Friday, March 26, 2021
Sunday, February 21, 2021
A Shout Out For The Black Ladies
I choose to write about black women's contributions, which most of us have not heard anything about, just like I did for the men.
Dorothy Lavinia Brown (January 7,1919-June 13, 2004) was placed in an orphanage in New York when she was five months old by her mother. She lived there until she was twelve. Her mother, Edna, later wanted Dorothy to come home to live, but Dorothy ran away and went back to the orphanage.
At 15, she enrolled at the Troy High School and worked in Mrs. W. F. Jarrett's house. The principal of the high school introduced Dorothy to Samuel Wesley and Lola Redmon. They became her foster parents. She worked at a self-service laundry, and as a domestic helper, and at the Rochester Army Ordnance Department in Rochester, New York.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She began studying medicine and became a resident at Hubbard Hospital of Meharry in 1949 despite opposition to female surgeons. She completed the residency in 1954. She became the chief surgeon at the Riverside Hospital in Nashville from 1957 to 1983. She was the first African American female to be elected to the Tennessee State Legislature.
She became the third woman to become a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the first African-American woman to be elected to that body. She received several honorary degrees. She was awarded the Horatio Alger Award in 1994 and the Carnegie Foundation's humanitarian award in 1993. Dr. Dorothy Brown died in Nashville, Tennessee, from congestive heart failure.
Mae Carol Jemison (born October 17, 1956) When Mae was a little girl, she had a splinter in her finger, and it became infected. This led her to do a science project on pus.
At the age of eleven, she took up dancing, African dancing, ballet, jazz, modern and Japanese dancing. She was a background dancer in West Side Story.
She entered Stanford University at the age of 16 and received a B.S. in chemical engineering and a B.A. in African and Afro-American Studies.
In 1981 she obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree at Cornell Medical College. She traveled to Cuba, Kenya, and Thailand to provide primary medical care. She joined the Peace Corps and served in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Later she worked at the Center for Disease control, helping with research for vaccines.
She applied to NASA and was accepted. On Sept. 12, 1992, Mae became the first African American woman in space on the Endeavour. She did experiments while doing 126 orbits around the earth.
She fosters science studies in many avenues. Too many to list here, but I counted the ones she has been and is active in. I counted 20.
Ms. Jemison is an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, and the Texas Science Hall of Fame. She has been awarded the National Organization for Women's Intrepid Award, the Kilby Science Award, and the National Association of Corporate Director's Directorship.
She is only 65 years old. Imagine what she can do next!
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove (December 23,1867- May 25, 1919)
She was the first of the six children born into freedom. She was orphaned by the age of seven and lived with her older sister Louvenia and brother-in-law, Jesse Powell. By ten years of age, she was working as a domestic. She had three months of formal education. She was abused by her brother-in-law. At the age of 14, she married Moses McWilliams and had a daughter, Lelia McWilliams. When the daughter was two, Moses died. Sarah married John Davis but left him and moved to Denver. She married Charles Joseph Walker. and she became known as Madam C.J. Walker. They divorced.
She began selling hair products of Annie Turnbo Malone. The products were for black women.
Madam Walker ( Sarah Breedlove) started her own company of beauty products for black women. She started a mail-order component run by her daughter while she opened a beauty parlor and the Lelia College to train "hair culturists." She opened businesses in Denver, New York City, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh.
By 1917 the company had trained 20,000 women to go door-to-door to sell her products.
She was known for her philanthropy and political interest.
At the time of her death, Ms. Walker was considered the wealthiest African American woman in America and the first female self-made millionaire in America.
Sunday, February 14, 2021
Columbia Heights and Abraham Lincoln
If you live or work in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, you have a connection with Abraham Lincoln.
Yes, we do! Albeit, a sad one.
In 1911, Columbia Heights was a village and not the wonderful All American City it is now.
We had a small volunteer fire department on 40th Avenue and 7th st.
Thomas Lowry was a Minneapolis land developer, a man interested in railroads, a civic booster, and a streetcar company owner. His streetcars ran on Central Avenue into Columbia Heights. He found out that the train car that carried Lincoln's body and the body of his son Willie, was sold for $6,850, after the funeral, to the Union Pacific. They used it for several years and sold it to Franklyn Snow for $2,000. He sold it to the Colorado Central Railroad for $3,000 and they used it as a day coach and work car.
Mr. Lowry bought the car in 1905. He said it was "the most sacred relic in the United States." He planned to restore and display it where people would be able to see it. He died from tuberculosis in 1909 before he could realize his dream.
The train car was donated to the Minnesota Federation of Women's Club, and they parked the car at 37th Avenue between Quincy and Jackson streets, in Columbia Heights.
March 1911 was a time of drought and Columbia Heights was mostly prairie grass, dry and brown.
The winds were strong on March 18, 1911, when a fire started. It burned to ashes 10 blocks of the village. The volunteer fire department responded and was only a few blocks away. Before they arrived the fire left Lincoln's funeral train car a charred shell.
Headlines of the Minneapolis Star Journal were:
"Car That Carried Remains of Lincoln Is Burned in Spectacular Prairie Fire."
"Relic of Martyred President Reduced to Blackened Framework of Wood and Iron."
Aside note: The horse-drawn hearse burned up in1887 in St. Louis while in a livery stable. The fire also killed 3 men and 200 horses.
