Blast From The Past:
OUR HAMITE AWARD WINNER FOR 1896:
Isaac Burns Murphy
Isaac Burns Murphy was a three-time winner of The Kentucky Derby. Yes it's true, they had black jockeys back in the 1800s. Murphy was born in 1861, in Frankfort, Kentucky, the same year the Civil War started. His father served in the Union army in the Civil War until his death at Camp Nelson as a prisoner of war.
We've heard horror stories about blacks who were captured in the Civil War. They experienced a much harsher treatment than white POWs. It had gotten so bad that Abraham Lincoln himself made a threat to the Confederates that if any black POWs were tortured or killed as POWs, he was going to do the same to the prisoners captured by the Union. An eye for an eye. Right on Mr. President!
We just hope Burns' father didn't have to suffer in this way. After his father's death, Burns' family moved to Lexington, where they lived with Burns' grandfather Green Murphy. When he became a jockey at age 14, he changed his last name to Murphy in honor of his grandfather.
During his incredible career, Burns' participated in eleven Kentucky Derbies, winning three of them. He is the only jockey to have won the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Clark Handicap in the same year (1884).
Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro said: "There is no chance that his record of winning will ever be surpassed. By a later calculation of incomplete records his record stands at 530 wins in 1,538 rides, which makes his win rate 34%.
We award Isaac Burns Murphy the 1896 Hamite Award which is the year he died for setting an excellent example, especially for black youths watching and providing much-needed entertainment and joy to an adoring African American public. His winning record will never be broken according to a fellow jockey. Burns was a genuine definition of the word winner.
Murphy died of pneumonia in 1896 in Lexington, Kentucky, and over time his unmarked grave in African Cemetery No. 2 was forgotten. During the 1960s Frank B. Borries Jr., a University of Kentucky press specialist, spent three years searching for the grave site. In 1967, Murphy was reinterred at the old Man o' War burial site. With the building of the Kentucky Horse Park, his remains were moved to be buried again next to Man o' War at the entrance to the park.
Isaac Burns Murphy
|How were blacks feeling in 1896?
Everyone is talking about the Plessy v. Ferguson separate but equal doctrine ruling this year, it's old news for us. We knew these people didn't want us as fellow citizens, and now they just put a stamp on it. There was one brave soul that dissented and spoke up, and let me tell you that words do not describe how much we appreciate him. I'm really emotional about it right now, tears are welling in my eyes because somebody understands and cares.
Thank you so much Justice John Marshall Harlan, you are indeed a true American. Now since this is the year the X-rays were invented, maybe they can check some of these hateful white Americans to see if they have a heart inside of their bodies.
This daily talk and living with racism will wear a person down if you let it. Many of our population are losing hope and feel like nomads wandering uneducated in a racist white world. We are denied at every entry into the American success story. But it can't stay like this forever because this isn't any better than slavery.
Hey guess what? I went to the supply store the other day and they had this stuff that looked like pookey. The cashier told me it was called Tootsie Roll, a new candy that was put on the market in 1896. He told me that if I tried it, I would be hooked forever. You know we don't trust these crazy white people too much because I didn't know if he was trying to sell me something bad, so he gave me a sample piece, and I went ahead and ate it anyway. He was right, I'm hooked for life, Yummy for my tummy.
Octavius Valentine Catto
John W. "Bud" Fowler
Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton
Moses Fleetwood Walker
golfer John Matthew Shippen
| Sports in 1896 |
- Blacks were not accepted into the league baseball games, so they started their teams, becoming professional by the the 1870s. The first known baseball game between two black teams was held on November 15, 1859, in New York City. The Henson Base Ball Club of Jamaica, Queens, defeated the Unknowns of Weeksville, Brooklyn, 54 to 43.
By the end of the 1860s, the black baseball mecca was Philadelphia, which had an African-American population of 22,000. Two former cricket players, James H. Francis and Francis Wood, formed the Pythian Base Ball Club. They played in Camden, New Jersey, at the landing of the Federal Street Ferry, because it is hard to get permits for black baseball games in the city. Octavius Catto, the promoter of the Pythians, decided to apply for membership in the National Association of Base Ball Players, generally a matter of sending delegates to the annual convention; beyond that, a formality.
