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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 -
January 19, 2012
Harold Richardson, Vincent Thames, Michael Saunders and
Terrill Swift were exonerated on Tuesday for a 1994
rape and murder.
4 Black Men Who Spent Years in Prison Are Cleared of Rape and Murder
Innocence Project calls for review of cases involving juvenile confessions in Cook County
Frederick H. Lowe
Four black men have been exonerated for the 1994 rape and murder of a Chicago woman after the Cook County, Ill., State's Attorney announced on Tuesday that it was dismissing the indictments against all the men because of a lack of evidence.
Michael Saunders, Harold Richardson, Vincent Thames and Terrill Swift, who were known as the Englewood Four, spent much of their adult lives and most of their teenage years in prison for the murder of Nina Glover, a sex worker, a crime DNA evidence proved the four men did not commit.
The DNA evidence, however, pointed to Johnny Douglas, a career criminal, who is now deceased. Englewood is a neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.
In November, Judge Paul P. Biedel, presiding criminal court judge, overturned the Englewood four's convictions and ordered new trials for the men.
Anita Alvarez, the Cook County State's Attorney, said her office dropped the charges after an exhaustive review of all the information and the evidence in the case. "We determined that we do not have sufficient evidence that would enable us to meet our burden of proof and proceed with retrials," Alvarez said in a statement.
Maddy deLone, executive director of the Innocence Project, said the men's convictions were based on false convictions obtained through police coercion.
"They were between 15 and 18 when they were arrested, and without a shred of evidence, they were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 30-40 years in prison," deLone said.
The Innocence Project is a New York-based, national litigation and public policy organization, dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming.
DeLone charged that the prosecution and the conviction of the Englewood Four and others represent a dangerous pattern in Cook County. The Innocence Project has called for a review of all cases involving juvenile confessions.
Alvarez did not respond to deLone's demand.
"In the past four months, 10 people have been exonerated through DNA testing in Illinois after being unjustly convicted based on confessions they gave as teenagers," deLone said.
DeLone also blasted what she calls Alvarez's intransigence.
"Prosecutors knew for nearly a year that DNA testing implicated a convicted murder and cleared the four men, yet they stood by the wrongful convictions. In that time, more than 70,000 people signed a petition, calling for their exonerations," deLone said.
In response, Alvarez said her office agreed last year to additional DNA testing in this case and that evidence, coupled with additional DNA testing, was completed only recently.
In the winter 2011 edition of "The Innocence Project in Print," The innocence Project severely criticized Alvarez for her refusal to move to overturn wrongful convictions.
"Alvarez's resistance is rare," The Innocence Project wrote. "Most prosecutors move quickly to assist the Innocence Project when confronted with DNA evidence of innocence. In 82 percent of DNA exoneration cases, prosecutors consented to post-conviction DNA testing. Indeed, some district attorney's offices have established special units to uncover wrongful convictions."
All four men have been released from prison. "It's been a long time coming and now that it's over, I just want to take it in," Saunders said.
The Innocence Project, the Center for Wrongful Convictions of Youth, the Exoneration Project of the University of Chicago and Valorem Law Group represented the four men.
Black Men Concentrated in Low-Paying Jobs Regardless of Education
Frederick H. Lowe
Labor-market segregation consigns black men to low–wage jobs despite their educational achievements and their abilities to interact successfully with customers, according to an Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper.
“Black men are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and underrepresented in high-wage jobs,” write authors Darrick Hamilton, Algernon Austin and William Darity Jr., in the paper, “Whiter Jobs and Higher Wages: Occupational Segregation and the Lower Wages of Black Men."
“Neither hard skills, soft skills, nor black men’s occupational interests provide convincing explanations for black male sorting in low-wage occupations,” the paper added.
Austin is director of the Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy Program at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank concerned with achieving a fair, prosperous economy. Hamilton is an associate professor at Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Economics at The New School for Social Research. He is co-author of "Occupational Segregation and Lower Wages of Black Men." Darity is a professor of African and African-American Studies and Economics at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy.
In 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected the nation's first African-American president, black men earned only 71 percent of what white men earned. The briefing paper also noted that after educational attainment is taken into account, 87 percent of U.S. occupations can be classified as racially segregated and that occupations with smaller numbers of black-male employees have higher wages.
“The average of the annual wages of occupations in which black men are overrepresented is $37,005, compared with $50,333 in occupations in which they are underrepresented,” wrote the authors. They added that a $10,000 increase in average annual wage of an occupation is associated with a 7 percent drop in the proportion of the black men in that profession.
