Monday, February 26, 2007

Chicago's Own JHUD!!!!!

Jennifer Hudson wins an OSCAR for her very first movie, playing singer Effie White in Dreamgirls!
Congrats! To our Jennie from the block and to the memory of Florence!
"Oh my God, I have to just take this moment in. I cannot believe this. Look what God can do. I didn't think I was going to win," Hudson said through tears of joy. "If my grandmother was here to see me now. She was my biggest inspiration."

Congrats! To sexy, beautiful, talented Helen Mirren on her first Oscar! It may be the only award on earth she hadn't won.
She went on to credit the woman she played so convincingly in The Queen:
"For 50 years and more Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty and her hairstyle. ... If it wasn't for her, I most certainly wouldn't be here." Holding up her statue, she said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Queen."

Congrats! To Forrest Whitaker on his Academy Award for Best Actor in the Last King of Scotland. In accepting his Oscar, he spoke of the relevance and importance of his profession.

"Because when I first started acting, it was because of my desire to connect to everyone, to that thing inside of each of us, that light that I believe exists in all of us.
Acting, for me, is believing in that connection, and it's a connection so strong, and it's a connection so deep, that we feel it, and through our combined belief we can create a new reality."

Interpretive shadow dancers formed images of the Best Picture noms with their bodies. It was amazing. Happy Feet

It was a good show. Congrats! To Ellen DeGeneres!

The only thing better than snacks and an award show is Alexandra's award show review. So, I'll have to wait and leave the details to the expert. Be sure to check out her review.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


R&B singer and founder of one of America's most successful female vocal groups of all time, the Supremes.

In Detroit's Brewster Housing Project, teenager Florence Ballard's sister was dating the manager of a male R&B group, The Primes (later to become the Temptations). Flo was encouraged to form a female group that became known as The Primettes. There were originally four Primettes but the final two to join Flo were singers Mary Wilson and Diana Ross both also from the Brewster housing project.

In January 1961, the Primettes were signed by Motown Records, who re-named them the Supremes. Florence was the lead singer on most of their early records but she also shared lead with Diana Ross and occasionally Mary. By 1963, with songs written by Holland, Dozier, Holland - Diana became the lone featured vocalist with Flo and Mary singing backup.

Motown released eight singles by the group over the next two years. It wasn't until 1964's Where Did Our Love Go that the record-buying public began to take notice, but after this first hit The Supremes were rarely out of the number one position, songs such as Baby Love, Come See About Me, Stop! In The Name Of Love and Back In My Arms Again establishing them as one of the top acts in the country. The group scored 10 No. 1 hits, appeared on the "The Ed Sullivan Show" 20 times, headlined top night clubs and starred in their own top-rated TV specials.

This period of triumph for The Supremes became one of personal torment for Ballard, as she was believed to have the style, temperament and capacity to be a solo singer.

Velvet voiced Mary Wilson never pictured herself as a solo singer. Her dream was to use singing to leave the Detroit ghetto and become famous. With The Supremes, her dream came true. Stuck between her two ambitious friends, she was content to sing in the background.
Gordy continued his reconstruction of the group as a vehicle for Diana alone, reducing Ballard and Wilson's role even more. Ballard resisted this change.
The resulting friction took a toll on Florence and on her relationship with Motown. She was ousted from the group in 1967. The group became Diana Ross and the Supremes with Cindy Birdsong replacing Florence.

In 1968 Ballard married Tommy Chapman, a former Motown Chauffeur, and they had three children together. Flo struggled with a solo career but was making a come back when she died of heart failure at age 32 in 1976.

I find it hard to think that Dreamgirls is not inspired by the Supremes. There are unmistakable similarities with Effie and Florence's story. Dreamgirl actress Jennifer Hudson has said that she feels she is giving voice and tribute to Florence Ballard in her role as Effie.

During the shows, Diana would introduce Florence as "the quiet one". In reality, however, Florence was anything but quiet. Everyone knew her loud voice and her roaring laugh.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tyra-Ten Years After

I just started catching the Tyra Banks show and I must say I like her. She's nuts, uninhibited, outspoken and funny. I've only seen it a few times but she approaches the show's topics fearlessly and asks tough questions. Tyra has carved out some spots in Black history for herself.

