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Posts Tagged ‘black history month

Gathering honors trailblazers in black community

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by Iam Demsky
News Tribune

Sunday was a night of honored firsts.

Anna Carr, first black woman to drive a Pierce Transit bus. Frank Cuthbertson, first black man to serve as a county Superior Court judge. Harold Moss, first black man to sit on the Tacoma City Council.

More than 50 people were recognized for their achievements at “First Blacks: A Celebration of Trailblazers in the Black Community,” which was held at Ray Gibson’s Caballeros Club on the Hilltop.

Earl Smith, the club’s president, said they had first wanted to put on an event for Black History Month.

“We decided we were going to do something different,” he said. “We wanted to recognized the trailblazers of Pierce County and the surrounding areas.

“February is Black History month, but there’s enough black history for every month.”

Among those honored was Ella Capers, 90, who broke through racial barriers to become the first black woman to be hired at Sears in downtown Tacoma in the early 1960s.

After graduating from a local business college, she applied for a stenography job, she said.

Sears gave her timed tests from 8 a.m. to noon. And then more from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Then they asked her to take a letter. Then she moved up the managerial chain and had to take another letter.

Finally, at the end of the day, she was offered a job.

“Not one person in that office ever had to take a test,” Capers said.

Her hiring was such a phenomenon that people came to watch her work through the window.

“The community was so excited,” she said. “You never saw a brown person downtown at that time. They used to say, ‘Ella, you’re on Candid Camera.’ ”

At first the other women in the office turned their backs to her while they worked, but eventually she earned their respect, she said – “Because they didn’t have a choice.” Capers retired after working there 24 years.

Also honored was Carol Mitchell, the first black woman to be crowned Daffodil Queen.

That honor in 1977 opened doors and changed the course of her life, she said.

“The whole purpose was to get money for college,” Mitchell said. “It had nothing to do with looks or glamour.”

She did go to college and then law school. She now works for the Port of Tacoma.

Master of ceremonies Frank Boykin summed up the achievements this way:

“We are blessed with the privilege of celebrating their journeys and not just their accomplishments.

They pressed on when others said it couldn’t be done.”


Joseph Charles Price an Unsung Hero

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By Dr. Lenwood Davis

During Black History Month a number of African American heroes are discussed such as Crispus Attucks, Benjamin Banneker, Mary McLeod Bethune, George Washington Carver, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks,  A. Phillip Randolph, Paul Robeson, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, Malcolm X and too many others to name.

Among the number of Unsung African American heroes who are usually forgotten is Joseph Charles Price.  He was a major African American leader between 1880 – 1893.

Joseph Charles Price was born in Elizabeth City, N.C. on Feb. 10, 1854.  Emily Paulin, his mother, was born a free African American woman and his father, Charles Dozier, was a slave. During Slavery the child always followed the status of the mother.  Since Price’s mother was a free woman, he also was a free child.  Price and his mother moved to New Bern, N.C., to escape the fighting of the Civil War.  During this time New Bern was behind the Union lines.  There were no schools for free African Americans in slave territory and Elizabeth City was in slave territory.  Emily Paulin wanted her son to be educated so that he would be more than a farm hand.  It was in New Bern that Price’s mother met and later married David Price, whose name Joseph Charles adopted.

While in New Bern, Price attended Saint Cyprian Episcopal School.  This school was under the control of a Boston Society known as the Lowell Normal School.  He attended Shaw University, in Raleigh in 1873.  He left Shaw and transferred to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1875 and graduated from there in 1879 with an A. B. degree in Theology.

In 1881 Price went to London, England, to represent the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at the Ecumenical Conference.  While at the meeting, Price made a five-minute speech that electrified the audience.  The London Times called him “The World’s Orator.”  He stayed in England for a year and when he returned home in 1882, he had raised about $10,000 above his expenses for Zion Wesley Institute (now Livingstone College).  During that same year, Joseph Charles Price was elected president of the Institute.

J.C. Price, as he was sometimes called, became a widely known leader in 1890 when two national conventions, The Afro American League and the National Protective Association, elected him as their president.  In 1890 he was also selected as one of the “The Ten Greatest Negroes Who Ever Lived,” in a poll by the 8,000 subscribers of The Indianapolis Freeman.  The other nine “Greatest Negroes” were: Frederick Douglas, Timothy Thomas Fortune, Toussaint L “Ouverture, Daniel Payne, George Washington Williams, Blanche K. Bruce, Peter H. Clark, J. Milton Turner, and Edward E. Cooper, editor of the Freeman.

