development of Future Combat Systems," and work towards eliminating all nuclear weapons. Obama favors ending development of new nuclear weapons, reducing the current U.S. nuclear stockpile, enacting a global ban on production of fissile material, and seeking negotiations with Russia in order to take ICBMs off high alert status.

In November 2006, Obama called for a "phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq" and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran. In a March 2007 speech to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, he said that the primary way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is through talks and diplomacy, although not ruling out military action.Obama has indicated that he would engage in "direct presidential diplomacy" with Iran without preconditions. Detailing his strategy for fighting global terrorism in August 2007, Obama said "it was a terrible mistake to fail to act" against a 2005 meeting of al-Qaeda leaders that U.S. intelligence had confirmed to be taking place in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said that as president he would not miss a similar opportunity, even without the support of the Pakistani government.

In a December 2005, Washington Post opinion column, and at the Save Darfur rally in April 2006, Obama called for more assertive action to oppose genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. He has divested $180,000 in personal holdings of Sudan-related stock, and has urged divestment from companies doing business in Iran. In the July–August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Obama called for an outward looking post-Iraq War foreign policy and the renewal of American military, diplomatic, and moral leadership in the world. Saying "we can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission," he called on Americans to "lead the world, by deed and by example."

In economic affairs, in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and opposed Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Obama spoke out against government indifference to growing economic class divisions, calling on both political parties to take action to restore the social safety net for the poor. Shortly before announcing his presidential campaign, Obama said he supports universal healthcare in the United States. Obama proposes to reward teachers for performance from traditional merit pay systems, assuring unions that changes would be pursued through the collective bargaining process.

In September 2007, he blamed special interests for distorting the U.S. tax code. His plan would eliminate taxes for senior citizens with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, repeal income tax cuts for those making over $250,000 as well as the capital gains and dividends tax cut, close corporate tax loopholes, lift the income cap on Social Security taxes, restrict offshore tax havens, and simplify filing of income tax returns by pre-filling wage and bank information already collected by the IRS. Announcing his presidential campaign's energy plan in October 2007, Obama proposed a cap and trade auction system to restrict carbon emissions and a ten-year program of investments in new energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. Obama proposed that all pollution credits must be auctioned, with no grandfathering of credits for oil and gas companies, and the spending of the revenue obtained on energy development and economic transition costs.

Obama has encouraged Democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other religious groups. In December 2006, he joined Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church" organized by church leaders Kay and Rick Warren. Together with Warren and Brownback, Obama took an HIV test, as he had done in Kenya less than four months earlier. He encouraged "others in public life to do the same" and not be ashamed of it. Before the conference, eighteen anti-abortion groups published an open letter stating, in reference to Obama's support for legal abortion: "In the strongest possible terms, we oppose Rick Warren's decision to ignore Senator Obama's clear pro-death stance and invite him to Saddleback Church anyway." Addressing over 8,000 United Church of Christ members in June 2007, Obama challenged "so-called leaders of the Christian Right" for being "all too eager to exploit what divides us."

A method that political scientists use for gauging ideology is to compare the annual ratings by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) with the ratings by the American Conservative Union (ACU). Based on his years in Congress, Obama has a lifetime average conservative rating of 7.67% from the ACU, and a lifetime average liberal rating of 90 percent from the ADA.

Family and personal life 

Barack Obama and wife, Michelle

 

Obama met his wife, Michelle Robinson, in June 1989 when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial offers to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992. The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), in 2001.

Applying the proceeds of a book deal, the family moved in 2005 from a Hyde Park, Chicago condominium to their current $1.6 million house in neighboring Kenwood. The purchase of an adjacent lot and sale of part of it to Obama by the wife of developer and friend Tony Rezko attracted media attention because of Rezko's indictment and subsequent conviction on political corruption charges that were unrelated to Obama.

In December 2007, Money magazine estimated the Obama family's net worth at $1.3 million. Their 2007 tax return showed a household income of $4.2 million—up from about $1 million in 2006 and $1.6 million in 2005—mostly from sales of his books.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8a/BarackObama-Basketball.JPEG

Barack Obama playing basketball with U.S. military in Djibouti 2006

In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family. "Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations," he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher." Obama has seven half-siblings from his Kenyan father's family, six of them living, and a half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, the daughter of his mother and her Indonesian second husband. Obama's mother is survived by her Kansas-born mother, Madelyn Dunham. In Dreams from My Father, Obama ties his mother's family history to possible Native American ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis, president of the southern Confederacy during the American Civil War.

Obama plays basketball, a sport he participated in as a member of his high school's varsity team. Before announcing his presidential candidacy, he began a well-publicized effort to quit smoking.

Obama is a Christian whose religious views have evolved in his adult life. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that he "was not raised in a religious household." He describes his mother, raised by non-religious parents (whom Obama has specified elsewhere as "non-practicing Methodists and Baptists") to be detached from religion, yet "in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known." He describes his Kenyan father as "raised a Muslim", but a "confirmed atheist" by the time his parents met, and his Indonesian stepfather as "a man who saw religion as not particularly useful." In the book, Obama explains how, through working with black churches as a community organizer while in his twenties, he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change."

Cultural and political image

With his Kenyan father and white American mother, his upbringing in Honolulu and Jakarta, and his Ivy League education, Obama's early life experiences differ markedly from those of African American politicians who launched their careers in the 1960s through participation in the civil rights movement. Expressing puzzlement over questions about whether he is "black enough," Obama told an August 2007 meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists that the debate is not about his physical appearance or his record on issues of concern to black voters. Obama said "we're still locked in this notion that if you appeal to white folks then there must be something wrong."

Echoing the inaugural address of John F. Kennedy, Obama acknowledged his youthful image in an October 2007 campaign speech, saying: "I wouldn't be here if, time and again, the torch had not been passed to a new generation."

In March 2007, Global Language Monitor added "Obama" to its English lexicon based on the use of Obama- as a root for neologisms such as: obamamentum, obamaBot, obamacize, obamarama, obamaNation, obamanomics, obamican, obamafy, obamamania, and obamacam.

Many commentators mentioned Obama's international appeal as a defining factor for his public image. Not only did several polls show strong support for him in other countries, but Obama also established close relationships with prominent foreign politicians and elected officials even before his presidential candidacy, notably with former British Prime minister Tony Blair, whom he met in London in 2005, with Italy's Democratic Party leader Walter Veltroni, who visited Obama's Senate office in 2005, and with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who also visited him in Washington in 2006.

http://img.timeinc.net/time/2008/time_100_walkup/jeremiah_wright.jpg
Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Community Activist)

Barack Obama elected the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008

moment: President Obama is sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts with the new first family and Vice President Biden, right, nearby. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who headed the joint congressional inaugural committee, is to the right of Michelle Obama.

 

President Barack Obama 2009

       Yes We Can!

Election 2012

 

Image result for obama boarding air force one for last time

Image result for obama boarding air force one for final time

" Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. 
   Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that ." Dr. Martin L. King Jr.

"Low aim, not failure, is a sin." Dr. Benjamin Mays

"Prepare, Pursue, Perform, and Prevail."- Dr. Benjamin Mays 

"We do not have to be victims of circumstance." - Kweisi Mfume

"Our past choices are what have brought us our Today. Today's choices are what will bring us our Tomorrows"

- Dr. Ben Carson

" Give Back....A fist which is too tight for anything to get out  is too tight for anything to come in ."

  L. E. Lewis

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl,
  but whatever  you do you have to keep moving forward." Dr. Martin L.King Jr. 

"Show me the heroes the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the 
future of your country." Idowu Koyenikan

Disclaimer: BlackAmericans.com does not imply ownership of or creative rights for the artwork, illustrations and photography in the exhibit “Hopes & Dreams Can Be Powerful Things.”

 

Thank you for visiting BlackAmericans.com.  Also see:

Black History Pt 1:  400 Years of "Yes We Can" (1619-2019) 

Black History Pt 2 : Our President Barack Obama

Black History Pt 3: Our Journey Continues

Wikipedia.org and Other Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_obama

Share With A Friend: 400 Years Of Black History (1619-2019)

Much like Martin Luther King, Jr., President Barack Obama is a man for all people. He is humble yet confident; he is gracious yet firm; and he is a peacemaker in every situation. People from every continent love him.

He has been called a cultural icon, bringing hope where there is none. His election to the highest office in the world is a historic achievement that many of us thought would never happen. Thousands of martyrs have sacrificed,marched, protested, fought and died for equal rights in America, paving the way for anyone daring to push the limits of success.

The journey has been long for Barack, and even longer for BlackAmericans as a whole. What began on a hot day on the West Coast of Africa some four centuries ago in packed-to-capacity slave ships, culminated on a cold morning on the East Coast of America in our nation’s capitol.

Our history hopefully will inspire others.

It is on the shoulders of these giants that we stand. It is this history which we wish to chronicle.  

First Slaves 1619

The first record of African slavery in Colonial America occurred in 1619. A Dutch ship, the White Lion, had captured 20 enslaved Africans in a battle with a Spanish ship bound for Mexico. The Dutch ship had been damaged first by the battle and then more severely in a great storm during the late summer when it came ashore at Old Point Comfort, site of present day Fort Monroe in Virginia. Though the colony was in the middle of a period later known as "The Great Migration" (1618-1623), during which its population grew from 450 to 4,000 residents, extremely high mortality rates from disease, malnutrition, and war with Native Americans kept the population of able-bodied laborers low . With the Dutch ship being in severe need of repairs and supplies and the colonists being in need of able-bodied workers, the human cargo was traded for food and services.

Virginia, 1705 – "If any slave resists his master...correcting such a slave, and shall happen to be killed in such correction...the master shall be free of all punishment...as if such accident never happened."

 

1860s_Slaves_Picking_Cotton.jpg Slaves image by sweetpeace86

Frederick Douglass was one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery within the United States in the decades prior to the Civil War.

A brilliant speaker, Douglass was asked by the American Anti-Slavery Society to engage in a tour of lectures, and so became recognized as one of America's first great black speakers. He won world fame when his autobiography was publicized in 1845. Two years later he bagan publishing an antislavery paper called the North Star.

Douglass served as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties for blacks. Douglass provided a powerful voice for human rights during this period of American history and is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice.