In 1996 Tyra Banks was the first African American model to land the cover of the coveted Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
In 1997 Tyra became the first Black supermodel to appear alone on the cover of S I Swimsuit edition.
Now talk show host, supermodel and producer Tyra Banks marks a modeling milestone, and is diggin out her decade-old bikini to celebrate the special anniversary.

But last month, Banks, who hosts the "The Tyra Banks Show" and "America's Next Top Model," was mocked on the Internet and in tabloids for unflattering photos showing her in a one-piece bathing suit.
Responding, Tyra who is 5'10" admits she’s gained 30 pounds over the past 10 years and now weighs in at 161 pounds, and she likes her new look. "I was about 140 pounds on that cover ... and I'm 161 now,"

Banks stood out from the stick-thin waiflike models who were popular when she first entered the modeling industry, and had to work hard to persuade modeling agencies to take a chance on her more voluptuous physique. To give herself more options, Banks decided to branch out from high fashion into the commercial fashion industry. She later commented: " I told my agency to call Victoria's Secret, and I told them to call Sports Illustrated... I said [that] my body is changing, and seamstresses are calling me 'grosso' in Italian, and I know what the hell that means. And I'm not about to starve." Victoria's Secret and S.I. that worked out rather well.

Now she says, "I've made millions of dollars with the body I have, so where's the pain in that? If I was in pain, I would have dieted. The pain is not there – the pain is someone printing a picture of me and saying those (horrible) things." But Banks admits she considered going on a crash diet before the Bahamas shoot to look the same as she did 10 years ago, but then thought better of it.

On her hit show America's Next Top Model, Tyra Banks has always stressed the importance of body confidence – but it still hurt when tabloids ran an unflattering photo of her in a bathing suit under headlines that screamed, "America's Next Top Waddle" and "Tyra Porkchop."

"I get so much mail from young girls who say, 'I look up to you, you're not as skinny as everyone else, I think you're beautiful,' " she says. "So when they say that my body is 'ugly' and 'disgusting,' what does that make those girls feel like?"
"I think there's more power in embracing what I am now and showcasing that," she said.
I think she may have some Dove Real Beauty shoots in her future. I love that campaign.

Tyra, who retired from fashion modeling in 2005, said some extra fabric was added to make the bikini a little less itsy-bitsy. She had no problem on the TV show Extra showing how they extended her bikini.

"They covered the sides of my chest so that it wasn't so much hangin' out. And they put some extenders on the sides of the bikini bottom so it fit," she said."I'm thinking that I should probably do this every 10 years," she continued. "So, in 2017 maybe I'll get in the swimsuit again and I'll have to get them to add a little more fabric."
Well go on girl! She looks great in this years version.

The 2007 edition, which has a music theme, features singer/actress Beyonce on the cover wearing a yellow-and-pink bikini.
Sports Illustrated said Beyonce is the first nonmodel/nonathlete to appear as the main subject on the cover of the swimsuit issue.

Robert Adler-Our Hero

Robert Adler, who held 180 patents for electronics devices, died February 15th at age 93.

Dr. Adler is best known as the a pioneer in the development of the Remote Control. The wireless remote. Yep he's the one. What would we have done without that thing. Seriously. Think about it. No channel surfing. Horrors!

Adler was born in Vienna, Austria in 1913 and was educated there; after earning his Ph.D. in Physics at age 24 from the University of Vienna (1937), he emigrated to the US, and found work in the Research division of Zenith Electronics Corporation (then Zenith Radio Corp) here in Chicago.

During World War II, Adler specialized in military communications equipment. After the war, he turned his attention specifically to television technology. One early invention of Adler's was the "gated-beam" vacuum tube, which eliminated a great deal of sound interference in television receivers at one stroke, thus reducing costs as well. Adler also led the team that invented a special synchronizing circuit that improved reception at the fringes of a television station's broadcast area.

But Adler's greatest consumer triumph was the wireless remote control.

Zenith produced the first TV remote in 1950, dubbed "Lazy Bones." It performed on/off and channel-changing functions fairly well, but was cumbersome to use, and was attached to the TV by a cord that soon proved a safety hazard to Zenith's less nimble customers. Now remember channels were changed with a knob, no digital. Yeah, that knob that always came off or broke and you ended up using pliers to change stations. Well, this remote's buttons operated a motor in the set that actually turned the knob, clunk clunk. There were only three TV channels, but it also had a mute button for those annoying commercials.

