Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm Sort of Fighting Depression

My best friend Justin is dieing.  I knew that.  I've known that since he told me that he was diagnosed with Acute Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.  I know that AIDS is not the death sentence that it used to be, but I also know that if you don't catch it in time that it can be.
Justin didn't catch it in time.
He ignored my continuous, nagging, persistent advice to go get tested.  Especially because his then partner, Ian, was and is a male-whore, who slept with anything with a hole and without a condom.  The jerk even hit on me just hours after sleeping with my best friend.
Justin stayed with him and never got tested.
I and the rest of the Sexy-Squared Crew (Which is what we called ourselves as seniors in high school and freshmen in college-yes, we were dorks) were always very aware that Justin was putting himself in danger, which is why, although we were all very "open" and "free" sexually (all of us except Ryan, who was a very staunch, upstanding Christian, who also fell in love with his now wife Tiffany as a freshman in college), we got tested religiously.  I think we were hoping that we would rub off on Justin and make him go get tested eventually.
He finally did, only after he got so sick that he passed out and had to be rushed to the hospital.
I remember when I found out, the rushing sound of the wind in my ears, the thudding of my heart.  He'd said AIDS, not HIV, but AIDS.  Then months passed and I got the dreaded phone call.  Justin had been in and out of the hospital for weeks, for many different things, but this time it was serious.
Justin has an extreme case of pneumonia.    When you have AIDS and then you get sick, the doctors have to race to keep you alive.  People have died just from having pneumonia, people have died from just having AIDS.  My best friend has both.
It is a struggle everyday for me to pull myself out of my emotional funk.  I am consistently pestering my other best friends and their partners/spouses Angel and James, and now Ryan and Tiffany on news about Justin since they are there with him.  I can't fly over to England because I don't have my passport yet or the money to get there, but I can find out all that I need to know by constantly calling, texting, and skyping.
I know that it's depression that I'm fighting because all I want to do is cry, eat and sleep and read books.  I don't have a desire to write, to sing, to act, to direct, to produce, to dance, to draw, to desire for sex, kissing and a relationship is even gone.  I watch television and occasionally laugh but the characters, their dialogue and their plots rush right through me.  Wednesday night's episode of "Criminal Minds" is still sitting queued up on my DVR, unwatched.
I'm trying to pull myself out of it, but I can't.  And this is only as we all wait with shattered hearts for the outcome of Justin's hospitalization.  He isn't even gone yet and my heart is broken, shattered and destroyed, I have no idea how I will feel if and when he actually passes.
How am I supposed to pull myself out of this?  How do I get over this depression?  How would you my Tumblings and friends deal with the preemptive passing of your best friend?

Monday, February 7, 2011

New Story/Book

So I have one book that's almost finished (about four chapters left) that is an interrcial historical romance book set during the Renaissance period between an English duke and an African princess entitled The Duke's African Bride, but I have recently gotten an idea....or two...because that's just how my mind works, for two completely different gay romance/erotica fiction stories.  One is contemporary and one is paranormal/futuristic.  They've both been swirling around in my head and I have the idea/outline for both, the title for one (Unthinkable), and even started writing the first one.  It's just a matter of me deciding if I'm going to actually go for it...I probably will...yeah, I will.

*Sigh* Now that that decision has been made.

I have become addicted to a few writers and I guess you could say that I'm like "reader stalking" them: Mary Calmes, T.A. Chase, Stormy Glenn, Amy Lane, John Simpson, Stephani Hecht, Ally Blue, JL Langley, Madeleine Urban, and Rhianne Aile.  I spend a few hours, and a few dollars, finding, buying and reading whatever books that they have, reading their blogs, their's because I truly do love their stories/books (but to be honest, I'm the same way with Susan Mallery, Lisa Kleypas, Brenda Jackson, Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Janette Oke and Lori Wick...I don't generally stalk celebrities or obsess over them or drool over them-well, except John Barrowman, David Tutera, Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler and Michael Ealy-but they're the exceptions), I'm different, I'd rather read a really good book, especially a steamy gay one, than watch  a movie any day.

I'd rather write one too.

So I guess I should get to it.

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}

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Black History Month Day 4 & 5

Sorry I missed yesterday, but you know a girl's got to have a life! Whew!! I enjoyed myself...IMMENSELY and didn't get home until 3am! Yes! (*Fist pump*) Anyway, I did NOT forget that I had to educate you all on black history for this month (because you're probably not going to and probably didn't get it in high school). So for Days 4 and 5 I am going to give you the biography of one of my favorite historians: Frederick Douglass and one of my favorite legal cases: Loving vs. Virginia which made interracial marriages legal in Virginia and then spread throughout the rest of the country(Yay!!).

So here we go!

Day 4: Frederick Douglass:

Frederick Douglass was born in a slave cabin, in February, 1818, near the town of Easton, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Separated from his mother when only a few weeks old he was raised by his grandparents. At about the age of six, his grandmother took him to the plantation of his master and left him there. Not being told by her that she was going to leave him, Douglass never recovered from the betrayal of the abandonment. When he was about eight he was sent to Baltimore to live as a houseboy with Hugh and Sophia Auld, relatives of his master. It was shortly after his arrival that his new mistress taught him the alphabet. When her husband forbade her to continue her instruction, because it was unlawful to teach slaves how to read, Frederick took it upon himself to learn. He made the neighborhood boys his teachers, by giving away his food in exchange for lessons in reading and writing. At about the age of twelve or thirteen Douglass purchased a copy of The Columbian Orator, a popular schoolbook of the time, which helped him to gain an understanding and appreciation of the power of the spoken and the written word, as two of the most effective means by which to bring about permanent, positive change.

Returning to the Eastern Shore, at approximately the age of fifteen, Douglass became a field hand, and experienced most of the horrifying conditions that plagued slaves during the 270 years of legalized slavery in America. But it was during this time that he had an encounter with the slavebreaker Edward Covey. Their fight ended in a draw, but the victory was Douglass', as his challenge to the slavebreaker restored his sense of self-worth. After an aborted escape attempt when he was about eighteen, he was sent back to Baltimore to live with the Auld family, and in early September, 1838, at the age of twenty, Douglass succeeded in escaping from slavery by impersonating a sailor.

