Frederick Douglass born in one of the darkest periods of slavery on a plantation owned by Colonel Lloyd of Talbot county, Maryland, the white man who raped his mother. When Douglass was an infant, he was snatched from his mother and put under his grandmother’s care.
At the age of eight, two years after his mother died at a neighboring estate, young Douglass was sent to live with the Aued family, where his life’s ambition to learn how to read was fulfilled. Not knowing it was against the law, Mrs. Aued gave him reading lessons. Her husband scolded her when he found out, causing her to stop her literacy crusade.
After a series of severe thrashings for fighting and organizing save revolts, 21 year old Douglass plotted his escape. He somehow got hold of a sailor’s uniform and a passport and climbed on a ship and sailed.
Frederick Douglass was the most famous of all anti-slavery orators, and the most effective. He challenged liberals and conservatives to accept the rights of blacks to defend themselves with or without anyone else’s help.
In the years that spanned the abolitionist movement, Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Post-Reconstruction period, Douglass championed the cause of all oppressed people. The rocklike Douglass’s preeminence as race leader was to persist until his death in 1895.
In his words and deeds, Douglass challenged liberals, shoo thought they were empowered by God to enslave black people. He fought both whites and blacks that thought his verse did not fit into the commonly held notions of what black men should be and say.
In 1845, he published his first autobiography, narrative of, The Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, which put slavers on his track after the book had huge sales and subsequent controversy.
Douglass went to Rochester, New York, and started his anti-slavery paper, the North Star, and later Frederick Douglass paper. He wrote his second autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom, in 1855.
In essence, Douglass challenged himself and his people to be all they could be and not let any obstacle stand in their way. He taught everyone that freedom is never free it comes with struggle.
Richard Arrington Jr. For many, it was a symbol of the South’s political transformation when in 1979 councilman Richard Arrington, Jr. was elected mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. Just 16 years earlier, white police and firemen had turned fire hoses and attack dogs on Civil Rights demonstrators. Now a black educator with a doctorate in zoology was running city hall.
Born in Sumter County, Alabama, Arrington moved to Birmingham with his family as a child. During the city’s Civil Rights struggles he as attending graduate school in Oklahoma, but in the early 1970’s he was drawn into city politics, building a solid reputation by exposing police brutality. Arrington decided to run for mayor after a white Birmingham policeman shot and killed a young black woman.
Once in office, however, his biggest long-term challenge was to guide the city’s economic transformation away from making steel. By the mid-1980’s, with Arrington still mayor, communications companies in hinge-rise towers had taken the place of aging steel mills.
Coleman Young Detroit’s five-term major discovered his knack for politics in the 1940’s as a postal-union organizer. He rose quickly to become chairman of the National Negro Labor Council, an organization he helped to form. That position made him vulnerable t anti-Communist hysteria, however, and in 1952 Young was called before the House Un-American activities committee. Smeared with the “radical “ label, he spent several years scraping by in odd jobs.
In 1964, he makes a political comeback, winning election to the state legislature. Nine years later-just as foreign competition and an oil shortage plunged Detroit’s main industry earmarking into a free fall-he was elected mayor. Young did what he could to relieve the effects of the city economic decline, working closely with major employers and help to secure federal assistance for the Chrysler Corporation in 1977. His hiring of African American and female police officers reduced community tensions and helped cut crime. Young also pushed hard tour Urban renewal. June 1993, at the age of 75, Young announced his retirement after years as mayor. “I ‘d like to be remembered as a good mayor who gave all he had, “he said.
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.Like his father, Connecticut-born Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., studied for the ministry. After seminary he became an associate pastor at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, where he established and maintained a powerful black political base for three decades. The dynamic Powell organized picket lines in ghetto streets, demanded that Harlem’s white shop owners hire black employees, dial confronted white authority to seek justice and secure government services for his people, and in 1941 became the first black to serve on New York’s city council. Four years later he was elected to Congress. Throughout his long, successful congressional career, and after it, Powell took politics to the pulpit of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church where he fervently preached black power, pride, and dignity.