In 1955, Zenith produced the "Flashmatic," a wireless remote that was basically a flashlight pointed at photo cells located at the corners of the TV cabinet: unfortunately, the photo cells reacted to sunlight as well as the remote. So open the blinds and change the channel. OMG!

The Zenith Space Command
The next year, Robert Adler's solution was for the remote to "communicate" with the TV by sound, not light --- specifically, by ultrasound, that is, at frequencies higher than the human ear can hear. Adler's remote control unit itself was very simple: it did not even require batteries. (huh, say what?) The buttons struck one of four lightweight aluminum rods inside the unit, like a piano's keys strike its strings. (Hence the remote's nickname The Clicker). The receiver in the TV interpreted these high-frequency tones as signaling channel-up, channel-down, sound on/off, or power on/off.

In the 1960s, Adler modified his system to generate the ultrasonic signals electronically.
Over the next twenty years, the ultrasound TV remote control was slowly becoming a standard adjunct to the television. By the time remote technology moved on to infrared light technology in the early 1980s, more than nine million TVs had been sold, by Zenith and others, with Adler's remote control system.

Although the world considered the remote his greatest triumph, he did not. It was his greatest patent for an everyday device, but he considered his many esoteric applications more important. In the 1960's he explored the use of surface acoustic waves in frequency filters for color television sets. Today, acoustic wave technology is essential to both television screens and touch-sensitive computer displays and used in cell phones today.

Dr. Adler could have been a billionaire if he had cashed in independently on his patents but he remained a loyal Zenith Corp. and the subsequent LG Corp employee. By 1963, Adler had risen to Vice President and Director of Research at Zenith and he was a technical advisor to the company until 1999. Adler has also won countless prestigious awards, including the IEEE's Edison Medal (1980). His last patent was filed just three years ago.

A lover of the arts, Dr. Adler was active in the Chicago cultural community for decades, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and community theater. A world traveler for both business and pleasure, he was fluent in German, English and French.

He was also as passionate about hiking and skiing and flying as he was about science and the arts. He was a pilot, an avid downhill skier until age 89, and was still hiking in the past year.

So, next time you change the TV channel with it's great reception, picture and sound or use your cell phone or hit withdrawal on the cash station touchscreen, think of Dr. Robert Adler. What a wonderfully accomplished life, and afer all he invented the couch potato too.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


West Africans did not write their history down. They kept their own histories in their own languages, orally in the form of stories.
Imagine relying on someone else's memory to hold your peoples history. In many parts of West Africa this job is carried out by the griot. Griots were the advisors, messengers, genealogists, and praise singers, as well as historians. Today they still carry West African culture and appear on stage, TV, radio and recording CD's.

There are web logs that certainly fill this role today. A keeper of history, a storyteller, interpreter, analyst, preserver and documenter of our culture. Many web logs are strictly personal or strictly political or have some particular focus. But, there are some journals that are all that and also record our contemporary attitudes and social conditions.
I've added a new link to my favorite Things. Monica Roberts is the TransGriot. Her blog is brilliant, funny and diverse as seen through the eyes on a Black Transgendered female. Monica's subjects range from fencing to the Miss Continental Beauty Contest. She is currently doing a series of posts on Trans and non-Trans women she admires. It is a phenomenal web log by a phenomenal woman.

Time Out!

Former New York Knick center John Amaechi came out of the closet with the release of his book, Man In the Middle.
On a sports radio station former Miami Heat star, Tim Hardaway, responded to Amaechi's news and became the latest celebrity to go on a bigoted rant.

I knew I had to write about Tim Hardaway's homophobic ravings, but Monica being the phenominal griot she is, was on the case.

In the car today I heard a lot of Black talk radio on this issue and it made me sick. Well, it's Black History Month so what better time to make note of historical Black homophobia. Black churches are to blame for much of this homophobia and I plan to address that in another post.
There were so many calls about "the gays" and "love the person hate the sin" and choice and, "it was an unfortunate choice of words". Hardaway said "I hate gays". "I'm homophobic". That's not an unfortunate choice of words, it's how he feels. He said it with vehemence. Yet after the reaction, he apoplgized.

