Calling for the Real McCoy : The Story of Elijah McCoy (Black History 365)

Welcome readers,

Give it up to Elijah McCoy the real McCoy. Well, maybe. 

McCoy was an inventor who held 57 United States patents, most of them coming from the railways. His inventions, which were not groundbreaking outside the field of steam engines, were so associated with high quality and excellent function that people began saying “the real McCoy” to refer to superlative products. 

Like many other black inventors, McCoy had to endure racism and exclusion in his work, but that didn’t deter him from having a lengthy and successful career. McCoy was born in 1843 to George and Emilia McCoy, two former slaves from Kentucky who had escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad. He lived with his family in Ontario for several years before they relocated to Detroit following the Civil War. While in Detroit, Elijah got an education as well as in Edinburgh Scotland. 

Furthermore, he returned to the States and ended up working for the Michigan Central Railroad. According to the Canadian Railway Hall of Fame, although McCoy was educated as an engineer, the discriminatory management of the railroad thought a black man wasn’t capable of being an engineer. McCoy was hired and relegated to work in the boiler room of trains. 

However, things changed for the better in 1872. McCoy invented and patented an automatic oiling device for the moving parts of steam locomotives, colloquially known as the “oil drip cup”. According to the University of Michigan, “McCoy’s patented device was quickly adopted by the railroads, by those who maintained steamship engines, and many others who used large machinery”. “The device was not particularly complicated so it was easy for competitors to produce similar devices. However, McCoy’s device was an original development, and apparently, had the best reputation”. That may well have been how the phrase “the real McCoy became popular” (end quote). 

McCoy used the profit he received from ventures associated with his first patent to continue inventing, mainly focusing his attention on railway-related inventions but making improvements on the ironing board. Moreover, he moved to Detroit from Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1882 with Mary McCoy, his wife, the railway hall of fame writes, where he consulted for firms and continued to brainstorm ideas. 

When McCoy was 72 in 1916, he patented the “graphite lubricator” which was composed of a mixture of graphite and oil that worked well in the period’s “super heater locomotives, but he didn’t establish his own company to make some of his inventions until 1920. Unfortunately, in 1922 he was injured in an accident that resulted in the death of his wife. McCoy died seven years later in 1929 after suffering financial, physical, and mental problems. 

McCoy’s legacy was enshrined when he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. His former hometown Detroit named a patent office to honor him. In terms of the widely known phrase “the real McCoy”, the Canadian encyclopedia says the phrase has an ambiguous origin. It states quote “many have suggested that the phrase became common parlance among mechanical engineers who refused to install knockoff lubricators onto their locomotives, demanding instead the original McCoy design. However, parallel mythologies surround a number of other figures of the late 19th and early 20th century”. “There’s Charlie “Kid” McCoy and Joseph McCoy, and G. MacKay and Company, a distiller which used “the real MacKay” as a promotional slogan. All things considered, it would be safe to say they were all the real thing. 

Works Cited

Eschner, Kat. “This Prolific Inventor Helped Give Us the Phrase ‘The Real Mccoy.’” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 2 May 2017, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/prolific-inventor-helped-give-us-phrase-real-mccoy-180963059/?fbclid=IwAR0QQnXiNxWTIJFwUgsG4gLIaW7Or7IVblzjPwWqE92XlNdeFsay4nEjqfk.

The story of George stinney jr. (black history 365)

This story for this entry of Black History 365 is disheartening and astounding in terms of the duration of the outcome.  Leave a like and follow so you can stay up to date with my future posts.

The year is 1944 in South Carolina and George Stinney Jr. finds himself interrogated by Alcolu South Carolina police for the murder of two white girls. Within a span of two days, his life was in the balance and the outcome was something all too familiar in the Jim Crow South. 

Introduction 

George Stinney Jr. was only 14yrs old when he was executed in South Carolina in 1944. It took 10 minutes to convict him and 70 years to exonerate him. Equally important, he was the youngest person in the U.S. to be executed via the electric chair. 