He went first to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he and his new wife Anna Murray began to raise a family. Whenever he could he attended abolitionist meetings, and, in October, 1841, after attending an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, Douglass became a lecturer for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society and a colleague of William Lloyd Garrison. This work led him into public speaking and writing. He published his own newspaper, The North Star, participated in the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, in 1848, and wrote three autobiographies. He was internationally recognized as an uncompromising abolitionist, indefatigable worker for justice and equal opportunity, and an unyielding defender of women's rights. He became a trusted advisor to Abraham Lincoln, United States Marshal for the District of Columbia, Recorder of Deeds for Washington, D.C., and Minister-General to the Republic of Haiti.

Frederick Douglass sought to embody three keys for success in life:

Believe in yourself.

Take advantage of every opportunity.

Use the power of spoken and written language to effect positive change for yourself and society.

Douglass said, "What is possible for me is possible for you." By taking these keys and making them his own, Frederick Douglass created a life of honor, respect and success that he could never have dreamed of when still a boy on Colonel Lloyd's plantation on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

(At the Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Boston, April, 1865, Douglass delivered the following speech on the subject: The Equality of all men before the law; Note that this was given within days of the close of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln.)


I came here, as I come always to the meetings in New England, as a listener, and not as a speaker; and one of the reasons why I have not been more frequently to the meetings of this society, has been because of the disposition on the part of some of my friends to call me out upon the platform, even when they knew that there was some difference of opinion and of feeling between those who rightfully belong to this platform and myself; and for fear of being misconstrued, as desiring to interrupt or disturb the proceedings of these meetings, I have usually kept away, and have thus been deprived of that educating influence, which I am always free to confess is of the highest order, descending from this platform. I have felt, since I have lived out West [Douglass means west of Boston, in Rochester, NY], that in going there I parted from a great deal that was valuable; and I feel, every time I come to these meetings, that I have lost a great deal by making my home west of Boston, west of Massachusetts; for, if anywhere in the country there is to be found the highest sense of justice, or the truest demands for my race, I look for it in the East, I look for it here. The ablest discussions of the whole question of our rights occur here, and to be deprived of the privilege of listening to those discussions is a great deprivation.

I do not know, from what has been said, that there is any difference of opinion as to the duty of abolitionists, at the present moment. How can we get up any difference at this point, or any point, where we are so united, so agreed? I went especially, however, with that word of Mr. Phillips, which is the criticism of Gen. Banks and Gen. Banks' policy. [Gen. Banks instituted a labor policy in Louisiana that was discriminatory of blacks, claiming that it was to help prepare them to better handle freedom. Wendell Phillips countered by saying, "If there is anything patent in the whole history of our thirty years' struggle, it is that the Negro no more needs to be prepared for liberty than the white man."] I hold that that policy is our chief danger at the present moment; that it practically enslaves the Negro, and makes the Proclamation [the Emancipation Proclamation] of 1863 a mockery and delusion. What is freedom? It is the right to choose one's own employment. Certainly it means that, if it means anything; and when any individual or combination of individuals undertakes to decide for any man when he shall work, where he shall work, at what he shall work, and for what he shall work, he or they practically reduce him to slavery. [Applause.] He is a slave. That I understand Gen. Banks to do--to determine for the so-called freedman, when, and where, and at what, and for how much he shall work, when he shall be punished, and by whom punished. It is absolute slavery. It defeats the beneficent intention of the Government, if it has beneficent intentions, in regards to the freedom of our people.

I have had but one idea for the last three years to present to the American people, and the phraseology in which I clothe it is the old abolition phraseology. I am for the "immediate, unconditional, and universal" enfranchisement of the black man, in every State in the Union. [Loud applause.] Without this, his liberty is a mockery; without this, you might as well almost retain the old name of slavery for his condition; for in fact, if he is not the slave of the individual master, he is the slave of society, and holds his liberty as a privilege, not as a right. He is at the mercy of the mob, and has no means of protecting himself.

It may be objected, however, that this pressing of the Negro's right to suffrage is premature. Let us have slavery abolished, it may be said, let us have labor organized, and then, in the natural course of events, the right of suffrage will be extended to the Negro. I do not agree with this. The constitution of the human mind is such, that if it once disregards the conviction forced upon it by a revelation of truth, it requires the exercise of a higher power to produce the same conviction afterwards. The American people are now in tears. The Shenandoah has run blood--the best blood of the North. All around Richmond, the blood of New England and of the North has been shed--of your sons, your brothers and your fathers. We all feel, in the existence of this Rebellion, that judgments terrible, wide-spread, far-reaching, overwhelming, are abroad in the land; and we feel, in view of these judgments, just now, a disposition to learn righteousness. This is the hour. Our streets are in mourning, tears are falling at every fireside, and under the chastisement of this Rebellion we have almost come up to the point of conceding this great, this all-important right of suffrage. I fear that if we fail to do it now, if abolitionists fail to press it now, we may not see, for centuries to come, the same disposition that exists at this moment. [Applause.] Hence, I say, now is the time to press this right.

It may be asked, "Why do you want it? Some men have got along very well without it. Women have not this right." Shall we justify one wrong by another? This is the sufficient answer. Shall we at this moment justify the deprivation of the Negro of the right to vote, because some one else is deprived of that privilege? I hold that women, as well as men, have the right to vote [applause], and my heart and voice go with the movement to extend suffrage to woman; but that question rests upon another basis than which our right rests. We may be asked, I say, why we want it. I will tell you why we want it. We want it because it is our right, first of all. No class of men can, without insulting their own nature, be content with any deprivation of their rights. We want it again, as a means for educating our race. Men are so constituted that they derive their conviction of their own possibilities largely by the estimate formed of them by others. If nothing is expected of a people, that people will find it difficult to contradict that expectation. By depriving us of suffrage, you affirm our incapacity to form an intelligent judgment respecting public men and public measures; you declare before the world that we are unfit to exercise the elective franchise, and by this means lead us to undervalue ourselves, to put a low estimate upon ourselves, and to feel that we have no possibilities like other men. Again, I want the elective franchise, for one, as a colored man, because ours is a peculiar government, based upon a peculiar idea, and that idea is universal suffrage. If I were in a monarchial government, or an autocratic or aristocratic government, where the few bore rule and the many were subject, there would be no special stigma resting upon me, because I did not exercise the elective franchise. It would do me no great violence. Mingling with the mass I should partake of the strength of the mass; I should be supported by the mass, and I should have the same incentives to endeavor with the mass of my fellow-men; it would be no particular burden, no particular deprivation; but here where universal suffrage is the rule, where that is the fundamental idea of the Government, to rule us out is to make us an exception, to brand us with the stigma of inferiority, and to invite to our heads the missiles of those about us; therefore, I want the franchise for the black man.

