Tag Archives: Virginia

Bacon’s Rebellion Instituted The Concept Of White Supremacy

163_1000Here is a little bit of history, which to some revealing because I am sure many of you don’t know or were not taught where the beginning of white supremacy began in school. It began in Virginia right after Bacon’s Rebellion. Beacon rose up against the rich and wealthy people and did it with all of the oppressed people. They, white folk, found out when Bacon organized the blacks, poor white, and people of a lower class banded together it was dangerous for the wealthy class and as a group, they overpowered the elite, which could never happen again.

Therefore, from this revolt white supremacy was created. Bacon’s Rebellion was an armed rebellion in 1676 by Virginia settlers led by against the rule of Governor William Berkeley. The colony’s dismissive policy as it related to the political challenges of its western frontier, along with other challenges leaving Bacon out of his inner circle, refusing to allow Bacon to be a part of his fur trade with the Indians, helped to motivate a popular uprising against Berkeley, who had failed to address the demands of the colonists regarding their safety.

A thousand Virginians of all classes and races rose up in arms against Berkeley, attacking Indians, chasing Berkeley from Jamestown, Virginia, and ultimately torching the capital. The rebellion was at first suppressed by a few armed merchant ships from London whose captains sided with Berkeley and the loyalists. Government forces from England arrived soon after and spent several years defeating pockets of resistance and reforming the colonial government to be once more under direct royal control.

It was the first rebellion in the American colonies, although one followed in Maryland later that year. The alliance between indentured servants and Africans (most enslaved until death), united by their bond-servitude, disturbed the ruling class, who responded by hardening the racial caste of slavery in an attempt to divide the two races from subsequently united uprisings with the passage of the Virginia Slave Codes of 1705. This is where the divide and conquer concept came from. While the farmers did not succeed in their initial goal of driving the Indians from Virginia, the rebellion did result in Berkeley being recalled to England.

But what it did was put a plan into play that made whites supreme in all areas of white society, so they could never unite again. Modern historians have suggested it may have been a power play by Bacon against Berkeley but his personal vendetta between him and Berkeley resulted in all people coming together for a common cause, which was the last time it happened. However, Bacon’s followers used the rebellion as an effort to gain government recognition of the shared interests of all social classes of the colony in protecting the “commonality” and advancing its welfare.

Nathaniel Bacon arrived with a quantity of brandy; after it was distributed, he was elected leader. Against Berkeley’s orders, the group struck south until they came to the Occaneechi tribe. When they got the Occaneechi to attack the Susquehannock; Bacon and his men followed by killing most of the men, women, and children at the village. Upon their return, they discovered that Berkeley had called for new elections to the Burgesses in order to better facilitate the Indian problem.

The recomposed House of Burgesses enacted a number of sweeping reforms. Bacon was not serving his duty in the House; rather, he was at his plantation miles away. It limited the powers of the governor and restored suffrage rights to landless freemen. After the passage of these laws, Bacon arrived with 500 followers in Jamestown to demand a commission to lead militia against the Indians. The governor, however, refused to yield to the pressure. When Bacon had his men take aim at Berkeley, he responded by “baring his breast” to Bacon and told Bacon to shoot him. Seeing that the Governor would not be moved, Bacon then had his men take aim at the assembled burgesses, who quickly granted Bacon his commission.

On July 30, 1676, Bacon and his army issued the “Declaration of the People of Virginia”. The declaration criticized Berkeley’s administration in detail. It accused him of levying unfair taxes, appointing friends to high positions, and failing to protect frontier settlers from Indian attack.

After months of conflict, Bacon’s forces, numbering 300-500 men, moved to Jamestown and burned the colonial capital to the ground on September 19, 1676. Outnumbered, Berkeley retreated across the river. In Edmund S. Morgan’s classic 1975 American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia connected the calamity of Bacon’s Rebellion, namely the potential for lower-class revolt, with the colony’s transition over to slavery. But for those with eyes to see, there was an obvious lesson in the rebellion. Resentment of an alien race might be more powerful than resentment of an upper class. Unfortunately, Bacon died before white supremacy took affect but it was because of his revolution that the concept of white supremacy was created. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Listen to the language and transpose it to the language of today, and you will see the same formula!


