Day 27: Autherine Juanita Lucy #BlackHistoryMonth

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Autherine Juanita Lucy was the first black student to attend the University of Alabama, in 1956.

She was born on October 5, 1929 in Shiloh, Alabama and graduated from Linden Academy in 1947.

She went on to attend Selma University in Selma, and the all-black Miles College in Fairfield – where she graduated with a BA in English in 1952.

Later in 1952, at the encouragement of and along with a Miles classmate, Pollie Ann Myers, she decided to attend the University of Alabama as a graduate student but, knowing that admission would be difficult due to the University’s admission policies, she and Myers approached the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for help. Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, and Arthur Shores were assigned to be their attorneys. While they started preparing her case, she worked as a secretary. Court action began in July 1953.

On June 29, 1955, the NAACP secured a court order preventing the University from rejecting the admission applications of Lucy and her friend based upon their race. Days later, the court amended the order to apply to all other African-American students seeking admission. The Supreme Court upheld this in Lucy v. Adams on October 10, 1955. On the very eve of the day Lucy and her friend (who had married to become Pollie Myers Hudson) were to register, the University Board of Trustees rejected Hudson on the grounds of her “conduct and marital record”, but reluctantly allowed Lucy to register. However, she was barred from all dormitories and dining halls. At least two sources have said that the board hoped that without Hudson, the more outgoing and assured of the pair and whose idea it originally was to enroll at Alabama, Lucy’s own acceptance would mean little or nothing to her, and she would voluntarily choose not to attend. But Hudson and others strongly encouraged her, and on February 3, 1956, Lucy enrolled as a graduate student in library science, becoming the first African American ever admitted to a white public school or university in the state.

On the third day of classes, a hostile mob assembled to prevent Lucy attending classes. The police were called to secure her admission but, that evening, the University suspended Lucy on the grounds that it could not provide a safe environment. Lucy and her attorneys filed suit against the University to have the suspension overturned. However, this suit was not successful and was used as a justification for her permanent expulsion. University officials claimed that Lucy had slandered the university and they could not have her as a student.

The University of Alabama finally overturned her expulsion in 1980, and in 1992, she earned her Masters degree in Elementary Education from the University that she had applied to decades earlier. In a complete reversal of spirit from when she was first admitted there, the university named an endowed scholarship in her honour and unveiled a portrait of her in the student union overlooking the most trafficked spot on campus. The inscription reads “Her initiative and courage won the right for students of all races to attend the University.”

She is a sister of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority.

Day 26: Barbara Charline Jordan #BlackHistoryMonth

20140226-181610.jpg Barbara Charline Jordan (February 21, 1936 – January 17, 1996) was an American politician and a leader of the Civil Rights movement. She was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives, and the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous other honors. On her death, she became the first African-American woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
Jordan taught political science at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for a year. In 1960, she returned to Houston, passed the bar and started a private law practice.

Jordan campaigned unsuccessfully in 1962 and 1964 for the Texas House of Representatives. Her persistence won her a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body. Re-elected to a full term in the Texas Senate in 1968, she served until 1972. She was the first African-American female to serve as president pro tem of the state senate and served one day, June 10, 1972, as acting governor of Texas.
In 1972, she was elected to Congress, the first woman to represent Texas in the House in her own right. She received extensive support from former President Lyndon B. Johnson, who helped her secure a position on the House Judiciary Committee. In 1974, she made an influential, televised speech before the House Judiciary Committee supporting the process of impeachment of Richard Nixon, Johnson’s successor as President. In 1975, she was appointed by Carl Albert, then Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

In 1976, Jordan, mentioned as a possible running mate to Jimmy Carter of Georgia, became instead the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Her speech in New York that summer was ranked 5th in “Top 100 American Speeches of the 20th century” list and was considered by some historians to have been among the best convention keynote speeches in modern history. Despite not being a candidate, Jordan received one delegate vote (0.03%) for President at the Convention.

Jordan retired from politics in 1979 and became an adjunct professor teaching ethics at the University of Texas at Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. She again was a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 1992.
In 1994 and until her death in 1996, Jordan chaired the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, which advocated increased restriction of immigration, called for all U.S. residents to carry a national identity card and increased penalties on employers that violated U.S. immigration regulations. Then-President Clinton endorsed the Jordan Commission’s proposals. While she was Chair of the US Commission on Immigration Reform she argued that

“it is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest.”

Day 25: Wendell Phillips #BlackHistoryMonth

20140225-200722.jpg Wendell Phillips, (born November 29, 1811, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.—died February 2, 1884, Boston), abolitionist crusader whose oratorical eloquence helped fire the antislavery cause during the period leading up to the American Civil War.

