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  • Only Female Buffalo Soldier

    Who was the first (and only) female buffalo soldier?

    In November 1866, an African American named William Cathey, along with two companions, enlisted in the U.S. Army in St. Louis. Described by the recruiting officer as 5 feet 9 inches tall, with black eyes, hair and complexion, Cathey stated that he was 22 years old and a cook. What Cathey neglected to mention was that he was a she. Following a routine medical exam that must have fallen far short of thorough, Cathay Williams became the first and only known female buffalo soldier, and the only documented African-American woman to serve in the regular Army in the 19th century.

    We know little of Williams’ early life. She was born into slavery in Independence, Mo., in September 1844. She fled her master’s plantation in Jefferson City in 1861, seeking the protection of the Union troops occupying the city. Throughout the Civil War, she worked as a cook and laundress for several Union infantries; records place her in Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Virginia and Georgia. After the war ended, she returned to Missouri.

    We don’t know Williams’ motives for her deception and enlisting in the U.S. Army. She was assigned to Company A of the 38th U.S. Infantry, one of six infantry regiments and two cavalry regiments of black soldiers deployed in the post-Civil War Indian campaigns in the West. In these were the heroic buffalo soldiers. Williams’ company, however, never saw direct combat during her period of service.

    Apparently as hardy as any man in her company, and among the tallest, she marched 536 miles with her unit from Fort Harker, Kan., to Fort Cummings, N.M., over a four-month period in 1867. But service took a toll on her health, and she was hospitalized three times in 1868, ultimately discharged from the Army on a surgeon’s certificate of medical disability. There was no mention of her sex. She claimed later that she confessed her true identity to secure her discharge, but this is not corroborated by any regiment records.

    After her discharge, the civilian Williams found work as a cook, laundress, seamstress and nurse in towns across Colorado. In 1875 she told a journalist her story, which he published in St. Louis the following year. Her poor health persisted, and in 1889 she was hospitalized for a year and a half. In June 1891 she petitioned the government for a military “invalid pension,” claiming that illnesses she had contracted in the Army destroyed her ability to support herself. She signed her pension papers as Cathay Williams but presented William Cathey’s discharge certificate as proof that they were one and the same person. She complained of rheumatism and deafness, purportedly stemming from the smallpox she had contracted while stationed in St. Louis.

    A doctor examined her and disputed both claims. Despite a grisly finding that all 10 of her toes had been amputated, which necessitated her use of a crutch, he felt that she was in overall good health and did not merit a pension. The Pension Bureau agreed, and in 1892 rejected her claim, solely on medical grounds. That she had enlisted and served under false pretenses apparently had no bearing on the bureau’s decision.

    Nothing is known of Cathay Williams after 1892, although she is believed to have died before 1900.


    Cathay Williams was born in 1842 outside Independence, Missouri. Born into slavery she served as a house girl for a wealthy farmer. Things changed however when the Civil War started. Union soldiers would later take the plantation on which Cathay served. Several female servants, including Cathay, were taken to
    Little Rock, Arkansas to cook for the troops. Cathay dutifully served in this capacity, traveled with the army all around the South participating in all aspect of military life to the extent that a woman could. She was eventually sent to Washington to serve as cook and laundress for a general and his staff. While with this
    general she was on the front lines with the troops as they raided the Shenandoah Valley and finally on to St. Louis for an extended stay. During this time, congress passed an act authorizing the establishment of the first all Black units of the military (two Calvary and two Infantry), later to become known as "Buffalo Soldiers".

    In order to provide a living for herself and not be dependent on others, two very important principals to Cathay, she decided it was time to join the army. In November of 1866 she enlisted in the 38th US Infantry as William Cathay". Since there were little or no medical exams required, Cathay was able to successfully
    (at least initially), pull off this disguise. It is said that two others knew of her true identity, a cousin and a friend, but both loyally kept her secret. During Cathay's tour of duty, she performed assignments required of her fellow troops, such as learning to use a musket and guard duty. These skills were essential as her unit was soon deployed to Fort Curnmings in 1867. The 38 was sent to protect immigrants traveling one of the most dangerous routes to California at the time, Cooke's Canyon.

    However, while at Fort Cummings, there was a mutiny among the troops. Several where brought up on charges or jailed. Cathay is not known to be among them. It did however take its toll on her spirit to serve and she decided it was time to get out. She did so by reporting she was ill prompting an exam by
    the post surgeon. It was then her secret was discovered. Cathay Williams was honorably discharged on October 14, 1868 having made her place in history as the first female Buffalo Soldier to serve.
    I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there.
    Marcus Garvey

    satire protected speech soo more fiyah


    • The Life of Khalid Abdul Muhammad

      Of all figures in Black Consciousness, few were as controversial as the former Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam and Chairman of the New Black Panther Party. Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad was a towering intellect, a true warrior of Pan-Africanism, and a courageous visionary. He dared to speak truth to power in the face of his critics and adversaries, and ultimately gave his life in the service of a free and redeemed African peoples.

      Those who feared the power of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad would like us to forget him. Those who hated the truth that Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad spoke would like us to ignore his message. Those who rejected Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad would like us to avoid following in his footsteps.

      It is for those very reasons that we will remember, study, and follow the example of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad.

      At a very early age, Khalid Abdul Muhammad (born name Harold Moore, Jr.) demonstrated exceptional intelligence and athleticism. He was a star quarterback, an Eagle Scout, the President of the Houston Methodist Youth Fellowship, and a talented debater. Upon graduating from Phyllis Wheatley High School in his hometown of Huston, Texas, Khalid was awarded a scholarship to Dillard University (Louisiana) . Even as a full-time student, Khalid would minister sermons at nearby Sloan Memorial Methodist Church. He would continue to minister and study theology until a fateful day in 1970 when he heard the voice of Minister Louis Farrakhan – then the National Representative of Elijah Muhammad.

      The future Minister Khalid Muhammad became a devout Muslim, and was so moved by the message of the Honorable Muhammad that he began evangelizing to anyone and everyone nearby. His passion resulted in a surge in Nation of Islam recruiting throughout the Southern United States, and his devotion earned him the attention of Minister Louis Farrakhan, who enlisted him as his protegé and changed his name to Brother Harold X.

