Blast From The Past:
OUR HAMITE AWARD WINNER FOR 1916:
Victoria Earle Matthews
Victoria Earle Matthews was an African American author, essayist, newspaperwoman, settlement worker, and activist. She was born into slavery in 1861 in the town of in Fort Valley, Georgia, but after the Emancipation her family would move to New York.
In New York she had to drop out of school to help the family with the finances, this was typical for many black households. Victoria became a domestic servant and found that the home she worked in had a full library. The owner discovered Victoria reading but gave her permission to do so when she had time. Victoria worked harder to finish tasks to read and learn.
As a child everybody, Victoria came into contact with liked her. She was a extremely mannerable young girl and very respectful to elders. She seemed to be born with a giving nature because she was always trying to help someone.
When Victoria became of age to marry, which was 18, she met and married William E. Matthews, a coachman, in New York City. They had one son, Lamartine, who died on September 19, 1895, at the age of fifteen.
As a married woman, Victoria became involved in women's clubs and social work, at a time when the settlement movement started in Great Britain was influencing American social work in the main cities. In 1897 Matthews founded the White Rose Industrial Home for Working Class Negro Girls, also known as the White Rose Mission, a settlement house for young black women, to provide them with safe housing, as well as education, and life and job skills.
Realizing that young women were at risk when they arrived in the city, it's no doubt that Victoria saved many a young black girls lives in her social work. Whether these young black women were traveling from the West Indies or the ruthless South, Victoria would greet them at the ports. She would then take them to the White Rose Mission where they would be given a place to stay and learn a trade until they could take care of themselves. What a huge heart this woman had. There was always evil lurking around these docks, attempting to lure these young woman into a life of who knows what, but Victoria came to their aid.
Victoria eventually began writing and working to establish a career as a journalist and fiction writer. At the same time, she became increasingly interested in politics and issues affecting blacks. She focused on promoting a consciousness of the Negro struggle.
She wrote short stories, such as "Aunt Lindy," which told of forgiveness and reconciliation during the Post-Civil War years. She also produced a stage play that explored the idea of miscegenation and would become involved with Ida B. Wells and her anti-lynching campaign.
Victoria would later return to the South, having read about the continuing need for education for blacks. In the state of Alabama, she began looking into what was being done for people of color. Matthews began to visit individuals and families where the need seemed great. She went from house to house providing useful services, such as helping an over-burdened mother prepare a meal or do laundry.
Victoria also “envisioned daily kindergarten and manual training for boys with lectures regarding domestic services” Victoria valued education and made it part of the programs she offered. In addition to life skills in math, reading, and writing, Victoria educated her students in race history and literature. Victoria could have easily passed for white and lived a better life but she took pride in her Negro race, and chose to help.
Now let me ask you, can you think of a better Hamite recipient than this large-hearted woman? Amazing indeed. As a person of color reading of this woman's unselfish love for her race of people, does it almost bring you to tears?
It makes us want to achieve more in today's world. Thank you so much Victoria Earle Matthews for the awe-inspiring example you've left for your fellow human beings to learn by. At this time we award you with the 1916 Hamite Award which is given to individuals exactly like you who have triumphed over hate with the beautiful message of love, forgiveness , and self-sufficiency.
Couldn't find an image of Victoria so we used the next best thing.
|How were blacks feeling in 1916?
For the year 1916:
- Fritz Pollard, of Brown University was the first African-American football player to play in a Rose Bowl game.
- Charles Young was the first African-American serviceman to become a colonel in the U.S. Army.
- Georgia Robinson was the first African-American woman to be a police officer in Los Angeles.
- Saint Elmo Brady was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States, which he received from the University of Illinois in 1916.
The Coloured Hockey League performed from 1895-1930
In 1941 Althea Gibson won the American Tennis Association (ATA) NY State Championship.
| Sports in 1916 |
- October 14, 1916 - Sophomore tackle and guard Paul Robeson is excluded from the Rutgers football team when Washington and Lee University refused to play against a black person.
- The American Tennis Association (ATA) is based in Largo, Maryland, and is the oldest African-American sports organization in the United States. The ATA was founded in Washington, D.C. on November 30, 1916 by a group of African-American businessmen, college professors and physicians as the black equivalent to the whites-only United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA).
