Monday, February 7, 2011

Black History Month Days 6 & 7

So we all know that yesterday was the Superbowl and because of that I wasn’t able to post on here about Black History/Our History as I would’ve liked, but I’ve got you today, here is yesterday’s and today’s.  The first African-American woman to be elected as mayor in Washington, D.C. and any major American city:

Sharon Pratt Biography

also known as Sharon Pratt Kelly and Sharon Pratt Dixon

( 1944 – )

Politician. Born January 30, 1944, in Washington, D.C., to Superior Court Judge Carlisle Edward Pratt and Mildred Pratt. When Pratt was 4, she and her sister lost their mother to breast cancer. Pratt’s grandmother and aunt stepped in to help raise the girls. Pratt’s father continued to play a major role in their lives, and instilled values and a commitment to public service in his daughters. When Sharon expressed an interest in acting, her father instead persuaded his daughter to attend Howard University. In 1965 she followed in her father’s footsteps when she received her bachelor’s degree in political science. She then enrolled in Howard University’s School of Law.
In 1968, Pratt earned her law degree and began work as an associate in her father’s law firm, Pratt and Queen, in 1971. In addition to her work in family rights law there, Pratt was also named a Professor of Law at the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. She held that post until she left to pursue a job in public policy at the Potomac Electric Power Company in 1976.
Dixon rose in the ranks at Potomac Electric, becoming the Vice President of Public Policy—the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position. In 1977, she was elected as the Democratic National Committee representative from the District of Columbia, a post she held for three years. She then served as the Democratic National Committee Eastern Regional Chairwoman from 1980 to 1984. A year later, Pratt established another first when she became the first woman to hold the position of Democratic National Committee Treasurer.
In 1990, Sharon Pratt was elected mayor of Washington, D.C., upsetting incumbent Marion S. Berry, Jr. With her election, Pratt became the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major American city. After a term in office, Pratt lost to Berry in his 1994 re-election campaign.
After her election loss, she began a Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness through her company, Pratt Consulting. Pratt currently resides in Washington, D.C., where she remains a committed public servant.

History Of the Colored Troops in the American Civil War

Approximately 180,000 African-Americans comprising 163 units served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and many more African-Americans served in the Union Navy. Both free Africans-Americans and runaway slaves joined the fight. On July 17, 1862, Congress passed two acts allowing the enlistment of African-Americans, but official enrollment occurred only after the September, 1862 issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. In general, white soldiers and officers believed that black men lacked the courage to fight and fight well. In October, 1862, African-American soldiers of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers silenced their critics by repulsing attacking Confederates at the battle of Island Mound, Missouri. By August, 1863, 14 Negro Regiments were in the field and ready for service. At the battle of Port Hudson, Louisiana, May 27, 1863, the African-American soldiers bravely advanced over open ground in the face of deadly artillery fire. Although the attack failed, the black solders proved their capability to withstand the heat of battle.
On July 17, 1863, at Honey Springs, Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, the 1st Kansas Colored fought with courage again. Union troops under General James Blunt ran into a strong Confederate force under General Douglas Cooper. After a two-hour bloody engagement, Cooper’s soldiers retreated. The 1st Kansas, which had held the center of the Union line, advanced to within fifty paces of the Confederate line and exchanged fire for some twenty minutes until the Confederates broke and ran. General Blunt wrote after the battle, “I never saw such fighting as was done by the Negro regiment….The question that negroes will fight is settled; besides they make better solders in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command.”
The most widely known battle fought by African-Americans was the assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, by the 54th Massachusetts on July 18, 1863. The 54th volunteered to lead the assault on the strongly-fortified Confederate positions. The soldiers of the 54th scaled the fort’s parapet, and were only driven back after brutal hand-to-hand combat.
Although black soldiers proved themselves as reputable soldiers, discrimination in pay and other areas remained widespread. According to the Militia Act of 1862, soldiers of African descent were to receive $10.00 a month, plus a clothing allowance of $3.50. Many regiments struggled for equal pay, some refusing any money until June 15, 1864, when Congress granted equal pay for all black soldiers.
African-American soldiers participated in every major campaign of 1864-1865 except Sherman’s invasion of Georgia. The year 1864 was especially eventful for African-American troops. On April 12, 1864, atFort Pillow, Tennessee, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest led his 2,500 men against the Union-held fortification, occupied by 292 black and 285 white soldiers. After driving in the Union pickets and giving the garrison an opportunity to surrender, Forrest’s men swarmed into the fort with little difficulty and drove the Federals down the river’s bluff into a deadly crossfire. Casualties were high and only sixty-two of the U.S. Colored Troops survived the fight. Many accused the Confederates of perpetuating a massacre of black troops, and the controversy continues today. The battle cry for the Negro soldier east of the Mississippi River became “Remember Fort Pillow!”
The Battle of New Market Heights, Virginia (Chaffin’s Farm) became one of the most heroic engagements involving African-Americans. On September 29, 1864, the African-American division of the Eighteenth Corps, after being pinned down by Confederate artillery fire for about 30 minutes, charged the earthworks and rushed up the slopes of the heights. During the hour-long engagement the division suffered tremendous casualties. Of the sixteen African-Americans who were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Civil War, fourteen received the honor as a result of their actions at New Market Heights.
In January, 1864, General Patrick Cleburne and several other Confederate officers in the Army of the Tennessee proposed using slaves as soldiers since the Union was using black troops. Cleburne recommended offering slaves their freedom if they fought and survived. Confederate President Jefferson Davis refused to consider Cleburne’s proposal and forbade further discussion of the idea. The concept, however, did not die. By the fall of 1864, the South was losing more and more ground, and some believed that only by arming the slaves could defeat be averted. On March 13, the Confederate Congress passed General Order 14, and President Davis signed the order into law. The order was issued March 23, 1865, but only a few African-American companies were raised, and the war ended before they could be used in battle.
In actual numbers, African American soldiers comprised 10% of the entire Union Army. losses among African-Americans were high, and from all reported casualties, approximately one-third of all African-Americans enrolled in the military lost their lives during the Civil War.

