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20 Interesting Facts about The song, Sweet Low Sweet Chariot

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20 Interesting Facts about The song, Sweet Low Sweet Chariot. We do not know who created the famous African-American spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Still, it was part of the Fisk Jubilee singer’s repertoire in the 1870s and gained public attention. The Fisk University Jubilee Quartet performed the song for Victor Studios in December 1909, making it the first recorded song recording.

20 Interesting Facts about The song Sweet Low Sweet Chariot
The Fisk Jubilee Singers in the 1870s. (Library of Congress)
Left to right: Alfred G. King (first bass), James A. Myers (second tenor), Noah W. Ryder (second bass) and John W. Work II (first tenor)

Sweet Low Sweet Chariot”

Theory #1

  1. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was composed at some point after 1865 by Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman in the ancient Indian territory of Choctaw County on the Red River of Hugo, Oklahoma.
  2. Willis might have been motivated by the sight of the Jordan River-like Red River by which he was toiling and the story of the prophet Elijah being carried to heaven in a chariot (2 Kings 2:11).
  3. Alexander Reid, the pastor at Old Spencer Academy, a Choctaw boarding school, heard Willis sing these two songs and transcribed the lyrics and melody.
  4. He sent the sheet music to the Jubilee Singers at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Jubilee singers popularized the songs while touring the United States and Europe.

History

5. In 1939, the Nazi Music Examination Board added the song to its list of “unwanted and harmful” musical works.

6. The song had a revival during the 1960s civil rights struggle and folk renaissance; It has been done by several artists. Perhaps the most famous performance from this period was that of Joan Baez at the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969.

7. Oklahoma Senator Judy Eason McIntyre of Tulsa proposed a bill naming “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as Oklahoma’s official gospel song in 2011.

8. The bill was co-sponsored by the Black Conference. Oklahoma State. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed the bill on May 5, 2011, during a ceremony at the Oklahoma Cowboy Hall of Fame, making the song the official Oklahoma State Gospel Song.

Theory #2

9. Orne W. Work claimed that a psychic “blast” originated from the tortured soul of Sarah Hannah Shepherd, mother of Ella Shepherd, the Fisk Jubilee singer. Sarah was born in Tennessee in 1851.

10. She gave birth to Ella on a plantation. Learning that her master had sold her to another plantation and was about to separate her from her gills for good, she made a determined trip to the Cumberland River to drown herself and her daughter.

11. She was stopped by an “old mama” who warned Sarah not to “shake her lord’s chariot low.” As she reached heaven, the wise woman pulled down an imaginary scroll and prophesied that a little child would one day stand before the king and queen.

12. Following the old woman’s advice, Sarah repented, sold herself, and was taken to Mississippi. Ella performed in front of the king. She eventually reunited with her mother and went to live with her in Nashville.

The Bible

13. Regardless of the song’s origins, the lyrics are believed to allude to the Biblical account of Prophet Elijah being transported to heaven in a chariot and the “Underground Railroad,” a freedom movement that assisted black people in fleeing from Southern enslavement to the North and Canada.

14. The format of the song was initially intended to be call-and-response singing, which relies on the history of African music and is still utilized often in African-American churches today.

15. Following each of the distinct lines sung by the leader, the crowd responds, “Coming for to bring me home.” The Fisk Jubilee Singers have performed the spiritual in this manner on previous group recordings. The most prevalent type of spiritual is this call-and-response performance technique.

16. There were many code meanings in the song. The southern Ohio hamlet of Ripley, one of the earliest and busiest “stations” or “depots” of the Underground Railroad, is supposed to be referenced in a coded manner in the lyrics of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Underground Railroad

17. Some sources say the song references the Underground Railroad. This freedom movement helped blacks escape slavery in the South to the North and Canada.

18. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was a favorite spiritual of Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), who escaped slavery in 1849, and was the most famous leader of the Underground Railroad, Moses the Freedom of Slavery.

19. Widely recognized During the 1850s, she made numerous rescue trips to Maryland, helping about 300 slaves escape to freedom.

20. Rugby fans in England have also taken to singing the song and have been doing it during matches for decades.

Conclusion

The song became one of the most well-known African American spirituals because the 1909 recording greatly increased its popularity. It has been arranged by composers throughout the past century for choirs, concert soloists, jazz bands, concert bands, dance bands, and symphony orchestras. Popular musicians, including Johnny Cash and Eric Clapton, have recorded it numerous times.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Lyrics

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see
Coming for to carry me home
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home

If you get there before I do
Coming for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I’m coming, too
Coming for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home

I’m sometimes up and sometimes down
Coming for to carry me home
But still my soul feels heavenly bound
Coming for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
The brightest day that I can say
Coming for to carry me home
When Jesus washed my sins away
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home

If I get there before you do
Coming for to carry me home
I’ll cut a hole and pull you through
Coming for to carry me home

Black History Resource Guide

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This Black History Resource Guide has tools ranging from study guides to rich multimedia and interactive timelines that can aid in introducing Black history at home or in the classroom. Everyone can learn more about African American history with the help of these reference materials, including parents, teachers, students, and the community.

Federal Sites

African American Heritage

Information on people, places, stories, museum collections, travel, and lesson plans are linked together on this National Park Service website.

African American Odyssey

The National Digital Library has been the target of a five-year initiative by this library to add rare and distinctive materials from its substantial collection of African-American materials.

The Daniel A.P. Murray Pamphlet Collection

Manuscripts with full texts that describe African American history and culture from the early 19th century to the present. 

National Museum of African American History 

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the national museum dedicated only to recording African American life, history, and culture.

Sources for Images on African American History

Numerous pieces about the History of black people in America from the time of slavery through the civil rights era can be found in the Prints and Pictures Division’s extensive holdings of photographs, prints, posters, and drawings. The holdings about African American history are not all compiled in one place.

Libraries and Databases

African American Biographical Database 

The African American Biographical Database (AABD) compiles the biographies of thousands of African Americans, many of whom are not represented in any other reference works, in one convenient location. These biographical sketches were painstakingly put together using information from dictionaries and other sources.

African American Oral History Collection 

A series of interviews done in the 1970s to record the lives of African Americans in Louisville have been digitally preserved and made accessible online by the Oral History Center at the University of Louisville.

African American Women Writers of the 19th Century 

This is a guide to African American women writers from the 19th century has a digital library of their published works, profiles of each author, citations, and much more.