      Rise to Power

      As Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad rose through the ranks of the Nation of Islam, he also rose through the ranks of academia. He traveled to Los Angeles, where he continued his education at Pepperdine University. His academic performance there earned him an Intensive Studies fellowship at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities.

      His education complete, Dr. Muhammad was then promoted within the Nation of Islam to the position of Western Regional Minister in charge of Mosque #27 in Los Angeles. The relationship between him and Minister Louis Farrakhan continued to grow as he proved his loyalty to both the Nation of Islam and the interests of African men and women at home and abroad.

      In 1975, Elijah Muhammad passed into legend, leaving the Nation of Islam divided. Some wanted a more moderate Nation. Others wanted a nation that focused on Orthodox Islamic practice, and nothing more. Some wanted a more militant and activist organization. Such was the case with Louis Farrakhan and Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad. Both men joined forces, along with a small handful of others, to rebuild the Nation of Islam, establish a military force within the organization, and gain greater visibility on the world stage.

      With these objectives in mind, in 1978 Minister Muhammad began travelling the world and training in revolutionary movements. While in Libya, the Minister became well acquainted with Muammar al-Gaddafi, and raised a substantial amount of money for the nation. While in South Africa, the Minister fought alongside anti-apartheid movements, and preached a need to drive out white influence from both the country of South Africa and the continent of Africa itself. He embarked on numerous fact-finding missions to Kemet (Egypt), Jerusalem, and Sub-Saharan Africa. He completed the sacred pilgrimage to the Holy City, Mecca, several times, earning him the title El Hajj Khallid Abdul Muhammad.

      Minister Khalid became a popular world figure – his message was well-received by the crowds that gathered wherever he went, his friendship with Minister Louis Farrakhan cemented, and he became the National Spokesman for the Nation of Islam. In 1983 Minister Louis Farrakhan named him Khallid after the Islamic General Khallid ibn Walid, his name meaning “sword of Allah”.

      The year was 1984, and Dr. Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad’s ascension in the Nation of Islam was complete.

      For all of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad’s merits, his flaws are what most of the world knew him for. Its unclear when Khalid took such a hateful and confrontational stance against Jews specifically, but he had become a confirmed anti-Semite. His speeches became increasingly more hateful and confrontational, much to the disagreement of the Leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan.

      These speeches all came to a head when, in Minister Muhammad delivered a speech at New Jersey’s Kean College in November 1993. The speech, called The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews, was an explosive and fiery oration that attacked the morality, intentions, and involvement of Jews in affairs detrimental to African-Americans.

      Muhammad referred to Jews as people whose ancestors were cannibals who “crawled around on all fours in the caves and hills of Europe” and “slept in [their] urination and [their] defecation … for 2,000 years.” He characterized contemporary Jews as “slumlords in the black community” who were busy “sucking our [blacks’] blood on a daily and consistent basis.” He said that Jews had provoked Adolf Hitler when they “went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped.” And he declared that blacks, in retribution against South African whites of the apartheid era, should “kill the women,…kill the children,…kill the babies,…kill the blind,…kill the crippled,…kill the faggot,…kill the lesbian,…kill them all.”

      Rather than declining in popularity after making these statements, Khalid Abdul Muhammad became a sought after speaker on college campuses. In January 1994 he stated that blacks should slaughter all white South Africans, bury them, and then dig up their bodies and mutilate them further. A month after that, he was invited to speak at Howard University, the preeminent traditionally black university in the United States.

      He called Black Conservatives “boot-licking, butt-licking, bamboozled, half-baked, half-fried, sissified, punkified, pasteurized, homogenized Niggers.” On May 21, 1997 he told a San Francisco State University audience that the “white man” is “a no-good bastard. He’s not a devil, the white man is the Devil.” In September 1997 he said, “If you say you’re white, goddammit I’m against you. If you’re a Jew, I’m against you. Whatever the hell you want to call yourself, I’m against you.”

      “When white folks can’t defeat you,” he said, “they’ll always find some Negro, some boot-licking, butt-licking, bamboozled, half-baked, half-fried, sissified, punkified, pasteurized, homogenized Nigger that they can trot out in front of you.”

      “Never will I say I am not an anti-Semite,” Muhammad told an audience in Baltimore in February 1998. “Whatever he (the Jew) is, goddamn it, I’m against him. I pray for my enemy all the time. I pray that God will kill my enemy and take him off the face of the planet Earth.”

      Khalid Abdul Muhammad had become a Black Hitler in his anti-Semitism and racism. Now, not only was Khalid Abdul Muhammad a Supreme Leader within the Nation of Islam – he was also a wildly popular media figure among the Black Left. Unfortunately, as is often the case, this fairy tale of Black solidarity would not last long.

      Expulsion, Assassination Attempt, and Death

      Following Muhammad’s speech at Kean College in 1993, The United States Senate unanimously passed House Resolution 343 on delivered in February 1994 condemning his speech. Muhammad became the only private citizen in American history to be officially condemned by means of a resolution. Immediately after the United States rejected the Minister, so to did Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan removed Khalid Abdul Muhammad from his position as second in command, silenced him, and reassigned him to Chicago headquarters. Louis Farrakhan then addressed the NOI with this statement on the Kean College Speech:

      “I found the speech, after listening to it in context, vile in manner, repugnant, malicious, mean-spirited and spoken in mockery of individuals and people, which is against the spirit of Islam. While I stand by the truths that he spoke, I must condemn in the strongest terms the manner in which those truths were represented.”

      Khalid was unofficially removed from all positions of authority within the Nation, but he was far from silenced. Muhammad praised Colin Ferguson, a Black man who shot and killed 6 white commuters in 1993 on a New York commuter train, as a hero who possessed the courage to “just kill every goddamn cracker that he saw.” The Minister hit the airwaves and told members of the Donahue television audience in May 1994 that “there is a little bit of Hitler in all white people.” He headed back to California where he gave a rousing speech at the at the University of California at Riverside on May 29, 1994. In attendance was a former Nation of Islam member, James Bess.