At the end of the 1867 season "the National Association of Baseball Players voted to exclude any club with a black player." In some ways Blackball thrived under segregation, with the few black teams of the day playing not only each other but white teams as well. "Black teams earned the bulk of their income playing white independent 'semipro' clubs."
- The mistreatment and segregation of Blacks didn't only happen in the South, but also the Northern cities in America.
- Octavius Valentine Catto was a black educator, intellectual, and civil rights activist in Philadelphia. As a man, he also became known as a top cricket and black baseball pioneer in 19th-century Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- The first known professional black baseball player was Bud Fowler, who appeared in a handful of games with a Chelsea, Massachusetts club in April 1878 and then pitched for the Lynn, Massachusetts team in the International Association.
- Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother, Welday Wilberforce Walker, were the first two black players in the major leagues. They both played for the 1884 Toledo Blue Stockings in the American Association.
- The few blacks on the white minor league teams were constantly dodging verbal and physical abuse from both competitors and fans. Then the Compromise of 1877 removed the remaining obstacles from the South's enacting the Jim Crow laws. To make matters worse, on July 14, 1887, Cap Anson's Chicago White Stockings marched his team onto the field, military style as was his custom, he demanded that the blacks not play, and later that same day, league owners voted to refuse future contracts to blacks, citing the "hazards" imposed by such athletes.
- In 1888, the Middle States League was formed, and it admitted two all-black teams to its otherwise all-white league, the Cuban Giants and their arch-rivals, the New York Gorhams. They became traveling teams known as the Colored All-Americans. They would go to various cities playing games that were not authorized by the professional white league. They would play against any team that just wanted some real, fair competition and make a little money in the process. The New York Gorhams quit playing after awhile and by 1892 the Cuban Giants were the only black team in the East still in operation on a full-time basis.
- March 10, 1896 - After Bob Fitzsimmons KOs much larger Jim Corbett to win world heavyweight championship he says, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." I always wondered where that quote came from.
- John Shippen became the first African American professional golfer when he played in a tournament in England.
- Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton was an American jockey in Thoroughbred horse racing described by author Edward Hotaling, as "one of the great riders of the New York circuit all through the 1890s" and who holds the record as the youngest jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby.
South Carolina State University
| Education in 1896 |
- South Carolina State University is a historically black university located in Orangeburg, South Carolina, United States. It is the only state funded, historically black land-grant institution in South Carolina and is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. South Carolina State University was founded in 1896 as the state of South Carolina's sole public college for black youth.
- Oakwood University was founded in 1896 as Oakwood Industrial School. Legend has it that the school was named for a stand of oak trees found on the campus. The school first opened in 1896 with 16 students. Classes were offered in various trades and skills.
Why is Judge John Marshall Harlan so important in American history?
Harlan started his life supporting slavery and was against emancipation for blacks but in time changed his views. He became an American lawyer and politician from Kentucky who served as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court during the famous Plessy v. Ferguson case (1896). White people didn't want to live with blacks and illegally passed laws to keep the races separate.
Judge Harlan was the only Justice on the bench who voted against separation. He understood what real American equality meant as opposed to hypocrisy the rest of white America were practicing. It was easy for whites from the Presidents on down to preach justice and liberty for all citizens, but it was an entirely different thing to put it into practice, but not for this great man who was the lone dissenter and went against popular opinion not only in this case but others as well. During his career he would become known as "The Great Dissenter"
"But given the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it 's hard to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow-citizens, our equals before the law."
Every African American should know this man's name and what he stood for. He did it for America and for you.