George Stinney Jr. grew up in Alcolu South Carolina where white people and black people were separated by railroad tracks. Stinney’s family lived in a humble company house until they were forced to leave when the boy was accused of killing two white girls. In March 1944, Betty June Binnicker (11), and Mary Emma Thames (7), were riding their bicycles in Alcolu looking for flowers. They came across Stinney and his sister Aime on their journey and stopped to ask for help finding maypops, the yellow edible fruit of passion fruits. That was the last reported time the girls were seen alive. Consequently, hundreds of Alcolu residents, including Stinney’s father, came together to search for the missing girls. It wasn’t until the next day their dead bodies were discovered in a soggy ditch. 

Their bodies were examined by Dr. Asbury Cecil Bozard and the conclusions found were that there was no clear sign of a struggle, but both girls had met their demise due to multiple head injuries. Thames had a hole boring straight through her forehead and into her skull along with a two-inch long cut above her right eyebrow. On the other hand, Binnicker had suffered at least seven blows to the head. It was later noted that the back of her skull was “nothing but a mass of crushed bones”. Moreover, the girls were killed by what was described to be a “round instrument”. This is where the story takes a strange turn. The girls were rumored to be not anywhere near Stinney Jr. and his sister, but at a prominent white family’s home on the day of the murder. It must be remembered, that Stinney Jr. like many other black men during the Jim Crow era, were never innocent and always seen as guilty, so tracking down a white killer was an afterthought to the police. 

The Interrogation

    Interrogated without an attorney or his parents, Stinney Jr. was defenseless and vulnerable when in the presence of the intimidating Alcolu police. They claimed that Stinney Jr. confessed to murdering Binnicker and Thames after his plan to have sex with one of the girls failed. The confession was coerced and Stinney Jr. was under duress, but this wouldn’t be addressed until his exoneration in 2014. Furthermore, an officer named H.S. Newman wrote in a handwritten statement that stated, “I arrested a boy by the name of George Stinney. He then made a confession and told me where to find a piece of iron about 15 inches long. He said he put it in a ditch about six feet from the bicycle.” In regard to this, Newman refused to reveal where Stinney was detained. His parents didn’t even know where he was as the trial approached. Even though 14, he was considered at an age where he would face legal ramifications. A month after the girl’s death, the trial began for Stinney Jr. at Clarendon County Courthouse. Stinney’s court-appointed attorney Charles Plowden did “little to nothing” to defend his client. The trial lasted TWO HOURS (you read that right), and during those two hours, Plowden failed to call witnesses to the stand or produce any evidence that would refute and cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. In addition, deliberation was swift, ten minutes to be exact, and it culminated with Stinney Jr. being sentenced to death. One thing that should be noted which is somber is that Stinney hadn’t seen his parent in weeks. They couldn’t reach the courthouse because they were in fear of being attacked by a white mob, and the 14-year-old had to endure being surrounded by an irate group of strangers that totaled up to 1500. On April 24th, 1944, Stinney Jr. was sentenced to die by electrocution. 

    The Execution of George Stinney Jr. Bullet Points. 

Stinney Jr.’s execution was not met without resistance by the ways of protests. In South Carolina, organizers that consisted of both white and black ministerial unions petitioned Gov. Olin Johnston to grant Stinney clemency based on his age. 

His supporters made valiant attempts in terms of sending hundreds of letters and telegrams to the governor’s office, begging him to show mercy to Stinney. Moreover, they appealed to everything from the idea of fairness to concepts of justice in Christianity, but in the end, their efforts were to no avail. On June 16th, 1944, George Stinney Jr. walked into the execution chamber at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia with a Bible tucked under his arm. There’s one issue that arose before the execution commenced. Stinney weighed only 95 pounds. After being dressed in a loose-fitting striped jumpsuit he was strapped into an adult-size electric chair, but his small stature made it a struggle for the state electrician to adjust the electrode onto his right leg. Eventually, it was done, and a mask that was too big for him was placed over his face. Under these circumstances, it’s customary for a death row inmate to be given the courtesy for any final words. “No sir” was Stinney’s reply to an assistant captain when asked if he had any last words. Once the officials turned on the switch, 2,400 volts surged through Stinney’s body causing his mask to slip off. His eyes were wide and teary, and saliva was emanating from his for the witnesses in the room to see. After two more jolts of electricity were administered, it was over. Stinney was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Within a span of 83 days, Stinney had been charged with murder, tried, convicted, and executed by the state. 

