Encouragement - Motivation February 2021


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Meet the man who created Black History Month​

Carter G. Woodson, an African-American historian, wrote black Americans into US history

The man behind the holiday

Carter G. Woodson, considered a pioneer in the study of African-American history, is given much of the credit for Black History Month.
The son of former slaves, Woodson spent his childhood working in coal mines and quarries. He received his education during the four-month term that was customary for black schools at the time.

At 19, having taught himself English fundamentals and arithmetic, Woodson entered high school, where he completed a four-year curriculum in two years. He went on to earn his master's degree in history from the University of Chicago and later earned a doctorate from Harvard.

How the holiday came about

Disturbed that history textbooks largely ignored America's black population, Woodson took on the challenge of writing black Americans into the nation's history.

To do this, he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. He also founded the group's widely respected publication, the Journal of Negro History.

In 1926, Woodson developed Negro History Week. He believed "the achievements of the Negro properly set forth will crown him as a factor in early human progress and a maker of modern civilization."

In 1976, Negro History Week expanded into Black History Month.

Black History Month: Meet Carter G. Woodson, the man who created it - CNN


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Black History Month: John Roy Lynch, congressman, soldier, and author was born in Concordia Parish, Louisiana on September 10, 1847 to Patrick Lynch, an Irish immigrant and Catherine White, a slave. Lynch’s father died soon after his birth. Lynch and his mother were then traded to a plantation in Natchez, Mississippi. During the Civil War, Lynch became free when he fled the plantation to serve as a cook for the 49th Illinois Volunteer Regiment.

During Reconstruction, Lynch joined the Republican Party in Mississippi. After working as assistant secretary for the Republican State Convention, Lynch became the Justice of the Peace in Natchez County, Mississippi. In November 1869 at the age of 22, Lynch was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. Three years later, in 1872 he was named Speaker of the House.

Later in 1872, Lynch ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives. He was elected, winning more than fifty percent of the popular vote. In Congress Lynch was known primarily for his support of a civil rights measure that eventually became the Civil Rights Act of 1875. During his congressional campaign in 1874, Lynch voiced concern for racist white Democrats attacks on black Republicans in Mississippi, a prelude to the bloody Mississippi gubernatorial campaign of 1875 where hundreds of black and white Republicans were killed. Despite those violent tactics which reduced the Republican vote in the state, Lynch managed to be re-elected to Congress in 1874 and 1876.

John Roy Lynch (1847-1939) (blackpast.org)
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Black History Month: Linda Martell was the first African-American female vocalist to perform at the Grand Ole Opry show.

Born in South Carolina in 1941, Linda Martell began singing in church with her siblings at age 5. Martell had an affinity for country music early on. She was also drawn to sing blues, jazz, and R&B. She caught her big break performing at the Charleston Air Force Base in 1969 where she caught the attention of Producer and label owner Shelby Singleton. She signed with his Plantation label soon after.

That same year, Martell made the Top 25 with her song “Color Him Father” and became the first African-American woman to appear on the Grand Ole Opry.

Linda Martell, first black woman to sing on the Grand Ole Opry

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsNaHdYMTmk
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETQTDgZA9Vo

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Mary McLeod Bethune(1875-1955)

First African American woman to head a federal agency​

Black History Month: Renowned educator and reformer Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955) dedicated her life to organizing and empowering African American women to work for equality. In 1914, Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Training Negro Girls that gave Florida students the tools they needed to become community leaders. In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her director of the Division of Negro Affairs in the National Youth Administration, making her the first African American woman to head a federal agency.

Born on a farm near Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875, Mary McLeod Bethune, the 15th child of former slaves, rose from humble beginnings to become a world-renowned educator, civil and human rights leader, champion for women and young people, and an advisor to five U.S. presidents.

Education was the first step in her remarkable journey. The young Mary McLeod worked in the fields alongside her parents and siblings, until she enrolled at the age of 10 in the one-room Trinity Presbyterian Mission School. There, she learned to read, and, as she later noted, the whole world opened to me. She went on to study at Scotia Seminary in North Carolina and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with the goal of becoming a missionary. When no missionary openings were available, she became a teacher, first at the Haines Institute in Augusta, Georgia and then at the Kendall Institute in Sumpter, South Carolina, where she met and married Albertus Bethune. The dream of opening her own school took Mary McLeod Bethune to Florida first to Palatka and then to Daytona Beach, where she started the school that would become Bethune-Cookman University.

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Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable (Founder of Chicago) (1745-1818)​


“He grew up at a time when, as a black man, he shouldn’t have been thinking about founding a city or being an entrepreneur, but that’s what he set his mind to do. This is a perfect example of how we’re not prisoner to our immediate condition.” — Serge Pierre Louis, President, Du Sable Heritage Association

Black History Month: Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable is regarded as the founder of the city of Chicago. As a trapper and merchant, he built the trading post that evolved into Chicago.

Though little is known about his early life, historians claim Du Sable was born in 1745, in the city of Saint-Marc, in what was then the French colony of Saint-Domingue and is today the country of Haiti. His mother was an enslaved African, and his father was a French mariner.

Du Sable traveled to France, where he worked on his father’s ships. He was able to access some education and learn several languages, including French, Spanish, English, and many Indian dialects.

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Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965)​

First African American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress

Black History Month: Singer and actress Dorothy Dandridge sang at Harlem's famed Cotton Club and Apollo Theatre and became the first African American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. She was a beautiful actress and singer whose star shone too briefly. Dorothy Dandridge, a fragile boned beauty with skin often described as "cafe au lait", was sadly a victim of her own circumstances.

