By Jueseppi B.
Throughout the month Of February, TheObamaCrat™ has post a daily series called The Black History Moment. Each day for 30 days of this historic month I have endeavored to bring you a different type of Black History. Not just celebrating people but events from the past and from the present. Events that shaped and touched our lives as Black Americans. The series comes to an end for 2014 with this last installment which focuses on my Black History Heroes & Heroines.
Celebrating Black History Month. The Black History Moment Series #30: My Black History Heroes & Heroines. The End Of The Series.
Here is the link to the complete Black History Moment Series. You can find the complete Black History Month 2014 Series in it’s entirety. The Black History Moment Series, #1 thru #30 which includes a bonus post about Ms. Rosa Parks, celebrating her 101st birthday….
Celebrating Black History Month.The Black History Moment Series #30: My Black History Heroes & Heroines. The End Of The Series…..
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer (born Fannie Lou Townsend; October 6, 1917 – March 14, 1977) was an American voting rights activist and civil rights leader.
She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, attending the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in that capacity. Her plain-spoken manner and fervent belief in the Biblical righteousness of her cause gained her a reputation as an electrifying speaker and constant activist of civil rights.
Beginnings of activism
On August 23, 1962, Rev. James Bevel, an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a sermon in Ruleville, Mississippi, and followed it with an appeal to those assembled to register to vote. Black people who registered to vote in the South faced serious hardships at that time due to institutionalized racism, including harassment, the loss of their jobs, physical beatings, and lynchings; nonetheless, Hamer was the first volunteer. She later said, “I guess if I’d had any sense, I’d have been a little scared – but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do was kill me, and it kinda seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could remember.”
On June 9, 1963, Hamer was on her way back from Charleston, South Carolina with other activists from a literacy workshop. Stopping in Winona, Mississippi, the group was arrested on a false charge and jailed. Once in jail, Hamer and her colleagues were beaten savagely by the police, almost to the point of death.
Released on June 12, she needed more than a month to recover. Though the incident had profound physical and psychological effects, Hamer returned to Mississippi to organize voter registration drives, including the “Freedom Ballot Campaign”, a mock election, in 1963, and the “Freedom Summer” initiative in 1964. She was known to the volunteers of Freedom Summer – most of whom were young, white, and from northern states – as a motherly figure who believed that the civil rights effort should be multi-racial in nature.
In addition to her “Northern” guest, Hamer played host to Tuskegee University student activists, Sammy Younge Jr. and Wendell Paris. Younge and Paris grew to become profound activsts and organizers under Hamer’s tutelage. Younge ultimately gave his life to the movement in 1966, when he was assassinated in Tuskegee. Wendell Paris continued his activist career working and organizing in Tuskegee as well as Mississippi
Hamer died of heart failure due to hypertension on March 14, 1977, at the age of 59 at a hospital in Mound Bayou, Mississippi and is buried in her hometown of Ruleville, Mississippi. Her tombstone reads one of her famous quotes, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Her primary memorial service, held at a church, was completely full. An overflow memorial service was held at Ruleville Central High School, with over 1,500 people in attendance. Andrew Young, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke at the RCHS service.
Quotes of Fannie Lou Hamer
We didn’t come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn’t come all this way for no two seats when all of us is tired.”
“All my life I’ve been sick and tired. Now I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African-American Muslim minister and a human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
Malcolm X was effectively orphaned early in life. His father was killed when he was six and his mother was placed in a mental hospital when he was thirteen, after which he lived in a series of foster homes.
In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for larceny and breaking and entering. While in prison he became a member of the Nation of Islam, and after his parole in 1952 quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years he was the public face of the controversial group; in keeping with the Nation’s teachings he espoused black supremacy, advocated the separation of black and white Americans and scoffed at the civil rights movement’s emphasis on integration.
By March 1964 Malcolm X had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its head Elijah Muhammad, and ultimately repudiated the Nation and its teachings. He embraced Sunni Islam and, after a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, returned to the United States to found Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. While continuing to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense, he disavowed racism, saying, “I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I’m sorry for now. I was a zombie then … pointed in a certain direction and told to march”.
In February 1965, shortly after repudiating the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three of its members. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published shortly after his death, has been called one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.
“One A Day” Black History Month Series ~ Mr. Malcolm X
Dr. Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928) is an American author and poet. She has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She has received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
Angelou’s list of occupations includes pimp, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, castmember of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, author, journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization, and actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1982, she has taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she has made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton‘s inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy‘s inauguration in 1961.
With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She is respected as a spokesperson of black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou’s major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She has made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews.
