ABBOTT, ROBERT S. Born on St. Simon Island, GA in 1870, Robert S. Abbott generally is regarded as one of the "fathers" of black journalism in the United States. Educated at Beach Institute, Chaflin College and Hampton Institute, Abbott entered Kent Law School (Chicago) in 1896 and was awarded a law degree in 1899.
Following the completion of his legal studies, Abbott practiced law in Topeka, Kansas and Gary, Indiana. Although he was a competent attorney, Abbott soon drifted from the legal profession into journalism, which he referred to as his "first love." In 1905, he founded the Chicago Defender, ultimately to become one of the largest and most influential black owned and oriented newspapers in early twentieth century America.
Abbott was a born crusader and, like the newspaper publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, a practitioner of "yellow journalism" -- an early twentieth century journalistic practice that emphasized extreme sensationalism and exaggerated detail in order to capture the attention of the masses, and thereby increase newspaper circulation. By the time of his death in 1940, Abbott had increased the Defender's circulation from 300 to nearly 200,000.
ABERNATHY, RALPH DAVID Prominent civil rights leader and Baptist minister, Ralph David Abernathy, was born in Linden, Alabama in 1926. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, then graduated from Alabama State College, subsequently doing his graduate work at Atlanta University. Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. organized the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955. Following the successful boycott, Abernathy and King organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) which quickly became the leading edge of the "black nonviolence movement" in the United States. Like King, Abernathy preached nonviolence as a means of attaining social change. Following King's death, he led the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C. Ralph Abernathy died in 1990. His autobiography is entitled And the Walls Came Tumbling Down (1989).
ABOLITIONISM In the usual sense of the term, abolitionism refers to the loosely organized northern movement during the mid-nineteenth century which advocated the destruction (abolition) of African American slavery in the United States. Anti-slavery sentiment (as opposed to abolitionism per se) had existed in varying degrees from the colonial period of American history onward. The typical proponent of antislavery sentiment was well-meaning, but moderate, content to hope for and at times (albeit rarely) advocate the painless and gradual extinction of the institution of slavery. To be sure, there were some exceptions to this general rule. The Society of Friends (Quakers), for example, is usually credited with being the only group to collectively advocate abolitionism during the pre-revolutionary era. The Quakers — at least after the conversion or expulsion of recalcitrant slave-owning members — believed that slavery was inconsistent and incompatible with the teachings of Jesus and, accordingly, Quaker activists such as Anthony Benezet set out to persuade non-Quakers as to the advisability and morality of abolitionism.
Antislavery sentiment increased measurably in the North as a result of the ideological implications of the American Revolution. The intellectual ferment of the eighteenth century Enlightenment and the libertarian principles of the revolutionary struggle with Great Britain combined to dramatically illustrate the ideological inconsistency of keeping slaves on the one hand while fighting for liberty on the other. This realization, coupled with Quaker activism, prompted northern state legislatures to provide for the gradual emancipation of slaves in the North by 1804; and this action, together with other antislavery measures such as the Northwest Ordinance (1787), and the establishment of the American Colonization Society (1816), provided a solid foundation for the emergence of the abolitionist movement of the 1830's.
Not satisfied with gradualism or with the use of indirect tactics, the abolitionists of the 1830's were decidedly activistic, calling for immediate action to eradicate the institution of slavery in the United States. Prominent among their ranks was William Lloyd Garrison, who founded the American Antislavery Society in 1833. Garrison was convinced that slavery was a sin and that the immediate uncompensated emancipation of all Afro-American slaves was America's most urgent priority. As the result of the tireless efforts of Garrison and fellow-abolitionists Theodore Dwight Weld, Elijah Lovejoy and Theodore Parker, nearly 200,000 Americans had joined antislavery and abolitionist societies by 1850. In addition to these "card-carrying" abolitionists, historian John Garraty estimates that "many hundreds of thousands more had become what would today be called 'fellow travelers,' unwilling to stand up and be counted but generally sympathetic to the movement."
Although it is true that the abolitionists often could not agree upon exact tactics and strategy, they remained united as to their ultimate goal. As historian Richard 0. Curry has written, despite "divisions in their ranks and vilification and abuse by a hostile public, the abolitionists were a dedicated minority that could not be silenced." This lack of silence, of course, did much to intensify the sectional hostility which ultimately resulted in the American Civil War.
AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE The term "African slave trade" is often used synonymously with the term "Atlantic slave trade." Although there is a certain validity in using the two expressions interchangeably, most authorities prefer to distinguish between "Africa" and "Atlantic." Whereas the "Atlantic slave trade" refers to the passage of black slaves from Africa to the western hemisphere, the "African slave trade" is usually used to describe the passage of slaves from Africa to Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and, occasionally, to slave-trading activities within Africa.
Predating the "Atlantic slave trade" by nearly a century, the "African slave trade" (i.e., the passage of slaves from Africa to Europe) had its inception during the mid-1400's. Owing to the fact that Europe lacked a plantation-type economy and also because Europe was not suffering from a chronic labor shortage during those years, the "African slave trade" was relatively short-lived and certainly not comparable to the extent and duration of the transatlantic traffic. Between 1460 and 1500, for example, the average annual number of African slaves transported to Europe was about a thousand, a figure which was dwarfed by the annual number of slaves shipped to the New World during the following four-hundred years.
ALBANY MOVEMENT The Albany Movement refers to the attempt on the part of civil rights advocates to desegregate and to eliminate racial discrimination in Albany, Georgia during the summer of 1962. Sponsored by a number of national civil rights organizations, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Albany Movement was a coordinated, city-wide campaign to achieve racial equality through nonviolent means. Generally speaking, the Albany Movement did not accomplish its stated goals. White solidarity and an effective police force, coupled with friction and division among the ranks of the blacks themselves, served to limit the movement's momentum. Nevertheless, the Albany protest marches, demonstrations and numerous arrests (including that of Martin Luther King for "parading without a permit") once again focused national attention on the continuing struggle of Afro-Americans to secure full citizenship rights in the United States.
ALDRIDGE, IRA F. Born in New York in 1807, Ira Frederick Aldridge was acknowledged as one of the best Shakespearean actors in the nineteenth century. His stage career began in New York when he joined the African Theater Company in 1821, but northern racial prejudice persuaded the aspiring actor to move to Europe. He studied briefly in Scotland before embarking on a stage career in London during the early 1830's. He soon acquired fame throughout most of Europe, especially for his portrayal of Othello. Aldridge died in 1867, never having performed professionally in his native America.
ALEXANDER, ARCHIE A. Born in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1888, Archie A. Alexander attended the University of Iowa, receiving a B. S. degree in Civil Engineering in 1912. In addition to his scholastic achievements at the university, Alexander distinguished himself on the gridiron as an outstanding linesman, earning the nickname "Alexander the Great."
Following graduation, Alexander became a design engineer for a Des Moines bridge company. In 1914, he formed his own engineering firm which operated until 1929. In that year, Alexander and a former classmate joined forces and formed the engineering firm of Alexander and Repass, a business which ultimately became highly respected in engineering and architectural circles. Among their many achievements, Alexander and Repass built the Tidal Basin Bridge in Washington, D.C., an airfield in Alabama, a million dollar sewage disposal plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a number of roads and bridges throughout the east and midwest.
The height of Alexander's career was reached when he was appointed to the post of Territorial Governor of the American Virgin Islands in 1954. Unfortunately, failing health forced Governor Alexander's resignation a year later. He died in 1958.
RICHARD ALLEN One of the earliest black leaders in the United States, Richard Allen was the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Born a slave in Pennsylvania in 1760, Allen was raised on a Delaware plantation. An early and zealous convert to Methodism, Allen was determined to preach the Gospel. Earning enough money by cutting wood and driving wagons to purchase his freedom, the youthful preacher traveled and proselytized throughout the Middle Atlantic states during the 1780's, ultimately settling in Philadelphia in 1786.
As the result of numerous racial restrictions and pressures imposed on black worshipers at Philadelphia's St. George Methodist Church, Allen and similar-minded blacks decided to establish their own church in 1787. Named the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Allen's newly-formed organization became the nucleus of one of the earliest and most influential black religious denominations in the United States. In 1816, Allen called a meeting of representatives from other "separate" black churches in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. This meeting resulted in the formal establishment of the AME Church on a national basis. Allen, in turn, was elected bishop of the new denomination, a position which he held until his death in 1831.
Currently, the AME Church is divided into eighteen episcopal districts, most of which are in the western hemisphere. With nearly six thousand separate churches and a membership roster of approximately 1.2 million, the AME Church continues to exercise a tremendous influence in black communities, both in the United States and abroad.
The AME Church should not be confused with the AME Zion Church. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was established in New York City in 1796 under the leadership of Peter Williams and James Varick. Similar to the experiences of Allen and his fellow Philadelphians, New York blacks were more or less forced into creating their own separate religious denomination in view of the existing discriminatory practices found in the predominantly white Methodist churches in the city. Although some differences do exist, the doctrines and liturgy of the AME Zion Church and the AME Church are essentially the same. Current membership of the AME Zion Church is well over one million.
AME CHURCH See: RICHARD ALLEN.
AME ZION CHURCH See: RICHARD ALLEN.
AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY An outgrowth of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, founded in 1831 by WilliamLloyd Garrison, the American Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1833 as a national organization dedicated to the immediate and uncompensated abolition of slavery in the United States. A massive publicity program was instigated by the Society in an attempt to bolster membership. As the result of this campaign, which included the publication of numerous periodicals and the mass circulation of antislavery pamphlets, the Society could claim over two thousand local chapters with a total membership of approximately 200,000 by 1850. Aside from Garrison, who more or less dominated the organization with his uncompromising and militant brand of charismatic leadership, other leaders of the American Anti-Slavery Society included Theodore D. Weld, George G. Finney and the Tappan brothers, Arthur and Lewis.
AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 for the express purpose of returning free American blacks to their "ancestral homeland" in Africa. This private "repatriation" organization was granted a charter by the government of the United States,' which not only supported the scheme but also helped the Society in negotiating with native African chiefs for land along the coast of what is now Liberia. Members of the Society included such prominent Americans as Bushrod Washington, Henry Clay and John Randolph.
The colony of Liberia itself was formally established in 1822, with its capital, Monrovia, named after President James Monroe. The first group of "repatriated" blacks arrived shortly thereafter. Although nearly one-third of this initial group succumbed to disease within a short time, the colony continued to grow. By 1830 the American Colonization Society could boast of having settled over 1,400 blacks in Liberia. The majority of these had been "free Negroes," but after 1827 an increasing number of American slaves were being manumitted expressly for the purpose of "repatriation." By the end of the 1850's approximately 12,000 American blacks had been resettled in Liberia.
AMERICAN DILEMMA In 1937, the Carnegie Corporation of New York invited Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish sociologist at the University of Stockholm, to direct "a comprehensive study ofthe Negro in the United States, to be undertaken in a wholly objective and dispassionate way as a social phenomenon." Accepting this charge, Myrdal and a team of prominent historians, political scientists, economists, psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists painstakingly collected data and compiled exhaustive research reports concerning the status of the Afro-American, past and present.
A major portion of Myrdal's research was formally published in 1944 as An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. Hailed by one reviewer as "one of the best political commentaries on American life that has ever been written," Myrdal's massive study traced Afro-American history from its origins up through the early 1940's, concentrating on racism; economic, judicial and political discrimination against the black; segregation and social stratification; and the emergence and effectiveness of black protest organizations.
Myrdal's principal theme revolved around the disparity between American ideals and practices. He maintained that the "American Negro problem" was basically a moral dilemma involving a conflict between "moral valuations on various levels of consciousness and generality." He argued that America's dilemma "is the ever-raging conflict between, on the one hand, the valuations preserved on the general plane which we shall call the 'American Creed,' where the American thinks, talks, and acts under the influence of high national and Christian precepts, and, on the other hand, the valuations on specific planes of individual and group living, where personal and local interests; economic, social, and sexual jealousies; considerations of community prestige and conformity; group prejudice against particular persons or types of people; and all sorts of miscellaneous wants, impulses, and habits dominate his outlook."
By drawing attention to this "moral dilemma" and to the disparity between American theory and practice concerning blacks, Myrdal's treatise played a significant role in the rise of egalitarian racial sentiment in the late 1940's and beyond.
AMERICAN NEGRO ACADEMY Based on the assumption that educated African Americans have a special responsibility for uplifting the black race, the American Negro Academy was organized by the Rev. Alexander Crummell on March 5, 1897, in Washington, D.C. Charter members included Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the distinguished poet, and W.E.B. Du Bois, who succeeded Crummell as president of this black brotherhood of academicians in 1908.Goals and objectives of the American Negro Academy included the promotion of the arts and sciences, the formulation of intellectual curiosity and the fostering of higher education among black Americans.
AMERICO-LIBERIANS Americo-Liberians are the current-day descendants of the approximately 12,000 Afro-Americans who were "relocated" or "colonized" on the western coast of Africa in the early nineteenth century under the auspices of the American Colonization Society.
AMISTAD MUTINY Slave mutinies were a constant threat to captains of ships engaged in the Atlantic slave trade. It has been estimated that nearly two hundred slave-inspired mutinies occurred during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries alone. A classic example of this form of black resistance to enslavement is the Amistad mutiny of 1839.
The Amistad was a Spanish coastal schooner which set sail from the Havana slave market to the port of Granaja, Puerto Principe on June 28, 1839. Enroute, the African human cargo, led by Singbe-Pieh (called "Joseph Cinque" by the Spanish), successfully revolted and slew the ship's captain and most of the crew with sugar cane machetes. Although Cinque and his fellow mutineers had ordered the remaining Spanish aboard to steer an eastern course toward Africa, navigational trickery on the part of the .Spanish ultimately resulted in the Amistad reaching Long Island, near Mon-tauk Point, in American waters. Subsequently seized by an American naval vessel, the Amistad mutineers were arrested and charged with piracy on the high seas.
The Van Buren administration in Washington, hoping to avoid an international confrontation with Spain and domestic alienation of southern slave-holding interests, wanted to return the Amistad mutineers to their Spanish "owners." American abolitionists, however, quickly came to the defense of Cinque and his fellow Africans. The abolitionists enlisted the support of former
president John Quincy Adams, who eloquently defended the Amistad mutineers before the United States Supreme Court in 1841. Adams argued that the Africans themselves had been kidnapped illegally according to the various international prohibitions against the slave trade and were, therefore, free. The Court, with one dissenting vote, agreed with Adams and declared that the former Spanish slaves were indeed free and entitled to return to their African homeland.
ANDERSON, MARIAN Coming Soon.
ANTISLAVERY MOVEMENT See: ABOLITIONISM.
ARMSTRONG, LOUIS Acknowledged by some as being the "King of Jazz" and by others as being "the best trumpet player in the world," Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong was certainly a legend in his own time. Born in New Orleans on July 4, 1900, Armstrong learned to play the bugle and cornet during his early teens. In 1919, he became a member of Kid Ory's jazz band in New Orleans, moving to Chicago in 1922 to play second cornet in King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. Following brief stints with the bands of Fletcher Henderson (New York) and Erskine Tate (Chicago) during the late 1920's, Armstrong formed his own band and cut a series of recordings which became immensely popular and assured his success.
During the early 1930's, "Satchmo" began to play and sing with the "big bands," popularizing what was called "scat singing" (singing without words), one of his enduring trademarks. His subsequent world tours (first private ventures, then as a good-will ambassador for the Department of State), his many film appearances (including the immortal "Pennies from Heaven" with Bing Crosby) and his popular recordings (especially "Blueberry Hill" and "Hello, Dolly") made Armstrong one of the most loved entertainers of the twentieth century. His death in New York on July 6, 1971 saddened not only the music industry but the world community as well.ATLANTA COMPROMISE The "Atlanta Compromise" is an expression which historically has been used to describe the content and the implications of a speech delivered by Booker T. Washington at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition in 1895. Encouraging his fellow blacks to adopt a policy of peaceful coexistence with white southerners by respecting the "color-line" and by self-help and self-improvement, Washington maintainedthat the future of America's black population was dependent upon the need for vocational (as opposed to liberal arts) education rather than upon immediate agitation for civil rights.
Urging African Americans to "cast down your bucket where you are," Washington went on to emphasize the danger "that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin and not at the top."
ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE Referring to the forced transport of black Africans to the western hemisphere, the modern Atlantic slave trade had its inception during the early sixteenth century. Since the Portuguese pioneered in the exploration of the western coast of Africa, it is not surprising that Portugal was the first European country to take advantage of the rich economic potential involved in the selling of human slaves. The Portuguese were able to maintain a virtual monopoly over the Atlantic slave trade during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. From the mid-seventeenth century on, however, the slave trade became intensely competitive, with Holland, England and, in due course, the United States becoming involved.
The ultimate destination of the overwhelming majority African slaves transported across the ocean during the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries included the
West Indies, Central America and South America. Beginning in th mid-eighteenth century, an increasing number of African slaves were being transported to North America. Historians do not agree on the number of slaves carried across the Atlantic to the New World during these four centuries. Estimates range from a minimum of fifteen million to a maximum of nearly sixty million. Most authorities would agree that the number was not less than fifteen million and probably more than twenty million. This figure, of course, merely presents the number of Africans who arrived in the New World alive. Millions of others were killed during slave-raiding expeditions in Africa and countless others died enroute to the western| hemisphere.
Although most Europeans during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries recognized and perhaps even sympathized with the fact that the slave trade had its share of "evils" and "cruelties," they nevertheless were able to justify and provide a rationale for its existence. It was argued that slavery was as old as antiquity. Accordingly, there was little fear that they were opening a Pandora's box by the creation of a "new" institution and the mechanical means which made this institution possible. Secondly, the Europeans generally justified the slave trade in terms of their alleged Christian mission and charity; i.e., they were doing the African a favor by "rescuing" him from the depths of "savagery" and "heathenism." But perhaps the primary motivating factor which prompted the Europeans — and later the Americans — to engage in and support the existence of the slave trade was to take advantage of the possibility of high financial return. As it happened, this return, according to historian Eric Williams, was so immense that it in large part financed the rise of a mature industrial capitalism in western Europe.
Similar to the differences existing between historians as to the actual number of Africans transported to the New World via the Atlantic, there are a number of interpretations concerning the effect the slave trade had upon Africa itself. John Hope Franklin has argued that the Atlantic slave trade dealt Africa a "body blow"' from which it is still recovering. "The removal of the flower of African manhood," according to Franklin, "left the continent impotent, stultified, and dazed." Fellow historians August Meier and Elliott Rudwick, however, have challenged this traditional assumption. Arguing that the slave trade "encouraged the development of a substantial [native] mercantile group," Meier and Rudwick maintain that "in spite of the social disruption it caused, the transatlantic trade did not generally lead to a breakdown in West African social and political organization."
For additional information concerning the Atlantic slave trade, especially as it relates to its operational aspects, see: AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE, BARRACOON, CABOCEER, COASTAL FOREST KINGDOMS, COFFLE, MIDDLE PASSAGE, SLAVE COAST, and SLAVE TRADE SUPPRESSION.
ATTUCKS, CRISPUS Of the many incidents which preceded and to some extent "caused" the American Revolution, the Boston Massacre ranks as one of the more dramatic. British troops had been sent to Boston in 1768 to protect unpopular customs officials from colonial harm and harassment. On March 5, 1770 a group of American demonstrators confronted a squad of men from the 29th British Regiment. The Americans taunted and jeered the "lobsterbacks" and, in a moment of panic, the British troops fired their muskets into the crowd, killing five and wounding six others. Among the five fatalities and reportedly the first to fall was Crispus Attacks.
Contemporary accounts refer to Attucks as a "mulatto" and despite periodic attempts to disprove it, there seems little doubt that Crispus Attucks was indeed an African American. [A late-nineteenth century historian, J. B. Fisher, asserted that Attucks was a full-blooded Indian, maintaining that the terms mulatto and Indian were used interchangeably in colonial New England. A more recent appraisal has been offered by noted historian Benjamin Quarles, who depicts Attucks as "a Negro of obscure origin, with some admixture of Indian blood."]
Although the exact story may never be known, most modern historians believe that Attucks was a runaway slave from Framingham, Massachusetts, who had settled in Boston in the early 1750's. In 1750, for example, his alleged "master," William Brown of Framingham, published a reward advertisement in the Boston Gazette for "a mulatto fellow, about 27 years of age, named Crispus; 6 feet 2 inches high, short, curl'd hair, his knees together than common."
Similar to the question of Attucks' identity, historians have differed in regard to his motivation (and that of the other colonists) on the day of the "massacre." Nineteenth century black historian George Washington Williams, for example, portrayed Attucks as a conscious martyr who poured "out his blood as a precious libation on the altar of a people's rights.' On the other hand, modern historian Nathan Huggins has suggested that Attucks "and his white comrades were more motivated to harass the British military than to strike a blow for liberty and independence." Whatever the motivation, the death of Crispus Attucks did assume the status of martyrdom to thousands of American colonists in the immediate period preceding the Revolution. His sacrifice (be it deliberate or an accident of folly) has long since been recognized and his place as an African American "hero" will undoubtedly persevere.
BACK TO AFRICA MOVEMENTS "Back to Africa" movements within the African American community in the United States have existed in various forms and at various times from the early eighteenth century to the present day. According to historian John Hope Franklin, the earliest scheme for the resettlement of American blacks in Africa was sponsored by a New Jersey resident in 1714. During the remainder of the eighteenth century and throughout most of the nineteenth century, a number of "resettlement" or "colonization" plans were proposed and/or undertaken. The American Colonization Society, for example, "repatriated" approximately 12,000 African Americans to Liberia between 1822 and the beginning of the American Civil War. The overwhelming majority of these early "Back to Africa" movements were sponsored by white Americans whose attitudes fluctuated between genuine humanitarian guilt feelings about unconcealed racism, and a desire for absolute racial separation. Similarly, black attitudes toward these early colonization ventures varied from extreme enthusiasm and anticipation (from slaves) to apathy and outright rejection (from free blacks).
Modern "repatriation" schemes, such as Marcus Garvey's Black Zionist movement during the early twentieth century, have been sponsored by blacks whose motivations have varied from escapism to idealism to a genuine search for identity. A contemporary African news-journal, for example, has estimated that approximately two thousand black Americans are currently in Africa "seeking their roots." The extent of their success in finding these roots, of course, will vary from individual to individual. No absolute consensus exists among those African Americans who have already made the trek to their ancestral homeland and then returned to the United States. Many have returned disillusioned, while others sing the praises of "the Jordan over the sea."
Most black Americans, of course, have no intention of "returning" to Africa. As literary critic Harold Cruse has pointed out, the Afro-American "is wedded to America and does not want to return to his ancestral Africa except in fancy, perhaps." Cruse maintains that "three hundred years of rearing in the United States has separated us from Africa in ways more insurmountable, culturally speaking, than time gaps of centuries, if the present attitudes of our Afro-American intellectuals and artists are any indication. It must be clearly understood that our racial and cultural experience as a group distinctly American."
For additional information concerning "Back to Africa" movements, see: AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY, MARCUS GARVEY, and BLACK MUSLIMS.
BACKLASH See: WHITE BACKLASH.
BAKER, GEORGE See: FATHER DIVINE.
BANNEKER, BENJAMIN Born of a free mother and slave father in 1731, Benjamin Banneker ultimately became one of the m prominent and respected blacks in the early history of the United States. Although he only received the equivalent of eighth-grade education, Banneker was exceptionally intelligent. His mathematical aptitude and knowledge of astronomy, for example, enabled him to accurately predict the solar eclipse of 1789. In 1791 he began publishing an annual scientific almanac which in large part was devoted to mathematics and astronomy but which also included useful information concerning medical science and chemistry. Banneker is credited with having invented the first workable clock constructed in the United States.
In addition to his inventiveness, his mathematical genius and his writing ability, Banneker was also a surveyor. In this capacity, he became the first black presidential appointee when President Washington chose him to assist Andrew Ellicott and Pierre-Charles L'Enfant in surveying Washington, D.C. When L'Enfant, the team leader, abruptly resigned in the midst a dispute with government officials, Banneker was able to precisely reproduce the Frenchman's plans and blueprints of the national capital from memory. He died in 1806.
BARNETT, IDA B. WELLS Born in Mississippi in 1864, Ida Wells Barnett became a champion of equal civil rights for all races and, perhaps more significantly, a dedicated crusader against the practice of lynch-law in the United States during late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition to her career in journalism (she served as editor of the Memphis Free Speech), Barnett was an active pamphleteer and speaker on the subject of lynching. She ultimately became chairman of the Anti-Lynching Bureau of the National African Council. In 1908, Barnett became the first president of the Negro Fellowship
BAKER, JOSEPHINE Born Freda Josephine McDonald in 1906, Josephine Baker was a sensational singer and dancer during the 1920 - 1940 time-frame. She was an American-born African-American who became a French citizen in 1937. Nicknamed "Black Venus" and "Black Pearl," she was mostly noted as a singer, but in her earlier years was a celebrated dancer. During World War II, she worked for the French Resistance in opposition to German territorial control of France. She died in Paris in 1975, having performed in France for a half-century.
BALDWIN, JAMES Coming Soon.
BARRACOON Resembling a cattle corral, a barracoon or slave-pen was a stockade within the typical African slave-factory or coastal fort in which captured natives were kept or "stored" until they could be sold to European traders. Generally, males were chained, while women and children were allowed relative freedom of movement within the barracoon, which itself was protected by one or more guards in a corner watch-tower. In addition to the regular barracoon, there were a number of "floating" barracoons along the African slavetrading coast. In effect, the "floating" slave-pen was a large anchored raft located on creeks, rivers and estuaries. Similar to the regular barracoon, the "floating" variety housed prospective slaves prior to negotiations for their sale.
BASIE, COUNT Born William Basie in 1904, "Count Basie" was an African American jazz pianist, bandleader and music composer. His early career centered in New York City, working in dance halls and vaudeville. He subsequently moved to Kansas City, a major jazz center, playing with Walter Page's Blue Devils (1927) and Bennie Morton's band (1929). Basie formed his own band in 1935, producing for 40 years a distinctive style and sound marked by a "powerful yet relaxed attitude." He is best remembered for his exceptional composition of "One O'Clock Jump." The Count died in 1984.
BETHUNE, MARY McLEOD Born on July 10, 1875, Mary Jane McLeod was the daughter of ex-slave cotton farmers near Mayesville, South Carolina. During her youth, she decided to enter the missionary field. Toward this end, she attended Scotia Seminary in North Carolina for seven years and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for one year. When her application for a missionary position in Africa was rejected by the Presbyterian Board of Missions, however, she redirected her vocational interests to the teaching profession and, in the meantime, married Albertus Bethune.
In 1904, Mrs. Bethune founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial School for Negro Girls in Daytona Beach, Florida. Beginning with five students, one dilapidated building which she rented, and very little cash, Mrs. Bethune slowly nurtured her little school until it had become a respectable educational institution with a student body of six hundred in 1923. In that year, the Daytona school affiliated itself with the Board of Education of the Methodist Church and, concurrently, merged with Cookman Institute for Boys at Jacksonville to form Bethune-Cookman Institute. Mrs. Bethune served as president of the Institute (later to be renamed Bethune-Cookman College) until 1947. Following her retirement, she continued to serve the college in the capacity of president-emeritus and trustee until her death in 1955.
In addition to her educational interests and activities, Mrs. Bethune gained national prominence as an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She was a member of Roosevelt's unofficial "Black Cabinet," which also included black notables Ralph Bunche and Robert C. Weaver.
Mrs. Bethune also served on the Advisory Committee of the National Youth Administration and was President Roosevelt's Special Advisor on Minority Affairs between 1935-1944. Winner of the NAACP's Spingarn Award in 1935 for "contributions to Negro education," Mrs. Bethune was also active in African American women's organizations. She was president of the National Association of Colored Women between 1926-1930 and founder-president of the National Council of Negro Women from 1935 to 1949. See also: BLACK CABINET.
BIRMINGHAM CRISIS See: BIRMINGHAM MANIFESTO.
BIRMINGHAM MANIFESTO The Birmingham Manifesto, dated April 3, 1963, was the statement of purpose issued by the black inhabitants of Birmingham, Alabama, at the outset of what was later called the "Birmingham Crisis" of 1963. The "crisis" itself began with a number of mass demonstrations and protest marches against racial discrimination in Birmingham. On April 12, Martin Luther King, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and one of the principal organizers of the Birmingham protest, was jailed "for parading without a permit." In protest demonstrations during the first week of May, thousands of marching blacks were met with fire hose, police dogs and ultimate police detention.
Following several bombings (including one which destroyed the home of Dr. King's brother) and a prolonged riot accompanied by destruction and violence in mid-May, President John F. Kennedy threatened to intervene with federal troops. The threat had the effect of easing racial tensions somewhat, but only until September. In response to attempts to integrate Birmingham public schools, a number of blacks were killed, a riot was precipitated and a black Sunday School was bombed, leaving four young girls dead and a number of other children seriously injured. The September violence, fortunately, was shortlived. From that point on, no major racial riots occurred in Birmingham. Nevertheless, the events in that city during 1963, including the issuance of the Manifesto, did have the effect of profoundly dramatizing to the nation as a whole the plight of blacks in the United States.
Pointing out that "the patience of an oppressed people cannot endure forever," the Birmingham Manifesto declared that "very little of the democratic process touches the life of the Negro in Birmingham. We have been segregated racially, exploited economically, and dominated politically." Maintaining that Birmingham itself "has acquired the dubious reputation of being the worst big city in race relations in the United States," the Manifesto concluded by appealing "to the citizenry of Birmingham, Negro and white, to join us in this witness for decency, morality, self-respect and human dignity. Your individual and corporate support can hasten the day of liberty and justice for all."
BLACK CABINET Presidents of the United States preceding Franklin D. Roosevelt generally did not rely heavily upon black advisors or specialists, even in the area of minority affairs. During the Roosevelt era, however, a relatively large group of Afro-Americans were appointed to responsible advisory positions within the federal government. Although the number of black advisors to Roosevelt fluctuated from year to year, the group itself became known as the President's Black Cabinet. Prominent members of the Black Cabinet were Mary McLeod Bethune, Ralph Bunche, William H. Hastie, Eugene K. Jones, Lawrence A. Oxley, Robert C. Weaver and Robert L. Vann.
According to historian John Hope Franklin, Roosevelt's cadre of African American advisors differed from black advisors in previous administrations in a number of important respects. "In the first place," Franklin states, "the number of 'Black Cabineteers' was fairly large, in contrast to the small number of whom previous Presidents had relied for advice. In the second place, they were placed in positions of sufficient importance that both the government and the Negro population generally regarded the appointments as significant. They were not persons whose relationship with the government was nebulous and unofficial. They were oath-bound servants of the people of the United States."
BLACK CAPITALISM During the national presidential campaign of 1968, the term "black capitalism" repeatedly was used in reference to an economic panacea which would uplift the black masses by encouraging black ownership of business and industry in predominantly black areas. Black ownership, in turn, would automatically result in a high degree of racial pride and self-sufficiency. The concept itself, of course, is not new. Booker T. Washington's emphasis upon self-help, thrift and industriousness during the late nineteenth century, for example, is indicative of the fact that the typical African American leader has historically recognized the importance and desirability of black capitalism. Similarly, nearly every twentieth century black protest movement or organization, including Garveyism, the Black Muslims and Black Power, has advocated or (in the case of Garveyism) has put into practice the idea of black capitalism.
BLACK CODES Following the American Civil War, many southern whites feared that the newly freed blacks would take advantage of their freedom by inciting a general uprising in the hope of not only "retaliating" against their former masters but also of dispossessing them of their property. Such fears, coupled with traditional and engrained racial assumptions, resulted in the passage of what were called black codes throughout the former Confederacy in 1865-66.
In many respects similar to the repressive slave codes of the antebellum period, the new black codes were designed to severely limit the mobility and personal liberties of African Americans in the South. In a very real sense, the black codes of 1865-66 represented an attempt on the part of southern legislators to "legally" evade the Thirteenth Amendment. Many states, for example, prohibited blacks from drinking liquor and possessing firearms. Seditious speeches, insulting gestures or acts against white people, and curfew violations by blacks were punishable offenses. Vagrancy laws were common and generally provided local law enforcement authorities with the power to "farm-out" vagrants to employers as punishment for their "crime." This, of course, was a form of forced labor somewhat similar to antebellum slavery. Moreover, the employment relationships between white employers and black employees were remarkably reminiscent of the master-slave relationship. The South Carolina black code of 1865, for example, provided that "all persons of color who make contracts for service or labor, shall be known as servants, and those with whom they contract shall be known as masters." The South Carolina law also provided that if a black resigned his job, he could be arrested and imprisoned for breach of contract.
Rejecting the southern rationale that the black codes were necessary in order to reestablish adequate and workable relations in a bi-racial society, the North reacted quickly by generally supporting a more forceful reconstruction policy advocated by congressional radicals as opposed to the relatively lenient policy endorsed by President Johnson. Moreover, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution (1868) ultimately had the effect of nullifying the black codes by "officially" conferring citizenship upon the African American and by providing that no state "shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United .States." See also: FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT and SLAVE CODES.
