History~ the month of March


The History Place - This Month in History

March 1

1781 – Formal ratification of the Articles of Confederation was announced by Congress. Under the Articles, Congress was the sole governing body of the new American national government, consisting of the 13 original states. The Articles remained in effect through the Revolutionary War until 1789, when the current U.S. Constitution was adopted.

March 30

1855 – About 5,000 “Border Ruffians” from western Missouri invaded the territory of Kansas and forced the election of a pro-slavery legislature. It was the first election in Kansas.

1958 – The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater gave its initial performance.

 1981 – Newly elected President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest while walking toward his limousine in Washington, D.C., following a speech inside a hotel. The president was then rushed into surgery to remove a 22-caliber bullet from his left lung. “I should have ducked,” Reagan joked. Three others were also hit including Reagan’s Press Secretary, James Brady, who was shot in the forehead but survived. The president soon recovered from the surgery and returned to his duties.

1909 – In Oklahoma, Seminole Indians revolted against meager pay for government jobs.

1939 – The comic book “Detective Comics #27” appeared on newstands. This comic introduced Batman.

1981 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded in Washington, DC, by John W. Hinckley Jr. Two police officers and Press Secretary James Brady were also wounded.

Birthday – Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was born in Groot Zundert, Holland. He was a Postimpressionist painter, generally considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt. During his short (10-year) painting career he produced over 800 oil paintings and 700 drawings, but sold only one during his lifetime. In 1987, the sale of his painting Irises brought $53.9 million, the highest price ever paid for a work of art up to that time. During his life, Van Gogh suffered from despair and bouts of mental illness, at one point cutting off part of his own left ear. He committed suicide in 1890 by gunshot.

March 31

1945 – “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams opened on Broadway.

1776 – Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John that women were “determined to foment a rebellion” if the new Declaration of Independence failed to guarantee their rights.

 1933 – The Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC, was founded. Unemployed men and youths were organized into quasi-military formations and worked outdoors in national parks and forests.

 1968 – President Lyndon Johnson made a surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election as a result of the Vietnam conflict.

1885 – Binney & Smith Company was founded in New York City. The company later became Crayola, LLC.

1889 – In Paris, the Eiffel Tower officially opened.

1870 – In Perth Amboy, NJ, Thomas Munday Peterson became the first black to vote in the U.S.

1902 – In Tennessee, 22 coal miners were killed by an explosion.

1904 – In India, hundreds of Tibetans were slaughtered by the British.

1908 – 250,000 coal miners in Indianapolis, IN, went on strike to await a wage adjustment.

1900 – In France, the National Assembly passed a law reducing the workday for women and children to 11 hours.

 1991 – The Soviet Republic of Georgia, birthplace of Josef Stalin, voted to declare its independence from Soviet Russia, after similar votes by Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Following the vote in Georgia, Russian troops were dispatched from Moscow under a state of emergency.

Birthday – Boxing champion Jack Johnson (1878-1946) was born in Galveston, Texas. He was the first African American to win the heavyweight boxing title.

(Photo and picture credits: Library of Congress and U.S. National Archives)

A reminder POST: Tell your District Attorney: Don’t enforce abortion bans. Don’t criminalize pregnancy – Sign the Petition

We are in the midst of a coordinated and well-planned attack on reproductive freedom.

Abortion bans in 16 states are threatening to jail and punish pregnant people, scrutinizing every decision a pregnant person makes about their bodies. These laws are a violation of constitutional and human rights and do not uphold the sanctity of life in the slightest.

Abortion bans put pregnant people’s lives at risk. And we know Black, women, trans and gender-nonconforming folks are particularly vulnerable. Black women are already seen as less than human, purveyors of criminality, and unable to make decisions regarding our reproductive health. This perception along with other societal and health system factors is why Black women face the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the country–which makes them even more susceptible to criminalization for their pregnancy outcomes. It’s been happening before the bans in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia were even passed. Right now in Mississippi, Latice Fisher, a young Black mother who was charged with 2nd-degree murder after having a still birth, is fighting for her freedom as she faces life imprisonment and separation from her children. But things could be a lot different for Latice if the District Attorney had never charged her in the first place.

Law enforcement should never be involved in a pregnancy decision. And DAs have the discretion to keep their prosecutors out of maternal health matters. In the wake of the onslaught of abortion ban laws passing, some district attorneys are already taking a stand. District Attorneys across Georgia are refusing to enforce its unconstitutional abortion ban and Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill has declared that he will not enforce a Utah measure banning abortions after 18 weeks. Here’s why: criminalization discourages women who want an abortion or are experiencing pregnancy loss or complications from seeking medical care for fear of arrest and punishment.