African American Civil Rights movement Researching Civil Rights in the Archives Department

A list of African American-related collections in Wisconsin focuses on the Milwaukee region.

Africans in America 

America’s experience with slavery is outlined in four sections. You can use the information from the Web site and television series in U.S. history classes by using the historical narratives, resource banks of pictures, documents, stories, biographies, and commentary corresponding to each era.

Allegany County African American History 

Western Maryland’s Historical Library provides a list of African American individuals, groups and organizations of Allegany and surrounding counties.

Black Archives of Mid-America 

This project is a collaboration between the Black Archives of Mid-America Inc. and the Kansas City Public Library. Funded by the Missouri State Library, it is the largest repository of African American history and artifacts in the Midwest, particularly in the four-state area of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture 

The Digital Schomburg component on this website for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library provides access to online exhibitions, books, pictures, Africana Heritage Newsletters, audio resources, and video resources.

Unknown No Longer 

The Virginia Historical Society used its archive of unpublished papers to compile this database of enslaved Virginians. The slaves’ names are listed in the database, along with other pertinent details about each individual. Additionally, users can access a discussion board, and the collection can be browsed.

American History Essays- After Slavery

This website is the result of an international study partnership combining post-emancipation South developments to comprehend the significance of this period in American labor history.

University Database and Research

African American Collection- University of Pittsburgh

The Africana Studies Department is supported by the University of Pittsburgh African American Collection in its study, research, interpretation, and dissemination of information about African American, African, and Caribbean issues and cultures.

African American History: Digital Library 

The information on this website can be found in libraries throughout the nation. The topics covered range from manuscripts and personal materials to music scores and speech transcripts.

Avery Research Center 

The College of Charleston, South Carolina, documents the “unique historical and cultural heritage of African Americans in Charleston and the South Carolina Low Country.”

Documenting the American South 

This collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, contains sources on Southern History, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century.

Hutchins Center for African & African American Research 

The Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University fosters research on the History and culture of people of the African diaspora all over the world and offers a platform for cooperation and an ongoing exchange of ideas.

The John Henrik Clarke Africana Library 

The library at Cornell University has a specific collection that focuses on the History and culture of persons of African descent.

John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture 

The Franklin Research Center gathers, safeguards, and encourages the use of published and unpublished primary sources for the investigation, comprehension, and development of scholarly work on the History and culture of Africa and those of the African Diaspora in the Americas.

Moorland-Spingarn Research Center 

The MSRC at Howard University is known as one of the biggest and most thorough archives for documenting the History and culture of people of African origin in Africa, the Americas, and other regions of the world.

The Ohio State University African American Studies Database

This site provides a database, guides on Black History resources.

The Negro Travelers Green Book 

The Negro Travelers Green Book, a resource for African American tourists looking for safe places to eat, stay, and explore during the segregation era, has been digitally preserved by the University of South Carolina Libraries. The 1956 edition was published that year. The website also features interactive maps along with the digitized book.

Research Quick Start Guides: African American Studies 

This Stanford University website helps start your research on Black History.

African-Americans – Biography, Autobiography, and History 

This website, hosted by the Avalon Project at Yale Law School, provides access to full-text books by notable black authors, including Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Mapping Projects

Explore Historical Landmarks in various cities and states across the United States to elevate our awareness of rich African American heritage and culture. 

Alabama Historical Commission Historic Preservation Map Initiative (with layers for Black History sites)

This map represents data from the various programs of the Historic Preservation Division of the Alabama Historical Commission.

Chicago Mapping Arts Project

Chicago maps the city’s social cultures from the 20th century’s Great Black Migration through the present day.

Columbus, Ohio Landmarks – Black History

This 82-page document explores the black history landmarks in Columbus, Ohio.

Enslaved African Americans at the University of Virginia

The University of Virginia utilized the labor of enslaved Black people from the earliest days of its construction in 1817 until the end of the American Civil War.

Mapping Newark & New Jersey Black History

This website is dedicated to sites of Black abolitionists and activists in Newark in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The virtual one includes sites in greater New Jersey.

Olive Cemetery Veterans TourMt Olive Cemetery is an African American cemetery established about 1817.

Preserving Significant Places of Black History: African American Landmarks and Historic Districts in New York City

African American Landmarks and Historic Districts in New York City.

The African American Heritage & Culture of North Carolina Digital Asset Map

This map can be used as a tool for people across North Carolina to elevate our awareness of rich African American heritage and culture. 

The Rosenwald Schools

 How Black Communities Across the American South Took Education into Their Own Hands

Tufts University: African American Trails Project

This project maps African American and African-descended public history sites across Greater Boston and Massachusetts.

The Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic: The Largest Black Parade in the U.S

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The Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic is the most famous African-American Parade in the United States of America. It annually occurs on the city’s south side on the second Saturday in August. Since 1929, Chicago, Illinois, has hosted the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic also referred to as the Bud Billiken Day Parade. 

Since its inception, the procession has featured stars, leaders of civic organizations, businesspeople, and politicians. The Bud Billiken Parade is the second-largest Parade in the country and emphasizes youth, education, and African-American culture. The Parade is also known as the “back-to-school” celebration, ending summer break and the start of the school year for children in Chicago.

Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic
1945 Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic

Bud Billiken Parade: The Route

The parade route on Chicago’s south side passes through the Bronzeville and Washington Park districts along Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. A picnic and festival are held in the historic Washington public park following the march. The original route was on Michigan Avenue, beginning at 31st Street, then turned east into Washington Park. The complaints about north-south traffic flow caused the parade route to reroute to South Parkway (now named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive), which runs directly into the park.

Robert S. Abbott

The Founders of the Bud Billiken Parade

The Chicago Defender’s creator and publisher, Robert S. Abbott, developed the fictional Bud Billiken, who appeared in his newspaper’s youth guidance section. The Bud Billiken Club’s co-founder and longstanding parade organizer, David Kellum, proposed holding the Parade to celebrate African-American culture.

When the Parade was held in the winter

However, unlike today’s Parade, The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America by Ethan Michaeli, published in 2017, notes that the first and second editions were held in the winter.

But 93 years ago, the Bud Billiken Parade was held in Chicago’s brutal winter season during its first two years. South Parkway (now King Drive) with trees and brown grass carpeted the scenic boulevard as spectators watched the event from windows inside their homes as temperatures plummeted below zero.

