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"I do not expect the white media to create a positive black-male image." -
Huey P. Newton
The NorthStar News & Analysis -
February 22, 2011
2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom Honorees Include Three African Americans
President Barack Obama presented 15 Presidential Medals of Freedom in a ceremony on February 15. Among the 15 honorees are three African Americans— author and poet Maya Angelou, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and basketball legend Bill Russell.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award granted in the United States. Given annually, the award is considered as prestigious as the Congressional Gold Medal. The President selects the honorees.
In a statement, the White House said, “…the 2010 Medal of Freedom is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interest of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Medal winner Maya Angelou, 82, writer, professor and civil rights activist is perhaps best known for her six-volume autobiographical work, most notably, the first volume,
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
(1969). A member of the Harlem Writers’ Guild in the 1950s, Ms. Angelou later served as the northern coordinator for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In the years that followed, she wrote, taught, made films and became a national spokesperson for African American women. She was the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University and has been the recipient of countless awards, including the Presidential Medal for the Arts in 2000 and the Lincoln Medal in 2008.
President Obama also honored Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.), 71, who has served Georgia’s 5th congressional district, which includes Atlanta, since 1987. Lewis is an icon of the civil rights movement, having joined the movement as an adolescent. He was one of the chief organizers of the lunch counter sit-in in 1959. From 1963 to 1966 he chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Stokely Carmichael succeeded him in his post.. Officially named as one of the Big Six civil rights leaders along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lewis helped organized the Mississippi Freedom Project. In 1965, he led the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights. This bloody march is considered by many to be the event that spurred the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2009, Lewis was arrested outside the Sudan embassy for protesting genocide in Darfur.
Basketball great Bill Russell, 77, was lauded by President Obama who said that Russell had always ‘stood tall’ for civil rights. Russell played for the Boston Celtics, served as team captain, led the team to 11 consecutive NBA championships and was named five times for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award and twelve times as an All-Star. Russell fought racism in professional athletics and was a chief supporter of Muhammad Ali when Ali refused to be drafted into military service. Russell was the first African American to serve as the head coach of a National Basketball Association franchise.
Other 2010 Medal of Freedom winners included Former President George H. W. Bush, baseball legend Stan Musial, artist Jasper Johns, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez, Berkshire-Hathaway CEO and philanthropist Warren Buffett, AFL-CIO President-Emeritus John Sweeney, Tom Little (posthumous), optometrist and service worker killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Co-founder of the National Resources Defense Council John H. Adams, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former ambassador to Ireland and disabilities activist Jean Kennedy Smith and holocaust survivor and author Gerda Weissmann Klein.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded originally by President Harry S. Truman as a way to recognize citizens for dedicated civilian service during World War II. The award was reinstated in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy who elevated the award to its current prestigious status.
Andrew Johnson $1 Coin
$1 Coin Honors Andrew Johnson, Who Denied Blacks Rights During Reconstruction
Andrew Johnson, who as U.S. President escaped conviction of impeachment by one vote for denying newly freed slaves their rights during Reconstruction, was honored last week when the United States Mint and the National Park Service issued a $1 presidential coin in his name.
“Beginning today, millions of Andrew John Presidential $1 Coins will be released into circulation by Federal Reserve Banks across the nation,” said Daniel P. Shaver, United States Mint chief counsel. “During 2011, they will make their way into the hands and pockets of many Americans, connecting America to Andrew Johnson and his presidency.”
Johnson was the 17th president of the United States, serving from 1865 to 1869. After President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Johnson presided over Reconstruction in the four years following the Civil War.
His tenure was controversial because of his positions favoring white southerners and their positions came under heavy political attack by Radical Republicans, who wanted to make black men whole after hundreds of years of slavery.
Johnson appointed local governments in the South, and they all passed Black Codes that gave the black men, known as freedmen, second-class status.
