Black History Fun Fact Friday – Phillip  L. Downing and the First Mailbox

 

Every day, we use our mailbox, checking it for packages and letters and bills. You look at it every single day but did you know a black man invented it? Thanks to Phillip L. Downing (some sources and memes say Paul but so far I have only been able to verify that his name was Phillip), you don‘t have to travel to the post office every day. You can just walk a few steps from your home. But Downing didn’t call it a mailbox. He called it a Street Letter Box.

Downing was born in Providence, Rhode Island on March 22, 1857. His father, George T. Downing was an abolitionist and business owner. His grandfather, Thomas Downing, was born to emancipated parents in Virginia and also had a successful business in the financial district of Manhattan in 1825. Thomas Downing also helped to found the United Anti-Slavery Societies of New York City.

Coming from a family of business owners, it‘s no surprise that Phillip would become an inventor. During the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, Downing successfully filed five patents with the United States Patent Office. Among his most significant inventions were a street letterbox (U.S. Patent numbers 462,092 and 462,093) and a mechanical device for operating a street railway switches (U.S. Patent number 430,118), which he invented before the predecessor of today‘s mailbox. On June 17, 1890, the U.S. Patent Office approved Downing’s application for “new and useful Improvements in Street-Railway Switches.” His invention allowed the switches to be opened or closed by using a brass arm next to the brake handle on the platform of the car. Then, on October 27, 1891, his two patents for a street letter box also gained approval.

Downing’s design resembled old school mailboxes (see image). A tall metal box with a secure, hinged door to drop letters. Until this point, people wanting to send mail had to travel to the nearest post office. This is how the enslaved “heard it through the grapevine,“ communication started on slave plantations where information passed from person-to-person, by word of mouth. The Black person who was sent to the post office to get the mail would linger long enough to get a drift of the conversation from the group of white people who congregated there. The mail carrier on his way back to the master‘s house would retell the news he heard so that the other slaves knew what was going on in the world. While many records accredit this to the news that came through the telegraph, it actually began before then. The “grape-vine telegraph” (Washington, p. 9) was unofficially invented first as mouth-to-mouth rumors, gossip, and worldly conversations and news of the war from Southern blacks on the plantation.

Knowing this, it is not surprising that a Black man would make these “conversations” easier by inventing a mailbox. To this day the term, “I heard it through the grapevine,” is still a common saying for someone who has heard gossip. The phrase has even been recorded as a song by Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1967 and by Marvin Gaye in 1968.

Before, those wishing to send mail usually had to travel to the post office but Downing’s invention changed that. Instead, the street letter box would allow for drop off near one’s home and easy pickup by a letter carrier. His idea for the hinged opening prevented rain or snow from entering the box and damaging the mail.


Misty Brown, “Ever Wonder,” Afro-American February 6, 1988; Eyvaine Walker, Keeping a Family Legacy Alive: Unforgotten African Americans (Atlanta, GA: Twins Pub, 2011), 316 – 317. “Philip Downing, Boston, Retires After 31 Years Service in Custom House,” The New York Age, April 9, 1927.

Mahoney, E. (2017, October 31) Philip B. Downing (1857-1934). Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/downing-philip-b-1857-1934/

Washington, B. (1995). UP From Slavery. Dover Publications Inc. Edition. Original Publisher, Doubleday, Page, circa 1901, NY. Chapter 1: A Slave Among Slaves, p.9

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – A Review

“What is Black History?”

The question is deceptively simple. While it may seem like the history of “black people,” or a month worth of 28 days of “Black Pride,” or a horrific recap of slavery, Black History is deeper and richer than this. The African diaspora consists of a worldwide collection of communities and not all black-skinned people are part of the same nationality of people.

Are we going to talk about Black Biblical History and refer to ancestral names? The bible does not support the concept of race which means that we are then dealing with another aspect of black history. What is the nationality of the so-called “black people” of the western hemisphere and abroad? Are we talking about the Israelites (who are black) the Egyptians (black…Israel and Egypt is in Northeast Africa by the way), the Ethiopians, Nubians, Somalians, the Philistines, the Canaanites, Assyrians (who were Black Hamites), or the Elamites (descendants of Shem with Afros and full beards)?

“King Solomon said, ‘I’m Black but I’m comely,’ so what color would all of Solomon’s sons be? The Messiah went into Egypt to hide, how could that be done with blonde hair and blue eyes? It’s not about skin complexion, it’s just a fact, the people of the bible were black.”