A Murder Conviction Overtuned 70 Years Later

In 2014, George Stinney’s murder conviction was thrown out. His siblings specifically his sister Katherine Robinson testified and claimed that his confession was coerced and he had an alibi: At the time of the murders, Stinney was with his sister Aime watching the family’s cow.

It was noted during the testimonies that a man named Wilford “Johnny” Hunter who was Stinney’s cellmate claimed that Stinney denied ever murdering Binnicker and Thames. He said quote, “He said, ‘Johnny, I didn’t, didn’t do it,’” Hunter said. “He said, ‘Why would they kill me for something I didn’t do?’”. The meticulous proceedings took a few months of consideration on December 17th, 2014, Judge Carmen T. Mullen vacated Stinney’s murder conviction, stating that the death sentence was a “great and fundamental injustice”. Stinney’s siblings were elated to learn that their brother was exonerated after 70 years and also glad that they contributed to bringing justice to their brother’s memory. Lastly, Stinney’s sister Katherine Robinson said quote “It was like a cloud just moved away,” said Stinney’s sister, Katherine Robinson. “When we got the news, we were sitting with friends… I threw my hands up and said, ‘Thank you, Jesus!’ Someone had to be listening. It’s what we wanted for all these years.”

The Ballad of Blind Tom (Black History 365)

Welcome readers to another entry in Black History 365, a series where I explain, educate and explore historical events, unsung black figures in world history, and recount the struggles and triumphs of black people worldwide. In this entry, I will present the story of a man who lived during slavery and had an extraordinary musical gift, but due to his disabilities his talents were minimized and forgotten about, therefore resulting in many future generations of America to not know about him.

Thomas Wiggins might have given Ray Charles a run for his money if they were in the same era. I know, you’re wondering who’s Thomas Wiggins? Well, Thomas Wiggins was the first black man to perform at the White House, and to make this even more of a feat he did while being blind and autistic. He was nicknamed “Blind Tom ” by his “handlers”. 

Wiggins was born into slavery on May 25th, 1849. He was blind and austistic from birth and to make it even more of a challenge he had to endure the dreadful institution of American slavery in the state of Georgia. Since his owner could not benefit from Thomas’s lack of physical abilities he took advantage of the talent Wiggins was blessed with, which was playing the piano exceptionally. 

After hearing Thomas play the piano, General James Neil Bethune Thomas’s owner allowed Thomas to have open access to the piano. Thereafter, Thomas was perfectly playing classical piano compositions and even went further by composing original pieces of his own. This was all well and good, but unfortunately Thomas was not able to develop and maintain relationships due to his autism. Furthermore, his autism made it difficult for this blind musical genius to communicate his emotions and needs. Consequently, General James took full advantage of the opportunity to exploit and control Thomas’s musical gift. 

James Neil Bethune and Perry Oliver the “handlers” for Thomas earned upwards of $100,000 a year, which is equivalent to $1.5 million in today’s society.  

Thomas Wiggins was a savant prodigy which historians believe to be one of the country’s most important musical artists, but since the record industry didn’t exist during his time his work was never enjoyed by the masses. Additionally, due to his disabilities and his status as a slave, his compositions were exploited, therefore making his contributions to music often ignored and minimized by mainstream musical historians and black history for that matter. 

Make sure to leave a like if you enjoyed checking this out, and also give my page a follow so you can stay up to date with my future posts. As always peace and keep it real.

