Remembering OUR STORY: Bright Stars in Our JANUARY Sky!

Posted on January 2, 2014 by



January 1 – Seventh day of Kwanzaa: Imani/Faith

“To believe, with all our heart, in our Creator, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”

The Seventh Principle is FAITH which is essentially a profound belief in and commitment to all that is of value to us as a family, community, people and culture. In the context of African spirituality, it begins with a belief in the Creator and in the positive-ness of the creation and logically leads to a belief in the essential goodness and possibility of the human personality. For in all African spiritual traditions from Egypt on, it is taught that we are in the image of the Creator and thus capable of ultimate righteousness and creativity through self-mastery and development in the context of positive support. Therefore, a faith in ourselves is key here, faith in our capacity as humans to live righteously, self-correct, support, care for and be responsible for each other and eventually create the just and good society. Faith in ourselves is key.  * * * Practice IMANI every day!

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 January 1, 1804 – Haiti declares it independence

 January 2, 1884 — Oscar Micheaux born; ~ independent producer-director of films from the silent era until 1948; wrote, produced, directed, and distributed more than 45 films for African American audiences (1919-1948); addressed issues that were important to his audience, avoided the stereotyping of blacks common to Hollywood productions. 

Notable Micheaux quotes:

“There is no barrier to success which diligence and perseverance cannot hurdle.”

“I use my films to elevate the colored race.”

“Your self-image is so powerful it unwittingly becomes your destiny.”

 January 2, 1898Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander born; ~ economist, attorney, civil rights activist; graduated University of Pennsylvania in 1918 with senior honors but was denied election to Phi Beta Kappa; went on to become first African-American woman to receive a PhD in the United States, in economics, Univ. of Pennsylvania (1921) and first African-American woman to earn a law degree from that school (1927); first woman to hold a national office in the National Bar Association (1943); first national president of the Grand Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta; (V&V editorial note: Look this Sister up; read her history!)

 Notable quotes of Ms. Alexander:

 “I concluded [while still an undergraduate student] that I could not single-handedly make any changes in the position of women at Penn or of the people of my race and that it was best for me to secure an outstanding record and a solid education so that when I entered public life I would have the background to assume responsibility and leadership.”

 “Don’t let anything stop you. There will be times when you’ll be disappointed, but you can’t stop. Make yourself the best that you can make out of what you are. The very best.”

“Now my father deserted my mother, and I tell you this because it is often thought that without a man in the house you can’t do anything, but my mother did it all. And I often thought that perhaps it was God’s will that he got out. So there wasn’t any arguing.”

January 2, 1915 — John Hope Franklin born; ~ historian and educator; wrote internationally acclaimed From Slavery to Freedom (1947); received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995).

Notable Franklin quotes:

“I think knowing one’s history leads one to act in a more enlightened fashion. I cannot imagine how knowing one’s history would not urge one to be an activist.” 

“People are running around apologizing for slavery. What about that awful period since slavery—Reconstruction, Jim Crow and all the rest? And what about the enormous wealth that was built up by black labor? If I was sitting on a billion dollars that someone had made when I sat on them, I probably would not be slow to apologize, if that’s all it takes. I think that’s little to pay for the gazillions that black people built up—the wealth of this country—with their labor, and now you’re going to say I’m sorry I beat the hell out of you for all these years? That’s not enough.” 

“It’s not so much Katrina as a phenomenon as it’s Katrina as a metaphor for what our society has become. It reflects; it’s a mirror of what we’ve become – super-extraordinarily complacent.”

January 3, 1624William Tucker, the first Black child born (recorded) in the American colonies, was baptized on this date, in Jamestown, Virginia. Two of the first Africans to be brought to North America in 1619 were simply called Anthony and Isabella they were married and in 1624 gave birth to the first Black child born in English America naming him William Tucker in “honor” of a Virginia planter.

January 7, 1903 — Zora Neale Hurston born; ~ writer, folklorist; associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

Notable Hurston quotes:

“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

“It’s a funny thing, the less people have to live for, the less nerve they have to risk losing nothing.”

“Anybody depending on somebody else’s gods is depending on a fox not to eat chickens.”

 January 10, 1864 – George Washington Carver born; ~ agricultural scientist, multi-talented genius; rose from slavery and virtual homelessness at the age of 10-12 to pursue education; became director of agricultural research at Tuskegee Institute(1896) and revolutionized agriculture in the South and much of the U.S.

Notable Carver quotes:

“When our thoughts – which bring actions – are filled with hate against anyone, Negro or white, we are in a living hell. That is as real as hell will ever be.”

“Our Creator is the same and never changes despite the names given Him by people here and in all parts of the world. Even if we gave Him no name at all, He would still be there, within us, waiting to give us good on this earth.”

“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him (or her) distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”

“There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation – veneer isn’t worth anything.”

January 12, 1920James Farmer, Jr. born; ~ civil rights activist, a leader of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1998). 

