"The more you know of your History, the more Liberated you are."
When you think about all the influence that Black Women have, it really brings into perspective just how strong, resilient, intelligent and beautiful we are. And in the last couple decades, Black Women are proving that color nor gender can stop us from being supportive wives, loving mothers, leaders in our communities, executives within fortune 500 companies, business owners, inventors, record holding athletes, artist and even billionaires. I'm sure names such as Michelle Obama, Ursula Burns, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and Rihanna immediately came to mind; all very influential and inspiring Black women.
Black women have always embodied characteristic that were in line with the progression of other Black women but even more, all Black Americans. Our history is rich in Black female trailblazers and pioneers. Sojourner Truth, born a slave but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom. Harriet Tubman, born a slave, escaped and then rescued approximately 70 enslaved people. Shirley Chisholm, the first African American to run for a major party's nomination for President of the United States. Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black woman millionaire in America who made her fortune from her homemade line of hair care products for Black women, Mya Angelo and the list goes on! Though history is heavily influenced by the strides and accomplishments of so many black women, one of my favorite Women in history is Dr. Mary McCleod Bethune.
Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator and activist, founder of Bethune Cookman University, serving as president of the National Association of Colored Women, founding the National Council of Negro Women, and advisor to multiple Presidents of the United States. Overall, Mary McLeod Bethune was a champion of African American women’s rights and advancement.
On July 10, 1875 near Maysville, S.C, Bethune was the fifteenth of seventeen children born of former slaves. She was born shortly after South Carolina state's 1868 constitution guaranteed equal rights to black citizens whom were Just as Bethune's parents, formerly enslaved people. As a black person in America, Mary had an early start to education as she benefited from efforts to educate African Americans after the war. At the age of seven, Mary started school while some of her siblings continued to work on the family farm and continued her education through the completion of her studies at Scotia Seminary and, in 1895, at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. From there, she begin her teaching career.
In 1989, Mary married former teacher, Albertus Bethune and together, they had one son. By 1904, the family had moved to Daytona, Florida. In 1911, she opened the region’s first hospital for black citizens. Named in honor of her parents, McLeod Hospital allowed aspiring nurses to received hands-on training and help those need. Soon after, with only $1.50, five young girls, and her faith in God, Bethune founded the Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls; originally a boarding school. In 1923 the school merged with Cookman Institute, and in 1941, Bethune-Cookman College was accredited as a four-year liberal arts college.
By this time, Bethune realized the limits of local politics and began to seek a national platform. In 1924 she assumed the presidency of the largest black women’s political organization in the country, the National Association of Colored Women. By 1935, she was working in Washington, D.C., and the following year played a major role in organizing President Franklin Roosevelt’s Federal Council on Negro Affairs, unofficially known as the “Black Cabinet.” She leveraged her close friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to lobby for integrating the Civilian Pilot Training Program and to bring the Program to the campuses of historically Black colleges and universities, which led to graduating some of the first black pilots in the country. For more than fifty years, Mary McLeod Bethune was at the Vanguard of Black progression in America.
Scurlock Studio Records
NMAH, Smithsonian Institution
Very well deserved Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune will make history when she becomes the first African American to have a state-commissioned statue in Statuary Hall. The statue will be on display in Daytona Beach through December before it makes its way to the US Capitol in early 2022 to replace the General Edmund Kirby Smith statue.
As stated on Bethune Cookman University's website, It is clear why Dr. Bethune’s presence is so palpably and deeply felt at Bethune-Cookman University, where students, staff and faculty alike honor her memory with their own vision, resilience, service and success. Clearly no ordinary leader, Dr. Bethune’s philosophy is one that we can all learn from and live by. "Being a graduate of Bethune Cookman University has played a major part in the woman that I am today", stated 2nd Generation graduate Ronica Williams. "I learned and experienced so much more than what my parents shared with me. "Bethune Cookman University has has it share of turmoil, many HBCUs have, but what Mary did with $1.50 is why her legacy will forever be and why I have so much pride in my alma mater!"
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune's educational activism and leadership not only paved the way for many Black Women in education, leadership, civil rights, and politics; but her life's story can teach us all a lesson on RESILIENCE!
Public view the newly unveiled statue of Dr. Mary M. Bethune at the News-Journal Center in Daytona
Before becoming a founding member of NAACP, W.E.B. Du Bois had a reputation of being one of the most Intellectual Blacks in his era. The first Black American to earn a PhD from Harvard University, Du Bois was a published author before becoming NAACP's director of publicity and research and starting the organization's official journal, The Crisis, in 1910.
Educator, essayist, journalist, scholar, social critic, and activist W.E.B. DuBois, Born as, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was a black American Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and grew up in an integrated community. He excelled in the public schools of Great Barrington, graduating valedictorian from his high school in 1884. Four years later he received a B.A. from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1890 DuBois earned a second bachelor degree from Harvard University. DuBois began two years of graduate studies in History and Economics at the University of Berlin in Germany in 1892 and then returned to the United States to begin a two year stint teaching Greek and Latin at Wilberforce University in Ohio. In 1895, DuBois became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University. His doctoral thesis, “The Suppression of the African Slave Trade in America,” became the first book published by Harvard University Press in 1896.
Before the close of the 19th century, DuBois also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Atlanta University. During this time, he became the first scholar to systematically study African American urban life. DuBois’s first post-dissertation book, The Philadelphia Negro, released in 1899, determined that housing and employment discrimination were the principal barriers to racial equality and black prosperity in the urban North. His work and conclusions initiated the field of African American urban history.