Angelou recites her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning”,
at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, January 1993
||Marguerite Ann Johnson
April 4, 1928 (age 85)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
||Poet, civil rights activist, dancer,
film producer, television producer,
playwright, film director, author,
||I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
On the Pulse of Morning
Rep. John Lewis
John Robert Lewis (born February 21, 1940) is an American politician and civil rights leader. He is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987, and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. The district includes the northern three-quarters of Atlanta.
Lewis is the only living “Big Six” leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, having been the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), playing a key role in the struggle to end legalized racial discrimination and segregation. A member of the Democratic Party, Lewis is a member of the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives and has served in the Whip organization since shortly after his first election to the U.S. Congress.
He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip, leading an organization of chief deputy whips and serves as the primary assistant to the Democratic Whip. He has held this position since 1991.
Civil rights activism
John Lewis was the youngest of the Big Six civil rights leaders and the chairman of the SNCC from 1963 to 1966, some of the most tumultuous years of the civil rights movement. During his tenure, SNCC opened Freedom Schools, launched the Mississippi Freedom Summer, and organized the voter registration efforts that led to the pivotal Selma to Montgomery marches.
He graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville and then received a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University. As a student, Lewis was very dedicated to the civil rights movement. He organized sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Nashville and took part in many other civil rights activities as part of the Nashville Student Movement. He was instrumental in organizing student sit-ins, bus boycotts and non-violent protests in the fight for voter and racial equality.
In 1960, Lewis joined the Freedom Riders. He was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders. There were seven whites and six blacks who were determined to ride from Washington, DC, to New Orleans in an integrated fashion. At that time, several states of the old Confederacy still enforced laws prohibiting black and white riders from sitting next to each other on public transportation. The Freedom Ride, originated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and revived by Farmer and CORE, was initiated to pressure the federal government to enforce the Supreme Court decision in Boynton v. Virginia (1960) that declared segregated interstate bus travel to be unconstitutional. In the South, Lewis and other non-violent Freedom Riders were beaten by angry mobs, arrested at times and taken to jail. When CORE gave up on the Freedom Ride because of the violence, Lewis and fellow activist Diane Nash arranged for the Nashville students to take it over and bring it to a successful conclusion.
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. (Leaders of the march)
In 1963, when Chuck McDew stepped down as SNCC chairman, Lewis, one of the founding members of SNCC, was quickly elected to take over. Lewis’s experience at that point was already widely respected. His courage and his tenacious adherence to the philosophy of reconciliation and non-violence made him emerge as a leader. By this time, he had been arrested 24 times in the non-violent struggle for equal justice. He held the post of chairman until 1966.
By 1963, he was recognized as one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, along with Whitney Young,A. Phillip Randolph, James Farmer and Roy Wilkins. In that year, Lewis helped plan the historic March on Washington in August 1963, the occasion of Dr. King’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech. Currently, he is the last remaining speaker from the march. Lewis represented SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and at 23 was the youngest speaker that day.
In 1964, Lewis coordinated SNCC’s efforts for “Mississippi Freedom Summer,” a campaign to register black voters across the South. The Freedom Summer was an attempt to expose college students from around the country to the perils of African-American life in the South. Lewis traveled the country encouraging students to spend their summer break trying to help people in Mississippi, the most recalcitrant state in the union, to register and vote. Lewis became nationally known during his prominent role in the Selma to Montgomery marches.
On March 7, 1965 – a day that would become known as “Bloody Sunday” – Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. At the end of the bridge, they were met by Alabama State Troopers who ordered them to disperse. When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and mounted troopers charged the demonstrators, beating them with night sticks. Lewis’s skull was fractured, but he escaped across the bridge, to a church in Selma. Before he could be taken to the hospital, John Lewis appeared before the television cameras calling on President Johnson to intervene in Alabama. On his head, Lewis bears scars that are still visible today.
Historian Howard Zinn wrote: “At the great Washington March of 1963, the chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), John Lewis, speaking to the same enormous crowd that heard Martin Luther King‘s I Have a Dream speech, was prepared to ask the right question: ‘Which side is the federal government on?’ That sentence was eliminated from his speech by organizers of the March to avoid offending the Kennedy Administration. But Lewis and his fellow SNCC workers had experienced, again and again, the strange passivity of the national government in the face of Southern violence.”
Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King (April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006) was an American author,activist, and civil rights leader. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. King often participated in many of her husband’s exploits and goals during the battle for African-American equality. King met the future civil rights leader while in college and the two quickly escalated to the center of the movement.