After opening a law office in Boston, Phillips, a wealthy Harvard Law School graduate, sacrificed social status and a prospective political career in order to join the antislavery movement. He became a close associate of the abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison and began lecturing for antislavery societies, writing pamphlets and editorials for Garrison’s The Liberator, and contributing financially to the abolition movement.
He joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and frequently made speeches at its meetings. So highly regarded were his oratorical abilities that he was known as “abolition’s Golden Trumpet”. Like many of his fellow abolitionists who honored the free produce movement, Phillips took pains to avoid cane sugar and wear no clothing made of cotton, since both were produced by the labor of Southern slaves.
It was Phillips’s contention that racial injustice was the source of all of society’s ills. Like Garrison, Phillips denounced the Constitution for tolerating slavery. He disagreed with the argument of abolitionist Lysander Spooner that slavery was unconstitutional, and more generally disputed Spooner’s notion that any unjust law should be held legally void by judges.

In 1845, in an essay titled “No Union With Slaveholders”, he argued for disunion:

The experience of the fifty years … shows us the slaves trebling in numbers — slaveholders monopolizing the offices and dictating the policy of the Government — prostituting the strength and influence of the Nation to the support of slavery here and elsewhere – trampling on the rights of the free States, and making the courts of the country their tools. To continue this disastrous alliance longer is madness. The trial of fifty years only proves that it is impossible for free and slave States to unite on any terms, without all becoming partners in the guilt and responsible for the sin of slavery. Why prolong the experiment? Let every honest man join in the outcry of the American Anti-Slavery Society. (Quoted in Ruchames, The Abolitionists pg. 196)

Day 24: Andrew Jackson Young #BlackHistoryMonth

20140224-165417.jpg Andrew Jackson Young (born March 12, 1932) is an American politician, diplomat, activist and pastor from Georgia. He has served as a Congressman from Georgia’s 5th congressional district, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and Mayor of Atlanta. He served as President of the National Council of Churches USA, was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and was a supporter and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Since leaving political office in 1989, Young has founded or served in a large number of organizations founded on public policy, political lobbying and international relations, with a special focus on Africa.

In 1970, Andrew Young ran as a Democrat for Congress from Georgia, but was unsuccessful. After his defeat, Rev. Fred C. Bennette, Jr., introduced him to Murray M. Silver, an Atlanta attorney, who served as his campaign finance chairman. Young ran again in 1972 and won. He became the first African American since Reconstruction to be elected to Congress from Georgia. Young’s election was momentous: he and Barbara Jordan, a Democrat who was also elected to the House (from Texas) in 1972, became two of the first black southerners in Congress in the twentieth century.Young later was re-elected in 1974 and in 1976. During his four-plus years in Congress, he was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and was involved in several debates regarding foreign relations, including the decision to stop supporting the Portuguese attempts to hold on to their colonies in southern Africa. Young also sat on the powerful Rules Committee and the Banking and Urban Development Committee. Young opposed the Vietnam War, helped enact legislation that established the U.S. Institute for Peace, established the Chattahoochee River National Park and negotiated federal funds for MARTA and the Atlanta Highways.
In 1981, after being urged by a number of people, including Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., Young ran for mayor of Atlanta. He was elected later that year with 55% of the vote, succeeding Maynard Jackson. As mayor of Atlanta, he brought in $70 billion of new private investment. He continued and expanded Maynard Jackson’s programs for including minority and female-owned businesses in all city contracts. The Mayor’s Task Force on Education established the Dream Jamboree College Fair that tripled the college scholarships given to Atlanta public school graduates. In 1985, he was involved in renovating the Atlanta Zoo, which was renamed Zoo Atlanta. Young was re-elected as Mayor in 1985 with more than 80% of the vote. Atlanta hosted the 1988 Democratic National Convention during Young’s tenure. He was prohibited by term limits from running for a third term. According to a DNA analysis performed by African Ancestry Inc., he is descended partially from people of Sierra Leone.

Day 23: Sherman Maxwell #BlackHistoryMonth

20140223-101844.jpgSherman Leander Maxwell (December 18, 1907 – July 16, 2008) was an American sportscaster and chronicler of the Negro league baseball league. Many[who?] believe that Maxwell was the first African American sports broadcaster in history. He was known by the nickname of Jocko. Despite his many firsts, Maxwell was rarely paid for his by the radio stations he worked for during his career.
Sherman Maxwell was born on December 18, 1907 in Newark, New Jersey, where he resided for most of his life. He received his nickname of “Jocko” when he was a teenager. Maxwell climbed a tree while watching baseball in an attempt to catch a flyball when someone yelled, “Hey, look at Jocko!” Jocko The Monkey was the name of a popular performer in 1920s era films and the name stuck. He graduated from Central High School in Newark, though he was such a fan of baseball that he intentionally failed high school final exams so he could remain at the school for one more year in order to play high school baseball.

He later served in the United States Army in Europe during World War II.

Maxwell reportedly began his broadcasting career in 1929 at the age of 22 when he began doing a five-minute weekly sports report on WNJR, a radio station based in Newark. Maxwell later became the public address sports announcer at Ruppert Stadium for the Negro leagues team the Newark Eagles. He initially announced for games only on Sundays. Maxwell continued broadcasting for both games and radio stations until 1967.

