Black History Fun Fact Friday – Lucy Craft Laney

Welcome back to Black History Fun Fact Friday. Today, we learn about Lucy Craft Laney.

Lucy Craft Laney was a famous educator in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She opened her own school in 1883, which became known as Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta, Georgia where she served as teacher and principle for 50 years.

Laney was born on April 13, 1854, one of ten children, to Louisa and David Laney. Laney was not enslaved as David Laney purchased his freedom twenty years before Laney’s birth and then purchased his wife’s freedom sometime after their marriage. Laney was taught to read by her mother at the early age of four. By 12 Laney could translate passages in Latin. She attended Lewis (later Ballard) High School in Macon, GA which was sponsored by the American Missionary Association.

Laney prepared to be a teacher at Atlanta University in 1889 (later Clark Atlanta University), graduating from the Normal Department (teacher’s training) in 1873.

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Sewing class at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, Augusta, Georgia

Laney’s school started out small with just a handful of students. She began her school in 1883 in Augusta. Her school was chartered by the state three years later and named the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. Originally, Laney intended to admit only girls, but several boys appeared and she could not turn them away. By the end of the second year, there were more than 200 Black students enrolled in Laney’s school.

Over the years, Laney made many improvements and additions to the school. In the 1890s, the school was one of the first to offer kindergarten classes for African-American children in the South. She also opened a training center so that black women could train as nurses. The school’s curriculum provided the students with traditional liberal arts courses as well as vocational programs, which was groundbreaking at the time, but that’s not all. Laney’s school also acted as a cultural center for the Black community, hosting lectures by nationally famous guests, and various social events.

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – James Shober

 

James Shober was an African American doctor and the first Black doctor in North Carolina. James was born on August 23, 1853, in what is now Winston-Salem, North Carolina. James father Francis Edwin was a white businessman and politician who served in the North Carolina state legislature and the United States Congress. His mother was an 18-year-old enslaved woman named Betsy Ann.

Betsy was of mixed race who lived in Salem and passed away in 1859 when Shober was between six and seven-years-old. He was sent back to the Waugh Plantation near Waughtown, North Carolina, where his grandmother lived with other family relatives.

Educated at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, Shober then enrolled in the Howard University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. where he was one of the forty-eight graduates in 1878.

Image from State Library
Image from Library of State, James Shober

After graduation, he began practicing medicine in his home in Wilmington, then the state’s largest city. Shober was the only Black doctor in a city of more than 10,000. There were only a handful of licensed black doctors across the United States following the Civil War. Shober now joined those ranks in 1878 and became the first professionally trained Black physician in North Carolina.

On June 28, 1881, James married Anna Maria Taylor, an educator who taught at the Peabody School in Wilmington, and they became the parents of two daughters, Mary Louise and Emily Lillian. His daughters both graduated from Fisk University and pursued a number of professions. James Shober died young, at just 36 years-old on January 1, 1889.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Juneteenth

I don’t celebrate holidays (this includes Kwanzaa and Juneteenth. How can I celebrate the end of slavery when we are still in captivity? Maybe I’ll celebrate it next year, the marking of our 400 years in this land.) Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be right (in keeping with my Black History origin traditions on this blog) if we didn’t explore what this day is and what makes it so special for many Black Americans; many replacing their 4th of July celebrations with Juneteenth instead. It is still an important part of history to remember and I don’t believe we’ve ever covered it on this blog so here goes.

According to the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863, the proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” By rebellious states it was referring to those states that had seceded or withdrawn from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. The freedom it promised also depended upon United States military victory. In brief, Emancipation only applied to those slaves who lived near Union lines.

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News of the supposed emancipation did not spread as quickly as the movies would have us to believe. Many slave-owners packed up their belongings and their slaves and moved to Texas in mass. “Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.” (Henry Louis Gates Jr.) In a hurried re-enactment of the original Middle Passage, more than 150,000 slaves had made the trek west, according to historian Leon Litwack in his book Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of SlaveryAs one former slave he quotes recalled,”‘It looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.’’ For the next two years, slave owners and the enslaved would live removed from the updates of the war and slavery would go on, business as usual.

And so, when General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, on June 19th to lead the Union occupation force, he had to deal with ongoing slavery in defiance of the Emancipation Proclamation. To fix this, he issued the following order:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

This second proclamation, specifying that all slaves were free, is the foundation to the celebration of Juneteenth, a combining of June and the nineteenth when the order was issued. However, it is also important to know that just like the first proclamation, this order did not exactly free the slaves.