- 1895-1930 - Coloured Hockey League was an all-black ice hockey league founded in Nova Scotia in 1895, which featured teams from across Canada's Maritime Provinces. The Coloured League is credited by some as being the first league to allow the goaltender to leave his feet to cover a puck in 1900. This practice was not permitted elsewhere until the formation of the National Hockey League in 1917. Historians also claim that the first player to use the slapshot was Eddie Martin of the Halifax Eureka in 1906. Trivia: In the Revolutionary War, America and the British promised the black slaves freedom if they fought for their respective sides. Of course, we all know that America won the war but failed to keep its promise to the slaves and forced them back into slavery. President George Washington had to know about this and did nothing on the slave's behalf. On the other hand, the British kept their promise and transported these slaves who were also called black loyalist to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, Africa to start a new life. The Coloured Hockey League players were from Nova Scotia and introduced exciting innovations to the game of hockey.
| Political Scene in 1916 |
- Democrat Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921 and leader of the Progressive Movement. Analysis: This President, Woodrow Wilson was the only Democrat besides Grover Cleveland to be elected president since 1856. As a young person, his father defended slavery, owned slaves and set up a Sunday school for them. Both parents identified with the Confederacy and cared for wounded soldiers at their church. His upbringing would influence his decisions as President. He made promises he didn't keep. Believe it or not, many blacks supported him, but once in office, he forgot about promises he made. Wilson believed that slavery was wrong on economic labor grounds, rather than for moral reasons. He also idealized the slavery system in the South, viewing masters as patient with "indolent" slaves. Although he drafted hundreds of thousands of Negroes for the war, he believed in keeping the military segregated against the protest of black service members. Wilson scolded them "segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you, gentlemen." He also instructed the segregation of the workplace in federal offices. In 1918, W. E. B. Du Bois—a leader of the NAACP who had campaigned for Wilson—was offered an Army commission in charge of dealing with race relations; DuBois accepted, but he failed his Army physical and did not serve. I can't figure out why Dubois would throw his support to this President unless he knew something we don't. Years earlier, Wilson was against blacks enrolling at Princeton University while president there because he didn't want to upset the white students. He also believed the KKK had proper cause and reason for the terror they inflicted upon the Negro race. It's interesting to note that another apparently racist President went down in history as one of the greatest men who had ever served in the United States. (what does that say about America?) It means a lousy U.S. President, but an incredible white President. This man resume speaks for itself. He served two terms so this meant another 8 years of despair and hopelessness for the lowly Negro citizen.
A man lynched from a tree. Face partially concealed by angle and headgear.
| Race in 1916 |
- 1916 - There were fifty African-Americans known to be lynched in 1916.
Movies in America
Actress Evelyn Preer
1916 Movie poster of the film "The Realization of a Negro's Ambition".
| Movies in 1916 |
- Evelyn Preer was a pioneering African-American stage and screen actress and blues singer of the 1910s through the early 1930s. Preer was regarded by many as the greatest actress of her time and was known within the black community as "The First Lady of the Screen"
- The Lincoln Motion Picture Company was an American film production company founded in 1915, known as the first producer of race movies.
Alma Smith Jacobs
| Famous Birthdays in 1916 |
- March 13, 1916 - Ina Ray Hutton was an American female bandleader, vocalist and performer during the Big band era, and sister to June Hutton.
- May 12, 1916 - Albert L. Murray was an American literary and jazz critic, novelist, essayist and biographer.
- May 27, 1916 - William "Willie" Best sometimes known as Sleep n' Eat, was an American television and film actor.
- September 5, 1916 - Frank Garvin Yerby was an African-American historical novelist. He is best known as the first African-American writer to become a millionaire from his pen, and to have a book purchased by a Hollywood studio for a film adaptation.
- October 12, 1916 - Alice Childress was an American playwright, actor, and author.
- November 21, 1916 - Alma Smith Jacobs was the first African American to serve as Montana State Librarian. She served as Head Librarian at the Great Falls Public Library from 1954–1973, and in 1973 was named Montana State Librarian, serving until 1981.
- 1916 - Harold Wright Cruse was an American academic who was an outspoken social critic and teacher of African American studies at the University of Michigan until the mid-1980s. The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967) is his best-known book.
Alice Augusta Ball
| Famous Deaths in 1916 |
- January 5, 1916 - Sam Lucas was an African-American actor, comedian, singer, and songwriter.