What is a Bud Billiken? 

Abbott developed the fictional Bud Billiken in 1923 when he considered giving the Chicago Defender newspaper a juvenile department. Abbott saw a Billiken while eating at a Chinese restaurant. Willard Motley, who eventually established himself as a well-known novelist, contributed to a few of the original Billiken columns. About 10,000 names appeared between 1930 and 1934, and the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library of the Chicago Public Library collected and preserved them.

In his newspaper during the Great Depression, Abbott used the fictional Bud Billiken persona to represent pride, joy, and hope for the neighborhood’s black population. The figure rose to notoriety in the Chicago Defender newspaper and a comic strip. The Parade didn’t start until 1929, even though the figure was conceived in 1923. David Kellum started it as a celebration of the “unity in diversity for the youngsters of Chicago.” Since then, it has developed into the second-largest Parade in the country and a locally televised event.

Broadcast 

The Parade has been shown on television for more than 40 years, starting in 1978 on WGN-TV, which carried it until 2012. After WGN-TV cancelled the Parade in 2012, WCIU-TV began to cover it but ended in 2014. Since 1984, the Parade has been aired live on WLS-TV. On August 11, 2018, the 89th Annual Parade took place. The Parade debuted on BET and Centric’s networks in 2012. The 2020 parade was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, but WLS-TV broadcast a television special for the 91st Annual Bud Billiken Parade on August 8, 2020.

Celebrities and Dignitaries that have attended the Parade

President Harry S. Truman, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Adelaide Hall, Billie Holiday, Oprah Winfrey, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, James Brown, Diana Ross, Ethel Waters, Cab Calloway, Paul Robeson, and Chaka Khan, were among the dignitaries and celebrities participating in the Parade.  In the 1956 Parade, Truman was accompanied by Mayor Richard J. Daley and John H. Sengstacke, Abbott’s nephew who took over the Chicago Defender in 1948.

Chance the Rapper, a native of Chicago, served as the 88th annual Parade’s grand marshal in 2017. The artist and native Chicagoan Chaka Khan served as the Parade’s grand marshal in 2014. The 83rd annual Parade’s grand marshal in 2012 was rapper T.I.

Conclusion

The parade continually upheld its legacy of fostering unity and empowerment within Chicago’s black community, becoming an essential aspect of the city’s black community and acting as a vehicle for resolving social concerns.

25 Facts about Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was a professional boxer and activist. He is most famous for being one of the most popular American boxers. Ali was not just a professional boxer but also a philanthropist, entertainer, and activist; and later received the nickname “The Greatest.”

25 Facts  

  1. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (Muhammad Ali ) was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. He and his dad were named after a fervent abolitionist who graduated from Yale in 1832.
  2.  His father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., painted billboards, and his mother, Odessa Grady Clay, worked as a domestic maid. Cassius Senior was a Methodist; his wife raised Cassius Jr. and his younger brother, Rudolph Clay, as Baptists. Abe Grady, his great-grandfather, was an Irishman who immigrated to America in the 1860s.
  3. When Cassius was 12, he owned a shiny $60 bicycle. He rode the bike to a fair in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  
Cassius Clay and his trainer Joe E. Martin (1960)

When the show was over, the bike was gone. Cassius was in tears. He reported the stolen bike to a police officer, “If I find the kid who stole my bike,” he said, “I’ll whup him.”

The officer, Joe Martin, turned out to be a boxing coach. He told young Ali that if he wanted to fight whoever stole his bike, he better learn how to fight. He then started visiting the gym and picked up the basics of boxing. Cassius never did get his bike back. But six weeks later, he got in the ring with another twelve-year-old white boy and beat him.

4. Cassius Clay had dyslexia and attended Louisville’s Central High School. He struggled greatly for the remainder of his life with reading and writing.

5. A store clerk in Lousiville turned Ali down for a drink of water due to his skin tone.

6. By age 18, Clay had 100 victories against eight defeats, two national Amateur Athletic Union titles, two national Golden Glove awards, and more.

7. After High School, Ali competed in the Rome Olympics and won a gold medal in the 81kg weight division.

8. Muhammad Ali, still known as Clay then, competed for the United States and won gold in the light heavyweight event in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. 

9. Ali embraced Islam and converted to it in 1961. He was with Malcolm X when he announced that his surname had changed. Clay first went by Cassius X when he joined the Nation of Islam in 1964. Later on, he would change it to Muhammad Ali. He converted to traditional Islam in the 1970s.

Ali never officially changed his name, which is an amusing anecdote. When USA Today looked into Ali’s birth certificate in 2016, they discovered that no name changes were made to the record.

10. Ali refused to shake hands with Malcolm X. Ali last saw Malcolm X when he was still alive during their time in Ghana.

11. When Malcolm X was killed, Ali felt betrayed because they were at their most vulnerable.

12. Ali officially changed his name from Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. to Muhammad Ali on March 6, 1964. Elijah Muhammad chose the name Muhammad as his first name. His last name comes from a prophet’s cousin.

13. His first significant triumph over Sonny Liston in 1964 earned him his first world championship. Ali was crowned the WBA and WBC World Heavyweight Champion by a technical knockout victory.

14. Ali liked to trash-talk his opponents before a fight. 

15. Muhammad Ali fought with Sonny Liston before being qualified because he kept talking about it, which got him the nickname “Louisville Lip.” 

16. Muhammad Ali became well-known and wealthy due to their fight against Sonny Liston. Ali received $630,000 for the victory and $836,000 more than five decades later from the sale of the gloves.

17. He threw his gold medal into the Ohio River out of rage when a restaurant turned him away because of his race.

18. In his lifetime, Muhammad Ali was married four times. His first spouse was Sonji Roi (1964 to 1966). Belinda Boyd was his second wife (1967 to 1977). Veronica Porché Ali was his third wife (1977 to 1986). Yolanda Williams was his fourth wife, and the two stayed wed until his passing.

19. In 1967, the U.S. military tried to enlist Ali, but he declined because of his position as a Muslim priest. His justification is that he couldn’t fight in a war because of his religious convictions. Ali paid a heavy price for it. Ali was charged with a crime by the U.S. Justice Department for violating Selective Service’s regulations.

20. He was given a five-year prison term but kept out of jail while his case was appealed. His boxing license and championship were also revoked. After the Supreme Court ultimately reversed the conviction, Ali rose to the top of the boxing world. Regrettably, this cost him three years of his fighting career.

