African Americans in Full Color – in memory of Black History – a repost


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.A Page From Our American Story

African Americans in Full Color

In the first half of the twentieth century, Americans became fascinated with photo journalism. Pictures were literally “worth a thousand words” as full-color magazines and tabloid newspapers became the rage.

Publications targeted to African American audiences that featured illustrations and photographs began appearing in the early 1900s. One of the earliest to effectively use illustrations and photography was The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP. Seeking to educate and inform its readers with scholarly articles, the covers of the journal and its entertainment section were designed to appeal to the masses of African Americans.

In the 1930s, we see pictorial magazines such as Abbott’s Monthly, published by Robert Sengstacke Abbott, the founder of the Chicago Defender newspaper, and Flash, which billed itself as a “weekly newspicture magazine.” Published in Washington, D.C., Flash contained a mixture of news, gossip and advertisements and articles on racial issues, providing an overview of the highs and the lows of Black life in the 1930’s.

In 1942, African American businessman John H. Johnson founded the Johnson Publishing Company, a corporation that would go on to publish the well-known magazines Ebony, Jet, Tan, and Ebony Jr. The magazines promoted African American achievements and affirmative black imagery in popular culture, which appealed to readers … and to advertisers. Mr. Johnson was a savvy businessman and used the statistics of a rising black middle class to persuade companies and businesses that it was in their economic “self-interest” to advertise in his magazines to reach African American consumers.

With the success of the Johnson Publishing Company’s magazines, other magazines targeted to African Americans quickly came on the scene. For example, in 1947 Horace J. Blackwell published Negro Achievements, a magazine highlighting African American success articles and featuring reader-submitted true confessions stories. After Blackwell died in 1949, a white businessman named George Levitan bought the company and renamed the publication Sepia. This publication featured columns by writer John Howard Griffin, a white man who darkened his skin and wrote about his treatment in the segregated South, that eventually became the best-selling book Black Like Me.

Whether featuring positive images of African Americans, inspiration stories, news features or commentaries on racism, the rise of African American magazines defied long-held racial stereotypes through rich storytelling, in-depth reporting, and stunning photography.

Due to a variety of economic, editorial, and other factors, most of these magazines have ceased being published. Yet today some African American magazines are still a thriving part of popular culture. Johnson Publishing Company’s Ebony and its digital sites reach nearly 72% of African Americans and have a following of over 20.4 million people.

 dd-enews-temp-lonnie-bunch-2.jpg All the best,

Lonnie Bunch
Director

P.S. We can only reach our $250 million goal with your help. I hope you will consider making a donation or becoming a Charter Member today.

To read past Our American Stories, visit our archives.

Horace Julian Bond


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

“We are better people because he walked
among us for a while.”

 
Julian Bond

Julian Bond came of age during that critical time in this nation’s history when winning equal rights for all took a great deal: a clear head, a big heart, a razor-sharp intellect, and a way with words.

Julian Bond had it all. And he could wrap all of it up to create whatever was needed at the time – either a tool or a weapon, a poem or a sermon. He was driven by a commitment to make America better.

While a Morehouse-based member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helping to organize the Freedom Summer of 1964 and its massive voter registration drive in Mississippi, Julian Bond took to task the American public and President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“We have learned through bitter experience in the past three years that the judicial, legislative and executive bodies of Mississippi form a wall of absolute resistance to granting civil rights to Negroes. It is our conviction that only a massive effort by the country backed by the full power of the President can offer some hope for even minimal change in Mississippi.”

Those words came from a letter Julian Bond wrote on April 28, 1964 to one of America’s most inspiring writers, James Baldwin. He was writing to encourage Baldwin to join a “jury” to hear “testimony” about Civil Rights violations from African Americans facing discrimination in employment, housing, and voting rights in Mississippi. Under a plan designed by SNCC and other members of the Council of Federated Organizations, the testimony would be presented to the President so he would be moved to create a government-sanctioned way to protect the Freedom Summer workers.

“The President must be made to understand that this responsibility rests with him, and him alone, and that neither he nor the American people can afford to jeopardize the lives of the people who will be working in Mississippi this summer by failing to take the necessary precautions before the summer begins.”

Bond’s letter to Baldwin has entered the collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It will be used alongside similar documents to show how people like Julian Bond helped design and fuel the Civil Rights Movement.

Bond was so committed to helping us tell that story well, that he became a member of the museum’s Civil Rights History Project advisory committee. In that role he helped us land interviews with some of the most important workers in the movement; he also conducted two of the more than 150 interviews for this oral history project. One was with Lawrence Guyot, the director of the 1964 Freedom Summer project in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Julian Bond wrote his letter to James Baldwin in 1964 at the age of 23. Less than three years later he would be awarded his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives by a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Four years after that, in 1971, he would become the founding president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Nearly 30 years later, in 1998, he would take the helm of the NAACP serving as its national chairman for an astonishing 12 years.