Educational achievement does not explain wage disparities between black men and white men, the study found.
“Among workers with a high school diploma (or GED) or a bachelor's degree, black men earned only 74 percent of what white men earned,” the report said.
Economist Barbara Bergmann said black men earn much lower wages than white men because of “occupational crowding.”
Black workers are denied employment in more desirable high-wage jobs and are crowded into less-desirable low-wage occupations. The result is an oversupply of workers in the crowded occupations, which has an effect of lowering wages further in those jobs, Bergmann said.
The authors based their conclusions on data developed from a 2005 to 2007 American Community Survey. The survey explored the hypothesis of occupational overcrowding. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the American Community Survey, which is an annual poll.
Employers refuse to hire black workers in desirable jobs because of their distaste for associating with African Americans, misperceptions concerning the productivity of black workers and a fear of negative reactions from customers or from current nonblack employees if black workers are hired, Bergmann said.
The Economic Policy Institute study reported that 54 percent of management, professional and related occupations have an underrepresentation of black men.
“In the management and professional occupations, those jobs with an underrepresentation of black men have annual wages nearly $20,000 higher than the ones with overrepresentation of black men ($68,684 versus $49,904),” the report said.
On the other hand, black men are overrepresented in most service occupations, which offer low pay.
“Across all occupations, the average occupational wage is $44,719, while the average occupational wage across all service occupations is considerably lower at $28,962,” the report said.
NorthStar's Operation Big Vote
Wisconsin Judge to Hear Challenge to Voter ID Law
A circuit court judge this morning will hear the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin challenge to the state's photo ID law, which, if enforced, would prevent large numbers of black voters from casting ballots in the 2012 presidential election.
The judge in Madison will hear arguments beginning at 9:30 am from Lester Pines and Susan Crawford, lawyers for the League of Women Voters. Pines and Crawford are expected to argue that the Photo ID law violates the state's constitution.
“The suffrage, or voting, portion of the state constitution defines who may vote,” the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network wrote in a news release. “Voters must be U.S. citizens at least 18 years old and who are residents of Wisconsin.”
Organization officials said the state's constitution excludes felons and individuals judged to be incompetent from voting, but the new law creates a third class of citizens who may not vote—those who don't have a photo ID.
Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill into law last May after the state's Republican legislature passed the legislation.
“The new law places an unfair burden on people who do not need a driver's license, in particular the elderly, people with disabilities, low-income citizens and students,” wrote the League of Women Voters.
According to a research report by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on the driver's license status of the voting age population in Wisconsin, the black vote would suffer because 55 percent of black men and 49 percent of black women in the state do not have valid driver's licenses. This compares with 17 percent of white men and 17 percent of white women, who do not carry valid driver's licenses, the report found.
The new law went into effect in January. Voters must show an ID card issued by the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles at the polls in order to vote. Gov. Walker initially ordered 10 DMV offices in Democratic neighborhoods to be closed, but he dropped the plan after a public outcry.
The IDs are free, but in order to get one, the resident has to present a U.S. birth certificate, passport or a certificate of naturalization, which cost money and represent an illegal poll tax, say the law's opponents.
“As a nonpartisan organization that encourages participation in government, the League is concerned about the many eligible citizens who will be disenfranchised by the new law,” League of Women Voters said.
Saturday Math Program in Baltimore Draws Thousands of Students
Frederick H. Lowe
The Baltimore City Public Schools, a majority African-American school system where the dropout rate is declining and the graduation rate is climbing, is offering 10 weeks of Saturday classes to help students improve their math skills. The classes end the same month students will have to sit for a state-wide examination that focuses on math and reading.
The Saturday math program, which the Baltimore City Public Schools call "Take 10" is being offered to 4th to 8th graders at 79 neighborhood schools and four other locations throughout the city, Ryan Reid Salta, director of the school system's math program, tells
The NorthStar News & Analysis
. Take 10 refers to the 10 weeks of Saturday classes, which began Dec. 3, 2011 and end March 10, 2012.
"We decided to extend math learning because it is harder for a person to catch up in math once they fall behind," says Salta, adding that it is less of a challenge to help students improve their reading skills.
Students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades attend classes at one of four citywide locations if their school does not offer a Saturday class. Salta said 480 students are enrolled in this program, which had a goal of 500.