Are we talking about the Ghanaian? Nigerian? Kenyan? Ashanti? Are we talking about the Jamaican, Haitian, Dominican, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Brazilian?

Do we discuss Kings and Queens? Who was King Solomon and King David? Did you know they were black Israelite Kings? Or, who was Mansa Mussa, Samore Toure, King of Sudan, or King Tenkamenin of Ghana? Who was Amina, Queen of Zaria, Candace, the empress of Ethiopia, Makeda, Queen of Sheba, Nefertiti, Queen of Ancient Kemet or Yaa Asantewa, Ashanti kingdom, Ghana?

Black people are worldwide so when we say “Black History,” we have a lot to talk about and fortunately for you, this blog is all about that not just in February but every Friday (or every other Friday) of the week. If you’re one of those people who live for the deep and rich experiences of Blacks not just in America but worldwide, if you live for this on an everyday basis, then you’ve come to the right place!

Next week, we have a new episode coming up. For now, this is a great time for you to review some of the articles we already have available on this site. Below are some of the more popular ones and I’ll see you next week!

The Origin of Black History Month

The First Black Public High School

The Attica Massacre

A Brief History of Race Riots in America

Mostafa Hefny and the Race Card

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Sarah Rector

The Fultz Sisters

The Soto Brothers

Nora Holt

Sundown Towns

3 Facts You Should Know About the Black Panthers

Capturing the Good in Harlem

Learn more by visiting the Black History Fun Fact Friday Page HERE.


ATTN: A quick word. I have selected four of my books that will be on a 99cent digital sale for the ENTIRE month of February! In honor of Black History Month, The Road to Freedom, Renaissance, Revolution and I am Soul will be 99cents in ebook. If you’ve never read any of my books this is an EXCELLENT opportunity to see what the hype is all about.

Learn more about the books on sale HERE.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – The 400th Year

Welcome to the first Black History Fun Fact Friday episode of 2019! BHFFF was founded in 2015 on this blog where we give doses of Black History year around. For more episodes, be sure to visit the page where we have archived all our episodes so far HERE.


Q. Why are people talking so much about the 400th Year? What is this?

2019 is being called the 400th Year because it marks the 400 years since American slavery. Founded in 1607, America celebrated her 400 year anniversary in 2007. Twelve years from 1607 (1619) she brought to her shores the first 20 persons of African descent to begin American slavery.

At the top of the year, a group of celebrities traveled to Ghana to celebrate the opening of 2019.  Ghana is one of many African countries offering African Americans easy return in a second exodus type commemoration they are calling The Year of Return, Ghana 2019. While as early as May 1616, blacks from the West Indies were at work in Bermuda providing knowledge about the cultivation of tobacco and in 1526, enslaved “Africans” were part of a Spanish expedition to establish an outpost on the North American coast in present-day South Carolina, 1619 remains an important  part of Black American history because it was the beginning of American slavery as we know it today, where the first Blacks appeared in Virginia as captives to begin the American Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. August 2019 marks 400 years and many are commemorating it with what has been coined The Year of Return.

“A Dutch ship carrying 20 Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, on Aug. 20, 1619, a voyage that would mark the beginning of slavery in the American colonies. The number of slaves continued to grow between the 17th and 18th centuries, as slave labor was used to help fuel the growing tobacco and cotton industries in the southern states. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, some 4 million slaves were set free. However, racial inequalities and violence toward newly freed slaves would persist in the country throughout the 1860s and 1870s.” – BET National News

In September of 2010, I had the opportunity to visit Jamestown Virginia and to stand on the banks of the James River where 20 of the first documented arrival of “Africans” were brought to the colony of Virginia. The 20 captives were removed from the Portuguese slave ship, San Juan Bautista, following an encounter the ship had with the White Lion and her consort, the Treasurer, another English ship as documented by John Rolfe, Virginia’s first tobacco planter. He wrote about the account of the African landing in a letter to the Virginia Company of London. The captain of a Dutch warship that arrived in Jamestown in August 1619 “brought not any thing but 20 and odd Negroes, wch the Governor and Cape Marchant bought for victuale . . . at the best and easyest rate they could.”

