Posts Tagged: 'black+history+we+should+know'

Feb. 1st, 2021

The Harlem Hellfighters, part one

The Harlem Hellfighters, WWI, part one

The 369th Infantry Regiment of the 15th New York Army National Guard was formed, in part, due to the work of Emmett Jay Scott, long time secretary of Booker T. Washington, who was appointed Special Assistant to Newton D. Baker, the Secretary of War & the efforts of the 10th Calvery in Mexico, in 1913.

Prior to 1917, many Black men were turned away from military service. After the passing of the Selective Service Act of 1917, they seized the opportunity to signup, in the hopes of using it as a chance to change racial discrimination & how they were viewed by fellow white compatriots throughout the US.

Along with the 370th Infantry Regiment, they are known for being the first African-American regiments to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in WWI.

But how they got there is a long, hard earned story.

Originally, they were nicknamed the 'Black Rattlers'. The French nicknamed them the 'Men of Bronze' (Hommes de Guerre), & the Germans called them 'Hell-fighters' (Hollenkompfer), a name that stuck.

The 369th was called up to federal service, July 25, 1917, at Camp Whitman, NY, where they received formal military training. They were then called to active duty & split into 3 battalions, spread throughout New York, to defend rail lines, construction sites & other camps.

Oct of 1917, the Regiment was sent to Camp Wadsworth in South Carolina, for combat training based on the French frontlines. There, they faced severe discrimination, including an incident where 2 tried to buy a newspaper & were denied service.

Members of the 27th Division, an all white unit, came to their defense, saying if shop owners would not serve their Black compatriots, they could close up & leave.

But that was the exception, not the rule, & racial discrimination was rampant among other all white units, many of whom refused to serve alongside the 369th.

In April of 1918, the 369th was assigned to the French Army for the duration of US participation in WWI. There, they were treated like any other French unit. The Germans, however, tried propaganda to turn them against the Allied Forces, claiming Germany had never done anything to Blacks. Needless to say, it didn't work.

While still in the US, they experienced severe racial discrimination from other US units, to the point that the French Colonel J.L.A. Linard, of AEF headquarters was persuaded to write a discriminatory pamplet to distribute among French soldiers, titled 'Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops', making such claims of alleged inferior nature & racial tendencies of African-Americans.

May of 1918, they were attached to the French 16th Battalion & sent to the frontlines. There, they served continuously, until July 3rd, before returning to combat at the Battle of the Marne.

After that battle, they were then assigned to the 161st Division to participate in the Allied counterattack.

One tour for the 369th lasted 6 months, the longest of any American unit in WWI.

Sept 25, 1918, with the French 4th Army, they went on the offensive at Meuse-Argonne. There they sustained heavy losses, but managed to capture the important village of Sechault. At one point, they had pushed so hard & so fast, they left the French units behind & risked being cut off by the Germans. Hence, the name 'Hell-Fighters'.

By October, they were reassigned to the quieter village of Vosges, and remained there until Armistace Day, Nov 11, 1918. Nov 25th, they made their last advance & on Nov 26th, reached the banks of the River Rhine, becoming the first Allied unit to do so.

Dec 12, 1918, they were relieved of assignment & sent home, becoming the first unit to return. The unit was 'demobilized' Feb 28, 1919, at Camp Upton, NY.

The 369th became the first American unit to march up Fifth Avenue of New York City to their Armory in Harlem, from the Washington Square Park Arch.

Among the numerous honors the 369th received, they count 1 Medal of Honor, & numerous Distinguished Service Crosses, a unit citation- pinned to their colors, along with the first French 'Croix de Guerre' awarded an American, Pvt Henry Johnson, totaling 170 'Croix de Guerre' awarded among the entire unit, on Dec 13, 1918.

Officially, the 369th was under fire for a total of 191 days, never lost a foot of gained ground, never had any men taken prisoner of war- though they did have 2 captured who were recovered within days- and only once failed to fulfill an objective, due to French failures.

By the end of WWI, they had been at The Champagne- Marne, Meuse, Argonne, Champagne 1918, Alsace 1918- where they lost 1500 men, the highest casualty loss of any US regiment at the time. They also fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood and at Chateau-Thierry.

They went on to serve just as honorably in WWII, reorganized as the 369th Anti-aircraft Artillery Regiment.

In 1933, the 369th Regiment Armory was created to honor the unit for their service. The Armory stands at 142nd & Fifth Avenue in the heart of Harlem. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and listed as a City Landmark in 1985.

In 201,7 the documentary movie was released, titled 'The Harlem Hellfighters Great War'.

Today, the 369th is known as the 369th Sustainment Brigade.

Part two- The 369th Harlem Hellfighters Military Band.

