Article-a-Day #34: Smithsonian-Thomas Jennings, The First African-American to Hold a Patent Invented ‘Dry Scouring’

The next time you pick up your clothes at the dry cleaner, send a thank you to the memory of Thomas Jennings. Jennings invented a process called ‘dry scouring,’ a forerunner of modern dry cleaning. He patented the process in 1821, making him likely the first black person in America to receive a patent.

SOURCE: https://www.smithsonianmag.com

Article-a-Day #33: Black America Web-Charlotte E. Ray: The first African-American female lawyer

Ray was born January 13, 1850 in New York City. Her father was a notable religious figure and abolitionist. After attending the Institution of the Education of Colored Youth, she became a teacher at a preparatory school connected to Howard University. While working there, she enrolled in the university’s law program under the name C.E. Ray – which some historians believe was a bid to hide her gender although the school reportedly had no such restrictions at the time.

SOURCE: https://blackamericaweb.com

Article-a-Day #32: Constitution Daily-Hiram Revels: The first African-American congressman

Hiram Rhodes Revels’s path to the Senate floor took him through numerous states as a freed black man born in North Carolina, schooled in Indiana and Ohio, and as a preacher and educator in Kansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

SOURCE: https://constitutioncenter.org

Article-a-Day #31: How Stuff Works-How Onesimus, a Slave in Colonial Boston, Helped Stop a Smallpox Epidemic

There aren’t a lot of written accounts of African-American people living in the early American colonies between the year 1500 and the Revolutionary War. It’s not that they weren’t there, but the paper trail for people of African descent from this time largely consists of petitions for freedom from slavery, accounts of escape (or attempted escape) from enslavement and records of execution. But accounts of one enslaved man named Onesimus, living in Boston in the early 18th century, tell the story of a person very likely responsible for saving hundreds of lives in the Boston smallpox epidemic of the early 1720s, as well as countless others affected by future outbreaks all over the colonies.

SOURCE: https://history.howstuffworks.com

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Article-a-Day #30: Encyclopedia Virginia- William Lee, George Washington’s Enslaved Valet for 20 years

William Lee was the enslaved valet of George Washington for nearly two decades. Purchased by Washington in 1768, when he was at least sixteen years old, Lee was assigned to household work at Mount Vernon and accompanied Washington when he traveled, including during the American Revolution (1775–1783). The war made Lee, who often rode alongside Washington, well-known to both American and British soldiers.

SOURCE: https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org

Article-a-Day #29: Black America Web-Inventor Granville T. Woods

Granville T. Woods was an inventor who worked on over 50 inventions in his lifetime. His expertise in the electrical realm gained him the nickname the “Black Edison.”

SOURCE: https://blackamericaweb.com

Article-a-Day #28: Black America Web-Florence Beatrice Price: Pianist and Classical Composer

Florence Beatrice Smith was born April 9, 1887 in Little Rock, Ark. Raised in a mixed-family household by a dentist father and music teacher mother, Price was exposed to music at a young age and was trained on the piano, publishing her first composition at 11 years old. She graduated from high school at 14 and entered the New England Conservatory of Music. Her mother, fearing racial tensions of the time, urged her daughter to pass for Mexican.

SOURCE: https://blackamericaweb.com

Article-a-Day #27: Black America Web-Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton: The Youngest Jockey to Win the Kentucky Derby

Clayton was born March 27, 1876 in Kansas City, Mo. As a boy, his family relocated to North Little Rock, Ark., where he then changed course by running away to Chicago at 12 years of age. While in the Windy City, Clayton took up horse riding following in his older brother’s footsteps. He eventually earned the right to begin racing horses.

SOURCE: https://blackamericaweb.com

Article-a-Day #26: Black Then-Bill Richmond: Top Tier Prize Fighter

Born August 1763 in Staten Island, New York, he spent his early years as a slave in Richmondtown before arriving in England in 1777. Once there, he was educated–probably by his owner or benefactor–and went into cabinetmaking. His education also included training in athletics with boxing and gymnastics being his focuses.

