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Maya Angelou … Shine On


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Author, Poet, Mom, Singer, Dancer, Actor,  Activist

Maya Angelou is an American author and poet. She has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning… wikipedia.org

Selma ~ In Memory of ~ 55 years ago


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  March on Selma

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 marches in Selma, Alabama — a moment in American history that is layered with bravery, fear, hope, hatred, violence, perseverance, and triumph.

In many ways, Selma is the quintessential American story of people banding together against all odds to stand up for the promise of freedom and fairness. It is a story that deserves to be told, explored and understood by every American in this country.
Whether we realize it or not, every one of us was touched by this courageous moment that is often considered the emotional and political peak of the Civil Rights Movement.

It is because of events like the Selma marches … and the entire Civil Rights Movement … that makes the completing of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall so important.

The construction of the Museum is more than halfway complete. But to ensure we can open the Museum’s doors in early fall of next year as scheduled requires additional support from those of us who understand the importance of building this place of remembrance, celebration and reconciliation. Please help keep us on track with a donation of $ 25 or more today.

When I think of African American history, I often think of Selma, Alabama and the Civil Rights crusaders who made the historic marches and all of the African-American heroes, famous and not famous, and the white supporters who came together to push freedom forward.

I’m thinking of people like Amelia Boynton who was beaten, tear-gassed, and left for dead during the Bloody Sunday March. Ms. Boynton lived to tell her story and she is now 103 years old. But it is up to people like you and me to build our Museum to make sure her brave story lives on forever.

That is why the Museum embarked on the very important task of interviewing people who were foot soldiers in the Civil Rights Movement, to give them the chance to tell their stories and have them preserved and shared in ways that resonate with people from all backgrounds.

So as we spend this month commemorating the heroes who courageously marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, please take your celebration one step further by making a special contribution of $ 25 or more to the Museum that will forever share this important history with the world.

On behalf of the entire Museum, thank you again for your leadership and support.
All the best,

Lonnie_Signature.jpg
Lonnie G. Bunch
Founding Director

African Americans in Full Color – in memory of Black History


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.

The Only African American Automobile Company! ~~ Lonnie G. Bunch at The NMAAHC- in memory of Black History


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
At the dawn of the Automobile Age in the early 20th century, hundreds of small auto companies sprouted up across America as entrepreneurs recognized that society was transitioning from horse-drawn carriages to transportation powered by the internal combustion engine. Some of these early companies grew to become giants that are still with us today, such as Ford and Chevrolet. Many others remained small, struggling to compete against the assembly lines of the larger manufacturers.One such company was C.R. Patterson & Sons of Greenfield, Ohio, makers of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile from 1915 to 1918. Though its name is little recognized today, there is in fact a very important reason to ensure that it is not lost to history: it was, and remains to this day,the only African American owned and operated automobile company.

Frederick Patterson with a prototype of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile.

Charles Richard Patterson was born into slavery on a Virginia plantation in 1833. Not much is known about his life on the plantation, and historians have to sift through conflicting reports about how he came to settle in Greenfield, Ohio, a town with strong abolitionist sympathies. Some say his family arrived in the 1840s, possibly after purchasing their freedom; others suggest Patterson alone escaped in 1861. In any case, he learned the skills of the blacksmith and found work in the carriage-making trade, where he developed a reputation for building a high quality product. In 1873, he formed a business partnership with another carriage maker in town, J.P. Lowe, who was white, and eventually became sole proprietor of the renamed C.R. Patterson & Sons in 1893. It was a successful business employing an integrated workforce of 35-50 by the turn of the century, and Charles Patterson became a prominent and respected citizen in Greenfield. His catalog listed some 28 models, from simple open buggies to larger and more expensive closed carriages for doctors and other professionals.

When Patterson died in 1910, the business passed to his son Frederick, who was already something of a pioneer. He was college-educated and was the first black athlete to play football for Ohio State University. He was also an early member and vice president of the National Negro Business League founded by Booker T. Washington. Now, as owner and operator of the enterprise his father started, Frederick Patterson began to see the handwriting on the wall: the days of carriages and horse-drawn buggies were nearing an end.