BLACK FAMILY STATUS See: MOYNIHAN REPORT and SLAVERY.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH Black History Month (February) was created in 1976 by The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. The month-long celebration was an expansion of Negro History Week, which was established by Carter G. Woodson in 1926. Woodson selected the week in February that embraced the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
With the rise of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s, many African Americans began to complain about the insufficiency of a week-long celebration. In 1976, The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, replaced Negro History Week with Black History Month, often referred to as "African American History Month" or "African Heritage Month."
See also: CARTER G. WOODSON.
BLACK JEWS The thousands of black members of the Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in the United States are commonly referred to as Black Jews. Concentrated in a handful of large urban areas such as Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the Black Jews, like Jews everywhere, observe the rituals and holidays stemming from ancient Hebraic tradition. Historically, members of the Ethiopian Hebrew congregation have been closely-knit and clannish and, moreover, somewhat apathetic to the aspirations of the American black movement in general. Although there is some evidence that younger members of the faith are becoming more interested in black activism, cultural and religious preoccupations continue to eclipse racial considerations in the typical Black Jewish community.
BLACK MANIFESTO Formally issued on May 4, 1969 by James Forman, co-chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee between 1964-66, the "Black Manifesto" was a reflection of the conclusion reached at the National Black Economic Development Conference held in Detroit in 1968. The "Manifesto" demanded that Afro-Americans be paid "reparations" by the white religious establishment for its alleged complicity in the historical subjugation of the black race.
The preamble of the "Black Manifesto" charged that black Americans historically had been "victimized by the most vicious, racist system in the world." The preamble went on to demand "of the white Christian churches and Jewish synagogues which are part and parcel of the system of capitalism, that they begin to pay reparations to black people in this country. We are demanding $500,000,000 from the Christian white churches and the Jewish synagogues. This total comes to fifteen dollars per nigger. This is a low estimate, for we maintain there are probably more than 30,000,000 black people in this country. Fifteen dollars a nigger is not a large sum of money, and we know that the churches and synagogues have a tremendous wealth and its membership, white America, has profited and still exploits black people."
Among other things, it was proposed that the reparations money be used for the creation of a southern land bank, a new black university, a black anti-defamation league and a number of publishing and printing industries to help "generate capital for further cooperative investments in the black community, provide jobs and an alternative to the white-dominated and controlled printing field."
The immediate reaction of the white religious establishment was one of shock and dismay, especially after the five hundred million dollar demand was later increased to three billion dollars. Nevertheless, many church leaders and organizations have since recognized their responsibility to assist Afro-Americans in their attempt to overcome the severe socioeconomic straitjacket imposed by years of racial discrimination. The Episcopal Church, for example, has contributed $200,000 to the interdenominational National Committee of Black Churchmen, a group which endorses the "Black Manifesto." Whether or not the three billion dollar figure will ever be realized, however, remains a matter of speculation.
BLACK MUSLIMS The Black Muslims are members of a religious black nationalist organization formally called the Nation of Islam. Founded in Detroit in 1930 by F. D. Fard, an obscure peddler and prophet, leadership of the Muslim movement rested in the hands of Elijah Muhammad (originally Elijah Poole). From 1934 until his death in early 1975, Muhammad was recognized as the "messenger" of Allah on earth: "There is No God But Allah. Muhammad is His Apostle." Muhammad's fourth son, Wallace D. Muhammad, is now recognized as being the new leader and messenger of the sect.
Claiming a tie to the Islamic peoples of the world, Black Muslims accept the general tenets of the religion of Islam, including the rigidly monotheistic belief in one omnipotent, omniscient and merciful God (Allah) and in the obligatory worship of Him. Additionally, Muslims advocate a rigorously moral (if not puritanical) life style. The use of tobacco and alcohol is expressly prohibited, as is adultery. Muslim women are expected to dress with extreme modesty, foregoing the use of jewelry, lipstick and other ordinary cosmetics. Members are also expected to practice personal habits of thrift, hard work and personal cleanliness.
In addition to its religious dimension, the Nation of Islam has advocated a policy of racial separation and black nationalism. Branding whites as "devils," the Muslims denounce any form of integration, including intermarriage. Elijah Muhammad maintained that "integration is a clever trick of the devils. We should not be deceived [into] thinking that this offer of integration is leading us into a better life." In 1964, Muhammad stated that the Muslims wanted "to be allowed to establish a separate state or territory. . . either on this continent or elsewhere. We believe that our former slave-masters are obligated to maintain and supply our needs in this separate territory for the next twenty to twenty-five years — until we are able to produce and supply our own needs. Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality, we demand complete separation."
During the early 1960's, the leading voice of the Black Muslims was Malcolm X, who had been converted to Muhammad's teachings while in prison. Following his release, he became an out-
spoken and provocative defender of the Muslim belief that whites constitute a devil race whose sole ambition is the attempted emasculation of the black race. Separation of the two races, he concluded, was the only solution to America's racial problem: "We don't think that it is possible for the American white man in sincerity to take the action necessary to correct the unjust conditions that twenty million black people here are made to suffer morning, noon, and night." This being the case, Malcolm continued, "instead of asking or seeking to integrate into the American society we want to face the facts of the problem the way they are, and separate ourselves."
Largely as the result of strained relations between the two, Elijah Muhammad suspended Malcolm from the Muslim sect in 1963. Following the assassination of Malcolm in 1965, the Muslims suffered a brief decline as a result of the popular belief that they were directly involved in the slaying. Since then, however, Muslim strength (especially in regard to their black capitalistic ventures) has been revived and it continues to be one of the major black nationalist groups in the United States.
Among the more notable Muslim "converts" was Muhammad Ali (originally Cassius Clay), the former heavyweight boxing champion. Shortly before his much publicized bout with George Foreman in late 1974, Ali was interviewed on national television by former black football player turned actor Jim Brown. Defending his belief in the Muslim doctrine of separatism, Ali stated that racial separation is inherent in the very order of Nature, pointing out that sparrows do not mix with pigeons, nor chickens with bluebirds. Hence, it is contrary to Nature for the human races to mix. See also: BLACK CAPITALISM, BLACK NATIONALISM and MALCOLM X.
BLACK NATIONALISM As it is most commonly employed, the term "black nationalism" refers to the belief in and desirability of the political and ideological re-creation of a black African world, one in which the Afro-American can find renewed dignity and purpose. As such, black nationalism can be equated with black separatism, in all of its infinite varieties. Similar to Zionism (Jewish nationalism), which historically advocated the establishment of a Jewish national state or homeland for Jews, black nationalism historically has advocated the creation of a black national state or homeland (in Africa or within the United States) for blacks. Throughout the twentieth century, a number of black nationalist (separatist) groups in the United States have renounced integration in favor of racial separation as the only means for blacks to achieve complete freedom, pride and human dignity. The most significant of these groups have been Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the Black Muslim movement. For a fuller discussion of black nationalism, see: BACK TO AFRICA MOVEMENTS, BLACK MUSLIMS, BLACK POWER and MARCUS GARVEY.
BLACK PANTHERS The "Black Panther Party for Self Defense" was founded in Oakland, California in October 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Both Newton and Seale had become convinced that black Americans, especially those trapped in innercity ghettos, were being subjected to continual police harassment and brutality. Both believed that the typical police officer was a "racist-fascist pig" acting as a tool for greedy ghetto merchants and landlords whose exploitation of innercity blacks assumed extreme proportions. The Black Panther Party, therefore, was established to act as a self-defense counterweight to this alleged police harassment and brutality.
Regarding themselves as the champions of the black masses against the police, Newton, Seale and other Panthers systematically undertook to survey police practices and actions in the Oakland area, patrolling through the innercity with cameras and loaded weapons. According to Seale, the Panthers had no intention of provoking confrontations with police officers performing their officially assigned duties. Their only intent was to establish a mutual tolerance between the police force and the black community in order to protect the latter. "We will change this society," Newton once said. "It is up to the oppressor to decide whether this will be a peaceful change. We will use whatever means is necessary. We will have our manhood even if we have to level the earth." Despite these professions of self-defense and in large part the result of continual verbal assaults by the Panthers against the police, confrontations between the two groups became commonplace during the late 1960's. In 1967, for example, Newton was wounded and charged with the murder of a white policeman during an Oakland Shootout. Then, in 1968, the unarmed Panther national treasurer, Bobby Hutton, was killed in another Panther-police shootout which also involved Eldridge Cleaver, former convict, noted author of Soul on Ice and Panther minister of information. Cleaver, on parole at the time, fled to Algeria to avoid prosecution. By 1970, the
leadership hierarchy, as well as the general membership of the Black Panther Party had been depleted as the result of such incidents.
BLACK POLITICAL CONVENTION See: NATIONAL BLACK POLITICAL CONVENTION.
BLACK POWER The concept of "black power" was one of themost controversial, debated and least understood of the many precepts which emerged during the black civil rights "revolution" of the 1950's and 1960's. First coined by Stokely Car-michael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the slogan "black power" was popularized during the June 1966 march through Mississippi begun by James Meredith to demonstrate the necessity of black voter registration.
Almost immediately, white Americans cringed at the thought of a violent black revolution aimed at the destruction of the white power structure and the establishment of black political control over the United States. Most whites and a fair proportion of moderate black civil rights leaders such as Roy Wilkins (NAACP) and Martin Luther King (SCLC) equated "black power" with "black racism" or with a quest for "black supremacy." Wilkins, for example, defined black power as meaning "antiwhite power," while King lamented that "a doctrine of Black Supremacy is as evil as White Supremacy." It is now relatively clear, however, that these initial reactions to the term "black power" were premature.
Aside from being an expression calculated to inspire racial pride, integrity and solidarity among African Americans, black power was and is based on the assumption that blacks should wield
political control (i.e., power) where they constitute a majority of the population (e.g., inner cities) as well as proportionate political influence in other areas where blacks live but do not constitute the majority. In this respect, according to black political scientist Charles V. Hamilton, black power is a "clear alternative to acts of expressive or instrumental violence, because it means the legitimate involvement of masses of black people in activities and institutions which affect their lives. Black Power is not only interested in an equitable distribution of goods and services, it is also vitally concerned with an equitable distribution of decision-making powers."
Similarly, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) adopted a resolution endorsing the concept of black power and, in the process, attempted to dispel the notion that the concept itself would ultimately lead to a white bloodbath. "Black Power is not hatred," the resolution began. "It is a means to bring the Black Americans into the covenant of Brotherhood. Black Power is not Black Supremacy; it is a unified Black Voice reflecting racial pride in the tradition of our heterogeneous nation." Echoing the moderate sentiments of CORE, black militant Julius Lester has written that "black power is not anti-white people, but is anti-anything and everything that serves to oppress. If whites align themselves on the side of oppression, then black power must be anti-white. That, however, is not the decision of black power."
BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION "Black Republican Reconstruction" is an expression used to describe those years during the Reconstruction era after the Civil War in which former black slaves, with the aid of northern carpetbaggers and southern scalawags, won election to political offices throughout the former Confederacy. The term "Black Republican" itself was an expression of contempt used by white southerners to describe white Radical Republicans who aided freedmen in their quest for public office during the late 1860's and early 1870's. During this period, nearly thirty southern blacks won election to the U. S. Congress, while two southern state legislatures (Louisiana and South Carolina) were dominated by black majorities for a brief time. With but few exceptions, however, these black office-holders were used as pawns by the real "rulers" of "Black Republican" governments, the carpetbaggers and scalawags. Southern freedmen were unscrupulously used by Republican politicians to build a viable party machine in the South while never sharing in the spoils of office in proportion to their numerical strength. See also: CARPETBAGGERS and RADICAL REPUBLICANS.
BLACK SEPARATISM See: BLACK NATIONALISM.
BLACK STEREOTYPE See: NEGRO CONSUMPTION and SAMBO STEREOTYPE.
BLACK ZIONISM See: BLACK NATIONALISM and MARCUS GARVEY.
BLAND, JAMES Born in Flushing, New York in 1854, James Bland was a noted minstrel comedian and composer, gaining fame in both Europe and the United States. During the course of his life, Bland wrote more than six hundred popular songs, including "Oh Dem Golden Slippers" and "In the Evening by the Moonlight." His most popular composition, "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," was adopted as Virginia's official state song in 1940. Bland himself died of pneumonia on May 5, 1911.
BLEEDING KANSAS See: KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT and POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.
BLOODY FLUX See: NEGRO CONSUMPTION.
BOLLING V. SHARPE The Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education (347 U. S. 483) which prohibited states from maintaining racially segregated public schools was based on the Court's belief that such prohibition was in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment, in turn, is applicable only to the individual states and not to the District of Columbia. In other words, being under federal authority and as the result of the fact that the powers of the federal government are not restricted by an equal protection clause, the Brown decision per se was not applicable to the District of Columbia. This problem was resolved by invoking the Fifth Amendment's due process clause, which was applicable to the District. The case in question was Boiling v. Sharpe (347 U. S. 497).
The Court's unanimous decision, delivered on the same day of the Broivn decision, was read by Chief Justice Warren: "In view of our decision that the Constitution prohibits the states from maintaining racially segregated public schools, it would be unthinkable that the same Constitution would impose a lesser duty on the Federal Government. We hold that racial segregation in the public schools of the District of Columbia is a denial of the due process of law guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. See also: BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION.
BONDED SERVITUDE See: INDENTURED SERVITUDE.
BRAITHWAITE, WILLIAM S. African American poet and critic William Stanley Braithwaite (1878-1962) edited and published an annual "Anthology of Magazine Verse," which featured poetry written by such notables as Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg. Additionally, Braithwaite was a well known book reviewer for the Boston Transcript during the early twentieth century. As a poet, he was extremely prolific, with his best known books of verse being Lyrics of Life and Love (1904), The House of Falling Leaves (1908) and The Book of Restoration Verse (1909). Recipient of the NAACP's annual Spingarn Award (for the "highest or noblest achievement by an American Negro") in 1918, Braithwaite devoted his later years to education, teaching creative literature and poetry at Atlanta University.
BRAWLEY, BENJAMIN A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Benjamin Brawley (1882-1939) was a poet and a writer of fiction. His major claim to fame, however, was the contribution he made to literary and social history. Among Brawley's most significant books were A Short History of English Drama (1921); A New Survey of English Literature (1925); The Negro Genius (1937); and Negro Builders and Heroes (1937). Educated at Morehouse College, the University of Chicago and Harvard, Brawley later taught at a number of colleges, including both Morehouse and Howard University.
BROWN, JAMES Coming Soon.
BROWN, JOHN A controversial white abolitionist, John Brown was born on May 9, 1800 in Connecticut. For the greater part of his life, Brown was a drifter, living in at least five different states, working as a cattle drover, tanner, wool merchant and farmer. In the meantime, he had married twice and had fathered a total of twenty children.
His fierce hatred of the institution of Afro-American slavery did not actively surface until he moved to Kansas in 1855. In the midst of a bitter controversy over whether Kansas should enter the Union as a free or slave state, Brown and severalcompanions took the law into their own hands by raiding a proslavery settlement on Potawatomi Creek, dragging five unsuspecting settlers from their cabins and brutally murdering them. Known as the "Potawatomi Massacre," this incident not only brought Brown a degree of national "recognition," but also reenforced his own belief that his crusade against the evils of slavery was divinely inspired.
He next proposed that a black republic be established in the mountains of Maryland and Virginia where escaped slaves could gather and more effectively defend themselves against white racism and slave hunters. Toward this end, in October 1859, Brown and a group of his followers, both black and white, staged an attack upon the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, hoping to secure enough arms and ammunition to properly outfit his proposed "republic." As it turned out, however, Brown's raid was a complete fiasco. After a two day siege during which ten of his men were killed by federal troops, Brown himself was captured.
Charged with treason, conspiracy and murder, Brown was convicted and executed on December 2, 1859. The manner in which he conducted himself during his trial and immediately preceding his execution, however, assured that sectional hostility between the northern and southern states would continue unabated. Brown refused to enter a plea of insanity. He insisted to the end that he was an agent of God sent to free the slaves. "If it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded," he said during his trial, "I say, let it be done." It was done, but in the process John Brown was transformed into a martyr to the cause of freedom by northern sympathizers and, concurrently, viewed as a "typical abolitionist" by southern proslavery interests.
BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION The unanimous 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (347 U. S. 483) climaxed years of pressure and litigation by the NAACP and other concerned groups and individuals over the question of the legal status of American blacks in regard to public education. Harbinger of a new era in the legal struggle for black equality in the United States, the Supreme Court declared that racial discrimination in state-supported public schools was unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
This decision, of course, ran contrary to the 1896 decision of the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U. S. 537) which sanctioned the so-called "separate but equal" doctrine. This doctrine maintained that equality of treatment is satisfied when blacks and whites are provided equal facilities, even though these facilities may be separate. Therefore, although the Brown decision's primary thrust was against segregated public education, it also struck out at all Jim Crow laws which were based on the "separate but equal" doctrine.
In delivering the opinion of the Court, Chief Justice Earl Warren declared that state-imposed racial segregation of public school facilities was detrimental to the psychological well-being of black children. "To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race," Warren stated, "generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. Whatever may have been the extent of psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority. Any language in Plessy v. Ferguson contrary to this finding is rejected. We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of "separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
Prior to the Brown decision, racial segregation of public school facilities was required by law in seventeen states and in the District of Columbia. Within this area, approximately eight million white children were attending approximately 35,000 white schools, while nearly three million Afro-American children were enrolled in 15,000 black schools. These figures prompted the Ne-w York Times (May 18, 1954) to assert that "probably no decision in the history of the Court has directly concerned so many individuals."
The Brown decision of 1954 established the constitutional principle, but did not supply the necessary enforcement decree. One year later, therefore, the Supreme Court mandated that desegregation of public school facilities should begin "with all deliberate speed" toward "full compliance with our May 17, 1954, ruling." However, many states and individual school districts adopted a snail's interpretation of the Court's "with all deliberate speed" ruling. Fifteen years after the initial Brown decision, approximately eighty percent of southern black children continued to attend segregated schools. In response, the Supreme Court in 1969 revised its previous stand by declaring in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education (396 U. S. 19) that the standard of "all deliberate speed" was no longer "constitutionally permissible" and ordered desegregation "at once." Although this order did prod many states and school districts into action, complete desegregation of the nation's schools (both southern and northern) has not yet become a reality. See also: BUSING, ROLLING V. SHARPE, JIM CROWISM, PLESSY V. FERGUSON and SWEATT V. PAINTER.
BROWN, WILLIAM WELLS William Wells Brown (1815-1884) was a pioneer black novelist, dramatist and travel writer. Born in Kentucky as a slave, Brown escaped bondage when he fled to Canada in 1834. While in Canada, he worked as a steward on Lake Erie ships and, in the meantime, became self-educated. In 1849, he traveled to Europe, where he stayed for five years. His sojourn in Europe provided him with the material needed to publish a travel book (Three Years in Europe, 1852), the first published by an African American. In addition to this achievement, Brown is credited with having written the first novel (Clotel, or the President's Daughter, 1853) and the first drama (The Escape, 1858) published by a black American.
BRUCE, BLANCHE K. Born a slave in Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1841, Blanche Kelso Bruce was the first African American to serve a full term in the United States Senate. Representing Mississippi from 1875 to 1881, Bruce was one of over twenty blacks elected to Congress during the last thirty years of the nineteenth century.
During his senatorial career, Bruce actively supported civil rights for all Americans, including not only blacks but also the American Indian and the Chinese. He participated in an investigation of alleged election frauds and was a staunch advocate of improving the Mississippi River's navigational potential in order to enhance both domestic and foreign trade. Upon completion of his term in the Senate, Bruce remained in the federal service. In 1881, President Garfield appointed him to the post of Register of the Treasury. He retained this position until 1885 and was reappointed to it by President McKinley in 1897. In the interim, he served as Recorder of Deeds in the District of Columbia, receiving this appointment from President Harrison in 1891. Bruce died on March 17, 1898.
BUFFALO SOLDIERS For a generation following the Civil War, two regiments of black cavalry of the U. S. Army, the Ninth and the Tenth, served meritoriously on the western frontier. Concentrated at one time or another in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and the Dakotas, these troops were called "buffalo soldiers" by the American Indians. The traditional account is that the Indians saw a similarity between the hair of the black soldier and that of the buffalo. The term was not used in a derogatory manner since the buffalo was considered to be a sacred animal by the Indians. Accordingly, the black troopers willingly accepted this designation, even to the point of adopting the buffalo as a portion of their regimental insignia.
BUNCHE, RALPH Coming Soon.
BURLEIGH, HARRY T. Harry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) was an internationally known Afro-American singer and composer during the early twentieth century. An accomplished baritone and church soloist, Burleigh was a native of Erie, Pennsylvania. Fond of music from his childhood, he was awarded a scholarship in 1892 to the National Conservatory of Music in New York, where he studied under and was befriended by the noted composer Antonin Dvorak. Dvorak's fifth symphony, "From the New World," contains sections which were inspired by Burleigh's spirituals. Long-time baritone soloist at New York's St. George's Episcopal Church and at Temple Emanuel, one of America's largest Jewish synagogues, Burleigh's concert tours included appearances before American presidents and European royalty, twice giving command performances for King Edward VII of Great Britain. During his lifetime, Harry T. Burleigh composed over two hundred original songs.
BUSING Busing refers to the controversial process of transporting public school children (white or black, depending on the circumstances) by bus to schools outside their neighborhoods where necessary to achieve racial balance and to prevent de facto segregation. Most common in the North, attempts at busing were begun in the early 1960's. In most cases, busing was met with a degree of parental resistance, especially but not universally on the part of white parents. At the beginning of the 1974-75 academic year, for example, white parents in Boston, Massachusetts reacted angrily to a court-ordered busing program intended to integrate Boston public schools. The opening of school in Boston on September 12 (more than twenty years after the Supreme Court declared that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal"), was marred by a number of ugly incidents, including the stoning of school buses containing black children (several of whom were injured) and a partial white boycott of classes. See also: DE FACTO SEGREGATION.
CALLOWAY, CAB Coming Soon.
CAMPANELLA, ROY Coming Soon.
CARDOZO, FRANCIS L. Born a "Free Negro" in Charleston, South Carolina in 1837, Francis L. Cardozo's early life was devoted to the hope of entering the ministry. Following an excellent education which included four years of undergraduate training at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and three additional years at Presbyterian seminaries in Edinburgh and London, Cardozo became pastor of the Temple Street Congregational Church in New Haven, Connecticut.
Following the Civil War and his return to South Carolina, Cardozo's interests gravitated toward politics. He was a delegate to the South Carolina constitutional convention in 1868. In that same year, he was elected Secretary of State of South Carolina, a position he held until 1870. In 1872, he was elected State Treasurer. Reelected in 1876, his term of office was cut short by the Compromise of 1877 and the return of "white rule" to South Carolina. Moving to Washington, Cardozo extended his career by serving in both the Treasury and Post Office departments. In addition, from 1884 to 1896, he served as principal of Washington's black high school. Cardozo died in 1903.
CARMICHAEL, STOKELY Coming Soon.
CARPETBAGGERS The term "carpetbaggers" historically has been used to describe those northern politicians, adventurers, federal employees and idealists who migrated to the South duringthe Reconstruction era after the American Civil War. The term itself is derived from the popular impression that these individuals, in their hurry to reach the South, packed what belongings they could in "carpetbags," a form of luggage used during the mid-nineteenth century. Together with their southern counterparts, the so-called "scalawags," the "carpetbaggers" and southern blacks, protected by federal bayonets, controlled a number of southern state and municipal governments for several years after 1867. See also: BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION.
CARVER, GEORGE WASHINGTON One of the most prominent and distinguished American blacks during the early twentieth century, George Washington Carver was born of slave parents in Missouri in 1864. A sickly child with a pronounced stammer, Carver worked as a farm hand, tried homesteading and wandered a great deal during his teenage years. As a result, he was in his mid-twenties before he completed high school. Determined to further his education, Carver worked his way through Iowa State College (Ames), from which he received a B. S. degree in 1894. He remained at Iowa State serving as an assistant botanist and head of the college greenhouse until he received his master's degree in agriculture and bacterial botany in 1896.
Shortly after earning his M. S. degree, Carver received and accepted an invitation from Booker T. Washington to teach and continue his research activities at Tuskegee Institute. He remained at Tuskegee until his death in 1943. In the meantime, Carver gained national and international fame as a pioneer in chemurgy, the science of utilizing organic products in the manufacture of non-organic products (e.g., using soybeans as the base for the making of plastics). He was also a pioneer in the field of dehydration, long before the process became an integral part of the American food industry.
Throughout his career, Carver was primarily concerned with improving southern agricultural conditions and, at the same time, improving the lot of southern blacks. Toward these ends, he was instrumental in persuading southern farmers to diversify their crops in order to escape dependence on a single crop (cotton) system. In place of cotton, which was depleting the soil and which suffered from the scourge of the boll weevil, Carver successfully advocated the cultivation of soil-enriching peanuts and sweet potatoes. Concurrently, he developed a number of processes to deal with peanut and sweet potato surpluses. Fromthe peanut, for example, he made such diverse products as cheese, coffee, flour, ink, milk, soap and insulation board.
Although many national laboratories periodically tried to lure Carver away from Tuskegee, he remained loyal to Booker T. Washington's school throughout his life. He was not particularly interested in fame or fortune. Most of his inventions and processes were never patented. On one occasion, he explained that his scientific ability was a gift from God and that inventions and processes should be universally shared without enhancing the financial status of the inventor. Buried alongside of Booker T. Washington, Carver's epitaph appropriately reads: "He could have added fortune to fame but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world."
CATO CONSPIRACY The first serious slave uprising in the American colonies was the Cato Conspiracy of 1739. Led by a black slave named Cato, this uprising took place about twenty miles west of Charleston on a plantation at Stono. Hoping to reach Florida, Cato and about fifty to sixty slaves raided a warehouse, securing arms and ammunition. Marching to the beat of two drums, the conspirators began their trek south, killing any white who attempted to interfere. Pursued by a vigilante group of armed whites, the determined rebels, with the exception of about a dozen, were captured or killed. Before the conspiracy ended, a total of thirty whites and forty-four blacks lost their lives. See also: SLAVE CONSPIRACIES.
CERTIFICATE OF FREEDOM See: FREE NEGROES.
CHAMBERLAIN, WILT Coming Soon.
CHARLES, RAY Coming Soon.
CHATTEL Literally defined, the term chattel refers to a movable item of personal property (chattel personal) or any interest in real estate less than a freehold (chattel real). An integral aspect of Afro-American slavery was the dehumanizing legal definition of slaves as being chattel. In the antebellum South, most state slave codes defined the slave as constituting personal property (personalty or chattel personal). On the other hand, several states, including Louisiana and (before 1852) Kentucky, legally defined the status of slaves as being real estate (realty or chattel real). See also: SLAVE CODES.
CHEATHAM, HENRY P. An alumnus of Shaw College, Henry P. Cheatham (1857-1935) served as United States Congressman from North Carolina between 1889-93. Preceding his congressional career, Cheatham was Register of Deeds for Vance County,
North Carolina (1884-88) and principal of the State Normal School at Plymouth (1888). His later years were spent as superintendent of a black orphanage in North Carolina, a position he held from 1901 until his death in 1935.
CHESNUTT, CHARLES W. The son of runaway slaves from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1858. Following the conclusion of the Civil War, the entire family returned to Fayetteville. Chesnutt remained in North Carolina until 1883. Disgusted with southern racial attitudes, he moved to New York and, later, returned to Cleveland. Largely self-educated, Chesnutt passed the Ohio bar in 1887. In addition, he was an accomplished stenographer, having worked for Dow Jones in New York and for a railroad company in Cleveland. It was as a writer of novels and short stories, however, that Chesnutt acquired national recognition.
Although he had written a column for the New York Mail and Express and had contributed a number of articles and poems to newspapers and journals during the early 1880's, Chesnutt's first important work, "The Goophered Grapevine," did not appear in the Atlantic Monthly until 1887. This was followed by two collections of short stories published in 1899 (The Conjure Woman and The Wife of His Youth). His first novel, The House Behind the Cedars (1900), dealt convincingly with a black girl's attempt to "pass" as white. Most of his stories and novels, including his final two books, The Marrow of Tradition (1901) and The Colonel's Dream (1905), were sensitively written accounts of the American racial dilemma from a black man's point of view. Chesnutt died in 1932.
CHICAGO DEFENDER Founded in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott, the Chicago Defender was one of the most influential black-edited and published newspapers during the early twentieth century. Widely circulated throughout the South, the Defender was instrumental in encouraging southern blacks to migrate to the North during the first World War. Portraying the North as a "land of promise" for Afro-Americans, the Defender attacked southern racism and the economic plight of southern blacks. "To die from the bite of frost," the newspaper asserted, "is far more glorious than at the hands of a mob."
Advertisements for help in the classified columns of the Defender as well as occasional headlines ("MORE POSITIONS OPEN THAN MEN FOR THEM") were specifically written to entice
southern blacks to seek their fortune and perhaps fame in the North. More significant were the repeated appeals of the Defender for southern black men to exert their manhood in the cause of human dignity. "Every black man for the sake of his wife and daughter," proclaimed the Defender, "should leave even at a financial sacrifice every spot in the South where his worth is not appreciated enough to give him the standing of a man and a citizen in the community." See also: ROBERT S. ABBOTT and GREAT MIGRATION.
CHISHOLM, SHIRLEY Coming Soon.
CHRISTIAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH With nearly a half million communicants, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) is the third largest black Methodist body in the United States. Original members of the CME Church (about 250,000) represented the black members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South (ME) who successfully petitioned for a church of their own in 1871. Until 1956, the CME Church was known as the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.
CINQUE, JOSEPH See: AMISTAD MUTINY.
CITIZENS' COUNCILS See: WHITE CITIZENS' COUNCILS.
CIVIL LIBERTIES See: CIVIL RIGHTS.
CIVIL RIGHTS As generally understood, civil rights are those rights belonging to an individual by virtue of his or her status as a citizen or as a member of civil society. In the United States, many authorities attempt to distinguish between civil rights and civil liberties, although many others equate the terms or at least fail to differentiate between them. In the case of those seeking to distinguish between the two terms, civil rights is most often defined as racial equality before the law as stated and guaranteed by the Civil War amendments and subsequent amendments to the Constitution as well as pertinent legislation (e.g., Civil Rights Acts) and judicial decisions. Civil liberties, on the other hand, are taken to mean those guarantees of the original Bill of Rights (e.g., the freedoms of religion, speech, and of the press) and those of state constitutions.
CIVIL RIGHTS ACTS The term Civil Rights Act has been used no less than eight times since 1866 to describe legislative measures adopted by the United States Congress to protect and guarantee African American civil rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1866, for example, was designed to protect freedmen against southern black codes and other discriminatory measures. In addition, the 1866 act stated that "all persons born in the United States ... are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States," and as such all were entitled to equal treatment in rights and privileges. This section of the act was later incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment of 1868, thereby overturning the Dred Scott decision of 1857 which had denied the status of citizenship to blacks.
Passed by Congress on March 1, 1875, the Civil Rights Act of 1875 guaranteed that "all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment" of public accommodations such as theaters, inns, hotels and forms of public conveyance. The act carried a fine for violation of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000, or imprisonment for thirty days to one year. In 1883, however, the Supreme Court of the United .States declared this Act unconstitutional, arguing that Congress did not have the authority to regulate the social mores of private individuals.
It was not until 1957 that Congress once again addressed itself to the plight of African Americans in their attempt to secure civil equality before the law. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 prohibited any action which would infringe upon or deny to persons the right to vote in federal elections, authorizing the Attorney General to bring suit when such persons were denied their constitutional right to vote. The 1957 act also created the Civil Rights Commission and established a Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice. Although this legislation was criticized by many as being a token attempt to deal with a serious national problem, its significance lies in the fact that it represented a reversal of the federal policy of laissez faire in the realm of civil rights which had existed since 1875.
The Civil Rights Act of 1960 reenforced the 1957 legislation by providing for court enforcement of voting rights and requiring that voting records be preserved. Additionally, in an attempt to guarantee that school desegregation orders were enforced, the act contained limited criminal penalty provisions relating to bombing and to the obstruction of federal court orders.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was undoubtedly the most comprehensive and significant piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress. Despite an extended southern filibuster, sup-
porters of the legislation had sufficient strength to muster the necessary votes for passage on July 2, 1964. This act prohibited racial discrimination in public accommodations and in programs receiving federal assistance. In addition, discrimination by employers and unions was prohibited; an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was established; and the enforcement apparatus of voting laws and school and public facilities desegregation orders were significantly strengthened.
Three additional legislative measures since 1964 occasionally have been referred to as Civil Rights Acts. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, discussed elsewhere in this book, strengthened penalties for interference with voting rights, while congressional legislation in 1968 and 1970, respectively, prohibited housing discrimination in most cases and amended and extended the Voting Rights Act of 1965. See also: CIVIL RIGHTS CASES, CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION and VOTING RIGHTS ACT.
CIVIL RIGHTS CASES The United States Supreme Court's 1883 decision in the Civil Rights Cases [109 U. S. 3] declared that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was null and void. Involving five separate cases concerning the denial of admission by private owners of hotels and theaters to "persons of color," the Court came to the conclusion that since the Fourteenth Amendment only prohibited the denial of civil rights by the states and not by private individuals, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which was based on this Amendment, was unconstitutional. In the future, therefore, blacks who were refused equal accommodations or privileges by hotels, theaters, inns and other privately owned facilities had no legal recourse to pursue. This decision, together with the subsequent Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, provided legal sanction for the establishment of a rigid policy of racial segregation in the United States. See also: CIVIL RIGHTS ACTS and PLESSY V. FERGUSON.
CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION The U. S. Commission on Civil Rights [Civil Rights Commission] was established by Congress under the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As presently constituted, the Commission is a bipartisan group of six individuals empowered to investigate violations of civil rights legislation; to appraise the effectiveness of federal laws and policies in the civil rights area; and to submit interim reports to the President and Congress containing its findings and recommendations.
CIVIL WAR Often referred to as the War Between the States, the American Civil War (1861-1865) climaxed nearly a half-century of sectional conflict between the North (the Union) and the South (the Confederacy). The institution of African American slavery and, in particular, the question of the expansion of this institution into the western territories was certainly an important "cause" of the war. As a result of the war, of course, the institution of slavery was abolished, the southern plantation system was crippled and the foundations of African American liberty were established. The war itself, therefore, must certainly be considered a watershed in the history of the black American. See also: COMPROMISE OF 1850, EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT, KING COTTON and MISSOURI COMPROMISE.
CLEAVER, ELDRIDGE Coming Soon.
CLEMENTE, ROBERTO Throughout an eighteen-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Roberto Walker Clemente demonstrated an athletic ability surpassed by few in the history of major league baseball. As a fielder, his speed and superior throwing arm were reminiscent of Jackie Robinson, the first black man in the major leagues. Clemente had a career batting average of .317 and was one of a dozen baseball greats to collect more than 3,000 lifetime hits. A native of Puerto Rico, the 38-year-old Clemente was killed on December 31, 1972 when his chartered cargo plane, engaged in a mercy flight to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua, crashed into the sea moments after its take-off from San Juan. Shortly after his death, Clemente's greatness was recognized by his special election to Baseball's Hall of Fame, thus bypassing the usual five-year waiting period for eligibility.
COASTAL FOREST KINGDOMS During the height of the Atlantic slave trade, the vast majority of Africans procured for ultimate slavery in the western hemisphere came from one or another of the so-called coastal forest kingdoms on the western coast of Africa. Concentrated along the former Gold Coast (modern Ghana) and, in particular, the Slave Coast (modern Nigeria), the coastal forest kingdoms were relatively small in area and generally built around a single town. The most significant of these kingdoms were Benin, Akwamu, Oyo, Dahomey and Ashanti. It has been estimated that as many as 75% of all contemporary African Americans can claim the coastal forest area as their ancestral homeland.
COCHRAN, JOHNNIE Coming Soon.
COFFLE Derived from the Arabic qafila, meaning "caravan," the term coffle generally was used in reference to the single column or, on some occasions, double column of slaves fastened together by leg and/or neck chains for the purpose of overland transportation. Use of the slave coffle, of course, afforded the slave trader or owner a degree of insurance against escape attempts by individual slaves.
COLE, NAT KING One of the most popular American singers during the mid-twentieth century, Nat King Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, Alabama in 1919. During his early musical career, Cole was primarily a pianist, not turning to singing until the 1940's. During the late 1940's, he was the only African American performer to have his own commercial network radio program. Similarly, he became the first black entertainer with his own national television show during the 1956-57 season. Selling over fifty million records during his lifetime, Cole's most popular songs include "Mona Lisa," "Nature Boy," "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "Sweet Lorraine." He died in 1965.
COLONIZATION See: AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY and BACK TO AFRICA MOVEMENTS.
COLORED METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH See: CHRISTIAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
COMMONWEALTH V. JENNISON See: QUOCK WALKER CASE.
COMPROMISE OF 1850 Officially called the Omnibus Bill of 1850, the Compromise of 1850 refers to a set of five measures passed by Congress in September 1850 in an attempt to avert the threat of disunion by settling outstanding issues involving Afro-American slavery. Primarily the work of Henry Clay, the Compromise resulted from the sectional conflict arising out of the petition of California for admission to the Union as a free state. As ultimately adopted, the Compromise of 1850 provided for the admission of California as a free state; the organization of the remaining part of the Mexican Cession into the territories of New Mexico and Utah based on the principle of popular sovereignty; the abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia; a new and more rigorous fugitive slave law; and a compensated reduction in the size of Texas.
In retrospect, the Compromise of 1850 was only a stopgap measure which contained the seeds of future sectional discord between proslave and antislave interests. The opening (via popular sovereignty) of New Mexico and Utah to slavery set a precedent which would be followed, with tragic consequences, in the case of Kansas and Nebraska four years later. Moreover, the new fugitive slave law would have the effect of infuriating even moderate antislave interests. In short, the Compromise was little more than a temporary solution. See also: FUGITIVE SLAVE LAWS, KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT and POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.
COMPROMISE OF 1877 The disputed national presidential election of 1876 was settled by the so-called "Compromise of 1877." Southern Democrats agreed to accept a Republican president (Rutherford B. Hayes) in exchange for Republican assurances that federal troops and federal interference in the affairs of southern states would be removed. This intersectional "bargain," of course, formally "ended" the period of Reconstruction and restored "home-rule" to white southerners. More significant is the fact that the Compromise of 1877 represented the abandonment of southern freedmen by northern politicians. Without fear of direct federal interference, white southerners were now able to effectively restore white-rule and institutionalize Jim Crowism throughout the former Confederacy. The hapless black freedmen and their descendants, according to historian John A. Garraty, "were condemned in the interests of sectional harmony to lives of poverty, indignity, and little hope." See also: BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION and JIM CROWISM.
CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is a black protest and direct action organization which was founded in 1942 in Chicago by James Farmer and a group of University of Chicago students. Farmer himself served as the national director of CORE from 1942 until 1966. Originally interracial in nature, CORE was the first black protest movement which used the Gandhian techniques of passive resistance, nonviolence and civil disobedience in order to achieve reform. In this respect, CORE represented a clear alternative for those African Americans dissatisfied with the NAACP's emphasis upon litigation and legislation.
Although the so-called "sit-in movement" is normally associated with the early 1960's, CORE sponsored the first successful sit-in demonstration at a restaurant in Chicago as early as June 1943. In addition to this technique, CORE members began the practice of "stand-ins" (persistent waiting in line at places of public accommodation which denied admission to blacks) during the early 1940's. One of the most significant achievements of CORE came during the early 1960's with its successful attempt to desegregate southern buses and bus terminals by means of what were called "freedom rides." The organization's efforts in this regard were rewarded when the Interstate Commerce Commission ruled that racial segregation on buses and in bus terminals engaged in interstate travel was illegal.
Under the leadership of Floyd B. McKissick, who succeeded Farmer as national director in 1966, and Roy Innis, who became national director in 1968, CORE has drifted from its original image as an interracial, desegregationist civil rights group to a position of separatism, militancy and avowed support for the ideological principles of the Black Power movement. In 1967, CORE officials drafted a fifteen-point program which embodied not only the ideological stance of the organization but also a list of priorities for future action. Calling for a "total action program" and a "promulgation of black power," this document advocated the teaching of African languages in the ghettos; the development of black arts and cultural centers; the inauguration of a "country cousin" program whereby displaced rural blacks would be resettled in the ghettos; the cementing of African American ties to Africa; the establishment of a continuing conference program concerning contemporary ghetto problems; and a program of economic cooperation for black Americans. See also: FREEDOM RIDES.
CONVENTION MOVEMENT See: NEGRO CONVENTION MOVEMENT.
COTTON GIN The cotton gin, more than any single factor, was responsible for the continuation and growth of plantation slavery in the United States after the turn of the nineteenth century. Following the American Revolution, the southern economy was placed in a very precarious position. Rice production was at a standstill, while indigo no longer commanded a world market. Although cotton had the potential of "saving" the South economically, its production was not profitable, even with the use of slave labor. The average "prime field hand," for example, could only pick and de-seed about one pound of cotton per day.
In 1793, however, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, a mechanical engine which had the capacity of separating cotton fiber from its seeds quickly and efficiently. With the invention of the cotton gin, the so-called "Cotton Kingdom" was born. Southern agriculture was immediately transformed and revitalized, and as cotton became a major crop throughout the South, the need for additional labor increased rapidly. As a result, slavery was revitalized on an immense scale. See also: KING COTTON.
COTTON KINGDOM See: COTTON GIN and KING COTTON.
CROP-LIEN SYSTEM See: SHARECROPPING.
CULLEN, COUNTEE One of the most significant figures in the Harlem Renaissance, Countee Cullen (1903-1946) was both a novelist and poet. Educated at New York University (B.A., 1925) and Harvard (M.A., 1926), Cullen was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1927. Following two years of study and writing in France, he returned to the United States where he accepted a teaching position in New York City. Although Cullen published his novel and several books of poetry after 1930, his most significant poetic offerings came during the 1920's. While still a student at NYU, he published his first volume of poems, Color (1925). The delicate and gentle lyrics of Color did not go unnoticed. Acclaimed by the critics, Cullen received the Harmon Foundation's first gold medal for literature two years later. In the meantime, he published The Ballad of the Brown Girl (1927) and Copper Sun (1927), with his Black Christ appearing in 1929.
CULTURAL PLURALISM See: W. E. B. DU BOIS.
DARK CONTINENT The ancestral homeland of black Americans, of course, is Africa. Until recently, the typical white American and, for that matter, the typical Westerner viewed Africa as the "dark" continent and, concurrently, assumed that Africans themselves were "dark" not only in the color of their skin but also in the color of their beliefs, customs and achievements. As historian George H. T. Kimble has pointed out, however, "the darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it." In other words, for many years African history was viewed largely as the history of European conquest and development, it being assumed that Africa (at least tropical Africa) had no prior history.
Modern historical and anthropological research has clearly demonstrated that Africa had a long and, at times, highly advanced pattern of history prior to its "discovery" by European explorers. Anthropologist Paul Bohannon, for example, has suggested that "Africa seems to have been the home not merely of mankind but also, and obviously, of human culture." It has been shown that toolmaking and the making of pottery, basic steps in man's evolution from a primitive condition, occurred first in Africa. Similarly, Africans were making iron tools and weapons long before Europe experienced its own "dark" age during the medieval period. In fact, according to the late Louis Leakey, "Africa was in the forefront of all world progress ... for something like 600,000 years."
DAVIS, MILES Coming Soon.
DAVIS, OSSIE Coming Soon.
DAVIS, SAMMY Coming Soon.
DAWSON WILLIAM L. Trained as a lawyer, William L. Dawson (1886-1970) devoted most of his life to politics and public service. Originally a Republican, Dawson switched party allegiance in 1939. He subsequently served as a Democratic National Committeeman and later as vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In 1942, he was elected to the United States Congress from the First Illinois District, making him the third northern black to become a Congressman. He held his seat in Congress for fourteen consecutive terms, serving as chairman of the House Committee on Governmental Operations from 1949 until his death in 1970.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE The Declaration of Independence of the United States (1776) does not contain any reference to either slavery or the slave trade. It is interesting to note, however, that the original draft of the Declaration, written by Thomas Jefferson, did include a condemnation of slavery. In this draft, Jefferson includes slavery and the slave trade among those evils and misdeeds inflicted upon the American people by King George III of England. The slavery section charges the English monarch with waging "cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither." As the result of southern opposition in the Continental Congress, however, this section on slavery was deleted from the final draft of the Declaration.
DEED OF MANUMISSION See: MANUMISSION.
DE FACTO SEGREGATION Used primarily in the area of educational facilities and opportunities, the term de facto segregation refers to a pattern of racial segregation which indeed exists in practice, despite laws that prohibit it. Prior to the historic Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, racial segregation of public school facilities was required by law in seventeen states and in the District of Columbia. This type of educational segregation can be referred to as de jure (or legal) segregation. De facto segregation, on the other hand, has always been determined by zoning and residential patterns and, as such, is not illegal in the strict sense of the word.
The development of racial residential segregation, especially in the North, led directly to a pattern of de facto school segregation. In other words, since children were invariably assigned to schools near their homes, segregated neighborhoods inherited segregated classrooms. See also: BUSING.
DEMOCRATIC WHITE PRIMARIES See: DISFRANCHISEMENT.
DENMARK VESEY'S CONSPIRACY See: SLAVE CONSPIRACIES.
DE PRIEST, OSCAR Born on March 9, 1871 in Florence, Alabama, Oscar De Priest was the first Afro-American to be elected to the United States House of Representatives in the twentieth century. Having earned a small fortune in real estate and the stock market, De Priest moved to Chicago and decided to enter politics in Cook County. Running as a Republican he was, in 1904, elected to the office of Cook County Commissioner, a post to which he was reelected in 1906. In 1915 he became Chicago's first black alderman. Finally, in 1928, he was elected to the House of Representatives. De Priest served in Congress until 1934. In that year, he was defeated for reelection by Arthur Mitchell, the first black Democrat to win a seat in the House of Representatives. Returning to Chicago, De Priest remained active in local politics and in his real estate business until his death in 1951.
DE SABLE, JEAN Considered by some as being the "founder" of Chicago, Illinois, Jean Baptiste Pointe De Sable (1745-1818) established a trading post near Lake Michigan on the Des Plaines River in the period immediately preceding the American Revolution. A native of Haiti, De Sable's trading-post became the nucleus around which a small settlement of Indians and white traders began to grow and prosper. He ultimately sold his holdings to Jean Lalime in 1800 and moved to Missouri. His role in "founding" Chicago, rarely mentioned by historians, is clearly evidenced by the Indian saying that "the first white man who settled here [Chicago] was a Negro."
DESEGREGATION See: BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION, BUSING, DE FACTO SEGREGATION, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTS, FREEDOM RIDES, SIT-IN MOVEMENT, MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT, RESTRICTIVE COVENANT and SWEATT V. PAINTER.
DETROIT RIOT See: RACE RIOTS.
DISFRANCHISEMENT Following the withdrawal of federal troops from the South during the late 1870's, a massive regional campaign to restore white rule and supremacy was undertaken. This goal was ultimately achieved by the nearly complete disfranchisement of the southern black population, despite the Fifteenth Amendment's guarantee that the right of citizens to vote "shall not be denied or abridged ... on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." At first employing force, violence and intimidation coupled with the dual practice of invalidating black-cast ballots while "stuffing" fraudulent ballots, white southerners subsequently adopted a number of "legal" devices which had the effect of circumventing the Fifteenth Amendment. Among the most popular of these devices which effectively denied the suffrage to millions of black Americans were poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses and the Democratic white primary.
Owing to the southern black's relatively low economic status, the poll tax (often referred to as a head or capitation tax) was designed to be a financial hardship if not an impossibility for most to pay. In those states which adopted a poll tax as a criterion for voting, however, "poor whites" as well as blacks were often unable to pay it. A more effective and certainly more subjective method of limiting the suffrage was the literacy test. Blacks were often required to read and understand written material which even a college graduate would find difficult. Since the overwhelming majority of southern blacks had not completed high school, let alone college, very few were able to pass such a test. And since the literacy test, like the poll tax often disfranchised illiterate whites as well as blacks, most states adopted "understanding clauses" whereby the applicant could demonstrate his "literacy" by explaining written material when a voting registrar read it to him. While illiterate whites were permitted considerable leeway in regard to their "understanding," blacks invariably were expected to demonstrate perfect "understanding," a feat which most voting registrars rarely conceded.
Another "legal" technique used to disfranchise Afro-Americans was the grandfather clause. Adopted by Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia, the typical grandfather clause was a state constitutional provision permitting those who were qualified to vote on January 1, 1866, including their lineal descendants, to vote despite illiteracy. Since virtually no blacks were eligible to vote on January 1, 1866, they and their descendants could not qualify under such a clause, while practically all whites could.
The Democratic white primary election in southern states was a particularly effective means of disfranchising blacks. Since nomination of a candidate in a Democratic primary was tantamount to election in the solidly-Democratic South, southern Democrats declared that the Democratic Party was a private organization which could limit its membership to whites. By excluding blacks from the party itself, the Democrats succeeded in excluding them from voting in the Democratic primary elections, making their vote (if they had it) in general elections meaningless.
Although the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clauses and white primaries on many occasions throughout the twentieth century, it was not until the mid-1960's that these devices were finally discarded. With the passage of the Twenty-fourth Amendment (Poll Tax Amendment) of 1964, together with the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, the majority of southern blacks at last realized and began to utilize their constitutional right to vote. See also: GERRYMANDERING, TWENTY-FOURTH AMENDMENT and VOTING RIGHTS ACT.
DIVINE, FATHER See: FATHER DIVINE.
DOMESTIC SERVANTS Although it is true that the overwhelming majority of African American slaves in the antebellum South were "field hands," it should be realized that a considerable number of slaves did not serve their masters as agricultural laborers. On an especially large plantation, for example, a group of slaves invariably were used as "domestic servants" or "house slaves." Serving as "mammies," butlers, cooks, carriage drivers and carpenters, among other capacities, these "domestics" generally received better treatment and benefits in the form of better food, housing and educational opportunities than the typical "field hand."
DOMESTIC SLAVE TRADE Soil exhaustion in the tobacco growing regions along the Atlantic coast and border states, coupled with the "official" closing of the Atlantic slave trade in 1808 and the concurrent demand of cotton producing states for additional labor, led to the development of the domestic or interstate slavetrading system in the United States during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Essentially the product of supply and demand, the domestic slave trade involved a mass migration of African American bondsmen from those states with a surplus of slaves (Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri) to the cotton producing states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Similar to the Atlantic slave trade, slaves were chained, often in coffle formation, and shipped as cargo either via the Atlantic Ocean or overland to the Cotton Kingdom.
The principal slavetrading centers in the "supplier" states were Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Norfolk and Charleston, while New Orleans and Montgomery were the slave trade capitals in the "recipient" states. Acting as middlemen between the suppliers and recipients, of course, were the slavetraders, who ranged from itinerants operating a relatively small volume business to tycoons and entrepreneurs with hundreds of agents and numerous auction-houses and slave prisons located in different sections throughout the South. The exact volume of the domestic slave trade can only be estimated, though it certainly was enormous. In 1820, the area now comprising Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas contained less than 60,000 African American slaves. By the eve of the Civil War this figure had climbed to over 600,000. To be sure, natural increase accounts for a degree of this inflation, yet by far the primary growth-factor must be attributed to the domestic slave trade. See also: ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE.
DOUGLASS, FREDERICK Generally recognized as being the leader of his race during the mid-nineteenth century, Frederick Douglass was born in Maryland in 1817. When he was eight years old, he became a house servant (slave) to Hugh Auld in Baltimore. Assisted by Auld's wife (much to Auld's chagrin) and by a number of white playmates, Douglass learned to read and write. In 1833, Douglass was returned to his original owner's plantation on Maryland's Eastern Shore as a field hand. It was at this point that he became rebellious and, following a number of floggings at the hands of a professional slave-breaker, determined to escape the chains of bondage by running off to the North. Borrowing a free black seaman's identification papers and clothing, Douglass engineered his escape in 1838 by traveling in disguise to New York. Once in the North, Douglass became quite active in antislavery and abolitionist activities. He moved to Massachusetts in 1840. As the result of his constant attendance at abolitionist meetings and the manner in which he spoke out at these meetings, the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society hired Douglass as an agent and lecturer in 1841. As a former slave, Douglass was able to provide his audiences with first-hand accounts of the institution, thereby enhancing his own effectiveness as an orator and abolitionist. He soon became widely known and respected throughout the North as the foremost black voice of the abolitionist movement.
As a fugitive slave, Douglass risked reenslavement when, in 1845, he published his Narrative, a personal account of his own experiences as a slave. For safety, he moved to England following the publication of the Narrative. While in England, Douglass was befriended by British abolitionists, who arranged for a lecture-tour. Lecturing on the evils of slavery as well as on the subject of women's rights, he soon earned enough money to return to the United States in 1847 to purchase his freedom. Shortly thereafter, Douglass began the publication of a newspaper, The North Star, in Rochester, New York. Renamed Frederick Douglass's Newspaper in the early 1850's, it was one of the most influential black newspapers during the antebellum period and was in large part responsible for the recognition Douglass received as the chief spokesman of his people.
A long-time personal friend of John Brown, Douglass was suspected of complicity in Brown's abortive raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. Although no direct evidence existed to substantiate the charge and notwithstanding the fact that he had refused to become involved in the Harpers Ferry affair, Douglass temporarily fled to Canada for his safety.
During the Civil War, Douglass played an active role in persuading President Lincoln to utilize black troops for the Union Army. Closing his newspaper, he devoted his full time to the recruitment of black soldiers. The celebrated 54th and 55th Massachusetts Negro Regiments were in large part made up of blacks influenced by Douglass's recruitment efforts. Following the war, he became a champion of Afro-American civil rights and an effective Republican orator. In 1871, he was appointed to the territorial legislature of the District of Columbia. Subsequently, Douglass became U. S. Marshal for the District of Columbia, a position he held from 1877 to 1881. In 1881, President Garfield appointed him Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia. In the following year, his autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, appeared. The final distinction of his distinguished career occurred when, between 1889-91, he served as American minister and consul general in Haiti. Frederick Douglass died in the District of Columbia on February 20, 1895.
DRED SCOTT DECISION Dred Scott was a Missouri black slave whose master had taken him from Missouri, a slave state, to Illinois and later into Wisconsin Territory, which was part of the Louisiana Purchase. In accordance with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Illinois was a free state, while the Missouri Compromise of 1820 had declared that the northern portion of the Louisiana Territory was likewise free of slavery. Upon his return to Missouri, Scott sued for his freedom in the state courts. His argument was that residence on free soil had automatically liberated him. The Missouri Supreme Court, however, ruled that temporary residence in free territory did not make a slave free. With the help of friendly lawyers and a number of white abolitionist supporters, Scott appealed this decision to the United States Supreme Court.
In one of the most significant and controversial rulings of the nineteenth century, the Supreme Court declared that Scott was not a citizen of Missouri or of the United States and could not, therefore, sue in a federal court. Moreover, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney asserted that African Americans "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect," and "that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not" [italics added] were entitled to the benefits and privileges of American citizenship. Aside from this official denial of legal standing to American blacks, the Court went on to rule that the previous decision of the Missouri Supreme Court was conclusive; that Scott's residence in free territory had not conferred freedom upon him; and that the Missouri Compromise itself was unconstitutional since it violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Specifically, Taney asserted that "an Act of Congress which deprives a person ... of his liberty or property merely because he came himself or brought his property into a particular Territory . . . could hardly be dignified with the name of due process of law."
DREW, CHARLES R. Dr. Charles R. Drew is often referred to as the father of blood plasma and blood banks. Born in Washington, D.C. in 1904, Drew was educated at Dunbar High School
in Washington and at Amherst College (B.S., 1926) before receiving his M.D. degree from McGill University (Montreal) in 1933. Following his internship at Montreal General Hospital, he returned to the United States to become an instructor in pathology at Howard University. Aided by a Rockefeller grant, Drew attended the Columbia Medical Center in New York City for advanced training between 1938-40. It was during this period that he discovered a number of techniques which added immeasurably to the then current medical knowledge concerning the separation and preservation of blood. As a result of his research and discoveries, Drew was called upon to establish and direct the British Blood Bank in 1940. In the following year, he was appointed director of the American Red Cross blood donor project, a position he resigned when the Red Cross refused to discontinue the practice of separating African American and white blood in the blood banks. Returning to Howard, Drew became a full professor of surgery and chairman of the Department of Surgery in the College of Medicine, a position he held until his death in an automobile accident in 1950.
DUBOIS, W. E. B. One of the most prominent and influential black leaders of the twentieth century, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 in the predominantly white community of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Educated at Fisk University (A.B., 1888), the University of Berlin and Harvard (A.B., 1890; Ph.D., 1895), Du Bois went on to become an articulate intellectual and distinguished scholar.
His first book, Suppression of the African Slave Trade (1896), was a pioneering work which, until recently, was considered the definitive study of the slave trade in the United States. Another early book, The Philadelphia Negro (1897), vividly outlined the inadequate housing, health and educational facilities for blacks in late nineteenth century Philadelphia. Regarded as a pioneer study in the area of sociological examination and analysis, The Philadelphia Negro provided subsequent sociologists interested in the plight of urban minorities with an excellent frame of reference. A prolific writer, Du Bois' other books include John Brown (1909); Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911); The Negro (1915); The Gift of Black Folk (1924); Black Reconstruction (1935); Black Folk: Then and Now (1939); Color and Democracy (1945); and The World and Africa (1947). In addition to his writing, Du Bois held teaching positions at Wilberforce University, University of Pennsylvania, and Atlanta University.
Du Bois is best remembered as the leader of those early twentieth century black intellectuals who challenged the accommodationist leadership of Booker T. Washington. Washington, of course, stressed the concept of industrial and vocational education for blacks, conciliation with the white South, and submission and silence as to Afro-American civil and political rights. Writing in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), Du Bois asserted that this program "practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro." The function of education, according to Du Bois, was to train individuals for social leadership. Blacks would continue to be led by whites until an African American intelligentsia (or what Du Bois called the "talented tenth") was allowed to emerge. By straightjacketing blacks with vocational education, as opposed to traditional liberal arts education, such an emergence would never occur. "Mr. Washington's programme," Du Bois commented, "ignores the Negro's right to vote, his right to attend universities to secure a liberal arts education and his right to share equally in the American dream. To accept such a program, I submit, invites the future emasculation of the Negro race."
In 1905, Du Bois founded the Niagara Movement and, five years later, became a founder of the NAACP. Throughout this time, he continued to hammer away at Washington's leadership of American blacks. "We have no right," he said, "to sit silently by while the inevitable seeds are sown for a harvest of disaster to our children." To prevent this, Du Bois advocated and genuinely believed in what modern sociologists call cultural pluralism. Rejecting the concept of the Melting Pot, he realized that complete amalgamation of the races in America probably would never occur. He insisted, however, that blacks wanted to be both black and American, maintaining their racial identity and integrity while associating with and participating in the American culture to the fullest extent. As early as 1897, Du Bois had written that "one feels his two-ness — an American, a Negro, two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals in one dark body. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon."
A major influence over all twentieth century black protest, Du Bois worked within the NAACP until after the second World War, serving as editor of the organization's monthly magazine, The Crisis, from 1910-1934. He was also devoted to the cause of Pan-Africanism and, as a result of his persistent attacks
upon colonial rule in Africa, is often referred to as the "Godfather of African Independence." During his later life, Du Bois became increasingly discouraged by the lack of genuine racial progress in the United States. As a result, he emigrated to Ghana and, at the age of ninety-three, joined the Communist Party. A close friend of Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah, Du Bois became a citizen of Ghana two months before his death in 1963. See also: NAACP, NIAGARA MOVEMENT, PAN-AFRICANISM and BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
DUNBAR, PAUL LAURENCE Prior to the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920's, the most distinguished black American poet was Paul Laurence Dunbar. The son of former slaves, Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1872. Encouraged by his mother and, later, his teachers, he began writing poetry at the age of six, giving a public recital of his verse at thirteen. Successful in high school but unsuccessful in securing meaningful employment following graduation, the aspiring poet took a job as an elevator operator at four dollars a week. In the meantime, he continued writing verse, both in standard English and in African American dialect.
With the aid of a patron, Dunbar's first book of poems, Oak and Ivy, was privately printed in 1893, followed by Majors and Minors in 1895. The latter book was favorably reviewed by the noted William Dean Howells in Harper's Weekly and, as a result, Dunbar was pushed into the literary limelight. From that point on he devoted his full energy toward the pursuit of a literary career. His best known work, Lyrics of a Lowly Life, appeared in 1896. Before his premature death in 1906, Dunbar published Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899), Lyrics of Love and Laughter (1903), Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow (1905), as well as four novels and four collections of short stories.
DUNCANSON, ROBERT Born in New York, educated in Canada and subsequently settling in Ohio, Robert Duncanson (1817-1872) became a distinguished landscape painter during the mid-nineteenth century. Basically a romantic, his paintings were in the tradition of the highly romantic Hudson River School, which specialized in grandiose reproductions of wild landscapes. Among his most noted paintings are "Blue Hole, Flood Waters, Little Miami River" (1851), "Seascape" (1871) and "The Drunkard's Plight" (1845).
ELLINGTON, DUKE Jazz composer, pianist and orchestra leader, the incomparable Duke Ellington made one of the most influential and all-pervasive contributions to American music during the twentieth century. Born Edward Kennedy Ellington in 1899, his rise to musical fame dates from the late 1920's and early 1930's. By the mid-1930's, Ellington's reputation as an orchestral genius and jazz composer had been recognized internationally. Leader of one of the earliest and best of the so-called "big bands" during the 1930's and 1940's, Ellington himself wrote over a thousand musical compositions. Among his most noted pieces were "Mood Indigo" (a perpetual favorite and audience pleaser), "Sophisticated Lady," "Solitude," and "Don't Get Around Much Any More." His rendition of Billy Strayhorn's "Take the A Train," along with "Mood Indigo," became thematic trademarks of the "Ellington sound." Toward the end of Duke's career, the "Ellington sound" (much to the displeasure of some and much to the pleasure of others) had been transformed somewhat by the fusing of traditional jazz with African and Asian music. Performing before eager audiences until the end, Duke Ellington died of cancer in early 1974.
ELLIOTT, ROBERT B. Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1842, Robert B. Elliott was educated in England, first at High Holborn Academy in London and subsequently at Eton, from which he graduated with honors. Upon his return to the United States, he settled in South Carolina, becoming editor of the Charleston Leader. In 1868, Elliott was elected to the lower house of the South Carolina state legislature. Subsequently, he won election to the United States House of Representatives, a position he held between 1871-75. Elliott died in New Orleans on August 9, 1884.
EMANCIPATION See: MANUMISSION.
EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION Drafted in 1862 and put into effect on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln in which he declared that "all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
Contrary to the popular view that the Emancipation Proclamation was an abolitionist-inspired effort to summarily destroy the institution of slavery in the United States, its terminology leaves little doubt that it was basically a strategic military maneuver to save the Union during the Civil War. It was hoped that the Proclamation would have the effect of creating a climate of confusion in the Confederacy, and that southern slaves would lay down their tools, escape, and ultimately rally to the Union forces as enlistees. In fact, the Proclamation contained an open invitation to this effect — an invitation that was designed not only to cripple the southern labor force, but to strengthen the Union's manpower military position as well. Further evidence that the Emancipation Proclamation was not an abolitionist-inspired document relates to the fact that all slaves were not freed by it. Only slaves in those areas still in rebellion against the United States were affected. Excluded from its provisions were nearly one million African American slaves in the four Union slave states (Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky and Delaware), as well as those slaves in large portions of Louisiana and Virginia (including West Virginia), which were then under Union control. See also: GREAT EMANCIPATOR.
EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE See: FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT.
ESTEVANICO Estevanico ("Little Stephen") was a black Moorish slave who is credited with the "discovery" of the territory now comprising the states of Arizona and New Mexico. He accompanied a Spanish expedition which landed in Tampa Bay in 1528 and which, after a series of misfortunes, ultimately reached the shores of Texas. Enslaved for a time by hostile Indians in eastern Texas, Estevanico and the three surviving members of the Spanish expedition managed to escape into Mexico in 1536. In Mexico, Estevanico was chosen to be an advance scout for Friar Marcos' expedition into the American southwest in search of the legendary seven golden cities of Cibola. It was in this capacity that Estevanico, far in advance of the expedition, discovered Cibola (now Zimi, New Mexico). Transmitting his discovery back to the expedition via friendly Indians, Estevanico proceeded onward but was soon captured and killed by hostile Zuni Indians. Nevertheless, his discovery laid the groundwork for subsequent Spanish expeditions into the American southwest, including that of Coronado.
EVERS, MEDGAR Born in Decatur, Mississippi in 1925, Medgar Evers became involved in the black civil rights movement during the early 1950's. Together with his brother, Charles Evers, he played a significant role in the clandestine recruitment of Mississippi blacks for NAACP membership. In large part as a result of this activity, Evers was appointed Mississippi's first NAACP field director in 1954. He held this position until his untimely death in 1963. Evers was assassinated as he entered his Jackson home on June 12. Subsequently regarded as a martyr to the black civil rights cause, Evers was succeeded by his brother Charles as NAACP leader in Mississippi.
FACTOR See: CABOCEER.
FARMER, JAMES Coming Soon.
FATHER DIVINE Founder of a non-ritualistic socio-religious movement called the Peace Mission Cult, George "Father Divine" Baker was one of the most interesting and controversial black Americans during the early twentieth century. Born of sharecropper parents on Hutchinson's Island, Georgia in 1874, Baker moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1899. During the next decade, he preached part-time in a number of Baptist churches and ultimately became involved in religious cultism, serving as "The Messenger and Son" of "Father Jehovia," a Pennsylvania cult leader. In 1912, Baker returned to his native Georgia where he formed his own cult. Based on the assumption that he was "divine," Baker became the essential core of the movement, worshiped by his followers as God incarnate on earth.