The educator, J.C. Price, believed that African American men and women should educate their own people and not depend on whites.  He stated: “We must lead on in the great work committed to our charge. Every day of added intelligence, every trained young man or woman, every schoolhouse, every college or university, adds to our power to do this work.  Under the guidance of a God, a prospect opens before us, unequaled in attraction and not excelled in mighty possibilities.”  He surmised that the African American colleges and universities in the South would be the institutions that would prepare African American men and women to be teachers, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals.  Price believed that these institutions were doing an outstanding job in educating their graduates.

The educator, J.C. Price, declared: “his (African American) progress as a leader and teacher … in the various institutions of the land where white and colored men and women are subjected to the same examinations, the impartial tests before the Supreme Courts in the respective states, and the credible and successful manner in which he has complied with the rigid requirements of medical state boards throughout the land have been gradually convincing the most biased and prejudiced that he possesses the essential capabilities of a human being.”

Price the leader put his faith in the South because he saw it was the providential home of African Americans.  He thought this was the one section of the country where African Americans would advance educationally, socially, politically, culturally, and spiritually.  He once surmised: “If there is one spot on this broad continent to which the finger of Providence points as the place where the Negro is to build up a manhood and womanhood the world has never seen, it is the Southland.”

Price also thought that educated African American men and women should contribute, not only to the education of their own community, but to the larger community and country.  Price the minister suggested: “It is the object of all education to aid man in becoming a producer as well as a consumer.  To enable men and women to make their way in life and contribute to the material wealth of their community or country, to develop the resources of their land, is the mainspring in the work of all our schools and public or private systems of training.”

Price the orator urged African American men and women not only to ask for civil and political rights but to demand them.  He said African Americans do not find the companionship of whites so necessary as some would argue.

Price asserted: “Among his own people, the Negro finds fairly intelligent ministers and often learned ones, capable lawyers, skilled physicians, well-trained teachers, versatile and energetic newspapermen, accomplished musicians, men in comfortable and frequently wealthy circumstances, and women of culture and refinement.”

Although Joseph Charles Price was an acknowledged national and international leader, orator, college president, educator, Pan Africanist historian, temperance leader, writer, scholar, an early advocate for women’s rights, he is one unsung African American whose name is omitted from the history books.  Hopefully, future Black History Month celebrations will include Joseph Charles Price and his contributions to his race.

Dr.  Lenwood Davis is a professor in the Department of English and Foreign Language at Winston-Salem State University.

SOURCE: Winston-Salem Chronicle

Former U.S. Ambassador Patricia Roberts Harris

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1history.jpgThough she died more than twenty years ago, former U.S. Ambassador Patricia Roberts Harris is the focus of Kassey Eugene, a Flagler Palm Coast High School senior. Eugene is one of 45 students participating in the African American Cultural Society’s 5th Annual Youth Reality Show.

Roberts Harris, a Howard graduate, was the first Black woman to be named an ambassador and the first Black woman to enter the presidential line of succession.

The event — held in celebration of Black History Month — will feature a mix of dancing and singing and portrayals of historical black figures, including intellectual and author W.E.B. DuBois and playwright Lorraine Hansberry.

Jeanette Wheeler, the show’s coordinator, said the Youth Reality Show teaches local young blacks their rich heritage.

“The whole purpose is to make (black youth) aware of their culture,” she said. “We’re teaching our historical events . . . in a fun way.”

Read more about the event at News Journal

Read more about Patricia Roberts Harris.

Written by Symphony

February 16, 2008 at 9:34 pm

New Book Puts Spotlight on African American Achievement In DC (press release)

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Washington, DC ( – Black History Month is a time to honor the achievements of African Americans throughout the United States, but the contributions of African Americans to our nation�s greatest monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C. are often glossed over by historians.

A new interest in the African American experience in the U.S. Capitol, the White House and surrounding areas is evident, however. Congress and President Bush just signed a law naming part of the under-construction Capitol Visitor Center “Emancipation Hall” to honor the slaves that helped build the U.S. Capitol; artists are hard at work on statues for black luminaries like Benjamin Banneker, Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth for the nation�s capital; the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture is collecting artifacts for its eventual opening on the National Mall; and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Monument is only months away from completion.