The Underground Railroad

Quakers were one of many groups who had come to believe that it was wrong to hold people in bondage, whatever their ethnicity.  Early concerned Quakers gave eloquent testimony on the anti-slavery issue and were instrumental in action taken by various Yearly Meetings, which urged from 1758 that members free their slaves.  In 1776 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting disowned members who persisted in owning slaves.  As early as 1786, some Quakers joined the movement to help runaway slaves reach freedom.  This was the real beginning of the Underground Railroad, the secret organization that helped escaping slaves before the Civil War.  It was a railroad that ran without tracks, cars, or written records.  The abolitionists, for the most part anti-slavery Northerners, were aided by some Southerners who were sympathetic to the cause of freedom.  These abolitionists were called "conductors."  Their homes were the "stations."

William Lloyd Garrison

In the very first issue of his anti-slavery newspaper, the Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison stated, "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. . . . I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD." And Garrison was heard. For more than three decades, from the first issue of his weekly paper in 1831, until after the end of the Civil War in 1865 when the last issue was published, Garrison spoke out eloquently and passionately against slavery and for the rights of America's black inhabitants.

Sojourner Truth (c. 1797–November 26, 1883) was the self-given name, from 1843, of Isabella Baumfree, an American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York. Her best-known speech, which became known as Ain't I a Woman?, was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad's "conductors." During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she "never lost a single passenger."

 Dred Scott Decision

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney

In March of 1857, the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, declared that all blacks -- slaves as well as free -- were not and could never become citizens of the United States. The court also declared the 1820 Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, thus permitting slavery in all of the country's territories.

The case before the court was that of Dred Scott v. Sanford. Dred Scott, a slave who had lived in the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin before moving back to the slave state of Missouri, had appealed to the Supreme Court in hopes of being granted his freedom.

Taney -- a staunch supporter of slavery and intent on protecting southerners from northern aggression -- wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it."

Referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, "all men are created equal," Taney reasoned that "it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . ."

Abolitionists were incensed. Although disappointed, Frederick Douglass, found a bright side to the decision and announced, "my hopes were never brighter than now." For Douglass, the decision would bring slavery to the attention of the nation and was a step toward slavery's ultimate destruction.

(On March 6, 1857 Chief Justice Roger B. Taney made his famous declaration that '"beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." )

John Brown

John Brown was a man of action -- a man who would not be deterred from his mission of abolishing slavery. On October 16, 1859, he led 21 men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His plan to arm slaves with the weapons he and his men seized from the arsenal was thwarted, however, by local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, most of Brown's men had been killed or captured. He was later hanged.

Peonage, also called debt slavery or debt servitude, is a system where an employer compels a worker to pay off a debt with work. Legally, peonage was outlawed by Congress in 1867. However, after Reconstruction, many Southern black men were swept into peonage though different methods, and the system was not completely eradicated until the 1940s.

In some cases, employers advanced workers some pay or initial transportation costs, and workers willingly agreed to work without pay in order to pay it off. Sometimes those debts were quickly paid off, and a fair wage worker/employer relationship established.

In many more cases, however, workers became indebted to planters (through sharecropping loans), merchants (through credit), or company stores (through living expenses). Workers were often unable to re-pay the debt, and found themselves in a continuous work-without-pay cycle.

But the most corrupt and abusive peonage occurred in concert with southern state and county government. In the south, many black men were picked up for minor crimes or on trumped-up charges, and, when faced with staggering fines and court fees, forced to work for a local employer would who pay their fines for them. Southern states also leased their convicts en mass to local industrialists. The paperwork and debt record of individual prisoners was often lost, and these men found themselves trapped in inescapable situations.

Civil War black soldiers were eager to enlist in the Union Army. They were anxious to join the fight against slavery and they believed that military service would allow them to prove their right to equality. 

Robert Smalls (1839-1916) was a black American statesman who was born a slave and made a daring escape at the beginning of the Civil War. After the war he served five terms in Congress as the representative from South Carolina.

Robert Smalls was born a slave, to Robert and Lydia Smalls at Beaufort, S.C., on April 5, 1839. He was taken to Charleston as a youth and worked there at a variety of jobs. He soon mastered the seafaring art and became the de facto pilot of a Confederate transport steamer, the Planter. Smalls never accepted his enslaved condition and was determined to free himself. He taught himself to read and write, mastered the tricky currents and channels of Charleston Harbor, and bided his time. Sooner or later his chance would come: he would be free. He had to be free.

The Civil War brought his chance. On the morning of May 13, 1862, long before the sun was up and while the ship's white officers still slept in Charleston, Smalls smuggled his wife and three children aboard the Planter and took command. With his crew of 12 slaves, Smalls hoisted the Confederate flag and with great daring sailed the Planter past the other Confederate ships and out to sea. Once beyond the range of the Confederate guns, he hoisted a flag of truce and delivered the Planter to the commanding officer of the Union fleet. Smalls explained that he intended the Planter as a contribution by black Americans to the cause of freedom. The ship was received as contraband, and Smalls and his black crew were welcomed as heroes. Later, President Lincoln received Smalls in Washington and rewarded him and his crew for their valor. He was given official command of the Planter and made a captain in the U.S. Navy; in this position he served throughout the war.

Booker T. Washington

Born a slave and deprived of any early education, Booker Taliaferro Washington nonetheless became America's foremost black educator of the early 20th century. He was the first teacher and principal of the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, a school for African-Americans where he championed vocational training as a means for black self-reliance. A well-known orator, Washington also wrote a best-selling autobiography (Up From Slavery, 1901) and advised Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft on race relations. His rather flaccid nickname of "The Great Accommodator" provides a clue as to why he was later criticized by W. E. B. Du Bois and the N.A.A.C.P. Washington was principal of Tuskegee Institute from 1881 until his death in 1915; it was originally called the Normal School for Colored Teachers and is now known as Tuskegee University.

W.E.B. Du Bois

"Children learn more from what you are than what you teach."
                                                                                            Du Bois

Du Bois was born and raised in Massachusetts, and graduated in 1888 from Fisk University, a black liberal arts college in Nashville, Tennessee. During the summer, he taught in a rural school and later wrote about his experiences in his book THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK.

He taught sociology at Atlanta University between 1898 and 1910. Du Bois had hoped that social science could help eliminate segregation, but he eventually came to the conclusion that the only effective strategy against racism was agitation. He challenged the dominant ideology of black accommodation as preached and practiced by Booker T. Washington, then the most influential black man in America. Washington urged blacks to accept discrimination for the time being and elevate themselves through hard work and economic gain to win the respect of whites.

In 1903, in his famous book THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK, Du Bois charged that Washington's strategy kept the black man down rather than freed him. This attack crystallized the opposition to Booker T. Washington among many black intellectuals, polarizing the leaders of the black community into two wings -- the "conservative" supporters of Washington and his "radical" critics. In 1905, Du Bois took the lead in founding the short-lived Niagara Movement, intended to be an organization advocating civil rights for blacks. Although the Niagara Movement faltered, it was the forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was founded in 1909. Du Bois played a prominent role in the organization's creation and became its director of research and the editor of its magazine, THE CRISIS.

For many young African Americans in the period from 1910 through the 1930s, Du Bois was the voice of the black community. He attacked Woodrow Wilson when the president allowed his cabinet members to segregate the federal government. He continued to fight against the demand by many whites that black education be primarily industrial and that black students in the South learn to accept white supremacy. Du Bois emphasized the necessity for higher education in order to develop the leadership capacity among the most able 10 percent of black Americans, whom he dubbed "The Talented Tenth." Sharecropper educates her children at home; discrimination, poverty, and the waxing and waning of the planting season often kept southern African-American children from attending school.

Military Leaders

Cadet Henry O. Flipper in his West Point cadet uniform. It has three large round brass buttons left, middle and right showing five rows. The buttons are interconnected left to right and vice versa by decorative thread. He is wearing a starched white collar and no tie. He is a lighter-colored African American with plated corn rows of neatly done hair. He is facing the camera and looking to the left of the viewer.

Henry Ossian Flipper (21 March 1856–3 May 1940) was an American soldier and the first black American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point (1877).

Seven pilots(?) on airplane

During World War II, civil rights groups and black professional organizations pressed the government to provide training for black pilots on an equal basis with whites. Their efforts were partially successful. African American fighter pilots were trained as a part of the Army Air Force, but only at a segregated base in Tuskegee, Ala. Hundreds of airmen were trained and many saw action.

In March 1945, Toni Frissell took more than 280 photographs of the "Tuskegee Airmen," the elite, all-African American 332nd Fighter Group at Ramitelli, Italy. The group was commanded by Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr, who later became the first three-star general in the Air Corps. They earned more than 744 Air Medals and Clusters, more than 100 Flying Crosses, 14 Bronze Stars, eight Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Legion of Merit. Frissell was the first professional photographer permitted to capture the Tuskegee Airmen in a combat situation. She traveled to their air base in southern Italy, from where the "Tuskegee Airmen" flew sorties into southern Europe and north Africa.

Tuskegee Airmen

Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Sr. watches a Signal Corps crew erecting poles, somewhere in France. August 8, 1944.

Doris “Dorie” Miller enlisted in the Navy in 1939 and was made a mess attendant in the United States “Jim Crow” Navy. Miller was eventually elevated to Cook, Third Class. He was eventually assigned to the USS West Virginia stationed in Hawaii. Miller was aboard the West Virginia on December 7, 1941, when it was subjected to a surprise attack by Japan. During the attack, Miller secured an unattended anti-aircraft gun and began firing at Japanese war planes. Miller had no previous training in operating the weapon. Miller shot down at least one Japanese aircraft before he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship.

Although Miller’s courage under fire was initially overlooked, the black press seized his story and pressured the Navy to recognize him. On May 27, 1942, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz awarded Miller the Navy Cross. During the spring of 1943, Miller was assigned to the Liscome Bay and was still serving as a "messman" on the warship, despite his previous heroism, when the carrier was sunk in the Gilbert Islands in 1943. In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller received the Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal - Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. In 1973, the Knox-class frigate USS Miller was named for Doris “Dorie” Miller. Oscar Award winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. portrayed Miller in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, and in 1991, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority dedicated a bronze commemorative plaque of Miller at the Miller Family Park located on the U.S. Naval Base, Pearl Harbor.

Korean War

African-Americans served in all combat and combat service elements during the Korean War and were involved in all major combat operations, including the advance of United Nations Forces to the Chinese border. In June 1950, almost 100,000 African-Americans were on active duty in the U.S. armed forces, equaling about 8 percent of total manpower. By the end of the war, probably more than 600,000 African-Americans had served in the military.