In addition, 79 neighborhood schools are offering Saturday math classes to 4,800 students in the 4th through the 8th grades. Schools have the option of offering additional math classes either on Saturday or after school. The school system had hoped that 3,000 students, who attended 60 schools, would sign up for Saturday classes, Salter said.
The school system selects students for the program based on their 2011 scores on the Maryland School Assessment, which is a two-day, state-wide examination that focuses on reading and math for students in the 3rd to the 8th grades. The Maryland School Assessment test is given in March.
Students who received a basic rating, the lowest score on the 2011 Maryland School Assessment, were encouraged to attend Saturday classes, Salter said. Other scores are proficient and advanced, which are higher scores than basic.
The Saturday classes begin at 8:30 am.
Students are fed breakfast before they begin studying a scope sequence of algebra, data statistics and probability. The schools feed the students lunch, and then they take "enrichment" classes.The classes include engineering, art, physical education and debating. School ends at 1p.m.
"The parents really are excited about the extra help their children are receiving," Salter said.
The Baltimore City Public Schools enrolled 84,212 students during the 2011-2012 school year. African Americans comprise 86 percent of the students, compared with 11.8 percent whites, 4.6 percent Hispanics and 1.1 percent Asians.
Andrés A. Alonso, chief executive officer of the Baltimore City Public Schools, recently reported that 2011's graduation rate was up 12 percent, compared with 2007's graduation rate. In 2007, 4,118 students graduated from the Baltimore City Public School compared with 4,598 in 2011.
Alonso also noted that school suspensions, truancy, dropouts, juvenile arrests and juvenile shootings/homicides also declined in 2011 compared with 2007.
"Our students are staying in school and graduating, not just staying out of trouble," Alonso said. "And our African-American male students are leading the way, with increases in graduation and decreases in dropout that outpace the district as a whole."
Actor Morgan Freeman
(Golden Globes Photo)
Black Actors Win Golden Globes
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Honors Morgan Freeman
Actors Morgan Freeman, Idris Elba and Octavia Spencer are golden.
Elba and Spencer took home trophies for their recent on-screen performances during the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards Sunday in Los Angeles.
Elba received a Golden Globe for best actor in a television miniseries or a movie for "Luther," a British Broadcasting Corporation One television series about a black British police detective. Elba plays Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. Spencer won a Golden Globe award for best supporting actress for her role in the feature film, "The Help," in which she played Minny Jackson, a domestic.
Idris Elba holding his Golden Globe.
(The photo is courtesy of the Golden Globes)
Morgan Freeman received the Cecil B. DeMille award, a prestigious honor, given for outstanding contributions in the world of entertainment. The award is named in honor of the Academy Award-winning director Cecil B. DeMille, whose films included "Cleopatra," "The Ten Commandments," and "The Greatest Show on Earth."
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the Golden Globe Awards, honored the 74-year-old Freeman for his work in more than 50 movies, including "The Shawshank Redemption," "Invictus," and "Glory." The 1989 film "Glory" is about the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an all-black Union Army unit that fought in key Civil War battles.
Freeman won an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in the 2004 film "Million Dollar Baby." The first time Freeman appeared in a film was as an extra in the 1964 movie, "The Pawnbroker."
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s members are working journalists who cover the United States film industry for newspapers and magazines in Europe, Asia, Australia and Central and South America.
Black Commercial Pilots Will Sponsor Screenings of “Red Tails”
The Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) will host screenings of “Red Tails” when the movie opens on Friday nationwide.
Westchester, Ill.-based OBAP will host students in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Louisville, Ky., Apple Valley, Calif., and Memphis, Tenn., for ““Red Tails,” a film by director George Lucas about the Tuskegee Airmen, an elite group of African-American pilots trained in the 1940s. “Red Tails” refers to the color of their planes' vertical stabilizer or vertical tail.
The airmen were pioneers in equality and integration of the Armed Forces. The term ”Tuskegee Airmen” refers to all who were involved in the Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.
The primary flight training for the airmen took place at the Division of Aeronautics of Tuskegee Institute. Air Corps officials built a separate facility at Tuskegee Army Air Field to train the pilots. The Tuskegee Airmen not only battled enemies during wartime but also fought against racism and segregation, thus proving they were just as good as any other pilot. Capt. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., was chosen to lead the outfit because he was one of only two black line officers in the Army -- the other was his father.
Capt. Davis was a West Point graduate whose leadership skills and personal strength in overcoming racism helped make him an effective combat leader. He would eventually become the U.S. Air Force's first black general.