      According to the police report, James Edward Bess, 49, of Tacoma, Washington approached Minister Khalid as he exited the venue and fired a volley of shots from a concealed 9 millimeter pistol. Three bullets struck Khalid in the leg (Doctors would remove two bullet fragments from just below Muhammad’s left knee in a two-hour operation). Four of Mr. Muhammad’s security guards and a bystander were also shot – none fatally. Mr. Muhammad’s then 9-year-old son, Farrakhan (who now goes by the name of Farrah Gray), was standing nearby when the shooting started but was not injured.

      The audience attacked James as he attempted to close in on the stage. His gun was seized, and the students in attendance savagely beat him. The Los Angeles Times reported that he “suffered from a severe beating by the audience that had come to hear Mr. Muhammad’s speech. Mr. Bess had a broken shoulder and internal injures and had lost several teeth.”

      Khalid Abdul Muhammad underwent a speedy recovery, and found a new organizational home beyond the Nation of Islam as the Chairman of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP). Prior to his involvement, the New Black Panthers had struggled with finding their organizational footing, but Muhammad brought the NBPP national media exposure when he led the organization in a menacing public protest – featuring some 50 men wearing fatigues and berets, and brandishing assault rifles and shotguns – in response to the racially motivated, June 1998 murder of a black man named James Byrd in Jasper, Texas.

      His second in command, Malik Zulu Shabazz, gave the organization its administrative and philosophical footing, and the organization continues to stand strong today.

      Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad continued to fight aggressively on behalf of Pan-African principles and spoke truth to power until his sudden death at the age of 53. Statements claim that his death was due to a brain aneurism, but others believe poisoning and foul play were the true causes.

      Minister Khallid Abdul Muhammad left behind his wife, Queen Nefertari Muhammad, his three sisters; Gloria Glenn from Los Angeles, Cynthia Moore Kelly from Los Angeles, KaShelia Moore Jackson from Houston, Texas; his two brothers, Frank Moore Claybourne from Los Angeles, Darington Moore Smith from Los Angeles; father-in-law, Mr. Thomas Ambush of Cedric Maryland; and his children, David and mother Mattie Morris Van, Khalfani and mother Mahasin Rushiddin, and Farrakhan Khallid (Farrah Gray), Malik, Kiki, Amir, Ali and mother Khallidah Muhammad; four grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, friends, and all of us.

      The Legacy of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad

      The New Black Panther Party has been rejected, criticized, and clowned. Negroes have called the New Black Panther Party extremist. Insane. Militant. Dangerous. Cowardly negroes have always called for peace and quiet in the face of injustice, genocide, and deadly racism.

      The New Black Panther Party is the legacy of Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad. While even the original Black Panther Party has rejected the party and the Minister, while even the Nation of Islam has condemned Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad, while Black mainstream culture has laughed at Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad, and while even his own family members have abandoned the example set by Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad, he and his organization stand alone as shining examples of courage.

      United Black America acknowledges the New Black Panther Party as the successor to the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. And it is for his dedication to duty, exceptional leadership by example, and unselfish service to his people that we commemorate the birthdate of El Hajj Doctor Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad as a Pan-African holiday.

      You may call him a homophobe, a racist, an extremist, a terrorist (in fact, he appreciated being called a “Truth Terrorist”!), and an anti-Semite. But Khalid gave his life in service. Never had Khalid shed any blood. Never had Khalid failed to help his people whenever and wherever it was needed. Never did he back down. For these reasons, we remember him. We honor him. We Salute him.

      He deserves no less. We deserve no less.
      I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there.
      Marcus Garvey

      satire protected speech soo more fiyah


      • Samuel Burris was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century best known for his own narrow escape from possible slavery while helping a fugitive slave. Born in Willow Grove, Kent County, Delaware in 1808, Burris was a free black man. He moved his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in 1845 began to actively assist the Underground Railroad. His assignment was to return to Delaware and Maryland and lead fugitives to safe houses in Pennsylvania.

        Burris worked closely with William Still (a well-known abolitionist and conductor on the Railroad) and Thomas Garrett in this dangerous endeavor. Although slavery was gradually being phased out of Delaware at that time, it was still illegal to participate in the Underground Railroad. The maximum punishment for a free African American doing so in Delaware was being sold into slavery for seven years.

        Burris was caught in 1847 while helping Maria Mathews, a slave escaping from Dover Hundred, a plantation near the state capitol, Dover. He was immediately imprisoned in Dover, and forced to await trial for 14 months. When he was tried, he was found guilty and sentenced to be sold into slavery for the standard period of time.

        Unknown to Burris at the time, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society collected enough money to purchase his freedom. A member of the Society, Isaac A. Flint, attended the state auction in which Burris was to be sold. Flint posed as a slave trader and was so convincing in this role that he fooled state officials and even fooled Burris as he thoroughly examined Burris’s body and then actively bid on him. Flint managed to “win” Burris and the two promptly returned to Philadelphia.

        Burris remained in Philadelphia until 1852, when he moved his family to California. Although he had stopped participating directly in the Underground Railroad after narrowly escaping from his own possible enslavement, Burris continued to support the abolition cause in his new home state. He also remained in contact with William Still throughout the rest of his life.

        During and after the Civil War, Burris raised funds through black churches in Northern California to assist African Americans affected by the conflict. The funds were often used to feed and shelter former slaves recently freed by the Union Army.
        Samuel Burris died in San Francisco, California in 1869. He was 60.