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“There is much evidence to suggest that southern whites—especially Confederate parolees—perpetrated more acts of violence against newly freed bondspeople in Texas than in other states,” writes historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner in an essay titled “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory.” “Between the Neches and Sabine rivers and north to Henderson,” she continues, “reports showed that blacks continued in a form of slavery, intimidated by former Confederate soldiers still in uniform and bearing arms.” Murder, lynching, and harassment were common. “You could see lots of Negroes hanging from trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom,” reported one freed slave, “They would catch them swimming across Sabine River and shoot them.”

Still, Blacks celebrated their freedom with the first official Juneteenth event taking place in 1866 where they read the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and praised Abraham Lincoln as the great liberator. (I find this odd). The celebrations continued until coming to a halt with the institution of Jim Crow, laws that essentially put Blacks back into a form of slavery where we were fully disenfranchised and outside of the law. Convict Leasing is a great example of this. After the Civil War and the end of slavery, Southern states, who had amassed great wealth from slavery, found their economy in shambles.

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They had to figure out how to keep a slave-like system going and like sharecropping, convict leasing was another answer. Black Codes and Pig Laws, unfairly penalized poor African Americans for crimes such as stealing a pig. It was also a crime to be unemployed. These laws could be imposed on Black men easily, sending them to jail and thus former slave owners turned “entrepreneurs” could lease them to various companies that would work them to death and treat them like they were slaves. This made the states tons of money. In 1883, about 10 percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source. Death rates among leased convicts were approximately 10 times higher than the death rates of prisoners in non-lease states. In 1873, for example, 25 percent of all black leased convicts died.

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Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)

Juneteenth didn’t make a full resurgence until The Civil Rights Movement when Blacks began to celebrate it in full again. And while many Blacks have celebrated it for centuries, it still did not become an official Holiday until it was made a Texas state holiday in 1980, and it wasn’t until 1997 that Congress recognized June 19th as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” after pressure from a collection of groups like the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage and National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation.


For more Black History Fun Facts, be sure to visit the BHFFF Page HERE.

“Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2)” by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Thank you Felicia for the promo. Most appreciated.

Nesie's Place

Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2)

by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Genre: Historical/Coming of Age/African-American

2.99 at time of posting!

When Nora White is drugged by her friend she is forced to deal with the harsh reality of life in the North. She meets Keisha and the women catch a ride to The Den, a gambling and numbers hole-in-the-wall in Jacobsville New York. Unlike the upper echelon of Harlem, Nora’s new friends are hustlers but down to Earth and feels more like family. They take her to Liberty Hall where she is introduced to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.).

Meanwhile, Nora has no idea her father has been arrested and back home Molly is hanging on by a thread. When the community discovers the truth of the alleged crime they devise a way to get Gideon out of jail but their actions could mean life or death for everyone…

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Black Indie Readers: African American Historical Fiction is Important Too

Kanye West, Waffle-House, Childish Gambino, Roseanne, and elderly Black women being manhandled by police is but a snippet of what’s going on. I can turn on my television or more precisely, open my computer, and see a similar scene as a 1960s protest march. I see people sitting in again at restaurants, I see people marching down the streets, I see cops fighting young black boys, and I hear of black bodies being found hanging from trees again (often ruled as suicides.)

This is America.

They say a people without knowledge of its past are doomed to repeat it. I wonder how many of us realize that the past is repeating itself? And I am reminded this is why I write the kinds of stories that I write and why I think Black Historical Fiction is important (and also maybe a tad bit underrated). Often, I see Romance, Urban Fiction and Street Lit praised as the epitome of Black Literature among many Self-Publishers / Indie Authors and Indie readers. But let’s not forget that black history is important too, and should not be left out of the Indie Author revolution.

After my most recent book release, I was amazed at how many people (Israelites, so-called African Americans, Blacks) didn’t know who Marcus Garvey was, what the Universal Negro Improvement Association was, or could make the Marcus and Malcolm connection in the book. (More on this later but briefly, Malcolm X father was a follower of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm’s nickname was Red among other names. I named Nora’s boyfriend after Malcolm X in his honor and gave him some of his characteristics.)