Jan. 18th, 2021

Willie O'Ree

Willie O'Ree

Willie O'Ree

Canadian Ice Hockey player, who played for the Boston Bruins as a winger. Made his debut on January 18, 1958, 63 years ago today.

Was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 2018. Inducted in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in the Builder category, May, 2020. Inducted in the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.

Feb 18, 2021, before the Bruins game with the New Jersey Devils, his #22 jersey will be officially retired.

He was also the first black ice hockey player.

* * * * * * *

Born in Oct 1935, in New Brunswick, Canada, he started his hockey career with the Quebec Aces, a minor league 'farm team'. He took an errant puck to his right eye, effectively blinding him.

Midway through his second season with the Aces, he was called up to the Boston Bruins, replacing an injured player. If they had known about his right eye, he never would have played professional hockey.

Somehow, he managed to keep it a secret and went on to play 2 games that season, returning in 1961 to play another 43 games, scoring 4 goals, and 10 assists, all in the 1961 season, a record for his entire career.

He noted that racist remarks were worse in host US cities than Canada, saying fans would yell, 'go back South!', 'How come you're not picking cotton?' and worse.

Back in the minor leagues, he played in the Western Hockey League, and scored 2 scoring titles between 1961 and 1974, scoring more than 30 goals, 4 or more times, with a goal high of 38 in the 1964-65 and 1968-69 seasons.

He played 50 games with the American Hockey League New Haven Nighthawks,in 1972-73, but played most of his career with the WHL's Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls.

The San Diego Gulls retired his jersey to the rafters of Pechanga Arena.

He continued to play in the ice hockey minor leagues until the age of 43.

After O'Ree, there were no other Black ice hockey players signed to the NHL until Canadian Mike Marson in 1974.

Since 1998, he has been the NHL Diversity Ambassador.

Nov. 29th, 2020

Civil Rights Act of 1871

In March of 1871, President Grant called for an emergency session of Congress to deal with the growing racial violence in the South.

Civil Rights Act of 1871

Particularly virulent in South Carolina, US Attorney General, Gen Amos Akerman & Army Major Lewis Merrill, had gone there to investigate reports, finding evidence of at least 11 murders & more than 600 whippings & brutal assaults.

By April, Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1871, also known as the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act.

The KKK had been founded in 1865, by former Confederate Army officers, in response to the ratification of the 13th & 14th Amendments. Southern states refused to ratify the 14th (orig. Act of April 1866), giving rise to 'black codes', which kept black people in virtual slavery without actually being such.

The Enforcement Act of April 1870 prohibits groups from banding together or using disguises, with the intent of violating citizens' Constitutional rights. It stops nothing.

The 1871 Act was intended to enforce the 14th & 15th Amendments. Because of southern states' black codes, Congress institutes Reconstruction in order to exert some control over the situation. The rise of the KKK coincides with this period- brutal lynchings & destruction of property, encouraged by state officials who refused to call in law enforcement was rampant.

Oct 17th, 1871, after attempting to quell the brutality, Grant institutes martial law & federal forces move in. By Dec 1871, more than 600 KKK members were imprisoned. 200 were indicted, 53 plead guilty, 5 were convicted. Klan terrorism declines in SC, but racial violence continues for decades.

The 1873 Slaughterhouse Cases all but gut the Act, after already having its sections scattered via the Revised Statutes. Cases in 1876 & 1879 further restrict the Act. An 1882 case invalidates the criminal conspiracy section entirely.

By then, black codes again begin to reappear.

Thus begins the era now known as Jim Crow.

Racial injustice, inequality & systemic racism continues to this day.

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Oct. 25th, 2020

Ohio, 1807...

Ohio, 1807

In 1807, Ohio passed a series of laws called the Black Laws. They were meant to restrict emigration and settlement of free and escaped blacks in the state.

By 1829, they were only sporadically enforced and rising tensions among the ethnic whites, Irish immigrant workers- thinking black people were taking away jobs they thought should be theirs (sound familiar?) - and blacks in the city of Ohio led to the Cincinnati Riots.

June 1829, overseers of the poor announced that black people would be subjected to a $500 surety bond, to be paid within 30 days, or face expulsion from the city. Tensions grew higher.

Over the course of almost a week, from August 15th to August 22nd, a mob of whites, roughly 200-300, attacked black people, trying to force a mass emigration from the city. The mayor of the city did not condemn the violence againt black citizens until August 24th.

Mob violence and the destruction of their densely populated neighborhood in the First Ward caused an estimated 1100-1500 black people and other people of color to leave, heading to other towns and Canada.

Those that remained faced attacks and riots again in 1836 and 1841.

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Oct. 19th, 2020

George and Willie Muse

George and Willie Muse

Originally born in Truevine, Franklin County, Virginia, the albino grandsons of former slaves, they were just children when a white man, termed a bounty hunter for traveling circuses, aka, freak shows, lured them from the tobacco field they were working in, with a piece of candy.