Mrs. King played a prominent role in the years after her husband’s 1968 assassination when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself and became active in the Women’s Movement and the LGBT rights movement. King founded the King Center and sought to make his birthday a national holiday. King went through several procedures and was put down many times before in the mid-1980s, she finally succeeded with Ronald Reagan’s signing of the legislation legalizing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. She expanded her views to include opposition to apartheid and tried to establish homosexual rights as being part of her husband’s wishes.
King became friends with many politicians before and after her husband’s death, most notably John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy’s phone call to her during the 1960 election was what she liked to believe was behind his victory. In August 2005, King suffered a stroke and was left paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Five months later, King died of respiratory failure due to complications from ovarian cancer. King’s funeral was attended by four of five living U.S. Presidents and by over 10 million people. She was temporarily buried on the grounds of the King Center, until she was interred next to her husband.
Coretta received awards both for her and her husband during her lifetime and was awarded posthumously for her charismatic behavior towards human rights. King was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 2009. She was the first African-American to lie in Georgia State Capitol upon her death. King has been referred to as “First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement.”
Civil rights movement (1955-1968)
On September 1, 1954, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the full-time pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. It was a sacrifice for Coretta, who had to give up her dreams of becoming a classical singer. Her devotion to the cause while giving up on her own ambitions would become symbolic of the actions of African-American women during the movement. The couple moved into the church’s parsonage on South Jackson Street shortly after this. Coretta became a member of the choir and taught Sunday school, as well as participating in the Baptist Training Union and Missionary Society. She made her first appearance at the First Baptist Church on March 6, 1955, where according to E. P. Wallace, she “captivated her concert audience.”
The Kings welcomed their first child Yolanda on November 17, 1955, who was named at Coretta’s insistence and became the church’s attention. After her husband became involved in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, King often received threats directed towards him. In January 1956, King answered numerous phone calls threatening her husband’s life, as rumors intended to make African-Americans dissatisfied with King’s husband spread that Martin had purchased a Buick station wagon for her. Martin Luther King, Jr. would give her the nickname “Yoki,” and thereby, allow himself to refer to her out of her name.
By the end of the boycott, Mrs. King and her husband had come to believe in non-violent protests as a way of expression consistent with biblical teachings. Two days after the integration of Montgomery’s bus service, on December 23, a gunshot rang through the front door of the King home while King, her husband and Yolanda were asleep. The three were not harmed. On Christmas Eve of 1955, King took her daughter to her parents’s house and met with her siblings as well. Yolanda was their first grandchild. King’s husband joined them the next day, at dinner time.
On February 21, 1956, King’s husband announced he would return to Montgomery after picking up Coretta and their daughter from Atlanta, who were staying with his parents. During Martin Luther King, Sr.’s opposition to his son’s choice to return to Montgomery, Mrs. King picked up her daughter and went upstairs, which he would express dismay in later and tell her that she “had run out on him.” Two days later, Coretta and her husband drove back to Montgomery.
Coretta took an active role in advocating for civil rights legislation. On April 25, 1958, King made her first appearance at a concert that year at Peter High School Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. With a performance sponsored by the Omicron Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, King changed a few songs in the first part of the show but still continued with the basic format used two years earlier at the New York gala as she told the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The concert was important for Coretta as a way to continue her professional career and participate in the movement. The concert gave the audience “an emotional connection to the messages of social, economic, and spiritual transformation.”
On September 3, 1958, King accompanied her husband and Ralph Abernathy to a courtroom. Her husband was arrested outside the courtroom for “loitering” and “failing to obey an officer.” A few weeks later, King visited Martin’s parents in Atlanta. At that time, she learned that he had been stabbed while signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom on September 20, 1958. King rushed to see her husband, and stayed with him for the remainder of his time in the hospital recovering. On February 3, 1959, King, her husband and Lawrence Reddick started a five week tour of India. The three were invited to hundreds of engagements. During their trip, Coretta used her singing ability to enthuse crowds during their month long stay. The two returned to the United States on March 10, 1959.
On January 30, 1956, Coretta and Dexter congregation member Roscoe Williams’s wife Mary Lucy heard the “sound of a brick striking the concrete floor of the front porch.” Coretta suggested that the two women get out of the front room and went into the guest room, as the house was disturbed by an explosion which caused the house to rock and fill the front room with smoke and shattered glass. The two went to the rear of the home, where Yolanda was sleeping and Coretta called the First Baptist Church and reported the bombing to the woman who answered the phone. Martin returned to their home, and upon finding Coretta and his daughter unharmed, went outside. He was confronted by an angry crowd of his supporters, who had brought guns. He was able to turn them away with an impromptu speech.