OBAP, formerly known as the Organization of Black Airline Pilots, was founded in 1976 to enhance, advance, and promote educational opportunities in aviation.
Jimmy Castor, Musician and Songwriter, Dies in Las Vegas
Soul and funk saxophonist, Jimmy Castor, 71, head of the Jimmy Castor Bunch, died of apparent heart failure in Las Vegas on Monday, according to family members who spoke to the press.
Castor was best known for his biggest hit single, “Troglodyte (Cave Man),” recorded in 1972 and for his most commercially successful album,
It’s Just Begun
, also released in 1972.
Castor began his career in music New York City in the mid-1950s as a doo-wop singer. His first career break came when he replaced Frankie Lymon in The Teenagers in 1957. Mr. Castor was born Jan. 23, 1940 in New York and he grew up with Frankie Lymon.
Beginning in 1960, Castor worked almost exclusively as a saxophonist, playing with a number of artists and groups. His first hit solo single, “Hey, Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You,” was recorded by Smash Records in 1966.
In 1972, Castor formed the Jimmy Castor Bunch, signed a contract with RCA and recorded both singles and albums. Castor also released solo singles. The group realized commercial success with their album,
It’s Just Begun
From 1976 to 1988, Castor released only solo work, including a fresh version of “Love Makes a Woman,” recorded with disco singer Joyce Sims and released in 1988. Castor continued to work steadily until August of last year, when he appeared at the Long Beach Funk Festival in California.
According to Castor’s son, filmmaker Jimmy Castor, Jr., Castor was hospitalized in November after suffering a heart attack. He underwent quadruple by-pass surgery at that time.
Castor is survived by his wife, Sandi, another son, Jason, two daughters, April Vargas and Sheli Castor and eight grandchildren.
The Pittsburgh Courier
NorthStar’s Week in Black History
January 19 through January 25
The Pittsburgh Courier
was founded by Edwin Nathaniel Harlston
, a security guard with an avid interest in literature. By the 1930s,
was one of the most circulated and most influential publications of the day for African Americans along with
The Chicago Defender
, published in Baltimore.
was a strong voice for the African-American community, calling attention to the challenges and injustices facing black Americans. From its earliest days,
advocated for improvements in education, health care and housing. The paper was also instrumental in persuading its readers to consider joining the Democratic Party and to abandon the Republican Party, the party blacks had often supported because it was the party of Abraham Lincoln.
The Pittsburgh Courier
is published as
The New Pittsburgh Courier
and is issued daily in both print and online editions.
John H. Johnson
1918 ----- John H. Johnson, entrepreneur, publisher and philanthropist, was born
in Arkansas City.
Moved to Chicago by his widowed mother during the 1933 Great Migration, Johnson enrolled in DuSable High School, something he could not have done in Arkansas because there were no public high schools there that admitted black students in the 1930s. During high school, Johnson was president of his class and editor of the school’s newspaper.
Following graduation, he attended the University of Chicago on a full scholarship.
Johnson’s first job was with Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company. While working there, he collected information about African Americans and compiled it into a weekly digest for the company. This assignment inspired him to found his first magazine,
, which he published in 1942.
In 1945, Johnson launched his second magazine,
, that depicted African Americans in a positive light. His third publication,
first issued in 1951, offered brief features and photographs of African American notables in business, entertainment and sports. In 1985, he published a third feature magazine,
Johnson was the first African American to be listed in
“400 Richest Americans” in 1982. Seven years later, he published his best-selling autobiography,
Succeeding Against the Odds
(Lerone Bennett, Jr.,-Warner Books).
Throughout his career, Johnson donated to many causes and contributed generously to Howard University to help develop and expand their communications department. He was also a sponsor of the American Black Achievement Awards television program and the annual touring fashion show that raised money for various causes, the Ebony Fashion Fair.
Johnson died in Chicago on August 8, 2005. He was 87.
Slavery was abolished in New York State in 1827. In 1838, eleven years later,
Weeksville, a section of Brooklyn, New York, was founded by freed black man, James Weeks
, who had purchased the land that comprised the section of the borough from another freed black man, Henry C. Thompson.
The area became known as Weeksville and was the site of an intentional, self-sufficient black community, created by blacks for blacks, well before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Weeksville was also a safe haven for blacks fleeing slavery in the South and freed blacks from the North seeking refuge from the Civil War draft riots rampant at the time in lower Manhattan.