Changes in the United States, the growth of black political power and the U.S. Defense Department's realization that African-Americans were being underutilized because of racial prejudice led to new opportunities for African-Americans serving in the Korean War. In October 1951, the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment, a unit established in 1869, which had served during the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the beginning of the Korean War, was disbanded, essentially ending segregation in the U.S. Army. In the last two years of the Korean War throughout the services, hundreds of blacks held command positions, were posted to elite units such as combat aviation and served in a variety of technical military specialties. Additionally, more blacks than may have done so in a segregated military, chose to stay in the armed forces after the war because of the improved social environment, financial benefits, educational opportunities and promotion potential.

Ensign Jesse L. Brown, U.S. Navy.  He was the first black naval aviator to die in combat and flew with VF-32 from the USS Leyte Gulf (CV-32).

Civil rights leaders 

 

Asa Philip Randolph (April 15, 1889 – May 16, 1979) was a prominent twentieth century African-American civil rights leader and founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which was a huge victory for labor and especially for African-American labor organizing.

Randolph had some experience in labor organization, having organized a union of elevator operators in New York City in 1917. In 1925, Randolph organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. This was the first serious effort to form a labor union for the employees of the Pullman Company, which was a major employer of African-Americans. With amendments to the Railway Labor Act in 1934, porters were granted rights under federal law, and membership in the Brotherhood jumped to more than 7,000. After years of bitter struggle, the Pullman Company finally began to negotiate with the Brotherhood in 1935, and agreed to a contract with them in 1937, winning $2,000,000 in pay increases for employees, a shorter workweek, and overtime pay. [2] The Brotherhood was associated with the American Federation of Labor.

Randolph emerged as one of the most visible spokespersons for African-American civil rights. In 1941, he, Bayard Rustin, and A. J. Muste proposed a march on Washington to protest racial discrimination in war industries. The marchwas canceled after President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the Fair Employment Act. Some militants felt betrayed by the cancellation because Roosevelt's pronouncement only pertained to defense industries and not the armed forces themselves. In 1947, Randolph formed the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service, later renamed the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience. President Harry S. Truman abolished racial segregation in the armed forces through Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948.

Randolph was also notable in his support for restrictions on immigration.

In 1950, along with Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the NAACP, and Arnold Aronson, a leader of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, Randolph founded the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). LCCR has since become the nation's premier civil rights coalition, and has coordinated the national legislative campaign on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.Randolph also helped Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr. to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. As the U.S. civil rights movement gained momentum in the early 1960s and came to the forefront of the nation's consciousness, his rich baritone voice was often heard on television news programs addressing the nation on behalf of African-Americans engaged in the struggle for voting rights and an end to discrimination in public accommodations.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started his career as a minister, but rose to become a leading figure in the struggle for civil rights. King, born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, envisioned a color-blind society and shepherded a divided country toward that goal. Here, Rosa Parks and others sit in front of King as he talks about the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., in 1956. The boycott, which lasted 382 days, ended with a Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation on public buses unconstitutional.

[AP photo]

Young non-violent warriors under arrest

Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leader on a municipal bus boycott in Montgomery, AL, riding an integrated bus December 1956.

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Hosea Williams 
was Martin Luther King Jr.'s trusted officer of the SCLC during the Civil Rights Movement, and later led Georgia's biggest civil rights march.

Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson is an American woman who was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama and a key figure in the 1965 march that became known as Bloody Sunday.

Jimmy Lee Jackson

Civil rights activist Jimmy Lee Jackson (1938-1965) is remembered because of his Jimmy Lee Jackson tragic death at 26 years old at the hands of an Alabama state trooper during a small protest in Marion, Perry County. His death was eulogized by Martin Luther King Jr., and other movement leaders called for a march from Selma to Montgomery to protest Jackson's death and advocate for voting rights. 

Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo (April 11, 1925 – March 25, 1965) was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan. In March 1965 Liuzzo, then a housewife and mother of 5 with a history of local activism, heeded the call of Martin Luther King Jr and traveled from Detroit, Michigan to Selma, Alabama in the wake of the Bloody Sunday attempt at marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Liuzzo participated in the successful Selma to Montgomery marches and helped with coordination and logistics. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was shot by members of the Ku Klux Klan. She was 39 years old.

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King Dies at 78

We celebrate  the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example -- the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.

We commemorate Dr. King’s inspiring words, because his voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles. Yet, Dr. King knew that it wasn’t enough just to talk the talk, that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible. And so we commemorate on this holiday the man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day, the man who braved threats and jail and beatings and who ultimately paid the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans.

The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality.

On this day we commemorate Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America.

It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples' holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service. All across America on the Holiday, his followers perform service in hospitals and shelters and prisons and wherever people need some help. It is a day of volunteering to feed the hungry, rehabilitate housing, tutoring those who can't read, mentoring at-risk youngsters, consoling the broken-hearted and a thousand other projects for building the beloved community of his dream.

Dr. King once said that we all have to decide whether we "will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life's most persistent and nagging question, he said, is `what are you doing for others?'" he would quote Mark 9:35, the scripture in which Jesus of Nazareth tells James and John "...whosoever will be great among you shall be your servant; and whosoever among you will be the first shall be the servant of all." And when Martin talked about the end of his mortal life in one of his last sermons, on February 4, 1968 in the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, even then he lifted up the value of service as the hallmark of a full life. "I'd like somebody to mention on that day Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others," he said. "I want you to say on that day, that I did try in my life...to love and serve humanity.
We call you to commemorate this Holiday by making your personal commitment to serve humanity with the vibrant spirit of unconditional love that was his greatest strength, and which empowered all of the great victories of his leadership. And with our hearts open to this spirit of unconditional love, we can indeed achieve the Beloved Community of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.

May we who follow Martin now pledge to serve humanity, promote his teachings and carry forward his legacy into the 21st Century .

Rosa Parks

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A flag, frequently hung from the NAACP headquarters in New York, announces the death of a lynching victim.

Cordy Tindell Vivian, usually known as C. T. Vivian, is a minister, author, and was a close friend and lieutenant of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. during the American Civil Rights Movement.

James Gardner "Jim" Clark, Jr. (September 17, 1922 – June 4, 2007)was the sheriff of Dallas County, Alabama from 1955 to 1966. He was one of the officials responsible for the violent arrests of civil rights protestors during the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches.

Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an  Associate Justice of the  The Supreme Court of The United
States, serving from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court's  96th Justice and its  First African American  justice.

Before becoming a judge, Marshall was a lawyer who was best known for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in  Brown v. Board Of Education, a decision that  desegregated  public schools. He served on the  United States Court of Appeals for The Second Circuit after being appointed by President John F. Kennedy and then served as the Solicitor General after being appointed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. President Johnson nominated him to the United States Supreme Court in 1967.

 

Stephen Somerstein/New York Historical Society

Nuns, priests and civil rights leaders at the head of the march, 1965.

Frank Batten Sr. fought against Massive Resistance and helped to establish a scholarship fund for inner city youth.

Virginia had struggled with school desegregation for years when, in September 1958, Gov. J. Lindsay Almond Jr. ordered six Norfolk secondary schools shut down to block the court-ordered admission of black students. The deed capped the state's officially mandated "Massive Resistance" to integration, a stand that made Virginia an international synonym for intolerance.

The Ledger supported the Massive Resistance doctrine. The Virginian-Pilot, alone among major Virginia papers, opposed it; its editor, Lenoir Chambers, showed up the policy as incoherent in an unflinching series of editorials.

"Those were pretty rough days," Batten recalled in a 1987 interview. "We got a lot of bitter letters. We would have racist things spray-painted on the building rather frequently and occasionally had bomb threats."

Gene Roberts, a Virginian-Pilot reporter who went on to become a dean of American journalism in Philadelphia and New York, recalled that Batten initially "seemed to take pride that the two papers could go their different ways.

"But ultimately," he said, "he felt that the Ledger's position was reinforcing the closing of the schools." When the Ledger's editorial staff proved unable to effectively change the paper's position, Batten did it himself.

"I would never ask an editor to write something he didn't believe in, but also, if I thought the paper was being irresponsible, I was going to either write it myself or get someone else to write it," Batten said. "I think it's the only time I've ever had to... make a radical reversal on the editorial page."

He also helped organize a full-page advertisement, signed by dozens of Norfolk's social leaders, calling for the schools to reopen.

Escorting her daughter and two other children, Mrs. Robert Wicks walks up the steps of Venable Elementary School, Charlottesville, Va. on the morning of September 8, 1959, the day Charlottesville's public schools first integrated.

Oklahoma

Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz,was an African American Muslim minister, public speaker, and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. His detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

[National Archives photo]

[Photographer Unknown]

In The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality, Basic Books, 2006, Nick Bryant concludes that JFK was too cautious and hesitant on civil rights. He forcefully disagrees with historians and biographers who have accepted what he calls Kennedy’s “rationalizations” about the power of the congressional southern bloc and provides substantial evidence that JFK’s caution grew out of his temperament and  conviction that these powerful southerners “should be charmed and, on occasion, gently cajoled, but never confronted directly.” (pp. 193–4) Bryant nonetheless applauds the moral commitment of Robert Kennedy, JFK’s attorney general—“a man of much firmer conviction and sterner resolve than his brother. He was far less plagued by ambivalence and prepared to make braver judgments.” (p. 428) However, RFK’s loyalty to the president was iron clad and he never publicly questioned his brother’s civil rights stance.

This theme runs consistently through Bryant’s thorough and exhaustive analysis of the civil rights struggles of 1961-1963. It is especially clear in his account of the September 1962 violence in Oxford, Mississippi sparked by the Kennedy administration’s attempt to enforce a court order to register James Meredith—a black U.S. Air Force veteran—at Ole Miss.

Bryant is correct in asserting that the Kennedy brothers were determined, especially with the mid-term congressional elections just over a month away, to prevent the Meredith crisis “from escalating into another Little Rock and were desperate to avoid the insertion of federal troops.” (p. 332) In the end, of course, JFK was forced to send troops and federal marshals to Oxford to suppress a riot in which two people died and many were injured.

In the aftermath, Bryant notes, JFK’s approval, especially by black voters in the North, skyrocketed. However, civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. were privately disappointed “that the president had skirted the issue of civil rights in his handling of the crisis and emphasized the integrity of federal law in such a way as to avoid altogether the issue of race.” (p. 353)  However, a week after the Oxford riot, Robert Kennedy spoke in Milwaukee and praised Meredith: “there is so much that a single person can do with faith and courage…. James Meredith…lent his name to another chapter in the mightiest internal struggle of our time.” (p. 353)

Bryant concludes that although the president had delivered “a dry and legalistic speech” stressing constitutional issues, RFK “had been much more expansive, impassioned, and personalized. For him, upholding the integrity of the courts was secondary. Laws were less important than the ideals that James Meredith had sought to uphold.” (p. 353)  This episode, Bryant argues,

"highlighted growing differences in their approaches to civil rights. … In the week before the riot, Robert Kennedy spoke to Meredith directly; at no point during or after the riot did the president contact him. In the week after the riot, Robert Kennedy publicly commended Meredith. Again, the president remained silent. RFK was too loyal to his brother to be critical of him, publicly or even privately."