There are, however, other reasons, not derived from any consideration merely of our rights, but arising out of the conditions of the South, and of the country--considerations which have already been referred to by Mr. Phillips--considerations which must arrest the attention of statesmen. I believe that when the tall heads of this Rebellion shall have been swept down, as they will be swept down, when the Davises and Toombses and Stephenses, and others who are leading this Rebellion shall have been blotted out, there will be this rank undergrowth of treason, to which reference has been made, growing up there, and interfering with, and thwarting the quiet operation of the Federal Government in those states. You will se those traitors, handing down, from sire to son, the same malignant spirit which they have manifested and which they are now exhibiting, with malicious hearts, broad blades, and bloody hands in the field, against our sons and brothers. That spirit will still remain; and whoever sees the Federal Government extended over those Southern States will see that Government in a strange land, and not only in a strange land, but in an enemy's land. A post-master of the United States in the South will find himself surrounded by a hostile spirit; a collector in a Southern port will find himself surrounded by a hostile spirit; a United States marshal or United States judge will be surrounded there by a hostile element. That enmity will not die out in a year, will not die out in an age. The Federal Government will be looked upon in those States precisely as the Governments of Austria and France are looked upon in Italy at the present moment. They will endeavor to circumvent, they will endeavor to destroy, the peaceful operation of this Government. Now, where will you find the strength to counterbalance this spirit, if you do not find it in the Negroes of the South? They are your friends, and have always been your friends. They were your friends even when the Government did not regard them as such. They comprehended the genius of this war before you did. It is a significant fact, it is a marvellous fact, it seems almost to imply a direct interposition of Providence, that this war, which began in the interest of slavery on both sides, bids fair to end in the interest of liberty on both sides. [Applause.] It was begun, I say, in the interest of slavery on both sides. The South was fighting to take slavery out of the Union, and the North was fighting to keep it in the Union; the South fighting to get it beyond the limits of the United States Constitution, and the North fighting to retain it within those limits; the South fighting for new guarantees, and the North fighting for the old guarantees;--both despising the Negro, both insulting the Negro. Yet, the Negro, apparently endowed with wisdom from on high, saw more clearly the end from the beginning than we did. When Seward said the status of no man in the country would be changed by the war, the Negro did not believe him. [Applause.] When our generals sent their underlings in shoulder-straps to hunt the flying Negro back from our lines into the jaws of slavery, from which he had escaped, the Negroes thought that a mistake had been made, and that the intentions of the Government had not been rightly understood by our officers in shoulder-straps, and they continued to come into our lines, threading their way through bogs and fens, over briers and thorns, fording streams, swimming rivers, bringing us tidings as to the safe path to march, and pointing out the dangers that threatened us. They are our only friends in the South, and we should be true to them in this their trial hour, and see to it that they have the elective franchise.

I know that we are inferior to you in some things--virtually inferior. We walk about you like dwarfs among giants. Our heads are scarcely seen above the great sea of humanity. The Germans are superior to us; the Irish are superior to us; the Yankees are superior to us [Laughter]; they can do what we cannot, that is, what we have not hitherto been allowed to do. But while I make this admission, I utterly deny, that we are originally, or naturally, or practically, or in any way, or in any important sense, inferior to anybody on this globe. [Loud applause.] This charge of inferiority is an old dodge. It has been made available for oppression on many occasions. It is only about six centuries since the blue-eyed and fair-haired Anglo-Saxons were considered inferior by the haughty Normans, who once trampled upon them. If you read the history of the Norman Conquest, you will find that this proud Anglo-Saxon was once looked upon as of coarser clay than his Norman master, and might be found in the highways and byways of Old England laboring with a brass collar on his neck, and the name of his master marked upon it. You were down then! [Laughter and applause.] You are up now. I am glad you are up, and I want you to be glad to help us up also. [Applause.]

The story of our inferiority is an old dodge, as I have said; for wherever men oppress their fellows, wherever they enslave them, they will endeavor to find the needed apology for such enslavement and oppression in the character of the people oppressed and enslaved. When we wanted, a few years ago, a slice of Mexico, it was hinted that the Mexicans were an inferior race, that the old Castilian blood had become so weak that it would scarcely run down hill, and that Mexico needed the long, strong and beneficent arm of the Anglo-Saxon care extended over it. We said that it was necessary to its salvation, and a part of the "manifest destiny" of this Republic, to extend our arm over that dilapidated government. So, too, when Russia wanted to take possession of a part of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks were an "inferior race." So, too, when England wants to set the heel of her power more firmly in the quivering heart of old Ireland, the Celts are an "inferior race." So, too, the Negro, when he is to be robbed of any right which is justly his, is an "inferior man." It is said that we are ignorant; I admit it. But if we know enough to be hung, we know enough to vote. If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support the government, he knows enough to vote; taxation and representation should go together. If he knows enough to shoulder a musket and fight for the flag, fight for the government, he knows enough to vote. If he knows as much when he is sober as an Irishman knows when drunk, he knows enough to vote, on good American principles. [Laughter and applause.]