“The slaves were herded onto a Portuguese slave ship in Angola, in Southwest Africa. The ship was seized by British pirates on the high seas — not brought to Virginia after a period of time in the Caribbean. The slaves represented one ethnic group, not many, as historians first believed.” – Lisa Rein, Mystery of Va.’s First Slaves Is Unlocked 400 Years Later

It is interesting that historians have now verified that the enslaved represented one ethnic group and not many because for too long we’ve grouped the many peoples of Africa into one category. We have been brainwashed into referring to them as Africans instead of by their true nationality. Africa is a continent made up of over fifty countries and many different nationalities. When the first 20 Blacks were brought to the Americas, they were not just Africans. They were part of an entire nation of people. They were descendants of the ancient Israelites and brought to America as part of biblical prophecy. (Gen. 15:13) The most revealing account of the Hebrew heritage of these Africans is told in the memoir of Olaudah Equiano, known in his lifetime as Gustavus Vassa, a writer, and abolitionist from the Igbo region of what is today southeastern Nigeria according to his memoir. He states:

“And here I cannot forebear suggesting what has long struck me very forcibly, namely, the strong analogy…which appears to prevail in the manners and customs of my countrymen and those of the Jews, before they reached the land of promise and particularly the patriarchs…an analogy which would induce me to think that one people sprang from the other. We practiced circumcision like the Jews and made offerings and feasts on that occasion in the same manner they did. Like the Israelites in their primitive state, our government was conducted by our chiefs or judges, our wisemen and elders; and the head of the family, with us, enjoyed a similar authority over his household with that which is ascribed to Abraham and the other patriarchs.” – The Life of Olaudah Equiano, Chapter 1, pp 22-24)

Other examples can be found among the Ashanti Tribe of Ghana, where the priesthood is hereditary to a specific family, such a family has little or no possessions, is exempt from all taxes, supplied with food and advises the king. Compare this with the Levites of ancient Israel. While not all “Blacks” are Israelites (Africa is filled with many nations of Black people), it is clear that many of the cultural differences of the many nations of Africa are Hebraic in nature and that many of these customs have been hidden from the world. For example, The name Ashanti, the predominant tribe in Ghana, formerly known as the Gold Coast, comes from the Hebrew word “Ashan” meaning, “smoke.” The name Ashan was the name of a city located in southern Israel.

“Their sanitation laws closely mirror that of what is written in the Torah. They were originally a pastoral people until they were forced to move into the bush, which is similar to what has happened to the Igbos. The selling of prisoners of war as slaves or the enslavement of their fellow man in order to pay off debt as it is found in the Torah, the five Books of Moses. Also when one dies, the place in which a person has expired is cleansed and locked up for nine days, which is like how in Leviticus 14 a room is shut up for seven days. They never fought on Saturday (Sabbath) they started their calendar in the fall like Jews and Hebrews. The Ashanti society is a Patriarchal one.” – Ashanti of Ghana, Hebrew Igbo

Slavers went into the interior of the African continent in search for a specific people. They may have practiced the laws of the Old Testament, wore fringes, kept the Sabbath and lived their lives in striking resemblance of the Israelites of the bible, their ancestors.

“The early 1600s was a time of war and empire-building in Southwest Africa; Portuguese traders under the rule of the king of Spain had established the colony of Angola. The exporting of slaves to the Spanish New World was a profitable enterprise. The Portuguese waged war against the kingdoms of Ndongo and Kongo to the north, capturing and deporting thousands of men and women. They passed through a slave fortress at the port city of Luanda, still Angola’s capital.” – Rein, L.

The Treasurer and the White Lion each took 20 to 30 enslaved Israelites before the San Juan Bautista continued to Veracruz. They landed at Jamestown within four days of each other and traded the Hebrews for provisions. The Treasurer then sailed to Bermuda, dropping off more of the enslaved, and returned to Virginia a few months later, trading the final nine or ten more. In 1640, John Punch, a runaway indentured servant, was the first documented slave for life and in 1662, slavery was recognized in the statutory law of the colony.

In 1662, Virginia legally recognized slavery as a hereditary, lifelong condition. Even before this statute appeared, however, many blacks were being held as slaves for life, and as black laborers gradually replaced white indentured servants as the principle source of agricultural labor during the second half of the seventeenth century, laws restricting the activities of Africans were being introduced, codifying slavery as a race-based system.- The Slave Experience: Legal Rights and Government.

And now you know why 2019 is being deemed the 400th Year, why this is a great time to revisit history (not just the bad stuff but the amazing contributions of Blacks to America over the years as well) and why many of your favorite celebrities brought in 2019 on the continent of Africa.