Da 5 Bloods Film review

Spike Lee’s newest film “Da 5 Bloods” opens up with Muhammad Ali being interviewed in 1978 and it closes with one of the last speeches Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a year exactly before his death in 1968. Lee used these two figures during the civil rights movement in the 1960s to point out their commonality and opposition towards the Vietnam war. Ali had four years of his boxing prime taken away from and his heavyweight championships stripped from him. Even though he had to relinquish his materialistic triumphs in the ring, he believed that the real championship was to bring forth liberation to black people and the oppressed and disfranchised. 

“Da 5 Bloods”, depicts the trauma and psychological effects that black men faced during the Vietnam war and exalting the unacknowledged heroism of black Americans. The film tells the story of four Vietnam War veterans and lifelong friends. Over the years they’ve become distant but not estranged. They reunite and regroup in Ho Chi Minh City with a dual mission, the first one was to recover the body of their former commanding officer Norman (Chadwick Boseman). The second task was to collect a stash of gold bars that they buried after the firefight in which Norman was killed. These veterans have interesting and contrasting personalities which makes it an enjoyable movie, there’s the jokester Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) the level – headed medic Otis (Clarke Peters), the one who achieved the most post-war success but it all went downhill after a revelation (Norm Lewis). To round out this quartet, the commanding and hot-headed Paul is played by Delroy Lindo. Lindo delivers an outstanding performance and plays the deeply psychologically damaged Paul incredibly well in scenes that provoke his anger and tension  towards his fellow brothers in arms, but there is a reason behind that all and it is shown towards the end where he has a breakdown cursing about God and deliverance to himself. “I am a man”, “I will choose how I die” he shouts. Paul admired Norman, the team’s commanding soldier who died in the hands of Paul, and ever since then he’s had PTSD and agony years after Norman’s death. Paul’s trauma is slowly revealed as the film progresses and you’ll start to empathize more with why he acts the way he does. In addition, his son David (Jonathan Majors) has joined the four veterans and looks to reconnect with his father who has resented his existence since his wife died giving birth to David, but as the film progresses they do their best to make amends in an adverse environment. 

Netflix's 'Da 5 Bloods' tells Black Vietnam veterans' stories the ...
Da 5 Bloods' Post-Credit Scene on Netflix, Explained

“Da 5 Bloods” runs over two hours, two hours and thirty-four minutes to be exact, but it’s worth every minute. The action and there’s tons of it is intense, furious, and moves the plot along well until the ending. I felt the timeline shifts from the present day to their time in the Vietnam war transitioned smoothly and didn’t interrupt the momentum. The inclusion of real documentary footage of the war added depth to the story’s fictional characters and how it impacted the lives of black American soldiers that felt there was going to be no tomorrow unless they kept fighting a war away in a foreign land for a country (USA) that waged a war on them since slavery. As stated before I think that the film’s runtime of over two hours will exhaust some viewers with the amount of information packing Lee and his writers added to the film with the social commentary and examination of black men heroism in wartime that is often overlooked in world history. Spike Lee has had his hits and misses in the last 30 plus years of directing, but I will say that he has directed an impressive film with enough urgency and riveting freshness during this time where racial tensions are at an all- time high and solutions to pain are usually a challenge to the afflicted.

Spike Lee's new movie Da 5 Bloods is out on Netflix. Like all his ...

The Banker film review (Black History 365)