Silent Parade, 1917, New York, organized by NAACP to promote civil rights
Anti-lynching parade organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Ten thousand participants marched in the silent parade; women and children dressed in white and men dressed in black. Caused by the inhumane deaths of black people during the East St Louis Riots. The East St. Louis Riots were a series of outbreaks of labor and race-related violence by White Americans who murdered between 39 and 150 African Americans in late May and early July 1917. Another 6,000 black people were left homeless, and the burning and vandalism cost approximately $400,000 ($8,080,000 in 2021) in property damage. The events took place in and near East St. Louis, an industrial city on the east bank of the Mississippi River, directly opposite the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The July 1917 episode in particular was marked by white-led violence throughout the city. The multi-day riot has been described as the "worst case of labor-related violence in 20th-century American history", and among the worst racial riots in U.S. history .
The goal was to protest murders, lynchings, and other anti-Black violence; to promote anti-lynching legislation, and promote Black causes
Pictured from left to right in second row: Rev. Hutchins Bishop (1); Jack Nail, prominent New York realtor (4); W.E.B. Du Bois (8); James Weldon Johnson (9).
By the early 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, DuBois devoted much of his energy to promoting peace between the United States and the Soviet Union. He embraced this controversial position at great personal and professional peril. His only foray into politics, a failed run in 1950 as a Socialist for the US Senate seat from New York, drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Stripped by the State Department of his passport in 1950 and criticized by many former allies and associates in the civil rights struggle, DuBois became a Communist, believing it offered the only hope for working class people around the world and the only major challenge to racism.
In 1961 DuBois gave up his citizenship and left the United States permanently for Accra, Ghana. With the support of Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, DuBois became the editor of the proposed Africana Encyclopedia. Before the project was completed, DuBois died in Accra on August 27, 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington, the largest civil rights demonstration in the US to that date.
Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
George W. McLaurin, born on September 16, 1894, was the first African-American to attend the University of Oklahoma. Though he received his master's degree from the University of Kansas,
he earned his B.A., taught and retired from a predominantly black College, Langston University.
In 1948, George McLaurin applied to the University of Oklahoma for his graduate degree and, like many African American students during that time, he was denied admission only on the basis that he was black. He took his issue to federal court and won admission to Oklahoma University.
To comply with segregation laws, President George Lynn Cross arranged for McLaurin's classes to be held in a designated space, away from the white students while still attending all his classes. The only African American student out of 12,174 total, George McLaurin was forced to sit in a corner far from his white classmates. Other rules that were implemented promoted segregation including but we’re not limited to special seating areas at the cafeteria, sporting events and separate restroom facilities. For two years, he took his classes from that closet at University of Oklahoma.
September 16,1894-September 4,1968
Understanding that the treatment he experienced was not equal, McLaurin filed a suit stating that these conditions deprived him of equality. McLaurin-vs-Oklahoma State Regents was an important case in history because it was one of the first cases that attempted to combat the "separate but equal" provision in the Plessy-vs-Ferguson case. McLaurin v Oklahoma showed how the "separate but equal" provision can still be manipulated in a way that discriminates against individuals on the basis of race. In 1950 a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that McLaurin had not received equal treatment as required by the Constitution. George McLaurin ultimately left the university after only two semesters. His case, however, would prove a key precedent in the national fight against segregation, paving the way for the landmark 1954 case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which established that separate was inherently unequal in all levels of education. His name remains on the honor roll as one of the three best students of the university.
"Some colleagues would look at me like I was an animal, no one would give me a word, the teachers seemed like they were not even there for me, nor did they always take my questions when I asked. But I devoted myself so much that afterward, they began to look for me to give them explanations and to clear their questions," He stated.
Currently at Oklahoma University, there is a gathering named after George A. McLaurin on the campus called The George McLaurin Male Leadership Conference. The conference is mainly intended for the recruitment of first-generation college students, and particularly those within minority groups. George McLaurin died on September 4, 1968.
Remembering George McLaurin a BSMN Black Hero
Juneteenth is one of the biggest celebrations in Black history! June 19, 1865 in Galveston Texas, the last slaves were set free! Unfortunately, it came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln on recorded date January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the small number of Union troops to carry out the new Executive Order. Though, when General Lee surrendered in April of 1865, and the coming of General Granger’s regiment, the troops were finally strong enough to influence and to overcome their opposition....
Why did it take two and a half years?
Later attempts to explain why it took two and a half years for information to be delivered. It just doesn’t add up, right? Through history, there have been several versions of the story. One often told is the story of a messenger who was killed on his way to Texas with the news of the slaves’ new freedom. Another is one that isn’t hard to believe; it is said that the news was intentionally withheld by the enslavers to carry on the labor force on the plantations. Now, the last reason is a testament that "some people" will stick together no matter what, even in evilness. So, it is also said that the federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or none of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. Whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory,” shares Juneteenth.com, the official website he for this particular holiday.
Due to the persistent endeavors of Al Edwards, an American state legislator, on January 1 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday! Not yet a National holiday, but Awareness to Juneteenth is rapidly increasing. Every year since 1980, Blacks all over the nation celebrate in solidarity that “True Freedom for Blacks Come with Unity” - Shawn Cee