The Scene Of The Crime

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nTo know America is to go back to the beginning, which means when the robbed the Native American’s and stole the land murdering them and instituting the ungodly system of slavery. It all began in a place called The Jamestown Colony, England’s first permanent settlement in North America. It was a marshy wasteland, poor for agriculture and a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The settlement was such a harsh environment that only thirty-two of the estimated one hundred original settlers survived the first seven months. His-Story describes this as the “starving times” but all would change. It is also important to note the beginning of the most horrible crime the world has ever know – slavery!

On August 20, 1619, the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo on board a Dutch man-of-war ship that rode the tide into Jamestown, Virginia carrying Captain Jope and a cargo of twenty Africans. It seems strange to me, but history cannot tell us why this mysterious ship anchored off Jamestown. It is believed the captain needed food and in exchange for food he offered his cargo of Africans as payment.

When the deal was consummated, Antoney, Isabella, and eighteen other Africans disembarked. Although they were not the first Africans to arrive in North America, they were the first African “settlers”. Regarded as indentured servants rather than slaves fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Governor of Virginia and proprietor of the thousand-acre Flowerdew Hundred Plantation.

In ten years, by the 1630’s, the colony had established a successful economy based on tobacco through the use of the Africans. Slavery was born, and slave trading became big business. These human souls were acquired in Africa for an average price of about twenty-five dollars each, paid primarily in merchandise. They were sold in the Americas for about one hundred fifty dollars each. As the price of slaves increased, so did the inhumane overcrowding of the ships.

This was the beginning of the worst crime every inflicted upon a people and the most morally reprehensible agenda the world has ever known. Adding to this injustice and more horrifying was that the perpetrators believed their actions were sectioned by God with a religious manifestation that justified Slavery. The next two-hundred years was a designed systematic effort to destroy millions of lives through in documentation, brutality, savagery, and terror. I am always struck by the use of the word civilization in this matter because the root word is “civil” and there is/was NOTHING civil about the institution of slavery, which means chattel making human beings property and servants for life.

The business of slave trading had one purpose – PROFIT. The process would begin with the African being paid to venture into the interior of the continent, capture other Africans, put them on a death march to the coast and sell their captives to Europeans. Now, if capturing and stealing the victims was not misery enough what was to follow surely was in every sense of the word.

A typical slave ship traveling from Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, or Senegal would take four to eight weeks to reach New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or the West Indies. Africans from Senegal were the most prized because many were skilled artisans. Ibos from Calabar were considered the most undesirable because of their, high suicide rate. Women, men, and children were crammed so tightly in the ships that out of a load of seven hundred, three or four slaves would be found dead each morning.

Most ships had three decks with the lower two used for transporting slaves. The lowest deck extended the full length of the ship and was no more than five feet high. The captives were packed into tomb like compartments side by side to utilize all available space. In the next deck, wooden planks like shelves, extended from the sides of the ship where the slaves were chained in pairs at the wrists and ankles crammed side by side. Men occupied middle shelves and were most often chained in pairs and bound to the ship’s gunwales or to ringbolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about certain areas of the ship.

There was no sanitation, although buckets were provided for use as toilets, which were not regularly emptied. The ships smelled of excrement, disease, and death. It is estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of the slaves died in route to the colonies, mostly from diseases associated with overcrowding, spoiled or poisoned food, contaminated water, starvation, thirst, and suicide. Others were thrown overboard; shot, or beaten to death for various reasons.

A typical slave ship coming directly to the American mainland from Africa weighed about one to two hundred tons, although some were slightly larger. Slave ships were eventually built especially for human cargo. These slave ships could carry as many as four hundred slaves and a crew of forty-seven, as well as thirteen thousand pounds of food. They were long, narrow, fast, and designed to direct air below decks. Shackling irons, nets, and ropes were standard equipment.