        Ann Klimas, “People of the Underground Railroad in Maryland” (2014), retrieved from Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad:; Russ Pickett, “Samuel Burris” (2007), retrieved from; The State of Delaware,” The People vs Samuel D. Burris” (2014), retrieved from State of Delaware: The Official Website of the First State:
        I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there.
        Marcus Garvey

        satire protected speech soo more fiyah


        • Free black man who helped scores of slaves escape to the North on the Underground Railroad to be officially pardoned

          Samuel Burris was a free black man who was caught trying to help a slave escape Delaware in 1847
          Nearly 170 years after his arrest, Delaware governor Jack Markell plans to officially pardon Burris
          After Burris' arrest, a man bought his freedom and he was allowed to return to his family in Pennsylvania a free man again
          Burris is said to have continued helping slaves escape to the North even after his arrest, risking possible enslavement himself or even death

          Not even the threat of being sold into slavery could stop Samuel Burris, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, from helping slaves to freedom in the 19th century.

          A free black man, Burris was caught helping a slave try to escape from Delaware in 1847.

          After Burris was tried and found guilty of enticing slaves to escape, part of his sentence was that he be sold into slavery for seven years.

          Instead, a Pennsylvania anti-slavery society raised the money to purchase him and set him free.

          And Burris went right back to helping slaves escape.

          Now, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has decided to posthumously pardon Burris for that long ago conviction, according to two people who have sought that step.

          Ocea Thomas of Atlanta said in a telephone interview Tuesday that she received a phone call last weekend letting her know Markell would pardon Burris, who died in the 1860s and was one of Thomas' ancestors.

          Phone and email messages left Tuesday for Markell's spokeswoman, Kelly Bachman, were not immediately returned.

          Thomas says she became emotional after learning that Burris, the brother of her great-great grandmother, would be pardoned.

          'I stood there and cried. It was pride. It was relief. I guess justification. All of that,' Thomas said.

          Robin Krawitz, a historian at Delaware State University who is writing a book about Burris, said historians don't know exactly how many slaves Burris helped escape but they do know he continued his work even after his conviction, at great personal risk.

          Slaveholders and sympathizers eventually complained to the state legislature, saying Burris hadn't stopped enticing slaves to leave their masters.

          Burris left the state when lawmakers responded with a law that could have brought a lashing so severe it would have been tantamount to a death sentence.

          Thomas, Burris' relative, says she was told the pardon will take place on November 2, the anniversary of Burris' conviction.

          The state had already been planning to unveil a historical marker honoring Burris that day.

          The marker will be placed in Delaware's Kent County, near where Burris grew up.

          Robert Seeley, of Havertown, Pennsylvania, who had asked the governor earlier this year to pardon Burris and two other men, confirmed that he'd also been contacted about the pardon.

          'It's a victory. It brings honor to the Burris family and it brings justice for Samuel Burris and his descendants. It's making a wrong a right finally,' Seeley said.

          Seeley had asked the governor to pardon Burris as well as two others who had worked to get slaves to freedom: John Hunn and Thomas Garrett, one of Seeley's relatives who is credited with helping more than 2,000 slaves escape.

          Seeley says he got the idea after outgoing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn granted clemency to three abolitionists convicted for hiding and helping escaped slaves.

          Seeley says he's been working with Markell's office but that the governor can't issue a pardon in Hunn and Garrett's cases because they were tried in federal court, not state court.

          He says President Barack Obama would need to pardon them and that he plans to continue to work on a pardon in their case.

          'Even if it comes out to be a proclamation or a declaration or not an official presidential pardon, so be it. We'll see what we can do,' he said, adding there is 'a lot of red tape.'

          I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there.
          Marcus Garvey

          satire protected speech soo more fiyah


          • Before Rosa Parks: 6 Facts About Civil Rights Activist Mary Louise Smith and the Other Women Who Refuse To Be Moved

            Mary Louise Smith (born in 1937)

            On Oct. 21 1955, Smith boarded a Montgomery bus on her way home. The bus driver asked Smith to give up her seat to a white passenger but she refused to do so. At only 18-years-old, Smith became one of the sparks of the burgeoning civil rights movement when she was arrested for defying the unjust segregation law. Her father bailed her out of jail and they took immediate action. This event happened only 40 days before Rosa Parks was arrested. Smith did not become the face of the movement because her father was an alcoholic and the NAACP thought that would not look well.

            Aurelia Browder (Jan. 29, 1919 – Feb. 4, 1971)

            Browder was one of the first women to defy the segregation law. On April 19, 1955, she decided not to give up her seat for a white passenger eight months before Parks. What makes Browder different from her counterparts is that she was a civil rights activist before her arrest. While attending Alabama State University, Browder became close friends with activist Jo Ann Gibson Robinson who inspired her to get involved in tutoring Black voters who needed help reading. She was diligent in her efforts to eliminate the poll tax charged to registered voters. She transported voters to the polls and would-be voters for registration, according to Civil Rights Movement Veterans.

            Claudette Colvin (born Sept. 5, 1939)

            Nine months before Parks, Colvin was the first woman on record to refuse to give up her seat. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was seated near the emergency exit on the bus along with a pregnant woman, Ruth Hamilton. The bus was filling up and a white woman wanted to sit where Colvin was. The bus driver wanted both Hamilton and Colvin to move and both women refused to relinquish their seats. An man sitting behind them allowed Hamilton to take his seat. However, at 15, Colvin decided to take a stand by not giving up her seat and was arrested for it. “And I said, ‘I paid my fare and it’s my constitutional right,’ ” she recalls. “I remember they dragged me off bus because I refused to walk. They handcuffed me and took me to an adult jail.”

            Why Rosa Parks?

            Parks was a 42-year-old professional and an officer in the NAACP. She was the symbol that civil rights leaders were looking for. In an interview with NPR, Colvin believes that the NAACP thought that she was too militant and Parks was mild and genteel. “Later, I had a child born out of wedlock. I became pregnant when I was 16,” Colvin says. “And I didn’t fit the image either, of, you know, someone they would want to show off.”

            Browder v. Gayle

            Smith, Colvin and Browder were plaintiffs in the case along with Susie McDonald, another woman who also refused to give up her seat in 1955. On Feb. 1, 1956, civil rights attorney Fred Gray started the process that would take most of the year to show any real results. A few months later, on June 13, 1956, the District Court ruled that “the enforced segregation of black and white passengers on motor buses operating in the City of Montgomery violates the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The court decided that the precedent of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) could be applied to the Browder case. The U.S. Supreme Court went on to affirm the decision in December.