Bryant, however, misses a central point about the political and personal relationship between the Kennedy brothers. He notes that at a crucial point in the Mississippi crisis “there is no record that Robert Kennedy had discussed the crisis in any great detail with the president.” (p. 338) Nonetheless, the extremely close relationship between JFK and RFK was unlike anything before or since in the history of the American presidency. For example, when I first listened to recorded telephone conversations between the Kennedy brothers, it was often difficult to even understand what they were talking about:

"Typically, as soon as the phone was picked up, the brothers, without exchanging any personal greetings whatsoever, would burst into a staccato exchange of barely coherent sentence fragments and exclamations before abruptly concluding with ‘OK,’ ‘good,’ or ‘right’ and hanging up. Their intuitive capacity to communicate transcended the limits of conventional discourse. They always understood each other."

A month after the Meredith episode, at the most crucial moment in the Cuban missile crisis, JFK chose RFK to negotiate a secret deal with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin—despite the attorney general’s strong opposition to the president’s determination to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey. The president was entirely confident that RFK would suppress his personal doubts and faithfully carry out his brother’s decision.

RFK also willingly endorsed the more risky “moral” position on civil rights (which he clearly believed) at least in part in order to draw political heat away from the president. Robert Kennedy did not act independently and always consulted with his brother on key public statements and policies relating to civil rights or any other major issue. This “dual track” strategy allowed the Kennedy administration, in a shrewd political balancing act, to have it both ways on civil rights before the 1962 mid-term elections and what was expected to be JFK’s difficult 1964 reelection campaign (especially in the South).

Civil rights leaders united on July 29, 1964 to discuss their missions and goals.  From left: Bayard Rustin, Jack Greenberg, Whitney Young, James Farmer, Roy Wilkins, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, A. Philip


Harry Belafonte (Civil Rights Activist)

Randolph and Courtland Cox

 

School desegregation in Clinton, Tennessee, December 4, 1956

George Wallace attempting to stop the integration of the University of Alabama, June 11, 1963. He was confronted by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

Alabama Governor George Wallace made his infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door" in a failed effort to prevent Hood and Vivian Malone from registering for classes at the university in 1963.

At the age of 18, Parrish Kelley (center) became a foot-soldier in a pivotal event of the civil rights movement--Freedom Summer of 1964. He will speak about his Quaker forebears, growing up in Buffalo, New York, and Dallas, Texas, and registering African Americans to vote in Ruleville, Mississippi, where he worked with Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the legendary figures of the movement. His recollection will focus on the dangers of fighting segregation on the frontlines, the friendships forged in such trying circumstances, and the stigma of being white as civil rights organizations began ousting nonblacks. His presentation will conclude with remarks on how the movement changed his life and others.

Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), cited his grade school teacher’s straightforward interpretation of the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance—one nation, with liberty and justice for all—as the earliest starting point in his battle against hatred, poverty and injustice.

Dees knew all too well that becoming a civil rights lawyer in Montgomery, Alabama wasn’t going to win him any popularity contests. He wrote in his autobiography, A Season for Justice, "All the things in my life that had brought me to this point, all the pulls and tugs of my conscience, found a singular peace. It did not matter what my neighbors would think, or the judges, the bankers, or even my relatives." Dees, the soft-spoken and gentle-natured white farmer’s son from Shorter, Alabama, faced the struggles placed before him, and in doing so demonstrated a resolve that is as tenacious about delivering justice as it is sophisticated and creative in its approach to legal theory.

Burt Neuborne, Inez Milholland Professor of Civil Liberties, introduced Dees when he visited the NYU School of Law on March 7, 2006, to deliver his candid lecture, “With Justice for All,” and to answer law students’ questions about pursuing a profession in civil rights advocacy.

Neuborne began the discussion by asking a question that he as a civil rights activist and former National Legal Director of the ACLU often asks himself: Are we relevant? Judging by Dees’ victories in stripping assets from hate merchants and defending the indigent working population, the answer is a resounding yes. “Morris Dees,” said Neuborne, “is Exhibit One that I put in front of me to keep me going.”

When approaching any case, Dees takes his cue from his personal hero Clarence Darrow who, in Dees’ opinion, was the master of framing legal arguments. Darrow, like Dees, often found himself up against seemingly insurmountable odds in the cases he chose. Dees recounted Darrow’s ostensibly pointless defense of an Appleton, Wisconsin union leader against an airtight felony conspiracy charge. In his closing arguments, Darrow simply and subtly painted a picture of the wealthy local factory owner as an unjust foe out to prevent his very workers from rising above their lower class status. Seeing the obvious need for unions to protect the rights of workers in Wisconsin, the jury acquitted the labor leader.

Some of the cases that Dees and the SPLC have undertaken over the past few months echo the injustices that Darrow confronted during his legal career. Dees and his dedicated staffers in Montgomery (three of whom are Law School students) are currently working to protect the rights of both documented and undocumented laborers. The SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project is currently taking on rights violations in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. Migrant workers there claim that they have not been paid for the gruesome jobs they performed (removing debris that had been soaked by standing water and raw sewage) while working for corporations who secured government billion-dollar contracts to clean up and restore the Crescent City.

“The United States would have a hard time existing without these people,” Dees said of laborers who come to the U.S. from such far-off places as Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala to find low-wage work planting trees on pine farms and cleaning fowl at poultry plants. These immigrant workers are typically forced to earn far less than the $12-20 per hour that is dictated by federal employment laws, receive no health benefits and are fired if any complaint is lodged against the employer.

Dees concluded his personal journey through four-plus decades of civil rights advocacy with a quotation by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Don’t be satisfied, Dees said, “until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was the first African-American Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Although not the first African-American professional baseball player in United States history, Robinson's 1947 Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers ended approximately 60 years of baseball segregation, breaking the baseball color line, or color barrier. At that time in the United States, many white people believed that blacks and whites should be kept apart in many aspects of life, including sports. Despite this obstacle, Robinson went on to have an exceptional baseball career.

Wilma Glodean Rudolph (June 23, 1940 – November 12, 1994) was an American athlete, and in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games, despite running on a sprained ankle. A track and field champion, she elevated women's track to a major presence in the United States.

The powerful sprinter emerged from the 1960 Rome Olympics as "The Tennessee Tornado," the fastest woman on earth. The Italians nicknamed her "La Gazzella Nera" (the Black Gazelle); to the French she was "La Perle Noire" (The Black Pearl).

Wilma Rudolph was born on June 23,1940, in St. Bethlehem, a part of Clarksville, Tennessee. She was the 20th of 22 children of Ed and Blanche Rudolph. At the age of 5, it was discovered that she had polio. In 1947, her mother took her to Nashville's Meharry Medical College, a hospital for blacks 50 miles from their home, twice a week. Because of the expense and difficulty of obtaining professional medical care, Wilma's mother usually treated her ailing child at home. Many nights her mother, tired after a long day's work, would sit on Wilma's bed and massage her daughter's leg well into the evening hours. Blanche Rudolph kept telling her polio-stricken daughter she would one day walk without braces.

Blanche trained her other children how to massage Wilma's legs so that the therapy could continue four times a day. She prayed daily and asked God to bring strength to her daughter's legs.

 

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963) is a retired American professional basketball player and active businessman. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.

Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances and three All-Star MVP, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA record for highest career regular season scoring average with 30.12 points per game, as well as averaging a record 33.4 points per game in the playoffs. In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press's list of athletes of the century. He will be eligible for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Sir Sidney Poitier, (born February 20, 1927) is an Oscar-, Golden Globe-, BAFTA- and Grammy award-winning Bahamian-American actor, film director, author, and diplomat. He broke through as a star in acclaimed performances in American films and plays, which, by consciously defying racial stereotyping, gave a new dramatic credibility for black actors to mainstream film audiences in the Western world.

In 1963, Poitier became the first black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor—for his role in Lilies of the Field. The significance of this achievement was later bolstered in 1967 when he starred in three very well received films—To Sir, With Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner—making him the top box office star of that year.

 

Edward R. Brooke a Senator from Massachusetts; born in Washington, D.C., October 26, 1919; attended the public schools of Washington, D.C.; graduated from Howard University, Washington, D.C., in 1941; graduated, Boston University Law School 1948; captain, United States Army, infantry, with five years of active service in the European theater of operations; chairman of Finance Commission, city of Boston 1961-1962; elected attorney general of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1962; reelected in 1964; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1966; reelected in 1972 and served from January 3, 1967, to January 3, 1979; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1978; first African American elected to the Senate by popular vote; lawyer; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on June 23, 2004; is a resident of Miami, Fla.

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Katherine Johnson, born on Aug. 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Johnson began her career in 1953 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA, one of a number of African-American women hired to work as "computers" in what was then their Guidance and Navigation Department. Johnson worked at Langley from 1953 until her retirement in 1986, making critical technical contributions which included calculating the trajectory of the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space. She is also credited with verifying the calculations made by early electronic computers of John Glenn’s 1962 launch to orbit and the 1969 Apollo 11 trajectory to the moon. Johnson worked on the Space Shuttle Program and the Earth Resources Satellite and encouraged students to pursue careers in science and technology.

Katherine Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama on Nov. 24, 2015. On May 5, 2016, she returned to NASA Langley, on the 55th anniversary of Shepard's historic flight, to attend a ceremony where a $30 million, 40,000-square-foot Computational Research Facility was named in her honor. As part of the event, Johnson also received a Silver Snoopy award from Leland Melvin, an astronaut and former NASA associate administrator for education. Often called the astronaut’s award, the Silver Snoopy goes to people who have made outstanding contributions to flight safety and mission success.

Guion "Guy" Bluford became the first African-American in space when he joined the crew of the first space shuttle mission to launch and land at night.

"We had to, as a crew, figure out the techniques that were required to launch the thing at night and as well as land the thing at night," Dr. Bluford told collect SPACE in 2002 on the anniversary of his 1983 STS-8 mission, which was dedicated to deploying a multipurpose India-built satellite and conducting medical measurements to understand the effects of space flight on the human body.