| Political Scene in 1896 |
- Democrat Grover Cleveland is the 24th President of the United States. This was his second term. Bad news for African Americans. More good news for whites. Trivia: Cleveland, like a growing number of Northerners (and nearly all white Southerners) saw Reconstruction as a failed experiment, and was reluctant to use federal power to enforce the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed voting rights to African Americans. Though Cleveland appointed no black Americans to patronage jobs, he allowed Frederick Douglass to continue in his post as recorder of deeds in Washington, D.C. and appointed another black man to replace Douglass upon his resignation. OH THANK YOU SO MUCH, MR. President FOR APPOINTING ONE BLACK TO OFFICE and no help whatsoever to recently freed slaves, politicians give these poor people a few years of help after centuries of abuse and think they have done something honorable, what a bunch of baloney. Your kindness and concern for black American citizens will never be forgotten. History shows up the malfeasance of all these so-called great men. SMH
"Colored Waiting Room" sign from
segregationist era United States
photo #100 -year-1878
Judge John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court
| Race in 1896 |
- May 18, 1896 - Plessy v. Ferguson was a landmark United States Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of "separate but equal." Sidenote: Sadly, these were intelligent white judges who spoke for America. But one stood out as a shining star, a judge who respected the American constitution, rather than his own interest to the embarrassment of the other incompetent Surpreme Court judges. His name was Judge John Marshall Harlan who personified the meaning of a true American. He was the lone dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson. In his Plessy dissent, he wrote:
The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is in prestige, in achievements, in education, wealth and power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But given the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme legislation of the land are involved.... If evils result from the commingling of the two races upon public highways established for the benefit of all, they will be infinitely less than those that will surely come from state legislation regulating the enjoyment of civil rights upon the basis of race. We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it 's hard to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow-citizens, our equals before the law. The thin disguise of 'equal' accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, nor atone for the wrong this day done.
Finally!! Someone speaks up for what is right. John Marshall Harlan was a brave man, and that's because anytime a person can stand up against the world by himself is courageous. But he knew he was morally right and had justice on his side, so he wasn't afraid. This is exactly the type of people America needed in those days to shape American policy, to lay a good solid foundation for race relations, and thereby eliminating many of the racial problems that will be unavoidable in the future.
Movies in America
Anna Madah Hyers dressed as 'Urlina' in the opera Urlina the African Princess (1879)
Cover of Musical Gems, a book of songs by Sam T. Jack's Creole Burlesque Co.
| Musicals / Burlesque in 1896 |
- The Hyers Sisters, Anna Madah and Emma Louise were singers and pioneers of black musical theater. With Joseph Bradford and Pauline Hopkins, the Hyers Sisters produced the "first full-fledged musical plays... in which African Americans themselves comment on the plight of the slaves and the relief of Emancipation without the disguises of minstrel comedy." Their first play was Out of Bondage (also known as Out of the Wilderness) which premiered in 1876. The Hyers Sisters under the management of their proud father not only toured in America, but internationally. As small children the father had them classically trained by German professor Hugo Sank and later opera singer Josephine D'Ormy and they performed for private parties before making their professional stage debut. They were very well received everywhere they performed and blazed a path for other black entertainers to follow. They traveled until the mid-1880s with their own shows and continued to appear on stage into the 1890s. Wow, absolutely amazing!
- Sam Lucas convinced Sam T. Jack, a burlesque impresario to feature beautiful Creole women in a risqué burlesque show. It was the first to present beautiful black women as chorus girls in place of the traditional all-male chorus. It has been called the first black burlesque show. It included original songs, sketches and comedy numbers by black artists. The Creole Show opened in Haverhill, Massachusetts, on August 4, 1890 and toured across the United States, and would stay on the circuit until 1897.
Amanda Randolph and Ernest Whitman on "Beulah" 1953 - 1954
| Famous Birthdays in 1896 |
- January 12, 1896 - Freddie Stowers was an African American corporal in the United States Army who was killed in action during World War I, while serving in an American unit under French command. Over 70 years later, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions.
- January 25, 1896 - Florence Mills known as the "Queen of Happiness", was an African-American cabaret singer, dancer, and comedian known for her effervescent stage presence, delicate voice, and winsome, wide-eyed beauty.
- July 16, 1896 - Evelyn Preer was a pioneering African-American stage and screen actress and blues singer of the 1910s through the early 1930s. Evelyn was known within the black community as "The First Lady of the Screen"
- September 2, 1896 - Edith Wilson was an American blues singer and vaudeville performer.
- September 3, 1896 - Amanda E. Randolph was an African-American actress, singer and musician. She was the first black performer to star in a regularly scheduled network television show, appearing in DuMont's The Laytons.
- October 14, 1896 - Oscar Charleston was an African-American center fielder and manager in baseball's Negro leagues from 1915 to 1945.
- October 31, 1896 - Ethel Waters was an African-American blues, jazz and gospel vocalist and actress. She frequently performed jazz, big band, and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts, although she began her career in the 1920s singing blues.