In response to the Black Codes and worrisome signs of Southern recalcitrance, the Republicans blocked the readmission of the secessionist states to the Congress in fall 1865. Congress also renewed the Freedman’s Bureau, but Johnson vetoed it. Senator Lynn Trumbull of Illinois, leader of the moderate Republicans, took affront at the Black Codes. Trumbull proposed the first Civil Rights bill.
Moderates in Congress urged Johnson to sign the civil rights legislation, but he vetoed the bill it on March 27. His veto message objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen at a time when eleven out of thirty-six states were unrepresented and attempted to fix, by federal law, "a perfect equality of the white and black races in every State of the Union. Johnson, in a letter to Gov. Thomas C. Fletcher of Missouri, wrote, "This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men."
Johnson’s conciliatory policies towards the South, his drive to reincorporate the former Confederate states back into the union, and his vetoes of civil rights bills embroiled him in a bitter dispute with Radical Republicans. The Radicals in the U.S. House of Representatives impeached him in 1868. They charged him with violating the Tenure of Office Act. Johnson escaped being convicted of impeachment by one vote in the U.S. Senate.
Neither the U.S. Mint nor the National Park Service mentioned this aspect of Johnson’s tenure in office.The organizations said Johnson’s term included acquisition of the Alaska territory and the Midway Islands. The Andrew Johnson Presidential $1 Coin is the 17th released in the United States Mint Presidential Coin Program.
First Bank of Nigeria logo
Nigerian Bank Deploys Country's First Biometric ATM
First Bank of Nigeria plc has deployed the first biometric ATM in Nigeria’s banking sector to serve customers who cannot read or write, as well as the elderly.
“The new technology is available to existing customers, who may wish to add biometric authentication as part of their transaction approval process on the bank’s ATMs in addition to PIN selection, while new cardholders, especially who cannot read nor write and the elderly, will be issued cards with only biometric authentication,” said Chuma Ezirin, group head of eBusiness for First Bank, which is based in Lagos, Africa’s fastest-growing city.
Ezirin said the biometric ATM, which was manufactured by NCR Corp., will build customer confidence in the use of electronic channels by preventing fraud. According to a photograph on the bank’s website, a customer places his index finger on the ATM’s biometric device. The device identifies the individual as a bank customer. The ATM leverages the Customer Identification System platform being developed by the bank’s information technology team. NCR is based in Duluth, Ga.
The biometric ATM also is expected to attract the unbanked, which is an important initiative of The Central Bank of Nigeria. First Bank of Nigeria tested the ATM before deploying it in the bank’s main office. The financial institution plans to deploy additional biometric ATMs in other strategic branch locations. First Bank of Nigeria is the country’s leading financial institution.
Philip Emeagwali is awarded the Golden Bell Prize
for solving one of the 20 most difficult problems
in computer science. See story below.
This Week In Black History
to March 2
1920 – Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) founds the first nationally organized celebration of Black American history then called Negro History Week which was first celebrated on this day in 1926. Woodson scheduled the week to coincide with the birthdays of Civil War President Abraham Lincoln and black abolitionist Frederick Douglass. However, in 1976, Negro History Week was expanded into the current day Black History Month. For his efforts in promoting knowledge of black historical achievements, Woodson became known as the “Father of Black History.” In explaining the need for the celebration, Woodson once said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
– Heavyweight boxing champion Cassius Clay changes his name to Muhammad Ali after rejecting Christianity and joining the Elijah Muhammad-led Nation of Islam.
1748 – This is the probable birth date of Prince Hall – the “Father of Black Masons.” Hall was a veteran of America’s war of independence from England, founder of the first African American Masonic lodges, and one of the most prominent black leaders of his era. The charter for the first black Masonic lodge was granted on September 29, 1784. It was known as African Lodge #459 of Boston.
1869 – Congress adopts the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution making it illegal for the U.S. government or any state to “deny or abridge” the right to vote “on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.” This was one of the so-called “Reconstruction Amendments (13th, 14th & 15th) which essentially ended slavery, made Blacks full U.S. citizens and guaranteed the right to vote.