Following a number of arrests for "rabble-rousing" and disturbing the peace, Georgia authorities succeeded in driving Baker out of the state by 1915. In that year, he moved his "flock" to New York City and, later, to Sayville, Long Island. Calling his meeting place "Heaven," Baker's cult numbered approximately forty in 1928. Two years later, he assumed the name "Father Divine," previously being called "The Messenger" and "Major Morgan J. Devine." In 1932, Father Divine and the Peace Mission Cult gained national attention and, more important, thousands of new converts as the result of a "demonstration" of Divine's "supernatural powers." Arrested on Long Island as a public nuisance, Father Divine was prosecuted and sentenced to six months in jail by an unsympathetic judge who, less than a week after the trial, suffered a fatal heart attack. Quoted as saying "I hated to do it," Father Divine assumed omnipotent proportions in the eyes of his followers. The cult movement itself grew tremendously thereafter with estimates of actual membership ranging from two million to Father Divine's "official" figure of twenty million by 1950.
Father Divine based his cult on the concepts of peace and purity. Followers were expected to renounce and abstain from sexual relationships in order to achieve a "pure" state. Reminiscent of several mid-nineteenth century Utopian communitarian experiments in the United States, the Peace Mission Cult not only stressed the necessity of a "sexless kingdom," but it also acted as a massive cooperative agency based on the spirit of the Last Supper. Missions were established throughout the east and midwest where the poor and downtrodden of all races were fed, clothed and housed. Additionally, the Mission established a number of businesses, including "Peace Restaurants," barber shops and laundries, where good service and low prices attracted thousands of needy urban dwellers.
Father Divine was a staunch advocate of racial equality and harmony. He took pride in publicly "exhibiting" his white and black followers living in a peaceful, harmonious state. Divine himself married a white Canadian girl (his second wife) in 1946, who became his pure "Sweet Angel" and virginal "Mother Divine." Father Divine believed in and taught the concept of eternal life in the here-and-now. Forbidding illness and death, Father Divine stressed that members of his cult who became ill or died lacked the true faith. It is not surprising, therefore, that when he himself died in 1965, the Peace Mission Cult lost much of its impetus.
FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT Proposed on February 27, 1869 and declared ratified on March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States declared that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
Often called the "Negro Suffrage Amendment," the Fifteenth Amendment was Congress' attempt to fully assure equality to Afro-Americans at polling places in the South. Though the majority of southern states subsequently devised laws and other legal means to evade the Fifteenth Amendment, the African Americans had, through this Amendment, secured the right to vote, and, as it happened, exercised this right in large numbers. See also: DISFRANCHISEMENT.
FIRST EMANCIPATION It is often forgotten that although the African American slave population of the North was relatively small during the prerevolutionary era, in most northern areas, including New England, black servitude was as common and as acceptable as it was in the South. Treatment of slaves, of course, varied from master to master, but in general the lives of even northern slaves were undeniably harsh.
The relatively modern expression "first emancipation" has been used to describe the efforts made from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries, by both individuals and groups, to abolish slavery in the northern states. In response to Quaker agitation and the realization that slavery was ideologically inconsistent with the goals of the American Revolution, the state of Pennsylvania, in 1780, provided for the gradual abolition of slavery. Following Pennsylvania's lead, the remaining northern states made similar provision for "emancipation" between 1780 and 1804.
FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT Proposed on June 16, 1866 and declared ratified on July 28, 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provided that all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including African Americans, were henceforth to be considered citizens of the United States and of the state in which they resided. Aside from this guarantee of citizenship, the amendment attempted to nullify the so-called "black codes" recently enacted by southern states in an attempt to legally evade the Thirteenth Amendment. Accordingly, it was stated that no state "shall make or enforce any law which shall .abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United .States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Additionally, the Fourteenth Amendment nullified the so-called "Three-Fifths Compromise" by asserting that if any state within the Union denied the suffrage to any of its adult male citizens, including African Americans, then its representation in Congress would be proportionately reduced. Other sections of the amendment include the prohibition that former federal officials who had served the Confederacy could not hold state or federal office unless specifically pardoned by Congress, and the requirement that former Confederate states repudiate their debts as a condition for readmission to the Union. See also: BLACK CODES, THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT and THREE-FIFTHS COMPROMISE.
FOXX, REDD Coming Soon.
FRACTIONAL HANDS The typical slave master systematically rated his slaves according to the amount of work expected. In regard to "field hands," a fully mature African American slave was expected to work long and hard as a "prime" ("full time") field laborer. Those of advanced years or with physical disabilities, generally were not expected to accomplish as much as prime hands, hence they were referred to as "fractional hands." According to historian Kenneth M. Stampp, children under five or six were considered "useless articles on a plantation." After the age of six, however, the child-slave "graduated" to fractional status, first as a "quarter-hand," then onward to a "half-hand," "three-quarter hand," and finally to a "full-hand" at age eighteen. See also: SLAVERY.
FRAZIER, E. FRANKLIN Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1894, Edward Franklin Frazier was a prominent sociologist best remembered for his controversial book Black Bourgeoisie (1957) in which he critically maintained that the black middle class in the United States had isolated itself from the problems and vicissitudes of lower-class or poverty-stricken Afro-Americans.
Educated at Howard University (B.A., 1916), Clark University (M.A., 1920) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D., 1931), Frazier undoubtedly was the most distinguished black sociologist during the first half of the twentieth century. In addition to his Black Bourgeoisie he wrote The Negro Family in the United States (1939), a major if not classic contribution to the literature of sociology, Negro Youth at the Crossroads (1940), Race and Culture Contacts in the Modern World (1957) and The Negro Church in America, published two years after his death in 1962.
FREE NEGRO The term "Free Negro" was used in the antebellum period of American history to refer to any African American who was not a slave. As a result of manumission, the elimination of slavery in the North during the Revolutionary era, and the natural excess of births over deaths, there were nearly 60,000 Free Negroes in the United States at the time of the first census in 1790. By 1860 the number of Free Negroes had increased to 488,000. Contrary to popular impression, all the Free Negroes did not live in the North. In 1860, only 46 percent lived in the North, with 44 percent living in the South Atlantic states, and the remaining 10 percent scattered throughout the South Central states and the West.
According to historian John Hope Franklin, regardless of geographical location Free Negroes "lived somewhat precariously upon the sufferance of the whites," and as a result, should be classified as "quasi-free" rather than "free." Since they were black, Free Negroes were continually exposed to the threat of being mistaken for runaway slaves. Unless they could prove otherwise, therefore, Free Negroes were assumed to be fugitive slaves upon the testimony of a white plaintiff. To prevent such an occurrence, it was imperative that Free Negroes carry with them either a deed of manumission or an official "certificate of freedom." Even with these identifications, the Free Negro could be illegally kidnapped by an unscrupulous slave-catcher and sold into slavery — a not uncommon practice in the antebellum period.
It cannot be denied that the Free Negroes possessed certain "rights" over the black slaves. They were technically free; they could not be bought and sold; they were not subject to the whims of an overseer; they could not arbitrarily be separated from their families — but they certainly did not enjoy the "rights" of the white majority. The Free Negroes had no political voice and only a limited socioeconomic role. Moreover, especially in the antebellum North, they were victims of overt racial discrimination and segregation. Long before the South began enacting Jim Crow legislation after the Civil War, northern Free Negroes had been subjected to such racial indignities as segregated schools, hospitals, churches and cemeteries. In fact, as C. Vann Woodward has written in his The Strange Career of Jim Crow, "one of the strangest things about the career of Jim Crow was that the system was born in the North and reached an advanced age before moving South in force."
Free Negroes in the South posed a special problem for slaveowners. Viewed as potential allies of slaves in the event of a rebellion, the activities of southern Free Negroes were carefully monitored. The majority of southern states had laws prohibiting a Free Negro from moving from one state to another. Several states required that Free Negroes have "white guardians" to supervise their activities, while most southern states prohibited Free Negroes from possessing or carrying arms, assembling in a group, or attending church services without the presence of a white minister. In short, civil liberties for the southern Free Negro were virtually nonexistent. See also: JIM CROWISM.
FREEDMAN Literally defined as "a man legally freed from slavery or bondage," the generic term freedman was popularly used by contemporaries in reference to any African American ex-slave after the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. There were approximately four million freedmen (men, women and children) in the UnitedStates after 1865. See also: FREEDMEN'S BUREAU.
FREEDMEN'S BUREAU Established by Congress on March 3, 1865, the Freedmen's Bureau was designed to protect the interests of former slaves ("freedmen") and displaced southern whites ("loyal refugees") following the American Civil War. Intended primarily to act as a safeguard for the freedmen against possible attempts at reenslavement, the Bureau was also empowered to provide freedmen with food, medical and hospital care, educational facilities and homestead land. In addition, the Bureau assisted the freedmen in obtaining employment, settling legal disputes and finding suitable housing facilities. Functioning under the aegis of the War Department, the Freedmen's Bureau was headed by General 0. 0. Howard. Although the official "life" of the Bureau extended until 1872, most of its major objectives had been accomplished by 1869.
During late 1865 and early 1866 agents of the Bureau, scattered throughout the South, were primarily concerned with helping the freedmen and refugees return home, providing medical services, as well as dressing and feeding approximately 50,000 to 150,000 individuals daily. More significant, perhaps, were the educational projects of the Bureau. In addition to building more than one thousand schools for freedmen, the Bureau spent nearly a half million dollars to establish African American teacher-training institutions.
The humanitarian activities and accomplishments of the Freedmen's Bureau were somewhat offset by the fact that Bureau officials in the South, who were invariably Republicans, often interfered in local political affairs. Moreover, the charge that the Bureau was an agent of Republican control throughout the South cannot be denied. Many officials of the agency served as Republican organizers among the freedmen following the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. "This political activity," according to historian George R. Bently, "probably hurt the freedmen more than it helped them, for Negro support of the Republicans increased the race prejudice of white southerners." See also: BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION.
FREEDOM FIGHTER Freedom Fighter is a term which came into use during the late 1950's and early 1960's. It refers to any and all individuals, regardless of race, who were active in the civil rights movement in the South. Participants in sit-ins, Freedom Riders, protest marchers, demonstrators and a host of others would fall under the general classification of Freedom Fighters.
FREEDOM RIDES Promoted on a large scale by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1961, the so-called Freedom Rides were organized attempts to test racial segregation barriers in interstate buses and terminals throughout the South. In most cases, these attempts were met with resistance and, more often than not, violence. The spectacle of white mobs attacking black and white Freedom Riders shocked most Americans and concurrently prodded the federal government into action. Attorney General Robert Kennedy immediately petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to outlaw racial segregation on all buses, trains and terminals engaged in interstate travel. The ruling was secured on September 22 and went into effect on November 1, 1961. Henceforth, passengers on interstate carriers were to be seated without regard to race, and such carriers could not use segregated terminals en route.
FREEDOM'S JOURNAL See: JOHN B. RUSSWURM.
FREE-SOIL PARTY A minor political party founded in the late 1840's by antislavery Whigs, antislavery Democrats and members of the declining Liberty Party, the Free-Soil Party was opposed to the further extension of slavery into the western territories of the United States. Unlike the Liberty Party, which advocated the abolition of slavery in the United States, the Free-Soil movement simply wanted to contain slavery where it already existed and to prevent its spread into those territories acquired by the United States during the Mexican War.
As a reflection of the fact that the Free-Soilers were not "pro-black," its platform during the presidential election of 1848 made it perfectly clear that blacks, free as well as slave, were not wanted in the western territories. "Let the soil of our extensive domains," the platform stated, "be kept free for the hardy pioneers of our own and the oppressed and banished of other lands, seeking homes of comfort and fields of enterprise in the New World."
Advocating "free soil, free speech, free labor and free men," the Free-Soil Party nominated former President Martin Van Buren as its presidential candidate in 1848. Though Van Buren drew about ten percent of the total votes away from Lewis Cass, the Democratic candidate, the election was won by Zachary Taylor, the Whig candidate. Following another defeat at the polls in 1852, the Free-Soil Party lost momentum and was subsequently absorbed into the Republican Party after 1854. See also: LIBERTY PARTY and WILMOT PROVISO.
FUGITIVE SLAVE LAWS Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States provides that runaway slaves escaping from one state to another "shall be delivered upon Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due." The enforcement machinery for this constitutional provision was provided in the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. By this act, Congress empowered slaveowners or their agents (i.e., professional slave-catchers) to "seize or arrest" fugitive slaves who had escaped bondage and fled into another state or federal territory. Once caught, the fugitive slave was to be brought before any federal district judge or circuit court judge, or any state magistrate in the vicinity of the apprehension. The judicial officer, in turn, was empowered to issue a certificate warranting the return of the slave to the state [owner] from which he had fled. The certificate was to be granted (i.e., the fugitive slave was confirmed to be a fugitive) upon the oral testimony of the owner or upon the presentation of an affidavit signed by a magistrate of the state from which the alleged fugitive had escaped. Trial by jury, in other words, was not provided for, thereby rendering the fugitive or, for that matter, any black who could not "prove" that he or she was free, defenseless.
Northern opposition notwithstanding, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 became the law of the land. Some northern states, however, enacted what were called "personal liberty laws" to impede the execution of the federal law. A Connecticut law of 1828, for example, provided that fugitive slaves were entitled to appeal the original decision against them, thereby automatically entitling the accused to a trial by jury. In 1840, both New York and Vermont followed suit by giving fugitives the right to trial by jury and the right to retain an attorney. In addition to these "personal liberty laws," enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law in the North was hampered by the existence of the so-called Underground Railroad, a loose-knit abolitionist organization which helped fugitive slaves escape into Canada. Canada, of course, specifically prohibited slavery and did not recognize or honor American fugitive slave legislation.
As a result of the U. S. Supreme Court's decision in Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842) that state authorities could not be compelled to enforce the federal Fugitive Slave Law, as well as the passage of additional "personal liberty laws" in the North, southern states began to demand more effective federal legislation to stem the growing number of successfully permanent slave desertions. This demand was in part satisfied by the so-called Compromise of 1850. An integral part of the Compromise was the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Designed to amend and strengthen the 1793 legislation, the new Fugitive Slave Act provided for the appointment of federal commissioners with warrant-issuing authority and the right to summon a posse and compel private citizens (under the threat of fine or imprisonment) to aid in the capture and return of fugitive slaves to their declared owners. Trial by jury and the right to retain an attorney were specifically denied, while stiff penalties were established for those caught in the act of aiding a fugitive slave. Additionally, it was provided that the federal commissioners would receive a fee of ten dollars when their "decision" favored the claimant [slaveowner], but only five dollars when it favored the alleged fugitive.
Although the amended Fugitive Slave Act was indeed more stringent than its predecessor, it did not work to the slaveowner's advantage. Among other things, the new legislation transformed many northern "moderates" into diehard abolitionists; it resulted in the passage of a spate of new "personal liberty laws" by northern state legislatures; and it substantially increased the number of "passengers" to Canada via the Underground Railroad. See also: COMPROMISE OF 1850 and UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.
GABRIEL'S REVOLT See: SLAVE CONSPIRACIES.
GARRISON, WILLIAM LLOYD See: ABOLITIONISM and LIBERATOR.
GARVEY, MARCUS MOSIAH Regarded by some as a self-serving charlatan and by others as a "Black Messiah" or a "Black Moses," Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a black nationalist during the early twentieth century who singlehandedly organized the first black mass protest movement in the history of the United States. In the process and as the result of his emphasis upon black pride, racial separation and the resurrection of a great black empire in Africa, Garvey unwittingly became the spiritual father of modern black nationalism. In a sense, modern slogans and movements such as "black is beautiful" and "black power" are simply manifestations of a revived form of Garveyism.
Garvey was born in Jamaica on August 17, 1887. During his youth and into his early twenties, he became convinced that the world-wide plight of black people demanded a solution. As a result of independent study, research and travel, Garvey decided to become a leader of his race in order to unite blacks throughout the world in a nation and government of their own. Toward this end, he established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica in 1914. In 1916 he traveled to the United States to organize a New York chapter of the UNIA. Two years later, he founded a newspaper, The Negro World, which became the propaganda arm of the UNIA. Coupled with a lengthy speaking-tour throughout the United States, Garvey's editorials in The Negro World succeeded in attracting thousands of converts to the UNIA. In a matter of months, thirty branches of the organization were established in the United States. By 1920, Garvey claimed that he had four million followers and, in 1923, six million. Although these figures were probably exaggerations, even Garvey's most critical opponents admitted that there were at least a half million members in the UNIA at its height.
At the heart of Garvey's ideology was his fervent desire to mobilize the black peoples of Africa, the West Indies, the Americas and elsewhere, for the spiritual, historical and physical redemption of Africa and Africans, at home and abroad. "If Europe is for the Europeans," he declared, "then Africa shall be for the black peoples of the world. The other races have countries of their own and it is time for the 400,000,000 Negroes to claim Africa for themselves." Notwithstanding this pronouncement, it is mistaken to suppose that Garveyism was just another "Back to Africa" movement. Garvey was realistic enough to appreciate the fact that a mass black exodus to Africa, in the physical sense, was impossible. Although he did believe that black intellectuals and leaders had an obligation to return to their ancestral homeland to assist in its development and liberation, his basic argument revolved around the concept of a spiritual return to Africa for the majority of American blacks. He argued that white racism in the United States had created a sense of self-hatred in blacks, and that the only way to purge themselves of this self-hatred and self-contempt was through a spiritual identification with Africa and Africans. By stressing Africa's noble past, Garvey declared that American blacks should be proud of their ancestry and, in particular, proud of their blackness. Concurrently, American blacks must strive to achieve black community pride, wealth, culture and independence in the United States by creating and maintaining a nation within a nation. "The fight for African redemption," Garvey stated, "does not mean that we must give up our domestic fight for political justice and industrial rights."
In 1921, Garvey established a provisional government-in-exile for Africa, with himself as president. In addition, he established a black cabinet, a black army (the African Legion) attired in resplendent uniforms, a corps of nurses (Black Cross Nurses) and even an African Orthodox Church, with a black God and Christ. Earlier, Garvey had created a steamship company, the Black Star Line, which acquired several ships for commerce with and transportation to Africa. The elaborateness of Garvey's organization coupled with his own charismatic personality had a profound effect upon the black urban masses who were drawn to him as if he were a magnet. On the other hand, black intellectuals denounced Garvey as a visionary buffoon and a demagogue. W. E. B. Du Bois, for example, called Garvey's movement "bombastic and impracticable." For his part, Garvey shunned intellectuals like Du Bois as well as the black bourgeois establishment which, in his mind, had betrayed the black race by cooperating with whites. Refusing to accept white donations ("We don't want their money, this is a black man's movement."), Garvey condemned the NAACP as "wanting us all to become white by amalgamation. To be a Negro is no disgrace, but an honor, and we of the UNIA do not want to become white." Garvey's handling of the Black Star Line finally put an end to his meteoric rise. In 1922, he was indicted on mail fraud charges concerning the sale of Black Star stock. Convicted in 1923, he was confined in prison for two years and then, in 1927, deported as an undesirable alien. In his absence, Garveyism (or Black Zionism) in the United States lost much of its appeal. Garvey himself subsequently died in London in 1940. See also: BACK TO AFRICA MOVEMENTS and DARK CONTINENT.
GARVEYISM See: MARCUS GARVEY.
GAYE, MARVIN Coming Soon.
GERRYMANDERING Gerrymandering refers to the practice of drawing or manipulating the boundaries of voting districts to give one group or political party a numerical advantage over other groups or political parties. In addition to such devices as literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clauses and white primaries, gerrymandering was often used by southern white Democrats to neutralize the black vote after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. Voting district boundaries were drawn so as to give whites a numerical majority over their black neighbors, thereby destroying any political influence the latter might have exerted. See also: DISFRANCHISEMENT.
GHETTO The term ghetto is derived from the Italian ghetto, which originally meant "foundry." In 1516, officials of Venice, Italy, created a restricted area for the city's Jewish population. Since this area was once the location of a cannon foundry or ghetto, the term ghetto itself was thereafter used to describe Venice's Jewish quarter. Similarly, other Italian cities began restricting Jews to small innercity enclaves which, following the Venetian example, were also called ghettos. Hence, usage of the term in Europe and, later, the United States was generally reserved to those innercity areas restricted to Jews. Modern usage of the term, however, has been broadened to include any section of a city in which large numbers of a minority group live or to which they are confined as the result of economic, political or social discrimination and pressure.
As a result of the twentieth century migration of rural American blacks to the cities of the South and North, and white resistance to integration, the term "ghetto" in the United States is most commonly used to refer to those innercity areas in which blacks are confined or "locked-in" because of socio-economic discrimination. See also: KERNER REPORT.
GIBSON, ALTHEA Coming Soon.
GILLESPIE, DIZZY Coming Soon.
GILPIN, CHARLES S. One of the most accomplished black dramatic actors of the twentieth century, Charles S. Gilpin was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1872. During his twenties and thirties, Gilpin toured with vaudeville troupes throughout the United States and Canada. In 1916 he organized the Lafayette Theatre Company, one of the earliest black stock companies in New York City. He made his first appearance on Broadway in 1919 in John Drinkwater's play Abraham Lincoln. His crowning achievement came a year later when he was chosen to play the lead in Eugene O'Neill's Emperor Jones. The drama was an immense hit, running in New York for four years and quickly establishing Gilpin as one of America's great actors. Receiving the Spingarn Award from the NAACP in 1921, Gilpin's health failed during the late 1920's. Forced into retirement in 1929, he died in the following year.
GOLD COAST See: SLAVE COAST.
GRANDFATHER CLAUSE See: DISFRANCHISEMENT.
GREAT EMANCIPATOR As a result of his Emancipation Proclamation of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln is generally referred to as the "Great Emancipator." There are some who regard this designation as historically inaccurate and an exaggeration. The Emancipation Proclamation only provided for partial emancipation of the slaves. Nearly one million blacks remained slaves long after the Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863.
Lincoln was primarily concerned with saving the Union. In a letter to Horace Greeley in 1862, for example, President Lincoln stated that his "paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do it. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union."
Although convinced that slavery was indeed a moral evil, Lincoln was not an abolitionist. As an attorney, he respected the Constitution and the property rights of slave owners. During his early career, in fact, Lincoln had provided legal representation for southern slaveowners seeking to reclaim runaway slaves in Illinois. Concurrently, he was not an advocate of racial equality. During the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, for example, he confessed that he was not, "nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
Had events (i.e., military exigency) not dictated otherwise, Lincoln would have preferred a program of voluntary gradual state-by-state emancipation with compensation to the slaveowners and, following this, colonization of African Americans in Africa or Latin America. Speaking to a group of free blacks on August 14, 1862, for example, the President urged that the racial differences between whites and blacks dictated that colonization ("separation") would be the most logical solution: "Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence." See also: EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.
GREAT MIGRATION The mass exodus of rural southern blacks to northern urban areas during the decade 1910-1920 is often referred to as the Great Migration. One of the largest population movements in U. S. history, the Great Migration had the effect of significantly increasing the number of African Americans residing in northern cities. During this decade the black population of Cleveland, Ohio, for example, climbed from 8,778 in 1910, to 34,815 in 1920, an increase of 148 percent. Similar increases were recorded in most major cities of the North between 1910-1920: the African American population of New York rose from 91,000 to 152,000; of Chicago from 44,000 to 109,000; and of Philadelphia from 85,000 to 135,000.
The "causes" of the Great Migration were numerous. Increasing southern discrimination drove thousands of blacks from their homes. Moreover, floods along the Mississippi River, the scourge of the boll weevil and the increasing dependence of the southern economy upon modern machinery had the effect of placing many black farmers in an economic squeeze. Perhaps of greater significance was the steady growth of northern industry during the decade 1910-1920 and the concurrent decline of immigration from Europe, which was the traditional source of the North's labor supply. Northern industry thus turned to southern blacks for a labor supply. It offered wages far in excess of what the blacks could possibly earn share-cropping in the South. Many manufacturers sent labor agents into the South to "sign-up" black laborers, who were often given free transportation to the North. The promise of a better life in New York or Chicago was especially appealing to the younger generation of black southerners who had never experienced slavery and were becoming impatient with southern conditions.
Unfortunately, the Great Migration had the ultimate effect of increasing racial tensions in the North. As northern whites faced new competition for their jobs and housing from southern blacks, they reacted with the racial fears and prejudices which have plagued human beings from time immemorial. Blacks were set apart from the white majority by residential segregation (i.e., the creation of black ghettos) and the creation and rigid enforcement of other discriminatory practices. In other words, the Great Migration, more than any single factor, was responsible for the polarization of northern urban whites and blacks and for the sowing of the seeds of racial discontent.
HALEY, ALEX Coming Soon.
HALL, PRINCE A black leader in Boston during the Revolutionary era, Prince Hall was born in 1748 on the island of Barbados. Migrating to the United States in 1765, Hall settled in Boston where he subsequently entered the soap manufacturing business. At the start of the American Revolution, Hall was recognized as an important leader in Boston's free black community. Convinced that slavery and the goals sought by American patriots during the Revolution were incompatible, he sent numerous petitions to the Massachusetts state legislature advocating emancipation. Following the Revolution, Hall became a champion of black self-help and education. In 1787, for example, he petitioned Boston officials to establish schools for Afro-American children equal in quality to those which white children attended. In addition, Hall is generally recognized as being the founder of Masonry among African Americans in 1776. He died of pneumonia in 1807.
HAMPTON INSTITUTE Hampton Institute was founded in 1868 by Samuel Chapman Armstrong, a member of the educational department of the Freedmen's Bureau. Located in Hampton, Virginia, Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute was one of a number of agricultural, normal and industrial schools for African Americans established in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. The prevailing educational philosophy of Hampton Institute, as expressed by its founder, was that physical labor was a "spiritual force" which "not only increased wage-earning capacity but promoted fidelity, accuracy, honesty, persistence, and intelligence." This emphasis on hard work and the need to choose a vocation would later form the core of Booker T. Washington's philosophy during his tenure at Tuskegee Institute and then as the most influential black leader in the United States during the late nineteenth century. Washington, of course, was Hampton's most famous alumnus, having graduated within ten years of the school's founding. See also: FREEDMEN'S BUREAU and BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
HAMPTON, LIONEL Coming Soon.
HANDY, W. C. William Christopher Handy was born in 1873 in Florence, Alabama. Although his sternly religious parents were opposed to popular music on the grounds that it was demoniacally inspired, Handy overcame this obstacle and went on to become one of the most significant individuals in the history of American music. During his early career, he was a cornet soloist with Mahara's Minstrels, a popular Chicago-based band; a music teacher at Alabama A. & M. College in Huntsville; and the leader of his own brass band in Memphis, Tennessee. His fame, however, rests largely on his innovative musical compositions which ushered in the "blues" era during the early twentieth century. Tunes such as "Memphis Blues" (1912), "St. Louis Blues" (1914) and "Beale Street Blues" (1917) ensured that W. C. Handy would forever be known as the "Father of the Blues." During the 1920's, Handy became a music publisher in New York, remaining active in this and in other musically-related activities until his death in 1958.
HANSBERRY, LORRAINE Born in 1930, Lorraine Hansberry went on to become a gifted and highly acclaimed black playwright during the late 1950's and early 1960's. Her most famous play was A Raisin in the Sun which opened on Broadway on March 11, 1959, and which had a highly successful and profitable run. Winning the New York Drama Critics' Award for 1959, Raisin was Lorraine Hansberry's first and last great dramatic triumph, with continuing off-Broadway and Broadway re-runs to this day. Her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1964), did not win the critical acclaim given to Raisin, and less than a half year after it opened, in January 1965, she died prematurely of cancer.
HARLEM RENAISSANCE Variously known as the "New Negro Movement" and the "Black Renaissance," the Harlem Renaissance was a literary and artistic movement which had its inception and earliest successes in New York City during the 1920's. In large part the result of the "Great Migration" of rural blacks to northern metropolitan areas during the era of World War I, the Harlem Renaissance was the intellectual counterpart to what historians August Meier and Elliott Rudwick have called "the sense of community and racial solidarity" advocated by Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association. A firm believer in black potential, Garvey never tired of imploring his race to "recognize the proud past, the tragic present and the limitless future yet to be." It is not surprising, therefore, that the literature and art of the Harlem Renaissance reflected the innermost feelings and aspirations of a racially conscious group. "Through poetry, prose, and song," according to John Hope Franklin, "the writers cried out against social and economic wrongs. They protested against segregation and lynching. They demanded higher wages, shorter hours, and better conditions of work. They stood for full social equality and first-class citizenship." Yet, despite this insistence upon racial solidarity and the rejection of white values and stereotypes, the writings of the Harlem Renaissance in many ways paralleled the general post-war literary emphasis upon a world devoid of values and meaning. Echoing Ezra Pound's reflections upon "a botched civilization" and F. Scott Fitzgerald's estimate of his generation as having "grown up to find all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken," black poet Claude McKay wrote that he "had no reason to think that the world I lived in was permanent, solid, and unshakable."
In addition to McKay, who generally is regarded as the first significant writer of the Harlem Renaissance, other notable achievers during the period include Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and Henry O. Tanner. See also: COUNTEE CULLEN, LANGSTON HUGHES, CLAUDE McKAY and HENRY O. TANNER.
HAWKINS, COLEMAN Jazz great Coleman Hawkins (1904-1969) is generally credited with introducing the tenor saxophone to the contemporary jazz ensemble. Before Hawkins, few jazz aficionados considered the tenor saxophone a suitable jazz instrument; today few would consider a jazz ensemble complete without it. Having earlier studied the piano and cello, Hawkins began playing the tenor sax at the age of nine. Twenty-six years later, his first commercial hit, the immortal "Body and Soul," was recorded. Along with Lester "Prez" Young (1909-1959), another talented tenor saxophonist, Hawkins' influence on younger saxophonists and jazz musicians in general during the 1940's and 1950's cannot be minimized.
HEALY, JAMES A. The eldest son of a Georgia cotton planter and his mulatto wife, James Augustine Healy was born near Macon in 1830. While still a youngster, Healy was sent north in order to escape the harassment and ridicule children of interracial marriages normally received in racially-conscious Georgia. After attending a Quaker elementary school in New York and a Quaker secondary school in New Jersey, Healy enrolled at Holy Cross College in Westchester, New Jersey, from which he was graduated as valedictorian in 1849. In the meantime, he had
converted to Roman Catholicism with the hope of ultimately entering the priesthood.
James Healy's rise to prominence within the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church was rapid, if not spectacular. He entered the Sulpician Seminary in Montreal in 1849, transferred to the Sulpician Seminary in Paris, France in 1852, and was ordained at Notre Dame de Paris in 1854. Returning to the United States shortly thereafter, Healy's first assignment was as an assistant priest in Boston. In late 1854, he was named personal secretary to Bishop John Fitzpatrick, head of the diocese of Boston. In the following year, he became Bishop Fitzpatrick's diocesan chancellor.
In 1866, Father Healy was named pastor of St. James Church in South Boston, one of the largest churches in the entire diocese. Less than ten years later, in February 1875, Healy received a papal appointment to become the Bishop of the Portland Diocese, which included all of Maine and New Hampshire with approximately 80,000 Roman Catholic parishioners, most of whom were white. He held this position until his death in 1900. Two months before he died, Bishop Healy received word from Pope Leo XIII that he had been appointed an Assistant to the Papal Throne, one of the most significant positions in all of Roman Catholicism.
HENDRIX, JIMI Coming Soon.
HENSON, MATTHEW Dismissed for years as the "servant" of Commander Robert E. Peary, Matthew A. Henson (1866-1955) was in reality Peary's companion and assistant who not only accompanied him on his Arctic voyages but also made possible Peary's "discovery" of the North Pole on April 6, 1909. When the Peary expedition was within five hundred miles of the Pole, Henson and his four Eskimo guides were chosen over five other white support teams to complete the final leg in Peary's now famous transarctic adventure. One of the white support team leaders, Donald MacMillan, later recalled why Henson was chosen: "He was the most popular man aboard the ship with the Eskimos. He could talk their language like a native. Henson, the colored man, went to the Pole with Peary because he was a better man than any of his white assistants." A native of Maryland, Henson was belatedly and posthumously honored as "co-discoverer" of the North Pole by a bill passed in the Maryland state legislature in 1961. A bronze plaque to that effect now hangs in the Maryland State House in Annapolis.
HOLIDAY, BILLIE "Lady Day" Billie Holiday was among theleading blues singers during the 1930's and 1940's. Born in Baltimore in 1915, Holiday began singing in Harlem nightclubs during the late twenties. As her reputation grew, she began to cut records and appear with the "big band" names of Benny Goodman, Ted Wilson, Count Basie and Artie Shaw. Once addicted to both drugs and alcohol, Holiday's life was a mixed-bag of triumphs and heartbreaks, all of which were reflected in her vocal artistry and soul-inspired blues renditions. Her autobiography of 1956, replete with the ups and downs of her career, formed the basis of a 1973 motion picture, "Lady Sings the Blues," starring Diana Ross. "Lady Day" herself died in New York City in 1959.
HUGHES, LANGSTON One of the major American writers of the twentieth century, Langston Hughes (1902-67) is often referred to as the "poet laureate" of black Americans. As a poet, Hughes published a number of collections of verse, including The Weary Blues (1926), The Dream Keeper (1932), Shakespeare in Harlem (1942), Fields of Wonder (1947) and One Way Ticket (1947).