This film I’m about to review and analyze will fly under the radar because for one it’s not a theatrical release and secondly, it’s on Apple TV + which not many people use and own. I believe this film will be one of those hidden gems of 2020. 2020 will be a challenging year for films due to the worldwide health issues (COVID – 19) shutting down theaters in U.S. for three months and we’re only three months into the new year and we’ve gotten a lot of compounding dilemmas. Anyways, “The Banker” from my perspective is an edutainment type of film due to it dealing with true events that happened to two black men during the civil rights era and their journey in changing the banking landscape in the 1950s to 1960s in California and Texas. In “The Banker”, the fight for civil rights in this story stems over land deeds, homeownership and the primary weapon that makes this country stable daily and that’s capital that is mostly controlled by white people. Ambitious and motivated to make a breakthrough in the real estate market, redlining policies and discrimination, Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) uses his intrigue since adolescence in the housing marketing to start a business in Los Angeles with his wife and son by his side. Eunice Garrett introduces Bernard to boisterous club owner Joe Morris (Samuel L Jackson) and this polar opposite duo go on a mission to desegregate the housing market in the city of angels (Los Angeles) and enter banking. However, all their efforts even though successful had its one weakness and that was the everyday obstacle of racism they had to deal with when conducting business deals. To combat this obstacle they befriend and apprentice Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) a working-class white man and trained him to be the frontman to enter circles with rich white bankers that would have shunned two astute black men even if they were well versed in banking strategies and loans. From here on out the group embarks on ways to bring down discrimination in housing marketing and banks.

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Directed by George Nolfi “The Banker” is a relativity unknown story that presents a  complex historical drama that’s thought-provoking and inspirational because these two hidden figures (Garrett and Morris) represented everyday men trying to achieve the American Dream which at that time wasn’t guaranteed to them and frankly wasn’t going to be acknowledged by their oppressors if they made attempts in becoming full-fledged and respected members of the American society and this leads to my next point which will be a slight spoil but nothing too specific. At the climax of the film Bernard, Morris, and Matt are caught by the FBI and banking authorities on criminal charges of misapplying $189,000 in bank funds and other charges, Garrett testifies to a bench full of white judges on the systematic racism and oppression that had stagnated black Americans from moving forward economically and creating opportunities for black Americans to thrive in a society where they were second class citizens and were never allowed to participate in America’s economic growth. Furthermore, I can’t gauge the personality of Bernard Garrett, Joe Morris nor Matt Steiner but all three actors portraying these real-life hidden figures in American history were exceptional. Anthony Mackie even though his character was the least intriguing in terms of personality had depth due to Mackie delivering a stellar job in portraying Garrett as a no-nonsense and stoic man that withstood racism during his tenure in the housing marketing and banking. On the other hand, Samuel L Jackson always delivers the expected energy we’ve seen in his roles throughout his career and he transferred that to the Joe Morris character who added levity to tense situations, but he would also remind his partner Garrett how all their efforts even if they happened to become successful had its repercussions attached to it and they wouldn’t be able to change it due to segregation and the socioeconomic disadvantages in class they endured. And lastly, the character of Matt Steiner didn’t represent a typical stock white character being the white savior that would help these two black characters that had to endure adversity daily but as an equal in a working relationship. This showed how these allies had the same outcomes win or lose and at the end of the day they all felt the pain and reward of their efforts. Eunice Garrett the wife of Bernard Garrett portrayed by Nia Long didn’t have much depth but her character held an important position in her husband’s endeavors. She was a good support system that would do anything to help her husband and the targeted black community benefit off their accomplishments. Nia Long did good a job in playing off Mackie in scenes when Garrett needed a second opinion on how to move forward. She would also put her foot down and spoke up when she felt things were not going in the right direction. In regards to that Nia Long said in an interview that Eunice Garrett was more assertive and firm in her stance when dealing with dire situations and she felt that she needed to embody that in certain scenes and she did just that.

The Banker movie review

In conclusion, “The Banker” isn’t like any other biopic I’ve seen of black heroes being determined businessman uplifting themselves and the black community in Texas during segregation in the 1960s. This film shows the rise instead of the perpetual knocked down of black folks in the eyes of their oppressors some biopics depict and once these men reached their goals it only caught the attention of the government and they came down on them hard which ultimately resulted in Garrett and Morris serving time. A lot of biopics that came out the last decade have shown the losses more than the victories of black folk and that’s why I perceive these two men (Garrett and Morris) as black heroes more than protagonists because they showed black people the blueprint to know that obstacles will always be there but the persistence to provide value not only for themselves but for their community is what matters in the end and for that, I’d say this movie was a great history lesson. Leave a like and comment if you would like to chime in. Lastly, follow my page so you can stay up to date with future posts. As always peace and keep it real.