Charlotte E. Ray
1872 – Charlotte E. Ray graduates from the Howard University Law School becoming the first black female lawyer in the United States. It also appears that she was the third female lawyer of any race. She was admitted to the Washington, D.C. bar the same year she graduated. But racism and sexism prevented her from making a living as a lawyer in the nation’s capital so she moved to New York and got a job with the Brooklyn school system.
1708 – One of the first recorded slave revolts in American history takes place on Newton, Long Island (New York). Seven whites are killed. In retaliation, 2 black male slaves and 1 Indian male slave are hanged while 1 black female slave was burned alive.
1879 – A date considered by many to mark the beginning of the great “Exodus of 1879” when thousands of blacks begin fleeing racism, violence and economic exploitation in the South for new lives in the Midwest, especially Kansas. One of the most prominent organizers of the exodus was former Tennessee slave Benjamin “Pap” Singleton. An estimated 20,000 blacks take part in the exodus. They were driven in part by the Homestead Act which promised free land. But by 1880, efforts had already begun to curtail the movement of blacks to the Midwest. In 1881, Pap Singleton was hauled before a Senate investigative committee looking into his role in the exodus.
1989 – Philip Emeagwali is awarded the Golden Bell Prize for solving one of the 20 most difficult problems in computer science. The prize is widely considered the “Nobel Prize of Computing.” The feat of the Nigerian-born computer scientist involved, at the time, the world’s fastest computer computation – a staggering 3.1 billion calculations per second. He figured out how oil flows underground and thus better enabled companies to extract it.
1739 – The British government is forced to sign a peace treaty with the Jamaican Maroons. The Maroons were escaped slaves or put another way Africans who refused to be slaves. When the Spanish lost Jamaica to the British in 1665, they freed many of their slaves and called them Maroons or “wild.” The Maroons set up villages, were frequently joined by other escaped slaves and eventually began to wage a highly successful guerrilla war against the British. Under the terms of the peace treaty, the Maroons were designated a free people and given 1,500 acres of land.
1780 – Pennsylvania becomes perhaps the first state to abolish slavery. There is some confusion about the effective dates of the laws passed during this period which called for the gradual elimination of slavery. The honor of being the first state to ban slavery may actually go to Vermont.
1875 – Congress enacts the first Civil Rights Bill. It granted blacks the right to equal treatment in inns, on public transportation and in theatres and places of amusement. However, with the end of the progressive Reconstruction period, Jim Crow laws were passed throughout the South which largely ignored the civil rights bill. African Americans did not regain most of the rights granted in 1875 until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.
1927 – Entertainer and political activist Harry Belafonte is born Harold George Belafonte on this day in Harlem, New York to Jamaican immigrant parents. Belafonte developed an early flair for entertainment and in the post-World War II period, he came one of the most popular vocalists in America and made Calypso popular throughout the nation. In 1959, he became the first African American to win an Emmy. However, from the 1960’s forward he mixed his entertainment career with active participation in the Civil Rights Movement and other social causes. He has been a frequent critic of Republican conservatism and conservative blacks. In 2002, he was accused of labeling Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice “house niggers” for their support of President Bush’s right wing domestic and foreign policies.
1967 – On this day in black history, the U.S. House of Representatives expelled flamboyant and outspoken black New York Representative Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. from Congress for allegedly misappropriating funds. However, in June 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the expulsion unconstitutional and Powell returned to Congress but without his seniority. He lost his seat to current Representative Charles Rangel in 1970 and Powell died on April 4, 1972. During his most powerful years in Congress, Powell headed the House Labor and Education Committee and used his powers to help pass a wide range of civil rights and progressive social legislation.
