Tag Archives: Ethnicity

A Picture Worth a Thousand More …Lonnie G. Bunch at The NMAAHC- Black History


a repost … 2011

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

Few things date history as readily as fashion. The caveat “that was the fashion of the times” can be applied to everything from bustles and corsets to micro-mini skirts and polyester pants suits — fashions at the turn of the twentieth century and styles created during the 1960s-’70s.

While designs have changed over the years, one thing remained the same: from department store catalogs to high-end fashion magazines, the models dressed in the latest fashions were white.

So it was a major event when Katiti Kironde appeared in the August 1968 issue of Glamour College, the first African American to appear on a American fashion magazine’s cover. Six years later, in August 1974, Beverly Johnson became the first African American woman featured on the cover of Vogue magazine — the industry’s supreme publication. It was another landmark.

Like virtually everything else on the path to equal opportunity for African Americans, progress was slow and came in steps, not leaps. So when an African American woman first appeared in one of the fashion industry’s premier magazines, it was not on a cover or with a huge, multi-page layout.

Instead, seven years before Kironde’s Glamour cover, a coed at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Willette Murphy, quietly appeared on the pages of the August 1961 issue of another hugely popular magazine, Mademoiselle.

Murphy, now Willette Klausner, was pictured wearing a simple skirt, top and jacket, and walking on the UCLA campus. Initially, she viewed the moment as “just another thing I’d done.”

Far from it: Willette Murphy’s appearance in the magazine was not merely “just another thing.” Her Mademoiselle photograph was groundbreaking. Yet, Murphy was unaware of her place in history, until a New York Times’ reporter contacted her family. “I guess my sister found out when the New York Times called my parents,” Klausner said in a published interview.

Her family was used to Willette achieving things African Americans rarely experienced at that time — she was UCLA’s first black senior class president, for example — but the call from the Times made the family realize that their daughter had made history.

For decades, in high powered fashion magazines like Vogue, Glamour and Mademoiselle, to the Sears and Roebuck and other mail order catalogs, to models walking runways in Paris and New York, the face of fashion had been white.

Images of African Americans were scarce even in popular, mainstream American magazines. Many white Americans were shocked when Dorothy Dandridge became the first African American female to appear on the cover of LIFE in November, 1954. It would be nearly four years later before another black American, boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, would find his way onto that magazine’s front page. Another African American female celebrity would not grace LIFE’s cover again until the December 8, 1967 issue which featured Pearl Bailey.

Imagine growing up black and female and seeing dress after dress, swimsuit after swimsuit, shoe after shoe — all pictured only on white women. Along with every other message sent to African Americans, this underscored the sense that African Americans were, to a great degree, nonexistent — even when it came to buying clothes.

Today fashion marketers, like marketers from every other industry, recognize that the face of America is as diverse as its people. They also recognize that African Americans’ buying power was estimated at $913 billion in 2009. A University of Georgia economics study projects that figure will rise to $1.2 trillion in 2013 — nearly 9% of the country’s estimated purchasing strength.

Today the power of the African American pocketbook is reflected on the covers of countless magazines — fashion, entertainment, and political publications which routinely feature black models, entertainers, authors, politicians and more.

Willette Murphy Klausner
Photo Courtesy of Ms. Klausner

Today, it is no longer shocking to walk into a supermarket and find an African American on a magazine cover. In March 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on the cover of Vogue, only the second first lady to do so. In recent years Vogue has seen a number of black women grace its cover.

Sometimes history is made in giant leaps. More often, however, it is made in smaller, sometimes unexpected steps. Willette Murphy Klausner would become the first black merchandising executive at Bloomingdale’s, later the first female corporate vice president at MCA Universal Studios and, together with Julia Child and Robert Mondavi, the co-founder of the American Institute of Wine and Food in 1981. Today, she is a successful theater producer.

It is her photo in Mademoiselle that we celebrate today. A picture that would launch thousands more.

Lonnie Bunch, Director

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.

An Indomitable Spirit — Autherine Lucy ~ History


NMAAHCLonnie 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

The University of Alabama was founded in 1831. For the next 121 years, the school’s unwritten “whites only” policy went unchallenged.

That began to change when on September 4, 1952 a pair of young women, Autherine Lucy and Pollie Anne Myers, would begin a long, arduous battle to end segregation at the University of Alabama.

Lucy and Myers met at Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, where Lucy was earning her bachelor’s degree in English. Following their graduation from Miles College, Myers suggested the young women apply to Alabama for graduate school. “I thought she was joking at first, I really did,” Lucy told writer E. Culpepper Clark, author of The Schoolhouse Door, chronicling the fight to desegregate the University of Alabama. Myers wasn’t kidding.

Autherine Lucy with Thurgood Marshall and Roy Wilkinson
Roy Wilkins in a press conference with
Autherine Lucy and Thurgood Marshall,
director
and special counsel for NAACP
Legal Defense
and Education Fund.
March 2, 1956. Library of Congress Prints and
Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

The pair sent inquiry letters to the university on September 4, 1952, and on September 13, just nine days later, they each received a letter welcoming them to Alabama.

On September 19, when Lucy and Myers submitted applications that indicated their race, admissions officials quickly changed their minds. The next day, September 20, 1952, the Dean of Admissions told the women a mistake had been made and the pair was turned away.