            After the court decision, the Montgomery bus boycott was officially over. However, the Browder case changed the lives of the women involved. Smith went on to be a prominent activist leading the charge for Black voters and being involved with the 1963 March on Washington. Browder also had a long career in the NAACP, MIA and SCLC. However, Colvin did not fair so well. She had to move to New York because the case brought too much attention to her. Within the Black community, Colvin was called a troublemaker. She could not find work or support her son. While in New York, she forged a life and had a long career as a nurse’s aide.


            I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there.
            Marcus Garvey

            satire protected speech soo more fiyah


            • Sophia Charlotte, the First Black Queen of England

              According to, Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was born on May 19, 1744 in Morow, Germany. She was the child of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Elizabeth Albertine. Queen Charlotte was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.

              Although intelligent, Charlotte was reported to have received a very mediocre education. Her father, Duke Charles, died when she was but eight-years-old, and was succeeded as Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz by her half-brother Adolphus Frederick III.

              Her Portrait and Features

              Portraits of Queen Charlotte came under much scrutiny as evidence of her African ancestry were to be hidden, especially in paintings of her. Painters such as Sir Thomas Lawrence, who painted Queen Charlotte in the autumn of 1789, had their paintings rejected by the royal couple who were not happy with the representations of the likeness of the Queen.

              Mario de Valdes y Cocom, a historian of the African diaspora, wrote that “the Negroid characteristics of the Queen’s portraits certainly had political significance since artists of that period were expected to play down, soften or even obliterate undesirable features in a subject’s face.” Sir Allan Ramsay was the artist responsible for the majority of the paintings of the Queen and his representations of her were the most decidedly African of all her portraits.

              She was often described as small and thin with a dark complexion and flared nostrils. Queen Charlotte’s personal physician, Baron Stockmar, described her in his autobiography, as having “a true mulatto face”.

              Her Reign

              African-American registry notes that Queen Charlotte’s letters indicate that she was well read and had interest in the fine arts. The Queen is known to have supported and been taught music by Johann Christian Bach. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at age eight dedicated his Opus 3 piece to the Queen at her request. Queen Charlotte helped to establish Kew Gardens, bringing among others, the Strelitzia Reginae, a flowering plant from South Africa.

              Queen Charlotte’s legacy continues to live on. The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is named after Queen Charlotte and nicknamed The Queen City. Additionally, the Queen Charlotte Maternity hospital was established in London.
              I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there.
              Marcus Garvey

              satire protected speech soo more fiyah


              • How Slave Labor Made New York

                From the Lehman brothers to Tiffany's founder, the city's early titans benefited from toiling blacks.
                By: Peter Alan Harper

                (The Root) -- The next time some right-wing commentator (Pat Buchanan, are you listening?) bellows about how white people built America, a tour of New York City could be used to point out how the slave trade (i.e., the labor of enslaved Africans) contributed to the creation of this country's financial center.

                The very name "Wall Street" is born of slavery, with enslaved Africans building a wall in 1653 to protect Dutch settlers from Indian raids. This walkway and wooden fence, made up of pointed logs and running river to river, later was known as Wall Street, the home of world finance. Enslaved and free Africans were largely responsible for the construction of the early city, first by clearing land, then by building a fort, mills, bridges, stone houses, the first city hall, the docks, the city prison, Dutch and English churches, the city hospital and Fraunces Tavern. At the corner of Wall Street and Broadway, they helped erect Trinity Church.

                In 1711 the city's Common Council established a Meal Market at Wall and Water streets for hiring slave labor and auctioning enslaved Africans who disembarked in Manhattan after their arduous trans-Atlantic journey. The merchants used these laborers to operate the port and in such trades as ship carpentry and printing, according to the National Park Service. Africans, according to the Park Service, also engaged in heavy transport, construction work, domestic labor, farming and milling. Their efforts were part of the euphemistically titled Triangular Trade: Africans living on what was then called the Gold Coast -- with Africans being considered black gold -- were bought using New England rum; the Africans were sold in the West Indies to work the fields to create sugar and molasses; and the sugarcane products were taken to New York and New England to be made into rum.

                Pier 17 on the East River was a disembarkation point, as were all other slips and docks along lower Manhattan where the Hudson and East rivers rippled by. Today the pier is known as the South Street Seaport, a popular destination for gift-buying tourists who just happen to be visiting where enslaved Africans first touched land in chains.

                The history of the area is described in Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited From Slavery -- a book that details how deeply the slave trade was entrenched in America's economy -- by veteran newspaper journalists Anne Farrow, Joel Lang and Jenifer Frank. The authors wrote: "From 1825 on, in volume and value of imports and exports, the seaport of South Street outdid the combined trade of its two closest competitors in Boston and Philadelphia ... long before civil war loomed, New York, after London and Paris, had become the third major city of the western world. Its glory was built largely of bricks of cotton," the product of backbreaking labor.

                "From seed to cloth, Northern merchants, shippers, and financial institutions, many based in New York, controlled nearly every aspect of cotton production and trade," the authors continued. "Only large banks, generally located in Manhattan, or in London, could extend to plantation owners the credit they needed between planting and selling their crop ... slaves were usually bought on credit."

                The Buttonwood Agreement, which started what became the New York Stock Exchange, was signed in 1792 under a buttonwood tree in front of 68 Wall Street, about a block away from the slave market at the intersection of Wall and Water streets. The agreement covered transactions and companies involved in the slave trade, including shipping, insurance and cotton.

                Granted, many white folks did indeed help build America -- as they profited from slavery. John Jacob Astor, who was born in Germany in 1763, became America's first multimillionaire, making his fortune in furs, the China trade and cotton transportation, part of the slave trade. Astor, who died at age 84 in 1848, is the namesake of the Waldorf Astoria hotel and neighborhoods in New York City.

                Moses Taylor, who helped finance the illegal slave trade, had his offices at 55 South Street, now part of the 111 Wall Street complex. His decades-long banking operations evolved into Citibank. He sat on the boards of firms that became Con Edison, Bethlehem Steel and AT&T, according to Alan J. Singer's New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth. When Taylor died in 1882, at age 76, his estate was worth $40 million to $50 million, or roughly $44 billion in current calculations.