SOURCE: https://blackthen.com

Article-a-Day #25: The Black Detour-Thomas Mundy Peterson First African-American To Vote In The U.S.

Thomas Mundy Peterson was born on October 6, 1824, in Metuchen, New Jersey. On March 31, 1870, Peterson became the first Black man to vote in an election under the 15th Amendment. Peterson voted in a local election at the Perth Amboy City Hall to change the town’s sanction. Peterson voted for the winning side (230-63) and was elected to the committee to revise the charter.

SOURCE: https://theblackdetour.com

Article-a-Day #24: Black America Web-The Courageous 12 Black Police Officers from St. Petersburg, Florida

The Courageous 12 were 12 Black officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department in Florida who banded together to stand up for their rights. The daring dozen sued the city to win the right to fully use their powers to arrest any offending citizens, not just Black ones.

SOURCE: https://blackamericaweb.com

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New York State Technical Assistance Grant for Historical Preservation for Not-for-Profits & Municipalities to Preserve Historical Structures DEADLINE October 19

The grants will support professional services of architects, engineers, and other design and preservation professionals working with not-for-profit groups and municipalities to preserve their buildings, structures, and other resources that serve an arts and/or cultural function.

Who is eligible to apply?

Nonprofit 501(c)(3) arts/cultural groups and municipalities managing an arts/cultural facility only. Please note that state agencies, groups that steward state-owned buildings, NYS-owned sites, religious institutions, school districts, and private property owners are ineligible for this program.

What project types can receive TAG support?

The applicant group may apply for short-term, discrete projects that advance the preservation of historic sites, museums, arts facilities including opera houses and theaters, and other culturally important institutions that are located in historic buildings and structures that are open to the public. These professional studies include:

1. Building Condition Surveys
2. Engineering/Structural Analyses
3. Feasibility/Reuse Studies
4. Specialized Conservation Studies

SOURCE: https://www.preservenys.org

Article-a-Day #23: Mental Floss-Ira Aldridge: The Black Shakespearean Actor Who Broke Theater’s Color Barrier

[Ira Aldridge] [b]orn in New York in 1807, Aldridge made such a name for himself in the theaters of the mid-19th century that he went on to be awarded high cultural honors, and is today one of just 33 people honored with a bronze plaque on a chair at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. But what makes Aldridge’s achievements all the more extraordinary is that, at a time of widespread intolerance and racial discrimination in the U.S., he was black.

SOURCE: https://www.mentalfloss.com

Article-a-Day #22: Black Perspectives-The Political Origins of Black History Month

Has Black History Month run its course? Every year conversations take place weighing the significance of Black History Month. Assertions such as, “Black history is just world history and should not be confined to a month,” become commonplace. Others say it has become too commercialized—reduced to things like celebratory avatars of Sojourner Truth or Carter G. Woodson adorning the webpage of some popular search engine. While some concerns are valid, others are thin and ahistorical, often failing to grapple with the original political intent of this annual observance. For Carter G. Woodson, the political origins of Black History Month (originally Negro History Week) was about re-articulating the stories of Black people so as to achieve a new narration of what it means to be human altogether, something other than the negation of Black life. Woodson believed that it is the stories we tell ourselves, about who we are, that motivate and demotivate our behaviors. These stories shape how we can think. speak. and be among the living.

SOURCE: https://www.aaihs.org

Article-a-Day #21: Black America Web-The National Negro Congress of the New Deal

The National Negro Congress was an organization formed in 1935 on the campus of Howard University in order to put pressure on New Deal administrators to address Black labor and civil rights matters.

SOURCE: https://blackamericaweb.com

Article-a-Day #20: Black America Web-National Negro Congress and the New Deal

The National Negro Congress was an organization formed in 1935 on the campus of Howard University in order to put pressure on New Deal administrators to address Black labor and civil rights matters.