The competition at slave markets on the African coast grew so exceptionally that historians estimate that as many as 60 million human souls were captured and taken from the continent of Africa to be sold into bondage. It is estimated that as many as one-third of that number did not survive the trip called the “Middle Passage” to reach the shores of a place like Jamestown in the name of God.

Did you know the first registered slave ship was named “The Good Ship Jesus” and in the name of God the greatest crime the world has known began in this place called “Jamestown.”

I am reminded of the powerful words of Sojourner Truth who was asked shortly before her death, if she knew how many slaves she freed while conducting the Underground Railroad. She did not think about it – replying quickly, “I could have freed a lot more if they had only known they were slaves.”

My hope is that one day the devastating effect of bondage will be removed, and we will be able to join hands and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

 


John Brown: The Man Who Killed Slavery

982_160I have long wanted to write a piece about the abolitionist, John Brown, because he was a man of action and a man who would not be deterred from his mission of abolishing slavery. He was more significant in eradicating slavery than any single individual at the time. As you know, history has not been kind to his legacy and therefore, anything reported about Brown is in no way told in a positive light. He is projected as a wild crazy white man that lost his mind, but that was not the case at all.

They talked about the end of his life as a traitor for wanting to end slavery. So on October 16, 1859; he led 21 men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His plan was to arm slaves with the weapons he and his men seized from the arsenal that was thwarted by local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, most of Brown’s men had been killed or captured.

Brown stood trial and was found guilty of treason. On December 2, 1859, he was hung in Charlestown, WV. As Brown approached the hanging scaffold, he stated: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with Blood. I had, as I now think vainly, flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.”

John Brown was born into a deeply religious family in Torrington, Connecticut, in 1800. During his first fifty years, Brown moved about the country, settling in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York, and taking along his ever-growing family. He would father twenty children. It is important to note that several of his sons were killed during the raid at Harpers Ferry.

He helped finance the publication of David Walker’s Appeal and Henry Highland’s “Call to Rebellion” speech. He gave land to fugitive slaves. He and his wife agreed to raise a black youth as one of their own. He also participated in the Underground Railroad and, in 1851, helped establish the League of Gileadites, an organization that worked to protect escaped slaves from slave catchers.

In 1847, Frederick Douglass met Brown for the first time in Springfield, Massachusetts. Of the meeting, Douglass stated that “Though a white gentleman, [Brown] is in sympathy a black man, and as deeply interested in our cause, as though his own soul had been pierced with the iron of slavery.” It was at this meeting that Brown first outlined his plan to Douglass to lead a war to free slaves.

Despite his contributions to the antislavery cause, Brown did not emerge as a figure of major significance until 1855 after he followed five of his sons to the Kansas territory. There, he became the leader of antislavery guerillas and fought a proslavery attack against the antislavery town of Lawrence. The following year, in retribution for another attack, Brown went to a proslavery town and brutally killed five of its settlers. Brown and his sons would continue to fight in the territory of Missouri for the rest of the year.

Brown returned to the east and began to think more seriously about his plan for a war in Virginia against slavery. He sought money to fund an “army” he would lead. On October 16, 1859, he set his plan into action when he and 21 other men, 5 blacks and 16 whites, raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Brown was wounded and quickly captured, and moved to Charlestown, Virginia, where he was tried and convicted of treason, Before hearing his sentence, Brown was allowed make an address to the court.

. . . I believe to have interfered as I have done, . . . in behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it be deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children, and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit: so let it be done.”

Although initially shocked by Brown’s exploits, many Northerners began to speak favorably of the militant abolitionist. “No man in America has ever stood up so persistently and effectively for the dignity of human nature. . . .” Henry David Thoreau said in an address to the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts.