- August 2, 1916 - Samuel David Ferguson was the first Black person to be elected a bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
- August 1916 - John Leubrie Hill Little is known of his early life, but by 1896, he was writing songs with Alex Rogers. He also acted and wrote songs for the Williams and Walker musicals in the first decade of the 20th century.
- December 6, 1916 - Powhatan Beaty was an African American soldier and actor. During the American Civil War, he served in the Union Army's 5th United States Colored Infantry Regiment throughout the Richmond–Petersburg Campaign and received America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.
- December 31, 1916 - Alice Augusta Ball was an African American chemist who developed an injectable oil extract that was the most effective treatment for leprosy until the 1940s. She was also the first woman and first African American to graduate from the University of Hawaii with a master's degree.
- 1916 - Jeremiah Haralson was among the first ten African-American Congressmen in the United States. Born in slavery in Columbus, Georgia, Haralson eventually rose to serve in the United States House of Representatives from Alabama's 1st congressional district in the 44th United States Congress.
| Famous Weddings in 1916 |
- 1916 - American singer, composer and music critic Nora Holt and hotel owner George Holt were wed in holy matrimony.
Howard Theatre at 620 T Street NW, with inset of manager, Andrew J. Thomas (ca. 1910-1919).
Vaudeville star George Walker
Egbert "Bert" Austin Williams
Howard Theatre interior
| Entertainment in 1916 |
- George Walker formed the The Frogs (club)
Why did George Walker start a black club for actors when he could have just joined the American Actors Beneficial Association? Because like everything else in America, it was becoming commonplace for blacks and whites to be separated in everything. Doctors, Realtors, Lawyers, Unions, etc. and every other organization you can think of was segregated. It's almost like whites needed a race of people such as the lowly Negro to measure its greatness. Blacks had no choice but to organize for their benefit. The Negro didn't want it this way, but like a famous rapper once said: "That's just the way it is" The American Actors Beneficial Association excluded blacks from it were memberships and didn't appreciate it when Walker formed the Frogs. His original start up group, The Colored Vaudeville Benevolent Association, received negative attitude from white producers. The concept of the colored man supporting himself through performance and no longer just “taking what they were given” posed a threat to the white vaudevillian and theatrical community. With this, Walker set forth to create The Frogs. On July 18, 1908, at Walker’s home at 52 West 153rd St in Harlem, eleven of the most prominent names in the industry formed together to create the African American theatrical organization. The Frogs, became known for their big event “The Frolic of the Frogs” or “The Frogs Frolic” every August at the Manhattan Casino (New York City) at 155th Street and Eighth Avenue. For 50 cents, people enjoyed a combination ball, party and vaudeville show where favors were given to the ladies and door prizes went to the three people wearing unique costumes symbolic of the frogs. With a large success in the early years of the event, “The Frolic of the Frogs” was able to tour their event in cities such as Philadelphia, Richmond, Baltimore and Washington D.C. Popularity in the frolic was found among both blacks and whites. We love happy stories like "The Frogs" had given the people of New York. Come on let's face it, 99% of the time because of racial oppression; it's was negative for the Negro. George Walker died in 1911, but his longtime friend Bert Williams would take over the company continuing it's amazing success well into the 1920s.
The Howard Theatre is a historic theater, located at 620 T Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C. Opened in 1910; it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In its heyday, the theater was known for catering to an African-American clientele, and had played host to many of the great black musical artists of the early and mid-twentieth century. The Howard Theatre was billed as the "Theater of the People", and supported two theatrical organizations, the Lafayette Players and the Howard University Players.
| It's a Party in 1916 |
- Back in the early 1900s because of prejudice and racial discrimination, black entertainers had to be very careful where they traveled. They weren't always welcome in various venues, so they created what's called a Chitlin Circuit. They named it Chitlin Circuit because of blacks typical love for soul food with chitlins being near the top as favorite. So, in other words, they understood they would be love on the circuit. They knew that the clubs, juke joints, theaters, etc. in the circuit were welcoming of the black race and safe to visit. This way of life existing from the early 1900s - 1960s. Noted theaters and entertainers on the circuit included:
The Fox Theatre in Detroit; the Victory Grill in Austin, Texas; the Carver Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama; the Cotton Club, Small's Paradise and the Apollo Theater in New York City; Robert's Show Lounge, Club DeLisa and the Regal Theatre in Chicago; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.;the Royal Peacock in Atlanta; the Royal Theatre in Baltimore; the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia; the Hippodrome Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida; and The Madam C. J. Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis.