But I was saying that you needed a counterpoise in the persons of the slaves to the enmity that would exist at the South after the Rebellion is put down. I hold that the American people are bound, not only in self-defence, to extend this right to the freedmen of the South, but they are bound by their love of country, and by all their regard for the future safety of those Southern States, to do this--to do it as a measure essential to the preservation of peace there. But I will not dwell upon this. I put it to the American sense of honor. The honor of a nation is an important thing. It is said in the Scriptures, "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" It may be said, also, What doth it profit a nation if it gain the whole world, but lose its honor? I hold that the American government has taken upon itself a solemn obligation of honor, to see that this war--let it be long or short, let it cost much or let it cost little--that this war shall not cease until every freedman at the South has the right to vote. [Applause.] It has bound itself to it. What have you asked the black men of the South, the black men of the whole country to do? Why, you have asked them to incure the enmity of their masters, in order to befriend you and to befriend this Government. You have asked us to call down, not only upon ourselves, but upon our children's children, the deadly hate of the entire Southern people. You have called upon us to turn our backs upon our masters, to abandon their cause and espouse yours; to turn against the South and in favor of the North; to shoot down the Confederacy and uphold the flag-- the American flag. You have called upon us to expose ourselves to all the subtle machinations of their malignity for all time. And now, what do you propose to do when you come to make peace? To reward your enemies, and trample in the dust your friends? Do you intend to sacrifice the very men who have come to the rescue of your banner in the South, and incurred the lasting displeasure of their masters thereby? Do you intend to sacrifice them and reward your enemies? Do you mean to give your enemies the right to vote, and take it away from your friends? Is that wise policy? Is that honorable? Could American honor withstand such a blow? I do not believe you will do it. I think you will see to it that we have the right to vote. There is something too mean in looking upon the Negro, when you are in trouble, as a citizen, and when you are free from trouble, as an alien. When this nation was in trouble, in its early struggles, it looked upon the Negro as a citizen. In 1776 he was a citizen. At the time of the formation of the Consitution the Negro had the right to vote in eleven States out of the old thirteen. In your trouble you have made us citizens. In 1812 Gen. Jackson addressed us as citizens--"fellow-citizens." He wanted us to fight. We were citizens then! And now, when you come to frame a conscription bill, the Negro is a citizen again. He has been a citizen just three times in the history of this government, and it has always been in time of trouble. In time of trouble we are citizens. Shall we be citizens in war, and aliens in peace? Would that be just?

I ask my friends who are apologizing for not insisting upon this right, where can the black man look, in this country, for the assertion of his right, if he may not look to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society? Where under the whole heavens can he look for sympathy, in asserting this right, if he may not look to this platform? Have you lifted us up to a certain height to see that we are men, and then are any disposed to leave us there, without seeing that we are put in possession of all our rights? We look naturally to this platform for the assertion of all our rights, and for this one especially. I understand the anti-slavery societies of this country to be based on two principles,--first, the freedom of the blacks of this country; and, second, the elevation of them. Let me not be misunderstood here. I am not asking for sympathy at the hands of abolitionists, sympathy at the hands of any. I think the American people are disposed often to be generous rather than just. I look over this country at the present time, and I see Educational Societies, Sanitary Commissions, Freedmen's Associations, and the like,--all very good: but in regard to the colored people there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. [Applause.] The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us. Gen. Banks was distressed with solicitude as to what he should do with the Negro. Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, "What shall we do with the Negro?" I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature's plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don't disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot- box, let him alone, don't disturb him! [Applause.] If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone,--your interference is doing him a positive injury. Gen. Banks' "preparation" is of a piece with this attempt to prop up the Negro. Let him fall if he cannot stand alone! If the Negro cannot live by the line of eternal justice, so beautifully pictured to you in the illustration used by Mr. Phillips, the fault will not be yours, it will be his who made the Negro, and established that line for his government. [Applause.] Let him live or die by that. If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live. He will work as readily for himself as the white man. A great many delusions have been swept away by this war. One was, that the Negro would not work; he has proved his ability to work. Another was, that the Negro would not fight; that he possessed only the most sheepish attributes of humanity; was a perfect lamb, or an "Uncle Tom;" disposed to take off his coat whenever required, fold his hands, and be whipped by anybody who wanted to whip him. But the war has proved that there is a great deal of human nature in the Negro, and that "he will fight," as Mr. Quincy, our President, said, in earlier days than these, "when there is reasonable probability of his whipping anybody." [Laughter and applause.]

(Foner, Volume Four, pages 157- 165)

{*Information obtained from*}

Day 5: Loving vs. Virginia

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

The plaintiffs, Mildred Loving (née Mildred Delores Jeter, a woman of African and Rappahannock Native American descent, July 22, 1939 – May 2, 2008) and Richard Perry Loving (a white man, October 29, 1933 – June 1975), were residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia who had been married in June 1958 in the District of Columbia, having left Virginia to evade the Racial Integrity Act, a state law banning marriages between any white person and any non-white person. Upon their return to Caroline County, Virginia, they were charged with violation of the ban. They were caught sleeping in their bed by a group of police officers who had invaded their home in the hopes of finding them in the act of sex (another crime). In their defense, Mrs. Loving had pointed to a marriage certificate on the wall in their bedroom; rather than defending them, it became the evidence the police needed for a criminal charge, because it proved they had been married in another state. Specifically, they were charged under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia, and Section 20-59, which classified "miscegenation" as a felony, punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years. On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia. The trial judge in the case, Leon M. Bazile, echoing Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's 18th-century interpretation of race, proclaimed that

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

The Lovings moved to the District of Columbia, and on November 6, 1963, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion on their behalf in the state trial court to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence on the grounds that the violated statutes ran counter to the Fourteenth Amendment. This set in motion a series of lawsuits which ultimately reached the Supreme Court. On October 28, 1964, after their motion still had not been decided, the Lovings began a class action suit in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. On January 22, 1965, the three-judge district court decided to allow the Lovings to present their constitutional claims to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harry L. Carrico (later Chief Justice of the Court) wrote an opinion for the court upholding the constitutionality of the anti-miscegenation statutes and, after modifying the sentence, affirmed the criminal convictions.

Ignoring United States Supreme Court precedent, Carrico cited as authority the Virginia Supreme Court's own decision in Naim v. Naim (1955), also arguing that the case at hand was not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause because both the white and the non-white spouse were punished equally for the crime of miscegenation, an argument similar to that made by the United States Supreme Court in 1883 in Pace v. Alabama.

