Today in Black History February 14

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Today in Black History February 14

1. 1818 – Frederick Douglass is born

The son of a slave woman and an unknown white man, “Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey” was born in February of 1818 on Maryland’s eastern shore. He spent his early years with his grandparents and with an aunt, seeing his mother only four or five times before her death when he was seven. (All Douglass knew of his father was that he was white.) During this time he was exposed to the degradations of slavery, witnessing firsthand brutal whippings and spending much time cold and hungry. When he was eight he was sent to Baltimore to live with a ship carpenter named Hugh Auld. There he learned to read and first heard the words abolition and abolitionists. “Going to live at Baltimore,” Douglass would later say, “laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity.” (read more)

2. 1760 – Founder of the African Methodist Church Richard Allen is born

Born into slavery in 1760, Richard Allen became a Methodist preacher, an outspoken advocate of racial equality and a founder of the African Methodist Church (AME), one of the largest independent African American denominations in the country.

As a slave, Allen had neither freedom nor a last name. He was known simply as “Negro Richard.” At age 17, Allen converted to Methodism after hearing a white itinerant Methodist preacher. Allen’s owner, a Delaware planter, also converted and allowed Allen to buy his freedom in 1783. Allen bought his freedom for $2,000 and received a bill of manumission. He gave himself a last name, “Allen.” (read more)

3. 1867 – Morehouse College is organized in Augusta, Georgia

Although currently located in Georgia’s capital city, Morehouse originated as the Augusta Institute in Augusta, Georgia, just two years after the Civil War.  The Augusta Institute relocated to Atlanta in 1879 and became known as Atlanta Baptist Seminary.  Students initially attended classes in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church.  When John D. Rockefeller donated land near Spelman for the men’s college in the 1880s, the school moved to its present location in southwest Atlanta.

In 1913, while under the leadership of the college’s first African American president, John Hope, the school’s name changed to Morehouse College. The new designation honored Dr. Henry Lyman Morehouse, the white, northern-born minister and prominent member of the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York who donated funds to the college.  Since the school opened its door during the Reconstruction era, Morehouse has continued to benefit from the donations of philanthropists and alumni. (read more)

4. 1936 – National Negro Congress is organized  

The National Negro Congress (NNC), created in 1935, attempted to build a national constituency to pressure New Deal administrators for labor and civil rights. Over 800 delegates, 43 percent of them from Chicago and the rest from across the nation, representing 500 different organizations, filled the Eighth Regiment Armory on the Chicago’s South Side for the inauguration of the NNC from February 14 to 16, 1936. A large crowd gathered outside the armory to listen to the proceedings on loudspeakers, and WCFL, “The [Radio] Voice of Labor,” broadcast highlights of the event over the airwaves. The sessions included discussions concerning sharecroppers, interracial organizing, women and labor, the arts, business, and the war in Ethiopia. The Chicago Defender accurately assessed the event as “the most ambitious effort for bringing together members of the Race on any single issue.” (read more)

5. 1946 – Entertainer Extraordinaire Gregory Hines is born

Born in New York City in 1946, Gregory Hines studied dance from an early age and performed with family members at the Apollo Theater. In the 1970s he launched a Broadway career and later starred in movies including The Cotton Club and White Nights.

Tap dancer, actor, director, musician. Born February 14, 1946 in New York City. Involved in show business at an early age, Hines grew up as a member of Hines, Hines, and Dad alongside his father and older brothers. He studied dance with master tap dancer Henry Le Tang and spent much of his early career dancing at the Apollo Theater, gleaning knowledge from such fellow performers as the Nicholas Brothers and Sandman Sims. (read more)

6. 1965 – Home of Malcolm X bombed

note – Malcolm delivered this speech on the very night that his home in New York was firebombed. He was terribly tired and worried, yet he still showed up all the way in Detroit– this shows his extreme courage and determination. This is probably his last speech outside of New York, and displays his intellect and honesty, as well as his ideas and understanding close to his death.

Distinguished guests, brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen, friends and enemies:

I want to point out first that I am very happy to be here this evening and I’m thankful [to the Afro-American Broadcasting Company] for the invitation to come here to Detroit this evening. I was in a house last night that was bombed, my own. It didn’t destroy all my clothes, not all, but you know what happens when fire dashes through — they get smoky. The only thing I could get my hands on before leaving was what I have on now.

It isn’t something that made me lose confidence in what I am doing, because my wife understands and I have children from this size on down, and even in their young age they understand. I think they would rather have a father or brother or whatever the situation may be who will take a stand in the face of any kind of reaction from narrow-minded people rather than to compromise and later on have to grow up in shame and in disgrace.

So I just ask you to excuse my appearance. I don’t normally come out in front of people without a shirt and a tie. I guess that’s somewhat a holdover from the ‘Black Muslim’ movement, which I was in. That’s one of the good aspects of that movement. It teaches you to be very careful and conscious of how you look, which is a positive contribution on their part. But that positive contribution on their part is greatly offset by too many other liabilities.

Tonight we want to discuss — and by the way, also, when I came here today I was a bit — last night, the temperature was about twenty above and when this explosion took place, I was caught in what I had on, some pajamas. And in trying to get my family out of the house, none of us stopped for any clothes at that point — twenty-degree cold. I myself was — I had gotten them into the house of the neighbor next door. So I thought perhaps being in that condition for so long I would get pneumonia or a cold or something like that, so a doctor came today — a nice doctor too — and he shot something in my arm that naturally put me to sleep. I’ve been back there asleep ever since the program started in order to get back in shape. So if I have a tendency to stutter or slow down, it’s still the effects of that drug. I don’t know what kind it was, but it was good; it makes you sleep, and there’s nothing like sleeping through a whole lot of excitement. (read more)

3 Responses to Today in Black History February 14

  1. Stephen Young February 14, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Marvelous.

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