Hughes' talent as a poet was matched only by his literary versatility. He was a novelist, playwright, historian, song lyricist, librettist and newspaper columnist. His first novel, Not Without Laughter, was published during his senior year at Lincoln University in 1930. Among his many accounts of black history and contemporary social commentary are Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP (1962) and Black Magic: A Pictorial History of the Negro in American Entertainment (1967). His plays included the Broadway hits Mulatto (1935) and Black Nativity (1961). Another drama, Tambourines to Glory (1963), was based on his 1958 novel of the same name. In addition, Hughes published two volumes of a planned autobiographical trilogy before he died in 1967.
INDENTURED SERVITUDE Indentured servitude (or "bonded servitude") was a form of contract labor most often associated with the labor supply of the English colonies in North America during- the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Generally speaking, there were two rather broad categories of indentured servants in colonial America: voluntary servants (often called "redemptioners") and involuntary servants.
Redemptioners were those British and western Europeans who literally sold themselves for limited terms of labor service (usually three to seven years) in exchange for ship passage to the colonies.Involuntary servants, on the other hand, included individuals kidnapped by shipmasters in Europe and then sold at the end of the Atlantic voyage, as well as convicts from English prisons whose sentences were commuted into specific lengths of labor service (usually five to fourteen years) in the colonies.
The twenty Africans who landed at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 were indentured servants, not slaves. Although it is true that black indentured servitude (unlike white indentured servitude) ultimately evolved into a system of chattel slavery, it is incorrect to assume that slavery automatically began in the English colonies the moment these twenty blacks stepped ashore. To the contrary, this group of Africans was merely absorbed into the prevailing indentured servitude labor system which existed in early seventeenth century Virginia.
INTEGRATION See: BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION, BUSING, DE FACTO SEGREGATION, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTS, FREEDOM RIDES, SIT-IN MOVEMENT, MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT, RESTRICTIVE COVENANT and SWEATT V. PAINTER.
INTERMARRIAGE See: MISCEGENATION.
INTERNAL SLAVE TRADE See: DOMESTIC SLAVE TRADE.
JACKSON, MAHALIA Coming Soon.
JIM CROWISM Following the Compromise of 1877 and the withdrawal of federal troops from the South, a concerted and successful attempt was made by white southerners to restore white rule and white supremacy throughout the region. The black freed-men, first by terror and intimidation and later by law, were deprived of the right to vote and returned to a state of quasi-bondage. The process through which this was accomplished involved the institutionalization of Jim Crowism.
The original meaning of the term Jim Crow is not known, although the term itself was derived from a song and dance called "Jim Crow" written by Thomas D. Rice in 1832: "Wheel about, turn about, Do jis so. An' ebery time I wheel about I jump Jim Crow." During the late nineteenth century, the expression Jim Crowism was used in reference to racial segregation. A Jim Crow law, therefore, was a law which provided for racial segregation. More recently, the expression has been used in a broader context to refer to the whole system of racial proscription, including disfranchisement, which evolved during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Using such "legal" devices as poll taxes, literacy tests, good-character references, gerrymandering, grandfather clauses and the Democratic white primary, southern whites were effectively able to disfranchise all but a handful of black voters. These devices, coupled with occasional violence against "uppity niggers" who for one reason or another did qualify to vote, insured the return of white rule and supremacy to the South. By the turn of the twentieth century, Senator Ben Tillman of South Carolina was able to reflect upon the process of black disfranchisement: "We have done our level best. We have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it."
With white rule restored, southern legislatures were given a free hand to enact Jim Crow laws which would relegate blacks to the humiliating status of second class "citizenship." Segregation of the races in virtually every human activity from thecradle to the grave had become solidly and "legally" entrenched throughout the South by the beginning of the first World War. Separate and appropriately labeled ["For White People" and "For Colored People"] facilities effectively established the so-called color-line in the South. Moreover, this pattern of Jim Crowism was reenforced and given national legal sanction when the Supreme Court of the United States in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) ruled that separate facilities for the two races were legal provided that the facilities were "equal" in nature. This "separate but equal" doctrine, however, was generally translated as meaning "separate and unequal" in the South. Invariably, facilities provided for whites were far superior to those provided for blacks.
Although Jim Crowism is usually thought of as being a distinctly southern phenomenon, it should be noted that formal racial segregation existed throughout the North as well. Beginning with the Civil War, northern Jim Crowism was in full-blossom. Historian Leon F. Litwack has written that northern blacks "found themselves systematically separated from whites. They were either excluded from railway cars, omnibuses, stagecoaches, and steamboats or assigned to special "Jim Crow" sections; they sat, when permitted, in secluded and remote corners of theaters and lecture halls; they could not enter most hotels, restaurants, and resorts, except as servants; they prayed in 'Negro pews' in the white churches, and if partaking of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, they waited until the whites had been served the bread and wine. Moreover, they were often educated in segregated schools, punished in segregated prisons, nursed in segregated hospitals, and buried in segregated cemeteries." See also: CIVIL RIGHTS CASES, COMPROMISE OF 1877, DISFRAN-CHISEMENT, FREE NEGROES and PLESSY V. FERGUSON.
JOHNSON, JACK Ranked by many (including Nat Fleischer of Ring Magazine) as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, Jack Johnson (1878-1948) was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1908 to 1915. Although Johnson was not the "first" black boxing champion (George Dixon held the world featherweight title from 1892 to 1900), he indeed was the first African American to win boxing's most prestigious crown. Born in Galveston, Texas, Johnson never completed elementary school. Drifting from job to job during his youth, he fought semiprofessionally until 1897, when he turned professional.
Between 1897 and 1908, Johnson's boxing career blossomed until he was recognized as a leading contender for the heavyweight crown, an honor he won on December 26, 1908 by knocking out the reigning champ, Tommy Burns, in fourteen rounds. The fact that a black now held boxing's highest honor infuriated a vast segment of white American society which immediately began searching for a "Great White Hope" to restore the crown to the "superior" race. As it happened, ex-champion Jim Jeffries (1899-1905) was pressured into coming out of retirement to fight Johnson. The "Great White Hope," however, was soundly defeated by Johnson during a heavily promoted and publicized match held in Reno, Nevada on July 4, 1910. [This match and Johnson's life in general formed the basis of a motion picture starring James Earl Jones. The motion picture, filmed in the early 1970's, was appropriately titled "The Great White Hope."] Successfully defending his title four more times between 1910 and 1915, Johnson finally was defeated by Jess Willard in a twenty-six round fight on April 5, 1915.
JOHNSON, JAMES P. See: ART TATUM.
JOHNSON, JAMES WELDON Eleven years after its establishment, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named its first black Executive Secretary, James Weldon Johnson. Born in 1871, Johnson was poet, novelist, a lawyer and a lyricist. Collaborating with his composer brother, John, he wrote "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which is commonly referred to as the Negro National Anthem.
Early in the twentieth century, Johnson became interested in politics and actively campaigned for Theodore Roosevelt during the 1904 presidential campaign. Following Roosevelt's victory, Johnson was appointed American Consul at Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, a position he held from 1906 to 1909. An effective diplomat, Johnson also served as American Consul at Corinto, Nicaragua between 1909-13. Upon his return to the United States, he became active in the recently established NAACP, serving as field secretary for the organization from 1916 until his appointment as Executive Secretary in 1920. Johnson served as Executive Secretary of the NAACP until 1931, when he resigned to join the faculty of Fisk University as professor of creative writing. He was killed in an automobile accident in 1938. See also: NAACP and NEGRO NATIONAL ANTHEM.
JOPLIN, SCOTT Coming Soon.
JOURNAL OF NEGRO HISTORY See: CARTER G. WOODSON.
JOYNER, FLORENCE GRIFFITH Coming Soon.
KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT Passed by Congress and signed by President Franklin Pierce on May 30, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was one of the most ominous developments in the sectional controversy which ultimately resulted in the American Civil War. Authored by Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, the act provided that Kansas and Nebraska be organized as territories and, after fulfilling the usual requirements for statehood, be allowed to enter the Union on the basis, of popular sovereignty (i.e., the doctrine which permitted territories self-government in all matters of domestic importance, including the right to decide whether to become a "free state" or a "slave state" in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants therein). Unfortunately, the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act precipitated a conflict between proslavery and antislavery groups in Kansas, a conflict which earned for the territory the term "Bleeding Kansas." See also: POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.
KERNER REPORT In response to the racial violence which became part and parcel of American innercity life during the mid-1960's, President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 appointed a commission headed by Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the causes of and possible solutions to the tragedy of innercity racial rioting. The Kerner Commission Report (1968) was a hard-hitting and provocative analysis of American race relations in general and of the problems confronting innercity African Americans in particular.
Pointing out that the typical racial riot during the 1960's had its own unique and complex character, the report attempted to dispel the notion that American racial disorders were the result of deliberate conspiracy, Communist or otherwise. On the contrary, it was asserted that "white racism is essentially responsible for the explosive mixture which has been accumulating in our cities since the end of World War II." This racism, in turn, created the urban ghetto. "What white Americans have never fully understood," the report continued, "is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it."
Furthermore, the causes of innercity racial disorders are implicit in the situations and conditions of ghetto life: police harassment and brutality, inadequate housing, unemployment, inferior educational opportunities, low life expectancy and high infant mortality rates. These factors, coupled with black racial pride and the belief that hostility of whites toward blacks is omnipresent, were cited as major grievances of innercity blacks — grievances which have the potential of generating and sustaining a major riot.
The recommendations proposed by the Kerner Commission called for a program "equal to the dimension of the problems." In other words, a massive federal spending program was recommended to eradicate slum conditions, economic and social discrimination and poverty. Preoccupied with American involvement in Southeast Asia, however, President Johnson chose to shelve the Report and its recommendations for the time being. Considering the course of African American history, this was not surprising. Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, a distinguished scholar and one of the first witnesses to appear before the Commission, certainly must have anticipated such a reaction. During the Kerner hearings, Clark stated: "I must again in candor say to you members of this Commission — it is a kind of Alice in Wonderland — with the same moving picture reshown over and over again, the same analysis, the same recommendations, and the same inaction." See also: GHETTO and RACE RIOTS.
KING COTTON The expression "King Cotton" is often used to describe the cotton industry (and its tremendous importance) in the South during the antebellum period of American history. Following the invention of the cotton gin in 1793 by Eli Whitney, the cotton industry became the economic backbone of the southern economy and, as the result of the commanding role cotton began to play in foreign trade, stimulated the entire national economy. In 1850, for example, the American cotton crop was valued at more than $100 million annually, representing nearly fifty percent of all American export trade.
Concurrent with the rise of King Cotton to a position of economic dominance in the South, African American slavery was given a new lease on life. Furthermore, as the cotton industry expanded between 1800 and 1860, so too did the institution of slavery. Despite federal laws and notwithstanding individual state regulations concerning both the Atlantic and domestic slave trade, the importation and selling of black African slaves increased proportionate to the labor demands of southern cotton plantations during- the first half of the nineteenth century. As the result of the importance of cotton to the southern, national and international economies, many southerners assumed that the North would be foolhardy to attempt any disruption of the industry (and concurrently slavery) for fear of economic chaos and foreign intervention. In 1858, for example, Senator James H. Hammond of South Carolina warned his northern colleagues not "to make war on cotton. No power on earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is King." See also: COTTON GIN.
KING, MARTIN LUTHER The one name most clearly associated with the Civil Rights Revolution during the mid-twentieth century was that of Martin Luther King, Jr. Apostle of nonviolence and dedicated humanitarian, King attracted broader support from the American black community than any previous African American leader, including Booker T. Washington. His violent and premature death in 1968 represented one of the most tragic and ominous developments in the history of the United States.
Born Michael Luther King, Jr. on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, King's given name was changed to Martin while still a child. His mother, the late Alberta Williams King, was the daughter of Rev. Alfred D. Williams, who founded the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta during the late nineteenth century. His father, Michael Luther King, Sr. (whose given name was also later changed to Martin), succeeded Williams as pastor at Ebenezer in 1932. Under his leadership, Ebenezer became one of the most prominent black churches in the United States.
A precocious youth, King graduated from high school and had matriculated at Morehouse College before he was sixteen. Following in his father's footsteps, he decided to devote his life to the ministry, being ordained at Ebenezer in 1947. A year later, he graduated from Morehouse and entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Following a distinguished academic career at Crozer, King enrolled in a Ph. D. program at Boston University's School of Theology, receiving his doctorate in 1955. During his sojourn in Boston, King met and married Coretta Scott, a native of Alabama and an alumnus of Antioch College.
While completing his doctoral dissertation in 1954, King was offered and accepted the pastorate of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Quickly gaining local recognition in Montgomery's black community, he was called upon to lead the now-famous Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56. Utilizing the Gandhian principle of nonviolent civil disobedience, King mobilized the blacks of Montgomery in a successful yearlong campaign to desegregate public transportation in that city. As a result of this success and of his own charismatic personality, King was catapulted into the national limelight. The Civil Rights Revolution, it appeared, had found its leader.
In 1957, a group of black ministers led by Dr. King laid the groundwork for a new civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Calling for "total integration" and "full citizenship rights," the SCLC under the leadership of King dedicated itself to the nonviolent elimination of Jim Crow practices throughout the South. Although not always successful in its efforts, the SCLC's participation in the Birmingham demonstrations of 1963 and the Selma March of 1965 did much to secure the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 respectively.
Dr. King's participation in the mammoth March on Washington during August 1963 cemented his position as the most dynamic, charismatic and meaningful black civil rights leader of his day. It was on this occasion that he delivered his passionate "I have a dream" oration, evoking the prospect of a day in the future when white children and black children would walk hand in hand "on the red hills of Georgia" and when black children as well as white "will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Millions of Americans, black and white, were deeply moved by King's "dream," and for a moment — fleeting as it might have been — the "dream" seemed a distinct possibility.
Recognition of King's sincerity, zeal and leadership in the civil rights struggle came when he was named Time's "Man of the Year" for 1963 and, later, when he was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps his greatest triumph. In 1967, King announced his opposition to American policy in southeast Asia, characterizing the Vietnam conflict as a "tragic adventure." Protesting that money spent for bombs should be spent to improve domestic conditions among the poor and oppressed, King declared that the United States was playing "havoc with the destiny of the entire world." Shortly thereafter, he began to formulate plans for a Poor People's March on Washington to demonstrate in a dramatic manner the needs of the ignored masses of downtrodden Americans. But on April 4, 1968, while in Memphis, Tennessee, King was cut down by an assassin's bullet while standing outside of his motel room. The fact that the confessed killer, James Earl Ray, was a white man caused a shock wave of terror and incredible racial violence throughout the United States. For many blacks, King's death symbolized the death of his dream. "The extent to which this dream became a nightmare," according to historian Edgar Toppin, "is an index of the degree to which the racism King optimistically hoped to erase permeates America." For a fuller discussion of Dr. King's philosophy of nonviolence and of black reaction to his assassination, see: NONVIOLENCE and SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE.
KU KLUX KLAN The Ku Klux Klan was a secret terrorist society established by dissident southerners during the Reconstruction period after the American Civil War. Characterized by the ritualistic donning of white cloaks and masks, secret meetings and the burning of crosses, the Klan or KKK was organized in opposition to northern attempts to protect the recently won political rights of black Americans.
In particular, the Klan was opposed to the Union League of America, an organization of Republican "carpetbaggers" and other sympathizers whose primary goal was to ensure that black freedmen exercised the suffrage by voting the right way (i.e., Republican). Members of the Union League, which itself was a ritualistic lodge-type society, "reminded" the ex-slaves that their freedom was the result of administrative action taken by a Republican president. Accordingly, they were "persuaded" to vote Republican. This persuasion, at times, merely meant that members of the League would march large groups of blacks to the polls (protected by federal troops) to register and vote Republican en masse. To combat these activities, the Ku Klux Klan undertook a massive campaign of terror and intimidation against blacks who attempted to exercise their right to vote. Recalcitrant blacks and their families, of course, were at the mercy of the Klan. Lynchings, beatings and arson were among the weapons in the Klan's "arsenal" used against those African Americans who attempted to exercise their constitutional voting rights.
With few exceptions, the membership of the Klan was composed of riffraff and poor whites. Others in the South, according to historian John A. Garraty, "accepted the tactics of the Union League as politically necessary and were repelled by the violence and underhandedness of the night riders." This fact, coupled with relatively effective federal legislation to protect black voters (the Force Acts of 1870 and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871), led to the ultimate decline of Klan influence. By 1872, the Ku Klux Klan (and other terrorist organizations such as the Pale Faces and the Knights of the White Camelia) had nearly disappeared.
The Klan remained dormant until 1915. In that year it was more or less resurrected as an organization dedicated to the goals of white supremacy. Once again, blacks were intimidated and terrorized. But by 1920, the Klan had broadened its perspective by launching a crusade for 100% Americanism. In other words, the "new" Klan, having a strong foothold in the Midwest as well as in the South, undertook a program which, in essence, advocated the "purification" of the United States by the removal (via terror and intimidation) of "non-Americans." By "non-Americans," the Klan referred not only to blacks, but also to Jews and, in particular, Roman Catholics. The "new" Klan remained active throughout the 1920's, reaching its peak in 1923 with over five million "card-carrying" members. As the result of internal scandals and factionalism, however, the membership of the Klan had dwindled to less than 10,000 by 1930 and, although the organization still exists, it has not been able to regain its previous position of influence. See also: BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION and CARPETBAGGERS.
LIBERATOR The first issue of William Lloyd Garrison's newspaper, The Liberator, was published on January 1, 1831. Garrison himself was a white abolitionist who represented the radical extreme of antebellum antislavery activity. An enigma to historians, Garrison has been viewed as a genuine devotee to human liberty in general and black liberty in particular and, on the other hand, as a fanatical demagogue who did much to heighten sectional animosities which ultimately led to the American Civil War. Notwithstanding the various interpretations of Garrisonian abolitionism, it cannot be denied that Garrison and The Liberator had a profound impact upon American historical development during the thirty years prior to the Civil War.
According to Garrison, the purpose of The Liberator was "to lift up the standard of emancipation in the eyes of the nation." Through this literary medium, he indicated his intention to "strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population." His pen, it was implied, would act as an emancipating sword: "I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest —I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD." See also: ABOLITIONISM.
LIBERIA A modern independent country on the west coast of Africa, Liberia was founded in the early nineteenth century as a colony for "repatriated" Afro-Americans. Supported in part by the United States government, the American Colonization Society was the primary vehicle through which American blacks were returned to their "ancestral homeland" in Liberia. The colonized Afro-Americans quickly succeeded in acquiring effective control and power over the indigenous Liberian population, which was in large part relegated to the interior. See also: AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY and AMERICO-LIBERIANS.
LIBERTY PARTY A minor political party organized in 1840, the Liberty Party was the political extension of Lewis Tappan's American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. As such, it was distinctly an abolitionist party dedicated to the elimination of African American slavery in the United States. In the national presidential election of 1840, the Liberty Party polled only 7,000 votes for its candidate, James Birney. Four years later, Birney ran again for the presidency, this time polling 60,000 votes. The Liberty Party was ultimately incorporated into the Free-Soil movement in 1848. See also: FREE-SOIL PARTY.
LINCOLN, ABRAHAM See: GREAT EMANCIPATOR.
LITERACY TEST See: DISFRANCHISEMENT.
LITTLE ROCK CRISIS The so-called Little Rock Crisis of 1957 was one of the earliest and certainly most publicized attempts to enforce court-ordered school integration in the South. Early in 1957, the Little Rock, Arkansas school board had agreed to comply with a court-order demanding that the city's Central High School admit black students. Nine carefully selected black children were chosen to begin classes at Central on September 4. In the meantime, however, Governor Orval Faubus assumed the stance of a diehard segregationist by intervening and defying the court-order. Following a dramatic television appearance, Faubus called out the National Guard to prevent the nine black youngsters from entering the previously all-white school. A federal court then ordered that the students be admitted and, concurrently, ordered that the National Guard be withdrawn.
On September 23, the black children returned to Central only to be met with the curses and stones of an angry white mob. This mob violence prompted President Dwight D. Eisenhower to federalize the Arkansas National Guard and to send in paratroopers to restore order and escort the black students to and from school for the remainder of the year. Faubus reacted by closing the Little Rock schools for the academic year, 1958-59. A federal court subsequently ruled that Faubus' action was unconstitutional, and thereby paved the way for the reopening of schools on a desegregated basis in the autumn of 1959.
LOCKE, ALAIN L. Alain LeRoy Locke was the first African American to receive a Rhodes Scholarship. One of the most prestigious academic awards in existence, the Rhodes Scholarship program was established in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, British financier and colonial administrator in South Africa. The award itself is granted annually to seventy-five selected students from the United States and eighteen other countries, providing for three years of study at Oxford University. Between 1902-1962, Locke was the only American black chosen to receive the award.
Born in Philadelphia in 1886, Locke attended local schools in Philadelphia and later went on to receive the B. A. degree from Harvard University in 1907. In the meantime, he had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa and had received the Rhodes Scholarship. Following his sojourn in Europe (Oxford, 1907-10; University of Berlin, 1910-12), Locke returned to the United States where he completed his Ph. D. in philosophy at Harvard. Aside from several leaves of absence and visiting professorships, Locke's entire academic career (in philosophy and English) was spent at Howard University. His major scholarly works were in the area of African American culture. Although he had previously published several books, his The New Negro: An Interpretation (1925) was Locke's most significant scholarly contribution. The New Negro was intended to interpret and explain the Harlem Renaissance to America by presenting representative literary works of African Americans during the early 1920's. Among Locke's other writings are: Race Contacts and Interracial Relations (1916); Negro Art: Past and Present (1936); The Negro and His Music (1936); and When Peoples Meet: A Study in Race and Culture Contacts (1942). Locke died in 1954 while preparing a comprehensive study of black culture which was subsequently published in 1956 as The Negro in American Culture: Based on Materials left by Alain Locke.
LOUIS, JOE Coming Soon.
LOVING V. VIRGINIA See: MISCEGENATION.
LYNCHING Although the origin of the term lynching is uncertain, it is generally thought that it derives from the name of Capt. William Lynch [hence Lynch's law or lynch law]. Lynch (1742-1820) headed a vigilance committee in Pittsylvania, Virginia during the American Revolution. This "committee," in turn, took it upon itself to execute thieves, outlaws and traitors by hanging. Hence, as it is commonly understood (though individual state definitions of the practice vary), lynching refers to group participation (mob action) in the killing (usually by hanging) of an individual or individuals under the pretext of serving justice, regardless of whether the individual or individuals have been tried in a court of law and regardless of whether a crime (real or alleged) has been committed by the individual or individuals.
Although it is true that in the United States a number of whites have been lynched, especially in the "Old West," and that black lynching parties against whites have occurred, the African American historically has been lynch law's most frequent victim, especially in the South following the Civil War. According to statistics compiled by the Tuskegee Institute, a total of 3,442 blacks (compared to 1,294 whites) were lynched in the United States between 1882-1962. Of those, close to half (1,716) were lynched in the four southern states of Georgia (491), Louisiana (335), Mississippi (538) and Texas (352). Moreover, it is interesting to observe that the "causes" of lynching (as classified by Tuskegee) included rape and attempted rape (1,119), and "insults to white persons" (85).
McDANIEL, HATTIE Born in 1898, Hattie McDaniel was the first black recipient of an Academy Award in the motion picture industry. A native of Kansas, McDaniel's professional career included successful stints in vaudeville, radio and, finally, in the movies. She was awarded an "Oscar" for "best supporting actress" in 1939 for her powerful and moving portrayal of a southern "mammy" in Gone With the Wind. She died on October 26, 1952.
McKAY, CLAUDE Often regarded as the first significant black writer of the Harlem Renaissance, Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on September 15, 1890. Before emigrating to the United States in 1913 to study agriculture at Tuskegee and, later, at Kansas State University, McKay had established himself as a poet of some consequence in Jamaica. In 1911, for example, he published Songs of Jamaica, for which he not only won acclaim but also the medal of the Institute of Arts and Sciences.
After coming to America, he began publishing his poetry in the then current small literary magazines, including The Seven Arts, The Messenger and The Liberator, subsequently being named an associate editor of the latter. The publication of his Harlem Shadows in 1922 established McKay as one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance. In addition to his poetry, McKay published several novels, the most notable of which were Home to Harlem (1928) and Banjo (1929). McKay died on May 22, 1948. See also: HARLEM RENAISSANCE.
McKISSICK, FLOYD Coming Soon.
McLAURIN V. OKLAHOMA STATE REGENTS See: SWEATT V. PAINTER.
MAHONEY, CHARLES H. Born in Decatur, Michigan in 1886, Charles H. Mahoney was educated at Fisk University and, later, at the University of Michigan, where he was awarded a degree in law. A practicing attorney for thirty years, Mahoney is best known as the first black to occupy a permanent seat in the United States delegation to the United Nations. He died in 1966.
MALCOLM X Born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm X emerged as one of the most eloquent, fiery and controversial leaders of the Black Muslim movement in the 1950's and early 1960's.
Saddled with a string of unfortunate childhood experiences, including the tragic death of his father and his mother's mental instability, the young Malcolm left school after the eighth grade, traveled to New York and subsequently drifted into a life of crime. Following a number of petty offenses, Malcolm turned to pimping, the drug traffic and, finally, burglary, for which he was sentenced to a ten year prison term in 1946.
During his six year period of incarceration (he was pardoned in 1952), Malcolm became acquainted with and subsequently devoted to the teachings and writings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Black Muslims. Following his release from prison, he became active in the Muslim movement, ultimately becoming Elijah Muhammad's confidant and "right hand man." As such, he vigorously defended the Muslim assumption that worldly evil was the direct result of the existence of the "devil" white race. "The greatest crime the white man ever committed," he was fond of saying, "was to teach black people to hate themselves." As a result of this belief, Malcolm X advocated a militant and uncompromising stand against white racism as well as an "eye for an eye" philosophy of vengeance and retaliation.
His verbal attacks against the "white devils" often assumed extreme proportions. When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, for example, Malcolm characterized the tragedy as being a vivid illustration of "chickens coming home to roost." Elijah Muhammad, who had become increasingly resentful over Malcolm's growing personal popularity, used this statement as a pretext to suspend him from the Muslim movement.
Undaunted, Malcolm quickly formed his own black protest movement, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). This organization was still in an embryonic stage of development when, in early 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City. Described by many as a "vendetta murder" perpetrated by his former Muslim associates (a trio of Muslims were subsequently convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime), Malcolm's premature death provided the black masses and a sizable number of young militant black leaders with a significant martyr image for years to come.
Shortly before his death, Malcolm X had concluded that all whites were not necessarily "devils." Asserting that the OAAU was not an anti-white organization, he maintained that "if the white man doesn't want us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us." This philosophy, coupled with his insistence that blacks should politically and economically control those areas where they constitute a majority of the population, would subsequently form an important aspect of the Black Power movement during the late 1960's. See also: BLACK MUSLIMS and BLACK POWER.
MANUMISSION Derived from the Latin verb manumittere, literally meaning "to let go from the hand," manumission was a popular term used during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in reference to the voluntary act on the part of individual slave-owners of freeing or liberating their own slaves. As a general rule, slaves so freed were issued a formal document ("manumission deed") by the slave-owner. This document, of course, became an invaluable possession of the ex-slave and usually the only means of "proving" that he or she was indeed free.
Although the distinction is somewhat amorphous, the terms manumission and emancipation should not be confused. Whereas manumission refers to an individually-motivated and voluntary act on the part of -an individual slave-owner, the term emancipation generally is used in reference to a government-decreed large-scale or collective liberation of slaves, such as that occasioned by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.
MARCH ON WASHINGTON Often billed as the largest single protest demonstration in American history, the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" took place on August 28, 1963. Over 200,000 Americans, black and white, gathered at the Washington Monument and proceeded to "march" in an orderly fashion to the Lincoln Memorial, where a number of prominent Americans, including Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins and Walter Reuther, delivered addresses.
Meticulously organized and directed by A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and a host of other civil rights leaders, the "March on Washington" was primarily designed to dramatize the scope of black discontent to the nation at large. It was also an attempt to display the concurrent willingness (evidenced by the orderly and disciplined behavior of the freedom marchers themselves) of civil rights groups to operate within the general framework of nonviolent protest. See also: MARTIN LUTHER KING.
MAROON Derived from the Spanish cimarra (thicket) and the American Spanish cimarron (wild), the term maroon was originally used in the West Indies in reference to a fugitive black slave. Subsequently, in both the West Indies and the American South, the term was applied to the camps or "communities" organized by runaway slaves following their escape. In the United States, maroons (usually located in the forests and swamps of southern states) were especially common before the Underground Railroad became an effective antislavery device by enticing most runaways to permanently leave the South for the North.
MARSHALL, THURGOOD Coming Soon.
MIDDLE PASSAGE The actual transatlantic voyage of slavers (slave ships) loaded with human cargo historically has been referred to as the Middle Passage. The term is derived from the fact that the transatlantic trip was the second leg or part of the overall slavetrading journey — from home port to Africa, from Africa to the New World, and from the New World to home port.
At best, the Middle Passage was an incredibly harsh experience for the hapless Africans unfortunate enough to have been sold into slavery in Africa. The voyage itself was time-consuming, ranging from three or four weeks to as long as three months, depending on the winds and currents. The Africans were not considered to be "passengers," but rather cargo. As such, they were packed into the holds of slavers as if they were little more than black sardines. Sexually separated, chained slaves were forced to lie side-by-side in the hold for at least fifteen hours daily. When the typical hold of a slaver (which averaged about five feet in height) was divided into two "levels" or "floors," the space allotment for each individual slave was approximately 6' x 16" x 21/2' (essentially the dimensions of a coffin). Slaves were allowed on deck only to eat, to take part in forced physical exercise ("dancing the slaves," as it was called) and to allow time for the cleaning of the hold. Considering the lack of sanitary facilities aboard, this job (which was rotated among the slaves themselves) was considered to be an especially unattractive feature of the voyage.
Historians are fortunate that several first-hand accounts written by slaves concerning the nature of the Middle Passage have survived. One account, penned by Olaudah Equiana, is especially illuminating: "I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was unable to eat, nor had I even the desire to taste anything. I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the galling of the chains ... the filth of the necessary tubs, into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated, the shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying... rendering the whole scene of horror almost inconceivable."
It is not surprising that many slaves procured in Africa did not survive the Atlantic voyage. Smallpox, scurvy and suicide all took their toll. A large proportion of those who did survive the Middle Passage, according to historian John Hope Franklin, were unfit for slave-labor upon arrival in the New World. "Many of those that had not died of disease or committed suicide by jumping overboard," Franklin maintains, "were permanently disabled by the ravages of some dread disease or by maiming which often resulted from the struggle against the chains." See also: ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE.
MILLS, FLORENCE Singer, dancer and actress, Florence Mills was acclaimed as a leading Broadway star during the 1920's. Born in Washington, B.C. in 1895, she acquired local fame as "Baby Florence" at the age of five by singing and dancing in the exclusive salons of Washington society. In 1903, the Mills family moved to New York, where Florence joined with her two sisters to form an act known as The Mills Trio. Her stage credits include appearances in Shuffle Along (1921), Plantation Revue (1922), From Dixie to Broadway (1924-25) and Blackbirds (1926). Well received on Broadway and in Paris and London, Flo Mills died at the age of thirty-two as the result of complications arising from an appendectomy in 1927.
MISCEGENATION Derived from the Latin miscere (mix) and genus (race), miscegenation refers to the marriage and/or sexual relations between a member of one race and a member of another race. In American history, the term generally has been reserved to describe the marital and/or sexual relations between blacks and whites.
Until recently, miscegenation was not only viewed as a social indiscretion but, in most states, as an infraction of the law. As early as the 1660's, colonial legislators were enacting laws prohibiting miscegenation. Virginia's ban against interracial liaison was passed in 1662 with Maryland following suit in 1681. Maryland's statute described miscegenation as being "always to the Satisfaccion of... Lascivious and Lustfull desires, and to the disgrace not only of the English butt allso of many other Christian Nations."
Notwithstanding the law, miscegenation in the antebellum South was widespread. Black female slaves, being the absolute chattel of their owners, had little recourse but to submit to the sexual appetites of white men who justified their actions on the flimsy excuse that the chastity of venerated white womanhood was being protected. The extent to which interracial sexual liaisons occurred in the antebellum South, of course, can be measured by the large number of mulattoes, quadroons and octoroons populating the region during the mid-nineteenth century. The emergence of this racially hybrid group, constantly increasing in size and containing every shade of color, was and continues to be the enduring legacy of miscegenation.
During the twentieth century, antimiscegenation laws were gradually repealed in the majority of non-southern states. Nevertheless, by 1967 sixteen states still retained such laws, providing penalties ranging up to ten years imprisonment and fines up to $2,000. In that year, however, the Supreme Court of the United States in Loving v. Virginia, [388 U. S. 1] declared antimiscegenation legislation unconstitutional. The Court argued that marriage constitutes one of the "basic civil rights of man," and that "the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State." Basing its decision on the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court declared that there "can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause." See also: MULATTO and PARTUS SEQUITUR VENTREM.
MISSOURI COMPROMISE Called the "title page to a great tragic volume" by John Quincy Adams, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was an attempt to preserve the sectional balance of power between northern free states and southern slave states.
