Celebrating Black History Month
Since the mid 1920s’ people of African decent have acknowledged and recognized the contributions made in the shaping of American history. First known as Negro history week this recognition was expanded in the mid 1970s’ to a months’ observance. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially declared February the month that we celebrate the achievements of African Americans.
Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in the U.S., is an annual observance in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February, as well as in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Republic of Ireland in October. The contributions of African-Americans throughout this nation’s past is way too numerous to acknowledge them all. You will find links on this page that you may click to get more about this subject. This page is lengthy and covers some interesting subject matter. I hope you learn more about their struggle and journey.
- Black History Month-Military Contributions
- Black History Month – Marines in Southeastern, North Carolina
- Saluting Black History & The Labor Movement
- Black History Post from February 2018
Black History Month 2019
AFL-CIO – Profiles of Labor leaders & activist
IAM African American union member working for the Boeing Company is a story like many in labor but a wrong was eventually made right. The story of IAM member Roman Mayfield.
The IAM lost a true hero and friend when brother Roman Mayfield passed away on Tuesday, September 10, 2002 after a prolonged illness. Roman was truly adored by the masses and one of the few people that never had a cross word said about him. A remarkable feat considering he was 81 years old.
This genuine goodwill ambassador truly knew no stranger. If Roman saw a new face at a Union meeting or in the shop, he was the first to embrace and welcome the person and offer to “show them the ropes.” His beaming smile, coupled with his hearty laugh and distinctive voice, could light up any room. His energy and strength were only surpassed by his generosity.
Roman meant so much to this union and to the company he loved. There was never a conversation with Roman that he did not want to talk about work, the union or his co-workers.
Brother Mayfield gave his life to this union, being one of just a handful to participate in all five of our strikes. In each strike, he did far more than just walk the picket line, but took an active role — distributing strike checks, coordinating food to the picket lines, counseling others, and helping anywhere there was work to be done. Helping others was truly a way of life for this very compassionate individual.
Yet his story of union service is even more impressive when you know his history. When Roman hired into Boeing in 1946, minorities were not allowed to join the Union. Roman still attended all union meetings, but could not participate. The union finally recognized minorities and Roman joined in 1950. Roman was an icon at the Grand Lodge Convention in San Francisco in 2000, when a resolution was passed in his honor for the time when the IAM didn’t allow African Americans to belong to the union. Times have changed — in part thanks to Roman’s hard work over the years.
Roman and his wife of 58 years, Albertha, both gave everything they could to their community. They regularly volunteered to care for crack babies at Swedish Hospital, for church events, helped with BEGNF and ECF and so many other activities. Whenever someone needed a hand, Roman was there. Over the years, his desire to help others led him to serve in various capacities from Union Steward to Union counselor to a BEGNF trustee and United Way loaned executive. In addition, he attended leadership school, was a delegate to two grand lodge conventions, was a marshal at the WTO rally, and served as a District Council delegate for two terms, as well as holding a number of other local lodge officer positions.
Roman was a giving soul who cared about others and wanted to make sure everyone was doing okay. His compassion for others shined through as bright as his smile and the friendly laugh that became his trademark. He helped so many, was a friend to countless people and loved by all. Few people can impact so many lives and leave such a lasting impression. One thing is sure — all of our lives are better because of Roman.
Sharing An African American baseball Story
A Tribute to African American Baseball player Carl Russell Long
Carl Russell Long (Nickname: The Kid) born May 9, 1935 in Rock Hill, SC, was an American professional baseball outfielder who played both Negro League baseball and Minor League baseball. Along with Frank Washington, Long broke the color barrier playing in the Carolina League in the city of Kinston, North Carolina.
Long’s professional debut came with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League in 1952, and that year, he led the NAL in triples with 8. He stayed with Birmingham through the 1953 season, and in that year, was selected to the Negro League East-West All-Star Game. He started for the East team as its third baseman going hitless with four plate appearances in the All-Star game.