A white man was reported by a lone witness to have walked halfway up King’s door and throwing something against the door before running back to his car and speeding off. Mr. Ernest Walters, the lone witness, did not manage to get the license plate number because of how quickly the events transpired. Both of the couple’s fathers contacted them over the bombing. The two arrived nearly at the same time, along with her husband’s mother and brother. Coretta’s father Obie said he would take her and her daughter back to Marion if his son-in-law did not take them to Atlanta. Coretta refused the proclamation, and insisted on staying with her husband. Despite Martin Luther King, Sr. also advocating that she leave with her father, King persisted in leaving with him. Author Octavia B. Vivian wrote “That night Coretta lost her fear of dying. She committed herself more deeply to the freedom struggle, as Martin had done four days previously, when jailed for the first time in his life.” Mrs. King would later call it the first time she realized “how much I meant to Martin in terms of supporting him in what he was doing”
Coretta Scott King died on the late evening of January 30, 2006, at the rehabilitation center in Rosarito Beach,Mexico, In the Oasis Hospital where she was undergoing holistic therapy for her stroke and advanced stage ovarian cancer. The main cause of her death is believed to be respiratory failure due to complications from ovarian cancer. The clinic at which she died was called the Hospital Santa Monica, but was licensed as Clinica Santo Tomas. After reports indicated that it was not legally licensed to “perform surgery, take X-rays, perform laboratory work or run an internal pharmacy, all of which it was doing,” as well as reports of it being operated by highly controversial medical figure Kurt Donsbach, it was shut down by medical commissioner Dr. Francisco Versa. King’s body was flown from Mexico to Atlanta on February 1, 2006.
Mrs. King was temporary mausoleum on the grounds of the King Center until a permanent place next to her husband’s remains could be built. She had expressed to family members and others that she wanted her remains to lie next to her husband’s at the King Center. On November 20, 2006, the new mausoleum containing both the bodies of Dr. and Mrs. King was unveiled in front of friends and family. The mausoleum is the third resting place of Martin Luther King, and the second of Mrs. King.
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942) is an American former professional boxer, generally considered among the greatest heavyweights in the sport’s history. A controversial and polarizing figure during his early career, Ali is today widely regarded for not only the skills he displayed in the ring but also the values he exemplified outside of it: religious freedom, racial justice and the triumph of principle over expedience. He is one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years, crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.
Born Cassius Clay, at the age of 22 he won the world heavyweight championship in 1964 fromSonny Liston in a stunning upset. Shortly after that bout, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name. He subsequently converted to Sunni Islam in 1975.
In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali refused to be conscripted into theU.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. The United States Government declined to recognize him as a conscientious objector, however, because Ali declared that he would fight in a war if directed to do so by Allah or his messenger (Elijah Muhammad). He was eventually arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title. He did not fight again for nearly four years—losing a time of peak performance in an athlete’s career. Ali’s appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where in 1971 his conviction was overturned on a technicality. The Supreme Court held that, since the appeal board gave no reason for the denial of a conscientious objector exemption to petitioner, it was impossible to determine on which of the three grounds offered in the Justice Department’s letter that board had relied. Ali’s actions as a conscientious objector to the war made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation.
Ali remains the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion; he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978.
Nicknamed “The Greatest”, Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were the first Liston fight, three with rival Joe Frazier, and one with George Foreman, where he regained titles he had been stripped of seven years earlier.
Ali revolutionized the sport of boxing by sheer power and magnetism of his personality At a time when most fighters let their managers do the talking, Ali thrived in — and indeed craved — the spotlight, where he was sometimes provocative, frequently outlandish and almost always entertaining. He controlled most press conferences and interviews, and spoke freely about issues unrelated to boxing. He transformed the role and image of the African American athlete in America by his embrace of racial pride and his willingness to antagonize the white establishment in doing so. In the words of writer Joyce Carol Oates, he was one of the few athletes in any sport to completely “define the terms of his public reputation.”
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (/mænˈdɛlə/: Xhosa pronunciation: [xoˈliːɬaɬa manˈdeːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, andphilanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was South Africa’s first black chief executive, and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.
A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended the Fort Hare University and theUniversity of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the South African National Party came to power in 1948, he rose to prominence in the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Campaign, was appointed superintendent of the organisation’s Transvaal chapter and presided over the 1955 Congress of the People.
Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) and sat on its Central Committee. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militantUmkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. In 1962, he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
Mandela served over 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prisonand Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release. He was released in 1990, during a time of escalating civil strife. Mandela joined negotiations with President F. W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory and became South Africa’s first black president. He published his autobiography in 1995. During his tenure in the Government of National Unity he invited several other political parties to join the cabinet.