Rejecting tokenism and stirring the racial consciousness of African American, he focuses on the use of economic force and political power to achieve equality.
Democratic representative from New York’s Eighteenth Congressional District from 1945. Served as chairman on the Labor and Education Committee until 1967. Commended by former President Johnson in 1966 for a “brilliant record of accomplishment” that had included passage of some 56 key bills under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. For the last decade has been involved in a series of legal congressional tangles.
In 1967 his trouble began with Washington officials. On January 9, he was stripped of his chairmanship and the next day barred from taking his House seat pending an investigation of his “qualify-actions.” A select House committee, headed by Emanuel Celler, found he had misused congressional funds, acted contemptuously toward the New York courts in his libel suit, and kept his wife on the congressional payroll although she did not work in either his district or the District of Columbia as required by law. On March 1, 1967, following the committee’s report, the House voted 301 to 116 to exclude Powell from the Ninetieth Congress. He was re-elected from his district in November 1968, but did not present him for swearing in. Powell countered by taking his case to the Supreme Court, which on June 16, 1969 ruled that the House of had violated his constitutional rights. Representatives in excluding him from the Ninetieth Congress, but referred to a lower court the issue of Powell’s right to $55,000 back pay.
Freeman R. Bosley, Jr.In April 1993, Freeman R. Bosley, Jr. won a Landslide victory to become the first African American mayor of St. Louis, Missouri. In a city about Half white and half black, Bosley stressed the need for racial harmony throughout his campaign. Just as it takes the black and white keys of a piano to play “The star-spangled Banner, “he told his supporters on election night. It takes backs and whited and people of all race to make this city great.
Breaking barriers was nothing new for the 38 year-old politician: In 1982, he won election as the city’s first black circuit clerk. Now Bosley saw his victory as setting “a new direction” for the city. It also fulfilled a family dream. Bosley’s father, a St. Louis alderman, had run successfully for mayor eight years earlier.
W.E.B. Du Boisa native of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W. E. B. Du Bois attended Fisk University before earning his Ph.D. at Harvard with a dissertation on the African slave trade. At a time when Social Darwinists were attempting to justify racism on scientific grounds (In The Negro: A Beast Charles Carroll, for one, set out to prove in 1900 that blacks were a lower class of animal), Du Bois argued that the struggle for equality was essentially ideological. To change society it was necessary first to change minds, he said, and in his ground breaking The Souls of Black Folk (1903), he revolutionized America’s habits of thought regarding race.
Du Bois may well have been this Century’s greatest black intellectual. His words and deeds, including helping to found the NAACP and editing its journal, the Crisis, have stood the test of time. He was a pioneer in sociology, history, and anthropology, and a major contributor to the Harlem Renaissance.
Du Bois had a universal outlook. He was concerned, as was Marcus Garvey, with the treatment of the darker people of other lands. In 1909 he began thinking of creating an “Encyclopedia Africana”.
Du Bois traveled to the Soviet Union in the 1930’s praising the communist nation as being virtually free of racial discrimination. Ironically, he left the communist party, which He joined much later in 1961, in America because he felt they discounted blacks with the Party’s insistence that class and not race was the problem.
Du Bois universal outlook led to him being one of the few influential African Americans associated with the founding of the United Nations.
Julian Bond Georgia state representative. His name was put in nomination for vice president at 1968 Democratic National Convention, but later withdrawn. Considered one of the most articulate and attractive moderate Negro voices, is a professed admirer of both Martin Luther King and Stokeley Carmichael. Believes emphasis should be on providing jobs and dividing power more equitably. Rather than on integration or Black Nationalism, “As power begins to be divided more quickly.” Has been critical of student radicals, black and white: “All they do is talk, but they never do anything.”