In 1966, the Presbyterian Church took a stand, stating that they did not condemn or prohibit interracial marriages. The church found "no theological grounds for condemning or prohibiting marriage between consenting adults merely because of racial origin". In that same year, the Unitarian Universalist Association declared that "laws which prohibit, inhibit or hamper marriage or cohabitation between persons because of different races, religions, or national origins should be nullified or repealed." Months before the Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia the Roman Catholic Church joined the movement, supporting interracial couples in their struggle for recognition of their right to marriage.

Prior to Loving v. Virginia, there were several cases on the subject of race-mixing. In Pace v. Alabama (1883), the Supreme Court ruled that the conviction of an Alabama couple for interracial sex, affirmed on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court, did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Interracial extramarital sex was deemed a felony, whereas extramarital sex ("adultery or fornication") was only a misdemeanor. On appeal, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the criminalization of interracial sex was not a violation of the equal protection clause because whites and non-whites were punished in equal measure for the offense of engaging in interracial sex. The court did not need to affirm the constitutionality of the ban on interracial marriage that was also part of Alabama's anti-miscegenation law, since the plaintiff, Mr. Pace, had chosen not to appeal that section of the law. After Pace v. Alabama, the constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws banning marriage and sex between whites and non-whites remained unchallenged until the 1920s.

In Kirby v. Kirby (1921), Mr. Kirby asked the state of Arizona for an annulment of his marriage. He charged that his marriage was invalid because his wife was of ‘negro’ descent, thus violating the state's anti-miscegenation law. The Arizona Supreme Court judged Mrs. Kirby’s race by observing her physical characteristics and determined that she was of mixed race, therefore granting Mr. Kirby’s annulment.

In the Monks case (Estate of Monks, 4. Civ. 2835, Records of California Court of Appeals, Fourth district), the Superior Court of San Diego County in 1939 decided to invalidate the marriage of Marie Antoinette and Allan Monks because she was deemed to have "one eighth negro blood". The court case involved a legal challenge over the conflicting wills that had been left by the late Allan Monks, an old one in favor of a friend named Ida Lee and a newer one in favor of his wife. Lee's lawyers charged that the marriage of the Monkses, which had taken place in Arizona, was invalid under Arizona state law because Marie Antoinette was "a Negro" and Alan had been white. Despite conflicting testimony by various expert witnesses, the judge defined Mrs. Monks' race by relying on the anatomical "expertise" of a surgeon. The judge ignored the arguments of an anthropologist and a biologist that it was impossible to tell a person's race from physical characteristics.

Monks then challenged the Arizona anti-miscegenation law itself, taking her case to the California Court of Appeals, Fourth District. Monks's lawyers pointed out that the anti-miscegenation law effectively prohibited Monks as a mixed-race person from marrying anyone: "As such, she is prohibited from marrying a negro or any descendant of a negro, a Mongolian or an Indian, a Malay or a Hindu, or any descendants of any of them. Likewise ... as a descendant of a negro she is prohibited from marrying a Caucasian or a descendant of a Caucasian...." The Arizona anti-miscegenation statute thus prohibited Monks from contracting a valid marriage in Arizona, and was therefore an unconstitutional constraint on her liberty. The court, however, dismissed this argument as inapplicable, because the case presented involved not two mixed-race spouses but a mixed-race and a white spouse: "Under the facts presented the appellant does not have the benefit of assailing the validity of the statute." Dismissing Monks' appeal in 1942, the United States Supreme Court refused to reopen the issue.

The turning point came with Perez v. Sharp (1948), also known as Perez v. Lippold. In Perez, the Supreme Court of California recognized that interracial bans on marriage violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions in a unanimous decision, dismissing the Commonwealth of Virginia's argument that a law forbidding both white and black persons from marrying persons of another race, and providing identical penalties to white and black violators, could not be construed as racially discriminatory. The court ruled that Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In its decision, the court wrote:

“Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

The Supreme Court concluded that anti-miscegenation laws were racist and had been enacted to perpetuate white supremacy:

“There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.”

Despite this Supreme Court ruling, such laws remained on the books, although unenforceable, in several states until 2000, when Alabama became the last state to repeal its law against mixed-race marriage.

The definition of a marriage and what constitutes a family was reconsidered by society after the decision of Loving v. Virginia. Following Loving v. Virginia, The Changing Nature of Interracial Marriage in Georgia: A Research Note states "there was a 448 per cent increase in the number of interracial marriages (from 21 in 1967 to 115 in 1970)" (Aldridge, 1973). These numbers are only from the state of Georgia after the Supreme Court ruling, but the numbers and percentages only continued to increase across the United States. However, interracial couples still had to overcome many fears of possibly losing respect from friends, family, and the community.

Some activists believe that the Loving ruling will eventually aid the marriage equality movement for same-sex partnerships, if courts allow the Equal Protection Clause to be used. F.C. Decoste states, "If the only arguments against same sex marriage are sectarian, then opposing the legalization of same sex marriage is invidious in a fashion no different from supporting anti miscegenation laws". These activists maintain that miscegenation laws are to interracial marriage, as sodomy laws are to homosexual rights and that sodomy laws were enacted in order to maintain traditional sex roles that have become part of American society.

On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a rare public statement, which commented on same-sex marriage, prepared for delivery on the fortieth anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision of the US Supreme Court. The concluding paragraphs of her statement read as follows:

“Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.

The Majority Opinion of the New York Court of Appeals in Hernandez v. Robles (2006) rejected any reliance upon the Loving case as controlling upon the issue of same-sex marriage, holding that:

“[T]he historical background of Loving is different from the history underlying this case. [...] But the traditional definition of marriage is not merely a by-product of historical injustice. Its history is of a different kind. The idea that same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one. Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted. We do not so conclude.”

In the August 4, 2010 federal district court decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which overturned California's Proposition 8, Judge Vaughn Walker cited Loving v. Virginia when justifying his conclusion that "the right to marry protects an individual's choice of marital partner regardless of gender".