Early advertisement for the Patterson-Greenfield automobile. At first, the company offered repair and restoration services for the “horseless carriages” that were beginning to proliferate on the streets of Greenfield. No doubt this gave workers the opportunity to gain some hands-on knowledge about these noisy, smoky and often unreliable contraptions. Like his father, Frederick was a strong believer in advertising and placed his first ad for auto repair services in the local paper in 1913. Initially, the work mostly involved repainting bodies and reupholstering interiors, but as the shop gained more experience with engines and drivetrains, they began to offer sophisticated upgrades and improvements to electrical and mechanical systems as well.

This valuable experience allowed C.R. Patterson & Sons to take the next great step in its own story as well as in African American history: in 1915, it announced the availability of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile at a price of $685. From the company’s publicity efforts, it is evident they were bursting with pride:

“Our car is made with three distinct purposes in mind. First — It is not intended for a large car. It is designed to take the place originally held by the family surrey. It is a 5-passenger vehicle, ample and luxurious. Second — It is intended to meet the requirements of that class of users, who, though perfectly able to spend twice the amount, yet feel that a machine should not engross a disproportionate share of expenditure, and especially it should not do so to the exclusion of proper provisions for home and home comfort, and the travel of varied other pleasurable and beneficial entertainment. It is a sensibly priced car. Third — It is intended to carry with it (and it does so to perfection) every conceivable convenience and every luxury known to car manufacture. There is absolutely nothing shoddy about it. Nothing skimp and stingy.”

A child leans out of a 1917 Patterson-Greenfield roadster. Orders began to come in, and C.R. Patterson & Sons officially entered the ranks of American auto manufacturers. Over the years, several models of coupes and sedans were offered, including a stylish “Red Devil” speedster. Ads featured the car’s 30hp Continental 4-cylinder engine, full floating rear axle, cantilever springs, electric starting and lighting, and a split windshield for ventilation. The build quality of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile was as highly regarded as it had been with their carriages.

The initial hope and optimism, however, proved to be fairly short-lived. In an age of increased mechanization and production lines, small independent shops featuring hand-built, high quality products weren’t able to scale up production or compete on price against the rapidly growing car companies out of Detroit. In small quantities, parts and supplies were expensive and hard to come by when major manufacturers were buying them by the trainload at greatly reduced costs. Plus, the labor hours per car were much higher than that of assembly line manufacturers. As a result, the profit margin on each Patterson-Greenfield was low.

A Patterson-Greenfield bus printed with the words 'Greenfield School District'. In 1918, having built by some estimates between 30 and 150 vehicles, C.R. Patterson & Sons halted auto production and concentrated once again on the repair side of the business. But they weren’t done yet. In the 1920s, the company began building truck and bus bodies to be fitted on chassis made by other manufacturers. It was in a sense a return to their original skills in building carriage bodies without engines and drivetrains and, for a period of time, the company was quite profitable. Then in 1929, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression set in. As with many small businesses, sales dried up and loans were hard to obtain. The company, now run by the sons of Frederick Patterson, soldiered on until 1939 when, after 74 years, C.R. Patterson & Sons closed its doors forever.

Sadly, no Patterson-Greenfield automobiles are known to survive today. But we should not let that dim the fact that two great entrepreneurs, Charles Richard Patterson and his son Frederick Patterson built and sustained a business that lasted several generations and earned a place not just in African American history, but in automotive history as well.

 Portrait of Lonnie Bunch All the best,
Signed by Lonnie Bunch
Lonnie Bunch
Director

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest member of the Smithsonian Institution’s family of extraordinary museums. The museum will be far more than a collection of objects. The Museum will be a powerful, positive force in the national discussion about race and the important role African Americans have played in the American story — a museum that will make all Americans proud.

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.

reminder of What most People Do NOT want … Why Black folks Should Be Outraged at Arizona’s Immigration Law ~ remember 5/2010 ?


If you’re black and think that state’s new immigration law has nothing to do with you, think again.
By: Joel Dreyfuss

A law that makes people suspects on the basis of their looks should outrage African Americans, even if they are worried about illegal immigration.