As agreed to during the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa, he promulgated a new constitution. He also created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. While continuing the former government’s liberal economic policy, his administration also introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Denounced as a communist terrorist by critics, he nevertheless gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata (“Father”); he is often described as “the father of the nation”.
Death and funeral
After suffering from a prolonged respiratory infection, Mandela died on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95. He died at around 20:50 local time (UTC+2) at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, surrounded by his family. His death was announced on television by President Jacob Zuma.
On 6 December 2013, President Zuma announced a national mourning period of ten days, with the main event held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on 10 December 2013. He declared Sunday 8 December 2013 a national day of prayer and reflection. Mandela’s body lay in state from 11–13 December at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and astate funeral was held on 15 December 2013 in Qunu, South Africa. Approximately 90 representatives of foreign states travelled to South Africa to attend memorial events.
Mandela’s $4.1 million estate was left to his widow, other family members, staff, and educational institutions.
Bayard Rustin (/ˈbaɪərd/; March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights. He was born and raised in Pennsylvania where his family was involved in civil rights work. In 1936, he moved to Harlem, New York City and earned a living as a nightclub and stage singer, and continued activism for civil rights.
In the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), Rustin practiced nonviolence. He was a leading activist of the early 1947–1955 civil-rights movement, helping to initiate a 1947 Freedom Ride to challenge with civil disobedience racial segregation on interstate busing. He recognized Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s leadership, and helped to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to strengthen King’s leadership; Rustin promoted the philosophy of nonviolence and the practices of nonviolent resistance, which he had observed while working with Gandhi’s movement in India.
Rustin became a leading strategist of the civil rights movement from 1955 to 1968. He was the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was headed by A. Philip Randolph, the leading African-American labor-union president and socialist. Rustin also influenced young activists, such as Tom Kahn and Stokely Carmichael, in organizations like the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
After the passage of the civil-rights legislation of 1964–65, Rustin focused attention on the economic problems of working-class and unemployed African Americans, suggesting that the civil-rights movement had left its period of “protest” and had entered an era of “politics”, in which the Black community had to ally with the labor movement. Rustin became the head of theAFL–CIO‘s A. Philip Randolph Institute, which promoted the integration of formerly all-white unions and promoted the unionization of African Americans. Rustin became an honorary chairperson of the Socialist Party of America in 1972, before it changed its name to Social Democrats, USA (SDUSA); Rustin acted as national chairman of SDUSA during the 1970s. During the 1970s and 1980s, Rustin served on many humanitarian missions, such as aiding refugees from Communist Vietnam and Cambodia. He was on a humanitarian mission in Haiti when he died in 1987.
Rustin was a gay man who had been arrested for a homosexual act in 1953. Homosexuality was criminalized in parts of the United States until 2003. Rustin’s sexuality, or at least his embarrassingly public criminal charge, was criticized by some fellow pacifists and civil-rights leaders. Rustin was attacked as a “pervert” or “immoral influence” by political opponents from segregationists to Black power militants, and from the 1950s through the 1970s. In addition, his pre-1941 Communist Party affiliation when he was a young man was controversial. To avoid such attacks, Rustin served only rarely as a public spokesperson. He usually acted as an influential adviser to civil-rights leaders. In the 1970s, he became a public advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes.
On November 20, 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Death and beliefs
Rustin died on August 24, 1987, of a perforated appendix. An obituary in the New York Times reported, “Looking back at his career, Mr. Rustin, a Quaker, once wrote: ‘The principal factors which influenced my life are 1) nonviolent tactics; 2) constitutional means; 3) democratic procedures; 4) respect for human personality; 5) a belief that all people are one.’”
Mr. Rustin was survived by Walter Naegle, his partner of ten years.
Despite the fact that he played such an important role in the civil rights movement, Rustin “faded from the shortlist of well-known civil rights lions,” in large part because of public discomfort with his sexual orientation. However, the 2003 documentary film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, a Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize nominee, and the March 2012 centennial of Rustin’s birth have contributed to some renewed recognition.
According to Daniel Richman, former clerk for United States Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, Marshall’s friendship with Rustin and Rustin’s openness about his homosexuality played a significant role in Marshall’s dissent from the court’s 5–4 decision upholding the constitutionality of state sodomy laws in the later overturned 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick.