{*Information obtained from*}

Why Frederick Douglass is Important to Our History:

Besides the fact that Frederick Douglass was a brilliant writer who wrote a manner of oratories, speeches, and articles about the plight of the African-American to be truly free, he fought for the abolishment of slavery, advised President Lincoln and spoke out for the rights of all African-Americans. Who knows where we would be had it not been for the blunt, honest, and perceptive words spoken by Mr. Douglass to a society that didn't want to change and a world that didn't want to listen.

Why Loving v. Virginia is Important to Our History:

The case of Loving v. Virginia opened the door for interracial couples to get married legally all over the nation. It eliminated the stigma of shame that hung over interracial couples and gave biracial children, born of love and honest intentions the liberty of walking around with their heads held high instead of walking around full of shame at their parentage. This case opened the door for the Supreme Court to declare that denying someone the right to marry based on race was unconstitutional. It also served later for those in favor of same-sex marriages to have a foundation for their own fight for their rights. Love is special and precious and this case helped to prove that it shouldn't be restricted because of the opinions and beliefs of others.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Black History Month Day Three

Here it is: Day Three of your Black History/Our History education!!

On February 03, 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment to United States Constitution was ratified.

The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen suffrage based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" (i.e., slavery). It was ratified on February 3, 1870.

The Fifteenth Amendment is one of the Reconstruction Amendments.


Section 1. 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.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Fifteenth Amendment is the third of the Reconstruction Amendments. This amendment prohibits the states and the federal government from using a citizen's race (this applies to all races), color or previous status as a slave as a voting qualification. The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld this right of free men of color to vote; in response, amendments to the North Carolina Constitution removed the right in 1835. Granting free men of color the right to vote could be seen as giving them the rights of citizens, an argument explicitly made by Justice Curtis's dissent in Dred Scott v. Sandford:

Of this there can be no doubt. At the time of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, all free native-born inhabitants of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina, though descended from African slaves, were not only citizens of those States, but such of them as had the other necessary qualifications possessed the franchise of electors, on equal terms with other citizens.

The original House and Senate draft of the amendment said the right to vote and hold office would not be denied or abridged by the states based on race, color or creed. A House-Senate conference committee dropped the office holding guarantee to make ratification by 3/4 of the states easier. The amendment did not establish true universal male suffrage partly because Southern Republicans were reluctant to undermine loyalty tests, which the Reconstruction state governments used to limit the influence of ex-Confederates, and partly because some Northern and Western politicians wished to continue disenfranchisement of non-native Irish and Chinese.

Thomas Mundy Peterson was the first African American to vote after the amendment's adoption. Peterson cast his ballot in a school board election held in Perth Amboy, New Jersey on March 31, 1870. On a per capita and absolute basis, more blacks were elected to public office during the period from 1865 to 1880 than at any other time in American history including a number of state legislatures which were effectively under the control of a strong African American caucus. These legislatures brought in programs that are considered part of government's role now, but at the time were radical, such as universal public education. They also set all racially biased laws aside, including anti-miscegenation laws (laws prohibiting interracial marriage).

Voter registration card, Alamance County, North Carolina, 1902, with statement from registrant of birth before January 1, 1867, when the Fifteenth Amendment became law

Despite the efforts of groups like the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate black voters and white Republicans, assurance of federal support for democratically elected southern governments meant that most Republican voters could both vote and rule in confidence. For example, when an all-white mob attempted to take over the interracial government of New Orleans, President Ulysses S. Grant sent in federal troops to restore the elected mayor.

However, in order to appease the South after his close election, Rutherford B. Hayes agreed to withdraw federal troops. He also overlooked rampant fraud and electoral violence in the Deep South, despite several attempts by the Republicans to pass laws protecting the rights of black voters and to punish intimidation. Without the restrictions, voting place violence against blacks and Republicans increased, including instances of murder. Most of this was done without any intervention by law enforcement and often even with their cooperation.

By the 1890s, many Southern states had strict voter eligibility laws, including literacy tests and poll taxes. Some states even made it difficult to find a place to register to vote.

The Congress proposed the Fifteenth Amendment on February 26, 1869. The final vote in the Senate was 39 senators for, 13 against, and 14 absent. Several fierce advocates of equal rights, such as Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, abstained from voting because the amendment did not prohibit devices which states might use to restrict black suffrage, such as literacy tests and poll taxes. The vote in the House was 144 to 44 with 35 members not voting. The House vote was almost entirely along party lines, with no Democrats supporting the bill and only 3 Republicans voting against it.

On April 9, 1869, the Congress amended a pending reconstruction bill to require Virginia, Mississippi and Georgia to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment in order to regain representation in the Congress.

The following states ratified the amendment:

Nevada (March 1, 1869)

West Virginia (March 3, 1869)

Illinois (March 5, 1869)

Louisiana (March 5, 1869)

Michigan (March 5, 1869)

North Carolina (March 5, 1869)

Wisconsin (March 5, 1869)

Maine (March 11, 1869)

Massachusetts (March 12, 1869)

Arkansas (March 15, 1869)

South Carolina (March 15, 1869)

Pennsylvania (March 25, 1869)

New York (April 14, 1869, rescinded on January 5, 1870, rescinded the rescission on March 30, 1870)

Indiana (May 14, 1869)

Connecticut (May 19, 1869)

Florida (June 14, 1869)

New Hampshire (July 1, 1869)

Virginia (October 8, 1869) (required for representation in the Congress)

Vermont (October 20, 1869)

Alabama (November 16, 1869)

Missouri (January 7, 1870)

Minnesota (January 13, 1870)

Mississippi (January 17, 1870) (required for representation in the Congress)

Rhode Island (January 18, 1870)

Kansas (January 19, 1870)

Ohio (January 27, 1870, after having rejected it on April 30, 1869)

Georgia (February 2, 1870) (required for representation in the Congress)

Iowa (February 3, 1870)

Ratification was completed on February 3, 1870. The amendment was subsequently ratified by the following states:

Nebraska (February 17, 1870)

Texas (February 18, 1870) (required for representation in the Congress)

New Jersey (February 15, 1871, after having rejected it on February 7, 1870)

Delaware (February 12, 1901, after having rejected it on March 18, 1869)

Oregon (February 24, 1959)

California (April 3, 1962, after having rejected it on January 28, 1870)

Maryland (May 7, 1973, after having rejected it on February 26, 1870)

Kentucky (March 18, 1976, after having rejected it on March 12, 1869)

Tennessee (April 2, 1997, after having rejected it on November 16, 1869)

Why the Ratification of the 15th Amendment is Important to History:

Well, this does seem like a rather sill question doesn't it? Every person, male or female deserves the right to vote, the right to choose who will determine the laws that will govern, rule and restrict their lives.