The NBA responded to Hardaway's comments by removing him from its All-Star weekend activities and other future appearances because NBA states it does not agree with his views. Any endorsments he has may also be in jeopardy. Oh well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Celebrate V D !

Now see how you think. Shameful.
Speaking of that, to my single or cheating friends, and to whom it may concern, don't let the romance of the day stop your brain activity. After those candlelit dinners gazing at each other through long stem roses and stuffing yourselves with chocolate bonbons and fine wine, you're all ready for amore', remember to do it safe.
Yeah, yeah spoil the mood Jackie.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Lincoln vs Jefferson

Lincoln Elected
This was a crucial year in the history of this Republic. Slavery had weakened America's position as a country established on principles of freedom. Although presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln had built a reputation as an opponent of slavery. he had always made it clear his main concern was preserving the Union.
But, the south made it known it was going to split the United States if Lincoln were elected.
Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States mainly from the votes coming from the north.
On December 20, 1860, secession took place with South Carolina taking the lead, followed in January 1861, by the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. They formed a separate Union within the United States called the Confederate States of America. Before the end of February, five other states joined the Confederacy. They were Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Jefferson Davis was chosen as the Confederate President.

The South moved fast and decided to seize U.S. Federal forts within their jurisdiction. Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor was considered a Union stronghold. Lincoln provided stronger protection for Fort Sumter, therefore it had to be taken by force by the Confederates. The firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 was the start of the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln had been in office only one month.

Civil War
In the years of civil war that followed, Lincoln proved to be one of the most extraordinary leaders, both political and moral, the USA has ever seen. First defining the war as being fought over secession rather than slavery, he oversaw the creation of the Union army. He took a direct interest in the conduct of the war, hiring and firing generals, getting daily reports from the battlefields, and visiting the troops in the front lines. All this time he had also to mediate between the pressures of radical and conservative elements of the North, using an astute combination of suppression and conciliation, and barely surviving the election in 1864.

Jefferson Davis 1808-1889
Born in Kentucky not far from Abraham Lincoln in time or distance, the only President of the Confederacy was a decorated war veteran and politician. He graduated West Point in 1828 and married the daughter of Zachary Taylor in 1835. She died shortly thereafter.

Davis was described by a contemporary as "a gentleman," having a "slight, light figure, little exceeding middle height, and holds himself erect and straight." He had high, prominent cheek-bones, thin lips, and deep-set eyes, one of which was nearly blind from an illness. To all but a few intimates, Davis was reserved and severe in manner. Both indecisive and stubborn, his inflexibility, moral rectitude, and lack of humor did not help him in dealing with opponents.
He was expecting to be given command of the Confederate armies, he was instead chosen President of the Confederate government.

King Cotton

By the time the Civil War began, cotton made up about 60 percent of American exports, about $200 million a year. The Confederates tried to use Europe's reliance on American cotton by refusing to export cotton to Europe in an effort to force them to intervene and end the war. As a result Europe turned to India and Egypt to meet their cotton demands. Bad move by the South. Already in a war that threatened their main crop, labor force and very way of life, they now lose their major revenue source.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A New Kind Of Politics!

Amid all this blogging about slavery comes the announcement that an African American is running for President of the United States. Barack Obama delivered his announcement speech in Springfield IL, evoking the memory of Abraham Lincoln who also went to Washington without much national experience. This is historic. (Of course, Monica is handing me tissue.)

It is not to negate or discount the previous Presidential runs of Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton. These men ran with different goals. Neither had designs on the White House. Oh they ran in earnest, but they are both realists. Both ran to bring to national attention and to the platform, issues that are routinly forgotten during the campaign and nominating convention, and the Administration. They ran to win delegates that transform into clout at the table and in the ear of a perspective President. They ran to make sure issues important to minority and poor Americans are included in the agenda and plans of the party and the nation. They both achieved their goals.
But Senator Barack Obama runs for more than a voice at the table. He wants to sit at the head. It is ridiculously long overdue.

Announcement Speech
About his inexperience:
He is determined it will not be business as usual. That's a good thing.
"I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness – a certain audacity – to this announcement," Obama said. "I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change."

Ask Not What Your Country.......
"Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more — and it is time for our generation to answer that call."

Stop the blame game.
"And when all else fails, when Katrina happened, or the death toll in Iraq mounts, we've been told that our crises are somebody else's fault. We're distracted from our real failures, and told to blame the other party, or gay people, or immigrants. "

For the video and text of Obama's speech, click here.