As news of Alabama’s actions spread throughout the black community, Arthur Shores and Thurgood Marshall, two of the most prominent African American civil rights lawyers in the nation, immediately went to work on behalf of Lucy and Myers. Shores first wrote to the university president, John Gallalee, and asked for the women to be reinstated. Gallalee refused.

So, as September 1952 came to an end, Marshall and Shores launched what would become a three-year legal effort — Lucy and Myers vs. University of Alabama.

However, a year before the Lucy and Myers court hearing, one of the most significant events in American history took place. On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in the case of Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka. The Court unanimously declared segregation illegal. The policy of “separate but equal” was cast aside.

On June 28, 1955, just 13 months after the Brown decision, U.S. District Judge Harlan Grooms heard Myers and Lucy’s case against the University of Alabama. He listened to arguments from both sides that day; 24 hours later, Grooms ruled in favor of the young women.

Finally, three years after Autherine Lucy and Pollie Anne Myers had been denied admission into the university, there appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the pair. That was far from the case.

Hoping to discredit the young women, Alabama had hired private investigators to dig into their backgrounds. Shortly after Groom’s ruling the school discovered that Myers had been pregnant and unwed at the time she applied. A violation of the school’s moral codes, Myers was disqualified from admission.

Now Lucy faced walking onto the all-white campus alone. Grudgingly admitted into the school — she was denied dining and dormitory privileges — Lucy stepped onto the campus on February 3, 1956, nearly four years after she had been turned away.

There were no incidents during her first two days of classes. However, that changed on Monday, February 6. Students mobbed her, initially shouting hate-filled epithets. Lucy had to be driven by university officials to her next class at the Education Library building, all the while being bombarded with rotten eggs.

Once there, Lucy locked herself in a room and prayed, she said later, for strength, fearing she was going to die at the hands of the throng. Finally Denny Chimes arrived to take her home. The mob quickly turned on him. With the horde distracted, Lucy was secreted to a patrol car and taken safely away from the campus. Later that night, the university’s Board of Trustees voted to remove Lucy, claiming it was for her own protection.

The event made news worldwide. It was largely felt that local police had simply let the mob rampage. Attorneys Shores and Marshall filed a complaint saying the university had been complicit in permitting the crowd to intimidate and threaten Lucy. The complaint was a tactical mistake.

Unable to demonstrate the school played a role in the mob action, Marshall and Shores withdrew the complaint but not before it had gone public. That allowed the university to accuse Lucy of defaming the school and its administration. This was legal grounds for her expulsion. For all intents and purposes, Alabama had won.

While Lucy felt defeated, Marshall, who would become the first African American Supreme Court Justice in 1967, thought differently. In a letter to Lucy he said:

“Whatever happens in the future, remember for all concerned, that your contribution has been made toward equal justice for all Americans and that you have done everything in your power to bring this about.”

Seven years later, Lucy’s battle for equal justice finally bore fruit. In June 1963, Vivian Malone and James Hood became the first African Americans to enroll and become full-time students of the University of Alabama. Malone, who entered as a junior, received her bachelor’s degree in Business Management in 1965.

Thirty-two years after Autherine Lucy was expelled from Alabama she was asked to return and talk to a history class at the university. Shortly afterward, a pair of faculty members implored the university to reverse Lucy’s expulsion. Alabama did just that, sending Lucy a letter in April 1988 inviting her to return.

In 1989, Lucy returned to the university to begin her master’s degree in elementary education — the same year her daughter Grazia started her undergraduate studies. In 1992, mother and daughter attended commencement together to receive their degrees. Autherine Lucy was given a standing ovation when she walked across the stage.

Today a $25,000 endowed scholarship at Alabama bears Autherine Lucy’s name. When her portrait was installed at the university in 1992, it was evident her courage and sense of justice had helped change American society.

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.

Black History Month …a repost


by on Feb 9, 2012 still rings true

African American History Month honors the rich legacy of African Americans throughout our nation’s history. This year’s theme recognizes the unique contributions of African American women. February 9, 2012.

Celebrate black history all year round ~~ repost


naacp

Black History Month may be over, but, we can celebrate the stories that make up our history throughout the year.
We are making history every day thanks to the men and women who serve our communities all over the country, fighting for justice and equality.
The NAACP’s commitment to those who move black history forward has been unbroken for more than a century. Let’s continue that commitment together. Become a member of the NAACP. Support our work and join us in making new stories—American stories.

Join today!Every time a new voter is registered, or we march in unison to a state capitol, lifting our voices for those who can’t, or fight to end a “Stand Your Ground” law, we are creating black history—American history. Not every hero is as well known as W. E. B. DuBois, Harriet Tubman, or Rosa Parks, but this in no way diminishes the measure of these accomplishments and contributions.
NAACP members stand behind these champions by fighting for the things that matter to all of us. When we work to ensure every person has the right to vote, when we demand an end to racial profiling, when we help to ensure folks have access to health insurance, when we fight for better education and an end to economic inequality, it amplifies the work being done by our unsung heroes every day. We all know that black history is more than one month of note—we stand tall throughout the year. Stand with us. Join us in making history. Become an NAACP member today:

http://action.naacp.org/history-year-round
Thank you for making history with us,
Lorraine C. Miller Interim President and CEO

FDR had something to say about voting


votingFranklin D. Roosevelt once said

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”