Bluford's first flight and the three that followed also blazed the path forward into space for African-Americans.

"I feel very proud of being a trailblazer with reference to space flight, particularly for African-Americans," he said. "I recognize I was one of several African-Americans that came into the program, and I think we have all made significant contributions to the program."

Bluford's other missions included the first of the German-directed Spacelab science flights (STS-61A in 1985) and two Department of

Defense-dedicated missions (STS-39 in 1991 and STS-53 in 1992).

Stargazer turned astronaut credits the MLK dream

Dr. Mae Jemison, dancer and physician, was the first black woman to travel in space, as an astronaut on the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992, 

According to Webster's Dictionary, a dream is a "series of thoughts, images or emotions occurring during sleep." Nowadays, when we speak of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of equality, it seems like one of those gauzy images that have little to do with our waking life.

But King's dream wasn't an illusive fantasy to Dr. Mae Jemison. It was a call to action.

"Too often people paint him like Santa -- smiley and inoffensive," said the African-American woman who broke the racial barrier on the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992.

"But when I think of Martin Luther King, I think of attitude and audacity."

Jemison said King's action on his dream made her life possible.

As a little girl growing up in Chicago, she'd gaze at the stars. "I could see myself in space when others couldn't," she said. "I had to learn not to limit myself because of others' limited imagination."

People were puzzled by her shared interest in the sciences, arts and community service. As a free and equal human being, she felt she shouldn't have to choose between them.

At 16, she entered Stanford and majored in both chemical engineering and African-American studies, all the while cultivating her talents in dance. After earning her medical degree at Cornell University, she became a doctor in Los Angeles, but also spent more than two years as a Peace Corps physician in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

She joined NASA in 1987, and became the first woman of color into space. But she never let that achievement overshadow the other dimensions of her personality. Among the things she carried into space were a poster from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a Bundu statue from Sierra Leone.

"For me, they were symbols of human creativity," the Houston resident said recently during a standing-room only celebration of the slain civil rights leader sponsored by Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis. "The same kind of human creativity that launched the space shuttle."

Since she retired from the space program in 1993, Jemison's career has continued to defy categorization. She runs two medical technology companies dedicated to applying science to improve human life. She tirelessly promotes science literacy for children.

Her autobiography, "Find Where the Wind Goes," is aimed at young adults to inspire them to honor their God-given creativity.

I asked Jemison what she'd say to that little Chicago girl who once imagined herself floating in space. She answered: "I'm still trying to catch up with who she intended me to be."

That's what the civil rights struggle is all about: Breaking down the barriers to human potential. Too often these days, King's vision seems to be stuck in the realm of dreams. How do we make it reality?

Jemison's answer was simple: "The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up."

Lawrence Douglas Wilder (born January 17, 1931) is an American politician and was the first African American to be elected as governor of a U.S. state, and the second to serve as governor. Wilder served as Governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994. His most recent office was Mayor of Richmond, Virginia, which he held from 2005 to 2009.

http://cdn.skim.gs/image/upload/c_fill,dpr_1.0,w_340/yo81o9xaxfusr0kvejk6

Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American judge, lawyer, and government official who currently serves as an  Associate Justice  of the of The Supreme court Of The United States.. Thomas succeeded  Thurgood Marshall and is the second black American to serve on the court. Is considered a conservative justice, has often opposed affirmative action, and tends to vote with other conservative justices. Appointed : October 23, 1991

 

Colin Luther Powell, (born April 5, 1937) is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State (2001-2005), serving under President George W. Bush. He was the first African American appointed to that position. During his military career, Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Gulf War. He was the first, and so far the only, African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

John Harold Johnson (19 January 1918 – 8 August 2005) was an American businessman, publisher. He is the founder of the Johnson Publishing Company, and in 1982, the first African-American to appear on the Forbes 400.

Johnson Publishing would later become an international media and cosmetics enterprise and the largest African American owned media publishing company with Ebony, Jet magazines. Fashion Fair Cosmetics and EBONY Fashion Fair are also included among its portfolio.

Berry Gordy, Jr. (born November 28, 1929, Detroit, Michigan) is an American record producer, and the founder of the Motown record label and its many subsidiaries.

Ward Connerly, one of the nation’s foremost critics of race-based affirmative action, was awarded the Bradley Prize by the Bradley Foundation , which recognizes those who preserve and defend Americans ideals of equality, freedom, capitalism and the “the tradition of free representative government and private enterprise.”

Christopher Bridges (born September 11, 1977), better known by his stage name Ludacris, is a three-time Grammy Award-winning American rapper and actor. Along with his manager, Chaka Zulu, Ludacris is the co-founder of Disturbing tha Peace, an imprint distributed by Def Jam Recordings. Ludacris is the highest-selling Southern hip hop solo artist of all time with over 15 million units sold in the United States.

William Henry Cosby Jr., Ed.D. (born July 12, 1937) is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer and activist.

In May 2004 after receiving an award at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that outlawed school segregation, Cosby made public remarks critical of African Americans who put higher priorities on sports, fashion, and "acting hard" than on education, self-respect, and self-improvement. He has made a plea for African American families to educate their children on the many different aspects of American culture (Baker).

Condoleezza Rice (born November 14, 1954) is a professor, diplomat, author, and national security expert. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and the second in the administration of President George W. Bush to hold the office. Rice was the first African-American woman, second African American (after her predecessor Colin Powell, who served from 2001 to 2005), and the second woman (after Madeleine Albright, who served from 1997 to 2001 in the Clinton Administration) to serve as Secretary of State. Rice was President Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term.

Oprah Gail Winfrey (born January 29, 1954) is an American television presenter, media mogul and philanthropist. Her internationally-syndicated talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, has earned her multiple Emmy Awards and is the highest-rated talk show in the history of television.] She is also an influential book critic, an Academy Award nominated actress, and a magazine publisher. She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century, the most philanthropic African American of all time, and was once the world's only black billionaire.

 " Darkness cannot drive out darkness , only light can do that. 
   Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that ." Dr. Martin L. King Jr.

"Low aim, not failure, is a sin." Dr. Benjamin Mays

"Prepare, Pursue, Perform, and Prevail."- Dr. Benjamin Mays 

"We do not have to be victims of circumstance." - Kweisi Mfume

"Our past choices are what have brought us our Today. Today's choices are what will bring us our Tomorrows"

- Dr. Ben Carson

" Give Back....A fist which is too tight for anything to get out  is too tight for anything to come in ."

  L. E. Lewis

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl,
  but whatever  you do you have to keep moving forward." Dr. Martin L.King Jr. 

"Show me the heroes the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the 
future of your country." Idowu Koyenikan

Disclaimer: BlackAmericans.com does not imply ownership of or creative rights for the artwork, illustrations , photography or narrative in the exhibit “Black History: 390 Years of "Yes We Can.”

 

Thank you for visiting BlackAmericans.com. Also see:

 

Black History Pt 1:  400 Years of "Yes We Can" (1619-2019) 

Black History Pt. 2 : Our President Barack Obama

Black History Pt 3: Our Journey Continues

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Is Cory Booker For Real?

Image result for CORY BOOKER

Booker is a spellbinding speaker and a gifted campaigner with an inspiring personal story — all of which could make him a strong candidate in 2020. But is he too good to be real?

The old woman walked outside in her bathrobe and curlers to shout at the man who might be president.

“Senator Booker!” she called out to him.

Cory Booker spun around and saw the woman standing on the stoop of her squat three-story apartment building.

“Oh my gosh!” he said. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in the longest time!”

The woman was incredulous.

“What are you doing over here?” she exclaimed.

“Just walking around the neighborhood,” said Booker. “I love that robe. Look at that.”

Her name is Stephanie. They apparently have known each other for a while. With a warm smile, she explained why she rushed out in her early morning finery.

“I just looked out the window and I said, ‘That’s Senator Booker!’”

Booker, who stands six-foot-four, is a hard man to miss. His bald head sits atop the agile, sturdy frame of a former college football player. And he’s a familiar face to anyone with a television. Booker’s been touted as a potential presidential candidate virtually since the day he was elected mayor of Newark in year 2006. It’s a city with about 280,000 largely African-American and Latino residents — and a tough reputation.

“You know, I still live right off Martin Luther King [Boulevard],” Booker told Stephanie.

He named a street about five blocks away. She had heard Booker was her neighbor in Newark’s Central Ward, but hadn’t believed it.

“Somebody told me that and I said, ‘He don’t live down here,’” Stephanie said.

Booker explained that he travels to Washington on Mondays and is usually back in New Jersey three days later. He walked through the neighborhood with Yahoo News late last month to show off the streets that birthed his political philosophy and the “proud things” he did here as mayor.

One of them was right across the street.

“I love our park,” Stephanie said.

“Yes. Isn’t it nice?” Booker replied. “We follow through. That was the promise we made. Remember?”

“I know. I know. I know. I know,” she said before offering him advice for his return to Washington. “Keep on fighting Trump.”

“Amen,” said Booker with a laugh.

Sen. Cory Booker visiting the Almonte Supermarket in Newark’s Central Ward, April 23, 2018.
Sen. Cory Booker visiting the Almonte Supermarket in Newark’s Central Ward, April 23, 2018.

Walking through New Jersey with Booker means frequent encounters with his fans. They are clearly aware their former mayor might run for president.

“2020, Mr. Booker! 2020!” shouted one passing driver.

“Our next president right there!” said another, as he pumped his horn in celebration.

Booker got a similar greeting when he walked into a bodega around the corner from his house.

“Yo! Presidente!” said the man behind the register.

And it’s not just in Newark. In the hallways of Capitol Hill and at the speeches he gives around the country, Booker is regularly urged to mount a White House bid. It happens so often that he’s got something of a standard response.

“Thank you for that encouragement!”

When pressed about a presidential campaign by Yahoo News, Booker admits he’s going to mull the possibility.

“Look, my focus right now is two things; my own reelection and making sure we’re in a strong position for that and the 2018 elections,” Booker said. “I think, that passes, I’ll sit down and give a hard consideration about a lot of folks that are talking to me about doing something else.”

Booker’s term — he was elected in 2013, in a special election after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, and then again in 2014 — ends in 2020. In the meantime, he’s become an in-demand campaign surrogate for other Democrats. In the past year, Booker has traveled to at least 11 states to stump for his colleagues.

Cory Booker with then senatorial candidate Doug Jones in Birmingham, Ala., last December.
Cory Booker with then senatorial candidate Doug Jones in Birmingham, Ala., last December.