Bill of Sale

This is an Authentic Negro Bill of Sale. My cousin Sandi sent this to me.
I am spending more time on the slavery end of this timeline since we were informed that we should "get over it". I thought it only fitting that we learn a bit more about what we are to get over. I will never understand this kind of inhumanity.

This was once the African Americans resume....

Click on the document to read.

The Dreaded Scott Decision

Dred Scott (1795-1858)

Dred Scott, a slave, was taken by his master into the free states of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Scott was away from Missouri, his slave state, for four years. So he sued for his freedom. The audacity of this slave to do such a thing, but he did. His claim was that he was an established person on "free soil."
The lower courts ruled against Scott. (Color me surprised!) The case eventually went to the Supreme Court of the United States. Again the ruling was unfavorable. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a resident of Maryland, and the other justices ruled that Dred Scott could not bring suit in federal court because he was a Negro, not just a slave.
"No Negro whether slave or free, could ever be considered a citizen of the United States within the meaning of the Constitution."
Thus, Scott's real problem was not his servitude but his race. This outspoken blow was a positive message for the south in that slavery in America was not going away but was legally a part of the American way of life.

Chief Justice Taney -- a staunch supporter of slavery and intent on protecting southerners from northern aggression -- wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks
"had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it."

Referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, "all men are created equal," Taney reasoned that
"it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . ."

The weird thing is, he was correct. The brilliant men who framed the constitution certainly never intended to infer black equality with white Americans.

Abolitionists were incensed. By 1854, the Dred Scott case brought a setback to the Abolitionist Movement. Although disappointed, Frederick Douglass, found a bright side to the decision and announced, "my hopes were never brighter than now." For Douglass, the decision would bring slavery to the attention of the nation and was a step toward slavery's ultimate destruction. Douglass was right, the Dred Scott Decision helped to further polarize the North and the South and quicken the arrival of the Civil War.

While the decision was well-received by slaveholders in the South, many northerners were outraged. The decision greatly influenced the nomination of Abraham Lincoln to the Republican Party and his subsequent election, which in turn led to the South's secession from the Union.
After the Supreme Court's decision, Dred Scott's former master's sons purchased Scott and his wife and set them free. Dred Scott died nine months later.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Face History

Alexandra has a gallery of faces on her site today in tribute to Black History Month. Alex has a great knack for finding interesting pictures of even the most familiar faces. Do you know them all?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

February for Monica

This month is always hard on Monica. She finds it personally difficult to have to explain the institution of slavery to five year olds so very far removed from it, and difficult to relive America's racist history every year.
She always begins with Africa and these African American children's connection to that continent. She emphasizes the beauty of that land and the normalcy of life for African children of that day. Then the capture, middle passage, selling, and life as an American slave. She emphasizes the children and families. She does not soft peddle but is careful that the information is age appropriate. Monica always intersperses where possible inspirational slave facts and culture with the harsh realities. She introduces games, books, art, songs and reads Brer Rabbit stories.
Monica does an excellent job moving through the civil war, Abe Lincoln, Jim Crow, the civil rights era into the present. In a world where kids are so insensitive to so much, in a society where watching someone be humiliated is funny, and games are won by being the most violent, she has tough competition. She has to make sure they know slavery was real. Her goal is for the kids to feel not just sympathy but empathy, to feel compassion, to make the connection, to be inspired by their survival and that they can overcome.

Her children get it. They understand what came before them and that's important. Hopefully other teachers will build on the foundation she puts down.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Uncle Tom's Cabin

1852: Uncle Tom's Cabin
Authored by Harriet Beecher Stowe a white abolitionist, is the first major American novel to feature an African American hero and become one of the most influential works to stir anti-slavery sentiments by shedding light on the horrors of slavery.
In her story, even kind Southern whites who care about slaves suffer the ill effects of being slave owners. The presence of slavery corrupts their ability to work as a family, What Stowe wants her white readers to see is that there can't be harmoniously good, white slaveholding families. There isn't a way of making slavery and Christianity compatible. It just doesn't work.
It's 2007 and people are still trying to make oppression and Christianity work. How ridiculous it was then, is how ridiculous it is now.

Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best selling novel of the century, with the bible holding steady at number one.
The book, with its dramatic storytelling, no-holds-barred discussions of the hot-button issue of the day, and heart-rending conclusion, was an instant bestseller. By year's end, it had sold an astonishing 1.5 million copies worldwide.

The novel had "a great impact on people's notions of the evils of slavery," says Thomas Gosset, author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture." Many Northern soldiers in the Civil War had read it, he says. When Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the White House in 1862, according to Stowe's daughter, he said, "So this is the little lady who wrote the big book that made this great war." Much later, writer Langston Hughes would call "Uncle Tom's Cabin" America's "first protest novel."

Uncle Tom goes to the circus.
But its fame and success was also the start of trouble for the image of Uncle Tom. The novel was made into a number of highly successful theatrical shows. Stowe held no copyright to prevent stage adaptations, which were done without her approval and without compensation. At one point, nearly 500 "Tom companies" were performing around the country, including one by showman P.T. Barnum. These shows removed some characters in the book, enlarged the roles of others, and added song and dance, even comedy, to conform the story to the elements popular in the minstrel shows of the day.
The story was "seized by popular culture, and people ran away with it and basically did what they wanted to with it," says Kathleen Hulser, curator of a new exhibition, "Reading Uncle Tom's Image: a Reconsideration of Harriet Beecher Stowe's 150-Year-Old Character and His Legacy". "The Uncle Tom that we know as an insult – as an old man who is meek, submissive, doesn't stick up for himself, desexualized – that really isn't who the person is in the novel. It's who he became on stage."

Note: Uncle Tom became the insulting nickname for a wussie black person whose behavior is subservient and over accommodating especially toward whites. A Tom also refers to those Blacks with political views considered to be anti-black.

These shows, usually played in blackface by white actors, lingered well into the 20th century. But by the 1930s, blacks began to gain the ear of white Americans with word that this version of Uncle Tom was not appreciated. Nevertheless, the meaning had stuck. By the 1960's, Uncle Tom had gone from being simply weak to being a "race traitor".

The Uncle Tom of the novel is a young and strong slave in the pre-Civil War South, a father of three young children who chooses, out of his Christian convictions, martyrdom over violence to deal with his oppressors.
At the end of the novel, Uncle Tom sacrifices his life to protect others. He dies because he won't reveal to [his master] Simon Legree the presence of two female slaves who have been sexually exploited by Legree.
It remains controversial. However, on college campuses today, Uncle Tom's Cabin appears to have won an enduring place in the study of popular historical images of blacks.

The 150th anniversary examination of this novel showed that the story of "Uncle Tom" and the book that introduced him to Americans is much more complex than a simple story of a racial insult. Despite its flaws, Uncle Tom's Cabin presents the most broad, warm, fully developed cast of black people who had ever been in a novel in the United States.
This novel played an important part in stirring the conscience of America toward anti-slavery. We don't want to forget that.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Congratulations Colts!

Coach Tony Dungy and MVP Peyton Manning did a job on my Bears. But, it was fantastic to get there and bring excitement to the city. Great excuse to fry up some wings and snack like crazy.
And gotta be loving the half-time show with Prince in the pouring Purple Rain. I've got to admit I hoped Prince wouldn't catch sparks while playing his wet guitar especially with fireworks all around him. His dancers in high heeled boots were actually splashing. No malfunctions this year, though.

The opening kickoff touchdown by the Bears was as exciting and unexpected as this whole season has been. Congrats to the Bears too, for that history making TD and for the season. Next year will be da one!

CONGRATULATIONS! To Tony Dungy for being the first African American Head Coach to win the Superbowl. He said:
"I am proud to be the first, but I know in my heart of hearts, I'm not the first to have the ability."

Well said.

Black History Time Line - Mid-1800's

1846: Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
Douglass launched an abolitionist newspaper, The North Star.

Born a slave in 1818, he escaped from slavery in 1938 by posing as a a free Black seaman on a train ride to the North and became an infamous speaker on the abolitionist lecture circuit and an important political figure. He served as president of Freedman's Saving's Bank during reconstruction. Douglass served as an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that guaranteed voting rights and other civil liberties for Blacks. Douglass was the only Black guest at Abe Lincoln's second inauguration. In 1872, he was the first African American to receive a nomination for Vice President of the United States. He was also United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, Recorder of Deeds for Washington, D.C., and Minister-General to the Republic of Haiti.

