Black History Month: Day 25

Salem Poor was a war hero. He was patriot of the American Revolutionary war.

Poor was born into slavery in the year of 1747 in Massachusetts. In 1769, he bought his freedom. He was married in 1771 to a free black woman, and had a son named Jonas.

Poor enlisted in the army in 1775. Blacks weren’t welcomed as soldiers, but black men risked their lives willingly, in hope of freedom from slavery.

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Poor became well known in a battle that took place on June 16, 1775. Poor was enlisted with Captain James Frye. Frye and his men, including Poor, marched from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Charleston, Massachusetts, and settled there at the top of the hill.

The British were aware, and there were casualties. Poor shot and killed a Lieutenant. He was credited for the killings of other soldiers as well.

More than a 1,000 black fighters lost their lives at the battle of Bunker Hill. The fighters wanted to prove their loyalty. George Washington was still against black men enlisting and volunteering.

The British offered freedom to slaves who would fight for England. Blacks were welcomed as soldiers under Washington’s command.

In 1775, Poor was recognized for his heroism by minutemen officers and a colonel, who petitioned that Poor behaved like an experienced officer, and an excellent soldier.

Poor re-enlisted several times before he was discharged in 1780. He was married three more times throughout his lifetime. He was also jailed in 1799 for a small period of time, for “breach of peace”.

Salem died in 1802.

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Black History Month: Day 24

Lucy Parsons was a labor organizer who fought for the rights of the poor, women, and equality for people of color.

Parsons was born in Texas around 1853. Her ancestry consisted of African American, Native American, and Mexican. It is possible that she was born of slave parents. She would only claim that she was Mexican, and a Native American.

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Around 1870, she met her soon to be husband, Albert Parsons. Since Albert was white, their marriage probably wasn’t legal. The couple was forced to leave Texas due to their political involvement. They moved to Chicago in 1873.

Parsons began to write for “The Socialist” in 1878. She would write about the homeless, women, and unemployed veterans. Throughout Chicago she became a powerful writer, and inspirational speaker.

She contributed to the founding of the International Working People’s Association(IWPA) in 1883. The IWPA organized a labor strike in 1886 to support the eight hour work day. Nearly 80,000 workers were involved, and the movement caused violence to erupt five days later.

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Several of the organizers were jailed, including Albert. They were all hanged.

Parsons continued to raise awareness after her husband’s death. She condemned lynching, and continued to advocate for people of color. She also joined the Communist Party in 1939.

Parsons continued to work hard for change until her death. She died in a house fire in Chicago on March 7, 1942.

Black History Month: Day 23

Let’s get straight into it. Catherine Ferguson was a pioneer and an educator. She started a Sunday school in New York city.

Ferguson was born in 1779 into slavery. She was separated from her mother at the age of eight. The separation inspired her to help other children in the future.

At the age of 16, her freedom was bought by a female friend, for $200. To repay her female friend, she would serve her for 11 months, which equaled to $100. The rest of the money was raised by a merchant in New York.

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Ferguson became a cake baker. She would bake for weddings and parties. She was married at the age of 18, and birth two children, but they passed during their infancy.

During her lifetime, she cared for neglected children in her neighborhood. She would bring the children to Sunday school, which was located in the basement of a church. She would hold prayer meetings for the children, and adults.

She would take care of children, until she found them a suitable home.

Ferguson died in 1854 in her home from cholera. After her death, she was recognized for her social work, and she gained attention from the press. The Katy Ferguson home for unwed mothers was established in 1920 as a tribute to her work.

Black History Month: Day 22

Charles Henry Turner was the first African American psychologist. He was also a biologist, an educator, and a zoologist.

Turner was born in Cincinatti, Ohio on February 3, 1867. His father owned a large collection of books, and Turner began to read, and became interested in insects.

He attended Woodward High School, and he then earned his B.S at the University of Cincinatti in 1891. He earned his Masters in biology the following year. Afterwards, he decided to get married and have three children.

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Turner was the first scientist to prove that insects can hear and distinguish different pitches. He also discovered that honeybees can see color, and that roaches can learn by trial and error.

Turner decided to move to St. Louis to teach at Sumner High School until 1922. He published more than 70 research papers during his career.

Turner moved to Chicago to live with his son in 1922. He died on February 14, 1923.

A school for disabled African American children was opened and named after him in St. Louis, two years after his death.

Black History Fact of the Day

Alain Locke was a writer, philosopher, and educator. He was the first black Rhodes Scholar.

Locke was born on September 13, 1885 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Philadelphia Central High in 1902. He graduated from Harvard University in 1907, with degrees in both philosophy and literature.

He was chosen as the first African American Rhodes scholar. He was denied admissions to different colleges due to his race. He was accepted into Hertford College in 1907.

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He promoted African American artists, musicians, and writers. He also encouraged them to find inspiration when producing work.

In March of 1925, Locked was the guest editor of the periodical survey graphic, titled “Harlem, Mecca of the New Negro”. It was special on the Harlem Renaissance, which helped educate whites on its culture.

Locke’s writing focused on the identity of the African American. He published the New Negro in 1925, and it instantly became a classic.

He has been named the Father of the Renaissance, due to his part in the development of the movement.

Locke died on June 9, 1954, in New York. He suffered a heart attack.

Black History Month: Day 19

Norbert Rillieux was an inventor and a chemical engineer. He invented the multiple effect evaporator under vacuum. He contributed to the production of better quality sugar by discovering that latent heat would improve results and lower prices.

Rillieux was born on March 17, 1806 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was born a free man. His mother was a slave, but his father was a rich, white engineer for a cotton industry. Rillieux was educated in Paris, France.

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He became an instructor of mechanics at the age of 24. He returned home to his father’s cotton industry in 1834.

Sugar was dominant throughout Louisiana, but the labor was dangerous and inefficient.

The steam operated single pan vacuum was introduced in the 1830s. Rillieux then decided to add on another pan, and a third one to improve the efficiency.

Theodore Packwood hired Rillieux to improve his plantation refinery. Rillieux then patented the triple evaporation pan system in 1843. The success of his pan system improved sugar refining, and the quality.

Around the 1850s, Rillieux, planned to improve the sewer system, and drain swamp lands in Louisiana to prevent further outbreak of yellow fever. His former employer, Edmund Forstall, was against Rillieux’s plan.

Rillieux became even more disgusted with racism in the south, and decided to move back to France. He spent the rest of his life there inventing.

He died on October 8, 1904.

Know Your Black History

Welcome to day 18 of Black History Month. Last night I started thinking about who else I wanted to dig up information on, and I came across a picture of a young black boy in jailhouse clothing.

George Stinney Jr. was the youngest person executed in the United States. Stinney was born on October 21, 1929 in Pinewood, South Carolina.

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On March 23, 1944, Stinney was arrested for the murder of two young white girls. Sources say, the girls disappeared while riding on their bikes looking for flowers. They passed by the Stinney’s property, and asked George if they knew where maypops could be found.

The girls did not return, and a search was done. Their bodies were found the next morning and were filled with severe wounds to the head.

Let’s keep in mind, Stinney was a young 90lb boy  who was then arrested later, and interrogated. The arresting officers claimed that Stinney confessed to murdering them. According to the “confession”, Stinney wanted to have sex with one of the girls. Both girls fought him off, and he picked up an iron weapon and murdered them.

Let us also keep in mind, that there was no written confession.

It took no more than 10 minutes for an all white jury to convict Stinney of murder. He was executed on June 16, 1944 at the South Carolina State Penitentiary.