My rating for the film : 3.5/5 Grade : B

The class of Jazz (Black History 365)

In this entry for Black History 365, I want to depict the talents of legendary figures in Jazz and it’s derivative forms such as Swing and BeBop to name a few. I had the pleasure of attending a Jazz exhibit at the Museum of African American History in Boston where I live next to and it was a good way to spend the afternoon learning the history of a musical genre I listen to consistently. In regards to that, even though Jazz has its roots in New Orleans it would spread throughout the nation quickly to places such as New York and other cities have seen a rich Jazz history such as Chicago, Kansas City, Detroit and in this case Boston. All these cities played a significant role in the development and popularity of jazz as America’s genre of classical music. There was Jazz played in Boston’s south end from the earliest days of the genre, and the city produced a sizable group of swing-era players. In the late 1940s and 1950s there was a tremendous amount of energy and creativity on and off the stage and this caused Boston to be a musical landmark of musical talent, a training ground for Jazz journalist, a proving ground for new approaches in Jazz presentations, and a magnet for musical education. Jazz did find itself having a decline in the years of the rock revolution, but with the help of the grassroots activist in the Boston Jazz Society and the Jazz Coalition they rebuilt the scene year by year, and finally laid the foundation for the jazz revival in the 1980s.

Boston was where the world was first exposed to the explosive drumming of Tony Williams, the dazzling saxophone player of Johnny Hodges, and the exuberant piano of Chick Corea. Furthermore, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday sang together at Symphony Hall. Jazz education was revolutionized by Louis Berk and Gunther Schuller in Boston and with the help of George Wein they created the Newport Jazz Festival that happens annually during the summer in Newport Rhode Island. When it comes to Jazz, Boston became a city of jazz heroes, sung and unsung and it continues to be a scene where this musical genre can thrive.

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Two stories about Ms. Parks (Black History 365)

We’ve all heard and learned the story of how Rosa Parks refusal to give her seat to a white person in 1955 due to her sitting in the front of a bus. This defiance led to what would become the Montgomery Bus Boycott. However, she was not the first woman who refused to give up her seat up for a white person during those segregated times, the first documented woman to do it was by the name of Claudette Colvin (9/6/1939 -) from Montgomery Alabama. There very well might have been more people who’ve even done it before Claudette Colvin, but as I said Claudette Colvin was the first documented black woman to not give up her seat and looked injustice in the face without retreating. However, she didn’t have the connections to the NAACP that Rosa Parks had and at that time the NAACP didn’t want her to be the focal point in spearheading a movement because she was still a teenager at 15, but this logic doesn’t make any sense. First, her age didn’t have to be a factor because as in my last post I wrote about in my Black History 365 series, a person like Ruby Bridges who was six years old would five years later make an impact on the eventual desegregation of schools in New Orleans and the rest of the nation. So, age doesn’t have to be an issue when starting a movement in my opinion because a young individual can and will most likely receive guidance and protection from an older individual who has recognition and power in a movement. Having said that, while Rosa Parks got all the praise and was the prominent figure beside MLK Jr during the bus boycott, Colvin’s name is rarely mentioned and that’s disappointing. Sometimes we know and use popular things and always circulate it’s great use to friends, family etc… but sometimes we come across hidden gems that are just as good as that popular one and sometimes even better. The reason for this analogy I’m making here is that Claudette Colvin is a hidden gem in the civil rights movement even if she didn’t have a major impact, she had an impact nonetheless. If you didn’t know of her existence or her story now you know. I’ll leave a link to a video at the end of this where she addresses her experience and the pursuit to make a difference and fight injustice and segregation in the south.