Notable Farmer quotes:

“Evil societies always kill their consciences.”

“Inner city education must change. Our responsibility is not merely to provide access to knowledge; we must produce educated people.”

“One thing I tried not to be at HEW (Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare) was a Black buffer to take the heat off of those who were higher up. I did not want to be trotted out as the person to pacify unruly Blacks whenever there was trouble. There is an almost unavoidable tendency for superiors to use a Black appointee in that way, but in very short order it destroys his credibility and his effectiveness.”

January 13, 1850 — Charlotte E. Ray born; ~ Attorney, educator, daughter of prominent abolitionist Reverend Charles Bennett Ray; first black female lawyer in the United States; racial prejudices in Washington D.C. did not allow her to obtain enough business to maintain a viable law practice.

January 14, 1940 – Julian Bond born; ~ educator, civil rights activist, government official; helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960; had to go to the Supreme Court to be allowed to take his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, when that body refused to swear him into his seat because he had endorsed a SNCC statement that decried the war in Vietnam; served in GA government for 20 years (1967-86), writing over 60 bills that became law; co-found and served as president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (1971 to 1979); was chairman of the NAACP (1998 – 2010); now chairman emeritus of the NAACP and president emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  

Notable Bond quotes:

“[Voter ID laws] are racist in intent and aimed at vulnerable people in our population.”

“The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.”

“Violence is Black children going to school for 12 years and receiving 6 years-worth of education.”

January 15, 1929 — Martin Luther King, Jr. born; ~ Baptist minister and prominent civil rights leader (1950’—1968), Nobel Peace Prize winner (1964); as a Morehouse College student, was impressed with Dr. Benjamin Mays’ criticisms of the complacency of the African American community in the face of oppression, and the Black church’s emphasis on the hereafter instead of effective programming and actions for the here and now.

Notable MLK quotes:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: My own Government, I cannot be Silent.”

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”

 “We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. … A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.”

“The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself. It, too, is based on a lack of faith. We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition.”

 January 17, 1931 — Douglas Wilder born; ~ lawyer, politician, first popularly elected African American governor in the United States (Virginia, 1990-1994), after having served as that state’s first popularly elected Black lieutenant governor (1986-1990); was mayor of Richmond, VA (2004-2008).

Notable Wilder words:

“The fear of error is the death of success”

January 17, 1942 — Muhammad Ali born; ~ boxer, human rights activist; was the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions, a title he defended 19 times; citing his religious beliefs, Ali refused induction into the U.S. Army during the war in Vietnam (April, 1967) and was stripped of his championship; Julian Bond later observed, “When a figure as heroic and beloved as Muhammad Ali stood up and said, ‘No, I won’t go,’ it reverberated through the whole society”; was chosen to light the Olympic flame at the start of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia (1996).

Notable Ali words:

“You lose nothing when fighting for a cause … In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about.” 

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

“The man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.” 

“What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming.”  

January 17, 1964Michelle Obama born; ~ attorney, public administrator, executive; the first U.S. African American first lady, wife of Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States.

Notable quotes of Mrs. Obama:

“Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts … good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.”

“We should always have three friends in our lives-one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”

“I never cut class, I loved getting A’s, I liked being smart. I liked being on time. I thought being smart is cooler than anything in the world.”

 “As a mom, I know it is my responsibility, and no one else’s, to raise my kids. But we have to ask ourselves, what does it mean, when so many parents are finding their best efforts undermined by an avalanche of advertisements aimed at our kids.”

“We as parents are our children’s first and best role models, and this is particularly true when it comes to their health. …We can’t lie around on the couch eating French fries and candy bars and expect our kids to eat carrots and run around the block.”

“Cute (is) good. But cute only lasts for so long, and then it’s, ‘Who are you as a person?’ Don’t look at the bankbook or the title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul. When you’re dating a man, you should always feel good. … You shouldn’t be in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t make you completely happy and make you feel whole.”

 January 18, 1858 — Dr. Daniel Hale Williams born; ~ physician/surgeon, performed the first prototype open-heart surgery (July 10, 1893); founder of first interracial hospital in U.S. (Provident, 1891), with training for Black interns and nurse.

Notable Williams quote:

“There is nothing that our people cannot do once given the chance. They make the best soldiers; they could make the best surgeons too.” (These were Dr. Williams’ words to Booker T. Washington, as he tried in vain to persuade Washington to allow him to open a surgical clinic at Tuskegee where he could save Black lives and teach Black surgeons.From the book, Daniel Hale Williams: Negro Surgeon, by Helen Buckler

January 19, 1918 — John H. Johnson born; ~ Magazine editor (Negro Digest/Ebony/Jet) and book publisher, multi-faceted entrepreneur; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996.

Notable Johnson quotes:

“I believe that living on the edge, living in and through your fear, is the summit of life, and that people who refuse to take that dare condemn themselves to a life of living death.” — From 

“Anything that keeps kids from participating is a bad thing.”