SOURCE: https://blackamericaweb.com

Article-a-Day #19: Smithsonian-Enslaved Tour Guide Stephen Bishop Made Mammoth Cave the Must-See Destination It Is Today

Underneath the rolling sinkhole plains of central Kentucky lies Mammoth Cave, a limestone labyrinth with 412 miles of underground passageways stacked on top of each other in five different levels. It’s the longest cave system in the world, and no one knows exactly how far deep it goes—an estimated 600 miles of passages are still unexplored. A Unesco World Heritage Centre, Mammoth Cave contains every type of cave formation—from icicle-like stalactites to eerie white gypsum flowers—and 130 species of wildlife. Every year, National Park Service guides lead 500,000 visitors through tight passageways, steep shafts and vast chambers that, millions of years ago, were formed by gushing water. Yet without the slave labor of Stephen Bishop, it’s unclear how much of the cave we would know about today.

SOURCE: https://www.smithsonianmag.com

Article-a-Day #18: The Black Scholar-“Outcasts and Indigent Sons of Africa”: New York’s Nineteenth Century Chefs, Caterers, and Restauranteurs

One such narrative surrounds the resort town of Saratoga Springs, New York, home to African American residents who were largely hotel service people in the early to mid 1800s, working in the capacity of chefs, cooks, waiters, and maids. Black musicians were employed at the hotels as well. While serenaded by Francis (Frank) Johnson’s very own music compositions at Congress Hall Hotel and United States Hotel in Saratoga Springs, you could experience wonderful dining treasures supplied by Mrs. Anne Northup. She and her husband Solomon Northup, who became a familiar name in African American history, were year round residents and both worked at the United States Hotel, which opened in 1824.

Having garnered a reputation as an outstanding cook, Anne Northup had been hired to take charge of the “culinary department” at Sherrill’s Coffee House in Sandy Hill, twenty miles away. In the latter part of March, 1841, on one of her days there, her husband Solomon was approached on the street by two slave dealers pretending to be interested in hiring him as a violinist to play for a circus. Solomon Northup, a free African, was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery – a common occurrence in America. His riveting narrative, Twelve Years A Slave, published in 1853, chronicles his life and some of the lives of Africans with whom he suffered, on plantations in Louisiana. After Mr. Northup’s rescue, he returned to his family at Glen Falls, in Warren County, where his wife was in charge of the kitchen at the Carpenter’s Hotel.

SOURCE: https://www.theblackscholar.org

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National Endowment for the Arts: Archaeological and Ethnographic Field Research Grant DEADLINE September 30

The Archaeological and Ethnographic Field Research program makes awards to institutions and organizations conducting empirical field research to answer significant questions in the humanities. Archaeology and ethnography are important methodologies utilized by many disciplines across the humanities and social sciences that provide observational and experiential data on human history and culture.

SOURCE: https://www.neh.gov

Article-a-Day #17: Black Enterprise-Meet Sarah Rector, The 11-Year-Old Who Became the Richest Black Girl in America in 1913

Born as the daughter of freedmen in 1902, Sarah Rector rose from humble beginnings to reportedly become the wealthiest black girl in the nation at the age of 11.

Rector and her family where African American members of the Muscogee Creek Nation who lived in a modest cabin in the predominantly black town of Taft, Oklahoma, which, at the time, was considered Indian Territory. Following the Civil War, Rector’s parents, who were formerly enslaved by Creek Tribe members, were entitled to land allotments under the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887. As a result, hundreds of black children, or “Creek Freedmen minors,” were each granted 160 acres of land as Indian Territory integrated with Oklahoma Territory to form the State of Oklahoma in 1907. While lands granted to former slaves were usually rocky and infertile, Rector’s allotment from the Creek Indian Nation was located in the middle of the Glenn Pool oil field and was initially valued at $556.50. Strapped for cash, Rector’s father leased his daughter’s parcel to a major oil company in February 1911 to help him pay the $30 annual property tax. Two years later, Rector’s fortune took a major turn when independent oil driller B.B. Jones produced a “gusher” on her land that brought in 2,500 barrels or 105,000 gallons per day.

SOURCE: https://www.blackenterprise.com