Our Story: Black History 24-7-365 (December)

Posted on December 15, 2013 by


Dec. 1, 1955Rosa Parks  . . .

 refused to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” of a bus to a white passenger, was arrested, leading to the historic Montgomery bus boycott

Notable quotes:  “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”  

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

 December 3, 1847– Frederick Douglass . . .

 publishes first issue of his anti-slavery North Star newspaper in which he took the “controversial” position of advocating the need for political action to supplement moral suasion in the effort to abolish the abominable institution of slavery 

Notable quotes: The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers, who had left their homes, and gone to Africa, and stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land reduced us to slavery. I loathed them as being the meanest as well as the most-wicked of men. . . .”

 “I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. . .  I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which everywhere surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave prison and the church stand near each other. . . The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.” 

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Dec. 5, 1784Phillis Wheatley died (born c. 1753 in present-day Senegal, West Africa);

as a child she mastered English in less than 2 years, went on to learn Greek and Latin, became first Black woman poet of note in the United States

Notable quote:  “The world is a severe schoolmaster, for its frowns are less dangerous than its smiles and flatteries, and it is a difficult task to keep in the path of wisdom.”

December 5, 1935

National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) founded by Mary McLeod Bethune in New York City

Notable quotes:  “For I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.”

“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”

“If we have the courage and tenacity of our forebears, who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs.”

Dec. 8, 1925Sammy Davis, Jr. born;

entertainer (dancer, singer, actor); performed in vaudeville from age of three, never received a formal education; had success as nightclub entertainer, Broadway and motion picture actor, overcoming racist obstacles and bigotry to do so

Notable quotes:  “Alcohol gives you infinite patience for stupidity.” 

“You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.” 

“I learned a lot in the Army. I knew that above all things in the world I had to become so big, so strong that people and their hatred could never touch me.” 

December 9, 1872

On this date P.B.S Pinchback of Louisiana became first African American governor in U.S.

Notable quote:  “I am groping about through this American forest of prejudice and proscription, determined to find some form of civilization where all men will be accepted for what they are worth.” 

December 10, 1950

On this date Dr. Ralph J. Bunche became first Black awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Notable quote:  “To make his way, the Negro must have firm resolve, persistence, tenacity. He must gear himself to hard work all the way. He can never let up. He can never have too much preparation and training. He must be a strong competitor. He must adhere staunchly to the basic principle that anything less than full equality is not enough. If he compromises on that principle his soul is dead. ” 

Dec. 13, 1903Ella Bake born;

civil rights activist-organizer; helped organize the Young Negroes Cooperative League, a cooperative economics community enterprise in New York to alleviate Great Depression hardships (1930s); NAACP  field secretary/field director (late 1930s); helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957) and served as its first director, with Dr. King as its first president; helped organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (1960); died on her birthday in 1986

Notable quote:  “Even if segregation is gone, we will still need to be free; we will still have to see that everyone has a job. Even if we can all vote, but if people are still hungry, we will not be free…Singing alone is not enough; we need schools and learning…Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all of mankind.”  (Source: Ransby, Barbara — Ella Baker & The Black Freedom Movement)

Dec. 14, 1829John Mercer Langston born;

educator, diplomat; believed to have been the first Black ever elected to public office in the U.S. (U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Virginia from Sept. 23, 1890, to March 3, 1891); emancipated from slavery at the age of five, he helped organize the National Equal Rights League, was its first president (1864); was professor of law and dean of the law department at Howard University (1869–77) and vice president of the university (1872–76); great uncle of Langston Hughes

Notable quote:  “It did not improve the feeling of the defeated classes of the South to contemplate, at first, the amendments of the Constitution of the United States, which not only established the freedom of the slave, but established his citizenship beyond question, and putting into his hands the ballot, making him the political equal of his former owner. Objecting not only to the law, but to that practice under it, … the former master class became greatly exasperated, and resolving, if possible, to overcome this condition of things, organized bands of “White-liners,” “Ku-Klux,” and “Bull-dozers,” and entered upon that systematic warfare upon Republicans, white and colored, which, resulting in violence, intimidation and murder, has necessitated the use of the army to maintain the peace, and protect the loyal people of the South against that domestic violence, which at times seemed to threaten utter destruction, interfering even with legislatures, and disturbing the operations of the Government.”   

Dec. 18, 1917Ossie Davis born;

civil rights activist, actor, writer of plays and film, orator; noted for his “Black shining prince” eulogy of Malcolm X (1965), he also spoke at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968); he and wife Ruby Dee jointly received the National Medal of Arts (1995) and a Kennedy Center Honor (2004)

Notable quote: “We can’t float through life. We can’t be incidental or accidental. We must fix our gaze on a guiding star as soon as one comes upon the horizon and once we have attached ourselves to that star we must keep our eyes on it and our hands upon the plow. It is the consistency of the pursuit of the highest possible vision that you can find in front of you that gives you the constancy, that gives you the encouragement, that gives you the way to understand where you are and why it’s important for you to do what you can do.”
– from With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together 

December 19, 1875Carter G. Woodson born (“father of Black history”);

graduated from high school in less than two years despite being unable to enroll until he was 20; became an educator, earned Harvard Ph.D. (1912); founded Negro History Week (1926) and encouraged Blacks to study not only their U.S. tribulations and achievements but to study also the “beautiful history” written through the lives of their continental African ancestors and allow that totality to be the shield that protects them from racist bigotry and serve as the inspirational foundation for a beautiful future to be written through their ongoing efforts 

Notable quotes: “If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race. Such an effort would upset the program of the oppressor in Africa and America. Play up before the Negro, then, his crimes and shortcomings. Let him learn to admire the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin and the Teuton. Lead the Negro to detest the man of African blood–to hate himself.”  — from The Mis-Education of the Negro

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”

“If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

“I am a radical.” 

