After six years of doing daily black history almost every day, I'm taking the big leap and starting a website (tentatively called Celebrate the Day!) with 20 to 30 entries for each day. After Tweeting and Pinning and Facebooking all this time, it seemed important to have a more permanent and accessible way to present the information. It also seemed important to "graduate" from Blogger to WordPress and I spent most of yesterday over at WP tweaking and screaming. Will it be worth it? I don't know, but one way to find out is to cross-post for a while and see which one is easier to beat into submission for a tidy final format.
Why now? My annual late summer meltdown came a little early this year. (Read about the first one in a 2011 post Make You Wanna Holla.) The photographs and magazine covers and other (mostly) light-hearted ephemera shown below are one way of coping with the time between Juneteenth and the anniversary of Barack Obama receiving the nomination for president at the 2008 DNC that seems too full of anniversaries from the Red Summer of 1919, the Long Hot Summer of 1967, and other acts of violence from every year in between. Adding the deaths of Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and others into that time frame makes me realize once again how cyclical history is and that the "moral arc of the universe" isn't always swinging in the right direction at any given time.
Things I do In Real Life don't always turn out well. I'm old, grumpy, and in my best years was never known for playing well with others. Not to mention that after a week of a heat index over 115 degrees it doesn't seem like it's worth the effort.
But I can do this, and it feels like that's what the universe is still nudging me to do. I can Google, and track down links, and make connections between facts, and prioritize information, and organize it coherently, and maybe with more practice will even be able to write about it well. I can share it and hope that it helps somebody else to make the connection between then and now, between them and us, between our heroes and the heroic part of ourselves.
The first observance of Memorial Day was a procession in Charleston on May 1, 1865 when 10,000 freedpeople consecrated an abandoned racetrack used as a Confederate prison and mass burial ground. Children and women marched with flowers, men followed in cadence with Union infantrymen including the famed 54th Massachusetts Regiment. The observance was overshadowed by later events by whites in the North and South but was recently discovered by historian David W. Blight.
Oliver White Hill (May 1, 1907 – August 5, 2007) Richmond, Virginia. Lead attorney with Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, which was consolidated with Brown v. Board of Education at the Supreme Court; First African American Richmond City Council member (1949). Highly decorated with the top-prize being the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by President William J. Clinton (1999).
Evelyn Boyd Granville (born May 1, 1924) was the second African American woman to earn a PhD in mathematics, granted by Yale in 1949. She taught briefly at Rusk College before beginning a career in aerospace developing computer procedures with IBM, NASA, and other private contractors. She later taught at Cal State LA, Texas College, and UT Tyler and worked to improve math education at all levels.
Max Robinson (May 1, 1939 – December 20, 1988): Robinson became the first black national news anchor in America as the co-anchor of ABC Nightly News. He succumbed to AIDS-related complications at 49.
Sterling Allen Brown (May 1, 1901 - January 13, 1989) was an African American professor (Howard), author, poet, and literary critic. He was born on the campus of Howard University where his father, Sterling N. Brown, a former slave was a prominent minister and professor at Howard University Divinity School. He graduated from Dunbar High School where he graduated as the top student. He graduated from Williams College Phi Beta Kappa in 1922
Patricia Hill Collins (born May 1,1948) is currently a Distinguished University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland. Also the former head of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati . Her work primarily concerns issues involving feminism and gender within the African-American community. She first came to national attention for her book "Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment
Shauntia Latrice "Tia" Norfleet (born May 1, 1988 in Suffolk, Virginia) is an African-American drag racing and stock car racing driver. The daughter of NASCAR driver Bobby Norfleet, she has competed on a limited basis in late model racing, claims regarding her racing career becoming the subject of controversy.
On May 1, 1950 Gwendolyn Brooks, poet, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for "Annie Allen" (her 2nd Collection of Poetry). She became the First African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize.
On May 1-2, 1866, Memphis suffered its worst race riot in history. Some forty-six African Americans and two whites died during the riot. Reports are that seventy-five persons were injured, one hundred persons robbed, five women raped, ninety-one homes burned, four churches and eight schools burned and destroyed, and thousands of dollars in federal property destroyed.
On May 1, 1941 A. Philip Randolph issued a call for 100,000 Blacks to march on Washington, D.C., to protest discrimination in the armed forces and war industries. This Protest convinced Franklin D. Roosevelt to desegregate production-plants for military supplies during World War II.
On May 1, 2001 former Ku Klux Klansman, Thomas Blanton Jr., 62, was convicted of murder for the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing that killed the four girls on Sept. 15, 1963. (AP Photo, clockwise from top left: Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; Addie Mae Collins, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14. )
On May 1, 1937, Jackie Ormes created her first cartoon, Torchy Brown in Dixie to Harlem: an action, romance and soap opera comic featuring a black heroine named Torchy Brown. The Courier distributed it to 14 other black papers around the country making Ormes the first black woman in America to become a syndicated cartoonist. She remained the only one until the 1990s.
On May 1, 1867 Howard University ( named for General Oliver O. Howard), opened its doors and began accepting students
On May 1, 1997, Alexis Margaret Herman was named the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Labor & the FIRST African American appointed to the position (serving under President Bill Clinton). Prior to her appointment, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
May 1, 1946, Ms. Emma Clarissa Clement, a black woman and mother of Atlanta University President Rufus E. Clement, was named "American Mother of the Year" by the Golden Rule Foundation. She was the first Afro-American woman to receive the honor.
A woman holding two packages of toilet paper makes her way through looted grocery store in South Central Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots, May 1, 1992 in Los Angeles, CA.
W.E.B. DUBOIS / May Day Parade, Moscow, USSR, 1959
President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office before making a statement to the media about the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. The President made a series of calls, including to former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and others, to inform them of the successful mission. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In this May 1, 2003 file photo, Sculptor Elizabeth Catlett stands in front of her "Invisible Man" sculpture in New York.. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
Black Panther Rally The Federal Building, San Francisco ~ May 1, 1969
An unidentified African American demonstrator crouches for protection against blows from white man in front of segregated Nashville restaurant on May 1, 1964. Three or four African Americans were hurt in a series of scuffles between demonstrators and white men and white youths.
This May 1, 1992 file photo shows Rodney King making a statement at a Los Angeles news conference.
Seven of the nine Scottsboro Boys met with lawyer Samuel Leibowitz (second from left) on 1 May 1935