When the Missouri Territory petitioned for statehood in 1818, the Senate of the United States was equally divided (eleven free states and eleven slave states) between the two sections. To admit Missouri as a slave state in accordance with the wishes of its inhabitants would clearly upset this balance of senatorial power and, in the process, heighten sectional animosity. A crisis was averted, however, when the people of Maine (then part of Massachusetts) petitioned for statehood as well. A compromise was accordingly worked out which provided that Missouri be allowed to enter the Union as a slave state while Maine would enter as a free state, thus preserving the balance of power. In order to secure northern support for the measure, the Missouri Compromise also included the provision that slavery would forever be prohibited in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory north of the line thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes.
Although a sectional confrontation of crisis proportions was avoided as the result of the Missouri Compromise, most people realized that the compromise itself involved a temporary "truce" at best. Agreeing with John Quincy Adams, Thomas C. Cobb of Georgia lamented that "we have kindled a fire which all the waters of the ocean cannot put out, which seas of blood can only extinguish."
MONK, THELONIUS Coming Soo.
MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks, a black department store seamstress and a widow in her early fifties, boarded a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus became exceptionally crowded, Mrs. Parks was ordered to give up her seat (even though she was sitting in the segregated "colored section" of the bus) to a white man, a long-established precedent throughout the South. Tired and weary after a long day at work, Rosa Parks defiantly refused. She was subsequently taken off the bus, arrested and fined ten dollars. To white observers, Mrs. Parks' refusal simply represented an insignificant act of an "uppity nigger." To Montgomery blacks, however, Rosa Parks assumed heroic proportions. The news of her defiance rapidly spread throughout the city and an organized black boycott of the Montgomery bus system was instigated on December 5. Representing seventy-five percent of Montgomery's bus-riding population, the city's blacks continued the boycott (notwithstanding tremendous white indignation and terrorist retaliation) until a federal court injunction prohibiting racial segregation on buses went into effect a year later.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott is of special significance to the student of African American history in at least two respects. In the first place, the boycott provided a pattern of resistance which other blacks in other southern cities soon followed. In this respect, popular historian Louis E. Lomax has written that the refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat to a white man, and the subsequent bus boycott represent the "birth of the Negro Revolt." Secondly, the Montgomery boycott provided the setting for the emergence of a new black leader, Martin Luther King. It was King, who had recently received a Ph. D. from Boston University and was relatively unknown nationally, who more or less led the bus boycott. Utilizing Gandhi's principle of passive resistance, Dr. King united the blacks of Montgomery, holding the movement together for a year, despite white harassment. See also: MARTIN LUTHER KING and NONVIOLENCE.
MORTON, FERDINAND See: ART TATUM.
MOYNIHAN REPORT In August 1965, the Department of Labpr issued a report entitled "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." Written in large part by Daniel P. Moynihan, an Assistant Secretary of Labor, the report came to be known as "The Moynihan Report." Moynihan's basic premise was that the African American family was highly unstable and, as a result, "the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling." Attributing the instability of the black family to matriarchal households produced by divorce, separation and illegitimacy, Moynihan argued that the root of the problem revolved around the systematic weakening of the black male's position in society, a condition originating with slavery and subsequently reenforced by Jim Crowism, urbanization and unemployment.
Moynihan maintained that the deterioration of the black family would ultimately result in "a new crisis in race relations" unless immediate governmental action was taken to insure the stability of the black family structure. The report recommended, therefore, that the government should adopt a policy "to bring the Negro American to full and equal sharing in the responsibilities and rewards of citizenship.To this end, the programs of the Federal government bearing on this objective [should] be designed to have the effect, directly or indirectly, of enhancing the stability and resources of the Negro American family."
Although the Moynihan Report was based on an impressive set of statistics which clearly demonstrated that black families, as compared to white families, were more likely to be dependent on welfare, and that illegitimacy, crime, delinquency and narcotics addiction were conditions more common to blacks than to whites, the interpretation of these statistics immediately caused a controversy. Critics of the report, for example, took issue with the contention that the "stability" of the white family should be emulated by blacks. One writer, mental health expert William Ryan, argued that "the Negro family does look as if it's falling apart when compared to the white family, but, by the same token, the urban family looks as if it's falling apart when compared with the farm family, and the modern family looks as if it's falling apart when compared with the family of our grandfathers." Other critics reacted negatively to the report's implication that lack of progress in the black community was the result of family instability, rather than the result of white prejudice and oppression.
As valid as this criticism might be, the Moynihan Report's significance cannot be ignored. At the very least, it indicated a recognition of the fact that as the result of massive black urbanization, civil rights leaders were obligated to place more emphasis on the securing of socioeconomic equality, in addition to the previous emphasis upon legal and political equality for African Americans.
MUHAMMAD, ELIJAH See: BLACK MUSLIMS.
MULATTO Derived from the Latin mulus, meaning mule, and from the Spanish mulato, meaning a mixed breed, the term mulatto is currently used in reference to a person with mixed white and black ancestry, regardless of the extent of admixture. Formerly, however, the term denoted a person with one black parent and one white parent. During the antebellum South, an elaborate classification existed to describe individuals with a mixture of white and black ancestry. Following the mulatto was the quadroon, a child of a mulatto and a white, and the octoroon, a child of a quadroon and a white. Such distinctions are seldom used today. In fact, the term mulatto itself is rarely used today, having been displaced by the generic use of the term black to refer to all African Americans regardless of the degree of black skin pigmentation.
MUSLIMS See: BLACK MUSLIMS.
MYRDAL, GUNNAR See: AMERICAN DILEMMA.
NADIR Literally meaning "the lowest point" or "the time of greatest depression or dejection," the term nadir or, more commonly, "The Nadir," is commonly used to describe the history of African Americans during the last three decades of the nineteenth century. It was during this period that the optimism among blacks generated by the Civil War and the end of slavery was shattered by the institutionalization of Jim Crowism and the creation of a rigid "color line" separating whites and blacks throughout the United States.
The Nadir (or, as Benjamin Quarles has written, "the decades of disappointment") witnessed the transformation of the emancipated African American into a second-class citizen in every respect. According to historian Norman Hodges, blacks became "citizens in terms of obligations, non-citizens in terms of rights; and, yet, not wholly slaves." Following a few years of "citizenship" before the law, according to Hodges, the concept of black equality was forfeited by "uncaring and hypocritical northern politicians and determined southern racists." See also: BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION, COMPROMISE OF 1877 and JIM CROWISM.
NATION OF ISLAM See: BLACK MUSLIMS.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE Notwithstanding contemporary accusations of "conservativism" and "Uncle Tomism" leveled by many young black militants, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been in the vanguard of the African American struggle for civil rights and equality for nearly seventy years. Founded in 1909 in response to the prevailing pattern of American segregation, disfranchisement and racial violence, the NAACP from the outset has been an interracial organization. In fact, aside from W. E. B. Du Bois, the first group of NAACP officials, including the organization's first president, Moorfield Storey, were whites. Bringing most of the black intellectuals from the Niagara Movement into the new group with him, Du Bois was named Director of Publications and Research and editor of the NAACP's magazine, The Crisis, a position he held until 1934.
From the very beginning, the NAACP adopted a program which stressed "litigation, legislation and education" as the primary means of bettering the status and condition of American blacks. By maintaining a strong lobby in Washington, the NAACP successfully has campaigned for laws designed to protect and, when necessary, extend the rights of African Americans. Equally significant have been the NAACP's legal battles in the courts against unjust laws and inadequate enforcement of constitutionally guaranteed rights. During the 1930's and 1940's, for example, NAACP lawyers won a series of court battles over the question of southern legal oppression of blacks by such means as the Democratic white primary, the exclusion of blacks from juries and forced confessions.
The organization's most notable success came as a result of its steady and skillful assault on public school segregation, an assault which culminated in 1954 when the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education declared that racially segregated schools are "inherently unequal." Legal victories such as these set the stage for the subsequent "Civil Rights Revolution" during the 1960's. In defense of the NAACP's emphasis upon litigation, James Weldon Johnson, Executive Secretary of the organization during the 1920's, berated those who held "that these legal victories are empty. They are not. At the very least, they provide the ground upon which we may make a stand for our rights." See also: NIAGARA MOVEMENT.
NATIONAL BLACK POLITICAL CONVENTION The first National Black Political Convention was held in Gary, Indiana in March 1972. Attended by over three thousand voting delegates and another five thousand observers, the Convention failed to resolve differences between those blacks content to work within the traditional two-party American political system and those desiring to create an independent black party. Other differences which tended to disrupt the conclave were those over integration and political cooperation with whites. Among resolutions which passed were those calling for radical socioeconomic changes in American society; a condemnation of American policy toward the white regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia; a denunciation of busing as a means of achieving racial balance in the public schools; and a refusal to endorse any candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Similarly, the second National Black Political Convention was characterized by continued argumentation about the desirability of a separatist political party. Held in Little Rock, Arkansas in March 1974, a resolution calling for the establishment of a national black political party was defeated; the NAACP and National Urban League were criticized for not sending representatives to the Convention; a resolution urging the creation of a black "united fund" with the goal of raising $10 million by 1976 was passed; and African liberation movements were given a blanket endorsement.
NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE Originally known as the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, the National Urban League (NUL) has been in existence since 1911. Founded during the early stages of the Great Migration of rural southern blacks to northern cities, the NUL was primarily interested in finding employment for the new arrivals. In addition to job-assistance, the NUL helped southern blacks make' the transition from rural to city life by providing housing, recreational and self-improvement opportunities and facilities.
The NUL describes itself as "a voluntary community service agency of civic, professional, business, labor and religious leaders ... dedicated to the removal of all forms of segregation based on creed or color." Under the leadership of Whitney M. Young, Jr., who served as Executive Director between 1961-71, the Urban League joined with other major civil rights organizations during the 1960's to actively campaign for political and socioeconomic equality for American blacks. See also: GREAT MIGRATION and WHITNEY M. YOUNG.
NAT TURNER'S INSURRECTION See: SLAVE CONSPIRACIES.
NEGRO Tracing its lineage to the Latin adjective niger, meaning black, the term Negro is derived from the Spanish and Portuguese adjective negro, also meaning black. When the Spanish and Portuguese first came into contact with black Africans, largely as the result of their slavetrading activities, the term was capitalized and used as a noun in reference to the Africans.
Until recently, the term Negro as used by members of both white and black races in the United States was considered "correct" and socially acceptable. During the first half of the twentieth century, the overwhelming majority of African Americans preferred to be called "Negro" rather than "black" or "colored." In fact, in many sections of the United States, to call an African American "black" was considered offensive and derogatory. With the renewed emphasis upon black pride and nationalism during the 1960's, however, "black" (or "Afro-American") replaced "Negro" as the most acceptable designation, at least for blacks themselves. The current preference, of course, is the unhyphenated "African American." The term Negro, with its connotation of slavery, fell into disrepute and is now generally avoided as a descriptive noun.
NEGRO CONSUMPTION Proslavery polemics often emphasized the assertion that blacks were robust, healthy specimens, well suited for the rigors of slavery in the South. Analysis of plantation records, however, indicate that this picture of disease-immune Afro-American slaves is grossly inaccurate. Contrary to popular tradition, disease in the antebellum South did not discriminate between black and white. As historian Kenneth Stampp has written, "wherever it was unhealthful for whites to live it was also unhealthful for Negroes."
One of the most common maladies suffered by the black slave was "Negro Consumption," the popular designation for tuberculosis. Malaria, yellow fever and Asiatic cholera were also diseases feared by slave and slaveowner alike. Severe diarrhea and dysentery, often referred to as the "bloody flux," plagued slaves during the Summer months, while the poorly clothed and improperly housed slaves in the Upper South were particularly susceptible to pleurisy, pneumonia and pleuropneumonia during the Winter. Deficient slave diets on many plantations (which was more common than usually supposed) resulted in widespread instances of hookworm infection, pellagra, beriberi and scurvy.
Similarly, improper food balance (especially a lack of calcium) contributed to massive tooth decay among slaves. Tooth decay, coupled with lack of professional dental care, belies the traditional stereotype of grinning black slaves with perfect sets of glistening white teeth. This stereotype is further belied by the fact that the basic inhumanity of the slave regime gave the typical slave little to smile about. In fact, the image of happy-go-lucky slaves cannot be reconciled with the many cases of mental and nervous disorders prevalent among the black slave population.
NEGRO CONVENTION MOVEMENT The "Negro Convention Movement" had its origin in the North during the early nineteenth century. In 1830, a group of "Free Negroes" seeking "to devise ways and means for the bettering of [their] condition" met in Philadelphia in what is usually regarded as the first Negro Convention. For the next five years, annual national conventions were held, with subsequent conclaves (both on the national and state levels) meeting intermittently from 1835 until the late nineteenth century.
For the most part, the antebellum conventions were concerned with improving the socioeconomic condition of free blacks on the one hand and denouncing the continuance of black enslavement in the South on the other. The post-Civil War Negro Conventions, which were fewer in number, were primarily concerned with voicing opposition to Jim Crow practices throughout the United States. Led and attended by the most distinguished and prominent leaders of the black race in America, the Negro Conventions acted as sounding-boards and clearing-houses for problems common to all African Americans and, in this fashion, demonstrated a degree of unity which would ultimately mature during the twentieth century.
NEGRO DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE See: NIAGARA MOVEMENT.
NEGRO HISTORY WEEK See: CARTER G. WOODSON.
NEGRO NATIONAL ANTHEM Written by black poet and former NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), the song Lift Every Voice and Sing has been referred to as the Negro National Anthem and is often sung at the beginning of prayer meetings and other public gatherings:
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies.
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has
taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed ?
We have come over a way that with tears have been
watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood
of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, Our God, where
we met Thee, Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world,
we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, May we forever stand. True to our GOD, True to our native land.
NEWTON, HUEY Coming Soon.
NIAGARA MOVEMENT The Niagara Movement was the first organized African American protest group in the twentieth century. Born at a time when black fortunes were at low ebb, the Niagara Movement represented a challenge to the prevailing black program of acquiescence and accommodation advocated by Booker T. Washington. Led by W. E. B. Du Bois, the organization was founded by a group of twenty-nine black intellectuals who met in Niagara Falls, Canada during June 1905.
Formally renouncing Booker T. Washington's "work and wait" philosophy, Du Bois and the others drew up a platform for aggressive action entitled "The Negro Declaration of Independence." This document called for the restoration of black voting rights; freedom of speech and criticism; the abolition of all distinctions based on race; and the universal recognition of the basic principles of human brotherhood. Following this initial organizational meeting, the Niagara group held national conferences in 1906, 1907 and 1908 at Harpers Ferry (in honor of John Brown), Boston (the former seat of eastern abolitionism) and Oberlin, Ohio (the hotbed of western abolitionism during the nineteenth century). The Harpers Ferry meeting, attended by more than one hundred delegates, was of special significance in that a militantly worded (if not radical, for that day and age) resolution and list of demands was issued. Demanding full and immediate manhood suffrage, the elimination of all Jim Crow practices throughout the United States, and the equal and unbiased enforcement of laws for all citizens, the resolution went on to declare that "we claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American — political, civil, and social; and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans." Absorbed into the framework of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, the Niagara Movement not only signaled an impending change in the pattern of Afro-American leadership, but also sowed the seeds of future twentieth century black protest.
NONVIOLENCE The guiding principle of the Civil Rights Revolution during the late 1950's and early 1960's was that of nonviolent civil disobedience and passive resistance. The tactics of nonviolence included protest marches and demonstrations, prayer pilgrimages, sit-ins, stand-ins and freedom rides. Based in part on the philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi, who once said that "soul force" was sufficiently powerful to ultimately create "an exploitation-free society in which the ordinary individual can claim and defend his rights," nonviolent civil disobedience in mid-twentieth century America found its champion in Martin Luther King.
Although the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) had adopted a program of nonviolent civil disobedience as early as 1942, it was King more than anyone who gave meaning to the principle. "We will match your capacity to inflict suffering," Dr. King wrote, "with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. We will not hate you, but we cannot... obey your unjust laws. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. But we will soon wear you down by our capacity to suffer." Although the nonviolent segment of the Civil Rights Revolution had begun to wane somewhat prior to his death, King's brutal and senseless assassination in 1968 dealt a serious if not mortal blow to the cause he lived for. CORE leader Floyd McKissick, for example, immediately proclaimed that "nonviolence is a dead philosophy," while black militant Stokely Carmichael declared that "When white America killed Dr. King last night she declared war on us. He was the one man in our race who was trying to teach our people to have love, compassion and mercy for white people." See also: MARTIN LUTHER KING.
NORTHWEST ORDINANCE Enacted by the Confederation Congress in 1787, the Northwest Ordinance provided that a minimum of three and a maximum of five new states should be created out of the so-called Northwest Territory of the United States, consisting of the land area between the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the Ohio River. Aside from specifying the mechanical aspects of state creation, the Northwest Ordinance provided that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" should exist in any state ultimately to emerge from the area. Although it is unlikely that slavery would have spread north of the Ohio River in any event, the Ordinance did reflect a degree of antislavery sentiment which in large part was an indication of Congress' realization that the institution of slavery was ideologically inconsistent with the goals of the Americans during the recently won revolutionary war with England.
OBERLIN COLLEGE Founded in 1833, Oberlin College became a focal point of antislavery and abolitionist activity in northeastern Ohio during the twenty years preceding the Civil War. The initial stimulus for this activity came in 1834-35 when a member of the board of trustees (Rev. Asa Mahan), a faculty member, and about thirty students from Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati transferred to Oberlin following the decision by Lane's trustees to forbid further discussion of the slavery issue on campus. Rev. Mahan himself became the president of Oberlin in 1835 on condition that blacks be admitted to the college on the same basis as whites. In addition to breaking the color barrier in the educational realm, Oberlin became a "station" on the Underground Railroad through which fugitive slaves escaped from the South into Canada. On one occasion in 1858, for example, Oberlin students and a number of local townspeople joined together to forcibly rescue a fugitive slave who was being returned to his Kentucky owner by federal agents.
OCTOROON See: MULATTO.
ORGANIZATION OF AFRO-AMERICAN UNITY See: MALCOLM X.
OVERSEER An overseer was normally a white man appointed by a slavemaster to supervise the work of black slaves and, in the absence of the slavemaster himself, to run the entire operation of the plantation. Generally appointed on a year-to-year basis, overseers were particularly common to those large plantations utilizing the service of thirty or more slaves. On especially large plantations, the overseer was assisted by one or more black slavedrivers and, occasionally, a black suboverseer.
The slavedrivers and suboverseers were trusted slaves used to maintain a regimented work schedule in the fields and to impose disciplinary measures when necessary. On smaller plantations, the use of overseers was uncommon. Most medium-sized plantations (15-30 slaves) were personally supervised by the slavemaster himself with the aid of a black slave foreman or slavedriver, while smaller units (less than a half-dozen slaves) had neither overseers nor slavedrivers.
OWENS, JESSE Coming Soon.
PAIGE, SATCHEL Coming Soon.
PAN-AFRICANISM In the context which most American blacks use it, the term Pan-Africanism refers to the belief in the uniqueness and spiritual unity of all black people and to the concurrent demand for self-determination in Africa for Africans as well as the demand for equal and dignified treatment for blacks throughout the world community. W. E. B. Du Bois, one of the earliest advocates of Pan-Africanism, drew an interesting parallel between Zionism and Pan-Africanism: "The African movement means to us what the Zionist movement must mean to the Jews, the centralization of race effort and the recognition of a racial fount." For a, fuller discussion of Afro-American attitudes concerning Pan-Africanism, see also: BACK TO AFRICA MOVEMENTS, W. E. B. DU BOIS and MARCUS GARVEY.
PARKER, CHARLIE Along with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie "Bird" Parker (1920-1955) generally is recognized as being one of the founders of the "bop" sound in American music during the 1940's. An alto saxophonist, Parker played with the bands of Noble Sissle, Earl Hines, Cootie Williams, Andy Kirk and Billy Eckstine during the 1940's and with Erroll Garner and his own quintet during the early 1950's. He made his final appearance in 1955, playing at New York City's "Birdland," a club named in his honor.
PARKS, ROSA Coming Soon.
PARTUS SEQUITUR VENTREM The primary legal principle used to perpetuate African American slavery from one generation to another was that of partus sequitur ventrem, meaning that the child inherits the status or condition of the mother. Running contrary to the English tradition which determined the status of children according to the status of the father, partus sequitur ventrem ensured that African American slavery would continue indefinitely.
Children of two slave parents, of course, would automatically be classified as slaves. Concurrently, a child born of an interracial union between a free white man and a black slave woman would also be classified as a slave. On the other hand, a child born of an interracial union between a free white woman and a black male slave would legally be free, inheriting the status
of its mother. Since miscegenation between free white women and black slave males was relatively rare in the antebellum South, the products of such unions were numerically fewer than the children born of free white fathers and black slave mothers. See also: MISCEGENATION.
PASSING The act of an African American attempting to and succeeding in assuming the status of being white by virtue of the lightness of his or her complexion traditionally has been referred to as "passing." Historically the result (or "backwash," as Gunner Myrdal puts it) of miscegenation, "passing" has probably existed from colonial times to the present. The extent to which it has existed, of course, can never be accurately calculated. Many of those that have "passed" will not readily admit it, while many whose parents or grandparents successfully "passed" do not have knowledge of that fact.
The motivational factor in "passing" is reflective of a white-dominated society (caste system) in which "color" has been regarded as a badge of servitude and inferiority. Regardless of specific motivation (occupational, educational, recreational, sexual, marital, etc.), African Americans who have "passed" have done so to take advantage of those opportunities and luxuries which historically have been denied to their "darker" brothers and sisters. Although it cannot be substantiated, with the tremendous growth in black racial pride in recent years, it would be reasonable to assume that fewer African Americans of relatively light complexion are consciously "passing" today as opposed to twenty years ago. To "pass," in the eyes of most modern African Americans, represents a traitorous rejection of a rich and proud cultural heritage in exchange for convenience and a measure of security. See also: MISCEGENATION.
PATROL SYSTEM Best described as a legal vigilance committee or as an adaptation of the militia, the patrol system was employed by many southern counties to regularly make "tours of duty," scouring the countryside for runaway slaves and returning them to their owners as well as inspecting slave quarters to determine whether weapons were being stored for a possible rebellion. In those counties which used the patrol system, many whites found it more convenient to pay the small fine for not serving as a patrolman rather than complying with their "civic duty."
PATTERSON, FLOYD Coming Soon.
PEACE MISSION CULT See: FATHER DIVINE.
PERSONAL LIBERTY LAWS See: FUGITIVE SLAVE LAWS.
PITTSBURGH COURIER See: ROBERT L. VANN.
PLESSY V. FERGUSON In 1890 the state of Louisiana adopted a Jim Crow law which required railroads operating within the state to provide "separate but equal" accommodation for white and black passengers. In 1892, Homer Adolph Plessy, an African American, tested the state law by attempting to sit in a "whites only" section aboard the East Louisiana Railroad. Subsequently arrested for violating the 1890 law, Plessy was convicted in a New Orleans court presided over by a Judge Ferguson. Plessy appealed his conviction to the Louisiana Supreme Court without success. He then appealed to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that Louisiana's "separate but equal" doctrine was incompatible with the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The Supreme Court's decision in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U. S. 537) in 1896 reflected the then current sociological assumption that blacks were inferior to whites and that Jim Crow legislation was consistent with traditional American "liberties." In short, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the Louisiana segregation statute. Justice Henry B. Brown delivered the opinion of the majority of the Court, arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment was not "intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either." Brown categorically denied that "the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority." On the contrary, he maintained that this alleged "badge of inferiority" was not the result of the Louisiana law per se, "but rather because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it."
In a lone but far-sighted dissenting opinion, Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote that "the destinies of the two races, in this country, are indissolubly linked together, and the interests of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted under the sanction of law." More important, Harlan challenged the sociological premise upon which the majority of the Court based its decision: "The arbitrary separation of citizens, on the basis of race. . . is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution. It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds."
Despite Harlan's dissenting vote, the majority decision of the Court prevailed. This decision had far-reaching and long-standing repercussions and implications. Although the Court did not specifically declare that the "separate but equal" doctrine was the law of the land (it merely declared a Louisiana law to be constitutional), the implication was quite obvious. Moreover, although Plessy v. Ferguson specifically concerned railway accommodations, lower courts would subsequently utilize the Plessy decision to cover most aspects of interracial contact, including that of educational facilities. In other words, the Court's decision opened the door to a plethora of Jim Crow legislation which would continue for over a half century. In a sense, therefore, the Court "legalized" racial segregation in the United States and made Jim Crow an integral part of the) American Constitution. See also: BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION, JIM CROWISM and SWEATT V. PAINTER.
POLICE BRUTALITY See: BLACK PANTHERS and KERNER REPORT.
POLL TAX See: DISFRANCHISEMENT.
POOR PEOPLE'S MARCH Initially conceived by Martin Luther King before his assassination, the Poor People's March on Washington in 1968 was led by King's successor, Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy and, among others, his widow, Coretta. Designed to wrench the national conscience and prod Congress into granting more aid to the approximately thirty million American poor, the March began in early May with eight separate caravans of marchers and muletrains from as far off as Seattle, Boston and Edwards, Mississippi. Upon arrival in Washington, the marchers were housed in a wood shantytown (dubbed "Resurrection City") especially built for the occasion near the Washington Monument. Presiding at the christening of "Resurrection City," Rev. Abernathy declared that "this march will not last for a day or two days or even a week. We will be here until the Congress and the Government decide they are going to do something about the plight of poor people by doing away with poverty, unemployment and underemployment."
From the beginning, however, the Poor People's campaign and, especially, "Resurrection City," was plagued by bad weather, internal crises, and inadequate cooking, bathing and sanitation facilities. The campaign itself was climaxed on June 19 with what was called "Solidarity Day." A crowd of 55,000 whites and blacks marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial to listen to nearly five hours of songs, speeches and prayers, somewhat reminiscent of the much larger 1963 March on Washington which drew a throng of 200,000 demonstrators.
Although the Poor People's March did not succeed in eradicating poverty, some limited victories were achieved. The Department of Agriculture, for example, agreed to speed up food relief programs in nearly three hundred of the country's poorest counties. The Labor Department rushed through a plan to create 100,000 new jobs, while the Office of Economic Opportunity agreed to increase its budget by 25 million dollars for expanded programs in emergency food and health care.
POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY In American history, the term "popular sovereignty" (or "squatter sovereignty") refers to the nineteenth century doctrine which stated that the inhabitants of a territory had the right to decide for themselves whether they wished their territory to be admitted into the Union as a "free state" or as a "slave state." Formulated by Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan and strongly supported by Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, the concept of popular sovereignty was initially employed in the Compromise of 1850, which provided that the inhabitants of the New Mexico and Utah territories should decide for themselves whether they wished to be "free" or "slave" upon petitioning for statehood.
In 1854, the concept was used again, but with fatal repercussions. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 provided that Kansas and Nebraska, upon fulfilling the prescribed requirements for statehood, could enter the Union on the basis of popular sovereignty. The tragic aspect of this measure (and, hence, the tragic nature of the concept itself) was that it nullified the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (Kansas and Nebraska were north of the line thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, a territory from which the Missouri Compromise had specifically excluded slavery), and it opened Kansas (which presumably was much more suitable than Nebraska for a plantation-type economy) to an organized migration of proslave and antislave groups determined to gain control over the territory for their own avowed interests. The result of this, of course, was a bloody civil war in Kansas between these two groups — a conflict which earned the territory the dubious distinction of being called "Bleeding Kansas." In other words, although the concept of popular sovereignty might have looked good on paper, in practice — at least in the case of Kansas — it was a fiasco. See also: KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT and MISSOURI COMPROMISE.
POWELL, ADAM CLAYTON One of the most interesting, charismatic and controversial black Americans of the twentieth century, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was born in 1908 in Connecticut. Moving to New York City while still an infant, Powell was the son of Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., a Baptist minister who had been named pastor of the Abyssinia Baptist Church in lower Manhattan. Over a period of twenty-five years, the elder Powell increased the number of parishioners at Abyssinia from less than fifteen hundred to more than fourteen thousand, making it one of the largest Protestant churches in the United States. Following his education at Colgate (B. A., 1930) and Columbia (M. A., 1932), and his father's retirement in 1937, Adam, Jr. became pastor of Abyssinia, which had since moved from lower Manhattan to Harlem.
Notwithstanding his clerical collar, Powell had a flair for wine, women and song, soon aquiring a "playboy" reputation. Although many of his parishioners objected to his extracurricular activities, these objections were largely offset by the manner in which Powell used his church as a powerbase to promote positive reform in Harlem. Utilizing fiery and charismatic oratory, coupled with picketing, boycotts and street demonstrations, Powell was instrumental in securing lower rent payments, better hospital care and more jobs for residents of Harlem. These activities persuaded him to pursue a political career, campaigning for and winning a seat on the New York City Council in 1941. Elected to the U. ,S. House of Representatives in 1944, Powell served as Harlem's congressional representative for the next quarter century.
Powell's career in Congress was a curious mixture of positive achievement and irresponsibility. Refusing to play the role of "Uncle Tom," he relentlessly pushed for civil rights legislation, including the abolition of racial discrimination at American military installations and the denial of federal funds to any project or institution where discriminatory practices existed. During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Powell, who had since been named chairman of the House Education and Labor Com
mittee, was instrumental in securing vital antipoverty and educational measures designed to aid blacks. On the other hand, his reluctance to conform to congressional procedure and etiquette, his poor record of attendance, his playboy image and his alleged involvement in tax irregularities and misuse of government funds did not endear him to his colleagues.
In 1967, Powell was censured in the House, which also excluded him from his seat on the grounds of misuse of funds and for his refusal to pay a court-ordered slander judgment against him. The voters of Harlem, however, reelected Powell in 1968. He regained his seat (but not his seniority or chairmanship) and, following a Supreme Court decision in his favor, his back pay. Nevertheless, his influence in Congress thereafter was practically nonexistent, spending most of his time at his retreat on the island of Bimini in the Bahamas. As the result of this, together with a growing weariness of his erratic and irresponsible behavior, Powell lost in his bid for reelection in 1970. Two years later, on April 4, 1972, he died from complications arising after a surgical operation.
PRAYER PILGRIMAGE Held on the third anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the Prayer Pilgrimage of May 17, 1957 was the largest civil rights demonstration to be held in Washington, D. C. following the second World War. Nearly fifteen-thousand "pilgrims" from more than thirty states gathered at the base of the Lincoln Memorial to hear a series of sermons, scriptural readings and speeches by civil rights leaders. The primary intent of the Pilgrimage was to dramatically demonstrate to the Government and to the American people at large the need for more rapid and effective implementation *of the Brown decision to integrate American public schools. In addition, the Pilgrimage was designed to demonstrate racial solidarity; protest against racial violence in the South; and to "lobby" for the passage of pending civil rights legislation (Civil Rights Act of 1957).
PRIGG V. PENNSYLVANIA See: FUGITIVE SLAVE LAWS.
PROSLAVERY RATIONALE Prior to the enthronement of King Cotton and certainly prior to the debates over the admission of Missouri as a slave state in 1820, the typical southern slave owner (and Southerner) considered Afro-American slavery to be a necessary evil. With the invention of the cotton gin and, concurrently, the rise of abolitionist sentiment in the North,
however, southern apologists for the institution of slavery took the offensive by proclaiming that slavery, in the words of Senator John C. Calhoun, was a "positive good" rather than a necessary evil.
Some writers, such as George Fitzhugh, began arguing that southern African American slavery was more humane than northern "wage slavery." Fitzhugh argued in Cannibals All (1857) that while the "negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world," the northern white laborer "is more of a slave than the negro, because he works longer and harder for less allowance than the slave, and has no holiday, because the cares of life with him begin when its labors end." Earlier, in his Sociology for the South (1854), Fitzhugh justified slavery purely on racial, grounds. He maintained that the South had the advantage of possessing a distinct, inferior race, well suited to the rigors of slavery. Furthermore, inferior races had been created to serve the more superior races. In short, Fitzhugh argued that the existence of African American slavery was entirely consistent with the laws of Nature.
During the early 1830's, Thomas R. Dew, a professor at William and Mary College, asserted that slavery was indispensable to the creation of advanced civilization, giving the superior few the leisure time necessary for the advancement of society. He (and others) also argued that slavery not only had abundant human sanction (having existed from time immemorial), but divine sanction as well. Both Dew and Reverend Thornton Stringfellow of Virginia were fond of quoting Leviticus to "prove" this point: "Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you ... and they shall be your possession." Aside from this, both Dew and Stringfellow believed that human slavery was sanctioned by Christianity itself as a means of converting the African American from his inherent "paganism."
Finally, there was the economic justification. Slavery was portrayed as a labor system necessary for the maintenance of a healthy southern economy, an economy which, in the classic capitalist sense, provided both slave traders and slave owners with a healthy profit. Whether or not slavery was "profitable" is still debated by historians; the important factor is that this rationale, similar to the others, was repeatedly used by southerners to defend their "peculiar institution." See also: ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE.
QUADROON See: MULATTO.
QUAKERS See: SOCIETY OF FRIENDS.
QUASI-FREE NEGROES See: FREE NEGROES.