Early figures of blues, including Robert Johnson, Son House, Charley Patton, and countless others, traveled the juke joint circuit, scraping out a living on tips and free meals. These entertainers provided much-needed joy and happiness for black folks. Once the band's gig was over, they would leave for the next stop on the circuit. Sounds like a lot of fun and an exciting life!
Many notable performers worked on the chitlin' circuit, including Patti LaBelle, Count Basie, Hammond B-3, Jeff Palmer, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Sheila Guyse, Peg Leg Bates, The Supremes, George Benson, James Brown & The Famous Flames, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5, Redd Foxx, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, John Lee Hooker, Lena Horne, Etta James, B.B. King, The Miracles, Donna Hightower, Moms Mabley, The Delfonics, Wilson Pickett, Richard Pryor, Otis Redding, Duke Ellington, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Little Richard, Ike & Tina Turner, The Four Tops, Tammi Terrell, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Muddy Waters, Flip Wilson and Jimmie Walker.
Fun At The Beach?
The Negro has historically been excluded from every aspect of American life and success, but what about the public beaches, was he made to feel unwelcome there also?
In a word. HELL YEAH. I'm sorry, that's two words.
If a Negro and his family attempted to visit a public beach, he would be met with sure violence from whites.
It wasn't until after the Civil Rights protest in the 60s that the fight for equal access to public accommodations made it illegal to exclude the Negro.
One popular beach that blacks congregated was in Southern California. It was called "Ink Well" for obvious reasons. It served the black community very well.
You're not going to believe how blacks acquired another little piece of paradise in the same area called Bruce's Beach. A wonderful white American brother named George H. Peck who was a wealthy developer and the founder of Manhattan Beach, "bucked" the practice of racial exclusion and set aside two city blocks of the beachfront area and made them available for purchase by African Americans.
Jumping on this incredible opportunity, Willa and Charles Bruce purchased property in the Strand area and built a bathhouse, and dining area that catered to blacks. Peck would also go on to develop "Peck's Pier," the only pier in the area open to African Americans. In time because of increased racial tension and the value of beachfront property rising, the city pushed the blacks out claiming the eminent domain law. This type of exclusion was typical all across America for the Negro.
Charles A. Tindley
Storyville, New Orleans
| Music in 1916 |
Popular Soul Dances:
- The Bunny Hug
- The Texas Tommy Swing
Musical Happenings in 1916:
- Blacks are on the move out of the South during the late 1910s. Trivia: More than 60,000 African Americans from Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas move to Chicago, especially in the city's South Side. The black population boom "ushered in the city's jazz age, widening the market for black musical entertainment", including cabarets, dance halls, and vaudeville and movie theaters.
- 1916 - Clarence Cameron White, along with R. Nathaniel Dett, attempted to organize the National Association of Negro Music Teachers. These plans were interrupted by World War I, after which Dett and White's idea was taken up by Nora Holt. Holt formed the National Association of Negro Musicians in 1919; White was a charter member.
- Classical composer, arranger, and professional singer Harry Burleigh published several versions of the Negro spiritual "Deep River" in 1916 and 1917, and he quickly became known for his arrangements of spirituals for voice and piano; one of his arrangements in Common Metre is the hymn tune "McKee", used with John Oxenham's hymn In Christ There Is No East or West. His arrangements helped to make spirituals a favorite genre for concert singers, and within a few years, many notable musicians performed Burleigh's arrangements.
- Charles A. Tindley's New Songs of Paradise is a favorite work, the "first publication of a collection of gospel hymns written by a black songwriter." Tindley was a noted songwriter and composer of gospel hymns and is recognized as one of the founding fathers of American gospel music.
- Emma Azalia Hackley becomes one of the first African Americans to record, though the results are never released.
- Nathaniel Clark Smith begins his teaching career at Lincoln High School in Kansas City, Missouri. He will go on to pioneer the African American "master teacher" phenomenon, in which a public school teacher contributes an "enormous amount of time to developing the skills of talented young people."