- 1896 - 1964 - Samuel L. Robinson was an African-American athlete. After getting out of military service in World WarI, Robinson got involved with professional boxing. His nickname was "Smiling Sammy" because he always had a smile on his face, a man at peace with his bitter surroundings. As a complete amateur to running, Robinson got involved in a long distance race from Los Angeles to New York; it took 84 days. There were four other blacks who entered the race also. When the runners made it to Texas, is when the racist Jim Crow terrorist minded people would give the runners a bad time, but Robinson kept on going. There were many blacks along Route 66 who were cheering for him, making his heart glad I'm sure for their support. Can you imagine the heartwarming scene? History in the making! Thanks, Sammy. When Sammy made it to New York, he received a hero's welcome. Robinson didn't win the race, but he finished. Please Google this man's name to read more about his amazing accomplishments to American history.
- 1896 - Tommy Johnson was an influential American delta blues musician, who recorded in the late 1920s, and was known for his eerie falsetto voice and intricate guitar playing.
Isaac Burns Murphy
| Famous Deaths in 1896 |
- February 12, 1896 - Isaac Burns Murphy was an African-American Hall of Fame jockey, who is considered one of the greatest riders in American Thoroughbred horse racing history. Murphy won three Kentucky Derbies.
- November 5, 1896 - William H. Brown was a United States Navy sailor during the American Civil War and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor.
W. C. Handy
photographed by Carl Van Vechten
| Famous Weddings in 1896 |
- July 19, 1896 - W. C. Handy marries Elizabeth Price.
| Famous Divorces in 1896 |
- 1896 -Garrett Morgan and Madge Nelson are divorced.
Bob Cole and John Rosamond Johnson,
African American composers
Black Patti Troubadours
| Music in 1896 |
Popular Soul Dances:
Musical Happenings in 1896:
- Cakewalk Dance was a strutting dance popular at the end of the 19th century, developed from a black-American contest in graceful walking that had a cake as a prize.
- Buck Dances
- Sissieretta Jones formed the Black Patti Troubadours (later renamed the Black Patti Musical Comedy Company), a musical and acrobatic act made up of 40 jugglers, comedians, dancers and a chorus of 40 trained singers. Jones sung passionately and pursued her career choice of opera and different repertory regardless to her lack of audience attendance. For more than two decades, Jones remained the star of the Famous Troubadours, while they graciously toured every season and established their popularity in the principal cities of the United States. The Black Patti Troubadours reveled in vernacular music and dance. Jones retired from performing in 1915.
- By 1881, Billy Johnson was performing in minstrel shows. In 1886 he joined Lew Johnson's minstrels and the following year moved to Hicks and Sawyer's minstrels, where he stayed for six seasons. He began writing songs and eventually landed a job with Bob Cole as songwriter and stage producer for the more upscale Black Patti Troubadours. Cole and Johnson produced a musical sketch for Black Patti, then left that company to produce their own musical, A Trip to Coontown (1898), the first full length black-produced musical on an American stage. However, during the third season of this musical, the pair separated.
Will Accooe was an important songwriter during the birth of the black musical. By 1896, Accooe was working as musical director for John Isham's Octoroons, a successful and popular quasi-minstrel troupe. At the Nashville Exposition of 1897 his "Tennessee Centennial March" was one of the biggest hits of the approximately 450 compositions by black composers played by E. C. Brown in the New York Building.
How did "acting" Cool begin for African Americans?|
It seems like it's been around forever and
expected of every black kid growing up
For most blacks, cool started on the southern plantations. Opportunists slavemasters devised a way for slaves to work harder and reap the benefits of their labor. During the year at a chosen plantation slave masters would hold a "Corn Shucking Festival." Slaves from nearby plantations would also join this event with their owner's permission, so it was almost like a community gathering of all the local slaves, with greedy slavemasters making all the money.
The slave who shucked the most corn won an award, sometimes cash or a suit of clothes. Anyone who found a red ear of corn also received a reward - perhaps a kiss from a young woman or a jug of whiskey. It was at these events that the term Shuckin' and jivin' came into existence by the slaves while working and telling tall stories, talking smack, and joking around with each other.