By 1850, Weeksville was thriving, having become the second largest black community in pre-Civil War America, distinctive because it had been established in an urban rather than a rural setting. Weeksville boasted a large number of property owners and offered an abundance of employment opportunities in black-owned businesses and small institutions.
Weeksville maintained its identity and status through the 1930s but had mostly disappeared by the 1950s. Its historical importance is celebrated by the Weeksville Society, which publishes a newsletter and offers black history lectures and workshops throughout the year.
The daughter of a chicken plucker,
Eva Jessye, singer, choral director, composer, actress and poet, was born
in Coffeyville, Kan.
A college graduate with a degree in choral music, Jessye taught school for several years in Oklahoma before moving to New York City in 1926 to pursue a career in musical theater. She had the good fortune of working with Major Bowles and then meeting and working with Will Marion Cook, an African-American classical composer.
Porgy and Bess
An expert in harmonics, Jessye was also a poet and a composer. In 1935, she served as the original choral director for George Gershwin’s Broadway production,
Porgy and Bess
, becoming the first black woman to win not just recognition but distinction as a choral director. She was also an influential participant in the Harlem Renaissance
Jessye established her own choral group, The Eva Jessye Choir, which performed throughout America, often on college campuses, for four decades. In 1963, Jessye directed the official choir for the historic March on Washington.
Eva Jessye died in 1992. She was 97.
An anti-lynching bill was introduced to Congress by African-American Congressman George H. White (R, NC).
The proposed bill would have made lynching a federal crime. The bill died in the House Judiciary Committee. That same year, 105 African Americans were lynched in the United States.
1997 ----- Curt Flood, who challenged Major League Baseball’s Reserve Rule,
which opened the door to today’s staggering salaries,
at age 59 in Los Angeles.
Flood, who spent most of his career as a center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, became one of the pivotal figures in the sport’s labor history when he refused to accept a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, following the 1969 season. He brought his case on appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court.
Although Flood’s legal challenge was unsuccessful, it drew attention to the issue of player trading and reinforced solidarity among players as they fought against baseball’s reserve clause and sought free agency.
1932 ----- The American Bridge Association was founded by black tennis players
at Buckroe Beach, Va. At the time, blacks were excluded from most bridge events. In 1967, the American Contract Bridge League removed the final obstacle to black membership. The ABA remains a predominantly, but not exclusively, black organization. It sponsors two national tournaments annually and maintains its own master points system. Their points system is similar to but different from the ACBL master points system.
1933 ----- Carl T. Rowan, journalist, controversial commentator and writer, was named director of the United States Information Agency
by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Rowan also became the first African American to hold a seat on the National Security Council. He was the highest level African American to serve in the United States government.
1906 ----- Willa Brown-Chappell was born
in Glasgow, Ky. Inspired early in her life by predecessor Bessie Coleman, Brown-Chappell became an aviator, who conquered racial barriers to achieve success in her chosen field. She was also an educator, activist and politician.
A graduate of Indiana Teachers College, who later earned an MBA from Northwestern University, Brown-Chappell enrolled in the Aeronautical University in Chicago and received a certificate as a master mechanic. Shortly thereafter, she was awarded a private pilot’s license. Much later, in 1943, she became the first woman to earn a commercial pilot’s license.
The love of flying determined much of the course of Brown-Chappell’s work and life. With her first husband, Cornelius Coffey, and others, Brown-Chappell established the Coffey School of Aeronautics, a black-owned enterprise, dedicated to educating and training black pilots.
The Coffey School was selected by the government to provide black trainees for the Air Corps pilot training program at Tuskegee Institute. As director of the school, Brown-Chappell helped train more than 200 students, all of whom became the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.
Brown-Chappell also served as president of the National Airmen’s Association of America. From this post, she worked tirelessly to make it possible for African Americans to serve as pilots in the military. She also served as the first African-American officer of the Civil Air Patrol. In 1946, Brown-Chappell made an unsuccessful bid for Congress on the Republican ticket, the first black woman to seek a seat in Congress.
In 1955, she married Reverend H. J. Chappell, taught school until 1971 and was appointed in 1972 to serve on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Women’s Advisory Board.
Willa Brown-Chappell died in Chicago in 1992. She was 86. In 2002, she was named one of Women in Aviation’s 100 Most Influential Women in Aviation and Aerospace.
1920 ----- William Warfield, internationally renowned bass-baritone vocalist, was born
in West Helene, Ark.