1807 – Congress passes legislation banning the slave trade. The law which was to go into effect on January 1, 1808 prohibited the importation of slaves into the U.S. or any of its territories. Despite the law, however, the illegal importation of slaves continued for years. The best available records suggest that the very last slave ship arrived in the U.S. in 1859 off the coast of Mobile, Alabama. The ship was called the Clothilde.Ras Makonnen with his young son Ras Tafari (later Haile Selassie)
1896 – Ethiopia defeats Italy at the battle of Adowa (also called Adwa). It was one of the few successful military victories of Africans over Europeans as the latter attempted to colonize and economically exploit the African continent. The nominal head of the Ethiopian forces was Emperor Menelik II but the lead general was Ras Makonnen – father of the man who would become next Emperor Haile Selassie. The battle which began on March 1, 1896 would leave 6,000 Italians and 10,000 Ethiopians dead. But the victory forced Europe to recognize Ethiopia as an independent and sovereign nation as well as give inspiration to blacks worldwide who were fighting for freedom.
1962 – While Kobe Bryant may have wowed the basketball world when he scored 81 points in a single game, on this day in 1962, 7’1’ Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single game – a professional record which still stands. Chamberlain set the record while leading the Philadelphia Warriors in a 169 to 147 defeat of the New York Knicks.
1968 – The infamous COINTELPRO memorandum is sent to FBI field offices around the country. COINTELPRO was a government counter intelligence program aimed at disrupting and destroying black, peace and anti-war groups. The March 3rd memorandum specifically called on FBI agents to infiltrate militant black organizations and employ various tactics to prevent them from growing individually or uniting with one another. The agents were also told to do whatever was necessary to prevent the rise of a “Black Messiah” who could “electrify and unify” black people. Approximately one month after the COINTELPRO memorandum was issued, Civil Rights Movement leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. When the COINTELPRO documents were discovered by a reporter in the 1970s, suspicion increased that the FBI and its long-time Director J. Edgar Hoover were in some way involved with the killing of King.
1991 – Motorist Rodney King is brutally beaten by a group of Los Angeles police officers. Unknown to them the beating was caught on video tape. However, a year later (April 29, 1992) when a jury in Simi Valley, California with no blacks on it found four white officers not guilty of all charges related to the beating, riots erupted in Los Angeles leaving millions of dollars in damage, nearly 50 people dead and over 300 injured. Ultimately, two of the officers were convicted on federal civil rights charges and King received a financial settlement from the city of Los Angeles. It was during this period that King uttered his signature statement: “Why can’t we all just get along.”
1877 – Inventor and scientist Garrett A. Morgan is born in Paris, Ky. Among his major inventions were the gas mask and the automatic traffic signal. He made history on July 25, 1916 when he used his gas mask to rescue 32 men trapped in a mine explosion beneath Lake Erie. The U.S. Army also used the gas mask to save lives during World War I. Morgan died in 1963.
1922 – Comedic great Bert Williams dies of pneumonia in New York City at the age of 46. What Jackie Robinson did for blacks by breaking the color bar in major league baseball, Bert Williams did on the American stage. He was a comic, singer, writer and producer who spent10 of his 25 years in show business performing with the famous Ziegfield Follies. W.C. Fields once referred to him as “the funniest man I ever saw.” Williams was born Egbert Austin Williams in the Bahamas.
This Week in Black History is compiled for
The NorthStar News & Analysis
by Robert Taylor, P.O. Box 58097, Washington, D.C. 20037.
Taylor can be reached at 202-657-8872.
Schomburg Center Purchases Maya Angelou Papers
Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture recently announced that it has purchased the papers of Dr. Maya Angelou. The papers include Angelou’s personal letters, drafts and handwritten manuscripts, said officials of the Schomburg Center, which is based in New York.
Tim Cole’s Grave To Receive A Historical Marker
Tim Cole, who died in prison after serving 13 years of a 25-year sentence for a crime he did not commit, will receive a historical marker at his Fort Worth, Texas, grave. A jury convicted Cole of raping a Texas Tech University coed in 1985. DNA evidence later cleared Cole of the crime and in 2010 Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued posthumous pardon of Cole (
The NorthStar News & Analysis, March 7, 2010
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