Storyville was the red-light district of New Orleans, Louisiana from 1897 to 1917. It was established by municipal ordinance under the New Orleans City Council, to regulate prostitution and drugs. The ordinance did not legalize prostitution, but rather designated a sixteen block area as the part of the city in which it was not illegal. The area was originally referred to as "The District," but its nickname, "Storyville," soon caught on. It became a centralized attraction in the heart of New Orleans. Only a few of its remnants are now visible.
Establishments in Storyville ranged from cheap "cribs" to more expensive houses, up to a row of elegant mansions along Basin Street for well-heeled customers. New Orleans' cribs were 50-cent joints, whereas the most expensive establishments could cost up to $10. Black and white brothels coexisted in Storyville; but black men were barred from legally purchasing services in either black or white brothels.
Trivia: It's interesting to note that Jim Crow even restricted the Negro male from legally purchasing the services of a prostitute. Amazing!
In the early 1900s, a Blue Book could be purchased for 25 cents. Blue Books were created for tourists and those unfamiliar with this area of New Orleans and contained, in alphabetical order, the names of all the prostitutes of Storyville, and separated them based on race.
Jazz did not originate in Storyville, but it flourished there as in the rest of the city. Many out-of-town visitors first heard this style of music there before the music spread north. Some outsiders continue to associate Storyville with the origins of jazz. It was the tradition in the better Storyville establishments to hire a piano player and sometimes small bands. Famous musicians who got their start in Storyville include Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, and Pops Foster.
At the start of World War I, Secretary of War Newton Baker did not want troops to have distractions while deploying. The Navy had troops located in New Orleans, and the city was pressed to close Storyville. Prostitution was made illegal in 1917, and Storyville was used for the purpose of entertainment. Most of its buildings were later destroyed.
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
George Walker and Bert Williams in the early 1900s
Fashionable Bert Williams in the 1900s
Women's fashion in 1910s
Women's fashion in 1910s
Men's fashion in 1910s
| Fashions in 1916 |
Popular entertainers of the 1990s, George Walker and Bert Williams in the fancy clothes they wore back in the early 1900s. Sharp as a tack!
Fashion in the years 1910–1919 is characterized by a rich and exotic opulence in the first half of the decade in contrast with the somber practicality of garments worn during the Great War. Men's trousers were worn cuffed to ankle-length and creased. Skirts rose from floor length to well above the ankle, women began to bob their hair, and the stage was set for the radical new fashions associated with the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
During the early years of the 1910s the fashionable silhouette became much more lithe, fluid and soft than in the 1900s. Waistlines were loose and softly defined. They gradually dropped to near the natural waist by mid-decade, where they were to remain through the war years. Tunics became longer and underskirts fuller and shorter. By 1916 women were wearing calf-length dresses. Changes dress during World War I were dictated more by necessity than fashion. As more and more women were forced to work, they demanded clothes that were better suited to their new activities; these derived from the shirtwaists and tailored suits. Social events were postponed in favor of more pressing engagements and the need to mourn the increasing numbers of dead, visits to the wounded, and the general gravity of the time meant that darker colors and simpler cuts became the norm. Costume jewelry was introduced. Expensive necklaces were replaced with glass or crystal beads.
In general, styles were unchanged from the previous decade. The sack coat or lounge coat continued to replace the frock coat for most informal and semi-formal occasions. The gap between the shorter trousers and the shoes was filled with short gaiters or spats.
The most formal evening dress remained a dark tail coat and trousers with a dark or light waistcoat. Evening wear was worn with a white bow tie and a shirt with a winged collar. Gentlemen of all classes, especially the middle and working class often wore the newsboy cap and flat cap.
Dang it! We're so Tired of all the Hate|
We can't wait to leave this wicked South,
and make the big bucks in the North!
Will our white American brothers love us there?
What type of employment awaits the Negro in the 1900s?
FSA photo of cropper family chopping the weeds
from cotton near White Plains, in Georgia Postmarked 1912
90% of Negroes still lived in the South up until the late 1910s.
King Cotton was still a big source of income for blacks. These workers were hired as temporary help. Many were tenant farmers, renting a piece of land and some of their tools and supplies, and paying the rent at the end of the growing season with a portion of their harvest. White and black farm laborers were paid comparable wages, and rental rates. Blacks didn't exclusively work in the cotton fields, for example some blacks worked in the Turpentine industry.