December 21 – Winter Solstice

December 23, 1815 Henry Highland Garnet born;

leading abolitionist and clergyman; escaped slavery in 1824, pursued an education, became a Presbyterian minister, was associated with the American Anti-Slavery Society; at the National Negro Convention of 1843 his “Call to Rebellion” speech which included the call for slaves to murder their masters was thought to be too radical by other leaders, including Frederick Douglass; his ministry served those whose lives were disrupted by the Civil War and in the development of government programs to help former slaves; he was appointed as the U.S. Minister to Liberia in late 1881, and died there two months after arriving; listed as one of the 100 greatest African Americans by Dr. Molefi Asante (2002)

Notable quotes:  “. . . when these (Egyptian) representatives of our race were filling the world with amazement, the ancestors of the now proud and boasting Anglo Saxons were among the most degraded of the human family. They abode in caves under ground, either naked or covered with the skins of wild beasts. Night was made hideous by their wild shouts, and day was darkened by the smoke which arose from bloody alters, upon which they offered human sacrifice. . . .  

“Let there be no strife between us, for we are brethren, and we must rise or fall together. How unprofitable it is for us to spend our golden moments in long and solemn debate upon the questions whether we shall be called “Africans” “Colored Americans,” or “Africo Americans,” or “Blacks.” The question should be, my friends, shall we arise and act like men, and cast off this terrible yoke?”  — From The Past and the Present Condition, and the Destiny, of the Colored Race (1848), by HHG

December 23, 1867Madam C. J. Walker born;

educator, inventor, business entrepreneur, philanthropist; acknowledged to have been the first self-made female millionaire in U.S.; developed and marketed a successful line of beauty and hair products for black women which she claimed had been revealed to her in a dream (the “Walker Method” or “Walker System”, 1905), at its peak her company employed about 3,000 people; she was acknowledged for making the largest contribution to save the Anacostia (Washington, DC) house of abolitionist Frederick Douglass (1918); donated money throughout her career to the NAACP, YMCA, Black schools, organizations, individuals, orphanages, and retirement homes

Notable quote:  “This is the greatest country under the sun . . . But we must not let our love of country, our patriotic loyalty cause us to abate one whit in our protest against wrong and injustice. We should protest until the American sense of justice is so aroused that such affairs as the (1917) East St. Louis riot be forever impossible.”

December 26, 1966 — First Kwanzaa Season Launched in Los Angeles

Dr. Maulana Karenga on Kwanzaa (from a 2000 interview with Beliefnet):  “Kwanzaa does not come from African religions, it comes from African culture. But no serious student of African culture – ancient or modern, continental or diasporan – can deny that African spirituality pervades African life. . .

“What Kwanzaa does stress is the ethical which brings forth the best of African and human thought and practice and offers a basis of common ground. So when Kwanzaa draws on ancient Egyptian teachings from the Husia or teachings of the Yoruba from the Odu Ifa, it is not to teach theology but to urge that we speak truth, do justice, honor our elders and ancestors, cherish and challenge our children, care for the poor and vulnerable among us, have a rightful relationship with the environment, constantly resist evil and always raise up and pursue the good. This ethical focus finds common ground in all religious or spiritual traditions I know. So why would someone be threatened by the stress on bringing and doing good in and for the world?

“ . . . as a celebration of family, community and culture, Kwanzaa is a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them; a time of special reverence for the Creator, in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation; a time of commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of excellence, our ancestors; a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing efforts to be the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense; and a time for the celebration of the Good, the good of life and indeed, of existence, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word, the good of the divine, the social and the natural. Who would find fault with these ethical practices?

“Finally, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be both African and human in its stress on four pillars of African ethics: the dignity and rights of the human person, the well-being and flourishing of family and community, the integrity and value of the environment, and the reciprocal solidarity and cooperation for mutual benefit of humanity. All these above emphases are ethical and at one level spiritual, but belong to no particular religion. And it is their inclusive character that allows people of good will to embrace them as essential elements of common ground for the common good.”

(Visit this link for the full Karenga interview: http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/Holidays/Kwanzaa/In-His-Own-Words-An-Interview-With-Maulana-Karenga.aspx?p=1)

“We have religious holidays and we have secular holidays. I see Kwanzaa as an opportunity for African-Americans to reaffirm ourselves if we choose to, a chance to rebuild and renew our focus. I see Kwanzaa as a holiday of the spirit.” ~ Jessica B. Harris

“Our children need the sense of specialness that comes from participating in a known and loved ritual. They need the mastery of self-discipline that comes from order. They need the self-awareness that comes from a knowledge of their past. They need Kwanzaa as a tool for building their future and our own.” ~ Jessica B. Harris


December 26 – First day of Kwanzaa: Umoja/Unity

December 27 — Second day of Kwanzaa: Kujichagulia/Self-Determination

December 28 – Third day of Kwaanzaa: Ujima/Collective Work & Responsibility

December 29 – Fourth day of Kwanzaa: Ujamaa/Cooperative Economics

December 29, 1907Robert C. Weaver born;

noted economist, first African American to serve in the U.S. cabinet; his father was a postal worker and his mother — who he said influenced his intellectual development — was the daughter of the first black person to graduate from Harvard with a degree in dentistry. When Dr. Weaver joined the Kennedy Administration he held more Harvard degrees — three, including a doctorate in economics — than anyone else in the administration’s upper ranks.

December 30 – Fifth day of Kwanzaa: Nia/Purpose

December 31 – Sixth day of Kwanzaa: Kuumba/Creativity