August 20, 1619 – August 20, 2019 = 400 years.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Benjamin Montgomery and a Word of Caution about Black History Memes

 

Welcome back to another Black History Fun Fact Friday.

Today, we are talking about how important it is for us not to let the dreams of our ancestors die. We are talking about picking up the mantel, reversing generational curses, and rededicating ourselves to our forefathers and fore-mother’s legacy. We are also talking about being careful with internet research and sharing disinformation, and we are doing it by looking at the life of one man, Benjamin Montgomery and his son Isaiah.

Benjamin Montgomery was born a slave in London Country VA in 1819 and was sold to a Mississippi planter named Joseph Davis. Davis was the older brother of Jefferson Davis who later served as President of the Confederate States of America. Montgomery was taught to read and write by Davis children and was tasked with running Joseph’s general store on Davis Bend plantation. Montgomery did so well that he was promoted to overseeing Joseph’s entire purchasing and shipping operations. Benjamin learned land surveying, techniques for flood control and the drafting of architectural plans. Montgomery was also a mechanic and an inventor but as an enslaved man, his inventions were denied patents. And even though Jefferson Davis made it a law to allow slaves to file patents, Montgomery’s inventions were still denied. But Montgomery’s inventions was not his only passions. Benjamin also had dreams of owning his own land.

After the end of the Civil War, Joseph Davis sold his plantation to Montgomery and his son Isaiah. Benjamin and Isaiah set out to fulfill Benjamin’s dream by using the land to establish a community of freed slaves but natural disasters ruined their crops and they were unable to pay off the loan to Davis. As a result, the land went back to Joseph and Montgomery died the following year.

Even though this is sad, it gets better. Isaiah (Montgomery’s son), did not let his father’s dream die. He purchased 840 acres of land along with a number of former slaves and founded the town Mound Bayou in Mississippi in 1887. You remember Mound Bayou right? It‘s the first all-black town of Mississippi I talked about it here back in 2016. Isaiah was named the town first mayor.

Be Careful with Black History Memes:

Before I leave you, I must share a word of caution. Since it’s “cool” to be “woke” now, I’ve been seeing a lot of disinformation about black history circulating on memes on social media. Sadly, a lot of these memes are not historically accurate. Hurricanes do not come from the spirits of “enslaved black women.” That’s not true, and that’s not where Hurricanes come from. There is one about Charles S.L. Baker that says that he invented heat. This is also not true. Charles S.L. Baker improved on the Friction Heater and was one of many who received a patent for it. He did not invent heat. Heat had already existed for thousands of years before S.L. was born. Additionally, the meme says the man next to him is his assistant. This is also not true. Some sources say this man is Charles’ brother but no one really knows who the other man is.

There is another meme out about this story that says Montgomery bought the land he was enslaved on. This is false. Montgomery did not buy the land as you have just read. The land was given to him on a loan and then it was taken back. The victory in this story is his son’s determination to pick up where his father left off and to establish a community for freed blacks. That is what this story is about. Isaiah paid attention to his father’s vision, and he dedicated himself to his father’s memory.

Our history is far too rich and deep to have to make stuff up. Please make sure you are fact-checking before spreading information and Wikipedia is not a credible source for research. Only use it when the information presented can be verified by another, credible, source.


The Road to Freedom is being revised and I am looking for readers to give me feedback on it before having it re-edited. Below is what the book is about, and a link to the book on Amazon. I have reduced the price to 99cents for those of you who would like to help me out! (I just changed it so if it’s not showing up yet as 99cents, please check back later.) Simply read the short book and get back to me with feedback and if you are willing, I’d also appreciate an honest review. Thanks so much!

About

Deeply concerned about the state of Black America, a fight with his brother compels a young Joseph to leave his mother’s house and join his friends for a trip to Atlanta for SNCC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) second conference. Excited to live life on their own, Jo and his friends have left school and the lives they were living for a chance to become part of the movement. With no money and essentially no plan the seven friends, three black and four white, set out for the road when they are stopped by a racist cop who makes them exit the car. The teens are unaware that a mob of Klansmen also await them at the New Orleans bus terminal. Find out in the 3rd installment of the Stella Trilogy how Joseph and his friends discover the truth about themselves in the Jim Crow south on The Road to Freedom.

