A retired U.S. Navy Officer, with a passion for African American military history and equal opportunity, has launched an interesting and provocative web site. Black military world has features plus news of general interest for African American veterans, active duty members, and Department of Defense civilians. Black History People from the armed services are profiled and highlighted. Site founder retired Navy Commander Gregory Black says "this project is long overdue." Black retired as a Navy diving officer in 2002, and has since worked to promote African American history and to publicize the significant roles of African Americans in the defense of America. The site is dedicated to late master diver Carl Brashear, whose life story was told in the popular 2002 movie Men of Honor. Black says "stories like that of master diver Brashear, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the 555th Paratrooper Battalion (Triple Nickles), are only the tip of the iceberg." There are approximately a half million African Americans currently employed by the United States Department of Defense (the largest employer of African Americans in the United States). 2018 update: Unfortunately, the website has ceased operation.
August is a very busy month for noteworthy accomplishments of black history people. Just sample this five-decade timeline... 1936 - Jesse Owens wins four gold medals in the Olympics 1943 - W.L. Dawson becomes the Vice Presidential candidate of the African American Democratic Party 1950 - Boxer Ezzard Charles defeats Freddy Beshore 1963 - Martin Luther King Jr. leads the March on Washington, DC 1977 - Lou Brock sets baseball's stolen base record These aren't the only significant years. August is literally a hot month through four hundred years of important black history: From 1619 and the arrival of Africans to Jamestown, Virginia... Through the 18th Century, and the founding of the AME Zion Church in 1796... To Nat Turner's 19th Century Rebellion in 1831... When the heat is on, pioneers in black history have maintained their cool, and have risen to the occasion. Let's not neglect the other eleven months however, as more accomplishments have taken place every day of the year than we could ever imagine.
Booker T. Washington opened Tuskegee Institute in the temporary quarters of an AME church on July 4, 1881, ten days after arriving in Alabama. Washington cleverly used students to construct the permanent campus. Forty buildings were constructed during the first 20 years of Tuskegee, almost all by student labor. Sometimes, ingenuity goes a long way when access to money is limited. Independence Day in the USA reminds us that belief in a set of ideals is powerful currency for a nation, an individual, or an educator like Booker T. Washington. Resourcefulness afforded Washington ultimate success while creating the Tuskegee campus.
Here’s the reason why African American slaves in Texas had been free for two and a half years, but didn’t know it until June 19, 1865. Surrounded by Confederate soldiers and geographically isolated, news of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 did not reach the black folks in Texas until two months after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia. Union General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 and immediately proclaimed the slaves freedom. The celebration that followed the announcement has been reenacted every year in Texas, eventually becoming known as Juneteenth. After cycles of popularity and decline, Juneteenth has experienced a resurgence across the USA, adopted beyond the borders of Texas (the only state where it is an official holiday) as a day to celebrate the freedom of all black Americans.
The Black Greek Network, run by Otis Collier, compiles information about what African American greek organizations are doing across the USA. Collier focuses on nine black fraternities and sororities, but he does include other important fellowship organizations, including but not limited to: the Prince Hall Masons, Eastern Star, NAACP, and the Urban League. On December 4, 1906, the "grandfather of all black Greek organizations." Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was founded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Today, the black greek organizations are known as “the divine nine.” Alpha Phi Alpha Alpha Kappa Alpha Delta Sigma Theta Iota Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Psi Omega Psi Phi Sigma Gamma Rho Phi Beta Sigma Zeta Phi Beta When you discover the Black Greek Network, you’ll find some very interesting profiles of black history people who are also noteworthy black greeks. Otis’ site offers a great platform for black fraternity and sorority members to share and exchange ideas, information, and news.
Among distinguished American diplomats, Clifton R. Wharton Sr. has just been honored by the United States Postal Service with a brand new stamp (May 30, 2006). Wharton was the first African American foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State. He was appointed ambassador to Norway by President John Kennedy. Wharton rose through the ranks by accomplishment, not just by political appointment. He was the first black diplomat to lead an American delegation to a European country - Romania. His stamp honors nearly 40 years of public service. Appropriately, the Wharton stamp was unveiled in Washington D.C. at the world's largest free stamp expo, the 2006 World Philatelic Exhibition, (May 27 - June 3). It takes place only in the United States once a decade, and features the world's rarest stamps from 70 countries.
As we remember service men and women on Memorial Day, this quick spotlight features Ensign Jesse Brown, the U.S. Navy’s first black aviator. He received his wings in 1948. In December, 1950, his fighter was shot down over North Korea while flying a mission. Jesse was the first African American naval officer killed during the Korean War. The Navy awarded Brown the Flying Cross and Air Medal. In addition to his distinguished medals, a destroyer escort named the USS Jesse Brown was commissioned in 1973, a first for a African American naval officer.
A Washington D.C. teacher of women’s studies challenged us to obtain some "inside" information about Azie Taylor Morton, the first African American U.S. Treasurer, who is often overlooked among black history people. Here’s the scoop, direct from the public papers of President Jimmy Carter… In 1977, President Carter nominated Azie T. Morton, (1936 – 2003), of Annandale, Virginia, to be Treasurer of the United States. Ms. Morton was a staff assistant to the U.S. House District Committee. She was born February 1, 1936, in Dale, Texas, and received a B.S. from Huston-Tillotson College in 1956. From 1958 to 1961, Morton was an administrative assistant at the Texas State AFL-CIO, in Austin. She served as an administrative assistant and community relations specialist for the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and the President's Committee on Equal Opportunity in Housing from 1961 to 1966. From 1966 to 1968, Morton was a complaint investigator and conciliator for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She was director of social services for the Wichita, Kansas, Model Cities Program from 1968 to 1971. Morton was special assistant to the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1971 until 1977, when she went to work for the House District Committee. In 1974 she was vice chairperson of the Arrangement Committee and deputy conference manager for the 1974 Democratic Conference on Party Organization in Kansas City. She was a deputy convention manager for the 1976 Democratic National Convention. In 1975 and 1976, she served on the DNC's Compliance Review Commission. A great career of public service from a pioneer, Azie Taylor Morton.
Saturday, April 22, is Earth Day. When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, protection of the environment was not an activity automatically associated with people of color in general, and African Americans in particular. Thirty-six years later, black history people are making contributions in all sectors of society, including the environmental movement. In 2005, Jerome Ringo was elected Chairman of the Board of the National Wildlife Federation, the largest conservation environmental organization, with over 4 million members. Ringo is the first African American elected Chairman of the Board of the NWF. The National Wildlife Federation has been dedicated to protecting America's wildlife since 1936. An Earth Day salute to Jerome Ringo.
Recently, Yvonne from St. Petersburg, Florida was curious about the first black woman commercial airline pilot. According to Empower Encyclopedia: Bessie Coleman, (1892-1926), is given credit as the first black woman in the United States to receive a pilot’s license. Willa Brown started flying in 1934. She was born in Kentucky, went to school in Indiana, became a teacher in Gary, and learned to fly in Chicago. Willa Brown obtained her commercial pilot's license in 1937. Pan American World Airways First Officer and pilot Otis B. Young, of Washington D.C., was the first African American to fly a 747 jumbo jet. In 1970, the former Air Force aviator flew the first 747 non-stop flight between London and Los Angeles. Jill Brown was accepted by the Navy in 1974 as the first black woman for pilot training. In 1978, Jill Brown became the first African American woman pilot/First Officer with a major carrier: Texas International Airlines. In the space age, Guion Stewart Bluford Jr. became the first black American astronaut in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger on August 30, 1983.