In 1954, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and was sent to their minor league team, the St. Jean Canadians of the Provincial League, in the Province of Quebec in Canada. During 1955, Long played for the Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League and saw some action for Phoenix in the Arizona–Mexico League.
Long made his debut for the Kinston Eagles on April 17, 1956. During the year, he hit .291 with 18 home runs and 111 runs batted in. The Carolina League itself had been integrated in 1951 by Percy Miller Jr. of the Danville Leafs. The 111 RBI tallied by Long in 1956 has been equaled over time but has never been surpassed by any subsequent Kinston players.
After playing with the Kinston Eagles in 1956, Long next played for the Beaumont Pirates of the Big State League and in the Mexican League, with the Mexico City Tigers, in 1957. A shoulder injury then curtailed his active playing career at which he left baseball to live in Kinston.
After the injury Long often attended games at Grainger Stadium to watch Kinston’s current team at the time, the Kinston Indians. He was honored by the Indians with “Carl Long Day” games, and in 2003 he was inducted into the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. He had also traveled extensively to promote the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Carl Long died on January 12, 2015, at the age of 79, after being hospitalized from a series of minor strokes he suffered in November 2014.
Yes, this Kinston transplant made history, but few people know his story. These are a few facts about an African American male who broke the color buriers and led the way for African Americans who came after him. Long achieved many “firsts” during his lifetime. Here are just a few of his accomplishments;
- The first African American to play for the Carolina League’s Kinston Eagles and holds its RBI record.
- The first African American to work as a deputy sheriff in the county of Lenoir in eastern N.C.
- The first African American to become a detective within Lenoir county’s Sheriff’s department.
- The first African American commercial bus driver with the Trailways company.
Career highlights and awards
- East-West All-Star (1953)
- Carolina League All-Star (1956)
- 1952 Negro American League Triples Leader
- 1956 Carolina League RBI Leader
African-American History Month: Honoring Mary McLeod Bethune
Recognizing Mary McLeod Bethune whose dedication to academics and equality helped expand opportunities at the Red Cross to African Americans.
As the fifteenth of 17 children and the first child born free to former slaves in 1875, Mary McLeod Bethune rose above humble beginnings to become one of the most prominent black educators, civil rights activists and stateswomen in the first half of the 20th century.
Growing up in rural South Carolina on her parent’s cotton farm, Bethune did not immediately have access to a formal education. When a local segregated Presbyterian mission school opened, Mary willingly walked in order to attend. By age 15, Bethune had taken every subject offered at the small mission school. Her enthusiasm for learning led to a sponsorship to attend the Scotia Seminary, a boarding school in North Carolina. After graduating from Scotia Seminary in 1894, Bethune received a scholarship to attend the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. During her continued studies, Mary’s passion for learning led her to dedicate her life to the education and betterment of African Americans.
In 1904, Bethune opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. Over time, the school grew and merged with the all-male Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, and by 1931, became the Bethune-Cookman College.
As a leader of racial and gender equality, Bethune became president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1924 and a founding president of the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. By 1936, she was serving as an advisor to President Roosevelt and she became the highest ranking African American woman in government when the President named her director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration, making her the first African-American woman to head a federal agency.
As an advisor to the president, Bethune was invited to two American Red Cross wartime conferences to discuss African American representation within the organization. As a result of these conferences, the “Committee on Red Cross Activities with Respect to the Negro” formed. Bethune was one of five committee members who made recommendations on the blood plasma project, the use of African-American staff in overseas service clubs, the enrollment of African-American nurses and the representation of African Americans on local and national Red Cross committees and staff departments.
Thank you, Mary McLeod Bethune, for your meaningful contributions to the Red Cross, the U.S. government and education in the African-American community.
The struggle for Justice & Equality in american history was sometimes not so pretty. Not to say that today the obstacles, threats and hateful actions have absolutely vanished but in America’s past for Some The Struggle Has Been Real !