District of Columbia. Company E, 4th US Colored Infantry at Fort Lincoln

Johnsonville, Tenn. Camp of Tennessee Colored Battery
Black slaves who fled to Union lines, or “contrabands,” often proved themselves extremely useful, even before the government enlisted them into service. A group of “contrabands” appear on this calling card. Calling cards, or cartes de visite, with photographs were popular during this era partly because photography was relatively new and the cards provided a means of sharing likenesses with friends and relatives. This one includes images of white officers of the 2nd Rhode Island Camp at Camp Brightwood in the District of Columbia. On the left is Capt. B. S. Brown. In the center is Lt. John P. Shaw, killed in action at the Wilderness, Virginia, May 5, 1864, and on the right is Lt. T. Fry. The “contrabands” with them are not named.
A group of “contrabands.” [Stereograph] ca.1861 published later
Click to enlarge
29th Regiment from Connecticut 

SPOTLIGHT: Black Soldiers in the Civil War

African American troops contributed greatly to the Union war effort
 Close WindowBlack soldiers with firearms (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Enlarge PhotoBlack soldiers with firearms (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)F. Douglass: Let the black man fight for his freedom and “no power on earth … can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”
This article is excerpted from the book Free At Last: The U.S. Civil Rights Movement, published by the Bureau of International Information Programs. Viewthe entire book (PDF, 3.6 MB).
By Joyce Hansen
A four-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award, Joyce Hansen has published short stories and 15 books of contemporary and historical fiction and nonfiction for young readers, includingBetween Two Fires: Black Soldiers in the Civil War.
When the American Civil War began in 1861, Jacob Dodson, a free black man living in Washington, D.C., wrote to Secretary of War Simon Cameron informing him that he knew of “300 reliable colored free citizens” who wanted to enlist and defend the city. Cameron replied that “this department has no intention at present to call into the service of the government any colored soldiers.” It didn’t matter that black men, slave and free, had served in colonial militias and had fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War. Many black men felt that serving in the military was a way they might gain freedom and full citizenship.
Why did many military and civilian leaders reject the idea of recruiting black soldiers? Some said that black troops would prove too cowardly to fight white men, others said that they would be inferior fighters, and some thought that white soldiers would not serve with black soldiers. There were a few military leaders, though, who had different ideas.
On March 31, 1862, almost a year after the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, Union (northern) troops commanded by General David Hunter took control of the islands off the coasts of northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Local whites who owned the rich cotton and rice plantations fled to the Confederate-controlled (southern) mainland. Most of their slaves remained on the islands, and they soon were joined by black escapees from the mainland who believed they would be liberated if only they could reach the Union lines. It would not be that simple.
Even as Hunter needed more soldiers to control the region’s many tidal rivers and islands against stubborn Confederate guerrilla resistance, he observed how escaping mainland slaves were swelling the islands’ black population. Perhaps, he reasoned, the African Americans could solve his manpower shortage. He devised a radical plan.
Hunter, a staunch abolitionist, took it upon himself to free the slaves — not just on the islands but through­out Confederate-controlled South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida — and to recruit black men capable of bearing arms as Union soldiers. He would attempt to train and form the first all-black regiment of the Civil War.
Close WindowAfrican-American soldiers poster (Louie Psihoyos/Science Faction)
Enlarge PhotoAfrican-American soldiers poster (Louie Psihoyos/Science Faction)With the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union began to recruit African-American soldiers.