Sold to the Ringling Brothers and P.T. Barnum Circus- yes, 'The Greatest Show on Earth', they were given the names Eko and Iko.

For 13 years, their mother Harriet waited for them to come home, moving from Truevine to Roanoke. VA- to the long vanished neighborhood known as Jordan's Alley in the West End. ( Just outside of the area known as Gainsboro- a predominately black historic neighborhood, and directly across from Hotel Roanoke, in what was considered 'Downtown'. West End was gone by the 1940s. )

She finally got her wish in 1927, when the circus rolled into Roanoke. But it wasn't easy, they had money, lots of it and she was a poor working woman. Still, fight for them she did. They finally came home, throwing themselves into her arms upon seeing her at the train station.

In 1928, it appears that the brothers went back to the circus, their mother having won not only backpay, but a contract and wages- that was still skimmed by the circus- for them. They sent her money out of those wages, that allowed her to buy a small farmhouse to live out her days.

Harriet passed of a heart attack in 1942 and was buried in an unmarked grave in a then segregated cemetery. The brothers returned for her funeral.

Willie Muse lived to be 108 years old. George Muse died in 1971.

Their descendants live in Roanoke and surrounds, to this day.

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Oct. 17th, 2020

William Hooper Councill

I'm trying to catch up to where I am on Instagram, so will be posting 2 a week for a couple weeks.

William Hooper Councill

William Hooper Councill
July 12, 1848- April 9, 1909

(There are a lot of achievements this man did in his life, only a few a listed here, up to the most lasting one. )

Born into slavery, his father escaped to Canada and tried several times to unsuccessfully rescue his family.

In 1857, he, his mother and brothers were sold from the auction block at Green Bottom Inn, there he saw 2 of his brothers sold away from the family, never to be seen again.

During the Civil War, he and his remaining brothers escaped to Union lines. They then attended , on a part time basis, the Freedman's Bureau School in Stevenson, Alabama.

In 1868, he helped start the Lincoln School in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1872, he served as an assistant enrollment clerk for the Alabama Legislature. He was secretary of the Colored National Civil Rights Convention in Wash, DC in 1873. He taught at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1874.

Using his connections in the Democratic Party and state legislature, he gained approval for his plan for the State Normal School for Negroes in 1875, becoming principal and later, president.

The State Normal School for Negroes is known today as Alabama A & M University, one of the first HBCUs.

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Sep. 14th, 2020

The Leesburg Stockade Girls.

The Leesburg Stockade Girls

July of 1963, a couple months before MLK Jr's "I have a dream" speech.

In May of 1963, at an invitation from Dr King, thousands of children joined the Civil Rights movement, in May 2nd, 1000, give or take, gathered at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Al. By day's end, over 600 had been arrested.

It didn't deter them. By the end of May, over 5,000 had been jailed.

So, in July, 15 young girls, ages 12 to 15, marched from Friendship Baptist Church to the Martin Theater, in Americus, Ga. Instead of going to the back alley, to enter from the rear, as they were expected to, they lined up out front to purchase tickets.

They were subsequently arrested and bussed to the Leesburg Stockades- yes, *stockade, where livestock is housed for auctions*- in Leesburg, Ga, over 30 miles away.

Their parents were never notified. They were not formally charged. Instead, they were kept in horrid, squalid, inhumane conditions, unbeknownst to the outside world, until a photographer heard a rumor about these girls, and managed to sneak in to get photos of them.

That was how the world at large learned about what was happening to these girls.

As MLK Jr gave his now famous speech in August, they were still held. Still not charged. Still did not have their families informed of where they were, until a janitor who worked there, personally went and informed their parents.

The same week of the church bombing that killed 5 little black girls, on Sept 15, 1963, the Leesburg Stockade Girls were finally released.

*45 days after they were arrested.*

They were never formally charged, but they were charged a fee 'for use of the facility' in which they had been held.

Several are still alive to this day.

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Aug. 31st, 2020

Black History we should know.

I do this over on Instagram, at least once a week. And I thought, there's no reason not to share things I learn over here as well.

These are things I never learned in school. And I know, if I never learned them, chances are, my white friends didn't either. So, my hope is that by sharing what I lean, others will be inspired to learn more too.

Especially since what I'm posting is a mere sypnosis, just enough to get you interested, in the hope that you'll want to dig deeper and learn more on your own.

So every Monday, from here on out, I'll repost here.


Marion Stokes. 1929-2012

Civil Rights Activist, Libratian, Archivist, Television Producer.

She single handedly recorded 35 years (1979 to her death in 2012) of television to prove news media bias. She succeeded. Her work is called 'Input'. She was amazing.

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