                Singer also explained how Philip Livingston of Dutchess County, just north of New York City, was "probably the New York merchant most involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade." Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, endowed Yale University's first professorship using his slave-based wealth. He was also a founder of King's College, which later became Columbia University, and his name is found on homes and estates, some of them now historical sites, in the Hudson Valley and on Livingston Street in Brooklyn Heights.

                There were also the three siblings -- Henry Lehman and his two brothers, Mayer and Emanuel -- who had emigrated from Germany to Alabama and, by 1850, formed Lehman Brothers, a merchandising business that quickly evolved into a cotton-brokerage firm. In 1870 the two surviving brothers moved to New York and helped establish the New York Cotton Exchange, the first commodities-futures trading venture. The company also helped found the Coffee Exchange and the Petroleum Exchange. (Their international investment firm died in 2008 as the great recession got under way.)

                Another of the era's top businessmen, Charles L. Tiffany, got the financing to open a fancy-goods store in 1837 at 259 Broadway from his father, who operated a cotton mill in eastern Connecticut using cotton picked by Southern slave labor. Thus, slave profits were instrumental in launching what became Tiffany & Co., the internationally renowned jeweler, whose current New York City offices are on Fifth Avenue and at 37 Wall Street.

                In his book, Singer also explained: "The founders of Brown Bros. Harriman ... built the bank by lending millions of dollars to Southern planters and arranging for the shipment and sale of slave-grown cotton in New England and Great Britain" during the 1800s. When the bank took control of three Louisiana plantations at one point, it also got 346 enslaved Africans.

                And finally, after all that work, whites got to enjoy New York as the city played host to the 100,000 planters and their families who came north for cooler weather during the summer. Hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues geared up for their special visitors, offering Southern hospitality up north, as plantation owners rested from ordering about the people who were essential in creating America and its wealth.

                Peter Alan Harper is a New York-based writer.

                I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there.
                Marcus Garvey

                satire protected speech soo more fiyah


                • Slavery in New York: Uncovering the brutal truth

                  by: Martin Frazier

                  NEW YORK — Wall Street and much of this city’s renowned financial district were built on the burial ground of African slaves. New York’s prosperity stems in large part from the grotesque profits of the African slave trade and African enslavement.

                  This is the inescapable conclusion one draws from the evidence presented in a major exhibition on “Slavery in New York,” which opened here Oct. 7 and runs through March 5. Hosted by the New-York Historical Society, the exhibition is the most impressive display ever mounted on slavery in the Empire State and in New York City in particular.

                  The exhibition features public programs, walking tours, educational materials and programs for school, college and adult learners. It explores the vital role that slave trading, the labor of enslaved people, and slavery’s integration with everyday commerce played from 1600 to 1827 in making New York the wealthiest city in the world.

                  Hidden history

                  For a phenomenon that should be common knowledge, the role of New York in the Atlantic slave trade is buried deep in the underground of U.S. history and outside of the consciousness of many New Yorkers. Each year thousands of students in the nation’s largest school system study the history of New York with hardly a mention of this city’s experience with slavery.

                  Granted, slavery in America has traditionally been identified as a Southern phenomenon. Yet there were more enslaved Africans in New York before the American Revolution than any other city except Charleston, S.C. During this period, 1 out of every 5 New Yorkers was enslaved. At one point, 40 percent of colonial New York’s households owned slaves.

                  A jolting discovery

                  The discovery of the African Burial Ground in the heart of New York’s financial district in 1991 put the spotlight on the forgotten dark underbelly of the epicenter of U.S. and global capitalism. The huge, 18th-century burial ground uncovered during painstaking excavations — following the abortive construction of a skyscraper on the site — eventually revealed the skeletal remains of some 419 Africans, a large proportion of them women and children.

                  At that time the city consisted of the southern tip of Manhattan, stretching up to where today’s City Hall sits. The burial ground extends from Broadway southward under City Hall, and almost to the site of the former World Trade Center, in close proximity to the Wall Street financial center.

                  The African cemeteries in the Wall Street area were buried long ago when surrounding hills were flattened and the soil deposited there as foundation for buildings that now serve as a major nerve center of the world economy. It is believed that there are as many as 20,000 slavery-era Africans in graves under the constellation of buildings in lower Manhattan.

                  Manhattan Island had a population of enslaved Africans almost from the very beginning of settlement in 1624. The findings of scientists examining the graves show that enslaved Africans lived agonizing lives. They were overworked and underfed. Many died young. The average life expectancy of Africans of that era was 37 years.

                  Slavery’s global reach

                  The largest forced migration in world history, the Atlantic slave trade involved an estimated 40,000 ships, carrying an average of 80 persons a day for more than 400 years. The astounding profits from this trade fueled the industrial revolution in England and later in Europe and the United States.

                  New York’s strategic geographical position, its proximity to other American colonial settlements, as well as its network of inland waterways, made it a prime center for the slave trade and the accumulation of capital from very early on. The Empire City was an important nexus in a far-flung web commanded by the Dutch Wast India Company. That web involved a base in Angola on Africa’s Atlantic shore, a base in Brazil in South America, and one in Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean.

                  The first slaves arrived in what was then known as New Amsterdam around 1627. These enslaved Africans worked for the Dutch West India Company rather than for individuals. In addition to building the wall that gives Wall Street its name — a wall of timber and earthwork along the northern boundary of New Amsterdam — slaves cleared Manhattan’s forests, turned up the soil for farming, built roads and constructed buildings. Without slave labor New Amsterdam might not have survived.

                  As a rule, unlike the slaves of the South, New York slaves did not live in quarters with large numbers of other Black people, but in kitchens or back rooms of their owners’ houses. Many white New Yorkers owned one or two slaves.