21. After the Patterson fight, Ali founded his own promotion business, Main Bout. Ali’s boxing promotions and the boxer’s pay-per-view closed the firm-managed circuit broadcasts. Its stockholders were primarily other Nation of Islam members.

22. Ali was a singer in addition to a boxer and a poet. In 1963, he released the album “I Am The Greatest” before defeating Sonny Liston by six months.

Ali vs. Frazier

24. Additionally, he appeared in the Broadway production of Buck White, which lasted for five nights. When his boxing license was revoked, Ali took this action.

23. On October 26, 1970, Ali entered the ring for the first time in 43 months, and he immediately knocked Jerry Quarry out in the third round. On March 8, 1971, Ali had the chance to defend his heavyweight title against Joe Frazier, the incumbent champion.

25. Ali retired from boxing on December 11, 1981, after losing to Trevor Berbick. He finished his career with 56 wins, five losses, and 37 knockouts. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984. Ali passed away on June 3, 2016.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, Muhammad Ali is among the most influential athletes of the 20th century. He is well-known for the saying, “I am the greatest!” In addition to being crowned “the greatest heavyweight champion,” Ali has been included in several magazines as one of the top ten athletes of all time (Sports Illustrated), one of the 100 most influential persons of all time (Time ), and more (Ring Magazine).

30 Facts about William H. Johnson (Artist)

“If it is to be, it is up to me” 

William H. Johnson

William H. Johnson is an American painter and printmaker best known for his landscape and portrait paintings and prints. Johnson’s technique progressed from realism to expressionism to the powerful folk style that he is best recognized for. The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a large collection of his paintings, watercolours, and prints.

Early Life

  1. He grew up in South Carolina, where he learned to draw at an all-black school.
  2. He honed his skills by copying comic strips from the newspaper.
  3. He moved to New York to live with his uncle when he was 17 years old.
  4. He attended an art school in New York City. New York City’s National Academy of Design.
  5. Johnson was mentored by Professor Charles W. Hawthorne at the academy and given a job to help pay for his education.

5. His art teacher thought he had a lot of potential and encouraged him to apply for an art scholarship to Paris, which he did but did not receive. When this happened, his teacher raised $1,500 to enable Mr. Johnson to travel to Paris.

6. He travelled to France at the age of 26 and stayed in Europe for the next 12 years. He learned a lot about painting while he was there, but when he returned to America, he decided to concentrate his work on black people.

His career

7. Johnson studied modernism in France. Johnson used a number of media while he was a working artist, including woodcuts, oil, water colors, pen and ink, and serigraphy. He frequently expressed his work with whatever resources were on hand.

8. Johnson aimed to gain racial acceptability and a professional reputation abroad, much like the African American artist Henry O. Tanner.

9. His painting was influenced by well-known modern movements in Paris including expressionism and post-impressionism.

10. His artwork was influenced by Chaim Soutine and French artist Paul Cezanne (1839–1906). (Lithuanian, 1894-1943)

11. The young artist returned to New York after spending nearly two years in France, where he ran upon George Luks once more. As a result of Luks’ nomination for the prestigious Harmon Award and his encouragement, Johnson’s work gained recognition in the city’s art scene. Luks was impressed with Johnson’s artistic development.

12. Johnson visited his childhood home in America. Johnson began to capture Florence, South Carolina’s daily life using friends and family as his subjects.

13. The Johnsons continued to create art and travel extensively. After a trip to Tunisia, the Johnsons moved to Norway in 1935. Once again Johnson’s style changed.

 

William Johnson at work, NARA

14. During the Harlem Renaissance, Johnson was one of the most prominent painters of African-American life.

15. He spent most of his time in Europe, where Post-Impressionism and Expressionism influenced him.

Later Years

16. He was diagnosed with syphilis in 1947, which had affected both his mental and physical abilities. The U.S. Embassy in Oslo sent him back to New York as a citizen who was no longer regarded as mentally capable.

17. After 1955, he stopped painting, and on April 13, 1970, he passed away from pancreatic hemorrhage.

Recognition

Sowing (1940), by William H. Johnson

18. His career nearly destroyed all of his artwork while he was unwell in 1956.
Instead, the Harmond Foundation received all of his efforts. This organization aids in the support of black artists.

19. Mr. Johnson donated 1,000 paintings, watercolours, and prints to the Smithsonian Institution.
20.. William H. Johnson has 9 works online.
21. There are 2,395 paintings online.
22. He liked bright bold colors, Colors of Africa.
23. his paintings focused on Blacks in the 1940s, friends and family

24. More than 1,000 Johnson paintings, watercolors, and prints were donated by the Harmon Foundation to the Smithsonian American Art Museum on April 19, 1967.

25. The Smithsonian American Art Museum arranged and distributed Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson, a significant exhibition of his works, in 1991.

26. They coordinated and distributed William H. Johnson’s World on Paper in 2006. This show was expanded and sent to the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.

27. On the occasion of William Johnson’s 100th birthday, the William H. Johnson Foundation for the Arts was founded.

Street Musicians. William H. Johnson

28. Johnson was honored with a stamp from the U.S. Postal Service in 2012, acknowledging him as a prominent player in 20th-century American art and one of the top African-American artists in the country. The eleventh stamp in the “American Treasures” series features his colorful flower-filled table painting Flowers (1939–1940), which features vibrant blossoms.

29. The city of Florence, South Carolina just installed a statue in William’s honor on March 18, 2020. It is situated in Florence’s downtown on West Evans Street Breezeway.

30. Realistic expressionism gave way to a strong folk style for which Johnson is best known. The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a sizable collection of his paintings, watercolors, and prints, and it has planned and distributed significant exhibitions of his work.

Here is a list of William H. Johnson’s 102 artworks

Black Women on U.S Currency

One of the biggest honors in the country is to have one’s image on coinage. One of the earliest and only ways for the public to recognize Black greatness, contribution, and value is through the depiction of free Black individuals in a positive light on commemorative coinage.

The idea of a black woman appearing prominently on our country’s paper money was, until recently, a pipe dream that would soon become a reality, similar to the election of the first African-American president eight years ago.

Maya Angelou was the first Black woman on a U.S coin

The Quarter

The Quarter is the 25-cent coin used in the U.S. The nation’s first president, George Washington, is depicted on the Quarter’s (heads) side. Since 1932, he has been on the Quarter. The Quarter where he was right right-facing was created in 2022.

