Tag Archives: politics

#IAMTROYDAVIS – Black History


NAACPTwo years ago, in the final hours of his life, I sat with Troy Davis and talked with him as we fought to stop his execution. He made me promise then that, no matter the outcome, the NAACP would remain resolute in the fight against the death penalty.
Dedicate your tears to healing this world and your prayers to ending the death penalty. America must do better than this. And your deeds and actions will help get us there.
Friends : We wage this critical fight in Troy’s name. Last year, our work led to Connecticut repealing the death penalty. This year, Maryland became the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to do the same. Those two states now join New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Illinois as the fifth and sixth states in six years to abolish the death penalty.
Troy Davis’ legacy serves as a reminder that our justice system will remain broken until the death penalty is abolished across the country. Today, our community is uniting to send a powerful message on the anniversary of Troy Davis’ execution, and we want you to be a part of it.
Tweet our message using the hashtag #IamTroyDavis to support ending capital punishment in America.
Or write a message of your own.
Our message is simple: We must bring an end to this immoral, biased, and ineffective practice and the inequalities that plague our justice system.
It is appalling that the barbaric practice of capital punishment still exists in the United States. Even more so when you consider how easily a man was condemned to die in the face of overwhelming evidence pointing to his innocence.
We’re making progress, Carmen.
We must keep this miscarriage of justice in the hearts and minds of the public if we are to continue moving forward. Help by sending a tweet using the hashtag #IamTroyDavis on today’s solemn anniversary:
http://action.naacp.org/i-am-troy

Thank you,
Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
NAACP
PS: Next week, join Troy’s family on the I Am Troy Davis book tour. Visit the NAACP website for more details.

Booker T. Washington and the ‘Atlanta Compromise’ – in memory


.
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
Booker T. Washington and
the ‘Atlanta Compromise’
In his 1900 autobiography, Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington wrote:“I had no schooling whatever while I was a slave, though I remember on several occasions I went as far as the schoolhouse door with one of my young mistresses to carry her books. The picture of several dozen boys and girls in a schoolroom engaged in study made a deep impression on me, and I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study in this way would be about the same as getting into paradise.”
The vision of that schoolroom and the idea that learning was “paradise” would provide lifelong inspiration for Washington. He is, perhaps, best remembered as the head of the world famous Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, founded in 1881, and known today as Tuskegee University.

Booker T Washington speeks at Carnegie Hall
Booker T. Washington holds a Carnegie
Hall audience spellbound during his
Tuskegee Institute Silver Anniversary
lecture, 1906. Mark Twain is seated just
behind Mr. Washington.
The New York Times photo archive.

His driving personality led a group of businessmen to ask if he would take the lead in creating the school. The Tuskegee Institute was the embodiment of Washington’s over-arching belief that African Americans should eschew political agitation for civil rights in favor of industrial education and agricultural expertise.

Washington believed that once it was apparent to whites that blacks would “contribute to the market place of the world,” and be content with living “by the production of our hands,” the barriers of racial inequality and social injustice would begin to erode. Those words were spoken on September 18, 1895 at the Cotton States and International Exposition held in Atlanta, Georgia, known as the Atlanta Exposition. Washington’s speech stressed accommodation rather than resistance to the segregated system under which African Americans lived. He renounced agitation and protest tactics, and urged blacks to subordinate demands for political and equal rights, and concentrate instead on improving job skills and usefulness through manual labor. “Cast down your buckets where you are,” he exhorted his fellow African Americans in the speech.

Throughout his adult life, Washington played a dominant role in the African American community and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of blacks, many of whom were born in slavery. He gained access to presidents, top national leaders in politics, philanthropy and education. President William McKinley visited the Tuskegee Institute and lauded Washington, promoting him as a black leader who would not be perceived as too “radical” to whites. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Washington to the White House. A picture was published of the occasion, which angered many whites who were offended by the idea of a Black American being entertained in the White House. Washington was never invited to the White House again, although Roosevelt continued to consult with him on racial issues.

Washington also associated with some of the richest and most powerful businessmen of the era. His contacts included such diverse and well-known industrialists as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Julius Rosenwald, enlisting their support to help raise funds to establish and operate thousands of small community schools and institutions of higher education for the betterment of African Americans throughout the South.

