Paul Laurence Dunbar – Black History

 Paul Laurence Dunbar has been called the first great black poet in America. He wrote not only verse but short stories and novels and lyrics during his short career before his premature death from tuberculosis at just 33.

Many of his works were written in black dialect. His first poems were published when he was just 16 in a local newspaper in Dayton. He was school friends with Orville and Wilbur Wright, whose printing company printed the first African American weekly newspaper in Dayton, which Dunbar edited.

Dunbar’s first book of short stories “Folks From Dixie” was published in 1898, the same year as his first novel “The Uncalled”. Dunbar also wrote the lyrics for the musical ” In Dahomey”, the first musical produced and performed by African Americans which successfully performed on Broadway in 1903.

Dunbar’s work went on to have a tremendous influence on writers during the Harlem Renaissance and later writers including Maya Angelou whose autobiography title “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is taken from one of Dunbar’s poems.

Born: June 271872
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, USA
Star Sign: Cancer

Died: February 91906 (aged 33)
Cause of Death: Tuberculosis


a message from Rep. John Lewis ~Reinstate Voting Rights Protections ~ In Memory

I’m deeply saddened.

If Congress doesn’t act, this will be the first election in 50 years without critical protections from the Voting Rights Act.

the right to vote is precious… even sacred.

That’s why in 1963, I marched on Washington with Martin Luther King for the right to vote.

That’s why in 1965, I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote.

Folks marched for this. Folks fought for this. And some even died for the right to vote.

But today, the vital protections in the Voting Rights Act have been gutted by the conservative Justices on the Supreme Court.

Voting is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society. And we’ve got to use it!

Will you demand that Republicans fix the Voting Rights Act?


Congressman John Lewis

  • Hopefully, the VRA becomes Permanent Law,  with a few caveats that direct actions towards States that still feel the need to engage in Racism and or Discrimination on any level during elections Suppressing the Vote! – Nativegrl77

Septima Poinsette – activist,teacher, wife – Black History

Septima Poinsette Clark was a teacher and civil rights activist whose citizenship schools helped enfranchise and empower African Americans.

Born on May 3, 1898, in Charleston, South Carolina, Septima Poinsette Clark branched out into social action with the NAACP while working as a teacher. As part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, she set up citizenship schools that helped many African Americans register to vote. Clark was 89 when she died on December 15, 1987, on South Carolina’s Johns Island.

Early Life

Septima Poinsette Clark was born on in Charleston, South Carolina, May 3, 1898, the second of eight children. Her father—who had been born a slave—and mother both encouraged her to get an education. Clark attended public school, then worked to earn the money needed to attend the Avery Normal Institute, a private school for African Americans.

Teaching and Early Activism

Clark qualified as a teacher, but Charleston did not hire African Americans to teach in its public schools. Instead, she became an instructor on South Carolina’s Johns Island in 1916.

In 1919, Clark returned to Charleston to teach at the Avery Institute. She also joined with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in trying to get the city to hire African-American teachers. By gathering signatures in favor of the change, Clark helped ensure that the effort was successful.

Clark married Nerie Clark in 1920. Her husband died of kidney failure five years later. She then moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where she continued teaching and also joined the local chapter of the NAACP. Clark worked with the organization—and with Thurgood Marshall—on a 1945 case that sought equal pay for black and white teachers. She described it as her “first effort in a social action challenging the status quo.” Her salary increased threefold when the case was won.

Going back to Charleston in 1947, Clark took up another teaching post, while maintaining her NAACP membership. However, in 1956, South Carolina made it illegal for public employees to belong to civil rights groups. Clark refused to renounce the NAACP and, as a result, lost her job.

Civil Rights Leader

Clark was next hired by Tennessee’s Highlander Folk School, an institution that supported integration and the Civil Rights Movement. She had previously participated in and led workshops there during breaks from school (Rosa Parks had attended one of her workshops in 1955).

Clark soon was directing Highlander’s Citizenship School program. These schools helped regular people learn how to instruct others in their communities in basic literacy and math skills. One particular benefit of this teaching was that more people were then able to register to vote (at the time, many states used literacy tests to disenfranchise African Americans).

In 1961, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference took over this education project. Clark then joined the SCLC as its director of education and teaching. Under her leadership, more than 800 citizenship schools were created.

Awards and Legacy

Clark retired from the SCLC in 1970. In 1979, Jimmy Carter honored her with a Living Legacy Award. She received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, in 1982. In 1987, Clark’s second autobiography, Ready from Within: Septima Clark and Civil Rights, won an American Book Award (her first autobiography, Echo in My Soul, had been published in 1962).

Clark was 89 when she died on Johns Island on December 15, 1987. Over her long career of teaching and civil rights activism, she helped many African Americans begin to take control of their lives and discover their full rights as citizens.

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Remembering the Harlem Hellfighters – Black History is American History

Lonnie G. Bunch III, Museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present a page from Our American Story, a regular online series for Museum supporters. It showcases individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story—our American story.

Remembering the Harlem Hellfighters

As the world prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I this November, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is shining a spotlight on the critical role played by the approximately 200,000 African Americans who served in Europe during the conflict, including roughly 42,000 of whom saw combat.