 

“Wow this was a Great Read!! The road to Freedom:Joseph’s story, may be set In the time frame of the early 60’s but its content is very relevant to today’s current events. The writer takes you on a journey through the eyes of a young man named Joseph. He and his friends begin down a road with only the hope of wanting to somehow help the fight for equality of “African Americans” and to stop the mistreatment they suffered under segregation and Jim Crow laws. They realize that this task would be harder than they imagined.” – Amazon Customer Review

Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Short Violent Life of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer: So Young to Kill, So Young to Die.

On Wednesday, August 31, 1994, Yummy “Robert” Sadifier was shot in the back of the head with a .25 caliber pistol at a viaduct at 108th & Dauphin Avenue in Roseland, Chicago, IL. At 12:30 am police found him lying on dirt and bits of broken glass according to newspaper reports. They pronounced him dead at 2:20 am, on Thursday, September 1, 1994. He was the city’s 637th murder victim of the year.

On January 3, 1993, The Chicago Tribune ran a headline, “Killing Our children,” that read: “In 1992, 57 children age 14 or under were murdered in the Chicago area, felled by snipers, sacrificed by gangs, killed by parents. It was a year for burying the young.”

In early ‘94, when I was just in the second grade and we lived in the Robert Taylor Projects on Chicago’s south side, my uncle came to pick us up from school early because the gangs were at war and there was a lot of shooting. We had to run to our building, shielded by our uncle.

This is the kind of environment Yummy’s growing up in.

Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was born on March 12, 1983, the fourth of ten children born to Lorina Sandifer. His father, Robert Atkins, went to prison three months before he was born and Lorina was a prostitute who neglected her children, according to news reports. On January 19, 1986, they removed Robert Jr. from his mother’s home when police found him and his older siblings in the house alone. DCFS, the Department of Children and Family Services, intervened in August 1986 and turned Robert and his siblings over to their grandmother Jannie Fields. But a Cook County Probation Officer, according to Time Magazine, said that Field’s home was not a nurturing place for Robert. The young Robert found refuge in the streets among gang members as most young black males do who grow up poor, no family, no friends, no education and little opportunity. Yummy joined the gang and racked up a record too long for his young age.
  • January, ’92 – Arrested
  • July ’92 – Prosecuted for robbery, case dropped, witness doesn’t show
  • January ’93 – Attempted robbery, trying to steal jacket, witness doesn’t show, case dropped
  • May, ’93 – Attempted Robbery, key witness doesn’t appear
  • June, ’93 –  Robbery Charge, sentenced 2 yrs probation, he is only ten

Yummy was charged with 23 felonies and 5 misdemeanors in his short life. He was prosecuted on eight felonies and convicted twice; sentenced to probation – the most punitive penalty available under state law, at the time, for children under 13. Even for murder, state law barred jailing children under 13 in an Illinois Department of Corrections youth facility.” – https://newafrikan77.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-forgotten-story-of-robert-yummy-sandifer/

Yummy also used guns, allegedly killing Shavon Dean, a 14-year-old girl who lived next door to him two weeks before his own murder.

“Police hunted Yummy, putting descriptions of him in the paper and pounding the streets for the eleven-year-old on the run. By midnight, August 29, 1994, the Chicago Police were working with FBI agents with 20-30 officers involved (Detective Cornelius Spencer). “Dozens of police officers – tactical units, gang crimes officers and detectives –joined by members of the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force fanned out searching for the boy as far away as Milwaukee, nearly two hours away, where Yummy had a relative, Nevels told The Chicago Sun-Times. The case was discussed at roll calls at every police district in the city.” – https://newafrikan77.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-forgotten-story-of-robert-yummy-sandifer/

Grandmother fields also searched for her grandson. She received a call from him asking why the police were looking for him. He was ready to come home. They agreed to meet on 95th Street but when she got there Yummy was gone. She waited until 10:00pm. The boy never showed. Yummy was murdered at 12am, a sad end to a 77-hour boy-hunt that put Chicago on the map for its violence.

Robert had no mother, no father, and no family to nurture him. In fact, he was abused. He was taken to the hospital at 22 months with cigarette burns on his body.

“There were 49 scars,” said Donoghue at the trial of Derrick Hardaway. “I had to use two diagrams.” There were so many scars on Yummy’s body he could not use the one chart typically used by medical examiners.”

He turned to the streets and was said to be an impressionable kid. He looked up to gang members and was a member of the BDs or Black Disciples. Based on the descriptions of the robbery charges and the witnesses “not showing,” it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that the crimes Robert committed were being ordered by older and higher-ranking members of the gang. They had to silence him before the police got to him. “Dead men tell no tales,” said a 37-year-old uncle of Robert. “They put him to sleep.”