Several buildings have been named in honor of Rustin, including the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan; Bayard Rustin High School in his hometown of West Chester, Pennsylvania; Bayard Rustin Library at the Affirmations Gay/Lesbian Community Center in Ferndale, Michigan; the Bayard Rustin Social Justice Center in Conway, Arkansas. In July 2007, with the permission of the Estate of Bayard Rustin, a group of San Francisco Bay Area African-American LGBT community leaders officially formed the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition (BRC), to promote greater participation in the electoral process, advance civil and human rights issues, and promote the legacy of Mr. Rustin. In addition, the Bayard Rustin Center for LGBTQA Activism, Awareness and Reconciliation is located at Guilford College, a Quaker school. Formerly the Queer and Allied Resource Center, the center was rededicated in March 2011 with the permission of the Estate of Bayard Rustin and featured a keynote address by social justice activist Mandy Carter.
A biographical feature movie of Bayard Rustin was entitled Out of the Past. A Pennsylvania State Historical Marker is placed at Lincoln and Montgomery Avenues, West Chester, Pennsylvania; the marker commemorating his accomplishments lies on the grounds of Henderson High School, which he attended.
Rustin was posthumously awarded honorary membership into Delta Phi Upsilon, a fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men. On August 8, 2013, President Barack Obama announced that he would posthumously award Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The citation in the press release stated:
- Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.
At the White House ceremony on November 20, 2013, President Obama presented Rustin’s award to Walter Naegle, his partner of ten years
Nina Turner (born December 7, 1967) is the Minority Whip for the Ohio Senate, and the state Senator for the 25th District. She is a Democrat.
Life and career
Turner is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She was born Nina Hudson to teenage parents on December 7, 1967, the first of seven children. Her father and mother had split up by the time she reached the age of five. At 14, she began working part-time jobs, giving “every dime” that she earned to her mother. She graduated from Cleveland’s John F. Kennedy High School in 1986. She did not continue her education immediately, instead taking a variety of jobs, including flipping burgers and working at a Payless shoe store. While at Payless, she met Jeffery Turner, the man who became her husband. Subsequently, she returned to school, receiving an Associate of Arts degree from Cuyahoga Community College, followed by a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts (1997) degree from Cleveland State University.
She began her professional career as a legislative aide to then state Senator Rhine McLin. Senator Turner returned to her hometown to serve in the administration of Mayor Michael White where she was quickly promoted to Executive Assistant of Legislative Affairs. She later lobbied on behalf of Cleveland’s school children at the state and federal level as the Director of Government Affairs for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
Turner first ran for the office of Cleveland City Council Representative for Ward One in 2001, but was defeated by the incumbent, Joe Jones. In November 2004, Jones resigned his City Council seat. His wife, Tonya Jones, was the top vote-getter in a September nine-way, non-partisan primary race to select a candidate to fill Jones’ vacant seat. In the November 2005 election, Nina Turner defeated Tonya Jones to become Ward One City Council Representative.
In September 2008, Senator Lance Mason resigned his 25th District seat in the Ohio Senate to accept an appointment to the Cuyahoga CountyCourt of Common Pleas. Turner was unanimously selected by the Ohio Senate Democratic caucus to serve the remainder of Mason’s four-year Senate term, and resigned her City Council seat to accept the appointment on September 15, 2008. In the 128th General Assembly, Turner served as the Ranking Minority member on the Senate Highways & Transportation and Judiciary Criminal Justice Committees.
Turner won a full term in 2010, running unopposed in the general election. She was elected as Minority Whip half way through the 129th General Assembly. She is continuing to serve as Minority Whip in the 130th General Assembly.
Men’s health bill
In March of 2012, Turner introduced a bill to regulate men’s reproductive health. Under her proposed S.B. 307, before getting a prescription forerectile dysfunction drugs, a man would have to get a notarized affidavit signed by a recent sexual partner affirming his impotency, consult with asex therapist, and receive a cardiac stress test. She stated that the proposed statute would be parallel to recent legislation written by male legislators restricting women’s reproductive health, and that she was equally concerned about men’s reproductive health.
“Even the FDA recommends that doctors make sure that assessments are taken that target the nature of the symptoms, whether it’s physical or psychological,” Turner said. “I certainly want to stand up for men’s health and take this seriously and legislate it the same way mostly men say they want to legislate a woman’s womb.”
Rape custody law
In January 2014, it was reported that Turner was making efforts to try to change Ohio’s rape custody law that permits visitation and/or custody by men who father children because of rape or sexual assault committed against a woman or girl. Turner desires to protect rape victims/survivors, and children conceived due to rape, preventing parental custody rights being provided to the males who fathered the children. She stated that it may be difficult for people to contemplate that a person would desire parental rights for a child conceived due to rape, though it does occur.
On July 1, 2013, Turner declared her candidacy for Ohio Secretary of State, challenging Republican Jon Husted with whom she has differed significantly, especially on the issue of voting rights.