Julian Bond has spent his life as a champion in the campaign for equality. Much of what we as a nation know about compassion and commitment, we have learned from Julian Bond, the people he emulated and the people he inspired. We are sad because he has left us. And we are deeply honored that we had him for as long as we did … to help us help America live up to her promises. We are better people because he walked among us for a while.

Thank you, Horace Julian Bond.

Lonnie_Signature.jpg
Lonnie G. Bunch
Founding Director
Smithsonian
National Museum of African American History and Culture

Chinedu Okobi – Demand Justice in Police Taser Killing of Chinedu Okobi


Chinedu Okobi :

On October 3, 2018, San Mateo sheriff deputies tased Chinedu Okobi to death.

Chinedu was a 36-year-old Nigerian-American who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area California, a graduate of Morehouse College. He was a great father, a cherished son, a beloved brother, a trusted friend, a respected community member, and a gifted poet.

Sadly, Chinedu is part of a tragic trend of unarmed Black people who’ve been killed by police. He was walking in broad daylight and had committed no crime. Five sheriff deputies escalated the interaction when they approached Chinedu who was walking in and out of busy traffic. Rather than offer support to Chinedu, who unfortunately was struggling with mental health issues, the deputies viciously tased Chinedu to death.

We need your help to make sure that the sheriff deputies who killed Chinedu Okobi are held accountable for their crimes. The investigation has barely started and yet the District Attorney is already publicly trying to justify the deputies’ actions, by making the assumption that because Chinedu was ” 6’3 tall, and weighed 330 pounds, he was automatically deemed a threat and seen as dangerous. We know the deputies should not have killed Chinedu, and they must be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We know that police are only held accountable when people come together to demand justice. Please join us as we come together with our comrades at Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Chinedu’s family, friends, and community in demanding that San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe charge and prosecute every single officer involved in Chinedu’s murder.

Below is the letter we will send to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe:

Here is the Petition:

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe,

We demand that you charge and prosecute San Mateo deputies John DeMartini, Alyssa Lorenzatti, Joshua Wang, Bryan Watt, and Sgt. David Weidner for the killing of Chinedu Okobi. He was a great father, a cherished son, a beloved brother, a trusted friend, a respected community member, and a gifted poet. He was an unarmed man who did nothing to justify being tased to death.

We are concerned that you have already made public statements that suggest you have already decided the deputies who killed Chinedu should not be held accountable for their actions. Too often District Attorneys turn a blind eye to police murder against unarmed Black people. Police are not above the law. We demand transparency and accountability.

On October 3, 2018, San Mateo sheriff deputies tased Chinedu Okobi to death.

Chinedu was a 36-year-old Nigerian-American who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area California, a graduate of Morehouse College. He was a great father, a cherished son, a beloved brother, a trusted friend, a respected community member, and a gifted poet.
Sadly, Chinedu is part of a tragic trend of unarmed Black people who’ve been killed by police. He was walking in broad daylight and had committed no crime. Five sheriff deputies escalated the interaction when they approached Chinedu who was walking in and out of busy traffic. Rather than offer support to Chinedu, who unfortunately was struggling with mental health issues, the deputies viciously tased Chinedu to death.

We need your help to make sure that the sheriff deputies who killed Chinedu Okobi are held accountable for their crimes. The investigation has barely started and yet the District Attorney is already publicly trying to justify the deputies’ actions, by making the assumption that because Chinedu was ” 6’3 tall, and weighed 330 pounds, he was automatically deemed a threat and seen as dangerous. We know the deputies should not have killed Chinedu, and they must be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We know that police are only held accountable when people come together to demand justice. Please join us as we come together with our comrades at Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Chinedu’s family, friends, and community in demanding that San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe charge and prosecute every single officer involved in Chinedu’s murder.

Below is the letter we will send to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe:
Here is the Petition:
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe,
We demand that you charge and prosecute San Mateo deputies John DeMartini, Alyssa Lorenzatti, Joshua Wang, Bryan Watt, and Sgt. David Weidner for the killing of Chinedu Okobi.

Chinedu Okobi was a great father, a cherished son, a beloved brother, a trusted friend, a respected community member, and a gifted poet. He was an unarmed man who did nothing to justify being tased to death.

We are concerned that you have already made public statements that suggest you have already decided the deputies who killed Chinedu should not be held accountable for their actions. Too often District Attorneys turn a blind eye to police murder against unarmed Black people. Police are not above the law. We demand transparency and accountability.

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