Tag Archives: Congress

He Had a Dream – Celebratin​g Martin Luther King Jr. Day ::Black History


mLKjrDr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the American Civil Rights Movement achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest leaders in world history. Our country is celebrating his birthday on January 21. Check out these classroom resources, activities, and lesson plans to learn more about him:

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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.

Carter Woodson ~ American historian


Carter G. Woodson

To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded to a month. Since then, U.S. presidents have proclaimed February as National African-American History Month.

 

In the fall of 1870, a handful of students made their way through the northwest quadrant of the nation’s capital, and through the doors of D.C.’s “Preparatory High School for Colored Youth,” the country’s first public high school for African American children. The students and teachers who graced its hallways would be heard through the years in the halls of Congress, in the highest ranks of the United States military, at the heart of our civil rights movement, and in the upper echelons of medical and scientific study.

One such voice was that of Carter G. Woodson; a journalist, author, historian, and co-founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). It was through his work with the ASNLH that Woodson spearheaded the celebration of “Negro History Week” in America, which served as the precursor to Black History Month, which was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976. Woodson taught us that, “those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”

Find out more about Carter G. Woodson.

 

 

 

Horace Julian Bond


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

“We are better people because he walked
among us for a while.”

 
Julian Bond

Julian Bond came of age during that critical time in this nation’s history when winning equal rights for all took a great deal: a clear head, a big heart, a razor-sharp intellect, and a way with words.

Julian Bond had it all. And he could wrap all of it up to create whatever was needed at the time – either a tool or a weapon, a poem or a sermon. He was driven by a commitment to make America better.

While a Morehouse-based member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helping to organize the Freedom Summer of 1964 and its massive voter registration drive in Mississippi, Julian Bond took to task the American public and President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“We have learned through bitter experience in the past three years that the judicial, legislative and executive bodies of Mississippi form a wall of absolute resistance to granting civil rights to Negroes. It is our conviction that only a massive effort by the country backed by the full power of the President can offer some hope for even minimal change in Mississippi.”

Those words came from a letter Julian Bond wrote on April 28, 1964 to one of America’s most inspiring writers, James Baldwin. He was writing to encourage Baldwin to join a “jury” to hear “testimony” about Civil Rights violations from African Americans facing discrimination in employment, housing, and voting rights in Mississippi. Under a plan designed by SNCC and other members of the Council of Federated Organizations, the testimony would be presented to the President so he would be moved to create a government-sanctioned way to protect the Freedom Summer workers.

“The President must be made to understand that this responsibility rests with him, and him alone, and that neither he nor the American people can afford to jeopardize the lives of the people who will be working in Mississippi this summer by failing to take the necessary precautions before the summer begins.”

Bond’s letter to Baldwin has entered the collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It will be used alongside similar documents to show how people like Julian Bond helped design and fuel the Civil Rights Movement.

Bond was so committed to helping us tell that story well, that he became a member of the museum’s Civil Rights History Project advisory committee. In that role he helped us land interviews with some of the most important workers in the movement; he also conducted two of the more than 150 interviews for this oral history project. One was with Lawrence Guyot, the director of the 1964 Freedom Summer project in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Julian Bond wrote his letter to James Baldwin in 1964 at the age of 23. Less than three years later he would be awarded his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives by a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Four years after that, in 1971, he would become the founding president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Nearly 30 years later, in 1998, he would take the helm of the NAACP serving as its national chairman for an astonishing 12 years.

Julian Bond has spent his life as a champion in the campaign for equality. Much of what we as a nation know about compassion and commitment, we have learned from Julian Bond, the people he emulated and the people he inspired. We are sad because he has left us. And we are deeply honored that we had him for as long as we did … to help us help America live up to her promises. We are better people because he walked among us for a while.

Thank you, Horace Julian Bond.

Lonnie_Signature.jpg
Lonnie G. Bunch
Founding Director
Smithsonian
National Museum of African American History and Culture