                  Cruel repression

                  But Northern slavery was no less cruel than its Southern counterpart. Coercive measures were harsh. A litany of repressive and restrictive laws were passed from time to time by New York City Common Council, including laws that forbade Africans from owning significant property or bequeathing what they did own to their offspring, and laws banning gatherings of more than three people of African descent. Restrictions of movement included requiring them to carry lanterns after dark and to remain south of what is now Worth Street.

                  Sentences of what were characterized then as “horrible” public executions for theft, arson, murdering a slave master, or conspiracy to revolt were issued and carried out from time to time.

                  Slave rebellions

                  Yet enslaved Africans resisted at every point of the slave trade and in the New World. There was a tight clandestine network of the Underground Railroad operating in the city, with Brooklyn being an important hub.

                  One of the high points of this resistance came in 1712, in what New York’s Royal Gov. Robert Hunter described as a “bloody conspiracy” of some of the slaves of the city “to destroy as many of the inhabitants as they could ... to revenge themselves for some hard usage they apprehended to have received from their Masters.” Twenty-three slaves met about midnight on April 6, 1712, and set fire to several buildings in the middle of town. When whites came to put out the fires, they were ambushed. Nine whites were slain on the spot, and about a dozen others were wounded. The rebels fled, but most were soon captured.

                  The rebellion led to further repression. Nineteen slaves were executed by burning at the stake or hanging. Two were targeted for special treatment. “One [was] broke on the wheele and one hung alive in chains in the town,” explained Gov. Hunter, pointing out that these measures were “the most exemplary punishment inflicted that could be possibly thought of.”

                  And in 1741, following a series of rumors about what was referred to as the “Great Negro Plot” to burn down the city, the authorities fixed blame on the growing slave male population. Seventeen slaves were hanged and 13 burned at the stake.

                  The profits of slavery

                  The exhibition takes viewers through the various stages of New York’s evolution — from a Dutch colony under the management of the Dutch West India Company, to a British colony, to the American Revolution, to the early settlements of free Blacks in New York City.

                  From the beginning, virtually every New York business was involved with slavery in one way or another. The enslavement enterprise involved a myriad of activities, including direct trading in slaves; harvesting, processing, packing foodstuffs for the slave trade; and using slave labor in craft workshops. It included supplying slave plantations in the West Indies and North America with grains, tools and manufactured foods.

                  The city’s slave trade involved building and maintaining ships that carried trade between New York, Europe, Caribbean and Africa, and borrowing, lending and insuring the vessels. It included advertising for the sale of slaves and the recapture of runaways. Advertisements of slaves for purchase were a major source of revenue for 18th-century newspapers in New York.

                  On display are ledger books of slave voyages, ads for runaway slaves, and implements and household objects produced by the enslaved. Almost everything was grown or produced with enslaved labor — cheese, tobacco, rum, sugar, cloth, butter, clothes. These goods were carried here on ships owned by slave traders. With a system of an enormous unpaid labor force that kept stores well stocked and prices fairly low, the entire economy of the city was built on slavery.

                  In a quite appropriate multimedia section of the display, a market ticker scrolls across the bottom of a video screen, as you might see on a CNN or MSNBC newscast, reflecting the trade of enslaved humans from the coast of Africa to South America, the Caribbean, North America and specifically to colonial Wall Street.

                  The slave trade was enormously profitable for the traders, shipbuilders, bankers, and insurers who made it possible. At its peak the margin of profit soared just above 369 percent. At its ebb the profit margin was still a whopping 94 percent. For example, in 1675, a slave could be purchased in Africa for today’s equivalent of $355 and later sold in New York for $3,793.

                  Abolitionism and justice

                  Slavery also bred a humanitarian response. The existence of slavery in New York gave rise to a vibrant abolitionist movement, which is also depicted in the exhibition.

                  However, the end of slavery in New York did not come easily or quickly. Well-positioned New Yorkers who thrived on the slave economy fought to maintain the system to the very end. As a consequence, slavery ended, but not before the New York Legislature passed two pieces of legislation delaying its end until July 4, 1827. This action pointed the way, in turn, for other Northern states to adopt a system of gradual emancipation as well.

                  No doubt “Slavery in New York” will give further impetus and focus to the reparations movement. In speaking of the significance of the African Burial Ground, Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has suggested that the shipping and insurance companies who profited so handsomely from the transport of slaves have a moral and legal obligation to compensate the slaves’ descendants.

                  The exhibition has been characterized as “phase one” of a two-year initiative of the New-York Historical Society, located at 170 Central Park West at 77th Street, on slavery and New York. We can only greet the first installment of this initiative and look forward to the next.

                  I have no desire to take all black people back to Africa; there are blacks who are no good here and will likewise be no good there.
                  Marcus Garvey

                  satire protected speech soo more fiyah


                    What nonsense! How can you have a revolution without shooting people ? Lenin 26th October 1917...
                    If Christians go to heaven, I do not want to go to Heaven: Hatuey. 2/02/1512


                      Last edited by Wahalla; 11-19-2015, 12:49 PM.
                      What nonsense! How can you have a revolution without shooting people ? Lenin 26th October 1917...
                      If Christians go to heaven, I do not want to go to Heaven: Hatuey. 2/02/1512



                        Baldwin speaks....

                        at 30.20 he makes a point of why i am a history buff... i question, reexamine, reevaluate, every thing.... ok that is out of context
                        Last edited by Wahalla; 11-19-2015, 01:15 PM.
                        What nonsense! How can you have a revolution without shooting people ? Lenin 26th October 1917...
                        If Christians go to heaven, I do not want to go to Heaven: Hatuey. 2/02/1512


                        • I was reading a bit on Baldwin and discovered a poet called Countee Cullen....

