For this final day of Black History Month, I went to blackfacts.com looking for a topic. I quickly noticed that Hattie McDaniel became the first black actor to win an Academy Award on this day in 1940. McDaniel won the Oscar for her performance of Mammy in Gone With the Wind.
As I began writing about her the names of other black performers who’d became famous playing racially stereotypical characters came to mind and I went to YouTube and watched some videos of Stepin Fetchit, Pigmeat Markum, Moms Mabley, and Eddie Anderson. I’m old enough to remember when these people performed on radio and in the movies and that I remember them as really being funny. Such is not the case today. I think with age and education our awareness and sensitivity have been attuned to what was behind it all and how offensive it must have been for those who were forced to make their livings from playing these parts.
It could be argued that the modern desegregation movement began with the 1954 Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Topeka. A decision in which the court ordered public schools to desegregate with, “all deliberate speed.” The immediate problem became, not everyone was on the same page about the meaning of all deliberate speed.
Sixty-six years after Brown racial segregation still exists throughout America and many will argue that the conservative segregationist crowd is taking us backward with the widespread use of educational vouchers.
You may have difficulty pronouncing El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. You may have difficulty spelling El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. You may have never even heard the name, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. But you could say it, spell it, and you likely have heard the name. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was more commonly known as Malcolm X and on this day, February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot to death at the Audubon Ballroom in NYC.
I would have been 23 years old and living in California. The civil rights movement was going on all around me and I, like so many white Americans, was struggling to understand what it all meant. Also, like so many whites I accepted the idea that Malcolm was a violent person and belonged to a violent religion that was led by a violent and dictatorial leader, Elijah Muhammad. I also assumed that Malcolm had died as he had lived, violently, and got what he deserved.
Below is an article I copied from Wikipedia about the Civil Rights Act of 1957. You can read the entire piece if you wish but the one thing I wanted to point how is what this article has to say about changes in our political parties.
Please note the voting that passed this bill into law.
Strom Thurman, the Democratic Senator from South Carolina made history by speaking against voting rights for African Americans for 24 hours and 18 minutes.
Notice the documents he read. The very documents that guarantee in some way the individual rights and equal protection of all American citizens
Look at the wide margin of Republican support in the House and the narrow Democratic support.
Very similar margins of support occurred in the Senate.
What you see with the passing of this bill is that America’s political parties were still what they had been since prior to the Civil War. Until the Civil Rights legislation of the 1950s and 1960s, it was the Democrats who had been major supporters of segregation and the racial status quo, especially in the South. That changed, however, when Thurmond and so many other conservative Democrats fled the party during the Lyndon Johnson years and became Republicans. Suddenly the conservative ranks of the GOP swelled and Republican politicians like Nixon and Goldwater employed what became known as the “southern strategy” to win elections.
From then to now it has been the Democrats who are most likely to support racial equality efforts and the Republicans the opposite. The positions of the two parties essentially did a racial flip flop.
It should be noted that Republicans routinely deny the existence of a Southern Strategy or that their party is less open to equal representation than the Democrats. While there may be some degree of truth in this, as a rather progressive historian I believe there is ample evidence indicating that American minorities feel more protected and included with Democrats than with Republicans.
The question is up for debate and for you to do your research and decide for yourself.
“The Civil Rights Act of 1957, Pub.L. 85–315, 71 Stat. 634, enacted September 9, 1957, primarily a voting rights bill, was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was also Congress’s show of support for the Supreme Court’s Brown decisions, the Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which had eventually led to the integration, also called desegregation, of public schools. Following the Supreme Court ruling, Southern whites in Virginia began a “Massive Resistance.” Violence against blacks rose there and in other states, as in Little Rock, Arkansas where that year President Dwight D. Eisenhower had ordered in federal troops to protect nine children integrating into a public school, the first time the federal government had sent troops to the South since the Reconstruction era. There had been continued physical assaults against suspected activists and bombings of schools and churches in the South. The administration of Eisenhower proposed legislation to protect the right to vote by African Americans.
Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, an ardent segregationist, sustained the longest one-person filibuster in history in an attempt to keep the bill from becoming law. His one-man filibuster lasted 24 hours and 18 minutes; he began with readings of every state’s election laws in alphabetical order. Thurmond later read from the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and George Washington”s Farewell Address. His speech set the record for a Senate filibuster. The bill passed the House with a vote of 285 to 126 (Republicans 167–19 for, Democrats 118–107 for) and the Senate 72 to 18 (Republicans 43–0 for, Democrats 29–18 for). [clarification needed] President Eisenhower signed it on September 9, 1957.”
Chances are that you’ve all heard of the Sears Roebuck Company and Booker T. Washington. But, there’s a greater chance you’ve never heard of Julius Rosenwald, a Chicago businessman born to German-Jewish immigrants.
Rosenwald was a businessman with a concern for the education of Black children in America, especially those in the segregated South. He was both the president of Sears and a member of the Board of Trustees of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. In 1912 Booker T. Washington approached him with the idea of building schools in which to educate Black children.