News traveled slowly in those days, and President Abraham Lincoln did not hear about Hunter’s regiment until June. While Lincoln opposed slavery, he feared moving more quickly than public opinion in the embattled North — and particularly in the slaveholding border states that had sided with the Union — would allow. He also was adamant that “no commanding general shall do such a thing, upon my responsibility, without consulting me.” In an angry letter, the president informed the general that neither he nor any other subordinate had the right to free anyone, although he carefully asserted for himself the right to emancipate slaves at a time of his choosing. Hunter was ordered to disband the regiment, but the seed he planted soon sprouted.
In August 1862, two weeks after Hunter had dismantled his regiment, the War Department allowed General Rufus Saxton to raise the Union Army’s first official black regiment, the First South Carolina Volunteers. This and other black regiments organized in the coastal regions successfully defended and held the coastal islands for the duration of the war.
The First Kansas Colored Volunteers was also organized around this time, but without official War Department sanction. Meanwhile, President Lincoln had carefully laid the groundwork for emancipation and the inclusion of men of African descent into the military. As white northerners increasingly understood that black slaves were crucial to the Confederacy’s economy and to its war effort, Lincoln could justify freeing the slaves as matter of military necessity.
When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the military’s policy toward enslaved people became clearer. Those who reached the Union lines would be free. Also, the War Department began to recruit and enlist black troops for newly formed regiments of the Union Army — the United States Colored Troops (USCT). All of the officers in these regiments, however, would be white.
By the fall of 1864, some 140 black regiments had been raised in many northern states and in southern territories captured by the Union. About 180,000 African Americans served during the Civil War, including more than 75,000 northern black volunteers.
Although the black regiments were segregated from their white counterparts, they fought the same battles. Black troops performed bravely and successfully even though they coped with both the Confederate enemy and the suspicion of some of their Union military colleagues.
Once black men were accepted into the military, they were limited in many cases to garrison and fatigue duty. The famed Massachusetts 54th Regiment’s Colonel Robert Gould Shaw actively petitioned superiors to give his men a chance to engage in battle and prove themselves as soldiers. Some of the other officers who knew what their men could do did the same. Black troops had to fight to get the same pay as white soldiers. Some regiments refused to accept lower pay. It was not until 1865, the year the war ended, that Congress passed a law providing equal pay for black soldiers.
Despite these restrictions, the United States Colored Troops successfully participated in 449 military engagements, 39 of them major battles. They fought in battles in South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and other states. They bravely stormed forts and faced artillery knowing that if captured by the enemy, they would not be given the rights of prisoners of war, but instead would be sold into slavery. The black troops performed with honor and valor all of the duties of soldiers.
Despite the Army’s policy of only having white officers, eventually about 100 black soldiers rose from the ranks and were commissioned as officers. Eight black surgeons also received commissions in the USCT. More than a dozen USCT soldiers were given the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery.
In 1948, President Harry S. Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces. Today’s military remains an engine of social and economic opportunity for black Americans. But it was the sacrifices of the Civil War-era black soldiers that paved the way for the full acceptance of African Americans in the United States military. More fundamentally, their efforts were an important part of the struggle of African Americans for liberty and dignity.
{Information obtained from: *,http://www.biography.com}

No comments:

Post a Comment

Want to pet The Vic?