Maxwell also founded and mananged the Newark Starlings, a mixed race, semi-professional baseball team. He also became a contributing writer to Baseball Digest, where he wrote about subjects ranging from the integration of baseball to Jackie Robinson. In 1940, Maxwell authored a book of interviews with players entitled, Thrills and Spills in Sports. He also submitted stories on the Newark Eagles to the Ledger in Newark, which is the predecessor of The Star-Ledger newspaper.

He was inducted into the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2001, Maxwell achieved his lifelong dream by visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, when he was 93 years old, though he was not inducted into the Hall of Fame during his lifetime.

Day 22: Betty Shabazz #BlackHistoryMonth

20140222-142202.jpg Betty Shabazz (May 28, 1934 – June 23, 1997), born Betty Dean Sanders and also known as Betty X, was an American educator and civil rights advocate. She was the wife of Malcolm X.
Shabazz grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where her foster parents largely sheltered her from racism. She attended the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where she had her first encounters with racism. Unhappy with the situation in Alabama, she moved to New York City, where she became a nurse. It was in New York that she met Malcolm X and, in 1956, joined the Nation of Islam. The couple married in 1958.
Along with her husband, Shabazz left the Nation of Islam in 1964. She witnessed his assassination the following year. Left with the responsibility of raising six daughters as a single mother, Shabazz pursued a higher education, and went to work at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.
Following the arrest of her daughter Qubilah for allegedly conspiring to murder Louis Farrakhan, Shabazz took in her young grandson Malcolm. He set a fire in her apartment that caused severe burns to Shabazz. Shabazz died three weeks later as a result of her injuries.

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Betty Shabazz in February 1965, after identifying Malcolm X’s body at the New York City Morgue

Shabazz had difficulty sleeping for weeks after Malcolm X’s assassination. She suffered from nightmares in which she relived the death of her husband. She also worried about how she would support herself and her family. The publication of The Autobiography of Malcolm X helped, because Shabazz received half of the royalties. (Alex Haley, who assisted Malcolm X in writing the book, got the other half. After the publication of his best-seller Roots, Haley signed over his portion of the royalties to Shabazz.)

In late 1969, Shabazz enrolled at Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University) to complete the degree in education she left behind when she became a nurse. She completed her undergraduate studies in one year, and decided to earn a master’s degree in health administration. In 1972, Shabazz enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to pursue an Ed.D. in higher education administration and curriculum development. For the next three years, she drove from Mount Vernon to Amherst, Massachusetts, every Monday morning, and returned home Wednesday night. In July 1975, she defended her thesis and earned her doctorate. Shabazz joined Delta Sigma Theta in April 1974.

For many years, Shabazz harbored resentment toward the Nation of Islam—and Louis Farrakhan in particular—for what she felt was their role in the assassination of her husband. Farrakhan seemed to boast of the assassination in a 1993 speech:

Was Malcolm your traitor or ours? And if we dealt with him like a nation deals with a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours? A nation has to be able to deal with traitors and cutthroats and turncoats.

After her death in 1997, the Community Healthcare Network renamed one of its Brooklyn, New York, clinics the Dr. Betty Shabazz Health Center, in honor of Shabazz. The Betty Shabazz International Charter School was founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1998 and named in her honor. In 2005, Columbia University announced the opening of the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. The memorial is located in the Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated. In March 2012, New York City co-named Broadway at the corner of West 165th Street, the corner in front of the Audubon Ballroom, Betty Shabazz Way.

Day 21: The Liberator #BlackHistoryMonth

20140221-052328.jpg The Liberator (1831-1865) was an abolitionist newspaper founded by William Lloyd Garrison in 1831. Garrison published weekly issues of The Liberator from Boston continuously for 35 years, from January 1, 1831, to the final issue of December 29, 1865. Although its circulation was only about 3,000, and three-quarters of subscribers were African Americans in 1834, the newspaper earned nationwide notoriety for its uncompromising advocacy of “immediate and complete emancipation of all slaves” in the United States. Garrison set the tone for the paper in his famous open letter “To the Public” in the first issue:

Assenting to the “self-evident truth” maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights — among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population. In Park-street Church, on the Fourth of July, 1829, in an address on slavery, I unreflectingly assented to the popular but pernicious doctrine of gradual abolition. I seize this opportunity to make a full and unequivocal recantation, and thus publicly to ask pardon of my God, of my country, and of my brethren the poor slaves, for having uttered a sentiment so full of timidity, injustice and absurdity. A similar recantation, from my pen, was published in the Genius of Universal Emancipation at Baltimore, in September, 1829. My consicence in now satisfied.

I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. …

The Liberator faced harsh resistance from several state legislatures and local groups: for example, North Carolina indicted Garrison for felonious acts, and the Vigilance Association of Columbia, South Carolina, offered a reward of $1,500 ($25,957.20 in 2005 dollars) to those who identified distributors of the paper.

The Liberator continued for three decades from its founding through the end of the American Civil War. Garrison ended the newspaper’s run with a valedictory column at the end of 1865, when the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery throughout the United States. It was succeeded by The Nation.[3]