NOTE: This is a reprisal of a piece I published in 2012 and while it remains informative and accurate it astounds me how positive I sounded eight years ago and how pessimistic I feel today. Eight years ago we had the hope that arrived with our first African American president. Today we have a president who wouldn’t hesitate to fertilize the seeds of strange fruit if he thought it would advance his fortune and fame.
I’ve been a student of American History for most of my life. The thing that draws me to history is the constant challenge it presents to one’s perception of reality. We all live in a comfort zone and make assumptions that everyone is experiencing what we are and that things have always been as they are. Studying history never stops pulling the rug out from under one’s feet. Just when I thought I couldn’t be shocked, bam!, I’m laying on the floor!
The Civil Rights Movement of my memory began in the 1950s and as an ignorant and complacent white teenager from Ohio, it took me some time to figure out what was happening. I don’t know how many events or which particular one jolted me out of my stupor but one that I remember took place at a Five and Dime lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, sixty years ago February 1, 1960.
Many larger communities of that time had an F.W. Woolworth variety store and most of those had lunch counters. While blacks were permitted to shop for everyday goods they were not welcomed at the segregated lunch counters.
The former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, recently stated that the Confederate Flag had been hijacked by Dylann Roof, the white nationalists who murdered nine innocent churchgoers in Charleston, SC several years ago. Haley, appearing on Glen Beck’s radio program, claimed that to most people of South Carolina the Confederate Flag represented a history of “service, sacrifice, and heritage”.
A friend of mine found a post on their Facebook feed this morning extolling the policies of Donald Trump and boldly stating that they didn’t care how horrible Trump was since he was ridding America of its rodent problem. One thing this idiot said that caught my attention was that Trump deserved our support because he was self-financed and didn’t depend on lobbyist and corporate financing.
I find this an interesting graphical illustration of mass shootings in America since Columbine in 1999. I’m not sure what defines a mass shooting but one definition I read says it is any that involved the death of four or more people.
There are several things illustrated by this graphic, the most blatant being the frequency of shootings and the death count. These truths demand some explanation, why are we increasingly in
When I was a kid and visiting my aunt and uncle in Columbia, SC during the summers many of the Lincoln Street guys carried folding carpet knives. They had lubricated the hinge and over many openings and closings, limbered it up. The trick was to grab the back of the blade’s edge and with a sharp wrist flip, open the knife for whatever action was intended. I thought it was cool and wanted one of those knives for myself. So, one day I journeyed to uptown Columbia and purchased a carpet knife from a long gone Army Navy store.
Ohio never had much of a barbecue heritage and growing up there I had no knowledge of what real barbecue was. I also had no knowledge of the great variety and the forever argument over who has the best. Barbecue to us buckeyes was what you got at a drive-in restaurant and it usually came out of a can, sauce and all.
My first experience with real Carolina ‘cue was at Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro, NC. We spent a week at Atlantic Beach and when we’d talk to people on the beach they’d ask us if we had stopped at Wilber’s for the barbecue. At the end of the week, on the way back to Ohio, we stopped and had a large family style meal of pulled pork, vinegar slaw, potato salad, hush puppies, sweet tea, and banana pudding. For years we went to Atlantic Beach every year and never passed Wilber’s without stopping for a plate. It was my first and to this day, remains my favorite. Matter of fact, there’s a bottle of Wilber’s Eastern Carolina vinegar sauce in our fridge at this moment.
Back in the 1960s, there was a local farmer that got caught up in a check-kiting scheme. Before it was all over he had been charged with multiple felonies, several bank officials had their careers ruined, several banks either failed or came close and the farmer that started it all, to my knowledge never spent a day in jail.
That the farmer had got off scot-free the same newspaper published a below the centerfold story about a poor white woman who had written an insufficient check for a few dollars and had been sentenced to a lengthy jail term.
I originally published this as part of Black History Month in February 2009. I’ve since forgotten the source but thought it interesting enough to reprise for the 2019 event. While many may know of the Patterson family’s association with early transportation they may not be aware of their helping to change the laws regarding education in Ohio.
State of Ohio on relation of C. R. Patterson vs. The Board of Education of the Incorporated Village of Greenfield, Ohio, and W. G. Moler as Superintendent
Much has been written about the Patterson family and their work in the carriage and automobile business. Here is little-known information about the Pattersons. It shows the importance that C. R. placed on education and how Frederick came to be the businessman that he was.
The governor of Virginia is under fire for appearing on his medical school yearbook page either in blackface or in the uniform of a KKK member. The date was 1984, twenty years after the signing of civil rights acts and even more years since the murder of Emmett Till, the Montgomery bus boycott, or the beating of Selma marchers. Plenty of years to have learned that blackface and KKK costumes were not appropriate party wear. Plenty of time to learn that many things are offensive and that society, in general, should become aware and adjust their behaviors.