How does one judge the criminal life of an eleven-year-old with no stability? I can only imagine how scared he must have been with the FBI and police looking for him.

Robert_sandifer

As a kid, Robert was small for his age. He loved to swim, draw, and loved cars. He loved Gyros, Chocolate Chip and Oreo cookies. He loved cookies so much so that it gave him the nickname Yummy. A neighbor interviewed says he was bad, fought and broke into people’s houses.

The mayor of Chicago admitted that Yummy had slipped through the cracks. Just what cracks were those? The sharp crevices that trap children and break them into cruel little pieces. Chicago’s authorities had known about Yummy for years. He was born to a teenage addict mother and a father now in jail. As a baby he was burned and beaten. As a student he often missed more days of school than he attended. As a ripening thug he shuttled between homes and detention centers and the safe houses maintained by his gang. The police arrested him again and again and again; but the most they could do under Illinois law was put him on probation. Thirteen local juvenile homes wouldn’t take him because he was too young.

-Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine

“Nobody didn’t like that boy. Nobody gonna miss him,” said Morris Anderson, 13. Anderson used to get into fistfights with Yummy. “He was a crooked son of a___,” said a local grocer, who had barred him from the store for stealing so much. “Always in trouble. He stood out there on the corner and strong- armed other kids.” (Murder in Miniature, Time Magazine)

“Everyone thinks he was a bad person, but he respected my mom, who’s got cancer,” says Kenyata Jones, 12. Yummy used to come over to Jones’ house several times a month for sleep-overs. “We’d bake cookies and brownies and rent movies like the old Little Rascals in black and white,” says Jones. “He was my friend, you know? I just cried and cried at school when I heard about what happened,” he says, plowing both hands into his pants pockets for comfort before returning to his house to take care of his mother. “And I’m gonna cry some more today, and I’m gonna cry some more tomorrow too.”

According to Yummy’s aunt:

“He wasn’t violent and he wasn’t bad. The way they talkin bout now, that’s not true. He was this and he was that and I know that he was not. He was very short to be his age, he was real short. He was very smart he could draw, he could read, he could write.”

Gloria, Robert’s Aunt, Weekend TV, September, 1994

According to news reports though, Robert was illiterate and personally, I believe it. I think he was smart (as his friends says he used to invent stuff and at 11 he already knew how to drive cars), but I also believe he had no guidance and no one there to nurture him. I believe his aunt that he was smart but I also believe he struggled in school. Coming from a broken home and struggling as he did goes hand in hand with not excelling academically. I wish there was someone there to nurture his intellect. It makes me sad to think he had no one.

Shavon’s aunt, the teen Robert killed by stray bullet, also says in the same video that she never had a problem out of Robert. “He respects me,” she said in the film. She has even taken him on a trip with her. She says, “I can’t say that he killed my niece because I wasn’t there. It was at nighttime and nighttime has no eyes and bullets have no direction.”

Was Yummy innocent or guilty? Did his age make him innocent or did his murders make him guilty? How does one judge the criminal life of an eleven-year-old who was about to turn himself in when he was shot in the head? And what of the two young brothers found guilty of his murder? They were young too and ordered to kill Yummy by the same gang in exchange for their own lives. This story is sad because ultimately, four babies lost their lives: Shavon Dean (14), Cragg and Derrick Hardaway (16 and 14, currently spending their lives behind bars for Yummy’s murder), and Robert “Yummy” Sandifer.

Only Yah can judge them.

 

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On September 2nd, the Chicago Tribune ran an article called Robert: Executed at 11, calling Yummy a Victim and Victimizer. September 19, 1994, Yummy stared out at the country on the front cover of the September edition of Time Magazine with the headline:

“The Short Violent Life of Robert ‘Yummy‘ Sandifer: So Young to Kill So Young to Die.”

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Dr. Joseph N. Jackson

If you follow me on Instagram, then you are already familiar with this name. You may not, however, be familiar with his legacy. Dr. Jackson is many things: an inventor, businessman, scientist, and humanitarian. He’s the Co-founder of the Black Inventions Museum, Inc. and still invents today. But before we get into Joseph’s life, we must establish some additional facts.

1955-Nov-Radio-TV-News-REMOTES
Lazy Bones Wire Remote

Jackson didn’t invent the remote itself. He improved on earlier inventions, making the TV remote what we know it to be today. Nikola Tesla created one of the world’s first wireless remote controls, which he unveiled at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1898. However, Tesla‘s boat remote was a flop. Another remote version was developed called “Lazy Bones,” and was connected to the television by a wire. The wireless remote control, called the “Flashmatic,”  was developed in 1955 by Eugene Polley.