North and South drew even farther apart from each other. John Brown and his Harpers Ferry raid are often referred to as the match that lit the fuse on the powder keg of secession and civil war. Even today, debate continues as to how Brown should be remembered: as a martyr to freedom, as a well-intended but misguided individual, or as a terrorist who hoped for revolution and, perhaps, murder on a grand scale. I say he did more for the cause to end slavery than any other living soul of the time and therefore, a martyr! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


On This Day In Black History: Nat Turner’s Insurrection

nat turnerThis black hero of his time is one whose name brings fear into the hearts of white folk everywhere. His name is Nathaniel “Nat” Turner, Rebellion Leader, who was executed by hanging in Jerusalem, Virginia after initiating a rebellion of enslaved and free black people on November 11, 1831. However, it was on this day that his revolt took place.

I am keenly aware that I stand on the shoulders of the ghosts of the greats who suffered, died, and sacrificed so much for a people degraded and scorn to which some might say cursed by the wretchedness of slavery. Let me say that one of my major faults is that I understand the power of words and know that finding written words can produce truth. Taking into consideration, those words were written for the times and used to sway or justify that which one might want the truth to remain hidden.

Someone sent me an email that contained the “Confessions of Nat Turner”. I had never read it before and knew very little about the man Nat Turner other than what His-Story tells. I was so surprised because it was, in my opinion, unfathomable to believe much of what his supposed attorney wrote was true. This caused me to do my own research and see what facts were available to reinforce the only known account of the Nat Turner Rebellion. What I found was many different interpretations of the events of that rebellion. There were few facts. What we do know as fact is that there was a rebellion, he is the most hated black ever to live, and he was hung. Everything else is conjecture!

Here are the facts: Nat Turner was born into slavery October 2, 1800, on a Southampton County plantation. On August 21, 1831, he led a violent disorganized insurrection. The incident ended the emancipation movement in that region and led to even harsher laws against slaves. Benjamin Turner, his owner, allowed him to be instructed in reading, writing, and religion. Sold three times in his childhood and hired out to John Travis 1820s. He became a fiery preacher and leader of slaves claiming that he was chosen by God to lead them from bondage.

Believing in signs and hearing divine voices, Turner was convinced by an eclipse of the Sun in 1831 that the time to rise-up had come, and he enlisted the help of four other slaves in the area. An insurrection was planned, aborted, and rescheduled for August 21, 1831, when he and six other slaves killed the Travis family, managed to secure arms and horses, and enlisted about 75 other slaves in a disorganized insurrection that resulted in the murder of 51 white people.

Afterward, Turner hid nearby successfully for six weeks until his discovery, conviction, and hanging in Jerusalem, Virginia after a trial that lasted twenty-four hours, along with 16 of his followers. The incident put fear in the heart of Southerners, ended the organized emancipation movement in that region, resulted in even harsher laws against slaves, and deepened the schism between slave-holders that would culminate in the Civil War. This is all we know as fact.

Among many people, perhaps most, African-Americans in the antebellum period or even today, Turner’s legacy takes on heroic status as someone willing to make slave-owners pay for the hardships that they enacted upon the millions of children, women, and men they enslaved. He is not mentioned in the same vain as the KKK in that they murdered, under cover of law, countless men, women, and children in what was nothing more than state sponsored terrorism. Like John Brown, Turner also thought revolutionary violence would serve to awaken the attitudes of whites to the reality of the inherent brutality of slave-holding.

My research shows one thing clearly. The supposed confession taken by Attorney Gray is a myth written to produce financial gain and to induce fear. Turner was called a beast and a savage – maybe. I would argue that is what he was made to be, as he and others were sold like animals, to which his knowledge of the Old Testament told him that even God worked through acts of violence and inflicted extreme punishment upon his enemies for his people.

In the end, on that fateful day of his execution, Nat Turner’s last words, before he was hung, were “they crucified Jesus didn’t they”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Scene Of The Crime

It is a fact that the history of people of African descent was destroyed by government-sanctioned system of slavery. However, I have resurrected our amazing and often horrific journey many times through this blog. I have tried to bring into remembrance some heart-wrenching events and glorious victories resulting from the unimaginable struggles that African Americans have had to endure. Therefore, I would be remiss if I did not start at the beginning with what I call the scene of the crime.