However, by the early 1900s, other African Americans, such as W.E.B. Du Bois and newspaper editor William Monroe Trotter, were becoming Booker T Washington & Teddy Rooseveltnational figures and speaking out about the lack of progress African Americans were making in

Booker T. Washington and President Theodore Roosevelt
at The Tuskegee Institute, 1905.
Yale Collection of American Literature,
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

American society. Du Bois, initially an ally of Washington’s, was particularly vocal about what he believed was Washington’s acceptance of black’s unchanging situation and began to refer to Washington’s Atlanta speech as the “Atlanta Compromise” — a label that remains to this day.

The criticism by Du Bois and others diminished Washington’s stature for some in the black community. They denounced his surrender of civil rights and his stressing of training in crafts, some obsolete, to the neglect of a liberal arts education. Washington’s public position of accommodation to segregation came in conflict with increasing calls from African Americans and liberal whites for more aggressive actions to end discrimination. Opposition centered in the Niagara Movement, founded in 1905, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an interracial organization established in 1909.

Yet there was another side to Washington. Although outwardly conciliatory, he secretly financed and encouraged lawsuits to block attempts to disfranchise and segregate African Americans. Since his death in 1915, historians have discovered voluminous private correspondence that shows that Washington’s apparent conservatism was only part of his strategy for uplifting his race.

Even in death, as in life, Washington continues to engender great debates as to his true legacy. He was a founder of Tuskegee Institute, building it into one of the premiere universities for African Americans at a time when few alternatives were available, and he raised considerable funds for hundreds of other schools in the South for blacks. Yet, his ‘Atlanta Compromise’ speech stressed the need for blacks to accept the status quo and focus on manual labor as a way to economic development. In contrast, Du Bois believed that the “object of all true education is not to make men carpenters; it is to make carpenters men.”

Washington’s position that “the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly,” stands in stark contradiction to his covert support of legal challenges to discrimination. It is difficult to calculate the negative impact that flowed from Washington’s unwillingness to speak out publically against lynching and other acts of violence against blacks at the time — even with his extraordinary access to presidents and other prominent whites in the nation.

These two giants — Washington and Du Bois — underscore the fact that there was not a single linear path to achieving racial equality in the nation. The struggle required African Americans to both battle and accommodate the realities of segregation and discrimination to help future generations more fully realize the promise of America.

All the best,
Lonnie Bunch, Director

Lonnie Bunch
Director

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.

Civil Rights Activist Rosa Parks


 

On This Day: February 4

Rosa Parks
Born: February 4, 1913
Died: October 24, 2005
Age: 92 years old
Birthplace: Tuskegee, AL, United States
Occupation: Activist

Early Life & Family

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. After her parents, James and Leona McCauley, separated when Rosa was two, Rosa’s mother moved the family to Pine Level, Alabama to live with her parents, Rose and Sylvester Edwards. Both were former slaves and strong advocates for racial equality; the family lived on the Edwards’ farm, where Rosa would spend her youth. In one experience, Rosa’s grandfather stood in front of their house with a shotgun while Ku Klux Klan members marched down the street.

Childhood and Education

Rosa Parks’ childhood brought her early experiences with racial discrimination and activism for racial equality. Taught to read by her mother at a young age, Rosa attended a segregated, one-room school in Pine Level, Alabama, that often lacked adequate school supplies such as desks. African-American students were forced to walk to the 1st- through 6th-grade schoolhouse, while the city of Pine Level provided bus transportation as well as a new school building for white students.

Through the rest of Rosa’s education, she attended segregated schools in Montgomery, including the city’s Industrial School for Girls (beginning at age 11). In 1929, while in the 11th grade and attending a laboratory school for secondary education led by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes, Rosa left school to attend to both her sick grandmother and mother back in Pine Level. She never returned to her studies; instead, she got a job at a shirt factory in Montgomery.

In 1932, at age 19, Rosa met and married Raymond Parks, a barber and an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. With Raymond’s support, Rosa earned her high school degree in 1933. She soon became actively involved in civil rights issues by joining the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, serving as the chapter’s youth leader as well as secretary to NAACP President E.D. Nixon — a post she held until 1957.