These gatherings, even though involving hard work had to be an event looked forward to by the slaves, because it was one of the few times during the year blacks had a chance to interact with one another. Shuckin' and jivin' would become a tool the slaves would use to convince their masters of an untruth, and even among themselves. It was an early form of being cool.
After slavery blacks were free (sort of) to do as they pleased. Most blacks wanted to assimilate into American culture very much but were shut out by the white racist. African and European culture met head on in what was supposed to be fair in America guaranteed by our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, but blacks didn't stand a chance.
Why, what happened?
Because most whites banded together by breaking the law and made blacks second class citizens and would go on to murder, lynch, rape, humiliate them all the way until the 1960s Civil Rights movement. After Lincoln, every single United States President was aware of this and did nothing. Whites achieved like crazy and prospered while blacks lagged far behind and got along the best way they knew how.
Blacks disliked whites very much for this terrible treatment and instead of violent disobedience, they protested by living their lives opposite of white culture. I mean let's face it, why would blacks want to imitate or become a part of a race of people that hated them?
This is when being cool became a symbol of white resistance and protest. Being cool would show you were down with the struggle. During slavery, we had already created our language which was AAVE and many blacks communicated this way. Any black that did not use it was looked down as trying to act white, joining the enemy sort of speak.
We developed our own way of walking with a proud gait, (George Jefferson strut) our own style of music, our own style of dance, our own style of food, our own style of worship, that didn't have anything in common with white folks and that suited blacks just fine. We were poor, but we were proud and cool and everyone who practiced these traits was cool and a part of the resistance.
In the process, we were creating a new culture that was admired over the world. Blacks have always had a remarkable ability to create something out of nothing. But sadly there was significant risk with this lifestyle in a great country such as America.
What were the downfalls?
Oscar Micheaux felt it was wrong for blacks to live this way in America. Oscar was an African American author, film director and independent producer of more than 44 movies and he is regarded as the first major African-American feature filmmaker, the most successful African-American filmmaker of the first half of the twentieth century and the most prominent producer of race films. He produced both silent movies and "talkies" after the industry changed to incorporate speaking actors.
Oscar felt that blacks should become aggressive and use their brainpower in achieving instead of just settling for what the white man doled out. This man lived in some of the most racist times in American history, but he didn't let that stop him from fulfilling his dreams and doing it the legal way.
Evidently, Oscar had a brother who was the very cool type and was content on just putting up a show, or a front as living a successful life. We all know the type. A person that was living beyond his means. Blacks of his day called this way of living “the good life.”
Oscar didn't like it and was very upset with his brother. He later wrote in his book and discussed the culture of doers who want to accomplish, and those who see themselves as victims of injustice and hopelessness, and do not want to step out and try to succeed, but instead like to dress up, act cool and pretend to be successful while living the city lifestyle in poverty.
Oscar understood that education doesn't belong only to white people, it's a gift for all humanity to better ourselves, and honestly the best-proven way. Chinese, Japanese, Middle-Eastern and all other non-white nations understand this and have prospered by education. It's one of humanities treasure to learn.
But many blacks associated education with white and stayed far away from it, to continue with their cool lifestyle. A foolish mistake, and just what racist whites want you to believe.
Early Europeans completely dominated the Africans because they were better educated. They had guns we had spears, you do the math. In Africa our ancestors didn't value education, but traditions and silly ones at that. But that didn't save them. Education would have, though.
So without a doubt, it is entirely wrong to associate teaching and learning to white people. Many of us would look down upon another black who tried to better himself through education by saying they were trying to act white, and it wasn't cool. Racist whites laughed at us for believing this way because they knew we would always be behind.
After the 1960s, when our full Civil Rights were finally restored, many blacks chose to live the more standard American way by attending school to learn. But many also wanted to remain trapped in time with the old AAVE living in what they still perceived as defiance to the white American way of doing things. But were they only hurting themselves?
Later in time, being cool had become so prevalent in the black community it confused many kids, because they didn't quite understand if they were going to hang out with the cool kids or the so-called boring kids who liked to read and learn. At an early age, they are at a critical crossroad. Taking the cool route may seem easier, and a lot of fun, but would be a devastating mistake.