The Jamestown Colony, England’s first permanent settlement in North America, was a marshy wasteland, poor for agriculture and a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The settlement was such a harsh environment that only thirty-two of the estimated one hundred original settlers survived the first seven months. HIS-Story describes this as the “starving times,” but all would change.

On August 20, 1619, the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo onboard a Dutch man-of-war ship that rode the tide into the shores of Jamestown, Virginia, carrying Captain Jope and a cargo of twenty Africans. It seems strange to me, but history cannot tell us why this mysterious ship anchored off Jamestown. It is believed the cap­tain needed food and in exchange for food he offered his cargo of Africans as payment.

When the deal was consummated, Antoney, Isabella, and eighteen other Africans disembarked. Although they were not the first Africans to arrive in North America, they were the first African “settlers.” Regarded as indentured servants rather than slaves, fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Gover­nor of Virginia and proprietor of the thousand-acre Flowerdew Hundred Plantation. In ten years, by the 1630’s, the colony, through the use of the Africans, had established a successful economy based on tobacco.

Slavery was born, and the slave trade became big business. These human souls were acquired in Africa for an average price of about twenty-five dollars each, paid primarily in merchandise. They were sold in the Americas for about one hundred fifty dollars each. As the price of slaves increased, so did the inhumane overcrowding of the ships.

This was the beginning of the worst crime ever inflicted upon a people and the most morally reprehensible agenda the world has ever known. Adding to this injustice and more horrifying was that the perpetrators believed their actions were sanctioned by God with a religious manifestation that justified slavery. The next two-hundred years were a designed systematic effort to destroy millions of lives through indoctrination, brutality, savagery, and terror.

I am always struck by the use of the word civilization in this matter because the root word is “civil” and there was nothing civil about the institution of slavery. To be clear a slave is chattel – a human being considered property and servant for life. The business of slave trading had one purpose – profit. The process would begin with an African being paid to venture into the interior of the continent, capture other Africans, put them on a death march to the coast and sell these captives to Europeans. Now, if stealing and capturing the victims was not misery enough, what was to follow surely was in every sense of the word.

This horrible journey, known as the “Middle Passage,” ended with a lifetime of bondage awaiting the captives at the end of the voyage. A typical slave ship traveling from Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, or Senegal, would take four to eight weeks to reach New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or the West Indies. Women, men, and children were crammed so tightly in the cargo ships that out of a load of seven hundred, three or four would be found dead each morning. Africans from Senegal were the most-prized commodity be­cause many were skilled artisans. Ibos from Calabar were considered the most undesirable because of their high suicide rate.

Most ships had three decks with the lower two used for transporting slaves. The lowest deck extended the full length of the ship and was no more than five feet high. The captives were packed into tomb-like compartments side by side to utilize all available space. In the next deck, wooden planks like shelves extended from the sides of the ship where the slaves were chained in pairs at the wrists and ankles – crammed side by side. Men occupied middle shelves and were most often chained in pairs and bound to the ship’s gunwales or to ringbolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about certain areas of the ship.

A typical slave ship coming directly to the American mainland from Africa weighed about one to two hundred tons, although some were slightly larger. Slave ships were eventually built especially for human cargo. These slave ships could carry as many as four hundred slaves and a crew of forty-seven, as well as thirteen thousand pounds of food. They were long, narrow, fast, and designed to direct air below decks. Shack­ling irons, nets, and ropes were standard equipment.

The competition at slave markets on the African coast grew so exceptionally that historians estimate that as many as 60 million human souls were captured and taken from the continent of Africa to be sold into bondage. It is estimated that as many as one-third of that number did not survive the “Middle Passage” to reach the shores of a place like Jamestown.

Did you know the first registered slave ship was named “The Good Ship Jesus,” and in the name of God the greatest crime the world has known began in this place called Jamestown? The devastating effects of bondage would have an effect on the race of people for centuries.