“For you are stronger than you think you are. And what you need-what all men and women need-is an irrevocable act that forces you, on pain of disgrace, jail, or death to be the best you that you can be.”

“I’m convinced that the only way to get ahead in this world is to live and sell dangerously. You’ve got to live beyond your means. You’ve got to commit yourself to an act or vision that pulls you further than you want to go and forces you to use your hidden strengths.”

January 21, 1951— Eric Holder born; ~ attorney, first African American to serve as U.S. attorney general.

Notable Holder quotes:

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

“I don’t even talk about whether or not racial profiling is legal. I just don’t think racial profiling is a particularly good law enforcement tool.”

“One of the things I learned is that you’ve got to deal with the underlying social problems if you want to have an impact on crime – that it’s not a coincidence that you see the greatest amount of violent crime where you see the greatest amount of social dysfunction.”

” . . . in recent years — black male offenders have received sentences that are nearly 20 percent longer than those imposed on white males convicted of similar crimes. . . . Too many people go to too many prisons for far too long for no good law enforcement reason. . . . We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, to rehabilitate, and to deter — and not simply to warehouse and forget.”  (At the National Action Network Convention, 4-4-2013)

January 22, 1931 — Sam Cooke born; ~ entertainer, gospel singer (Soul Stirrers) & rhythm-and –blues singer, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur; one of the most influential entertainers of the 1950s, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

January 26, 1892 (some sources say 1893) — Bessie Coleman born; ~ aviation pioneer, stunt pilot, first American woman to obtain an international pilot’s license; went to France to get her pilot’s license because of the bigotry of those in U.S. aviation who opposed her training because she was a woman and because she was Black; no Black U.S. aviator would train her either.

Quotes of Ms. Coleman:

“I refused to take no for an answer.”

“I decided Blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had to face, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other Black women to fly.”

“The air is the only place free from prejudices.”

January 26, 1944 — Angela Davis born;  ~ educator, political activist, author, specialized in “the history of consciousness.”

Notable quotes of Ms. Davis:

 “My name became known because I was, one might say, accidentally the target of state repression and because so many people throughout the country and other parts of the world organized around the demand for my freedom.”

“A fair trial would have been no trial at all.” (After being acquitted on murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges)

“The work of the political activist inevitably involves a certain tension between the requirement that positions be taken on current issues as they arise and the desire that one’s contributions will somehow survive the ravages of time.”

 “But . . . you can’t assume that making a difference 20 years ago is going to allow you to sort of live on the laurels of those victories for the rest of your life.”

“Media mystifications should not obfuscate a simple, perceivable fact; Black teenage girls do not create poverty by having babies. Quite the contrary, they have babies at such a young age precisely because they are poor–because they do not have the opportunity to acquire an education, because meaningful, well-paying jobs and creative forms of recreation are not accessible to them … because safe, effective forms of contraception are not available to them.”

 “Jails and prisons are designed to break human being, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo – obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other.”

“What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.”

January 30, 1919Margaret Bush Wilson born; ~ civil rights activist, attorney; first African American female chair of the NAACP board of directors (1975–83); the second black woman to practice law in Missouri; was tracked by the FBI as a “national security concern” beginning in the 1940’s, which accumulated more than 400 documents on her, none of which contained any evidence to justify that “concern”.

Notable quotes of Ms. Wilson:

“If you’ve got character, you’ve got competence, you’ve got accomplishment; these are the only things that make you somebody in this country. It’s got nothing to do with where you came from or who your parents were.”

“The test of our society is not whether we give more to those who already have enough, but whether we give enough to those who have too little”. (Gray Panther viewpoint she often expressed.)

January 31, 1919 – Jackie Robinson born; ~ first African American to play in Major League Baseball since 1889 ( Brooklyn Dadgers,1947); at UCLA, he became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track (1939); when financial difficulties forced him to leave college, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Army and progressed to second lieutenant after 2 years; his army career was cut short when he was court-martialed in relation to his objections with incidents of racial discrimination; left the Army with an honorable discharge; his number “42” is retired throughout MLB teams; he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution in Harlem (1960s); was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, in recognition of his achievements on and off the field.  

Notable Robinson quotes:

“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”

“I don’t think that I or any other Negro, as an American citizen, should have to ask for anything that is rightfully his. We are demanding that we just be given the things that are rightfully ours and that we’re not looking for anything else.”

“I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it–and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist.”

January 31, 1925Benjamin L. Hooks born; ~ jurist, minister, government official; executive director of NAACP (1977 to 1993); participated in sit-ins of the 1950s and early ’60s; appointed to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, becoming the first black FCC commissioner (1972).

Notable Hooks quotes:

“Black men who have succeeded have an obligation to serve as role models for young men entrapped by a vicious cycle of poverty, despair, and hopelessness.”

“Some Blacks lack a real grasp of the bitter struggle that was waged to pry open the corporate doors. The buppies harbor the illusion that their good fortune is solely attributable to their own brilliance and their superior qualifications.”