"Dipping and scraping pine trees. Turpentine industry in Florida." Postmarked 1912
Whites were much more likely to own land as opposed to blacks. Black children were unlikely to be in school because they helped the parents in the fields to support the family and also because of a lack of good quality schools. Funds that were intended for black schools went to white schools instead in the form of raising teacher salaries and per-pupil funding while reducing class size. Black schools suffered at this expense. Separate but Equal was a big lie, because it was anything but equal.
The government didn't have a special watchdog organization to enforce these racist laws, and the requirement of equality was not enforced. Black children never really had a fair chance.
Boll weevil ruins Cotton Crops in the 1920s
Of course hindsight is 20-20. But wouldn't it have been nice if during slavery someone would have thought to travel to Mexico and bring back the Cotton boll weevil to transplant them into Southern cotton crops?
Cotton boll weevil |
Where were you when we really
needed you, pre-1863?
A little integration of the boll weevil and Mr. King Cotton would have been a good thing for the Negro. We wonder what kind of effect that would have had on chattel slavery?
Well what the heck is a boll weevil?
The boll weevil is a beetle which feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central America, it migrated into the United States from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south.
Southern blacks were tied to the cotton fields in the early 1900s, but after 1914, many were fed up and wanted to try something new and different. By then they were open for a change because of restrictive Jim Crow laws and the boll weevil destroyed many crops, putting them out of work. They decided to take the plunge, a new and exciting life for them. Their move was called the Great Migration. News had spread to these poor black Southerners about better opportunities in the North, so many of them packed up their belongings and bid farewell to the South, never looking back.
During World War I, blacks were very much desired in the workplace. The United States had a quota for Colored soldiers to enlist for service. Blacks filled the quota very quickly, and many had to be turned back. With white men fighting in the war, this left openings in industry for blacks to fill. How did they do? Employers loved them and wanted more. They proved themselves to be excellent workers. This is probably one of the main reasons for so many riots when the white soldiers returned to America because blacks had taken their jobs. So by the early 1900s, we have proven ourselves to be excellent and courageous soldiers and dependable workers at home.
In other cases, some Negroes were recruited to travel North by agents of the businesses who would pay their fare. In some cases, these poor blacks were tricked into traveling a great distance for jobs only to discover they would be hired as strikebreakers, which was a very dangerous undertaking. Money was better for the Negro in the North, but in many cases, racism persisted with many riots happening. Many unions in the North had explicit rules barring membership by black workers.
Blacks had various successes at different job locations, for example when the auto industry took off, Ford Motor Co. hired many blacks to work in its automobile plant, but other auto plants often excluded them. Jobs were not a certainty for the Negro; he had to stay alerted and knock on many doors. But blacks were making a little advancement, by 1940 there were more than 200,000 African Americans in the CIO, many of them officers of union locals.
A. Philip Randolph|
When the war broke out a very special man by the name of A. Philip Randolph petitioned President Roosevelt for jobs in the Defense plants which previously had been reserved for whites. Randolph had a special card up his sleeve in the form of 100,000 peaceful marchers on Washington to protest if Roosevelt declined.
Roosevelt half-heartedly gave in and created a new program for blacks called the Fair Employment Practice Committee which was designed to monitor the hiring practices of companies. The Committee did accomplish many blacks being hired into the Defense departments at very nice wages but closed down later because of a lack of funding from the U.S. Government.
After World War II, The G.I. Bill which was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments of tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation was a big boon for whites and was a major factor in the creation of the white American middle class.
But sadly because of racial inequality, many of the benefits of the G.I. bill were not granted to black soldiers. This is because "at the very moment when a wide array of public policies was providing most white Americans with valuable tools to advance their social welfare—insure their old age, get good jobs, acquire economic security, build assets, and gain middle-class status—most black Americans were left behind or left out." It seems like we can get off the ground with these people, but we never give up. Also the black middle class failed to keep pace with the white middle class because blacks had fewer opportunities to earn college degrees.
In time, it became critical to have a college degree, for better pay wages which many whites were now working toward with the help of the G.I. Bill, but blacks were left behind in dying trades or just making it the best way they could because of racial discrimination and National leaders doing absolutely nothing to help.