Black women die from pregnancy complications at 3 to 4 times the rate of white women. And we cannot afford to add incarceration to the list of reasons our people avoid seeking medical care. That’s why we’re calling on district attorneys across the country to use their discretion and refuse to prosecute abortion, pregnancy loss or any other pregnancy decision. With your help, as a part of our national movement to hold prosecutors accountable to their communities, we can push them to uphold real justice and let women, trans and gender non-conforming people make their own decisions for their own bodies. Will you sign the petition to push your district attorney in the right direction?

Here is the Petition:
To local prosecutors:

We are calling on you to refuse to enforce laws that criminalize women based on their pregnancy outcomes and use your discretion to decline to prosecute. We urge you to create and advocate for safer and better policies and solutions to that uphold a woman’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom.

Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill has stated that he will not enforce a Utah measure banning abortions after 18 weeks. We are calling on you to take on this same level of leadership, and not give in to extremist political pressure that would restrict a woman’s basic rights and bodily freedom.
As a prosecutor, you have the power and responsibility to enact policies and infrastructure that would discourage police officers from making arrests of pregnant women based on the circumstances of their births and remove the fear that an abortion, miscarriage, stillborn, or other possible variation of a pregnancy outcome could result in a prison sentence. We are calling on you to take a proactive stand and end the practice of criminalizing women based on their pregnancy outcomes.

Now is your chance to take the right step in enforcing full humane lives for women.


Until justice is real,
–Clarise, Rashad, Arisha, Scott, Erika, Kristen M., Marybeth, Marena, Leonard, Kristen P., Madison, Tamar and the rest of the Color Of Change team
1. “Alabama’s anti-abortion law isn’t alone. Here are all the states pushing to restrict access.” CNN, 16 May 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135858?t=13&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
2. “Mississippi Woman Criminally Charged for Pregnancy Outcome After Home Birth (Updated).” Rewire News, 6 February 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135859?t=15&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
3. “District attorneys from across metro Atlanta say they won’t prosecute women for abortions.” 11 Alive, 17 May 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135860?t=17&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
4. “Salt Lake district attorney says he won’t enforce Utah’s abortion ban.” The Hill, 15 May 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135861?t=19&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
5. Reproductive Health. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 February 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135871?t=21&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
6. “Report: Criminalizing Pregnancy a ‘Noose Around Your Neck.’” Rewire News, 23 May 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135863?t=23&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
7. “Women’s Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018.” Prison Policy Initiative, 13 November 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135862?t=25&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
8. Ibid.
9. “The History Of American Slavery: “Good Breeders.” Slate, 24 August 2015. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135867?t=27&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
10. ‘Father Of Gynecology,’ Who Experimented On Slaves, No Longer On Pedestal In NYC.” NPR, 17 August 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135868?t=29&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf)
11. “Forced and Coerced Sterilization: The Nightmare of Transgender and Intersex Individuals.” Impakter, 4 February 2016. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135869?t=31&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
12. “The Moynihan Report Is Turning 50. Its Ideas on Black Poverty Were Wrong Then and Are Wrong Now.” In These Times, 30 June 2015. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/135864?t=33&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf
13. Ibid.
14. “Black women and the fight for abortion rights: How this brochure sparked the movement for reproductive freedom.” MSNBC, 25 March 2019. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/135870?t=35&akid=31971%2E1174326%2EUewegf

Be inspired by activist and suffragette Mary Church Terrell


The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is proud to present the next page from Our American Story, an online series for Museum supporters. Despite the variety of uncertain news in the world today, one story continues to speak of powerful strength and uplift: the story of the African American experience. This legacy speaks of everyday heroism, profound resiliency, and the binding power of the community. We offer these stories to honor and celebrate an immensely rich history and culture—and to inspire and sustain our community as we move toward the future, together.
Mary Eliza Church Terrell was a renowned educator and speaker who campaigned fearlessly for women’s suffrage and the social equality of African Americans.

Image result for circular desk calendar owned by mary church terrell

Circular desk calendar owned by Mary Church Terrell

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1863, the year of the Emancipation Proclamation, Mary Eliza Church was part of a changing America. She was the daughter of affluent African American parents, both of whom were previously enslaved. Her mother, Louisa Ayers Church, owned a hair salon. Her father, Robert Reed Church, was a successful businessman who would later become one of the South’s first African American millionaires.
Terrell’s parents sent her to Ohio to attend preparatory school at Antioch and later Oberlin College. There she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. At a time when women were not expected to achieve academically, Terrell excelled—and committed herself to pass on what she learned. After teaching for two years at Wilberforce College, she moved to Washington, D.C. to teach high school, where she met lawyer and future judge Robert Terrell. They married in 1891.

“Most girls run away from home to marry; I ran away to teach.”