So far, Booker has strenuously avoided any key early primary states that would fuel presidential speculation. But in an interview, Booker let slip that he is planning one trip that might raise eyebrows: a “red state farmers tour.” It’s the kind of thing that screams White House run, but Booker insisted “it’s not going to be a public listening tour.”

“We’re going to do it and not tell anybody were doing it,” he explained, adding, “We’re not going to be doing it with lots of media coverage.”

The reasons for the presidential buzz surrounding Booker are clear. Whenever Booker hits the campaign trail, he is a potent weapon. His rise has largely been propelled by his inspiring personal story — and his unique ability to tell it.

Asked about Booker’s future, David Axelrod, the veteran Democratic strategist and former top adviser to President Obama, sees Booker as an “exceptional political talent” who is a real potential 2020 contender.

“I think he is a brilliant guy; big-time personality, interesting thinker, and an at times spellbinding presenter and … obviously, a really good story. So, I take him seriously,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod currently leads the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. He recently hosted Booker there, and the strategist left with the impression that Booker’s flair for the dramatic can sometimes go “a bit too far” and reach a place where the senator “sacrifices a sense of authenticity” for “performance.” Axelrod offered up a classic piece of baseball lore from the early days of Dodgers pitching great Sandy Koufax as advice for Booker.

“Some catcher … told him, ‘You know you are a great pitcher … and you throw the ball 100 miles an hour, but if you threw it at 97 and got it over the plate you’d be untouchable,’” recounted Axelrod.

“I think that Booker is a great, great talent. … I think that he’s in public service for the right reasons, but he probably could take three miles off his fastball, and get the ball over the plate, and be even better,” added Axelrod.

Indeed, the captivating narrative and presentation that has inspired support for Booker has also provoked skepticism, including fears from progressives about his close ties to donors from Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry. There are also substantive questions about his record in Newark and in the Senate.

Booker has in many ways mastered the art of retail politics. He has a boundless energy that he credits to a vegan diet supplemented by iced tea and his newest discovery, intermittent fasting. He knows just when to deploy a dad joke, fist bump, broken Spanish, a lesson from one of the many religions he’s studied, or a warm embrace. Booker is also a gifted orator. His speeches are crafted from what he calls “riffs,” including tales from his own life and anecdotes that have touched him from people he’s met or read about. Working without a script, Booker turns these set pieces into symphonies of rising emotion and soaring inspiration with his voice alternately breaking and booming before rapt audiences.

Sen. Cory Booker at a rally outside in Washington last January. 
Sen. Cory Booker at a rally outside in Washington last January. 

The Cory Booker origin story is a staple of his oratorical arsenal. His parents were pioneering black executives at IBM who were active in the civil rights movement. They were able to raise Cory and his brother in the wealthy New Jersey suburb of Harrington Park, with the help of housing activists who worked with the family to force unwilling property owners to sell them a home.

When Booker tells it, this isn’t just a tale of defying injustice. Booker calls the story a “conspiracy of love” and paints himself as the “physical manifestation” of the kindness and decency of those who helped his father as a poor young man and later in the face of housing discrimination. Booker sums it up with the words of a man he often quotes, Martin Luther King Jr.

“This was the lesson of my childhood, that we all are connected,” said Booker. “As Martin Luther King said, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a common bond of destiny. That injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Booker constantly returns to King’s legacy and teachings to discuss modern problems and his own ideals. But he doesn’t just channel King by echoing his values. Booker’s impassioned delivery has deep echoes of the black church tradition that shaped the civil rights icon. And both Booker and King can provoke a similar reaction from supporters. When we saw Booker present his personal story during a speech at the Parkinson’s Policy Forum on March 20, he left the ballroom full of activists on their feet. Some were in tears.

It’s a typical reaction. But these sermons do leave some wondering whether the emotion could possibly be genuine.

An aide to a senior Senate Democrat told Yahoo News about listening to one of Booker’s speeches. Booker wept on stage and had much of the audience joining him. The staffer was shocked when the senator abruptly left amid the applause.

“I’ve seen him give that speech five times — and each time he cried,” the senator said.

Booker began his community work attending college at Stanford. “I wanted to make a difference in the world. … I felt like I had all of this privilege,” he told a group of high school students.. “I was working in a place called East Palo Alto and found my calling. I wanted to do big things.”

Sen. Cory Booker with a group of New Jersey high school students at the Capitol.
Sen. Cory Booker with a group of New Jersey high school students at the Capitol.

Booker went on to earn a law degree at Yale and then to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship for an honors degree in American history. At Oxford, the decidedly non-Jewish Booker helped run a chapter of Chabad House and picked up biblical wisdom and Yiddish witticisms that still pepper his speeches.

Then comes the final chapter in the Cory Booker origin story.

“Before I even graduated from law school, I decided that I was going to move to the most dangerous neighborhood I could find in the city I loved,” Booker told the students.

In 1997, his final year of law school, he began working — and living — as a tenants’ rights advocate in Newark, about nine miles from Manhattan. The once-thriving city had seen steep drops in population and wealth, especially after the notorious riots in 1967.

Through his work in Newark, Booker met Virginia Jones, who led the Brick Towers tenants’ association in one of the city’s most troubled public housing complexes. Booker eventually moved in to an apartment there and, he says, Jones pushed him to run for city council.

This story is one of Booker’s main speech riffs. “I always say I got my BA from Stanford but my PhD on the streets of Newark,” Booker likes to say.

Booker also regularly recounts lessons and maxims passed down from Jones. She taught him that “hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word.”

In 1998, Booker, who was then 29, won a seat on Newark’s municipal council. He quickly began displaying the media savvy that would become a hallmark of his career, earning attention far beyond the city by moving into a tent and going on a hunger strike to protest crime.

Then mayoral candidate Cory Booker outside his campaign headquarters in Newark in 2002.
Then mayoral candidate Cory Booker outside his campaign headquarters in Newark in 2002.

Booker had a film crew by his side when he first ran for mayor in 2002. The subsequent documentary, “Street Fight,” captured his ultimately unsuccessful bid to unseat Mayor Sharpe James, who led a local political machine for two decades. Booker gained exposure as a crusader against corruption, but also saw some people questioning his authenticity.

James and his allies attacked Booker with a series of wild allegations, including that he was Jewish and a Republican. There were also insinuations Booker, a bachelor, was gay. That last accusation would stick with Booker through his ascent to the Senate.

Booker has addressed the gay rumors by saying, “So what if I am?” But he has dated women, most recently the poet Cleo Wade. When asked about Wade, Booker declined to comment. Wade did the same in a recent interview with the New York Times.

Booker made it to City Hall on his second attempt in 2006. After becoming mayor, he quickly became a national figure with an early presence on Twitter, where he promoted his own hands-on do-gooding: shoveling snow, delivering diapers, welcoming people into his home during a hurricane, and even helping to rescue a woman from a burning building.

The heroics led to fantastic press. However, the outsized characterization brought a unique political problem. As one of his many national headlines in the Washington Post put it, Booker was “almost too good to be true.” Advisers knew people could be skeptical.

“It can be frustrating when you’re working for him because, with any politician, people are cynical,” one former Booker campaign staffer said. “They believe that there’s a difference between your private self and your public self. But he is who he is. It’s almost unbelievable, but he is.”

The newly elected Newark Mayor Cory Booker in 2006.
The newly elected Newark Mayor Cory Booker in 2006.

Booker’s soaring speechmaking added to the implausibility.

Van Parish, who managed the first mayoral campaign, explained how the lofty rhetoric could be a “challenge” for Booker.

“I would say he’s for real,” Parish said. “What people are going to be skeptical about is, Where is the proof in the pudding? What has he done? Where is the manifestation of all of the rainbows and unicorns? He’s so good talking about the challenges that we face, but what has he done?”

Booker is aware of his doubters, but says his record speaks for itself.

“This is the beautiful thing about this point in my career … and folk in this community know it,” said Booker as he walked through the city. “Stuff I hear, ‘Everything I say is sizzle and no whatever.’ And I’m like, Wait a minute. Now you have a 20-year career to analyze.”

His seven years leading Newark had highlights and lowlights.

As mayor, Booker’s burgeoning brand as a “social media superhero” coupled with his charisma and connections from his elite education brought support from celebrities and business leaders including Oprah, Bon Jovi, hedge funder Bill Ackman, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The star power helped Booker attract an influx of donations and development to Newark.

Booker wooed major businesses, including Panasonic and Prudential, to the city. Newark saw its first major new grocery stores and hotels in years, new office towers, a $150 million real estate and educational complex. Booker notes all of this occurred against the backdrop of the national recession and a fiscal crisis that saw a quarter of the city’s employees laid off. After years of decline, Newark’s population grew. And along with the corporate donations and development, after inheriting a deficit Booker found savings in the city budget and left it balanced for the first time in a decade.

Not all of the change during Booker’s tenure was positive. While the crime rate initially dropped sharply, it ticked back up in 2010, a situation Booker attributes to widespread police layoffs that he blames on New Jersey’s former Republican Gov. Chris Christie. And the new real estate developments and revitalized downtown have raised the specter of gentrification with Newark even getting dubbed a “new Brooklyn.”

From left, North Ward councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., musician Jon Bon Jovi, designer Kenneth Cole, HELP USA Chairman Maria Cuom
From left, North Ward councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., musician Jon Bon Jovi, designer Kenneth Cole, HELP USA Chairman Maria Cuomo Cole, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and HELP USA President Laurence Belinsky cut the ribbon at the opening of a Newark housing project funded through Bon Jovi’s JBJ Soul Foundation, Dec. 8, 2009. 

While walking through the city with a correspondent from Yahoo News, Booker acknowledged rising rents are a concern that comes with growth. Booker said he tried to address this by requiring affordable housing, educational facilities and jobs for locals to be part of new projects in Newark. Booker doubled the number of affordable housing units in the city during his tenure. He described his philosophy as “inclusive development.”

Nevertheless, for a progressive Democrat stepping onto the national stage, Booker’s past reliance on corporate development and philanthropy could be a liability. But Booker is unapologetic.

“I would challenge any of those people to be mayor of a city in a recession. … Your job is to help people and by any means necessary,” said Booker, adding, “Live where I live for a year and tell me you wouldn’t do whatever it took.”

One of Booker’s grandest gestures caused the biggest controversy of his mayoralty. In 2010, Booker teamed with Christie and Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg to launch a $200 million plan to overhaul the Newark’s school system. The effort, which Booker dubbed a “bold new paradigm,” was backed by donations and launched on an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s talk show. It included a new teacher-evaluation system aimed at increasing accountability and an expansion of charter schools in the city. But with students being moved to charters, many district schools were closed, which angered many residents.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker at an education summit hoste
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker at an education summit hosted by NBC News. 