Washington and Congress previously rejected coin designs that included our presidents while evaluating the plans for the first American coinage. They were too much reminded of British coinage with their queen or monarch on them.

Black women on the Quarter

As of 2022, we have Black women on the Quarter! The tails (back) design undergoes frequent alteration. Five alternative designs are now available (2022) as a part of the American Women Quarters Program. The program recognizes the achievements made by American women in this nation. Along with Wilma Mankiller and Anna May Wong, Maya Angelou became the first African-American woman to appear on a 25-cent coin.

American author, performer, and professor, Maya Angelou was most well-known for her poems and several biographies, mainly I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970).

After Maya Angelou

The U.S. Mint unveiled five additional women on April 4 to appear on the Quarter in 2023 after author Maya Angelou became the first African-American woman to appear on the 25-cent piece. Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to acquire a pilot’s license, was one of the women. Jovita Idar, Edith Kanaka’ole, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Maria Tallchief are some of the others.

Black women on U.S currency

The first Black woman to obtain a pilot’s license was Bessie Coleman. She rose to fame due to her aerial tricks and flying stunts, and she was a pioneer in shattering glass ceilings and racial boundaries.

American paper currency 

As of 2022, the U.S. Treasury has confirmed that Harriet Tubman’s $20 bill is on track to launch to the public in 2030. Andrew Jackson is currently on the $20 bill. He enslaved people and mistreated the Native Americans. However, there is controversy over having Tubman replace Jackson. Some believe former President Donald Trump held up the process because he disapproved of Tubman replacing Jackson and felt she should be on another bill, such as the $2. There is also talk of Tubman’s face being on the reserve side (back) to please those opposed to removing Andrew Jackson. 

President Biden is trying to speed up the process, but According to the U.S. Treasury, Every dollar bill is set to change in design by 2034, but each has a different projected release year — $10 (2026); $5 (2028); $20 (2030); $50 (2032); and $100 (2034).  

Presidents with enslaved people on currency

Should we get George Washington’s face off the quarter and dollar bills; he enslaved people? What about Thomas Jefferson? He is on the nickel and the $10 money; he owned slaves?. Slaves also belonged to Madison and Monroe.

Tubman on the $20?

The grassroots effort to place a “noteworthy” woman on our $20 bill, known as the “Women on the $20 campaign,” started in 2015. They believed that women needed to be represented on our currency to tell our complete history and that the history depicted on our banknotes by solely old white men was insufficient. When the public was asked to vote on who should be on our $20 bill, almost 600,000 people had to make a difficult decision in just ten weeks. Every voting round ended in victory for Tubman.

Harriet Tubman prototype for the $20

However, a nine-year-old Cambridge girl called Sofia wrote a letter to President Barack Obama last year, which some say is where it all started. Rosa Parks, Abigail Adams, and Harriet Tubman were mentioned as three excellent choices when she questioned why there aren’t any women on American currency. Mother of, Sofia disclosed the letter:

“I am writing to know why there isn’t many women on the dollars/coins for the United States. I think there should be more women on a dollar/coin for the United States because if there were no women, there wouldn’t be men. Also, there are many women that could be on dollars/coins for the United States because of the important things they done.

Please write back.”

Sofia.

President Obama wrote in his response, which Time exclusively published alongside Sofia’s original note. 

"Thank you for writing to me with such a good idea last summer. The women you listed and drew make up an impressive group, and I must say you're pretty impressive too. I'll keep working to make sure you grow up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men." - President Barrack Obama 

Conclusion

Thankfully Maya Angelou and Bessie Coleman are and will be recognized on the Quarter. This time, let’s hope real progress is accomplished with Harriet Tubman’s $20 bill. Paper bills are substantially more challenging to design and produce than coins due to mandated anti-counterfeiting requirements. 

Sources

U.S. Treasury confirms Harriet Tubman $20 bill is coming — but here’s why …. https://news.yahoo.com/us-treasury-confirms-harriet-tubman-191704753.html

Obama Responds To Girl’s Letter About Women on Money. https://collegecandy.com/2015/04/01/obama-responds-to-girls-letter-asking-why-there-are-no-women-on-us-currency/

How to support Black businesses, creatives, and charities year-round

Canada celebrates Black History Month in February of each year. The purpose of the month is to educate and focus on the past, present, and future of Black Canadians. It’s also a valuable opportunity to support Black-owned businesses.

Why does Canada need to celebrate Black History Month? To answer, start by looking back to the early 1600s.

A brief primer on Black history in Canada

Almost 420 years ago, French explorer, trader, and colonizer Pierre Du Gua de Monts hired Mathieu Da Costa to help him establish Port Royal, in Acadia (present-day Annapolis Royal), and Quebec City, Quebec. Da Costa, a free Black African man, was fluent in multiple languages and served as de Monts’ interpreter when he interacted with people who spoke the Mi’kmaq language.

Even though Da Costa played a valuable role in Canada’s history, there isn’t much verifiable information about him. He is, however, considered the first Black person to have visited Canada.

Fast forward to 1629, when a six-year-old Black child from either Madagascar or Guinea was sold to Sir David Kirke, who worked as a trader and privateer for King Charles I. The child’s name was wiped from history and replaced with Olivier Le Jeune. He is the first known enslaved person in Canada.

According to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, slavery depends on the passive approval of others. It was about 200 years after Da Costa first arrived in Canada as a free man and a child arrived as a white man’s property for the Canadian government to stop being passive and outlaw slavery. This was in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Because slavery was outlawed in Canada before in the United States, Canada later became a haven for enslaved people traveling north via the Underground Railroad.

And while Canada acknowledged their abuses and acted in the interest of basic human rights in the late 1700s and early 1800s, its atrocities cannot be overlooked. Mallory Richard for The Canadian Museum for Human Rights writes: “We must also recall that for more than two hundred years, slavery happened here, too.”

200 years later, Canada established Black History Month

Black History Month in Canada started piecemeal. Toronto was the first to celebrate it in 1979 because of a petition from the Ontario Black History Society. Ten years later, Nova Scotia followed suit, then the entirety of Ontario a few years after that. By 1993, the Honourable Jean Augustine was the first Black Canadian woman elected to Parliament, and she filed a motion to have February recognized as Black History Month in Canada in December 1995. The final step was in February 2008, when the first Black man appointed to the Senate, Senator Donald Oliver, introduced “the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month.” The motion was adopted on March 4, 2008, cementing Canada’s parliamentary position on the occasion.