After the Civil Rights era we now have the opportunity to attend school and achieve as much as we can, but being cool has snatched many of the black kids and locked them into a culture hating education and in the process ruining their young lives.
Many entertainment figures reap much money from this cool culture by portraying cool as, well cool. They tell impressionable ones what's cool to hear, talk about, wear, eat, etc. and at the same time padding their cool humongous bank accounts.
These even get on television and flaunt their riches in a youngster's face never explicitly teaching on how they might be as successful, without being dishonest, stealing or selling drugs. Education is not cool for them to preach.
One thing is for sure, being cool can be a lot of fun and there's no denying that. Everybody wants to be liked, and it seems like cool people are respected and admired the most, from the clothes they wear to the type of songs they listen to the way they talk, the effortless way they seem to accomplish every task is amazing.
They possess incredible confidence. But truthfully everything they've accomplished wouldn't have been possible without the sacrifices of our wonderful ancestors. So don't you agree we owe a particular moral responsibility to them?
Kids should remember cool is not the real deal, It's a game we can't get caught up in. Our ancestors endured so much so we could achieve. We should never forget that. That's what this site was created. Browse through its pages, and you're going to read stories of amazing blacks.
They made it possible for us, and we're sure they would advise us to achieve through education first and foremost and save the cool for the weekends, and I ain't Shuckin and Jivin!
By White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza) (The Official White House Photostream) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Senate Office of Richard Lugar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Minister Jordan W. Early
William C. ("Billy") McClain
The illustration represents a corsage by Charvet. It is a blouse of pink cambric finely plaited, and with a white cascade frill, also of cambric, down the center. The scarf is of white cambric and the waistband of pink cambric.
Early 1890s fashion includes gray coat with covered buttons and matching waistcoat, dark trousers, short turnover shirt collar, and floppy bow tie. The short hair and pointed beard are typical.
Work fashions in the 1890s (housekeeper)
Dapper young African-American woman with Afro-textured hair wearing a hat.
The Black Victorians (Victorian Era 1800s-1900s)
| Fashions and Styles in 1896 |
- After the American Civil War and emancipation, many blacks migrated to towns or cities, where they were influenced by new styles. Many straightened their hair to conform to white beauty ideals. They wanted to succeed, and to avoid mistreatment and legal and social discrimination. Some women, and a smaller number of men, lightened their hair with household bleach. They used creams and lotions, combined with hot irons, to straighten hair. The black hair care industry was initially dominated by white-owned businesses. In the late 19th century, African-American entrepreneurs such as Annie Turbo Malone, Madam C. J. Walker, Madam Gold S.M. Young, Sara Spencer Washington and Garrett Augustus Morgan revolutionized hair care by inventing and marketing chemical (and heat-based) applications to alter the natural tightly curled texture. Men began using pomades, and other products, to achieve the standard aesthetic look.
By the 1890s, the sack coat was fast replacing the frock coat for most informal and semi-formal occasions. Three-piece suits ("ditto suits") consisting of a sack coat with matching vest and trousers were worn, as were matching coat and waistcoat with contrasting trousers.
Shirt collars were turned over or pressed into "wings", and became taller through the decade. The usual necktie was a four-in-hand or an Ascot tie, made up as a neckband with wide wings attached and worn with a stickpin, but the 1890s also saw the return of the bow tie for day dress.
Early 1890s dresses consisted of a tight bodice with the skirt gathered at the waist and falling more naturally over the hips and undergarments than in previous years. Corsets in the 1890s helped define the hourglass figure. Afternoon dresses typical of the time period had high necks, wasp waists, puffed sleeves and bell-shaped skirts. Evening gowns had a squared decolletage, a wasp-waist cut and skirts with long trains.
- Portrait of the stylish African-American impresario William C. ("Billy") McClain in late 1800s.
Yeow!, Slavery is Finally Over!|
It's smooth sailing ahead
We can't wait to get out in the workforce to make our own money
What type of employment awaits us in the 1800s?
90% of Negroes still lived in the South up until the late 1910s. Blacks looking for work in the South mainly worked on the land they lived. Most were tenant farmers that did contract work on a farm by farm basis. Some blacks were hired just for a particular job and once the job was over had to find employment elsewhere. They would work and harvest the field for the season and pay the owner out of their profits for room and board and use of farming tools.