QUOCK WALKER CASE In large part the result of the realization that African American slavery was ideologically inconsistent with the goals and rhetoric of the American Revolution, northern states took the lead in abolishing slavery or otherwise providing for the gradual emancipation of slaves during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In some states, such as Vermont, constitutions were written or legislation enacted which specifically outlawed slavery and the slave trade. In Massachusetts, however, slavery was gradually ended as the result of judicial interpretation and action.
The most significant of several "freedom cases" leading to the death of slavery in Massachusetts was that of Commomvealth v. Jennison, commonly referred to as the Quock Walker Case of 1783. Quock Walker allegedly was the slave of one Nathaniel Jennison, who had forcibly captured his "slave" following an abortive runaway attempt. Jennison, in turn, was indicted by a local court for committing assault and battery on Walker. The case was subsequently appealed to the supreme court of Massachusetts in 1783. In his charge to the jury, Chief Justice William Gushing rejected Jennison's argument that his actions constituted legitimate means of apprehending a runaway slave on the basis that Jennison had earlier promised to manumit Walker. More significantly, Gushing held that although slavery indeed had been tolerated in Massachusetts, it was incompatible with the revolutionary spirit "favorable to the natural rights of mankind." Gushing concluded his charge by asserting that "slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and Constitution; and there can be no such thing as perpetual servitude of a rational creature, unless his liberty is forfeited by some criminal conduct or given up by personal consent or contract." The jury concurred with Cushing's argument, upholding the indictment of Jennison. See also: FIRST EMANCIPATION.
RACE RIOTS Contrary to popular impression, race riots in the United States have occurred throughout the greater portion of American history and do not represent a phenomenon of relatively recent origin. During the thirty-year period preceding the Civil War, for example, race riots (in the form of what were called "nigger hunts" or "coon hunts") were especially common throughout the United States. Bands of whites would "invade" black settlements or black sections of cities to plunder, kill and rape without the slightest provocation. The Cincinnati, Ohio riot of 1829, for example, drove at least a thousand frightened blacks from their homes to escape white violence.
Immediately following the Civil War, racial riots were frequent occurrences. The Memphis, Tennessee riot of 1866 was typical. According to the New York Times, a white mob entered the "colored" district and "commenced firing upon every Negro who made himself visible. One Negro on South Street, a quiet, inoffensive laborer, was shot down almost in front of his own cabin, and after life was extinct his body was fired into, cut and beat in a most horrible manner." The Memphis riot left fifteen blacks dead, with the Times reporting that "not a white man was fired upon by a Negro."
Many of the most violent racial riots in American history took place during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Beginning with the New Orleans riot of 1900, racial confrontations followed in Springfield, Ohio (1904 and 1906), Atlanta, Georgia (1906), Springfield, Illinois (1908) and East St. Louis, Illinois (1917). The East St. Louis riot was of particular significance in that forty-four blacks were killed, many of whom died when they were blockaded and burned alive in their houses. Property damage was estimated at a half million dollars, while nearly six thousand blacks were driven from their homes. Similar to the early riots and "nigger hunts," the East St. Louis incident was provoked by whites against blacks. In fact, with but few exceptions, racial rioting prior to the 1960's was characterized by whites entering black districts with the intent of creating havoc and destruction.
On the other hand, the more familiar race riots during the 1960's were precipitated by blacks in their own communities and did not represent attempts to "invade" white districts to provoke racial disturbances. The first of the major contemporary race riots took place in 1965 in Watts, the black section of Los Angeles, California. Lasting five days, the Watts riot ended with thirty four dead, more than one-thousand injured, some four thousand arrests and estimated property damage of $40 million. Nearby 10,000 black rioters took to the streets, fighting against a force of more than 15,000 police and National Guardsmen in Watts. A similar riot occurred in 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio, while the Newark, New Jersey riot and the Detroit, Michigan riot followed in 1967. The Newark and Detroit uprisings were especially violent, resulting in a total of sixty-nine deaths, over three-thousand injuries and well over $500 million in property damage. Then, following the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, thousands upon thousands of urban blacks took to the streets throughout the United States in what seemed to many as a prelude to an all-out race war. Although such a war did not materialize, the conditions which caused the recent ghetto rioting have persisted.
As the Kerner Commission Report stated in 1968, police harassment and brutality, inadequate housing, unemployment, inferior educational opportunities and an all-pervasive pattern of white racism which permits and even encourages the continuance of ghetto conditions are among the underlying causes of black urban rioting. See also: GHETTO and KERNER REPORT.
RACIALISM Racialism is a pseudo-scientific attitude or assumption (individual or collective) which presupposes the inherent superiority of certain races over what are considered to be less superior or inferior races. Such an attitude often leads to hatred and to the deliberate and systematic exploitation or domination of certain racial groups in order to effect personal, political, economic or social advantage. Historical examples of racialism are numerous and certainly would include the enslavement and subsequent segregation of the African American. Although some writers distinguish between racialism and racism, maintaining that the former suggests a more passive or less antagonistic attitude, the two terms are most often used synonymously. See also: PROSLAVERY RATIONALE.
RADICAL REPUBLICANS During and immediately following the Civil War, those Republicans who advocated a harsh, vindictive and punitive policy towards the former Confederate states were called Radicals. The majority of the Radicals were either diehard
abolitionists or strongly antislavery in their sentiments. Following the war, Radical Republicans in Congress succeeded in dominating the "reconstruction" of the South. Most of them believed that the southern states had, by secession, committed suicide and, accordingly, that they were now mere conquered provinces to be administered by Congress.
Understandably, the policies which characterized Radical Republican Reconstruction were harsh and vindictive, at least in the eyes of southerners. Concurrently and notwithstanding the fact that they were being used as political tools to construct a viable Republican party in the South, southern black freedmen generally benefited from Radical-imposed rule during Reconstruction. Prominent congressional Radicals included Charles Summer, Thaddeus Stevens, Zachariah Chandler, Henry W. Davis and Benjamin Wade. See also: BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION.
RECONSTRUCTION See: BLACK REPUBLICAN RECONSTRUCTION, COMPROMISE OF 1877, FREEDMEN'S BUREAU and RADICAL REPUBLICANS.
REDEMPTIONERS See: INDENTURED SERVITUDE.
REPARATIONS See: BLACK MANIFESTO.
RESTRICTIVE COVENANT Prior to 1948, restrictive covenants were legal devices used to perpetuate racial residential segregation in the United States. Most common in large northern metropolitan areas (especially in middle-class white neighborhoods), the restrictive covenant was a private contract between the buyer and seller of residential property in which the buyer pledged never to resell his property to members of certain racial, religious or ethnic groups. More often than not, the restrictive covenant was inserted into the property deed itself and, furthermore, was considered to be binding upon all future owners of the property.
Prior to the "Great Migration" of southern blacks to northern cities during the first World War, most restrictive covenants were specifically aimed at non-Christians and members of certain ethnic groups. In Cleveland, Ohio, for example, one of the most noted restrictive agreements was the so-called Van Sweringen Covenant, designed to prohibit Jews from settling in Shaker Heights, Cleveland's plush suburb for the affluent which had been developed by Oris P. and Mantis J. Van Sweringen in the early twentieth century. With the large influx of southern blacks into the Cleveland area during and immediately after the war, however, the Van Sweringen Covenant was directed at keeping the African Americans out. Similarly, in 1940 it was estimated that nearly 80 percent of all real estate in Chicago was "protected" by restrictive covenants.
In 1948, the Supreme Court of the United States in Shelley v. Kraemer held that restrictive covenant arrangements were unenforceable in state courts. Although the Court conceded that the Fourteenth Amendment "erects no shield against merely private conduct, however discriminatory or wrongful," it stated that the "coercive power of government" [i.e., action by a state court] may not be used to deny the enjoyment of property rights "on the grounds of race or color." Such a denial, the Court affirmed, would constitute a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions (e.g., Hurd v. Hodge (1948), and Barrows v. Jackson (1953) reenforced the Court's earlier stand and further nullified the effectiveness of restrictive covenants.
REVELS, HIRAM R. Although Blanche K. Bruce was the first African American to serve a full term (1875-1881) in the U. S. Senate, Hiram R. Revels was actually the first black to win election to that body, filling out an unexpired Mississippi term (1870-71) in the seat previously occupied by Jefferson Davis. Following his brief political career, Revels was appointed president of Alcorn College and then, in 1876, became editor of the Southwestern Christian Advocate, a religion-oriented journal. He died at the age of seventy-nine in 1901.
ROBINSON, BILL Born Luther Robinson in Richmond, Virginia in 1878, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was undoubtedly one of the greatest of all American tap-dancers. He began dancing while still a child and progressed from local clubs and saloons in Richmond to the vaudeville circuit during the early 1900's. His first appearance on the legitimate stage in Blackbirds of 1928 made Robinson an overnight sensation. The play ran for more than a year at the Liberty Theater on Broadway. Subsequently, "Bo-jangles" went on to Hollywood, where he danced in a dozen major motion pictures, including Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm with Shirley Temple. Similar to many Hollywood personalities,Robinson made millions of dollars during his career, but owing to unwise investments and lavish living he died penniless in 1949.
ROBINSON, JACKIE Coming Soon.
ROBINSON, SUGAR RAY Coming Soon.
ROWAN, CARL Coming Soon.
RUDOLPH, WILMA Coming Soon.
RUNAWAY SLAVES See: FUGITIVE SLAVE LAWS and UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.
RUSSWURM, JOHN B. One of the first blacks to graduate from an American college, John Brown Russwurm (1799-1851) was the son of a Jamaican mother and a white American father. Born in Jamaica, Russwurm was taken as a youth to Canada and, later, to Maine, where he was educated. Graduating from Bowdoin College (Maine) in 1826, he soon traveled to New York City where he and Reverend Samuel Cornish founded and edited Freedom's Journal, the first black newspaper in the United States. Following a dispute with Cornish over editorial policy concerning the merits of African colonization for American blacks (Russwurm was convinced that colonization offered Afro-Americans the best chance for survival), the young college graduate dissolved the partnership and migrated to Africa himself in 1829. From 1830 until his death twenty-one years later, Russwurm served in a number of official capacities in Liberia, the African colony founded by the American Colonization Society for repatriated African Americans.
SAMBO STEREOTYPE The Sambo stereotype of African American slaves and, by extension, of modern African Americans is that American blacks are by nature servile, fawning, cringing, docile, irresponsible, lazy, humble, dependent, prone to lying and stealing, grinningly happy and basically infantile. In other words, the white American conception of Sambo is that of a perpetual child incapable of maturity, sitting, grinning and eating in a watermelon patch.
It cannot be denied that some modern blacks (as well as some modern whites) possess some or all of these personality characteristics. To assume, however, that the modern African American per se is a Sambo would be an absurd distortion of reality. On the other hand, the question of whether African American slaves were Sambos is debatable. One school of thought accepts the Sambo-type personality as being characteristic of most southern slaves. Historian Stanley Elkins, for example, maintains that proud and noble West Africans may have been transformed into childlike creatures by a harsh process of brainwashing not entirely dissimilar to the Nazi brainwashing techniques in Jewish concentration camps during the 1930's and 1940's. Elkins assumes "that there were elements in the very structure of the plantation system — its 'closed' character — that could sustain infantilism as a normal feature of behavior."
Another school of thought argues that although plantation slaves may have acted as Sambos, they were merely playing a role dictated by the sheer helplessness of their situation. "There is no reason to conclude," according to historian John Hope Franklin, "that the personality of the slave was permanently impaired by his engaging in duplicity in the slave-master relationship. It must be remembered that some of the actions of the slave were superficial and were for the purpose of misleading his owner regarding his true feelings." It is argued that the many forms of slave resistance, including occasional conspiracies to revolt, clearly indicate that the typical plantation slave was not by nature a Sambo. See also: SLAVE RESISTANCE.
SCALAWAGS See: CARPETBAGGERS.
SCOTT, DRED See: DRED SCOTT DECISION.
SCOTT V. SANFORD See: DEED SCOTT DECISION.
SEGREGATION: See JIM CROWISM.
SELMA MARCHES Early in 1965, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and a number of other civil rights organizations decided to dramatize the denial of black voting rights in Alabama by marching from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery, a distance of fifty-four miles. Led by Martin Luther King, the first attempt to stage the protest was broken up on March 7 by Alabama state troopers using night-sticks, tear gas and whips. The troopers, it was reported, were merely enforcing Governor George Wallace's order banning the demonstration. The fact that seventeen marchers were hospitalized and scores of others less seriously injured catapulted Selma into the national headlines. President Lyndon Johnson publicly stated that he deplored "the brutality with which a number of Negro citizens of Alabama were treated when they sought to dramatize their deep and sincere interest in attaining the precious right to vote."
The Selma to Montgomery Freedom March was again scheduled for March 21. President Johnson federalized the Alabama National Guard to protect the demonstrators, who safely completed the trek to Montgomery on March 25. Three days later, Dr. King appeared on national television to urge Americans to boycott Alabama produced goods and to demand a withdrawal of federal support of activities in that state. King's speech, together with the Selma incident itself, did much to ensure the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
SEPARATE BUT EQUAL DOCTRINE See: PLESSY V. FERGUSON and BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION.
SHARECROPPING Following the Civil War and the collapse of the slavery-regime new economic and labor arrangements between white landowners and black freedmen had to be devised. For the most part, southern blacks remained attached to the land as either sharecroppers or tenant farmers. In fact, by 1900 over seventy-five percent of all southern blacks were classified in one or the other of these two categories.
Sharecropping involved a system whereby the owner of farmland furnished the farmer with the land, seed, fertilizer and equipment in return for a certain share of the farmer's harvested crop. Sharecropping was not a universally uniform system in the South since there were infinite varieties of arrangements. Some landowners, for example, only furnished the land, entitling them to perhaps twenty-five percent of the crop, while others furnished the land and all supplies, entitling them to as much as fifty percent of the harvested crop. Moreover, it should not be assumed that sharecropping was dominated by black farmers. In fact, there were always more white croppers in the South than black. In addition, the sharecropping system was intricately linked to the so-called crop-lien system, whereby the farmer could obtain credit from local merchants by pledging future crops as security. Since the local merchants (the major source of rural southern credit) often charged exorbitant interest rates, the cropper found himself in a vicious circle, very often having to surrender his complete crop-share to the merchant in order to retain a good credit standing to feed his family.
Tenant farming was more popular with southern white landowners than the sharecropping system. The tenant farmer (again, an interracial phenomenon) either farmed an owner's land for wages and shelter, relinquishing the entire crop to the owner, or he might rent the land and shelter from the owner, retaining the entire crop himself. In either case, the tenant farmer was dependent on the landowner and generally had little chance of improving his economic condition. In fact, as historian C. Vann Woodward has pointed out, the black freedmen "not only worked the white man's land but worked it with a white man's plow drawn by a white man's mule." In other words, although technically free, the black ex-slave remained wedded to the land and to a certain degree of economic dependency.
SHELLEY V. KRAEMER See: RESTRICTIVE COVENANT.
SICKLE CELL ANEMIA One of the most common and serious of all childhood diseases, sickle cell anemia is confined primarily to the black population. Between 40,000 and 70,000 black Americans are currently suffering from the disease, which affects approximately one in every five hundred black children born in the United States. In addition, approximately two million Afro-Americans carry the sickle cell trait or gene (which itself is benign and harmless) and could produce anemic children if their mate also possessed the trait.
Killing many of its victims before middle-age, sickle cell anemia is caused by the distortion of regular red blood cells into a crescent or sickle shape. Such cells have difficulty in passing through small blood vessels, thereby creating "jam-ups" which prevent vital oxygen from reaching body tissues. Symptoms of the disease include impaired growth, jaundice, kidney malfunction and increased susceptibility to general infection. Although presently incurable, available treatment has improved and federally-funded medical research into the disease has been increased since President Richard Nixon in 1971 admitted that "it is a sad and shameful fact that the causes of this disease have been largely neglected throughout our history."
On a more positive note, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute reported in 2007 that many advances in the treatment of the disease have occurred in the past thirty years and that
"many people with the condition live close to normal lives and are in fairly good health much of the time. These people can live into their forties or fifties, or longer."
SIT-IN MOVEMENT The so-called sit-in movement began on February 1, 1960 when four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro refused to relinquish their seats at a local dimestore lunch counter after being refused service. During the next three months, thousands of black students, encouraged by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), were "trained" in the technique of "sitting-in," the general rule being "sit tight, and refuse to fight." These students formed the core of a new civil rights organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which encouraged sit-ins, wade-ins and kneel-ins throughout the South in restaurants, swimming pools, churches and other places of public accommodation which practiced racial segregation. Notwithstanding the inevitable heckling, harassment, beatings and arrests that ensued, the students patiently and nonviolently stood their ground. By the end of the year, these tactics were beginning to bear fruit. Slowly but surely, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, movie theatres and a host of similar establishments in the South began lowering their barriers against servicing Afro-Americans. See also: CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY and STUDENT NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE.
SLAVE COAST Roughly comprising that portion of the West African coast between the Volta and Niger rivers (about five hundred miles), the so-called Slave Coast was the focal point of European slave-trading activities during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. The majority of slaves procured from the Slave Coast, which today corresponds to the modern nations of Togo, Benin (formerly Dahomey) and western Nigeria, were Yorubas and Dahomans, especially prized by the Europeans for their agricultural ability and knowledge. In addition to the Slave Coast, other principal slave-trading centers along the West African coast would include the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) and Lower Guinea (modern eastern Nigeria, Cameroon, Rio Muni, Gabon and southward into northern Angola). See also: ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE and COASTAL FOREST KINGDOMS.
SLAVE CODES Evolving piecemeal from the late seventeenth century through the Civil War era during the 1860's, the so-called slave codes or laws throughout the slave states represented statutory attempts to define the status and regulate the lives of African American slaves. In most states, the slave codes defined the slave's status as being dual in nature. Alabama's legal code of 1852, for example, confirmed the slave's status as both a thing (property owned by a master who was due the slave's "time, labor and services") and as a person (in the sense that the master was obligated to treat a slave "humanely" and to provide the essentials of life such as food and clothing). Despite this significant juxtaposition, the slave's status as a person was invariably subordinated to his status as property. According to historian Kenneth M. Stampp, "throughout the ante-bellum South the cold language of statutes and judicial decisions made it evident that, legally the slave was less a person than a thing."
Although there were variations from state to state, the general point of view that a slave was "less a person than a thing" was reflected in all of the slave codes. Strictly speaking, the slave was regarded as the legal and absolute chattel of his master. As such, he could be bought, sold, traded, used as security or collateral, left in a will as inheritance, auctioned and, occasionally, awarded as a prize in a lottery or raffle. Being a chattel and, therefore, devoid of a legal personalty, a slave was not permitted to testify in court, except against another slave or a "free Negro." This prohibition, of course, had the effect of nullifying the master's obligation to treat his slaves "humanely," since a slave could not offer legal testimony in his behalf or against the master. Additionally, slaves were prohibited from buying or selling goods and from entering into contracts (including a marriage contract). The ownership of property by slaves was generally prohibited, though some states did allow for the ownership of some types of personal property.
Basic to all antebellum slave codes was the requirement that slaves submit to their masters absolutely, that they respect white people and that they "keep their places." The Louisiana code of 1806, for example, proclaimed that a slave "owes to his master, and to all his family, a respect without bounds, and an absolute obedience." A slave could not strike his master or any white person, even in self defense. He was not permitted to leave the plantation without permission; he was not allowed to possess firearms and, in Mississippi at least, could not beat drums or blow horns. Additionally, the slave was not permitted to learn to read or write; nor could he possess liquor or purchase it without the authorization of his master. Freedom of assembly was flatly prohibited by most of the state slave codes which, in turn, were often supplemented by local regulatory measures. In Charleston, South Carolina, for example, slaves were forbidden to smoke, swear, walk with a cane, assemble at military parades, or make "joyful demonstrations." See also: CHATTEL.
SLAVE CONSPIRACIES The most dramatic and forceful form of African American slave protest and resistance in the antebellum South was the organized slave rebellion. There were approximately two hundred rebellions or conspiracies to rebel in the South prior to 1860, the most significant of which were Gabriel's Revolt (1800), Denmark Vesey's Conspiracy (1822) and Nat Turner's Insurrection (1831).
Gabriel (1775-1800) was a slave of Thomas Prosser of Henrico County, Virginia. He and another slave, Jack Bowler, organized an estimated two thousand slaves for the purpose of seizing Richmond. Approximately 32,000 black slaves (compared to about 8,000 whites) lived in the immediate Richmond vicinity. It was hoped that if Richmond was seized, these slaves would join forces with Gabriel and then proceed to liberate all of Virginia's 300,000 Afro-American slaves. Swords, bayonets and other weapons were procured in preparation for the seige (and the concurrent massacre of all slaveowners) which was planned for August 30, 1800. The conspiracy, however, was betrayed by two slaves who wanted to spare their master. Martial law was declared and defenses mustered in Richmond while more than six hundred armed militiamen hunted down most of the conspirators, who were arrested and executed, at least until it became apparent that if all of the conspirators were hanged, Richmond's supply of slaves would be decimated. In the end, thirty-five blacks were executed for participating in the conspiracy. Gabriel himself was hanged on October 7, 1800.
The second major slave conspiracy of the nineteenth century was led by Denmark Vesey (1767-1822). A slave for over thirty years, Vesey purchased his freedom with money he won in
a lottery in 1800. He later became a Methodist minister, using his church as a base of operations for a proposed seige of Charleston, South Carolina. Biding his time, Vesey chose a number of trusted assistants and began building an arsenal of weapons. Planned for the second Sunday of July 1822, Vesey's seige of Charleston never materialized. As in the case of Gabriel's revolt, this conspiracy was betrayed by internal informers and spies who alerted Charleston authorities. An estimated nine thousand slaves had been enlisted in the Vesey plot, but only forty-seven of the conspirators, including Vesey, were executed.
The most spectacular slave insurrection in American history occurred on August 21, 1831, and was led by a slave preacher in Southampton County, Virginia. Born in 1800, Nat Turner was a visionary mystic who claimed that God had directed him to strike a divine blow against the institution of slavery. On the appointed day, Turner and six confederates initiated their revolt by killing Turner's master, Joseph Travis and his family. Within twenty-four hours, proceeding from one Southampton County farm to another, the conspirators killed sixty whites, secured guns and ammunition and increased their numerical strength to nearly sixty men. This group, however, was overpowered by state and federal troops. In the process, more than a hundred slaves (many of whom were not actively engaged in the uprising) were killed. Twenty of the conspirators, including Turner, were tried and executed.
The Nat Turner Insurrection sent a wave of terror throughout the white South. State legislatures were called into special session; slave codes were strengthened; and every movement of black slaves carefully watched. Occurring shortly after the publication of the first issue of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator, the Turner uprising simply added fuel to the already intense sectional controversy between northern anti-slavery and southern proslavery interests. More significant is the fact that the Nat Turner Insurrection provides ample evidence that African American slaves did not wear their chains lightly by docilely accepting their status as grinning, happy-go-lucky Sambos. See also: CATO CONSPIRACY.
SLAVE DISEASE See: NEGRO CONSUMPTION.
SLAVE FACTORY See: BARRACOON and CABOCEER.
SLAVE REBELLIONS See: SLAVE CONSPIRACIES.
SLAVE RESISTANCE Modern historians disagree as to the validity of the traditional stereotype of docile, tractable and happy-go-lucky black slaves in the antebellum South. Stanley Elkins, for example, has maintained that Afro-American slaves were more or less brainwashed and, as a result, the "Sambo" stereotype does contain an element of truth. Notwithstanding the Elkins thesis, it cannot be denied that slaves could and did develop certain patterns of resistance and protest. As John Hope Franklin has written, resistance "has been found wherever the institution of slavery existed, and Negro slavery in the United States was no exception."
Forms of resistance and protest varied widely. Some slaves deliberately loafed on the job, while others feigned illness in the fields or on the auction block. Sabotage, including arson and the destruction of farm tools, self-mutilation and suicide on the part of slaves was not uncommon and certainly indicative of a degree of resistance. Physical attacks upon and the killing of slaveowners by slaves, though not everyday occurrences, were not unheard of. Using arsenic or finely ground glass, many "domestic" slaves slowly but surely ended the lives of their masters. Additionally, the fact that large numbers of slaves escaped or at least attempted to escape testifies not only to the harshness of the slave system itself, but also to the slave's resistance to that system. The ultimate form of slave protest and resistance, of course, involved conspiratorial attempts to organize mass rebellions. See also: SAMBO STEREOTYPE and SLAVE CONSPIRACIES.
SLAVE TRADE See: AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE, ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE and DOMESTIC SLAVE TRADE.
SLAVE TRADE SUPPRESSION In accordance with constitutional provision [Article I, Section 9], President Thomas Jefferson on March 2, 1807 signed an "Act to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States" after January 1, 1808. This act, of course, technically ended the Atlantic slave trade to the United States. After 1808, Congress passed numerous amendments and supplements to the law, including the institution of the death penalty for those convicted of breaking it. In addition, several international treaties (1824 and 1842) were entered into by the United States to defend against possible violations of the law.
Unfortunately, since Congress provided no special machinery to enforce these laws, the act of 1808 proved difficult to implement and, accordingly, the Atlantic slave trade to the United States continued on an illegal basis for the next fifty years. It was not until the late 1850's that effective federal action was taken to finally suppress the traffic in human cargo. During the administration of James Buchanan, for example, the enforcement of all slave trade legislation was centralized in the Department of the Interior, an administrative change usually credited to the succeeding Lincoln administration. Additionally, greatly increased congressional appropriations and a largely successful campaign to perfect naval enforcement of the laws did much to suppress the slave trade. Its final death knell, of course, was sounded by the cannons at Fort Sumter in 1861. See also: ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE.
SLAVEDRIVER See: OVERSEER.
SLAVERY Slavery can best be described as an institution, state or condition under which certain human beings are held as the property or chattel of other human beings. Although human slavery has existed in various forms and at various times since the dawn of antiquity, most modern authorities agree that African American slavery in the United States was one of the most severe and dehumanizing examples of that institution on record. Considered somewhat less than human, black American slaves were exposed to a system of abject indignities which, in the long run, undermined their basic human dignity.
The overwhelming majority of field slaves in the South, for example, were "housed" in cramped, airless and crudely constructed shacks with little if any provision for security or sanitation. Fed poorly, it would not be an exaggeration to assume that most slaves were chronically hungry. More significant is the fact that the American slave regime prevented blacks from maintaining normal family relations. Strictly speaking, the black family did not technically exist in most cases. Denied the legal right to marry, the black slave family legally was nonexistent. Women were considered "breeders," while men were powerless to prevent slaveowners from beating or raping their "wives." This emasculation of the black male (who was never thought of as a man, but always as a "boy") was further compounded by the fact that slave families were often broken up when the slaveowner could profitably sell a portion of his chattel. Finally, the disciplinary authority of the slave-master over the slave was of absolute proportions. The slave-master literally enjoyed powers of life and death over the slave's body, despite legal technicalities which "protected" slaves from cruel and unusual punishment. See also: CHATTEL, DOMESTIC SERVANTS, FRACTIONAL HANDS, OVERSEER, PARTUS SEQUITUR VENTREM, PROSLAVERY RATIONALE, SAMBO STEREOTYPE, SLAVE CODES and SLAVE RESISTANCE.
SMALLS, ROBERT Robert Smalls (1839-1916) had the distinction of serving longer than any fellow black Congressman elected to the United States House of Representatives during the Reconstruction period. Representing South Carolina, Smalls served in the House from 1875 to 1887, with the exception of a two year period between 1879-1881. Prior to his congressional career, he served in the Union Navy during the Civil War, rising to the position of captain, and as South Carolina state senator from 1868 to 1870.
SOCIETY OF FRIENDS Although many individuals of varying religious and secular persuasions denounced the institution of slavery in the United States during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the Society of Friends (Quakers) was the only group to collectively advocate abolition during the pre-revolutionary period. The Quakers — at least after the conversion or expulsion of recalcitrant slave-owning members — believed that slavery was inconsistent and incompatible with the teachings of Jesus.
Nor were the Quakers content merely to put their own house in order. Antislavery leaders within the Society of Friends realized that convincing fellow Quakers was not enough and that universal abolition of black servitude must be made the order of the day. Accordingly, Quaker propagandists and activists such as Anthony Benezet set out to convince non-Quakers as to the advisability and morality of abolishing the institution of slavery. It was in large part the result of this Quaker activism that Pennsylvania became the first American state to make provision for the gradual abolition of slavery in 1780. See also: FIRST EMANCIPATION.
SOUL The popular term "Soul" can be best defined as both the ideology as well as the affirmation of blackness or of being black. "Soul" is many things, comprising everything that happens in the black experience or, as novelist Ralph Ellison has written, "the full range of American Negro humanity." It is love and respect; it is language and the black dialect; it is food ("Soul food"); it is music and art; it is appearance (ranging from hair styles to clothing styles); it is everything and anything that an African American does to affirm his cultural heritage and identity. In equating "Soul" with the African concept of Negritude, popular historian Lerone Bennett has described it as "a metaphorical evocation of Negro being expressed in the Negro tradition. It is the feeling with which an artist invests his creation, the style with which a man lives his life. It is, above all, the spirit rather than the letter: a certain way of feeling, a certain way of expressing oneself, a certain way of being."
SOUL FOOD The staple diet of most black slaves in the antebellum South generally consisted of leftovers and remnants of plants and animals considered unsuitable for white folk. While the white master and his family enjoyed turnips and ham, for example, the slave ate the turnip greens, chitterlings (made from the pig's small intestines) and snout (made from the hard end of the pig's nose).
When the slavery regime ended, Afro-American dietary tastes did not. Blacks continued to eat greens, chitterlings, snout and pigsfeet. Today, such fare is popularly called "Soul food." Additional examples of "Soul food" would include red ribs, fried chicken, chicken feet stew, candied yams, catfish, collard greens and ham hocks, corn bread, hush puppies, hoe cake and sweet potato pie. As a general rule, "Soul food" is heavily seasoned (e. g., onions in the collard greens, bayleaf on the hamhock, etc.) to provide taste and body to relatively bland foodstuff. See also: SOUL.
SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) describes itself as "a non-sectarian co-ordinating agency" for individuals and organizations engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience throughout the United States. Founded in 1957 by a group of black ministers led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the SCLC dedicated itself to the complete elimination of Jim Crow practices in southern society. Dr. King was President of the SCLC from its founding until his death in 1968. With headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, the SCLC under King's direction participated in the Birmingham demonstrations of 1963 and the Selma March of 1965. This participation, along with Dr. King's many speaking appearances, did much to secure the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965.
Following the assassination of King, leadership of the SCLC passed to Ralph David Abernathy. Born in 1926, Abernathy was a prime mover in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56, as well as one of the founding members of the SCLC in 1957. Along with Dr. King's widow, Coretta, Abernathy led the month-long Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D. C. in 1968. Serving as President of the SCLC until July 7, 1973, Abernathy resigned his position on account of the organization's financial difficulties. The thirty-three member board of the SCLC, however, refused to accept the resignation, persuading Abernathy to resume his office on August 15, 1973. See also: MARTIN LUTHER KING and POOR PEOPLE'S MARCH.
SPINGARN AWARD Instituted in 1914 by Joel E. Spingarn, chairman of the board of directors of the NAACP, the Springarn Award consists of a gold medal given annually by the NAACP for the "highest or noblest achievement by an American Negro." Unrestricted as to the area or field of achievement, personalities may be chosen to receive the award on the basis of a single noteworthy accomplishment (W. E. B. Du Bois in 1920 for founding the Pan-African Congress) or on the basis of overall achievement (Langston Hughes in 1960 for being the "Poet Laureate of the Negro race"). Other recipients of the Spingarn Award have included George Washington Carver (1923), Carter G. Woodson (1926), Thurgood Marshall (1946), Ralph Bunche (1949), Jackie Robinson (1956) and Roy Wilkins (1964).
SQUATTER SOVEREIGNTY See: POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.
STARGELL, WILLIE Coming Soon.
STOKES, CARL B. Coming Soon.
STOREFRONT CHURCHES As opposed to the larger and more conventional church or cathedral-type edifice, the so-called storefront church (or house church) is usually set up in a vacant store or in a private residence. Located almost exclusively in innercity black ghettos, storefront churches came into vogue during the 1920's in response to the Great Migration of southern blacks to northern urban areas. Some of these churches are affiliated with larger church bodies, while some represent "one-man" operations maintained by a self-appointed evangelist or cultist.
Possessing an infinite variety of names (e.g., "The Temple of the Gospel of the Kingdom," "St. Mark's Church of Divine Silence and Truth," "Tabernacle of Sister Bess," "Holy Temple of God
in Christ," etc.), African American storefront churches generally are legitimate operations run by sincere evangelists or cultists. Nevertheless, many self-serving exploiters and charlatans have been known to open storefront churches with only personal gain in mind. Such individuals, of course, prey upon the fears and frustrations of those whose lives and minds have been affected by the wretched conditions of the ghetto itself. Nevertheless, most of the storefront churches, legitimate or otherwise, do provide the worshippers with a degree of security, camaraderie and certainly an outlet for pent-up emotions.
STOREY, MOORFIELD Coming Soon.
STOWE, HARRIET BEECHER See: UNCLE TOM'S CABIN.
STUDENT NATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE See: STUDENT NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE.