In 1965, at age 25, elected to Georgia State legislature for new seat created by Supreme Court decision on reapportionment. He and seven others were the first Negroes to be elected in 58 years. But by vote of 184-12, the house refused to permit him to take his seat, citing “disloyalty” in a statement by Bond in which he stated he admired draftcard burners. Bond, at the time an official of SNCC, also endorsed a SNCC statement opposing the Vietnam War. He resigned from SNCC in September 1966, for personal reasons,” and was reelected to the legislature in a special election in November 1966, but again denied his seat. On December 5, 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that the Georgia House of Representatives had violated Bon’s constitutional rights by excluding him, and he was sworn in on January 9, 1967. (Bond later explained that his draft-card statement had been widely misquoted, that he had stated that he would not burn his draft card, but he understood why people did burn theirs, and admired their courage in view of the known penalties.)
Born in 1940 in Pennsylvania, the son of educator H.M. Bond (currently dean of the University of Atlanta), attended a white Quaker private school near Lincoln University (where his father as then president). Later studied philosophy under Martin Luther King at Morehouse College but left during his senior year to work full-time for SNCC as communications director. Also worked as reporter and later managing editor of the Atlanta Inquirer. Married to the former Alice Clopton, four children.
Stokeley Carmichael Former chairman of SNCC and one of the most charismatic of the new breed of militant black leaders. First popularized the phrases “black power” during a voting rights march in June 1966. Carmichael asserted the phrase meant nothing more than “a way to help Negroes develop racial pride and use the ballot for education and economic development.” In his book Black Power: The politics of Liberation in America, which he wrote with Professor Charles V. Hamilton, he states “”the concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise: before a group can enter the open society, it must close ranks. By this we mean that group solidarity is necessary before a group can Operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society.” Carmichael broke with SNCC in May 1967. Officially expelled in August 1968 when the alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther party ended at a meeting of the two groups in New York City, SNCC leaders voted to terminate their relationship with Carmichael, who was then prime minister of the Panthers.
From May to December 1967, he went on a world tour, visiting Britain, Czechoslovakia, Cuba (for which the United States revoked his passport), North Vietnam, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, and Guinea. While in Havana, he was quoted as saying: “We must internationalize our struggle, and if we are going to turn into reality the words of Che (Guevara) to create two, three and more Vietnams, we must recognize that Detroit and New York are also Vietnam.”
Carmichael returned to the United States amid a storm of legislative protest. His passport was lifted and the justice department for preaching sedition initiated indictment proceedings against him. Carmichael settled in Washington, D.C. in 1968 and helped organize the Black United Front. He called a secret meeting of 100 black leaders representing some 20 organizations in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1968 and formed the front to organize Negroes in the nation’s capital. He married South African singer Miriam Makeba in April 1968 and in the spring of 1969 they went to live in Conakry, Guinea. Carmichael publicly broke with the Black Panthers in July 1969, saying he could no longer support “the present tactics and methods which the party is using to coerce and force everyone to submit to its authority” and was denounced for his action by fellow Panther-in-exile Eldridge Cleaver.
However, Carmichael returned to the United States on March 18,1970, and declared that he intended to wage “a relentless struggle against the poison of drugs in the black community.” A few days later, on March 25, he was called before a closed session of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and questioned about his activities while abroad.
Carmichael was born in Trinidad, June 21, 1941. He moved to New York City at age 11, and grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in the Bronx. Has a degree in philosophy from Howard University (1964).
The individuals in this unit, then, have more than embraced the African American dream of a better, more equitable world.
To establish a more actively political consciousness among African Americans and a more powerful racial image, Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Malcolm X advocate black Nationalism, W.E. B. Du Bois espoused Pan-Africanism, Martin Luther King redefined Civil Disobedience, and Zora Neale Hurston pleaded for Human unity. Strategies have varied as widely as the experience and ideology of the women and men who devised them. Even though these individuals mentioned in this unit has diverse individual stories, that all share a vision of justice.
Furthermore, while any single strategy may have effected but a small advance in its time, or even occasioned a major setback, every battle, march, rebellion, riot, protest, and outcry for that justice have made change possible.
Freedom, justice and equality have first to be imagined to be achieved. In vision lie the seeds of change and our social reality has in fact often proved to be altered by the dreams it would appear most adamantly to resist.