Booker’s $200 million school reform effort was chronicled in a 2015 book by journalist Dale Russakoff called “The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools.” While she depicted Booker as well-intentioned, Russakoff was sharply critical of the way changes were communicated to city residents and how much of the money went to highly paid consultants. The book led to a spate of negative headlines questioning whether Newark’s schools really improved after the influx of cash.

Last October, Harvard’s Center For Education Policy Research released a detailed report analyzing Booker’s schools overhaul. The assessment found that, “on net, by the 2015–2016 academic year, Newark students had seen a significant improvement in the rate of growth in English and no significant change in math.”

Booker believes the effort was judged too quickly and feels vindicated by the new research.

“It was a success!” he said of the school reform push.

Booker has won over some of his critics in recent years, notably Newark’s current mayor, Ras Baraka, who has developed what allies of both men characterize as a strong partnership with Booker.

During Booker’s time in Newark, Baraka represented the South Ward on the council. It was Sharpe James’s base and a hotbed of anti-Booker sentiment. Baraka was a prominent opponent of the schools plan.

Baraka and Booker’s improved relationship was on full display in February, when the former mayor appeared alongside his successor as he filed petitions for reelection.

In a phone call with Yahoo News, Baraka said Booker has done “an outstanding job as United States senator” in opposing Trump administration appointments and in advocating for Newark in Washington. He cited Booker’s successful push to include “opportunity zones” in the tax reform bill last year. The program, which evolved from a proposal by Booker and South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, provides tax benefits for businesses that invest in census tracts designated by governors as areas in need of growthBaraka even has kind words for his former foe’s tenure as mayor.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, right, and former Newark Mayor, Sen. Cory Booker.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, right, and former Newark Mayor, Sen. Cory Booker.

“He laid the foundation for a lot of things. People began to look at our city differently because of Cory’s presence here,” Baraka said.

Baraka’s campaign has conducted polling for his reelection bid that found Booker currently has a 78 percent approval rating in Newark. Booker even has the backing of John Sharpe James, the current South Ward councilman and son of Booker’s fiercest rival.

Not everyone is on board. Donna Jackson, a current council candidate and longtime Booker critic, calls the relationship between Booker and Baraka an “unholy alliance.”

Jackson was a Baraka supporter and staunch opponent of Booker’s school reform effort. During a phone call last week, she described the expansion of charters as an “onslaught” and argued the focus should have been on improving existing district schools rather than opening new ones.

When Booker ran for Senate in 2013, Jackson worked with his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, to raise more questions about Booker. She appeared alongside Lonegan at an event where he made the false claim Booker does not live in his house in Newark’s Central Ward. Lonegan and his campaign also revived the gay rumors about Booker, saying it was “kind of weird” Booker never refuted the allegations.

Booker defeated Lonegan, but more serious questions emerged during the Senate race. In 2013, the National Review published a piece that accused Booker of making up some of the dramatic anecdotes he deployed in his speeches.

Specifically, the magazine questioned whether Booker made up a man named “T-Bone” who featured in many of his trademark riffs. Booker regularly described T-Bone as a young man who threatened his life when he first moved to the Central Ward, but later became a friend. The National Review talked to a Booker ally who said the future senator once privately admitted that T-Bone was a “composite.”

Questions about T-Bone first popped up in 2007 when Newark’s Star-Ledger newspaper tried to find the man behind the riffs. The local reporters could find no evidence the nicknamed city resident was real. At the time, Booker said T-Bone was “1,000 percent a real person.” And there are multiple veterans of Newark’s police force who are willing to back Booker up on this point.

Sen. Cory Booker after winning a special election in 2013.
Sen. Cory Booker after winning a special election in 2013.

Anthony Ambrose, the city’s current public safety director, has worked in local law enforcement for more than two decades. He was a police officer in Newark and served as the city’s top cop under James, a position he lost when Booker took office. When asked by Yahoo News, Ambrose said multiple criminals in the city used the “T-Bone” alias so he “never doubted” the senator’s tale.

Jimmy Wright, who recently retired after a long career that included stints as a beat cop and homicide investigator, lived in Brick Towers at the time and witnessed an incident where Booker was threatened by local drug dealers. Wright said the men were angry over the increased police presence Booker brought to the neighborhood.

“I know for a fact that there were some guys that threatened Cory one day in front of the building. They were selling drugs. Basically, when Cory moved in, he messed up [their business],” said Wright.

Wright also said Booker worked to befriend the young dealers and “they ended up loving him.”

And Booker definitely does have relationships with some colorful characters in his Newark neighborhood. As he walked with Yahoo News, a man named Earl Best ran up to say hello. Best is a current city worker and former convicted bank robber who became known as the “Street Doctor” by delivering blankets, food and supplies to Newark’s homeless.

“This is a legend in Newark. The Street Doctor,” Booker said as the two men embraced.

“That’s my buddy!” Best said pointing at the senator.

The Street Doctor had some bad news for Booker.

“Your buddy died. Binky,” said Best.

He explained that Robin “Binky” Brown, a retired detective and longshoreman who helped produce a 2009 Sundance Channel documentary that featured Booker, had died the night before. Booker exchanged numbers with Best and asked to be apprised about Brown’s funeral.

“Keep taking care of the kids, man,” Booker said as the two men parted. “They look up to you.”

Booker says his connections with the people in his Newark neighborhood are vital to him on Capitol Hill, where a map of the Central Ward hangs over his desk.

“I just feel like, if I ever lose that, like the connections in my neighborhood, the connections in my city, the connections to urban spaces in New Jersey, I feel like I’m rudderless and rootless,” Booker explained.

Newark provides Booker with firsthand experience about the challenges facing the poor and people of color. But these issues aren’t unique to urban areas, Booker repeatedly stresses “whether you’re in Appalachia or Newark,” people around the country are dealing with “common pain,” including economic insecurity, water and air quality issues, gun violence and the opioid crisis.

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

“I’m the only United States senator that lives in what could be characterized as an inner city,” Booker said. “I’ve stayed rooted in the community. If all of our senators lived in pockets where there’s poverty and … the struggle for America was going on, I think it might be better for our country.”

These beliefs have led Booker to focus on justice in three areas — criminal justice reform, environmental issues and economic inequality.

But opponents question his legislative record.

“Before he launches his 2020 presidential bid, Booker might want to accomplish something in the Senate,” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said of Booker.

But as a member of the minority party, he has a steep hill to climb towards passing legislation. Besides adding the opportunity zone amendment to the tax bill, Booker also authored provisions including a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a criminal justice package that has passed out of committee and has bipartisan support.

Booker has also worked with state and city politicians to help them implement versions of proposals that may be unable to pass Congress. Specifically, since he introduced the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act last year, a dozen state houses have introduced similar legislation. The act includes steps designed to improve conditions for women in prison, including giving them mentors and greater access to health care products. Three weeks after Booker introduced the act, the Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a memo calling for female inmates to have free access to tampons and pads, which was a key component of Booker’s legislation.

Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduce the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act at a news conference on Capitol H
Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduce the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 11, 2017. 

Even on matters where Booker has no chance of getting a law passed, he and his team believe he can play a valuable role raising the issue. Booker has become a leading advocate for marijuana legalization, and has proposed legislation to expunge federal marijuana convictions and penalize states where minorities have faced disproportionate rates of marijuana arrest and incarceration. He’s also behind legislation for a pilot guaranteed-jobs program and a package designed to address environmental issues in poor communities.

Having a conversation with Booker means hearing an endless stream of data points he’s picked up, including anecdotes from people he’s met and facts absorbed through what is clearly a voracious reading habit. The health issues facing people dealing with poor environmental conditions are a favorite topic. He rattles off details about lead exposure, the health risks of refineries and tropical diseases in the United States. Booker said his concept of environmental justice was informed by things he’s seen in Newark as well as fact-finding trips to Southern states.

Some observers think Booker’s Senate agenda is meant to win over wary progressives, who are suspicious of the way he has courted campaign contributions from Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry. Last January, Booker provoked outrage from the left when he joined a bipartisan group that included Republicans in opposing a proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders designed to lower drug prices. After adding steps to address safety concerns, Booker joined Sanders and worked with him to announce a new bill that would legalize drug imports from Canada.

Sen. Cory Booker comforts 4-year-old Morgan Hintz, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, during a news conference on
Sen. Cory Booker comforts 4-year-old Morgan Hintz, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, during a news conference on medical marijuana. 

Ahrens, the Republican Party spokesman, predicts that tacking left could kill any chance Booker has to be a viable presidential candidate.

“Given how much the base dislikes him, Booker’s going to keep adopting radical policies that will destroy his presidential aspirations, like his massively expensive and totally impractical plan for the government to provide jobs for everyone,” Ahrens said.

Booker certainly has friends in the two major wings of the divided Democratic Party. A source familiar with Sanders’s thinking said the former presidential candidate clearly “enjoys working with Cory on the issues.” The source pointed to a chummy joint appearance the pair made on Facebook Live last month to discuss marijuana legalization. “Booker has come around on some good progressive policies,” the source said, mentioning his support for Medicare-for-all universal health care. And Sanders, whose socialist brand of politics was dismissed by some Democratic moderates, also appreciates Booker’s large platform.

“There is value to having someone who is perceived by the Beltway as more ‘mainstream’ supporting these ideas,” the source said.

Sanders’s presidential primary rival, Hillary Clinton, also has a positive relationship with Booker. A top Clinton campaign source said Booker was her second choice for a running mate, and multiple sources confirmed it was a tight decision.

Booker’s chance of successfully leading a presidential ticket of his own hinges on his ability convince a cynical electorate that he’s more than just an incredible speechmaker. And he’ll have to prove the stories in those speeches — and perhaps more important, the emotions behin real.d them — are

Hillary Clinton with Cory Booker. 
Hillary Clinton with Cory Booker. 

Amid that challenge, Booker has an unofficial validator in the form of Ruby Quocko, a Newark woman in her 70s. Quocko is the daughter of Virginia Jones, the tenant activist who inspired Booker’s political career. In a phone call with Yahoo News, Quocko defended Booker’s sincerity.

“If you don’t know the man, you can’t judge him,” Quocko said of Booker. “What you might think is insincere is because you don’t know him.”

Quocko said she jokingly calls Booker her “little brother” because he was like an “other son” to Jones. Booker has stayed in touch with the family since her mother’s passing.