Joseph was born in Harvey Jefferson Parish, Louisiana the fourth of eight children. At 17 he worked as an oil field tool maintenance help and police. He also went to school while he worked learning how to repair televisions and later owned his own repair shop for seven years.

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In 1961, Joseph received his GED and went to television repair school at night. He also owned and operated a radio and television service shop part-time in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg where he was stationed.

I found it fun to discover that he was stationed in Fayetteville near Fort Bragg because it was the same place my husband was stationed when he was in the military as an engineer and equipment operator. Also, like hubby, Joseph was honorably discharged from the Army. Great men think alike 😉

After being honorably discharged in February 1968, Joseph re-enlisted in June 1970, working as an engineer equipment technician in Korea. Joseph graduated from the Army Recruiting and Career Counselor School in 1971 and transferred to California in 1973. He was an Army Recruiter and Career Counselor until his retirement in July 1978.

Before his retirement, Joseph also completed his degree in Business Administration at Columbia College and holds a Doctorate in Applied Science and Technology from Glendale University.

remote

As an inventor, Joseph invented what led to the precursor of the V-Chip, the technology that is used in the television industry to block out violent programs and the creation of the TV Remote Control. Joseph still invents today and has founded Protelcon, Inc., in 1993 to market and distribute, the TeleCommander, the first empowerment television accessory designed to give parents control over the viewing content of children.

Dr. Jackson has had numerous appearances on local television, and several articles published in the “Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Wave” and other local newspapers. He also appeared in “Jet Magazine,” on January 19, 1978. He is a member of The Black Business Association of Los Angeles, The Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Advisory Board at Cal State University of Long Beach School of Engineering.

Dr. Jackson now serves as Patent Consultant to many potential inventors throughout the country.


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Tall Tales Book Shop Copyright©2018. Yecheilyah Ysrayl

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – How the Election of 1960 Changed the Majority Black Vote

On the tail-end of his TMZ interview, Kanye West posed a question, “is it true that blacks used to be Republican?” He went on to say, “the majority of African Americans used to be Republican….what was the reason that majority of blacks went from being Republican to being Democrats?”

I thought it would be a good time to merge current events with a fun fact for anyone who may have been left confused. While I won’t say that every black American did so (that wouldn’t be accurate), it is true that until the 1960s, the majority black American voted Republican. And for the record, let me be crystal clear: I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat. They are two wings of the same bird as far as I am concerned. Malcolm X said it best:

I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American – and got sense enough to know it. I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats. One of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat or a Republican, nor an American.

– Malcolm X, (1964). Speech, The Ballot or the Bullet. Retrieved from http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/mx.html

Due the African American experience in this country (U.S.), most black voters I’ve spoken to support the party they feel are in the best interest of black people (even if they really aren’t, ijs) and back then this party was the Republican party. It was the party of Lincoln, who many blacks saw as a hero because of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the enslaved in certain states.

A little-known fact is that Martin Luther King Dr. was closer to Republican candidate Richard Nixon than he was Kennedy. King and Nixon were friends. They met in Ghana in March 1957 and agreed to stay in touch. That summer, Nixon worked with King to strengthen the 1957 Civil Rights Bill.

Nixon and MLK

“I will long remember the rich fellowship which we shared together and the fruitful discussion that we had,” Dr. King later wrote to the vice president, telling him “how deeply grateful all people of goodwill are to you for your assiduous labor and dauntless courage in seeking to make the Civil Rights Bill a reality… This is certainly an expression of your devotion to the highest mandates of the moral law.” – MLK

Nixon replied, “I am sure you know how much I appreciate your generous comments. My only regret is that I have been unable to do more than I have. Progress is understandably slow in this field, but we at least can be sure that we are moving steadily and surely ahead.” (Read Nixon’s full letter to King Here.)

King and Nixon talked often and after a black woman in Harlem stabbed Dr. King at his book signing in September 1958, Nixon was among the first to write to him.

Why are we talking about this?

Because what halted their friendship had a lot to do with what also ultimately halted the majority black vote of the Republican Party.

In his fiery inaugural speech in January of 1963, the new governor of Alabama, George Wallace had pledged, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” (you know, the clip used in every documentary about the civil rights movement) This launched civil rights protests throughout the city of Birmingham, Alabama.