Michelle Obama & Barack Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964), an American lawyer and writer, is the wife of the 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Obama attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School before returning to Chicago to work at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met her future husband. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Throughout 2007 and 2008, she helped campaign for her husband’s presidential bid. She delivered a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and also spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She is the mother of daughters Malia and Natasha (Sasha). As the wife of a Senator, and later the First Lady, she has become a fashion icon and role model for women, and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, and healthy eating.
Barack Hussein Obama II ( born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States, and the first African American to hold the office. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. He served three terms representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, running unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2000.
In 2004, Obama received national attention during his campaign to represent Illinois in theUnited States Senate with his victory in the March Democratic Party primary, his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July, and his election to the Senate in November. He began his presidential campaign in 2007, and in 2008, after a close primary campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton, he won sufficient delegates in the Democratic Party primaries to receive the presidential nomination. He then defeated Republican nominee John McCain in the general election, and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. Nine months after his election, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
During his first two years in office, Obama signed into law economic stimulus legislation in response to the Great Recession in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. Other major domestic initiatives in his first term include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare”; the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. In foreign policy, Obama ended U.S. military involvement in the Iraq War, increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, signed the New START arms control treaty with Russia, ordered U.S. military involvement in Libya, and ordered the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.
In November 2010, the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives as the Democratic Party lost a total of 63 seats, and after a lengthy debate over federal spending and whether or not to raise the nation’s debt limit, Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
Obama was re-elected president in November 2012, defeating Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2013. During his second term, Obama has promoted domestic policies related to gun control in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has called for full equality for LGBT Americans, and his administration filed briefs which urged the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 and California’s Proposition 8 as unconstitutional. In foreign policy, Obama has continued the process of ending U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois, to Fraser Robinson III, a city water plant employee and Democratic precinct captain, and Marian (née Shields), a secretary at Spiegel’s catalog store. Her mother was a full-time homemaker until Michelle entered high school. The Robinson and Shields families can trace their roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South. Specifically, she is descended from the Gullah people of South Carolina’s Lowcountry region. Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was an American slave on Friendfield Plantation in the state of South Carolina, where some of her paternal family still reside. Her maternal great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, also a slave, became pregnant by a white man. His name and the nature of their union have been lost. She gave birth to Michelle’s biracial maternal great-great-grandfather, Dolphus T. Shields. Some of her distant ancestry also includes Irish and other European roots. In addition, her cousin is the Jewish Rabbi Capers Funnye.
Michelle grew up in a two-story house on Euclid Street in Chicago’s South Shore community area. Her parents rented a small apartment on the house’s second floor from her great-aunt, who lived downstairs. She was raised in what she describes as a “conventional” home, with “the mother at home, the father works, you have dinner around the table”. The family entertained together by playing games such as Monopoly and by reading. They attended services at nearby South Shore Methodist Church. The Robinsons used to vacation in a rustic cabin in White Cloud, Michigan. She and her 21-month older brother, Craig, skipped the second grade. Her brother is now the men’s basketball coach atOregon State University. By sixth grade, Michelle joined a gifted class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School (later renamed Bouchet Academy).
She attended Whitney Young High School, Chicago’s first magnet high school, where she was a classmate of Jesse Jackson‘s daughter Santita. The round trip commute from the Robinsons’ South Side home to the Near West Side, where the school was located, took three hours. She was on the honor roll for four years, took advanced placement classes, a member of the National Honor Society and served as student council treasurer. Michelle graduated in 1981 as the salutatorian of her class.
Michelle was inspired to follow her brother to Princeton University; Craig graduated in 1983. At Princeton, she challenged the teaching methodology for French because she felt that it should be more conversational. As part of her requirements for graduation, she wrote a thesis entitled “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.” “I remember being shocked,” she says, “by college students who drove BMWs. I didn’t even know parents who drove BMWs.” While at Princeton, she got involved with the Third World Center (now known as the Carl A. Fields Center), an academic and cultural group that supported minority students, running their day care center which also included after school tutoring.
Robinson majored in sociology and minored in African American studies and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985. She earned her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. At Harvard she participated in demonstrations advocating the hiring of professors who were members of minorities and worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, assisting low-income tenants with housing cases. She is the third First Lady with a postgraduate degree, after her two immediate predecessors, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush. In July 2008, Obama accepted the invitation to become an honorary member of the 100-year-old black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, which had no active undergraduate chapter at Princeton when she attended.