Until the ratification of the 15th Amendment, blacks were unable to vote in the United States, so they had no say in who the president would be and no say in what laws were passed, oftentimes having to suffer the consequences of laws that only benefitted whites, especially white slave owners. These laws almost always negatively affected blacks. Especially blacks in the South.

If it had not been for the 15th Amendment there would be no President Barack Obama because while this amendment was about allowing former slaves, blacks, the right to vote, it also opened the door for blacks to start to think about running for governmental offices in order that they may have what they felt were more acceptable candidates for election.

Blacks marched for the right to vote, marched to be able to vote without oppression and violent tampering from the Ku Klux Klan and others who did not think that they should have that right. They were beaten, some were killed, they were threatened, some lost their jobs, they were incarcerated and it tore some families apart, but they kept pushing forward, pushing for freedom, pushing for equality and they would settle for nothing less. There are still those of us who will not settle for less than full equality in all areas of our lives, those of us who will continue the good fight of our ancestors, for us and for others who enjoy the freedom to vote, February 3, 1870 is truly a special and significant and yes, a blessed day in history.

Your thoughts? Any stories you've heard about people trying to vote?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Black History Month Day Two

Here is your Day Two of Black History/Our History Knowledge (see don't ever say that you didn't learn anything by reading my blog):

Crispus Attucks:

born 1723 – March 5, 1770. Crispus was killed in the Boston Massacre in Boston, Massachusetts. He has been named as the first martyr of the American Revolution.

Little is known for certain about Crispus Attucks beyond that he, along with Samuel Gray and James Caldwell, died "on the spot" during the incident. Two major sources of eyewitness testimony about the Boston Massacre, both published in 1770, did not refer to Attucks as a "Negro," or "black" man. The first was a report commissioned by the town of Boston, "A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre," which contained over one hundred depositions from locals about what they saw on March 5, 1770. The second source, "The Trial of William Wemms," referred to Attucks more than a dozen times as a "mulatto" or "molatto," and once as an "Indian", another as a "tall man," and yet another as a "stout," or muscular man. While 19th-century anti-slavery advocates later focused on Attucks' African heritage, Bostonians in 1770 considered him mixed-race.

Historians disagree on whether Crispus Attucks was a free man or an escaped slave; but it is widely agreed that he was of Native American (Wampanoag) and African descent. It is also unclear if his presence at the scene was intentional or accidental. There are some reports that he was not a participant in the riot but happened upon the scene at a tragic time and that he became collateral damage. Later he became an icon of the anti-slavery movement and held up as an example of the first black hero of the American Revolution. The other victims of the attack being: Samuel Gray and James Caldwell who like, Attucks, were killed during the attack; while Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr died from their wounds afterward.

In the early nineteenth century, as the Abolitionist movement gained momentum in Boston, Attucks was lauded as an example of a black American who played a heroic role in the history of the United States. Because Crispus Attucks had Wampanoag ancestors, his story also holds special significance for many Native Americans.

Crispus Attucks, one of the people killed in the Boston Massacre which started the American Revolution, is a central figure in the development of independence in the U.S. He was the only African American that was killed. There is a theory that he went by a different name, Michael Johnson. In addition, with regard to his mixed heritage, during the colonial period, it was not uncommon for Native American and African-descent people to unite and have children together. Attucks in all likelihood had both Wampanoag and African ancestry. Because slavery and racial discrimination were conditions of life in the 18th century, few detailed accounts of ordinary people from the colonial period exist. The name "Crispus" was mentioned in some records from the period; without a surname, to determine if these refer to Attucks. Historians have speculated whether an advertisement placed in the Boston Gazette on October 2, 1750 referred to Crispus Attucks:

“ Ran away from his Master William Brown of Framingham on the 30th of Sept. last a mulatto Fellow, about 27 years of age, named Crispus, 6 Feet and 2 inches high, short curl'd Hair, his Knees near together than common; and had on a light colour'd Beaverskin Coat, plain new buckskin breeches, blue yarn stockings and a checked woolen shirt. Whoever shall take up said runaway and convey him to his aforesaid master shall have 10 pounds old tenor reward, and all necessary charges paid. And all masters of vessels and others are hereby cautioned against concealing or carrying off said servant on penalty of law.[5] ”

In the aftermath of King Philip's War in 1676, a Wampanoag man named Jean Attucks was executed for treason. Throughout the 17th to 19th centuries, the surname “Attucks” was used by Praying Indians around Natick and Framingham. The anthropological research of Frank Speck, as well as the work of Algonquian linguistics scholars Ives Goddard, Kathleen Bragdon, and Jessie Little Doe Baird, suggest that "Attucks" is likely an Anglicisation of the Wôpanââk word, ahtuq, meaning "deer", in combination with, ees, meaning "little."

Attucks has often been praised in writing meant to inspire Americans to work toward the ideals of freedom and racial equality. In 1858, Boston-area Abolitionists established "Crispus Attucks Day." In 1886, the places where Crispus Attucks and Samuel Gray fell were marked by circles on the pavement. Within each circle, a hub with spokes leading out to form a wheel.

Two years later, a monument honoring Attucks was erected on Boston Common. It is over 25 feet high and a little over 10 feet wide. The bas-relief (raised portion on the face of the main part of the monument) portrays the Boston Massacre, with Attucks lying in the foreground. Under the scene is the date, March 5, 1770. Above the bas-relief stands a female figure, Free America. With her left hand, she clasps a flag about to be unfurled, and in her right hand, she holds the broken chain of oppression. Beneath her right foot, she crushes the royal crown of England, which lies torn and twisted on the ground. At the left of the figure, clinging to the edge of the base, is an eagle. Thirteen stars are cut into one of the faces of the monument. Beneath these stars in raised letters are the names of the five men who were killed that day: Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr.