I will continue to pray that we will be able, one day, to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
 

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Praise For All Queens

th (4)To all the women and mothers on the day we are celebrating women I want to show reverence to all of the beautiful women – all Queens. History tells us, and His-story agrees, that the oldest known human remains discovered is that of a black woman, whose name was “Lucy”, found in African over 4 million years ago. It is also a fact that Africa is the cradle of civilization, which means a black woman gave birth to mankind in a place called Pangaea.

These gorgeous creatures walk with the distinction of creating and continuing the species that first walked the earth and still they carry the world on her shoulders as being God’s greatest creation. Therefore, during this month that is dedicated to the “Celebration of Women” – I LOVE YOU. This post is not meant to exclude women, who are also of distinction, from other ethnicity’s or hues because I love you too. Rather to express my profound appreciation for the wonders and wonderful Black Woman.

Some may say that today’s black woman, particularly young women, have lost their way. This is a subjective statement, which may be true to a degree but each of you ladies have the power to change that perception by guiding these young girls into womanhood. You are the nurturer because you are the woman who understands her strength and uses her power positively as a gift to mankind.  Forget the mantra, so often used, “Strong Black Woman”. We know you are but consider that it is misguided because your strength is in unity, and I will leave that there as my prospective.

We can all remember; I hope, Big Mama, who was the backbone of the family,. She is the woman that I dedicate this article, and pay homage to those like her, for being the family’s greatest gift; a proud woman with wisdom, pride, and dedication with one purpose “family”. For all of those who use the mantra “Strong Black Woman” in a misguided way. Let me suggest that you use the First Lady, Michelle Obama our crowned queen, as an example for which to follow. As she portrays for the world to see what a black woman is – proud, graceful, supporting, dignified and charming. This is your strength.

Personally, my greatest heroine was Harriet Tubman because of her bravery and courage. It has been about 100 years since her death, and I continue to be haunted by a powerful statement she made shortly before that fateful day. She was asked by a reporter if she knew how many slave she saved while conducting the Underground Railroad? She said, “I could have freed a lot more if they had only known they were slaves?” POWERFUL!!! I respect and honor her because she risked her life for the benefit of others traveling back to rescue many captive souls, 13 or more times, after she had escaped herself during a time that we cannot imagine today.

There was a commercial a long time ago that said, “You’ve come a long way baby” or look at this way “from the outhouse to the White House”. These are just a few exceptional women that I am particularly proud of because of their integrity, pride, dignity, and fortitude, but there are so many more. So for those who came before you or those who walk amongst us; like Phyllis Wheatley, May Jemison, Mya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Madam CJ Walker, Sojourner Truth, the Queen of Sheba, Nefertiti, Big Mama, my Mom, you, and not to be left out the millions of heroines that the world have been blessed to share – you are loved. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Happy Birthday Dorothy Irene Height

Dorothy Irene Height, (March 24, 1912 – April 20, 2010), the Matriarch of the civil rights movement passed away early Tuesday of natural causes in a Washington hospital. Dr. Height established a national reputation as a graceful insistent voice for civil rights and women’s rights. She was regarded as the “Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement” and a tireless crusader for racial justice and gender equality spanned more than six decades.

Dr. Height was born in Richmond, Virginia. She moved with her family to Rankin, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh early in her life where she attended racially integrated schools. She was admitted to Barnard College in 1929, but upon her arrival she was denied entrance because the school had an unwritten policy of admitting only two black students. She pursued studies instead at New York University earning a degree in 1932 and a master’s degree in educational psychology the following year.

Dr. Height served on the advisory council of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the National Advisory Council on Aging. Her awards included 36 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities, including Harvard and Princeton. In addition, Dr. Height was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and on her 92nd birthday, she received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest decoration Congress can bestow.

Dr. Height was among a coalition of African American leaders who pushed civil rights to the forefront of the American political stage after World War II. She was instrumental, and a key figure, in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities and public accommodations in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Dr Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, relinquishing the title at the age of 95.