I know that many of us have been awakened to the true knowledge of who we are and have reclaimed parts of our lost, ancient and biblical heritage. We are waking up in droves and understanding the important role that identity plays in the state of Black America today. I am talking about the Hebrew Israelite movement and the number of people returning to the bible as a source, not of religion, but of black history and instruction on how to live on the earth. But that does mean we should toss aside our history in this land as unimportant since it has all played a role in who we are and where we stand today.

To be a true educator, you must first be educated and with extensive knowledge of what you’re teaching and if this is history, it’s even more critical to understand it all. (I am no one special and I don’t know everything. I am only repeating what I have already told myself about how important it is that I study history. All of it.)

Yes, it’s important to know who Moses was, King Solomon, Queen Esther, King David, and all the prophets, prophetesses and servants (who were all Black). But, it’s also important to know who Mansa Musa was and his influence in Timbuktu, Queen Yaa Asantewaa (Phonetic spelling Yah asante wah), Haitian Revolutionary, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Hannibal, Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey, Ida B. Wells and so on. These are the people whose shoulders we stand on and knowing their stories are still important. As well as other facts. If we talk about the European Slave Trade let’s also talk about Islamic slavery. If we talk about white slave owners, let’s also discuss Jewish and Native American slave owners as well.

History is important in general because if you don’t know what happened before, how can you properly arm yourself against ensuring that the bad things do not happen again? You cannot focus on repeating only the good things if you don’t know what is good.

Dear Black Indie Readers, African American Historical Fiction is important too.

“Once you change your philosophy you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behavior pattern. And then you go on into some action.” – Malcolm X

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
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For more Black History Fun Facts, be sure to visit the Black History Fun Fact Friday page and to follow this blog for Black History all year around! Revolution, part 2 in The Nora White Story is also now available on Amazon. Free with Kindle Unlimited.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Black Wall Street and the Power of Community

On June 1, 1921, in Tulsa Oklahoma, occurred just one of the worst catastrophes to ever grace the communities of Black people. It was then that the systematic destruction of years of building had made manifest in less than 24 hours. Also known as “Little Africa”, the black business district of north Tulsa lay fuming—a model community destroyed, mansions melted down to the ground, hope stretching its mournful arms forward in a desperate attempt to hold on to its dear Greenwood.

Greenwood is a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” due to its financial success that mirrored Wall Street. During the oil boom of the 1910s, which gained the town such titles as “Oil Capital of the World”, the area of northeast Oklahoma around Tulsa flourished, including the Greenwood neighborhood. Home to several prominent Black businessmen, the neighborhood held many multimillionaires.

Greenwood boasted a variety of thriving businesses that were very successful up until the Tulsa Race Massacre. Not only did blacks want to contribute to the success of their own shops, but also the racial segregation laws prevented us from shopping anywhere other than Greenwood, forcing us to be in support of our own people and thus contribute to the success of our own people.

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Due to the fact that Blacks could not shop anywhere else, Greenwood became the mecca of opportunity to build up what they had been shut out of. Instead of complaining that they were not included in the all-white Newspaper, they created their own (two). Blacks were discouraged from using the new Carnegie Library downtown for example for whites, so they built their own smaller all Black branch libraries instead. Not stressing over being left out of restaurants, grocery stores, and public schools, they simply built their own on the backs of a drive toward honest entrepreneurship.

Clothes bought at Elliot & Hooker’s clothing at 124 N. Greenwood could be fitted across the street at H.L. Byars tailor shop at 105 N Greenwood, and then cleaned around the corner at Hope Watson’s cleaners at 322 E. Archer. The dollar in this community rotated 36-100 times, taking as long as a year before it left the community (today the dollar leaves the black community in less than 15mins).

These were not people who started out wealthy; they were neither businessmen nor businesswomen, but being locked out the whole of society (stripped from employment in the oil industry and from most of Tulsa’s manufacturing facilities), these men and women toiled at difficult, often dirty, jobs. They worked long hours under trying conditions, but nonetheless, it was their paychecks that built Greenwood and their hard work that helped to build Tulsa. In fact, following the massacre, the area was rebuilt and continued to thrive until the 1960s until integration came along and allowed blacks to shop in areas that were restricted before.

Let this be an example of the power of support, not just for black businesses, but entrepreneurship in general. While liking social media posts is nice, it is financial support, dedication, and consistency that ultimately helps small businesses to grow into larger businesses, to support and hire its own, to thrive and to possibly, empower an entire community.