Once they returned home after the war, blacks faced not only discrimination but also poverty, which confronted most blacks during the 1940s and 1950s and represented another barrier to harnessing the benefits of the G.I. Bill, as poverty made seeking an education problematic to while labor and income were needed at home. Banks and mortgage agencies routinely refused loans to blacks, making the G.I. Bill even less effective for blacks.
In addition to the other obstacles, gaining admission to universities was no easy task for blacks on the G.I. Bill. Most universities had segregationist principles underlying their admissions policies, utilizing either official or unofficial quotas. Those blacks that were prepared for college level work and gained access to predominantly white universities still experienced racism on campus.
During the 70s and 80s, the number of employed blacks increased. The civil rights movement played a huge role in this development. There were heavy gains in blue-collar jobs, such as steel, automobile production, electrical and non-electrical machinery, appliances, food and tobacco manufacturing, and textiles, and also white-collar occupations, where the four major subcategories-professional and technical, managerial and administrative, sales, and clerical increased very sharply.
The black labor force by the late 1990s, approximately sixty percent of these were white-collar sales and clerical personnel; many in this group were non-union workers with limited benefits and wages. However, another twenty percent of the black labor force, nearly three million workers, was classified as professional and technical employees and administrators. The percentage of the black labor force in the blue-collar field declined.
So what type of work did blacks do in the 1900s?
There were black doctors, dentist, newspaper editors, plumbers, mailman, teachers, singers, scientist, athletes, Pullman porters, laborers, politicians, judges, lawyers, mill workers, welders, domestic help, authors, factory workers, customer service, business owners, policemen, firemen, and every other profession you could think of. Sadly, their numbers and presence weren't as high as white Americans because of entrenched discrimination against the black race. It's in the history books, read it for yourself.
Blacks have historically had a harder time than other races being employed in America, ever since emancipation, and for the most part it has to do with racism. We're not fooled into believing any different. But we don't let this stop us and continue to push on. Our amazing journey has had many barriers and roadbloocks every step of the way.
The Fair Employment Practice Committee of the 40s and the Civil Rights movement helped a bit, but after slavery and the following Jim Crow years, racism had become deeply entrenched in the American workforce. It's not out in the open as it was during Jim Crow days but today more subtle and hidden, but just as hurtful, degrading and discouraging. But to our credit, blacks seem always to find a way. Truly remarkable American people, and if it were possible, would make our battered ancestors who sailed deep seas, shout for joy in their graves.
African Americans in the Twentieth Century
African Americans and the G.I. Bill
Blacks in the 1970's
Social and Economic Issues of the 1980s and 1990s
What The Negro Achieved in Industry
The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Memphis, Tennessee.
The first self service grocery store, opened 1916.
United States Census for African Americans
in the 1910s
Buffalo Soldiers of the American 10th Cavalry Regiment who were taken prisoner during the Battle of Carrizal, Mexico in 1916.
Colonel Charles Young (United States Army)
| Our Community in 1916 |
Newsworthy Events in the Black Community:
- January 1, 1916 - the first issue of "Journal of Negro History" was published.
- September 6, 1916 - the first true supermarket, the "Piggly Wiggly" is opened in Memphis, Tennessee.
Piggly Wiggly was the first to:
* provide checkout stands.
* price mark every item in the store.
* provide shopping carts for customers,
starting in the year 1937 in Oklahoma.
- 1916 - Garrett Morgan's gas mask invention became known nationally when he led a rescue that saved several men's lives after a 1916 tunnel explosion under Lake Erie. Trivia: There isn't any value of African American achievement in America's eyes. They had to wake this man from his sleep to help these poor people who were trapped. Attempts by others had failed. When Morgan arrived, he successfully reached and rescued some of the victims, but his acts of terrorism were never mentioned. City officials requested the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission to issue medals to several of the men involved in the rescue, but excluded Morgan from their application. He believed that the omission was racially motivated. His health was affected for years afterward from the fumes he encountered there.
- 1916 - The Buffalo soldiers still protecting American interest in the Battle of Carrizal which was fought between the 10th Cavalry and Mexico.
- 1916 - The NAACP awarded Colonel Charles Young the Spingarn Medal for his achievements in Liberia and the US Army.
- The United States Population is 93,402,151 with a total of 9,827,763 being African Americans. It looks like the Negroes are having second thoughts about bringing children into this racist and lawless society because their population increased by only 1 million from the last 10 years, where as the whites almost 17 million.
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