A model of the train car can be seen at the Smithsonian in Washington D. C.
There is no plaque or historical marker where the Lincoln train car was before the fire.
This is an odd posting for Presidents' Day, but little things about history are forgotten. So, in 150 years from now, much of the history of today will likely be forgotten.
To end on a happy note, I suggest we celebrate Valentines' Day for the rest of the month.
💖💟💞💞💖 From My Happy Heart to Yours.
Don't forget the Black Women Contributions will be posted next. 'Twill be great.
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Let Us Celebrate Black Americans
Benjamin Banneker (1701-1806) was able, in two days, from memory to lay out the streets and major buildings of Washington D.C. The original plans were made by a committee of three. They took a year to make and then were taken to France by a disgruntled Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant.
The life of Benjamin's parents is fascinating, as well. One instance is his grandmother (Molly) was a white English woman in England. A cow, Molly was milking, kicked over a pail of milk. Molly was accused of stealing the milk, and she was convicted and sentenced to serve seven years of bondage in the colony of Maryland. After serving her sentence, she had her freedom and stayed in the colonies. She started a farm and purchased two slaves, and married one, who became Benjamin's grandfather.
Do you like white sugar? Thank Norbert Rillieux (1806-1894) He was the son of a white plantation owner and a black slave. He invented the vacuum pan evaporator and had his first patent on August 26, 1843. It turned sugar cane into white crystals with more ease and far less time than by the hand method.
Norbert also discovered why New Orleans had so much Yellow Fever. It came from the mosquitoes living on swamps and in the lowlands. He worked out an engineering plan for draining the swamps. The city rejected the project as it came from a black man. After Rillieux no longer lived in New Orleans, the city adopted the plan.
Where would we be without shoes? Cold feet. Sore feet. Bruised feet. Jan Earnst Matzeliger (1852-1889.) He was born in Dutch Guiana. As an adult, he lived in Lynn, Massachusetts. Lynn was the shoe manufacturing center in the country. They had machines to make many parts of shoes except attaching the shoe's upper part to the sole. After years of struggle, he had a patent on March 20, 1883. Before his invention, a person could do the work of fifty pairs in a ten-hour day. After his invention, 150 to 700 pairs of shoes could be made in one day.
Because he was not allowed in the Roman Catholic, or Unitarian, or the Episcopal Churches, he bequeathed all his holdings in the Union Lasting Machine Company and 1/3 of his interest in the Consolidated Lasting Machine Company to the North Congregational Church. It was an all-white church, but it welcomed his participation.
Is it the real McCoy? We all want the real McCoy, don't we? Nothing fake. Where did this expression come from? Elijah McCoy (1844-1929.) was born in Canada. His parents were run-away slaves from the US. He went to Edinburgh, Scotland, to be an apprentice in mechanical engineering. He earned his degree and returned to the U.S., but companies that needed mechanical engineers did not want to hire a black man for a skilled position. He finally got a job on the Michigan Central Railroad. He was to apply oil to the engine, the wheels, or any moving parts. Trains and other machinery would have to be shut down to lubricate. This was a waste of time and money, in his estimation. He went to work and, in July 1872, had his first patent for an automatic lubricator. By 1920 his automatic lubricator was used on air brakes in vehicles and locomotives. By the time of his death, he had over fifty patents, most for automatic lubrication. However, he did have one for a lawn sprinkler and one for an ironing board. In his day, when people inspected a piece of machinery, they would ask, "Is it the real McCoy?' to be sure it had automatic lubrication. Now, we say, "It's the real McCoy" to let folks know whatever it is, it is not fake.
Hey! Wait A Minute! No Women!
Have no fear. They shall appear. February ends with a sweet note befitting Valentine's month.
Happy Black History Month! Happy Valentines! Happy Presidents' Day!
Friday, February 5, 2021
Today, in 2021, our congress is going through difficult times. Some are worried about their safety. Surprisingly, this is not new. There has been violence in the United States Congress, namely the Senate, before.
In 1856, the consuming issue was slavery. In the Senate, many senators wanted it, for economic reasons, and many who did not want it, for humanitarian reasons.
Speeches by proponents on both sides of the issue were given on the Senate's floor and the House of Representatives. The members of Congress cannot be sued for what they say on the floor. Therefore the members felt they had the right to say whatever they pleased about other members.
Charles Sumner, Senator from Massachusetts, opposed slavery and commented about the Senators who were for slavery. He attacked, in his speech, Stephen A. Douglas and Andrew P. Butler.
Douglas is quoted as saying, "That darned fool is going to get himself killed by some other darned fool."
In the House of Representatives sat Mr. Preston Brooks, the nephew of Senator Butler. Two days after the speech, Representative Brooks walked into the Senate and beat Senator Sumner with his cane until the man was on the floor.
It took three years for Mr. Sumner to recuperate. The House of Representatives censured Mr. Brooks. He resigned, went home, and was re-elected for another term.
As far as the issue of slavery, the violence in the Senate did not achieve anything. Private citizens, a few years later, started the Civil War or as some call it the War Between the States.
Andrew Johnson, the Vice President was pro-slavery, but he was more pro-union. He stood with President Abraham Lincoln to save the union. He put his country before his self-interests. We had leaders who stood up for our nation, and our Constitution still stands.