Formally celebrating Black Canadians was a process that took three decades. It’s an accomplishment, but no country can rest on its laurels. It’s one thing to proclaim all humans equal. It’s an entirely different thing to act like it.
 

Black History Month and beyond

Taking the time to recognize Black history in February is necessary. However, people should also act on their appreciation for Black communities in Canada throughout the year.

Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate Black Canadians, acknowledge historical wounds, and recognize that Black Canadians are an important part of our society. Beyond treating them as equals, Canadians can make the effort to support Black businesses, artists, and charities throughout the year — not just in February.

Supporting Black businesses, creatives, and charities makes Canada better

Spending money with Black businesses during Black History Month and throughout the year helps sustain these businesses, creatives, and charities and enables shoppers to know exactly where their money is going. According to Small Business BC (SBBC), Canadians should shop at small businesses to:

  • Support the character of the community
  • Keep money in the community
  • Encourage people to build a life in their community
  • Help the environment
  • Build the community and help it prosper

That said, it’s easy to fall into habits when shopping or donating time or money. It’s important to try to do better, because spending the time, effort, and money to find ways to support the Black community makes a big difference.

For example, by supporting Black Canadian business owners, consumers send a message to banks and other institutions that these businesses are successful and necessary to the local economy. In one survey, only 18% of Black Canadian entrepreneurs felt comfortable talking to their financial institution about funding options.

The majority of Black Canadian entrepreneurs, 76%, said that their race makes it harder to succeed. Customers may help pave the way for banks and other financial institutions to approve more Black-owned businesses for loans and another backing simply by doing business with them.

How to find Black businesses and organizations in Canada

For both fellow business owners and consumers, the first step in exercising support for Black-owned businesses, Black creatives, and charitable organizations that serve the Black community is to find them.

Use Google to search locally or nationally.

Put the power of a search engine to use and do some research. For example, searching Google for “bookstore Toronto Black-owned” pops up several results, including a page from Penguin Random House Canada that lists Black-owned bookstores in Canada.

To help searchers, Google has rolled out a badge for Black-owned businesses in its results, but that update is only available in the United States for now. Until it’s available in Canada, adding specific keywords to a query helps. In another search, this time for “children’s charity Canada Black-owned,” scrolling through the page reveals a result from Calgary Foundation called “Black-led/Black-serving organizations in our community.

Even a basic search for “how to find Black Canadian businesses” turns up Black Owned Canada, which serves as a niche search engine. By dedicating a few minutes to research, refining their search as necessary, searchers can find what they’re looking for. The information is out there: People just have to spend the time to look for it.

Look for badges on sites like Yelp.

Badges, or little icons that showcase a particular characteristic of a business, are becoming a widely used tool online. While Canadians are waiting for the badge on Google results, Yelp users in Canada can type “Black-owned” in addition to their other search terms, whether it’s for a restaurant, photographer, hair studio, or another business or organization. They can also do a general search and look for the icon in search results that says “Black-owned.” 

Check out AfroBiz.ca.

Short on time? AfroBiz.ca has done a lot of the work in finding Canadian, Black-owned companies. On its website, it shares that “AfroBiz.ca is self-funded and currently home to more than 4,500 Black-owned businesses, Black entrepreneurs, and Black organizations in Canada.” From lawyers to dentists to interior designers and more, this repository makes the search easy.

Hop on social media and search using hashtags.

Twitter and Instagram are the two primary social media platforms where hashtags are used, though hashtags are also available on LinkedIn. Sometimes, however, they can be crowded with results that don’t fit what users are looking for. A search on Instagram for #BlackOwnedBusiness will turn up a lot of good results, but narrowing them down to Canadian businesses or specific types of organizations can be difficult.

One of the easiest ways to find the right hashtags is to follow local accounts that use them well, such as Black Owned Toronto’s Instagram account. The beauty of Twitter and Instagram is that users can follow and learn from members of the Canadian Black community — including which hashtags are most helpful.

Follow Black thought leaders and community members on social media.

Supporting Canadian Black businesses, artists, associations, and charities shouldn’t be a one-time event. This means people need to make an effort to get plugged in to what the Black community is saying and doing, without inserting themselves into the conversation.

For many people who want to be an ally to the Black community, the first step may be one of the hardest: listening. Simply paying attention to the conversation — without interrupting — helps people become long-term supporters and learn how to be better allies. Observe and engage in empathetic listening. Once people better understand the situation, they can take genuine action that isn’t rooted in virtue signaling.

A quick search on Twitter, for example, for “Black Canadian” brings up organizations, people, and companies that have those keywords in their bios or in their tweets. Users can find an account that’s sharing information they find valuable and follow them. Look at their hashtags and who they interact with to widen the search. Even using the emoji for the Canadian flag can help people find more results.

Businesspeople and consumers alike can support Black businesses in Canada

The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, including those owned by Black Canadians, can be seen across Canada. Therefore, it’s especially important now, during this difficult time, for Canadian consumers to come together to support small businesses.

This support can come in the form of partnerships. A school hosting a fundraiser can ask for a service or product for its auction and give the Black-owned business free advertising and promotion in the event’s marketing materials. Entrepreneurs can pair with a Black-owned business and have a contest to introduce their audience to the other business. Businesses and individuals can also donate time or expertise to a Black-owned charity. Partnerships can also take the form of grants, mentorships, and speaking opportunities with organizations and associations.

People can also take the time to write helpful reviews online, which helps businesses, organizations, and creatives with their online marketing. Both online and in person, participating in word-of-mouth marketing, recommending businesses to others, and calling on others to support these small businesses goes a long way in helping small businesses succeed. For example, a customer can recommend a restaurant by creating a positive post on social media, tagging the business, and using helpful hashtags so others can find the post, too. In a survey of Black Canadian entrepreneurs, when asked what was most important to them on a scale from one to 10, they said that advertising and promotion ranked at 8.7. Online reviews, referrals, and social media posts cost consumers nothing to complete and write, but can help small businesses in a big way.

Perhaps most imperative, however, is to spend money within the Black Canadian community. From a contractor who needs to hire a plumber to a florist who needs a new graphic for a display case, seek out opportunities to include Black businesses and service contractors. An entrepreneur who needs a new business bank account can choose to do business with a bank that supports the Black community. Realtors can use paintings from local Black artists when staging homes. Buy a novel by a Black Canadian author from a local Black-owned bookstore. The possibilities are endless.