Birmingham at the time was already a very racists city. It was where lots of Civil Rights activity took place that was met with violence and the city was nicknamed Bomingham because of the number of bombings that took place on a regular basis from people in opposition to integration. Such bombings resulted in the bombing of homes and lead to such tragedies as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963 killing four little girls. The church stood in an area common for such attacks.

When King was arrested on October 19, 1960 during a sit-in protest of lunch counters in Atlanta and sentenced to hard labor, Civil Rights Activists approached both sides, Democratic and Republican, rallying for someone to do something to get King out of jail. Nixon even got a visit from Jackie Robinson, asking him to help with getting Dr. King out. Robinson was opposed to John F. Kennedy as President because he thought he was weak on Civil Rights and so did many black Americans at that time. It was common knowledge that the Democrats had the support of Southern racists. During the campaign, Kennedy raised suspicions in the black community by his support of Southerners, meeting privately with them and promising Governor Vandiver that as president he would never use federal troops to force Georgia to desegregate its schools.

Long story short, Nixon shot Robinson down, saying, it would be “grandstanding” to speak out in defense of King, according to his aide William Safire. This forever changed Nixon and King’s relationship….and King’s endorsement.

“I always felt that Nixon lost a real opportunity to express … support of something much larger than an individual, because this expressed support of the movement for civil rights in a way. And I had known Nixon longer. He had been supposedly close to me, and he would call me frequently about things, getting, seeking my advice. And yet, when this moment came, it was like he had never heard of me, you see.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is my opinion that Nixon withdrew because he had ulterior motives with starting Cointel Pro, the Counter Intelligence Program that destroyed such black revolutionary organizations as The Black Panthers.

Meanwhile, Bobby and Jack Kennedy discussed the political ramifications of getting King out of jail. Senator Kennedy phoned Governor Vandiver asking if there was anything the Governor could do to get King out. (Thomas, Evans (2013). Robert Kennedy: His Life. pp 103.) Vandiver didn’t want to do it but he wanted Kennedy to win the presidency. A call was made to Coretta Scott King, word got out about the phone call, rumors spread, and shortly afterward, King was released from jail. Upon landing in Atlanta, King endorsed Kennedy and because blacks supported King, they supported Kennedy in mass.

While I cannot say for sure this swung the black vote in the Democrats favor 100% (there’s no way to provide proof of this on my part), I do know it had a LOT to do with it.

“Nixon in 1960 won just 32 percent… Four years later, facing Barry Goldwater, Lyndon Johnson won 94 percent of the black vote, which set a demographic pattern that endures.”

(Frank, J (2013, 21 January). When Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon Were Friends. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/when-martin-luther-king-jr-and-richard-nixon-were-friends)

Meanwhile, Kennedy had been in the White House for years and had not delivered on his promise to support new anti-discrimination measures. When he was a Senator, he had promised that he would which resulted in a ton of support from African American voters.

“The first thing the cracker does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right. Oh, I say you been misled. You been had. You been took.”

– Malcolm X

Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary: Malcolm X Speeches and Writings (Atlanta, GA: Pathfinder Press, 1992), 59

It wasn’t until violent protests forced Kennedy to act that he did act. Racial tensions had reached a fever pitch. American citizens were horrified to see blacks being bitten by dogs, beaten with clubs, and drowned with water-hoses. Protests were getting more violent. All of this led up to the signing of the Civil Rights Act.  John F. Kennedy proposed and Lyndon B Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement

…and many blacks have been voting Democratic ever since.

“He was sentenced to six months at hard labor, but presidential candidate John F. Kennedy reached out to the King family and helped secure Dr. King’s release, earning him pivotal black votes that would help him win the presidency that year.”

Black Then, (2017, 25 August) October 19, 1960 – Martin Luther King Arrested in Atlanta Sit-In Protest. Retrieved from https://blackthen.com/october-19-1960-martin-luther-king-arrested-in-atlanta-sit-in-protest-video/

“The government itself has failed us. And once we see that all of these other sources to which we’ve turned have failed, we stop turning to them and turn to ourselves. We need a self-help program, a do-it-yourself philosophy, a do-it-right-now philosophy, a it’s-already-too-late philosophy. This is what you and I need to get with. And the only time – the only way we’re going to solve our problem is with a self-help program. Before we can get a self-help program started, we have to have a self-help philosophy.”

– Malcolm X