10 civil rights activists who were falsely convicted and incarcerated for nearly a decade following a 1971 riot in Wilmington, North Carolina, over school desegregation. Wrongfully convicted of arson and conspiracy, the Wilmington Ten—eight African American high-school students, an African American minister, and a white female social worker—were victims of the racial and political turmoil during America’s civil rights era.
Wilmington’s modern racial unrest began when the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., canceled his visit to speak at the all-black high school, Williston Senior High School, in Wilmington on April 4, 1968. Instead, he stayed in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was then killed. Although April 5 began with peaceful protests of King’s murder by African American high-school students in Wilmington, the following three days were filled with violent rioting that ended only when 150 National Guardsmen occupied the city.
Until 1969 Wilmington had three high schools: all-white New Hanover and Hoggard and the African American Williston Senior High School. Although the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education had struck down the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), many Southern school boards resisted integration for over a decade before it was finally instituted. When desegregation came in the summer of 1969, African American students and teachers were reassigned to New Hanover and Hoggard, while Williston was closed (later to become a desegregated junior high school). The closure of Williston stunned the African American community, which had taken great pride in the school, and the sudden presence of African American students in the formerly all-white schools brought resentment from both sides. African American students who had been active in athletics and clubs at Williston were excluded from such activities at New Hanover and Hoggard. Taunts and attacks resulted in fights, and police presence was constant. The high-school unrest became citywide and grew into rioting and arson, including the burning of the school board’s building.
In January 1971 hundreds of African American students boycotted the schools. The white pastor of Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ, Eugene Templeton, offered his integrated church as a gathering place and school alternative. On February 1, 1971, the national United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice sent the young Reverend Benjamin Chavis to Wilmington to organize and provide structure for the students. Chavis delivered fiery speeches denouncing segregation and demanding social justice. Images of Chavis speaking to crowds of African Americans with raised fists dominated local news.
Soon members of a white supremacist group, The Rights of White People (ROWP), a Ku Klux Klan affiliate, arrived. Heavily armed, the ROWP held Klan-like meetings in a public park, ratcheting up tension. African American protesters marched repeatedly to City Hall, requesting a citywide curfew to stop the gunfire that night riders aimed at Gregory Congregational. Curfew was denied.
On February 6, 1971, Mike’s Grocery, a convenience store a few hundred yards from Gregory Congregational, was firebombed. Responding police and firefighters were met with sniper fire, which they returned, killing an African American teenager, 17-year-old Steven Corbett, who was armed with a gun. There was a perception that snipers were in or near the church. The next day a white man with a pistol, Harvey Cumber, was killed in his truck near the church by persons unknown. Rumours of guns, dynamite, and bomb making in Gregory Congregational circulated. Mayor Williams requested assistance from the National Guard and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and a curfew was finally declared.
By March police had compiled a list of 16 people suspected of having either conspired or participated in the firebombing and shooting. Ultimately 10 were arrested and convicted of felonious burning and conspiracy to assault responding emergency personnel, based on the testimony of three African American teenagers.
The Wilmington Ten—nine African American men (Chavis, Willie Vereen, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick, William [“Joe”] Wright, Reginald Epps, Connie Tindall, James McKoy, and Jerry Jacobs) and a white social worker (Anne Sheppard Turner) were sentenced in 1971. All were high-school students except Chavis and Turner. Their story gained international attention as Amnesty International publicized and protested their status as political prisoners. Writer James Baldwin, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young, and many others condemned their convictions and long sentences.
In 1978 thousands of protesters marched in Washington, D.C., demanding the release of the Wilmington Ten.
North Carolina Governor James Hunt commuted their sentences in 1978, and, though he refused to pardon them, the Wilmington Ten were all released by 1979. In 1980 the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals voided the convictions on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct by Assistant District Attorney Jay Stroud, who had coached and bribed the witnesses and altered the written statement of the primary witness, Allan Hall. Three key witnesses also recanted.
On December 31, 2012, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue officially pardoned the Wilmington Ten, saying that their sentences were “tainted by naked racism.”