Author Jesse J. Holland, who wrote the new book Black Men Built The Capitol: Discovering African American History In and Around Washington, D.C., said that it�s about time that the long-forgotten, long ignored achievements of African Americans in the world�s most important city was recognized.

�African Americans made the District of Columbia into the internationally-respected city that it is today and their work should be recognized,� Holland said. �While others got the credit _ and the money _ for their work, it was African American slaves like Philip Reid, who cast the Statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol Dome, and others who made the U.S. Capitol and Washington, D.C into the beacon of liberty it is today. The American people should honor these men and women more than one month a year, but it�s nice to see them finally getting some recognition.�

Holland’s book, which was published by Globe Pequot Press on September 1, is the first book to discuss in detail the contributions of African Americans in building the Capitol and the White House, as well as the appearances of African Americans in art throughout the Capitol.

Black Men Built The Capitol: Discovering African American History In and Around Washington, D.C. tells the story of the African American contributions to the U.S. Capitol, the White House and the National Mall, as well as other sites in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Among the highlights of “Black Men Built The Capitol:”

– Several places inside and outside the Capitol can be directly linked to slave labor, including parts of the Statuary Hall, the old Senate chamber and the exposed original stone work of the East Front extension of the Capitol.

– The only African American with his signature on U.S. currency, Blanche Bruce of Mississippi, was also the first African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate and the only African American senator with his painting in the U.S. Capitol.

– Only one African American appears twice in Capitol artwork: Rep. Joseph Rainey of South Carolina, who was the first African American to serve a full term in Congress.

– There is only one statue of an African American in the Capitol: a bust of Martin Luther King in the Rotunda. However, two statues are in the planning stages for eventual display in the Capitol, one of civil rights icon Rosa Parks and the other of abolitionist Sojourner Truth.

– The National Mall was the site of several slave markets visible from the U.S. Capitol, including two locations near the current Department of Education.

– The first tell-all book about life inside the White House was written by an African American slave, Paul Jennings, who was owned by President James Madison.

– The first White House chef was supposed to be an African American. James Hemings, a former slave of Thomas Jefferson and the brother of alleged Jefferson mistress Sally Hemings, was recruited by Jefferson to become the head chef at the White House once the Virginian won the presidency but refused the job.

– An African American engineer, Archibald Alexander, is responsible for the construction of the Tidal Basin seawall and the Tidal Basin bridge on the National Mall where many of the city�s famous cherry blossoms bloom in the spring.

– Sojourner Truth was the most famous resident of an African American village, Freedman’s Village, which was torn down and replaced with parts of Arlington National Cemetery. She was also responsible for the desegregation of public transportation in the District of Columbia.

Jesse J. Holland has covered politics from the U.S. Capitol and the White House for The Associated Press since 2000, and has been interviewed by national media on a variety of topics, including African American contributions to the Capitol, the White House and the National Mall.

Holland, who was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Washington Association of Black Journalists.

More information about Black Men Built The Capitol: Discovering African American History In and Around Washington, D.C. can be found at and at

Holland will be discussing and signing copies of his book at two Washington, D.C. libraries during Black History Month _ Cleveland Park Library on February 5 and the Southeast Neighborhood Library on February 26 _ as well as appearing at the AfroCentric Book Expo in Prince George�s County, Maryland on February 23 and at the Banneker Douglass Museum in Annapolis, Maryland on March 1. For more information about Holland�s appearances, see his Web site at

Black Men Built The Capitol: Discovering African American History In and Around Washington, D.C. is published by Globe Pequot Press, based in Guilford, Conn. Globe Pequot is the world’s leading publisher and distributor of outdoor recreation and leisure titles. The company, a division of Morris Communications, annually publishes more than 500 titles and distributes 300 new titles yearly for other publishers.

For a preview copy, contact Robert Sembiante at Globe Pequot Press at 203-458-4555, or e-mail at For interview requests, contact Jesse J. Holland at

Written by Symphony

February 5, 2008 at 5:43 am

NJ Black Cultural and Heritage Initiative Foundation debut press release

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The New Jersey Black Cultural and Heritage Initiative Foundation will make its public debut on February 1, 2008 at its launch ceremony to be held at The War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey at 10:00 am.Authorized by the New Jersey State Legislature as an independent nonprofit corporation and partner of the New Jersey Department of State, the Foundation is mandated to create public/private partnerships to broaden, deepen and diversify public participation in black arts, history and culture. The foundation is Co-Chaired by Secretary of State, Nina Mitchell Wells and bestselling author and businessman, Stedman Graham.