The immigration law passed in Arizona last week is the kind of reckless act that keeps us minorities paranoid in America. The new law compels local law enforcers to verify immigration status based on “reasonable suspicion”–whatever that is–and has created the potential for cops to stop brown people in the streets and demand to see their papers. Even the sheriff of Pima County, Ariz., (which borders Mexico) says the law is “stupid,” “racist,” and would force his officers to racially profile people. The scope of the law was narrowed after its passage in order to assure Hispanics, who make up 30 percent of the state’s population, that they would not be the victims of racial profiling.

But those assurances that people won’t be suspects because of the way they look have little credibility when the experience of black and brown people in America has been so contrary to those promises. Being stopped for Driving While Black (or Brown) is such a common phenomenon that comedians make jokes about it. And a city like New York, which operates a massive stop-and-frisk policy that probably violates a dozen constitutional principles, keeps trying to explain why black and brown citizens make up 80 to 90 percent of those questioned by police. The latest rationale: They fit the description of suspected perps when 98 percent of those stopped and questioned are innocent of any crime.

The reason people of color get worked up about such policies is America’s nasty habit of making everything racial in a panic. We have a long history of lynchings and runaway convictions that were triggered by fears that black people were getting out of hand in some fashion, whether it was interracial sex or talking back to massa. The roundup of Japanese Americans during World War II will forever stain this country’s history.

After 9/11, looking Arab or simply wearing a turban, whether you are Muslim or not, turned out to be a grave danger in some parts of the country and a constant annoyance in others. No Muslim American believes that the frequent “random” checks they endured at airports in the months after the tragedy were really a matter of chance. And last week, the front page of the Boston Herald illustrated a cover story about the crackdown on benefits for illegal immigrants with a photo of black, Hispanic and Asian models, their foreheads stamped with the following: “No Tuition, No Welfare, No Medicaid.” Ironically, the headline at above the newspaper’s logo announced a “workplace diversity job fair.”

Of course, the concept of white or blonde illegal aliens is apparently beyond the capacity of the people passing the laws or the editors at the Herald. But nearly 600,000 of those in the United States illegally were estimated to come from Europe or Canada in 2005; and while I knew many Irish, English and other Europeans who had overstayed their visas when I was growing up in New York, I never heard of a raid of an Irish bar, except when ATF or the FBI were trying to trap Irish Republican Army gun runners during the “troubles.”

Now Arizona, better known for resorts, retirees in golf carts, and college basketball teams whose players never graduate, is suddenly at the center of a debate that could shape U.S. politics for the next 10 years. The only surprise is that it took so long. All the great economies have been struggling with the immigration issue for years. Just last week, France was in tizzy about the burqa, the full-length outfit with only an eye-slit that conservative Muslim women wear. Nicolas Sarkozy’s government has considered banning the burqa on security grounds (you can’t identify the person), but the real reason behind this initiative, Arizona’s or any of the dozen being considered in other states or countries is fear of change.

No doubt, the Great Recession of the last three years has heightened American insecurity. Although the downturn has hit blue-collar workers the hardest, many people who thought they were solidly in the middle class have seen their savings, their safety net, even their homes evaporate in the financial collapse. The next step for many of them would be to step “down” into the blue-collar workforce. Suddenly, the Mexican, Salvadorian and African immigrants they hardly noticed during boom times are now potential competitors.

African Americans, who lost more than their fair share of blue-collar jobs in the downturn, have long been ambiguous about illegal immigration. As Cord Jefferson noted here a few months ago, a growing number of experts believe that blacks and Hispanic immigrants battle for unskilled jobs at the bottom of the labor pool. Black Americans have not turned out in large numbers at immigration rallies, despite the fact that many African-American politicians talk of the need for coalitions with Hispanics.

But a law that puts you in jeopardy for being has special resonance with black Americans. We already know the peril of living in a state where you are presumed guilty by the color of your skin. A law that makes a suspect of anyone who might look illegal should make us vigorously resist this encroachment.

Joel Dreyfuss is managing editor of The Root. Follow him on Twitter

first posted in 5/2010 …