Life After the Bus Boycott

Although she had become a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks suffered hardship in the months following her arrest in Montgomery and the subsequent boycott. She lost her department store job and her husband was fired after his boss forbade him to talk about his wife or their legal case. Unable to find work, they eventually left Montgomery; the couple, along with Rosa’s mother, moved to Detroit, Michigan. There, Rosa made a new life for herself, working as a secretary and receptionist in U.S. Representative John Conyer’s congressional office. She also served on the board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

biography.com

Freddie Stowers ~ Honor and recognition Long Overdue – 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

Grave of Cpl Freddie Stowers
Grave of CPL Freddie Stowers
at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery
in France.

Freddie Stowers, the grandson of a South Carolina slave, holds a unique spot in America’s pantheon of war heroes — as the only African American awarded the Medal of Honor for service in World War I. Stowers’ story, however, must be told in two parts.

The first part of the story is his act of heroism in 1918; the second part is that it took more than 72 years before Stowers finally received the recognition he was due.

The United States was the last major combatant to enter World War I, the “war to end all wars.” The conflict began in Europe in 1914, but in the U.S., isolationist sentiments were strong resulting in a foreign policy of non-intervention. However, in April 1917, after a German U-boat sank the British ship Lusitania, killing 128 Americans on board, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. Three months later, on July 3, 1917, American troops landed in France.

Corporal Freddie Stowers came to France as part of the all-black Company C, 371st Regiment, 93rd Division that deployed in September, 1918. His service in France was short but courageous and memorable.

More than 50 years after the Civil War, America’s military was still segregated. The French, however, had no such rules, and Stowers and Company C were sent to the front lines to serve alongside French troops.

On September 28, just days after arriving in France, Stowers’ company was in the midst of an attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, when enemy forces appeared to be giving up.

According to the War Department, German soldiers emerged from their trenches waving a white flag, arms in the air — military actions that signal surrender. It was a ruse, however. As Americans, including Cpl. Stowers, went to capture the “surrendering” Germans, another wave of the enemy arose and opened fire.

Very quickly, Company C’s lieutenant and non-commissioned officers were killed in the fight. This left the 21-year-old Stowers in command. Without hesitation, he implored his men to advance on the Germans.

Stowers would be mortally shot during the exchange. Wounded and dying, Stowers continued to fight on, inspiring his men to push the enemy back. With Stowers leading the counter-attack, Americans took out an enemy machine gun position and went on to capture Hill 188.

Following the battle, Stowers’ commanding officer nominated him for the Medal of Honor, but the nomination was never processed. The Pentagon said the paperwork was misplaced. Some raise the possibility that the nomination wasn’t misplaced at all, but deliberately lost. They point to the fact that American troops were segregated and suggest that racial bias in the military might be the reason for Stowers’ missing paperwork.

The final part of Freddie Stowers’ story begins in 1990. As the Department of Defense began to modernize its data systems, it ordered a review of all battlefield medal nominations. When Stowers’ recommendation was found, the Pentagon quickly took action to give the corporal the long overdue recognition and honor he deserved.

Freddie Stowers MOH Ceremony in 1991.
After the posthumous presentation of the Medal of Honor
to the sisters of Corporal (CPL) Freddie Stowers by
President George H. W. Bush, Mrs. Barbara Bush and
Mary Bowens admire the Medal of Honor certificate.
Ms Bowens is CPL Stowers’ sister. His other sister
Georgina Palmer (far left) looks on. CPL Stowers is the
only Black American to receive the Medal for action during
World War I. Photo: Robert Ward, DOD PA, April 4, 1991.

On April 24, 1991, more than 72 years after Stowers made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation, his sisters Georgiana Palmer and Mary Bowens, 88- and 77-years-old at the time, were presented his Medal of Honor by President George H. W. Bush.

Long before Stowers was honored by his nation, he, along with other members of Company C, received recognition from the French government: “For extraordinary heroism under fire.” Stowers and his unit received the Croix de Guerre – the French War Cross — the highest military medal France awards to allied soldiers.

Prior to World War I, 49 African Americans had been awarded the Medal of Honor, including 25 men who fought for the Union in the Civil War. There were 119 Medals of Honor recipients in World War I, with Stowers being the only African American. His long overdue recognition in 1991 is a small but important sign of the progress we as a nation have made.

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.

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.