“Being mayor never stopped him from being around my mother,” Quocko added. “When my mother became ill, Cory was there to visit her quite often.”

Quocko said Booker was with Jones when she died, “just like a family.” He also took care of Jones in her final days.

“When my mother was in the hospital he saw to it that she had her own private room and was well taken care of,” said Quocko.

Amid the grief, Cory Booker was still being Cory Booker. Quocko said he walked around the hospital and visited with other patients.

“He stopped into their rooms and asked them how they felt,” she said. “He didn’t care who it was.”

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13 black women from history you probably didn't learn about but should know

  • History books are filled with stories about impactful men of color like Malcolm X, Fredrick Douglas, and Martin Luther King Jr.
  • There are many black women who have made significant contributions as well, but their stories are often not taught in schools.
  • Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to get her pilot's license.
  • Althea Gibson broke barriers in tennis.

When you think about important figures in black history, names like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass likely come to mind. But there's no denying that black women have played a powerful and important role in history, though you may not hear their stories as often. Black women have been breaking down barriers and shattering stereotypes in the fields of education, sports, politics, and more for generations.

Below, we've listed some black women from history that you may not have learned about in school, but should know more about.

Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to hold a pilot's license.

Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to hold a pilot's license.
Coleman secured her pilot license in 1921.
 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Born in 1892, Bessie Coleman always knew she wanted to fly. Although she was rejected by aviation schools in the United States, Coleman never gave up on her dream to become a pilot.

She learned French and was accepted at a flight school in France. In1921, Coleman graduated from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and secured her place in history as the first African-American woman to receive a pilot's license, though some have reported she was the first African-American person period to receive such a license.

She was also the first Native-American woman to do so. (Her father, George Coleman, was Native American and black.)

When she returned to the United States, she used her knowledge to become a stunt pilot and perform at air shows. In 1922, Coleman became the first African-American woman to make a public flight.Coleman entertained audiences with her aerial stunts until her death in 1926, from an accident during a rehearsal for an aerial show.

Wilma Rudolph ran off with three gold medals at the 1960 Olympics.

Wilma Rudolph ran off with three gold medals at the 1960 Olympics.
Rudolph won three gold medals.
 Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Born into a family of 22 children and having polio and scarlet fever as a child, Wilma Rudolph later became a world-class athlete.

Rudolph made history at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, as the first American woman to win three track-and-field gold medals in a single Olympic games. Rudolph e arned her medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4X100m relay events.

She went on to become a spokesperson for a baking company and a movie studio. She was inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.

Shirley Chisholm made political history as the first black woman elected to the US Congress.

Shirley Chisholm made political history as the first black woman elected to the US Congress.
Chisholm represented her district in Brooklyn.
 Pictorial Parade/Getty Images

Educator and civil rights advocate, Shirley Chisholm dedicated her life to helping the people in her community. In 1968, Chisholm was elected to represent her Brooklyn district in the United States House of Representatives, becoming the first black woman to serve in US Congress. Chisholm served seven terms in the House, where she was a dedicated advocate for education and employment opportunities for people of color.

In 1972, Chisholm sought the Democratic nomination for president and became the first black woman to seek a major political party's nomination in a presidential campaign. She ultimately lost the democratic nomination to Sen. George McGovern who then lost the presidency to President Richard Nixon.

But her impact is still being felt in 2019. When Sen. Kamala Harris announced her run for president earlier this year, many took note that her logo and campaign materials seemed to pay tribute to Chisolm's.

Mary McLeod Bethune was a trailblazer for African-American people in education by opening her own school.

Mary McLeod Bethune was a trailblazer for African-American people in education by opening her own school.
Bethune was passionate about education.
 © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Mary McLeod Bethune was a dedicated educator and advocate for civil rights. In a time when educational options for African-American people were limited, Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute in 1904, a school for black girls. In1923, the school merged with the all-male Cookman Institute and in 1929 (though some say it was 1925), it was officially renamed Bethune-Cookman College and today is known as Bethune-Cookman University.

In addition to her work in education, Bethune also organized voter registration campaigns, as women gained the right to vote. In 1936, Bethune was the highest-ranking African-American woman in government as the director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration.

Althea Gibson broke barriers in tennis.

Althea Gibson broke barriers in tennis.
Gibson became the first African-American player to compete at the US Nationals.
Thomas D. Mcavoy/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

About 43 years before Serena Williams won the 1999 US Open, there was Althea Gibson.

In 1949, Gibson attempted to enter into the United States Lawn Tennis Association's championship in Forest Hills, New York. When she wasn't invited to compete in any qualifiers, fellow player Alice Marble wrote a letter on her behalf to American Lawn Tennis magazine, urging members to let her compete.

In 1950 she became the first African-American player to compete at the US Nationals. Though she lost her first year, she later became the first African-American player to win that tournament in 1957. She was also the first to win a singles title at Wimbledon that same year.

In 1957 and 1958, Gibson won consecutive titles at both Wimbledon and the US Nationals.

Phillis Wheatley was the first African-American author to publish a book of poetry.

Phillis Wheatley was the first African-American author to publish a book of poetry.
Wheatley was an accomplished poet.
 Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty Images

Wheatley was born around 1753 in West Africa and brought to Boston in 1761. She was educated by the Boston family, the Wheatleys, who enslaved her. She studied literature, including John Milton and Homer, and eventually began to write her own poetry.

Her first poem was likely published in December 1767. She gained national acclaim in 1770 for "An Elegiac Poem, on the Death of that Celebrated Divine, and Eminent Servant of Jesus Christ, the Reverend and Learned George Whitefield" which was published in the US and also later published in London.

In 1773, Wheatley was the first African-American poet to publish a book of her work. It was called "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral." She went on to publish poems such as "On Being Brought from Africa to America" and "On Virtue."

Janet Collins became the first African-American artist to perform full-time at the Met.

Janet Collins became the first African-American artist to perform full-time at the Met.
Collins made history in the world of dance.
 Getty Images

After a stint dancing on Broadway and in variety shows, including winning Dance magazine's "Debutante of the season" award in 1949,Collins became the first African-American artist to perform full-timewith the Metropolitan Opera in 1951. There she held roles in operas such as "Aida" and "Carmen."

Although she was often received well in New York, Collins was often replaced by understudies when the company traveled through the South because of a race laws.

Collins also taught at prestigious dance schools including Balanchine's School of American Ballet. She toured the US and Canada in 1954 in solo dance concerts after leaving the Met.

Mamie Johnson was a pitcher for the Indianapolis Clowns.

Mamie Johnson was a pitcher for the Indianapolis Clowns.
Johnson was the only female pitches in the Negro Leagues.
 Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Born in 1935, Mamie Johnson grew up playing baseball in her South Carolina hometown. At age 17, she traveled to Virginia in hopes of landing a spot on the All-American Girl Professional Baseball team, though she was not allowed to try out due to the color of her skin.

Determined to play the game she loved, Johnson went on to becomeone of three women to play baseball in the Negro Leagues in 1953 at 17, and the only woman to pitch. She played for the Indianapolis Clowns.

Despite being one of few women, Johnson later told MLB that she was treated very well by the men in the league. "I was pleased to be treated like a lady at all times. I can say I had 26 brothers, and they were so nice."

Johnson played for the Clowns for three seasons before to have a career as a nurse.

In 2008, the MLB honored Johnson along with other African-American players who were excluded from the league with aceremonial draft. Johnson was drafted by the Washington Nationals. She died in 2017.

Ida B Wells' investigative journalism looked to shine a spotlight on hate crimes.

Ida B Wells' investigative journalism looked to shine a spotlight on hate crimes.
Wells wrote about racially-motivated murders.
 Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in Mississippi in 1862, during the Civil War. After three friends were lynched, Wells, who was a journalist and former schoolteacher, worked to bring increased awareness to these brutal, racially-motivated crimes against black Americans.

Wells became part-owner of the Memphis Free Speech andpublished her writings on her investigation in various pamphlets and newspaper columns, exploring lynchings and racism in America, as well as encouraging boycotts to protest racism and racially motivated violence. Her writings caused so much outrage that she was driven out of Memphis and moved to Chicago.

Wells was also an outspoken advocate for women's rights issues, including suffrage. She was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women's Club and she and Belle Squire co-founded the Alpha Suffrage Club.

Flo Kennedy was a dedicated advocate for women's rights.

Flo Kennedy was a dedicated advocate for women's rights.
Kennedy was a founding member of the Feminist Party.
 Getty Images

Flo Kennedy was a lawyer and civil rights advocate who worked to improve conditions for American women generally, and especially black women. She attended Columbia University enrolled in pre-law studies. Though she had outstanding grades, she was denied by law schools because she was a woman. After threatening to sue, she was admitted by Columbia's law school in 1948 and was the only black person in her class.

She was a founding member of the Feminist Party, which nominated Shirley Chisholm for president in 1972.

Kennedy was a colleague of prominent feminist, Gloria Steinem who called her an "outrageous, imaginative, humorous and witty spokeswoman for social justice." Kennedy was an outspoken supporter of women's reproductive rights.

She helped organize a protest of the Miss America pageant in 1968, as well as a "pee-in" on Harvard Yard in 1973 in protest of the lack of women's bathrooms on campus.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was instrumental in issuing medical treatment to those who couldn't afford it.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was instrumental in issuing medical treatment to those who couldn't afford it.
Crumpler published this book.
 The National Library of Medicine

At a time when very few women worked outside of the home, Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was saving lives. Crumpler earned her M.D. degree from New England Female Medical College in 1864 and was the only African-American person to earn a degree from the institution. Crumpler became the first African-American female physician in the United States.

Her practice was primarily focused on serving low-income women and children in Boston and Richmond, Virginia.

In 1883, Crumpler became the first black physician to publish a medical text, "A Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts."

Ruby Bridges desegregated a public school in the south.

Ruby Bridges desegregated a public school in the south.
Bridges attended a formerly all-white school in New Orleans.
 Bettmann / Contributor/ Getty Images

Ruby Bridges became a civil-rights activist when she was only 6 years old. Although the Supreme Court ruled against segregation in public schools in the Brown v. Board of Education decision, many all-white schools in the South were still not completely on board with welcoming black students.

Bridges passed the entrance exam to attend an all-white elementary school, William Frantz Elementary School, in her New Orleans neighborhood, and in 1960, she became the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white elementary school in the south.

Federal marshals escorted Bridges and her mother past angry protesters each day. Bridges wrote two books about her experiences and received the Carter G. Woodson Book Award.

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