Supporting Canada’s Black community is about including people

Actively supporting Black Canadian entrepreneurs, business owners, charities, creatives, artists, and others helps demonstrate how important Black-owned businesses are to Canada and to society.

It’s not about excluding other groups; it’s about being more inclusive to a group of people who, for 200 years, were treated as less than human even as they helped build this nation and became valued members of society. By supporting Black Canadians, people recognize their history in this country, help ensure the future is far more fair, and act as an example for others. As Lincoln Alexander said, “It is not your duty to be average. It is your duty to set a higher example for others to follow.”

Frank “Sugar Chile” Robinson: A Child Prodigy

Frank “Sugar Chile” Robinson is an American jazz pianist and singer. He became famous as a child prodigy in the mid–1940s, and this little genius gained top billing and performed at notable venues.  He was the first African American performer at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 1946

Early Life

Frank Isaac Robinson was born in Detroit on December 28, 1938, and was the youngest of 7 children. He was known as Sugar Chile Robinson, and his mother gave him the nickname “Sugar Chile.” His parents didn’t play any instruments, but they did have a piano that his aunt left at their house. According to legend, ‘Sugar Chile’ would climb onto the piano bench and teach himself to play what he heard on the radio. Little “Sugar Chile” would slap the piano with his elbows and fists. 

His Big Break

He was disqualified from a talent competition for being too young. However, he won another talent contest for kids under 18 when he was three. Imagine everyone’s jaw-dropping when a young child sat down at the piano and started to play and sing the blues.

Robinson stunned the crowd with his incredible piano, blues and jazz abilities when he won a talent competition at the age of three at Detroit’s very own Paradise Theatre; by 1945, he had been “discovered” by pianist and bandleader Frankie Carle.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) offered Frank’s father a seven-year contract, but he turned it down. But later signed the movie contract. He rose to fame after appearing in the 1946 American film “No Leave, No Love.” He made a cross-country tour and broke box office records.

His Career 

Sugar Chile started performing in large venues and broke attendance records in Detroit and California. He received special permission to join the American Federation of Musicians in 1949, enabling him to record his first two Capitol Records singles, “Numbers Boogie” and “Caldonia,” which peaked on the Billboard R&B chart and became the organization’s youngest-ever member at the time.

Frank played ‘Caldonia’ for President Harry S. Truman at the White House. He famously shouted, “How’m I Doin’, Mr. President?” which became his catchphrase. Truman gave him a big thumb’s up. 

He was the first black performer at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Touring

He headlined for a week at Chicago’s Regal Theatre, making more than $36,000, a record that remains the biggest one-week attraction of the theatre’s history.  

His last single was issued in August 1952, and shortly after that, a 10″ collection LP, boogie-woogie featuring many of his 1952 songs, was published. He performed at four engagements in 1953, then three more in 1954, one of which was at The Blue Note in Chicago in August 1954 with jazz saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. He performed just twice between 1955 and 1956 under his current name, Frank Robinson, and at the ripe old age of eighteen, he gave up the stage.

By 1950, he was touring with Count Basie and appeared on television and in the short film Sugar Chile Robinson, Billie Holiday, Count Basie and His Sextet. During the 1950 holiday season in Europe, Sugar Chile’s “Christmas Boogie” c/w “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” sold well enough to prompt a two-month tour of the UK in the summer of 1951. This included glowing reviews for his performance at the London Palladium, appearances on BBC TV, and a Melody Maker interview.

In 1952 he gave up music. He said, “I wanted to go to school… I wanted some school background in me, and I asked my Dad if I could stop, and I went to school because I honestly wanted my college diploma.”

Sugar Chile returned to school and finished high school at just 15 years old. He graduated from Olivet College with a history degree and the Detroit Institute of Technology with a psychology degree. He worked for his Uncle Frank’s chiropractor business after graduating. 

After Music 

Robinson worked for WGPR-TV in the 1960s and established a recording studio and tiny record labels in Detroit. He ran his own Lendo/Lando and Autocap labels in the 1960s while working for the family business. Rufus Wonder, Little Stevie’s cousin, and The Superlatives had minor hits on these labels. From 1962 to 1996, he also worked part-time selling television commercials for the nearby broadcaster WGPR-TV.

“No one told me I was making history.”

Honors

Thanks to the American Music Research Foundation, Robinson has come back as a musician in recent years. 

In 2002, he performed at a special concert honoring Detroit music. His 1950 “Go Boy Go!” recording was used in a Dockers television ad in 2006.

Sugar Chile Robinson was the featured artist in the final Dr. Boogie show of 2013. He joined President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 30, 2016, marking the 70th anniversary of his presence at the dinner in 1946. A standing ovation was given to him after the meal as a photo of him as a little child played on the TV screens. The same year, he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

Recent Years

Robinson temporarily reconnected with the music industry in the 1960s by co-owning the Detroit-based Lando and Lendo labels, which produced 45s by Rufus Wonder (Stevie Wonder’s cousin) and Carl Carlton. He obtained employment with the first African-American-owned television station, WGPR-TV selling TV advertising during this time. Frank established his recording studio and the AutoCap record label on the back of these modest triumphs, which also had a modest hit with “Don’t Walk Away” by The Superlatives.

He was in financial difficulty in 2017, and a house fire had destroyed his valuables. Robinson lived in a tiny flat with his niece with no beds and a piano, so they had been sleeping on blow-up beds. After receiving a call from friends, the Music Maker Relief Foundation group sent him a bed and registered him for a monthly food program. Robinson received a piano from Buddy Smith, who he inspired in the 1940s.

12 Facts about George Crum

Before discussing 12 facts about George Crum or George “Speck,” let us look at common legends about how some believe potato chips originated.

Who invented Potato Chips? 

First, some believe the original fries originated in Namur, Belgium. Namur is where the locals were fond of fried fish. But when the Meuse froze over one cold winter in 1680, people reportedly fried potatoes instead of the fish that they were used to.

Second, some believe that the invention of french fries took place just before the French Revolution on the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris in 1789. However, at least one reference to “fried potatoes” appears to date from 1775 in France.

Did George Speck invent Potato Chips?