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On another note, this story about Rosa Parks deals with her battle with Hip Hop superstar group Outkast. Yes, you read that right. If you listen to and love Hip Hop music then you know Outkast as one of the greatest groups in Hip Hop history and arguably the south with classic albums and chart-topping hits. However, they did face controversy in 1998 during their release of their third album Aquemini due to one of their singles on the album by the name of “Rosa Parks” grabbing the attention of Rosa Parks who subsequently filed a lawsuit in March 1999 over defamation of character. I don’t want to get into the details about the lawsuit due it being long and it would make the post even longer explaining every step that was taken to the final verdict being a cash settlement that was agreed upon by both parties. Outkast took responsibility and aided the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development which created educational programs in honor of Rosa Parks. Outkast and Laface records which was the label the group was signed to felt there was no wrongdoing on their end. Even though the song’s title does have her name, the chorus to the song does not mention her name. However, the situation she went through as in her not giving up her seat is within the lyrics. In addition, the song’s subject matter didn’t involve anything about her so the battle she was fighting was understandable. Looking at the totality of the song it was a battle she saw worth fighting for and it ended up in with both parties getting what they wanted at the end. Leave a like and comment if you feel the need to and give my page a follow so you can stay up to date with my future posts. I know my output hasn’t been sufficient enough lately but I’m running another blog for work at the moment so I’m going to do my best to upload content at least twice a week here. Anyways, peace and keep it real.

Here is the chorus to “Rosa Parks” a 1998 hit from Outkast.

“Ah ha, hush that fuss
Everybody move to the back of the bus

Do you want to bump and slump with us
We the type of people make the club get crunk
Ah ha, hush that fuss
Everybody move to the back of the bus
Do you want to bump and slump with us
We the type of people make the club get crunk”

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Bridges (Black History 365)

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Painting done by Norman Rockwell

This painting was created by Norman Rockwell which depicts a six-year-old Ruby Bridges with U.S. Marshall’s as she makes her way to the then all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans Louisiana. We’ve had many iconic black individuals who have made contributions and advancements to the civil rights movement during their adult life but not too many have done it at a very young age as Ruby Bridges had and that’s why I want to explain how her bravery created changes to be made in terms of school integration. Ruby Bridges was born on September 8th, 1954 in Tylertown Mississippi but her family relocated to New Orleans Louisiana once she turned two because they wanted to find better job opportunities there. Bridge’s birth year coincided during the three years of the US Supreme Court landmark ruling of Brown vs Board of Education 1952 to 1955 which ended racial segregation in public schools. By law, it was so but many southern states still resisted in integrating black and white students, and that’s where Ruby Bridges came along and challenged them. Before she could attend the segregated public school the school district challenged her academic ability to see if she could compete with the white students. Bridges passed as did five other black students and she was admitted but she would face animosity by a white mob outside the school daily. White students parents had their kids removed from class because they were sharing a classroom with Bridges, but the one person who showed her respect was her teacher Barbara Henry. Henry was the only teacher willing to teach her. Bridges never missed a day of school and looked forward to seeing Ms. Henry everyday and her teacher went as far eating with Ruby which at that time was not allowed. Whites and blacks couldn’t eat or have social interactions with one another due to Jim Crow laws. Even though Ruby Bridges and her family had to endure adversity on a daily basis for an entire school year, she made it through due to her resilience to finish what she started and she did just that by graduating from William Frantz Elementary, becoming a travel agent with four sons. Furthermore, Bridges would reunite with her teacher Barbara Henry in the mid-1990’s and they did speaking engagements together. Bridges would write two books about her experiences growing up during segregation and received the Carter G. Woodson. She established the Ruby Bridges Foundation in 1999 that aimed to promote tolerance and create change in education, and in 2000 she was made honorary deputy Marshall in a ceremony in Washington DC. In conclusion, if you closely at the painting you can see the racial slurs and items like tomatoes and such that were thrown at a young girl who didn’t allow hate to affect her future. Leave a like and comment if you feel the need too, and give my page a follow so you can stay up to date with my future posts. As always peace and keep it real.

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