Warfield’s debut recital at New York’s Town Hall on March 19, 1950, placed him in the front ranks of concert artists of the day. He was quickly invited by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to tour Australia and give 35 concerts. In 1952, Warfield performed in Gershwin’s
Porgy and Bess
as part of a production company touring Europe. He made six separate tours for the U. S. Department of State, more than any other American solo artist.
While touring with the company, he played opposite opera star Leontyne Price, whom he married, but the demands of two separate successful careers left them little opportunity to be together. They divorced in 1972 but were featured together in a 1963 studio recording of excerpts from
Porgy and Bess
1964 ----- States ratify the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
The amendment prohibits Congress and the sates from conditioning the right to vote in national elections on payment of a poll tax or any other type of tax. The amendment was proposed by Congress to the states on August 27, 1962.
1977 ----- “Roots,” one of television’s landmark productions, began broadcasting on this date.
It aired on ABC from January 23 to January 30. The twelve-hour mini-series, starring LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte, was based on author Alex Haley’s best-selling novel of the same title about his African ancestors. The series featured generations of an enslaved family and used this family, beginning with Kunta Kinte being captured in West Africa by American slave traders, as a way to offer in narrative form African-American history.
According to data collected and reported by Nielsen, 80 million people on average viewed the last seven of the twelve episodes in the mini-series. Over 100 million viewers saw the program’s final episode. Over 250 colleges and universities offered courses based on the series, and more than 30 cities declared “Roots” weeks to celebrate African-American history.
1874 ----- Historian Arthur Schomburg was born
in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Educated in San Juan and in the Danish West Indies, Schomburg became a teacher. Keenly interested in African-American history and literature, he researched these subjects independently. In 1891, Schomburg moved to the United States. A decade later, he relocated to New York City, where he worked as a researcher at a law firm. Politically active, he joined with others and lent time and effort to the cause of Cuban and Puerto Rican independence.
Yet committed to the study of African-American history, Schomburg traveled through Europe to investigate various historical questions. While in Seville, he researched the records there of the history of the Indies and was able to gather valuable information about black history.
In 1929, Schomburg, who had been working at the Bankers Trust Company, retired his position and accepted a post a Fisk University in Nashville to curate their vast collection of papers on African-American history. The collection is perhaps the finest of its kind in the world and includes invaluable pieces---newspapers, maps, manuscripts, pamphlets, art prints, magazine clippings and more. This collection has since been named for Schomburg.
Perhaps the world’s most renowned African-American historian, Schomburg died in 1938. He was 64. Two years after his death, the New York Public Library renamed its division of black history, literature and print art in his honor.
1938 ----- Jack and Jill of America, a nonprofit philanthropic organization, was founded
Marion Stubbs Thomas and 20 mothers organized the groups to bring together children in a social and cultural environment. Jack and Jill now boasts over 220 chapters nationwide, representing more than 30,000 family members. Through service projects, Jack and Jill of America creates a medium of contact for children to stimulate their growth and development. Jack and Jill of America is headquartered in Washington, DC.
1890 ----- A predecessor to the NAACP, the National Afro-American League was formed
, organized primarily by Timothy Thomas Fortune.
Fortune, a crusader-activist and editor of the
New York Age
, the most-respected African-American journal of the time, established the organization to promote racial solidarity, self-help and self-reliance. The organization collapsed in 1893 because there weren’t sufficient funds to maintain it.
The Douglas Hotel of San Diego
1924 ----- The Douglas Hotel of San Diego was founded
as a place for entertainment and as a place for African Americans to stay since rooms in white hotels were not available to blacks. Named in honor of scholar and activist, Frederick Douglass, but spelled with a single “s,” the Douglas Hotel was owned by Robert and Mabel Rowe and George Ramsey. The hotel boasted 45 rooms, a bar, a restaurant, and the Creole Palace nightclub with a 500-person capacity ballroom.
The hotel, dubbed “Harlem of the West,” was the most important entertainment venue in San Diego for African Americans. During the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, celebrities entertained there and stayed there. Performers like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and the Mills Brothers were featured in the nightclub.
The Douglas Hotel of San Diego
Demolished more than 20 years ago, the city of San Diego installed a bronze plaque at the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street, commemorating the hotel as a place of historical significance and according to the plaque, “the only major downtown hotel to provide accommodations to black visitors in San Diego during the era of segregation.”
NorthStar's Week in Black History is compiled by Susan M. Miller.
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