According to legend, Crum became annoyed when a customer, Cornelius Vanderbilt, complained that his French-fried potatoes were too thick. Crum reacted by slicing the potatoes as thinly as possible, frying them in grease, and serving the crunchy brown chips back out to the guests.  

12 facts about George Crum
Cornelius Vanderbilt 

George Speck, also known as George Crum, was a chef known for inventing what we know as Potato Chips. He became famous for popularizing potato chips in Upstate New York and was later known as their creator. He was a mixture of black American and Mohawk Indian. However, the Moon’s Lake House, where he worked, was credited with the invention of the potato chip around the mid-1800s.

Was George Crum’s sister involved in the invention?

George Crum is commonly believed to have invented the potato chip, but his sister Kate Speck claimed to have come up with what would become known as the Saratoga chips. She accidentally sliced off a sliver of potato, and it fell into a hot frying pan. George Crum approved of the chip after tasting the sliced potato. Her claim is undermined by the existence of cookbooks describing earlier versions of the chips that were called fried potato shavings in the United States and Great Britain.

12 Interesting Facts about George Crum:

Moon’s Lake House (credit: Wikipedia)
  1. Born in 1822 to a Native American mother and a black jockey father in Saratoga Lake, New York, George Crum was first employed as a mountain guide and trapper in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
  2. He was known as Crum. His father used that name when he was a horse jockey.
  3. In 1853, he took a position as the head chef of Cary Moon’s Lake House in Lake Saratoga, New York, where he cooked dinner for guests one evening.
  4. Having planned to make french fries, one of his guests complained that they were too thick. He was annoyed, so he cut the potatoes very thinly, and when he deep-fried them in oil, they were thin and crisp. After adding salt, they tasted good.
  5. Crum’s chips were initially known as potato crunchers and also Saratoga chips.
  6. George decided to build his restaurant near Saratoga Lake in 1860. He served potato chips as an appetizer at every table. The restaurant was a huge success and lasted 30 years before closing in 1890. 
  7. Although he did not patent his potato chips and never tried to market them outside of his business, potato chips were widely sold by others after he left. The industry grew to a six-billion-dollar sector. 
  8. Moon’s Lake House owner later tried to claim credit for the invention and began packing and distributing potato chips inboxes. 
  9. As soon as Crum opened his restaurant in 1860 in Malta, New York, he provided every table with a basket of potato chips. Visitors travelled 10 miles to try Crum’s potato chips.
  10. George Crum died in 1904 at the age of 92, leaving behind the legacy of inventing the world’s greatest snack food.
  11. Crum’s involvement first appeared in an advertisement in 1885, and Vanderbilt was introduced in an ad made 120 years after the potato chip was thought invented.
  12. In 1895, he started making potato chips in his kitchen, then delivered them to local stores. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, people began to sell potato chips in grocery stores. The first such person may have been William Tappendon of Cleveland, Ohio. 

Conclusion 

Making potato chips was a tedious task. That changed in the 1920s when the mechanical potato peeler was invented. Potato chips went from a local favorite to a national brand with this technology.

There’s no doubt that potato chips are one of the world’s most popular snack foods today. Many say potato chips are America’s favorite snack food. They might be right! Retail sales of potato chips in the United States total over $6 billion every year.

15 Fun Facts about Ruby Bridges

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Who is Ruby Bridges?

Ruby Bridges is a civil rights activist from the United States. During the New Orleans school desegregation crisis on November 14, 1960, she was the first African-American youngster to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana.

15 Fun Facts about Ruby Bridges

1. When Ruby Bridges was a little girl, she was active in the civil rights struggle. Bridges was one of six black students in New Orleans who passed the test determining whether or not they could attend the all-white school in early 1960.

2 Ruby Nell Bridges was born in Tylertown, Mississippi, on September 8, 1954. She was the oldest child in a family of five, and her family relocated to New Orleans when she was four years old so that her parents for a better job. 

3. She was born in 1954 when Brown v. Board of Education eliminated “separate but equal” education for African Americans, and the order was either ignored or blocked by southern states. The “Little Rock Nine,” a group of nine Black high school students from Arkansas, enrolled in a white high school in 1957. 

William Frantz Elementary School building

4. Three other small Black girls were in first grade in another New Orleans white school when Ruby started. One of them was Ruby, and she was selected to attend the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. When Ruby was in kindergarten, a federal court declared that New Orleans schools needed to integrate or allow both Black and white pupils to attend.  

5. At Frantz School, Ruby was the only black student. Four federal marshals, who were assigned to protect her, drove her to and from school. 

6. Parents did not want their children to attend the same school as African-American students. They screamed and threatened Ruby; even white parents yelled threats against her from the audience. 

7. The marshals drove her to and from school for the following six months. Attempts were made to harm her family. Her father was laid off, and her grandparents were forced to sell their Georgia farm. The neighborhood corner store turned them down. 

8. Ruby didn’t miss a single day of school that year, but her parents divorced by the end of the year.

9. The story of her attending a white school is shown in Norman Rockwell’s artwork The Problem We All Live With, which was installed in the White House during President Obama’s term. 

Norman Rockwell The Problem We All Live With 

10. There is a message in the painting. If you look at the painting, you can’t see the Marshall’s face because the painting intentionally crops out their faces. Take note of the background. a broken and smeared tomato hurled against the wall, as well as racial obscenities such as “N-word” and “KKK.” Mr. Rockwell utilized a local girl, Lynda Gunn, and his cousin as the model for his painting, which Ruby Bridges inspired.

11. Since most white parents no longer allowed their children to attend school, Ruby spent most of the year as the sole student in her first-grade class. She and her teacher, Barbara Henry, became great friends as they worked together.

12. On her second day at Frantz school, every staff member refused to teach Ruby, except one – Mrs. Barbara Henry.

Ruby Bridges photo credit: Wikipedia

13. Parents gradually became less enraged and fearful, and their children were allowed to return to Frantz School. The children returned the following year, and the school was fully integrated. 

14. She founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation, a foundation that promotes understanding and harmony among youngsters, in 1999. 

15. She also wrote a book called Through My Eyes in 1999, which recounted her experiences.

Conclusion

Ruby Bridges was six years old when she entered a segregated school. She now teaches children how to overcome racial prejudices. She is now a civil rights speaker, author and advocate.

I think the lesson that I learned is that you can’t look at a person and judge them. That you have to allow yourself an opportunity to really get to know them, no matter what they look like.” – Ruby Bridges