In celebration of Black History Month and the Foundation’s launch, the ceremony will seek to encapsulate the remarkable story of the Black Diaspora from their African ancestral beginnings to their modern-day legacies through oration and performing arts under the theme “Reflections of Courage … Vision of Service.” Former NFL star and television personality, Irving Fryar will serve as the Master of Ceremony. The program will also feature:

* Traditional African dance by the Iwa L’ewa Heritage Dance Ensemble

* The endearing storytelling of the nationally celebrated Queen Nur, of Kennedy Center and Broadway renown

* The authentic recollections of African American soldiers presented by the 6th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops Reenactors

* The modern jazz fusion of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble

* The prolific prose of Spoken Word Artist, Lamont Dixon, former co-executive producer of the Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam Philadelphia Tour

* The timeless elegance of the nationally acclaimed pianist and composer Geri Allen, accompanied by Sandra Turner Barnes, renowned jazz poet and vocalist

* The eclectic repertoire of the Westminister Jubilee Singers

* The enthralling choral literature of the Newark Boys Chorus

* The pulsating rhythms of the Caribbean/steel-drum-band Random Test with members hailing from Jamaica, Grenada, London, Trinidad, Tobago and Mexico.

In accordance with the foundation’s mandate, all program performers and presenters are New Jersey based.

The foundation will also premiere its website at the launch ceremony. The website, the first of its kind within the state, will seek to promote cultural heritage tourism exploring the legacy and contributions of people of African descent within the state of New Jersey. Initial features of the website will include over 230 arts and history listings of programs, cultural venues and historic places, in addition to over 100 calendar events celebrating black arts, history and culture from across the state. Cultural listings include:

* Historic sites identified as a primary residence of a notable black historic figure or community/religious gathering place for early black communities;

* Arts venues, performances and/or programs that are either outgrowths of the cultural heritage and artistic expressions of people of African descent, or are multicultural in nature with regards to program content, presenters and/or audiences;

* Historic sites that served as the residence to a quorum of known (and unknown) slaves identified through historic documents and/or artifacts;

* Museums and/or homesteads that display historical exhibits and/or facilitate programs that are explicitly related to Black History (although the site itself may not);

* Historic sites and/or locations identified as having played a role in the Underground Railroad;

* Grave sites that are noted as the final resting place of slaves, black soldiers and notable historic figures.

* Residences of non-black historic figures that played a significant political and/or advocacy role in history with regards to abolition, slavery and other issues related to people of African descent.

Through its public launch ceremony, website and future endeavors, the foundation will seek to be a part of the unifying voice of the state’s cultural heritage interests, celebrating the legacy, contributions and remarkable stories of New Jersey’s diverse communities and shared history.

The launch ceremony is free to the public, however an RSVP is required by confirming attendance (by email) to  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .About the NJBCHI Foundation:

The New Jersey Black Cultural and Heritage Initiative Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Authorized by the New Jersey State Legislature as an independent nonprofit corporation and partner of the New Jersey Department of State, the foundation is mandated to create public/private partnerships to broaden, deepen and diversify public participation in black arts, history and culture. The foundation is governed by a distinguished Board of Trustees co-chaired by Secretary of State, Nina Mitchell Wells and Stedman Graham. The Executive Director of the foundation is Lawana P. Dykes, co-founder of the foundation and its legislation.

For additional information about the foundation’s authorizing legislation, please access the following link:

Spread the word.

Written by Symphony

January 26, 2008 at 8:45 pm

BET to launch new awards show

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BET’s new awards show will honor “standout African-American individuals across several business and entertainment categories,” this according to a source close to the network.

Tentatively titled BET Honors, the awards show — set to air in February during Black History Month – is expected to honor such executives and entertainers as outgoing Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons; model/entertainer Tyra Banks; Congresswoman Maxine Waters; educator Cornell West; and singer/songwriter/actress Alicia Keys.


Written by Symphony

December 17, 2007 at 12:29 pm