One of the most renowned units of African American combat troops was the highly decorated 369th Infantry Regiment—best known as the “Harlem Hellfighters”—heroes whose stories, until recently, had largely been forgotten.

Before setting out for Europe, the unit was refused permission to participate in the farewell parade of New York’s National Guard, known as the “Rainbow Division,” because “black is not a color in the rainbow.”

But after being assigned to fight under the 16th Division of the French Army—because many white American soldiers refused to serve with black soldiers—they quickly proved their bravery and combat skills.

The regiment was originally nicknamed the “Black Rattlers” for the rattlesnake insignia that adorned their uniforms, and they were called “Men of Bronze” by the French.

It is believed that their German foes were the first to dub them “Hellfighters” for their courage and ferocity.

World War I Croix de Guerre

World War I Croix de Guerre medal awarded to the 369th Infantry Regiment. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In one engagement two of the most celebrated members of the unit, Private Henry Johnson and Private Needham Roberts, fought off an entire German patrol despite being severely wounded and out of ammunition. After Roberts became incapacitated, Johnson ultimately resorted to using his bolo knife.

During the war, the Harlem Hellfighters spent more time in continuous combat than any other American unit of its size, with 191 days in the frontline trenches. They also suffered more losses than any other American regiment, with more than 1,400 total casualties.

The extraordinary valor of the Harlem Hellfighters earned them fame in Europe and America, as newspapers recounted their remarkable feats. After the war, the French government awarded the coveted Croix de Guerre medal to 171 members of the regiment, as well as a Croix de Guerre citation to the unit as a whole. Certain members of the Harlem Hellfighters received a Distinguished Service Cross and other awards from the U.S. government. In 2015, Johnson received a Medal of Honor.

The Harlem Hellfighters were the first New York combat unit to return home, and the regiment, which had been denied a place in the farewell parade the prior year, was rewarded with a victory parade.

Stereograph of homecoming parade for the Harlem Hellfighters, 1919. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

On February 17, 1919, New Yorkers of every race turned out in huge numbers to cheer as 3,000 Harlem Hellfighters proudly marched up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to the music of their renowned regimental jazz bandleader, James Reese Europe.

Unfortunately, their fame quickly faded, and for nearly 100 years the remarkable story of the Harlem Hellfighters was largely erased from America’s national consciousness.

With the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, however, the courage and service of African American patriots like the Harlem Hellfighters is once again being recognized and celebrated.

The Museum’s Double Victory: The African American Military Experience exhibition explores how the African Americans who served in the military since the American Revolution have not only defended our country but also helped to lead the fight for equality and justice for the greater African American community.

As a Museum supporter, you can be proud of the important role that you play in bringing African American history, such as the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, to life—educating and inspiring people across America and around the world!

All the best,
DD YE year end 1 signature
Lonnie G. Bunch III
Founding Director

P.S. The Harlem Hellfighters served with distinction and proved that African Americans could fight as bravely and as well as white soldiers. However, they returned home to a nation that still treated them as second-class citizens. For almost a century their extraordinary exploits were largely forgotten, until the Museum reestablished their heroism in our national story. Thank you for your support. I hope you will consider joining as a Member or making a donation today.

a sport not many focus on … Golf & Women of Colour – reminder – Black History


So, I’m flipping through my newest 2015 Essence from back to front because of the horoscope section and as I’m looking I see a section called “trending topics” reporting that the USTA just appointed former tennis player Katrina Adams, President, CEO and chairman of the board and the first African American to fill the role. So, more things have changed in the World of Sports in which women of colour historically have not dominated.  While flipping through my 2014 issue of Essence with various fashions it was became obvious that this is not just about fashion, though the title gave me that impression and had to share given the history. In fact, it is about a Woman named Renee Powell and some young Women who were introduced to her and who have chosen her as their mentor. Now, the surprise to most would be that these brightly fashionable women are people of colour and that the article is about golf or as they say, “One of America’s favourite pastimes.”  In fact my family lived just a few blocks away from a golf course and while golf wasn’t my choice the history of golf was well known in our house, including a couple of good along with the bad and the really ugly stories of racism. It is a sad day to know that the practice is still alive and well, though tiger woods did shatter the glass ceiling some. The art of discrimination is subtle these days, while the stories of’ the good ‘olé boys club were worse, golf is a work in progress. The article tells us about the ups and downs of Powell’s life and daily experiences as a young girl to becoming one of four African-American women qualifying for golf’s top pro-circuit … The LPGA Tour that included Althea Gibson, LaRee Pearl Sugg, Shasta Avery Hardt and Renee Powell. Their legacy on the links is gone into in depth. They list the youngest pro at 17, four others including the niece of tiger woods who also has a great story, but what is even more exciting is that after Powell retired she now owns her own golf club, is the golf pro. She also teaches and mentors a new generation of girls/women of colour who love the game and are willing to take it as far as they can. Golfing is not cheap, so, if you have an opportunity to donate to your area’s youth sports club or make time to teach train and expose kids of colour to golf … do it!

Oh and the article on Golf is in Essence and was written by Connie Aitcheson

and … it’s in  “Trending Topics”  the February issue of Essence