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.

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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.

WELCOME TO DAY 4 OF BLACK HISTORY

It’s day four of Black History Month, and today the spotlight is on a poet by the name of Phillis Wheatley. She was the first African American, and one of the first women to publish poetry in the colonies around 1773.

Phillis was born in West Africa in 1753. She was brought to Massachusetts in 1761 on a slave ship and purchased by John Wheatley. She was the personal servant to his wife. Although slaves weren’t allowed to read and write, Phillis was educated by the Wheatleys.

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She learned to speak Latin and Greek, and started writing poetry. Her first poem was written and published in the year of 1767. Phillis later on gained more attention on her book of verses titled, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

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Phillis was a supporter for America’s independence. She wrote poems in honor of President George Washington, and sent one of her works to him in 1775. She was invited to visit him in March 1776 in Washington, and of course she accepted the offer.

In 1768, she wrote to King George III to thank him for repealing the Stamp Act.

Phillis married a free black man name John Peters from Boston in 1778. They had three children together, and unfortunately died as infants. The couple faced many struggles due to their poverty. Phillis kept at it with her work, but she was not able to publish her work due to their poverty.

Sometimes she would take on maid jobs in boarding houses. Not only that, but her husband was imprisoned for debt. Phillis never stopped writing. She was not able to publish her second volume of poems.

On December 5, 1784, Phillis died in her 30’s in Boston, Massachusetts.

Read more about Phillis Wheatley at http://www.biography.com/people/phillis-wheatley-9528784#later-life