STUDENT NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE Founded on April 15, 1960 as an interracial "direct action" civil rights organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC or SNICK) was especially active in the South during the early 1960's. Utilizing the tactics of sit-ins and jail-ins (refusal to pay fines in order to serve consequent jail terms), SNCC was instrumental in the desegregation of many public facilities throughout the South.
Following the election of Stokely Carmichael as Chairman of SNCC in 1966, the organization became increasingly militant and dedicated to black liberation and black nationalism as opposed to mere integration. Carmichael himself resigned his office in 1967 to join forces with the emerging Black Panther Party. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, H. Rap Brown, who succeeded Carmichael as head of SNCC, changed the name of the organization to Student National Coordinating Committee. The name-change, however, was merely a token gesture since SNCC had already lost much of its momentum and membership as the result of defections to the Black Power and Black Panther movements. Although the organization still technically exists, its influence and activities have been relatively limited since the mysterious disappearance of Brown in 1970.
SWEATT V. PAINTER With but few exceptions, the "separate but equal" doctrine sanctioned by the United States Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U. S. 537) in 1896 remained an integral aspect of the American legal system during the first half of the twentieth century. By the end of the second World War, however, it became obvious that a developing trend against the "separate but equal" doctrine was gaining momentum in the United States. This momentum was climaxed in 1954 when, in Brown v. Board of Education (347 U. S. 483), the Supreme Court ruled that "in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place." Preceding and in large part paving the way for the Brown decision were a number of lesser-known Supreme Court rulings directed against racial discrimination and segregation. Two of the more significant of these rulings were those handed down in 1950 in the cases of Sweatt v. Painter (339 U. S. 629) and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (339 U. S. 637).
In the Sweatt case, the Court ruled that a makeshift separate law school for blacks established by the state of Texas did not provide for "substantial equality" of educational facilities for the African American plaintiff (Sweatt) as compared with those facilities available to white students at the University of Texas Law School. "In terms of number of the faculty, variety of courses and opportunity for specialization, size of the student body, scope of library, availability of law review and similar activities," the Court declared, "the University of Texas Law School is superior." Accordingly, the Court concluded that "the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that [Sweatt] be admitted to the University of Texas Law School."
Similarly, in McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, the Court ruled that the University of Oklahoma was in violation of the equal protection clause as the result of a specially devised system of intramural segregation which kept the plaintiff [McLaurin] separated from fellow students in the classroom, library and dining hall. Such a system, the Court declared, deprived the black student of an equal opportunity "to study, to engage in discussion and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession."
Although the Sweatt and McLaurin rulings did not expressly revoke the "separate but equal" doctrine, they did represent the Court's growing willingness to determine existing inequality by refusing to accept the sociological premise of racial classification as suggested in Plessy v. Ferguson. This willingness in large part paved the way for the inevitable Brown decision of 1954. See also: BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION and PLESSY V. FERGUSON.
TANNER, HENRY O. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1859, Henry Ossawa Tanner was an especially gifted African American artist during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Despite the objections of his parents, who wanted him to train for the ministry, Tanner decided early in life to pursue an artistic career. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, studying under the famous painter Thomas Eakins, between 1884-88. Following the completion of his studies, Tanner traveled to Atlanta, where he taught drawing at Clark College, supplementing his salary by opening a photographic studio. Although neither position proved to be financially lucrative and notwithstanding the fact that Tanner was only able to sell a few of his paintings (including his now famous "The Banjo Lesson") during this period, he was able to save enough to leave the United States for further study in Paris in 1891.
During the 1890's, Tanner studied under Benjamin Constant and Jean Paul Laurens at the Academie Julian in Paris. It was during this period that he abandoned his earlier preoccupation with landscapes and "Negro themes," turning instead to Biblical paintings, the basis of his subsequent fame. In 1896, his oil painting of "Daniel in the Lion's Den" won an honorable mention in the Paris Salon, while his best known work, "The Resurrection of Lazarus," won the third place medal at the Salon a year later. "Resurrection" was subsequently purchased by the French government to hang in the Luxembourg Gallery Collection, an exceptional and much coveted mark of distinction among contemporary artists.
Winning such prizes and honors as silver medals at the Paris Exposition (1900) and St. Louis Exposition (1904), a gold medal at the San Francisco Exposition (1915), and the French Legion of Honor, Tanner's subsequent works include "Judas" (1899), "Two Disciples at the Tomb" (1906), "The Three Marys" (1912) and "The Wailing Wall" (1915). He lived in France until the end, dying at his country home in Normandy in 1937.
TATUM, ART Born in Ohio in 1910, jazz pianist Art Tatum won international fame during the late 1930's and throughout the 1940's. Nearly blind, Tatum worked almost exclusively as a soloist until 1943. In that year, he joined with Slam Stewart (bass) and Tiny Gibson (guitar) to form the Art Tatum Trio. Recognized by his peers as being an extremely technical virtuoso as well as a pioneer in jazz-experimentation, Tatum died of uremia in 1956.
In addition to Tatum, other significant black jazz pianists during the twentieth century would include Duke Ellington (1899-1974), James P. Johnson (1891-1955), Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton (1885-1941) and Thomas "Fats" Waller (1904-43). See also: DUKE ELLINGTON.
TENANT FARMING See: SHARECROPPING.
TERRELL, MARY CHURCH Educator, linguist, women's rights activist, civic leader and crusader for black civil rights, Mary Church Terrell was one of the most versatile and respected black women in the United States during the twentieth century. Born Mary Eliza Church in Memphis, Tennessee in 1863, she was one of the first African American women to earn a college degree, graduating from Oberlin College in 1884. For two years she taught at Wilberforce College in Ohio and, in 1887, she accepted a teaching appointment in Latin at Dunbar High School in Washington, D. C. It was here that she met and subsequently married one of her colleagues, Robert H. Terrell, an alumnus of Harvard University.
Mrs. Terrell was appointed to the Board of Education of Washington, D. C. in 1895. Being the first black woman on an American school board, she held this position between 1895-1900 and, later, between 1906-11. One of the founders and charter members of the National Association of Colored Women, Terrell served as its first president. In addition, she was a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her civil rights activities spanned the next forty-four years and were culminated when, at the age of eighty-nine, she headed a committee of Washington citizens that was directly responsible for the agitation and litigation which resulted in the 1953 Supreme Court decision ending segregation in public accommodations in Washington.
Well-read and traveled, Terrell was fluent in French, German and Italian, as well as having more than a working knowledge of Latin. Aside from these skills, she was also a gifted writer, having contributed many articles on civil rights and women's rights to newspapers and periodicals. Her autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World, was published in 1940. Having been born in the year the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, it was fitting that Mary Church Terrell lived to witness the historic Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954. She died two months later in Annapolis, Maryland.
THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT Proposed on February 1, 1865 and declared ratified on December 18, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States formally prohibited the continuation of the institution of slavery. According to the terminology of the amendment, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
THREE-FIFTHS COMPROMISE The Constitution of the United States often has been referred to as a bundle of compromises. Given the socioeconomic differences between northern and southern interests at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, this is not at all surprising. Similarly, it is not surprising that the institution of slavery in the United .States was one of the major factors accounting for the Constitution's "compromising" nature. Northern delegates to the Convention argued that slaves should be counted in determining each state's share of direct federal taxes, which, of course, was to be based on total population statistics. Conversely, southern delegates wanted to exclude slaves from the count. The southerners, however, wanted to include slaves in the total population count when determining each state's numerical representation in the House of Representatives. To satisfy both northern and southern interests, the so-called "Three-Fifths Compromise" was agreed upon. It was decided that five slaves should be counted as three persons in the determination of both representation and direct taxation. The actual terminology of the Compromise [Art I, Sec. 2, Par. 3] reads as follows: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."
TOBIAS, CHANNING H. Channing H. Tobias (1882-1961) was U. S. Alternate Delegate to the United Nations during the early 1950's. In addition to his role in international affairs, Tobias was an ordained minister of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. He was also a professor of biblical literature at Paine College and a former chairman of the board of directors of the NAACP. Active in the early stages of the Civil Rights Revolution, Tobias was awarded the NAACP's Spingarn medal in 1948 for his role "in defending fundamental American liberties." Two years later, he became the first African American to receive an honorary degree from New York University.
TROTTER, WILLIAM MONROE W. Monroe Trotter (1872-1934) was the first black Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard University. Following his graduation from Harvard in 1895, Trotter founded the Boston Guardian, one of the few black newspapers in the United States which was not financed or otherwise controlled by Booker T. Washington's "Tuskegee Machine." Trotter, as editor of the Guardian, was one of the earliest outspoken black opponents of Washington's "work and wait" accommodation program for American blacks. Editorial after editorial poured scorn upon Washington, who Trotter called the "Benedict Arnold of the Negro race."
Similar to W. E. B. Du Bois, Trotter condemned Washington as "a leader who looks with equanimity on the disfranchisement of his race in a country where other races have universal suffrage by constitutions that make one rule for his race and another for the dominant race." On another occasion, Trotter suggested that Washington was little more than a white man's pawn. "If Mr. Washington is in any sense the leader of the Colored American people, he certainly has been chosen for that position by the white American race. White churches, white clubs, and the white press have insisted he is the leader of our race — a sign that they intend to master the Colored Race by means of Mr. Washington." See also: W. E. B. DU BOIS, TUSKEGEE MACHINE and BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
TRUTH, SOJOURNER Preacher, abolitionist and lecturer, Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797 in Ulster County, New York. Freed from slavery by the New York Emancipation Act of 1827, she became convinced that she was God's chosen instrument to spread "the truth" about slavery throughout the land. Adopting the name Sojourner Truth, she became an itinerant preacher and a familiar figure at abolitionist meetings, religious revivals and women's suffrage rallies in the New England, the mid-Atlantic and midwestern states. Reported to have had "mystical gifts" (she claimed that whereas educated people read the word of God in the Bible, He addressed her directly) and great powers of oratory, huge crowds would invariably gather whenever she scheduled a speech or sermon. Following the Civil War, Sojourner Truth continued her traveling and preaching in opposition to white discrimination against blacks, both in the North and South, and in favor of better educational opportunities for African Americans. She died near Battle Creek, Michigan on November 26, 1883.
TUBMAN, HARRIET Born a slave in Maryland in the early 1820's, Harriet Tubman went on to become one of the leading "conductors" of the so-called Underground Railroad. In 1849, she ran away from her master and, after a harrowing journey through Delaware and New Jersey, ultimately reached Philadelphia. From that point on, she dedicated herself to aiding other enslaved blacks escape the bonds of servitude via the Underground Railroad.
Although her "freedom" was relatively secure in Philadelphia, Tubman personally was to return to slaveholding states at least nineteen times to lead others, including most of her own family, to freedom. It has been estimated that at least three hundred black slaves escaped to freedom as the result of these trips. Although rewards totaling $40,000 were offered for her capture, Tubman repeatedly outwitted slave-catchers and bounty-hunters. Moreover, she never lost a slave in transit. Once a "trip" was arranged and begun, she categorically refused to allow any wavering "passenger" to turn back, threatening to shoot on the spot anyone that tried.
Known variously as "General Tubman," the "Moses of Her People," and "Black Moses," Harriet Tubman later voluntarily served in the Union army as a nurse, spy and scout during the Civil War. Owing to her previous experience as an Underground Railroad "conductor" and her familiarity with the terrain, she was particularly useful in her capacity as military scout. Following the war, Tubman married a young war veteran and, upon his death in 1890, received a meager widow's pension of eight dollars a month (later increased to $20). Most of this money was used to support a home for elderly and needy African Americans in Auburn, New York. As a result, Harriet Tubman died penniless in 1913.
TURNER, IKE Coming Soon.
TURNER, NAT See: SLAVE CONSPIRACIES.
TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE See: TUSKEGEE MACHINE and BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
TUSKEGEE MACHINE A popular euphemism used by a number of early twentieth century black intellectuals, including Monroe Trotter and W. E. B. Du Bois, the Tuskegee Machine referred to the financial control exerted over black education and, in particular, over black newspapers and periodicals by Booker T. Washington. As a result of this media control, readers of black newspapers and magazines rarely encountered materials unfavorable to Washington's philosophy of accommodation. Du Bois, who originally coined the euphemism, described the Tuskegee Machine in following terms: "Tuskegee became the capital of the Negro nation. Negro newspapers were influenced and finally the oldest and largest was bought by white friends of Tuskegee. Most of the other papers found it to their advantage certainly not to oppose Mr. Washington, even if they did not wholly agree with him. Negroes who sought high positions groveled for his favor." See also: MONROE TROTTER and BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
TWENTY-FOURTH AMENDMENT Popularly known as the "Anti-Poll Tax Amendment," the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax." The Amendment was adopted on Febraury 5, 1964.
The poll tax was a device used by southern states to disfranchise black voters. The Twenty-fourth Amendment sounded the death knell for this procedure in federal elections. Two years following the adoption of the amendment, the United States Supreme Court, in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966), decided that the poll tax was unconstitutional in state elections as well. See also: DISFRANCHISEMENT.
UNCLE TOM Derived from Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), the derisive expression "Uncle Tom" is principally used by blacks in reference to other blacks who either cater to white tastes or defer to and solicit the favor of whites owing to meekness or ambition. Many modern young blacks, for example, would label Booker T. Washington as having been an "Uncle Tom" owing to his late nineteenth century policy of compromise and accommodation to white America. Popular variations of the term would include "oreo" or "oreo cookie" (black on the outside but white on the inside), and "Auntie Sarah," the feminine equivalent of an "Uncle Tom."
UNCLE TOM'S CABIN No single work of literary propaganda did more to strengthen the antebellum abolitionist movement and to intensify the acrimonious intersectional feelings which already existed between the North and South than Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Published in 1852, the book became immensely popular, selling more than 300,000 copies in the first year of publication. Translated into at least twenty-three different languages, Uncle Tom's Cabin was also dramatized in hundreds of theatres throughout the North and in countries all over the world.
Although not an especially well-written book, Mrs. Stowe filled her pages with heartrending scenes of suffering, sorrow and pain, characteristics she associated with African American slavery. The story itself, of course, was a stirring indictment of slavery and of the abject cruelty associated with overseers, personified by the demoniacal and heartless Simon Legree.
Touching the hearts of millions, Uncle Tom's Cabin converted many to abolitionism and many others to at least the realization that there was something inherently evil about the institution of slavery. Southern opinion, on the other hand, was largely defensive in nature. Most reviewers pointed out that Mrs. Stowe's conception of plantation life was grossly distorted and biased. It was argued that all slaves were not as kindly and docile as Uncle Tom and that all overseers were not Simon Legrees. In reviewing the book for the Southern Literary Messenger (December 1852), for example, George Frederick Holmes called it a "dirty little volume [which struck] a deadly blow to all the interests and duties of humanity, and is utterly impotent to show any inherent vice in the institution of slavery."
UNDERGROUND RAILROAD The Underground Railroad, which was neither "underground" (except in the sense that it was secret) nor literally a railroad, was the popular term applied to the loose-knit northern organization which, in defiance of the Fugitive Slave laws, aided runaway slaves on their trek from the South to freedom in Canada.
The term itself originated as a result of the widespread use of railway expressions in reference to the actual operation of the system. The fugitive slaves, for example, were referred to as "passengers" or "freight," while the relatively fixed routes of escape through the North were called "lines." Northern abolitionists and other sympathizers who were actively involved in the Underground Railroad were often known as "conductors," with their homes or other designated stopping places en route being dubbed "depots" or "stations." The system extended from Maryland across Pennsylvania and New York or New England, and from Kentucky and Virginia across the Ohio River into Ohio and ultimately into Canada. Although the secretive nature of the system precludes an accurate approximation, it is generally believed that the number of Afro-American slaves who escaped via the Underground Railroad was between 40,000 and 100,000.
Contrary to popular impression, very few northern "conductors" actually went into the South in order to lead fugitive slaves north. Notwithstanding the exploits of Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave generally had to rely on his or her own prowess and courage, along with the North Star for guidance, to reach Ohio or Pennsylvania. Another popular misconception is that the Underground Railroad was essentially a "white institution," with white abolitionists playing the major role in it. As historians August Meier and Elliott Rudwick have pointed out, however, this belief is an exaggeration. While it is conceded that the activities of some white abolitionists (e.g., Levi Coffin) should not be minimized, Meier and Rudwick point out that "the most arduous and dangerous part of the fugitive's journey was in the South, where there was seldom anyone to help him. And once the fugitive did reach the North, it was usually the free Negroes who took the initiative in aiding him." See also: FUGITIVE SLAVE LAWS and HARRIET TUBMAN.
UNION LEAGUE OF AMERICA See: KU KLUX KLAN.
UNIVERSAL NEGRO IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION See: MARCUS GARVEY.
URBAN LEAGUE See: NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE.
VANN, ROBERT L. Lawyer and journalist Robert L. Vann was born in North Carolina in 1887. Through the efforts of his tobacco tenant-farming parents and his own willingness to work in the evenings and during the summers, Vann was able to obtain a first-rate education. He attended Waters Normal Institute and Virginia Union University before receiving his LL. B. degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1909. Passing the Pennsylvania bar examination, Vann soon opened a law office in Pittsburgh. Sensing the need for a black-oriented newspaper in the Pittsburgh area, Vann and a number of associates founded the Pittsburgh Courier in 1910.
The Courier was destined to become the largest and most widely read of all black edited and published newspapers during the 1930's. Vann himself became both publisher and editor of the Courier by 1912. Twenty-five years later, the Courier's national circulation of nearly 180,000 dwarfed the circulation figures of competing black newspapers such as the Chicago Defender (50,000) and the Afro-American chain (70,000).
In addition to his publishing activities, Vann devoted much of his time to politics. As a Republican, he served as Assistant City Solicitor for Pittsburgh between 1917-21 and as the national director of Negro publicity during the Republican presidential campaigns of 1920, 1924 and 1928. Later switching his political allegiance to the Democratic party, Vann was appointed to the post of Special Assistant to the Attorney General in 1933 and became one of the members of President Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet." Vann died in 1940. See also: BLACK CABINET.
VAUGHAN, SARAH Coming Soon.
VESEY, DENMARK See: SLAVE CONSPIRACIES.
VOTING RIGHTS ACT The Voting Rights Act of 1965 culminated a century-long struggle on the part of the federal government to guarantee the right to vote for African Americans as provided for in the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The act created a corps of federal examiners to conduct voter registration and observe voting practices in states or counties where voting discrimination still existed. The examiners were expected to insure that "No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure [literacy tests, poll taxes, etc.] shall be imposed or applied by any state or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."
WAGE SLAVERY See: PROSLAVERY RATIONALE.
WALCOTT, JERSEY JOE Coming Soon.
WALKER, QUOCK See: QUOCK WALKER CASE.
WALLER, THOMAS See: ART TATUM.
WASHINGTON, BOOKER T. Following the death of Frederick Douglass in 1895, the most influential leader of the black race in the United States was Booker Taliaferro Washington. In fact, the period between 1895-1915 is usually referred to as the Age of Booker T. Washington in African American history. By the time of his death, he had exerted a degree of influence in national affairs as well as upon his own race unparalleled by any previous African American leader.
Born on the Virginia plantation of James Burroughs in 1856, Washington's mother was a "domestic" slave on the Burrough's plantation while his father was a white man from a neighboring farm. As was customary, Washington inherited the slave status of his mother. Following the Civil War and emancipation, his family moved to West Virginia, where he attended school while working nearly full-time in a salt mine. In 1872, Washington entered Hampton Institute, one of the educational institutions for freedmen established by northern philanthropists during the Reconstruction era.
Unlike a traditional liberal arts college, Hampton stressed a practical, utilitarian education. Accordingly, all students worked on campus and learned useful trades as well as academic subjects. Following his graduation from Hampton in 1876, Washington taught school for a short while and subsequently continued his studies at Wayland Seminary during 1878-79. Between 1879-81, he held a teaching position at his alma mater, Hampton Institute. In 1881 he was selected to serve as the director of a new black educational institution in Tuskegee, Alabama. Modeling the new school's philosophy and curriculum on the practical, utilitarian education he himself had received at Hampton, Washington taught his students such diverse skills as farming, masonry and printing, at the same time emphasizing the personal habits of thrift, cleanliness and industriousness. Starting out as a mere shanty with forty pupils, Tuskegee Institute, under the presidency of Booker T. Washington, grew to become the most prestigious black school in America by 1915. In that year, Tuskegee had 1,500 students, nearly two hundred faculty members, an annual budget of $300,000, an endowment of almost $2 million and a modern physical plant situated on two thousand acres of land.
Washington gained national prominence as the result of his speech at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition in 1895. Often referred to as his "Atlanta Compromise" speech, Washington suggested that African Americans abandon their struggle for equal political and social rights in return for an assurance on the part of whites that genuine economic opportunities be provided for blacks so that they might eventually "earn" these social and political rights via self-help and industriousness. This "compromise," of course, delighted whites who had the inaccurate impression that Washington was suggesting that blacks would permanently remain a laboring, servant class without social or political rights. Critics of Washington today, moreover, often accept this interpretation, forgetting the fact that Washington secretly financed and encouraged lawsuits and other efforts to protect black civil rights in the social and political realms.
While whites rejoiced and most blacks accepted Washington's compromise strategy, the black intellectual community, under the prominent leadership of W. E. B. Du Bois, began a two-decade campaign to displace Washington as the acknowledged leader of African Americans. Nevertheless, Washington's views and influence (in large part the result of the fact that he was massively financed by some of the wealthiest whites in America) would prevail until his death in 1915. A prolific writer, Washington wrote a dozen books and numerous articles. His autobiography, Up From Slavery, was published in 1901 and has since been translated into at least eighteen languages. See also: ATLANTA COMPROMISE, W. E. B. DU BOIS, HAMPTON INSTITUTE, MONROE TROTTER and TUSKEGEE MACHINE.
WASHINGTON, DINAH Coming Soon.
WHEATLEY, PHILLIS Although her poetry was somewhat imitative of established British poets, especially Alexander Pope, Phillis Wheatley's place in the mainstream of American literary development cannot be denied. She was the first American black to have a book published.
Born in Senegal about 1753, she was brought to colonial America as a slave. Purchased in Boston by a prosperous merchant, John Wheatley, the young and frail child assumed the Wheatley surname. Her subsequent interest in writing (she wrote her first poem when she was thirteen) stemmed from her reading of the Bible and the classics under the tutelage of the Wheatley's daughter, Mary. Twelve years after having arrived in America, Phillis Wheatley had not only mastered the English language but had also published a book of verse, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773). Frail and sickly from birth, Wheatley died in 1784, having been manumitted six years earlier.
WHITE BACKLASH Similar to the term "black power," the expression "white backlash" is of relatively recent origin. In fact, the "white backlash" concept emerged almost simultaneously with the "black power" movement during the mid-1960's. Millions of white Americans (as well as many moderate blacks) recoiled in either suspicion or terror over the implications which were read into the "black power" movement. Cringing at the thought of a violent black upheaval aimed at the destruction of white rule, many whites, especially the lower and middle class working element, became disenchanted with all aspects of the black movement. In other words, the "white backlash" was another way of saying to African Americans that "you're going too far too fast," a statement which was echoed from one white household to another during 1966. In a sense, the "white backlash" (which still has not entirely disappeared) was the product of misunderstanding in the white community. More significant, perhaps, is the fact that it represented latent white racial attitudes against African Americans, attitudes which simply needed a triggering mechanism (namely, the emergence of "black power") to bring them to the surface. See also: BLACK POWER.
WHITE CITIZENS' COUNCILS Following the historic Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that racial segregation in state-supported public schools was unconstitutional, a plethora of southern segregationist societies, generally known as White Citizens' Councils, were organized throughout the South to resist integration. Called by one newspaper editor "uptown Ku Klux Klans," the Councils generally advocated the use of economic reprisals against blacks and sympathetic whites who favored compliance with the Supreme Court edict. Blacks, in turn, retaliated by boycotting white businesses. As a result, according to historian John Hope Franklin, "by 1956, something akin to economic warfare was being waged in the South, with many business firms caught in the middle for being regarded either as 'soft' on the NAACP or as favorable to the program of the councils."
WHITE PRIMARIES See: DISFRANCHISEMENT.
WHITE, WALTER Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1893, Walter White was the Executive Secretary of the NAACP between 1931-55. In this capacity, he directed the NAACP's legal attack against public school segregation which was culminated in 1954 with the historic Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. His influence was also instrumental in persuading President Harry S. Truman to desegregate the American armed forces in 1948.
Before his appointment as Executive Secretary, White served the NAACP from 1918 to 1931 as an assistant secretary and, more interesting, as an undercover agent. Being a blonde-haired blue-eyed mulatto, he had little difficulty in "passing" as a white man. Often assuming the role of a white reporter, he made repeated trips into the South to investigate lynchings and other manifestations of racial discrimination for the NAACP. His effectiveness in gaining the confidence of "other whites" was phenomenal. On one occasion, a southern sheriff made him his "deputy," powered to "kill niggers" at will, while in Georgia he was actually invited to join the Ku Klux Klan. These experiences provided White with an abundance of material which he subsequently incorporated into several of the half-dozen books he published. His most famous works were Rope and Faggot: A Biography of Judge Lynch (1929) and an autobiography entitled A Man Called White (1948). Walter Francis White died in 1955.
WILKINS, ROY Coming Soon.
WILLIAMS, GEORGE WASHINGTON Prior to W. E. B. Du Bois and Carter G. Woodson, the most accomplished black historian in the United States was George Washington Williams (1849-1891). His major historical works were The History of the Negro Race in America from 1619-1880 (1883) and A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion (1888). Although he lacked the objectivity of subsequent black historians, his writing generally was well-received. Of his first book, the Literary World, (Boston) commented that it was "the most nearly satisfactory continuous account yet written of the African in America." The publication of this work, moreover, gained for Williams a degree of national recognition. His speaking engagements increased and he was subsequently appointed Minister to Haiti by President Arthur in 1885. Unfortunately for Williams, before he received his commission the presidency changed hands. The new president, Grover Cleveland, refused to honor Arthur's appointment. Williams died in England six years later.
WILMOT PROVISO The Wilmot Proviso was an amendment to an appropriations bill introduced into the United States House of Representatives in 1846 by Congressman David Wilmot of Pennsylvania. The amendment provided that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude be permitted to exist in any territory acquired from Mexico following the Mexican War. Although the amended bill was passed in the House on several occasions, it was repeatedly defeated by proslavery forces in the Senate. Nevertheless, the Proviso itself provided a basic principle for those individuals and groups that would ultimately form the Free-Soil Party — a political party committed to preventing the further extension of slavery into the territories. See also: FREE-SOIL PARTY.
WOODS, GRANVILLE T. Having patented over fifty inventions during his lifetime, Granville T. Woods (1856-1910) was the most prolific of all black American inventors. Among other things, he patented a galvanic battery (1888), an incubator (1900), and an automatic air brake (1902). His most noted and significant invention was the induction telegraph system (1887), which increased the safety of rail travel by permitting moving trains to directly communicate with each other or with central station operators. Such an improvement did much to prevent rail collisions and traffic congestion.
WOODSON, CARTER G. Known as the "Father of Negro History," Carter Godwin Woodson did more than any single individual to break the color-line in the writing and teaching of American history. Although many black historians had preceded him, Woodson deserves the credit for "rescuing" African American history from neglect, making it an important and respected discipline within the historical profession.
Born of ex-slave parents in Virginia in 1875, Woodson received his education at Berea College (Litt. B., 1903), the University ofChicago (M. A., 1908) and Harvard (Ph.D., 1912). Between 1903 and 1906 he served as a school supervisor in the Philippines, where he mastered the Spanish language. Before returning to the United States in 1907, Woodson traveled throughout Europe and, in addition, studied at the Sorbonne (University of Paris) for a semester. Following the completion of his doctorate, he held a number of university teaching and administrative positions, including short stints as dean at Howard University and, later, at West Virginia State Institute.
In 1915, Woodson and several colleagues founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The purposes of the Association, according to Woodson, were "the collection of sociological and historical data on the Negro, the study of peoples of African blood, the publishing of books in this field, and the promotion of harmony between the races by acquainting the one with the other." Under the aegis of the Association, Woodson began publication of the"Journal of Negro History on January 1, 1916. Modeled after the prestigious American Historical Review, Woodson described the Journal as the "first systematic effort of the Negro to treat the records of the race scientifically and to publish the findings to the world."
W'oodson remained editor of the Journal of Negro History until his death in 1950. In addition, he was responsible for the founding of the Associated Publishers, Inc. in 1921. This independent affiliate of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History was established to fill the void created by publishers who traditionally had avoided publishing books related to Afro-American history. Moreover, in 1926 Woodson successfully launched the annual observance of "Negro History Week." Replaced in 1976 by Black History Month, "Negro History Week" was held during the second week of February, coinciding with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (February 14) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). See also: BLACK HISTORY MONTH.
WRIGHT, RICHARD Considered by many literary critics as one of the best twentieth century American novelists, white or black, Richard Wright (1908-1960) poignantly described the brutal and dehumanizing nature of Chicago's black ghetto in his Native Son (1940), which is generally considered his best work. His first book, a collection of short stories entitled Uncle Tom's Children, was published two years earlier and was in part based on Wright's childhood experiences as the son of a victimized Mississippi sharecropper. The success of Uncle Tom's Children brought Wright instant recognition as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship which enabled him to complete Native Son. Later adapted for the stage, Native Son was the first novel by an African American selected for the Book-of-the-Month Club and for a Modern Library edition. Subsequent books by Wright include Twelve Million Black Voices (1941) and Black Boy (1945), which was in large part autobiographical in nature.
In 1947, Wright left the United States and moved to Paris. Remaining abroad for the rest of his life, he continued to write fiction as well as nonfiction. Among his later works are the novels The Outsider (1953) and The Long Dream (1958) and four nonfiction books, Black Power (1954), The Color Curtain (1956), Pagan Spain (1957) and White Man, Listen! (1957). Three of Wright's books were published posthumously: a collection of short stories, Eight Men (1961), and two novels, Lawd Today (1963) and Savage Holiday (1965).
YOUNG, CHARLES Born on March 12, 1864 in Mays Lick, Kentucky, Charles Young went on to become the first American black to become a full colonel in the U. S. Army. Graduating from West Point in 1889, Young was commissioned a second lieutenant in the all-black 10th Cavalry. In 1894, he was assigned to Wilberforce University in Ohio as an instructor of military science, being promoted to first lieutenant two years later. In 1901 he became a captain and in 1916 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, seeing action in the Philippines during the Filipino Insurrection (1901-03) and Mexico (1916) in the meantime.
At the outbreak of World War I, Young was the highest ranking black officer in the U. S. Army. He was in line for a promotion to brigadier-general, but the southern-dominated military hierarchy as well as the Wilson Administration were reluctant to make such a move. Instead, Young was called in for a routine physical examination and as the result of alleged high blood pressure was ordered to retire from the service as a full colonel on June 22, 1917. Following the war, Young traveled to Africa and was instrumental in the reorganization of the Liberian Army. He died in Africa in early 1922 while participating in a research expedition to northern Nigeria. His body was returned to the United States in 1923 for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
YOUNG, LESTER See: COLEMAN HAWKINS.
YOUNG, WHITNEY M., JR. One of the most prominent black leaders of the 1960's and former Executive Secretary of the National Urban League (NUL), Whitney Moore Young, Jr. was born in Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky in 1921. Educated at Lincoln Institute and Kentucky State College (B. S., 1941), Young studied for a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before serving with the U. S. Army in Europe during World War II. Following the war, he attended the University of Minnesota and was awarded an M. A. degree in social work in 1947. The topic of his Master's thesis was the history of the National Urban League's chapter in St. Paul, Minnesota.
From 1947 to 1950, Young acted as director of industrial tions and vocational guidance for the Urban League of .St. Paul. He was named executive director of the Omaha Urban League in 1950, a position he held until his appointment as Dean of the Atlanta University School of Social Work in 1954. Remaining at Atlanta until 1961, Young managed to double the school's enrollment and budget, thereby increasing its national prestige. On August 1, 1961, he succeeded Lester Granger as Executive Director of the National Urban League. Although the Urban League traditionally had held aloof from active participation in the Civil Rights Revolution, under Young's direction it became increasingly involved in the national effort to secure political and socioeconomic equality for American blacks. In 1963, for example, the NUL joined with the NAACP, CORE, SCLC and SNCC to plan and participate in the now-famous March on Washington.
In addition to his Urban League activities, Young was an esteemed author. His first book, To Be Equal, was published in 1964, with his Beyond Racism appearing in 1969. He also wrote a nationally-syndicated newspaper column, "To Be Equal," which appeared in over one hundred papers throughout the United States. One of his most persistent themes was that the American government should provide for a domestic Marshall Plan which would expend upwards of one hundred billion dollars in a crash program to eradicate socioeconomic deprivation and inequity in American society. Young's premature death in 1971, just three years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, deprived black America of another strong and influential leader. See also: NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE.
ZAMBO Similar to the racial classification mestizo, which refers to an individual of mixed white and Indian ancestry, zambo denotes an individual of mixed black and Indian ancestry. Although zambos make up a significantly large element in the population of Latin America, in the United States their presence is relatively negligible. The term itself should be distinguished from the American word Sambo. The meaning of zambo has no relation, linguistically or otherwise, to Sambo. See also: MISCEGENATION.