Some but not many blacks also worked in manufacturing, and for the most part were paid comparable wages as their white counterparts. However, blacks were much less likely to hold better-paying skilled jobs, and they were more liable to work for lower-paying companies.
If blacks were not working on farms, they were engaged in unskilled labor and service jobs. They were unable to afford their homes. Because of the crazy events unfolding with voter intimidations and outright murders by the KKK, with total impunity and the total disregard for assistance from American presidents, and the end of Reconstruction help. Most black children had not attended school in the year before the Census was taken, and white children were much more likely to have attended.
Immediately after the emancipation blacks were very eager to learn, school attendance was sky high, but unfolding events that were perpetrated or voted on in approval by white citizens demoralized many blacks at this point in history before the turn of the century, and don't forget the effects of damaging Jim Crows laws which were about to formally get underway.
So a typical look at the African American family at the end of the 1800s Census lived and worked on a farm in the South and did not own their home, and children in these families were unlikely to be in school even at very young ages.
Blacks also found employment in the mining industry, which was very dangerous work. In 1883, thousands of European immigrants and a large number of African Americans migrated to southern West Virginia to work in coal mines. These coal miners worked in company mines with company tools and equipment, which they were required to lease. Along with these expenses, the miners have deducted pay for housing rent and items they purchased from company stores. Furthermore, the coal companies went as far as creating their monetary system so the miners could only shop at company-owned stores. In addition to the poor economic condition, safety in the mines was a great concern with many men either killed or permanently injured.
African-Americans also worked in the shipping business as stevedores or more commonly called, longshoreman which consisted of waterfront manual laborer involved in loading and unloading ships. In the 1800s, the word stevedore was usually applied to black laborers who loaded and unloaded bales of cotton and other freight on and off riverboats.
Work for Negroes in the Northern cties weren't much better. Many blacks probably thought that after the Civil War their streets were going to be paved golden with opportunity, but boy were they in for a surprise!
Blacks were denied at every level on the economic ladder. It has been observed that this was a period the black crime rate rose, with the white crime rate going down. Whites controlled every single aspect of gainful American employment.
Factories were going full steam ahead, but when blacks tried to enter, they were shut out, why? Mainly because the whites didn't want to work side by side with blacks, so as a result they were not hired.
The textiles and garment industries were also booming during this period, but there aren't records of blacks ever being hired.
It was possible for blacks to find work with the railroads as Pullman porters, track workers, or common laborers, but at the same time when their families and friends wanted to travel on the train, they were segregated. How demoralizing that had to be. White railroad unions blocked them out from making better pay which was in the maintenance and train building departments.
In the early 1800s, there were many black craftsmen such as carpenters, machinist, contractors, etc. who enjoyed a good reputation with their skilled art trade, but in the late 1800s that image changed due to the increase of separate but equal doctrine. It's not a dispute blacks couldn't do the work, the issue was the color of skin that kept them out of the workforce.
When a black would apply for employment at a retail store, they wouldn't hire them, saying whites did not want to be served by them. One black was fortunate enough to land a job as the cities only black clerk at a commercial bank. What was the catch? He never received a raise or promotion and dared not complained.
Businesses would hire newly arriving immigrants before hiring their American black brothers. Blacks were better educated, but just the wrong color in their eyes.
If a black person extended himself through higher learning going on to become a doctor or lawyer, one important question has to be answered. Who were going to be his paying clients? This problem persist in today's world and as long as America is around, it always will. It's a deeply entrenched belief in white people whether conscious or unconscious to avoid doing business with blacks. (generally speaking)
Whites rarely would patronize black professionals, even famous black sociologist of those days WEB Dubois made a comment "Education will get you nothing but disappointment and humiliation.'' which Dubois had to be frustrated when making that statement because he was at the forefront in African American achievement through education.
It has been noted that there were only two avenues open for blacks during this period in history which was strike-breaking and vice.
Different businesses such as the coal mines would hire blacks a strike-breakers when the whites would protest for more money. Of course, many blacks lost their lives with the violent outburst by the white workers fearing they were losing their jobs. Blacks had to take the chance along with the danger, what else could they do?