National Council of Negro Women is a four million member advocacy group consisting of 34 national and 250 community based organizations. It was founded in 1935 by educator Mary McLeod Bethune, who was one of Height’s mentors. Dr. Height was a civil rights activist who participated in protests in Harlem during the 1930’s. In the 1940’s, she lobbied first lady Eleanor Roosevelt on behalf of civil rights causes and in the 1950’s she prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to move more aggressively on school desegregation issues.

President Obama issued an official statement White House that reads as follows: Dr. Height was “a hero to so many Americans… Dr. Height devoted her life to those struggling for equality . . . witnessing every march and milestone along the way… And even in the final weeks of her life — a time when anyone else would have enjoyed their well-earned rest Dr. Height continued her fight to make our nation a more open and inclusive place for people of every race, gender, background and faith.”

As a young woman, Dr. Height made money through jobs such as ironing entertainer Eddie Cantor’s shirts and proofreading Marcus Garvey’s newspaper, the Negro World. She went nightclubbing in Harlem with composer W.C. Handy. Dr Height began her professional career as a caseworker for the New York City welfare department. She got her start as a civil rights activist through the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Sr., pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, and from the pastor’s son, the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who later represented Harlem in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the 1940’s, Dr. Height came to Washington as chief of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA branch. She joined the staff of the national YWCA board in 1944 through 1975. She remained on that staff with a variety of responsibilities, including leadership training and interracial and ecumenical education. In 1965, she organized and became the director of the YWCA’s Center for Racial Justice, and she held that position until retiring from the YWCA board in 1975.

Dr. Height became national president of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in 1947holding that position until 1957 when she became the fourth president of the National Council of Negro Women. She was a visiting professor at the Delhi School of Social Work in India, and she directed studies around the world on issues involving human rights.

During the turmoil of the civil rights struggles in the 1960’s, Dr. Height helped orchestrate strategies with major civil rights leaders including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Whitney Young, James Farmer, Bayard Rustin and John Lewis, who later served as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia. Congressman John Lewis said when Dr. Height announced her retirement as president of the National Council of Negro Women – “At every major effort for social progressive change, Dorothy Height has been there.” She was also energetic in her efforts to overcome gender bias, and much of that work predated the women’s rights movement.

Dr. Height was the most influential woman at the top levels of civil rights leadership, but she never drew the major media attention that conferred celebrity and instant recognition on some of the other civil rights leaders of her time. In August 1963, Dr. Height was on the platform with King when he delivered his “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Less than a month later, at King’s request, she went to Birmingham, Ala. to minister to the families of four black girls who had died in a church bombing linked to the racial strife that had engulfed the city.

In 1995, Dr. Height was among the few women to speak at the Million Man March on the Mall, which was led by Louis Farrakhan, the chief minister of the Nation of Islam. “I am here because you are here,” she declared. Two years later, at 85, she sat at the podium all day in the whipping wind and chill rain at the Million Woman March in Philadelphia.

She would often remark, “Stop worrying about whose name gets in the paper and start doing something about rats, and day care and low wages. . . . We must try to take our task more seriously and ourselves more lightly.” She also famously said, “If the times aren’t ripe, you have to ripen the times”. It was important to dress well she said, “I came up at a time when young women wore hats, and they wore gloves. Too many people in my generation fought for the right for us to be dressed up and not put down.”

“She was a dynamic woman with a resilient spirit, who was a role model for women and men of all faiths, races and perspectives. For her, it wasn’t about the many years of her life, but what she did with them,” said former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. Dr. Height is a national treasure who lived life abundantly and for the abundance of others. She will be greatly missed, not only by those of us who knew her well, but by the countless beneficiaries of her enduring legacy.

In my novel “Just a Season”, I talked about a “Dash” that will be place on our final marker between the years of one’s birth and death that will represent the whole of a person’s life. I said that to say, this tiny little dash on Dr. Height’s marker will not adequately give enough credit for her outstanding life’s work. It should have an inscription that says – “Servant of God, Well Done.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”
Legacy – A New Season is Coming!
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