In 1888, leaders of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the New England Historic Genealogical Society opposed the creation of the Crispus Attucks memorial on Boston Common. Today, both organizations use Crispus Attucks’s name to foster interest in black history and genealogy.

The poet John Boyle O'Reilly wrote the following poem when the monument was finally unveiled:

And to honor Crispus Attucks who was the leader and voice that day: The first to defy, and the first to die, with Maverick, Carr, and Gray. Call it riot or revolution, or mob or crowd as you may, such deaths have been seeds of nations, such lives shall be honored for aye...

Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to Crispus Attucks in the introduction of Why We Can't Wait (1964) as an example of a man whose contribution to history, though much-overlooked by standard histories, provided a potent message of moral courage.

In an unsourced book that appealed to a wide audience, James Neyland wrote his appraisal of Attucks’s significance:

He is one of the most important figures in African-American history, not for what he did for his own race but for what he did for all oppressed people everywhere. He is a reminder that the African-American heritage is not only African but American and it is a heritage that begins with the beginning of America.

In 1998, the United States Treasury released "The Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Dollar" featuring Attucks' image on the obverse side. The reverse side of the commemorative coin shows a family of African-American patriots. Funds from sales of the coin were intended for a proposed Black Revolutionary War Patriots Memorial in Washington, DC.

In 2002, the Afrocentrist scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Crispus Attucks as being among the 100 Greatest African Americans.

Places named for Attucks include the Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Attucks Middle School in Houston, Texas, the Crispus Attucks Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri, the Attucks Theatre in Norfolk, Virginia, the Crispus Attucks Association in York, Pennsylvania, Crispus Attucks Road in Spring Valley, New York, and the Crispus Attucks Center in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The first line of the Stevie Wonder song, "Black Man" is about Crispus Attucks.

Why Crispus Attucks is Important to Our History:

Blacks in the United States were only seen as property during the time that Crispus lived. Native Americans were seen as disposable people to be gathered and hidden away on reservations. Crispus was a disposable piece of property in the eyes of the majority of the American society. Crispus showed his worth by standing against injustice, by fighting on behalf of a country, a nation that did not see his own worth. Crispus truly was a hero in that aspect.

The story of Crispus shows us that we can't let hurt, wrongdoing, personal injury and injustices done to us, stop us from standing against injustices done to others. That we must stand for the greater good, we must fight against tyranny and slavery and oppression in all its forms. That is what the life and death of Crispus Attucks shows us. It also lifts my spirits to know that in a time where blacks and Native Americans were not noticed or appreciated, the death of this "mulatto" this "black man" was noticed, revered, remembered and praised for centuries.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month Day One

In honor of Black History Month, everyday I'm going to post a fact about black history which is really everyone's history, and give my thoughts about it and ask for yours.

So here is day one:

February 1st, 2011:

The African Free School in New York City was the first free school for African-Americans. It was started by the abolitionist group the New York Manumission Society on November 2, 1787. It was founded to provide education the the children of slaves and freemen.

The school was founded by the New York Manumission Society, an organization that advocated the full abolition of African slavery. The society's members were all white, male, wealthy, and influential. The society was founded by statesman and abolitionist John Jay, and included Alexander Hamilton among its members.

The original school was a one-room school house that held about 40 students. By the end of its term as a private institution, it had 7 schools and had educated literally thousands of girls and boys.

The school was founded just nine years after the society helped a state law be passed in 1785 that prohibited the sale of slaves imported into the state. The law also eased restriction on the manumission of Africans already committed to slavery. In 1835, African Free School was integrated into the public school system.

The school graduated some significant alumni, most notably Dr. James McCune Smith, a vocal abolitionist and the first African American to earn a medical degree. Other important alumni included actor Ira Aldridge; seafarer and abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet; minister and early Black nationalist Alexander Crummell; and engraver Patrick H. Reason.


Why This Is Important And Such a Milestone For Blacks:

It goes beyond the fact that before the creation of this school that slaves, freemen and their children were not educated. They existed solely on the language and the scraps of knowledge oozed down to them from other slaves and their "masters." They were unintentionally ignorant, unable to fend for themselves in a world that had already told them that not only were they undeserving of an education, freedom and rights but that they weren't intelligent enough to know what do with these things if they had them.

The creation of this school showed that someone out there, some people out there believed that not only did blacks in this country (the US) deserve their freedom but their independence, a right to a future, a right to educate themselves and their children. These people were doing more than just opening the door for blacks in this country to experience a new future, a new life, they were giving them the key to open all future doors. They were giving these children options, opportunities, choices.

They were freeing their minds and their spirits, which is sweeter than just freeing their bodies.

Do you have any thoughts on this or have some further knowledge about this piece of history?

Egypt: What Can I Do To Help?

So I want to get involved. I want to do something about what’s happening in Egypt, BEYOND tweeting and blogging and signing petitions. I want to move, to act, to DO something. And yes, I know that there’s really little that I as an American can do to actually bring about change there, but I’d atleast like to show some support.

I want to organize a march or a sit-in or something.

I was reading some of the responses from Egyptians about Mubarak’s statement and none of them really believe that at the end of his term he will step down, and they have all stated that they believe that he only made that statement to get the protesting to stop. There are many who plan to stage a sitting protest, peacefully, beginning Friday.

I would like to show support here in America by doing the same thing.

Only problem is getting the word out, who to contact, where to do it, etc.

I was involved in marching for Darfur and taping my mouth closed for the Invisible Children protest, I am active in fighting injustice even if all I do is take to my Twitter, Facebook, blogs or sign a few petitions, but every so often I have the urge to do more.

So I want to do something active. I want to DO something to show my support for the protestors over in Egypt. Any ideas? Anyone know of any other support protests for Egypt going on here in our country or support videos or anything? I really want to get involved