— Mary Church Terrell 

Although Mary Church Terrell’s life focused on education and progress, tragedy would spur her into activism.
In 1892, her childhood friend Thomas Moss was lynched in Memphis. Moss was the owner of People’s Grocery, a successful wholesale grocery outside the city. He, like Terrell, represented progress, which many whites at the time felt was a direct threat to their own commerce and livelihood. The gunshot-riddled bodies of Moss and two of his employees were left on a railroad track just north of Memphis.

Terrell, along with journalist Ida B. Wells, organized anti-lynching campaigns to mobilize advocates and generate awareness. Later she would protest President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1906 discharge of 167 African American soldiers for unfounded conspiracy claims in Brownsville, Texas. She wrote columns and essays espousing the importance of dignity and respect for the soldiers and demanded a fair trial. Her efforts were to no avail at the time, although an Army investigation in 1972 led to the honorable discharges of all the soldiers, only two of whom were still alive.


Pin for the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs
Terrell held firm to the idea of racial uplift—the belief that blacks would help end racial discrimination by advancing themselves through education, work, and activism. Her words “lifting as we climb” became the motto of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), the group she co-founded in 1896.
She also would go on to serve as one of the charter members of the NAACP, founded in 1909.

Understanding the intersectionality of race and gender discrimination, she lectured, penned essays, and spoke out on behalf of the women’s suffrage movement—even picketing the Woodrow Wilson White House with members of Howard University’s Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Terrell was an active member of the National Association of Women’s Suffrage Act (NAWSA), where she worked alongside the organization’s founder, Susan B. Anthony. Terrell was invited to deliver two speeches on the challenges faced by women, and particularly women of color in America, at the International Congress of Women in Berlin in 1904. She was the only woman of African descent invited to speak at the conference. She delivered her speeches in German, French, and English, receiving a standing ovation from the audience.

Terrell’s belief that education and activism would provide a path to equality was demonstrated by her devotion to both pursuits. A self-described “dignified agitator,” Terrell would fight, protest, and work on behalf of social progress for women of color for more than half a century.

While in her 80s, Mary Church Terrell joined efforts to end segregation in restaurants in Washington, D.C., which laid the groundwork for the 1953 court ruling that segregation in D.C. restaurants was unconstitutional. In 1954, two months after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, she passed away at her home in Highland Beach, Maryland, a Chesapeake Bay resort community for affluent African Americans founded by one of Frederick Douglass’s sons.

From her tireless efforts to pass the Nineteenth amendment 100 years ago to serving as the first black woman on the Washington, D.C. Board of Education, Terrell’s work continues to echo throughout the world today. Her commitment to change opened countless doors of opportunity for those who came after her.
Her legacy endures in the hearts and minds of those continuing the fight for a world with more educated and empowered black women. From Civil Rights leaders and feminists of the 1960s to contemporary activists and trailblazers, many have and will continue to invoke Terrell’s fighting—and dignified—spirit.
The Museum helps connect individuals with a deeper understanding of the African American story by sharing the lives of inspiring pioneers like Mary Church Terrell, who demonstrate the impact one person can make on the world. Please help the Museum continue this important work and consider joining the Museum or making a donation today.

Share this American Story

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© 2020 Smithsonian Institution
Opera glasses and case owned by Mary Church Terrell. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Ray and Jean Langston in memory of Mary Church and Robert Terrell.
Gelatin silver print of Mary Church Terrell by Addison Scurlock, ca. 1910. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Ray and Jean Langston in memory of Mary Church and Robert Terrell.
Service award pin for Mary Church Terrell from the National Association of Colored Women, 1900. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Ray and Jean Langston in memory of Mary Church and Robert Terrell.
Circular desk calendar owned by Mary Church Terrell. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Ray and Jean Langston in memory of Mary Church and Robert Terrell.
Pin for the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Ray and Jean Langston in memory of Mary Church and Robert Terrell.
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Help us show the frontline medical staff at Johns Hopkins how much we appreciate their service


Across the country, frontline medical staff are working overtime to ensure our communities are safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic (also known as coronavirus). Every day, the frontline hospital staff at Johns Hopkins, for example, put their lives at risk to treat the growing number of people with coronavirus. Johns Hopkins is not only a world-renowned hospital, but it is a hospital that serves a tremendous number of Black people in Baltimore. And because of their dedication to our community, and the sacrifices they are making to keep treating people, we want to show the medical staff — particularly working class staff like orderlies, nurses, and cleaning staff — at John Hopkins how grateful we are for their service.

Frontline medical staff are heroes. So, we’d like to provide help where we can, by contributing healthy snacks, coffee, and energy drinks to the staff at Johns Hopkins, who serve one of the most high-density, low-income Black communities in the country.

CONTRIBUTE NOW and help us raise $5000 to provide care packages for the frontline medical staff who are working overtime to protect us during the spread of coronavirus.