Douglass provided a powerful voice for human rights during this period of American history and is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice.
He represents the extremes of the African American experience from a starved and beaten slave to adviser to the President. His story is one every American should know. Douglass wrote three autobiographies. Here is a fascinating read of Frederick Douglass' noteworthy life.

Frederick Douglass Quotes

"A gentleman will not insult me, and no man not a gentleman can insult me."

"I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence."

"America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future."

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning."

1850: Underground Railroad
This transportation system was started by William Still. A network of secret routes, way stations, safe havens and meeting points in which thousands of African Americans escaped in the south. Some routes went as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico.

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)
Harriet Ross was born into slavery in 1819 or 1820, in Dorchester County, Maryland. Given the names of her two parents, both held in slavery, she was of purely African ancestry. She was raised under harsh conditions, and subjected to whippings even as a small child. Tubman suffered epileptic seizures after an overseer threw a 2 lb weight at her head when she tried to prevent the capture of a run-away slave.

At the age of 25, she married John Tubman, a free African American. Five years later, fearing she would be sold South, she made her escape.
After freeing herself from slavery, Harriet Tubman returned to Maryland to rescue other members of her family and become one of the most celebrated and effective leaders of the Underground Railroad. In all she is believed to have conducted approximately 300 persons to freedom in the North. "She was never captured while rescuing slaves and as she was quoted she "never lost a passenger".
A U.S. Liberty Ship was named after her in WWII - the SS Harriet Tubman.

Harriet Tubman was reverently called "Moses" by the hundreds of slaves she helped to freedom and the thousands of others she inspired. Her life was a monument to courage and determination that continues to stand out in American history.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Sojourner Truth was born on the Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh estate in Swartekill, in Ulster County, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. Her given name was Isabella Baumfree (also spelled Bomefree). She was one of 13 children born to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, also slaves on the Hardenbergh plantation. She spoke only Dutch until she was sold from her family around the age of nine.
She was sold to John Neely, along with a herd of sheep, for $100. Neely's wife and family only spoke English and beat Isabella fiercely for the frequent miscommunications.
Truth became an abolitionist, preacher, advocate for women's rights and conductor of the Underground Railroad. Truth's son who was freed under New York law, was sold into slavery, she sued and won his return.

Sojourner Truth's famous "ain't I a woman" quote.

"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place, and ain't I a woman? ... I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me -- and ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it), and bear the lash as well -- and ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me -- and ain't I woman?"

Friday, February 02, 2007

Black History - The 1800's

1808: U.S. Bans Import of Slaves
U. S. bans the import of slaves, but not the sale and practice of slavery.

Ohio's original constitution outlawed slavery in 1802. Ohio also aggressively barred black immigration.

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the Southern states wanted Blacks to be counted as equal to Whites, but it was the Northern states that argued that slaves were considered as property and therefore should not be counted at all - a tactic likely used to deny the Southern states the political representation that their large population of blacks would bring them. A Compromise was made whereas each slave would count as three-fifths of a person. The Three-Fifths Compromise.
Ok, so this was all about Southern enumeration for political power. The North wanted it deflated and the South wanted it bolstered. Thus the Three-Fifths Compromise. Monica and I would equal 6/5 or one and one-fifth person. How 'bout that for stupid. Unbelievable.

1831: Nat Turner Slave Revolt
Nat turner (1800-1831) a slave and a preacher, leads a short and bloody slave revolt in Southampton County, VA. Turner is captured, hanged and Virginia consequently institutes stricter slave laws.

Also in 1831, William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) begins publishing The Liberator, a weekly paper that advocates the abolition of slavery.

1839: Amistad Slave Ship Revolt
Joseph Cinque (born Sengbe Pieh) leads 37 African slaves in a revolt aboard the Amistad slave ship. The ship is later recaptured by the U. S. The matter is tried in the Supreme Court, where it is ordered that the slaves be returned to Africa and freed. Former President John Quincy Adams was Joseph Cinque's defense attorney.

In 1730 Ninety-six Africans aboard the Little George slave ship gained control of the vessel and successfully piloted their way back to Africa.
In 1841 Africans aboard the Creole slave ship revolt and sail to the Bahamas, where they are declared free by the British.
(So much for the import ban.)