They had to feed their families too. With the women, it was the same thing. When white dressmakers went on strike, the company hired black women to take their place. So basically, blacks were used as pawns in the game.
The other avenue open to blacks was the vice, and this clearly explains how and why this phenomenon has extended down to our day for a segment of our black community. It would seem these blacks are still demoralized and traumatized from these events in history. But we have every hope they will rise and soar like the eagles. There was a lot of gambling, prostitution, lottery, and bootlegging, going on in the cities, and maybe the police kept a blind eye to it because they ignored it for a while. - At this point in history, Philadelphia was estimated to have 10,000 prostitutes and 1,000 brothels in the 1890s. Most of the vise would find it's way into the black neighborhoods with black leaders unable to stop it.
We think it's important to note that old saying that "the more things change the more they stay the same" applies here. America has made some progress in racial relations but the attitude still exist for blacks entering the workplace which is mostly white. Many will keep quiet but may not want you there, but you have your family to feed just like they do and as long as everyone does his work and obey the rules is all that matters. We're not out to win a popularity contest. But if they sincerely want to work with you, that would be wonderful!
United States Census for African Americans
in the 1890s
Drawing of frenzied stockbrokers in the 1893 depression. The panic of '93 was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced at the time. The U.S. economy began to recover in 1897
A standard-size Tootsie Roll shown wrapped and unwrapped.
Anderson Ruffin Abbott
| Our Community in 1896|
Newsworthy Events in the Black Community:
- January 1, 1896 - - Wilhelm Röntgen announces his discovery of x-rays.
- February 23, 1896 - Tootsie Roll candy introduced to America by Leo Hirshfield.
- June 26, 1896 - The first movie theater in Unites States opens, charging 10 cents for admission.
- July 21, 1896 - The National Association of Colored Women was formed to promote the needs of African American women.
- September - Scientist George Washington Carver was appointed director of agricultural research at Tuskegee Institute.
- 1896 - a unit of black soldiers in the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corp, test ride the use of bicycles in combat.
- 1896 - Anderson Ruffin Abbott became Provident Hospital in Chicago medical superintendent.
- The United States Population is 62,947,714 with a total of 7,488,676 being African Americans.
#101 - Public Domain image - The living skeleton | 3 African American women on porch and 3 African American children on porch steps. Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003665490/ Date: 1896
#102 - Public Domain image - Ladies change| Five African Americans, four women dancing and a man seated in a chair playing the accordian. Date: 1896 No known restrictions on publication. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95515234/
#103 - Public Domain image -The new Sterling did it. Sterling ranges. Advertisement for Sterling cast-iron ranges, showing two women, one African American, proudly displaying an enormous pyramid of loaves of bread and the iron stove that made it possible. Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. No renewal in Copyright office. Date: 1896 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005687669/
#104 - Public Domain image - This image is in the public domain in the United States. In most cases, this means that it was first published prior to January 1, 1923 (see the template documentation for more cases). Other jurisdictions may have other rules, and this image might not be in the public domain outside the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Evelyn_Preer.jpg
#105 - Public Domain image -
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
#106 - Public Domain image - This image is in the public domain in the United States. In most cases, this means that it was first published prior to January 1, 1923 (see the template documentation for more cases). Other jurisdictions may have other rules, and this image might not be in the public domain outside the United States. See Wikipedia:Public domain and Wikipedia:Copyrights for more details.
PD-US Public domain in the United States //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Black_Patti_Troubadours.jpg
#107 - Public Domain image - By Ted Wilkes at en.wikipedia. Later version(s) were uploaded by Megapixie at en.wikipedia. [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
By Jd8ellington (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Mathew Brady or Levin Handy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
#111 - This file is in the public domain because its copyright has expired in the United States and those countries with a copyright term of no more than the life of the author plus 100 years
#112 - Public Domain Judge John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court
This work is from the Brady-Handy collection at the Library of Congress. According to the library, there are no known copyright restrictions on the use of this work. Mathew Brady died in 1896 and Levin C. Handy died in 1932. Photographs in this collection are in the public domain in the US as works published before 1923 or as unpublished works whose copyright term has expired (life of author + 70 years). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JudgeJMHarlan.jpg
#114 - Public Domain
By T.P.Chittenden, chariman, Seattle Kiwanis Pancake Festival - eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23084289
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