Barack Hussein Obama was born on August 4, 1961, at Kapiʻolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital (now Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children) in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is the first President to have been born in Hawaii. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was born in Wichita, Kansas, and was of mostly English ancestry. His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was a Luo from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Kenya. Obama’s parents met in 1960 in a Russian class at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship.
The couple married in Wailuku onMaui on February 2, 1961, and separated when Obama’s mother moved with their newborn son to Seattle, Washington, in late August 1961, to attend the University of Washington for one year. In the meantime, Obama, Sr. completed his undergraduate economics degree in Hawaii in June 1962, then left to attend graduate school at Harvard University on a scholarship. Obama’s parents divorced in March 1964. Obama Sr. returned to Kenya in 1964 where he remarried; he visited Barack in Hawaii only once, in 1971. He died in an automobile accident in 1982 when his son was 21 years old.
In 1963, Dunham met Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian East–West Center graduate student in geography at the University of Hawaii, and the couple were married on Molokai on March 15, 1965. After two one-year extensions of his J-1 visa, Lolo returned to Indonesia in 1966, followed sixteen months later by his wife and stepson in 1967, with the family initially living in a Menteng Dalam neighborhood in the Tebet sub-district of south Jakarta, then from 1970 in a wealthier neighborhood in the Menteng sub-district of central Jakarta. From ages six to ten, Obama attended local Indonesian-language schools: St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School for two years and Besuki Public School for one and a half years, supplemented by English-language Calvert School homeschooling by his mother.
In 1971, Obama returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, and with the aid of a scholarship attended Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979. Obama lived with his mother and sister in Hawaii for three years from 1972 to 1975 while his mother was a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Hawaii. Obama chose to stay in Hawaii with his grandparents for high school at Punahou when his mother and sister returned to Indonesia in 1975 to begin anthropology field work. His mother spent most of the next two decades in Indonesia, divorcing Lolo in 1980 and earning a PhD in 1992, before dying in 1995 in Hawaii following treatment for ovarian cancer and uterine cancer.
Of his early childhood, Obama recalled, “That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind.” He described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. Reflecting later on his years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: “The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.” Obama has also written and talked about using alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine during his teenage years to “push questions of who I was out of my mind”. Obama was also a member of the “choom gang”, a self-named group of friends that spent time together and occasionally smoked marijuana.
Michelle Robinson met Barack Obama when they were among the few African Americans at their law firm, Sidley Austin (she has sometimes said only two, although others have pointed out there were others in different departments), and she was assigned to mentor him as a summer associate. Their relationship started with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting where he first impressed her. The couple’s first date was to the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing. They married in October 1992, and have two daughters, Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha (known as Sasha, born 2001). After his election to the U.S. Senate, the Obama family continued to live on Chicago’s South Side, choosing to remain there rather than moving to Washington, D.C. Throughout her husband’s 2008 campaign for US President, she made a “commitment to be away overnight only once a week – to campaign only two days a week and be home by the end of the second day” for their two children.
She once requested that her then-fiancé meet her prospective boss, Valerie Jarrett, when considering her first career move. Now, Jarrett is one of her husband’s closest advisors. The marital relationship has had its ebbs and flows; the combination of an evolving family life and beginning political career led to many arguments about balancing work and family. Barack Obama wrote in his second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, that “Tired and stressed, we had little time for conversation, much less romance”. However, despite their family obligations and careers, they continue to attempt to schedule date nights.
The Obamas’ daughters attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school. As a member of the school’s board, Michelle fought to maintain diversity in the school when other board members connected with the University of Chicago tried to reserve more slots for children of the university faculty. This resulted in a plan to expand the school. Malia and Sasha now attend Sidwell Friends School in Washington, after also considering Georgetown Day School. Michelle stated in an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that they do not intend to have any more children. The Obamas have received advice from past first ladies Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter and Hillary Rodham Clinton about raising children in the White House. Marian Robinson, Michelle’s mother, has moved into the White House to assist with child care.
Family and personal life
In June 1989, Obama met Michelle Robinson when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. Assigned for three months as Obama’s adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at several group social functions, but declined his initial requests to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992. The couple’s first daughter, Malia Ann, was born on July 4, 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha (“Sasha”), on June 10, 2001. The Obama daughters attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. When they moved to Washington, D.C., in January 2009, the girls started at the private Sidwell Friends School. The Obamas have a Portuguese Water Dog named Bo, a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy.
It has truly been a labor of love to compose this Black History Series. I have learned some things, some pieces of my history I had not known before starting this project. It really is true what “they” say….knowledge is learned all your life, if you just look for it.
Facts 2 Truth 2 Knowledge 2 Power 2 Freedom.
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