Dorothy Jean Dandridge was born in Cleveland Ohio's City Hospital on November 9, 1922. Her mother was an aspiring actress named Ruby Dandridge. Ruby had walked out on Dorothy's father, Cyrus, five months previous to Dorothy's birth taking her first child, Vivian, with her. Cyrus still lived with his mother and Ruby had come to the conclusion that he would never amount to anything and she resented the fact that they did not have their own home.
A friend of Ruby's named Geneva Williams soon moved in with them and Geneva became instrumental in teaching the girls singing, dancing and piano. As the talents of Dorothy and Vivian improved, Ruby and Geneva began to plan a future for themselves that they hoped would bring them fame and security. The girls would now be called The Wonder Children and they would be their ticket. They moved to Nashville and The Wonder Children were signed with the National Baptist Convention to tour churches throughout the southern states.

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Mary W. Jackson (1921-2005)
NASA's first African American female engineer

Black History Month: On Friday, February 26, 2021, NASA celebrated the agency’s first African American female engineer, Mary W. Jackson, with a ceremony to formally name the agency’s headquarters building in Washington in her honor.

Jackson began working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) – the forerunner of NASA – in April 1951. From her initial role as a “human computer” within the segregated West Area Computing Unit of what would become NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to becoming an engineer, to managing Langley’s Federal Women’s Program and championing equal employment opportunity efforts at the center toward the end of her career, Jackson’s pioneering efforts and commitment to helping others have inspired generations – both at NASA and beyond.

“With the official naming of the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters today, we ensure that she is a hidden figure no longer,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “Jackson’s story is one of incredible determination. She personified NASA’s spirit of persevering against all odds, providing inspiration and advancing science and exploration.”

The work of Jackson and others in Langley’s West Area Computing Unit caught widespread national attention in the 2016 Margot Lee Shetterly book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.” The book was made into a popular movie that same year, with award-winning actress Janelle Monáe playing Jackson’s character.

In 2019, Jackson, along with her fellow “Hidden Figures” Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Christine Darden, were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest civilian award – for their work. On June 24, 2020, NASA announced its intent to name the building the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPqjGLcGbyU

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Hiram Revels (1827-1901)

The first African-American congressman

On February 25, 1870, an African-American politician was seated in the United States Senate for the first time, but only after Republican leaders rebuffed a challenge based on the infamous Dred Scott decision.

Hiram Rhodes Revels’s path to the Senate floor took him through numerous states as a freed black man born in North Carolina, schooled in Indiana and Ohio, and as a preacher and educator in Kansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Revels also served in the Civil War as a chaplain and he was at the battles of Vicksburg and Jackson in Mississippi. After the war, he settled in Natchez, Mississippi, continuing his educational and religious works. But Revels slowly became involved in politics, first as a local alderman in 1868, and then as a member of the Mississippi state senate in the state’s Reconstruction-era government in 1869.

Revels caught the attention of leaders in the state Senate after he gave an inspirational prayer to open a session in January 1870. That session soon turned to the serious business of electing two U.S. Senators from Mississippi, to be sent to Washington after Mississippi was readmitted as a state in the Union. (In that era, state legislatures elected U.S. Senators until the 17th Amendment went into effect.)

Seen as a moderate and as an educated man, Revels was put up for nomination and elected to the U.S. Senate by an 81 to 15 vote. He would fill the unexpired term of a Senator who quit in 1861, which ended in March 1871.

In his brief Senate career, Revels was seen as a moderate who opposed segregation and supported civil rights, but he also wanted amnesty for former Confederate soldiers. Revels chose not to seek more time in the Senate, and he left Washington in March 1871 to become the first president of what became Alcorn University, the first land grant school for African-Americans in the United States.

Revels remained active in the religious and educational communities for the rest of his life. He died on January 16, 1901, as he was attending a religious conference.



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Mt. Olive Cemetery is now listed on the National Register​

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The statues of Ida Revels Redmond, the daughter of Hiram Revels and James "Jim" Hill

A nearly forgotten cemetery in west Jackson, the burial site of African Americans as far back as the early 19th century, is being restored and recognized for its historical relevance. The more than 200-year-old Mount Olive Cemetery is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Jackson State University researchers and the work of members of the Stringer M W Grand Lodge on Lynch Street led to the restoration of a cemetery, home to slaves and statesmen.

"We want to make sure the story is told how it was," said Heather Wilcox who spearheaded the Mt. Olive Cemetery Project.

That story is of African Americans in the cemetery adjacent to Jackson State University. It dates back to the early 1800's.

The burial site on Lynch street began on a plantation. There rest the souls of more than 1,400 slaves, laborers, business owners and an elected official.

James Hill died in 1903 and statue was erected at his burial. He was a former slave who was elected as Mississippi’s Secretary of State from 1874-1878. In 1912, an elementary school was named in his honor and was located on Lynch Street. Later the school transitioned into Jim Hill High School and is currently located on Fortune Street.

Ida Revels Redmond died in 1913 and a statue was erected at her grave. She was the daughter of Hiram Revels, the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress to represent Mississippi in 1870 and 1871. She was the wife of local lawyer, physician, and businessman Sidney D. Redmond. She helped organize women’s self-improvement efforts through civic, education and social services.

Both statues represent how important these individuals were to our community. The statues are hand carved and made out of granite and marble. They are the only two statues in the cemetery and were some of the first statues built for African Americans in the state of Mississippi.

Over the years the statues were covered in mold and mildew. JSU wanted to preserve the statues and wrote a grant to restore the statues to their former glory. After several weeks of hard work and labor, the statues were preserved and are beaming bright.

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