                          Then started reading discoveing a the " Handsomest man in Harlem" Harold Jackman


                          A Queer Harlem Poet’s Renaissance and Fall

                          Added by Gay City News on November 21, 2012.
                          Saved under Books
                          Tags: Arna Bontemps, Carl Van Vechten, Charles Molesworth,Countée Cullen, Edward Perry, Harlem Renaissance, Harold Jackman, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Yolande Du Bois
                          Share This Post


                          Published by the University of Chicago Press.
                          BY DOUG IRELAND| Fresh scholarship illuminating the queer writers and artists at the core of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s continues to throw into sharp relief some of that important cultural moment’s unjustly forgotten talents.
                          Hard on the heels of Emily Bernard’s important “Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance” (see my September 26-October 9 review, “A Queer Bridge for Racial Divides”) comes now the first full-length biography of Countée Cullen, the gifted poetic prodigy who began to win fame when he was only 20 and died in 1946 at the young age of 42 of a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by hypertension.
                          Although Cullen was one of America’s most admired poets in the 1920s, his struggle to survive the penury of the Great Depression dried up his poetic talent, and he spent the last decade of his life in comparative obscurity as a teacher of French in Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Junior High School — where James Baldwin was one of his admiring students — having failed to obtain the university post he deserved and which would have allowed him the time to pursue his poetic quest.
                          It is not easy to write a biography of a man who left no diaries or journals in which he recorded his inner emotional life, and if there were any documents that detailed his homosexuality, Cullen took care to destroy them.
                          But there is no doubt that Cullen’s sexual orientation was overwhelmingly toward other men. Indeed, his first, brief marriage, to W.E.B. Du Bois’ daughter Yolande, foundered on the issue of Cullen’s same-sex preferences almost before it began when he went on his “honeymoon” to Paris not with Yolande but with one of his great loves, bon vivant Harold Jackman, a French and social studies teacher known as “the Proust of Lenox Avenue” — a reference to both his refinement and his sexual orientation. The “honeymoon” incident was the subject of speculation and innuendo in the black press at that time.
                          London-born of West Indian parentage, Jackman — who was called “the handsomest man in Harlem” by his contemporaries — wrote a bit and acted a bit, but left behind no oeuvre. He was, nonetheless, a catalytic figure in the gay life at the center of the Harlem Renaissance, many of whose queer members Jackman had introduced to each other and either slept with him or had a crush on him. The ubiquitous Jackman, light-skinned and an elegant dresser, appears as a character in Van Vechten’s scandal-causing 1926 novel “Nigger Heaven,” and both he and Cullen are major figures in Wallace Thurman’s satirical 1936 novel about the Harlem Renaissance, “Infants of the Spring.”
                          Jackman, whose massive correspondence, diaries, and noted collection of African-American memorabilia — which he named the Countée Cullen Collection in honor of his prematurely deceased friend — serve as a touchstone for all historians of the Renaissance, deserves a full-length biography of his own.
                          In a letter to her world-famous father explaining the failure of her marriage, Yolande Du Bois laid the blame squarely on Cullen’s homosexuality.
                          “I never loved him,” she wrote, “but I had an enormous amount of respect for him. Having lost that — and having an added feeling of horror at the abnormality of it I could not ‘make it.’ I knew something was wrong physically, but being very ignorant and inexperienced I couldn’t be sure what. When he confessed things he’d always known that he was abnormal sexually as far as other men were concerned [italics in the biography’s text] then many things became clear.”
                          And she added, “At first I felt terribly angry — I felt he’d no right to marry any woman knowing this. Now I only feel sorry for him and all I want is not to have to be anywhere near him.”
                          “And Bid Him Sing: A Biography of Countée Cullen,” is written by Charles Molesworth, a Queens College literature professor of 40 years who now writes an art columnist for Salmagundi. Molesworth is also the biographer of Alain Locke, the Howard University philosopher who was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance, having edited “The New Negro,” the first collection of writing by Renaissance writers, published in 1925. Locke, who was also queer, was an important mentor to Cullen and other important Renaissance figures.
                          The title of Molesworth’s book comes from a short Cullen poem, “Yet Do I Marvel”:
                          I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
                          And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
                          The little buried mole continues blind,
                          Why flesh that mirrors Him must someday die,
                          Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
                          Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare
                          If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
                          To struggle up a never-ending stair.
                          Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
                          To catechism by a mind too strewn
                          With petty cares to slightly understand
                          What awful brains compels His awful hand.
                          Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
                          To make a poet black, and bid him sing!
                          The mixture of gentle irony and despair in this poem capture the reserved, secretive Cullen’s inner conflicts, which included the challenge of being black in a racist world, of being homosexual in a straight and homophobic one, and of being a lyrical poet heavily influenced by the 19th century English Romantics at a time when such literary formalism was being discarded in favor of plainer, every-day speech and dialect poetry — such as in the work of Cullen’s close friend Langston Hughes, another queer to whom Cullen is usually counterposed as the polar opposite.
                          Molesworth does a superb job of portraying Cullen’s struggle to define and maintain his own personal aesthetic. He also successfully challenges the over-simplicity of the opposition of Cullen and Hughes, two poets who were long engaged in dialogue, both in person and correspondence, about aesthetic matters.
                          Irony was again present in “More Than a Fool’s Song,” a poem Cullen dedicated to another of his lovers, Edward Perry, a dancer and Broadway actor with whom Cullen had an affair in the late ‘20s. The poem’s ending can be read as a closeted nod to the same-sex orientation he and Perry shared:
                          The world’s a curious riddle thrown
                          Waterwise from heaven’s cup;
                          The souls we think are hurtling down
                          Perhaps are climbing up.
                          Cullen seems to have been somewhat ashamed of his childhood upbringing by his grandmother in what Molesworth describes as “Dickensian” poverty, before he was adopted at the beginning of his adolescence by one of Harlem’s most prominent ministers, Reverend Frederick Cullen. The first 14 years of young Cullen’s life “remain largely a blank,” Molesworth writes, and even his place of birth —Kentucky? Harlem? — remains uncertain. Still, Molesworth does a yeoman job of reconstructing those early years.
                          The poet later described his life as a never-ending conflict between his Christian upbringing and the side of his life he labeled “pagan” (read: homosexual).
                          As a teenager, Cullen earned prize after prize for his poetry and won the imagist poet Witter Bynner’s poetry prize when he was still a scholarship student at New York University, by which time he’d already seen his work published by H.L. Mencken in the American Mercury.
                          After winning another scholarship for postgraduate work at Harvard and publishing his first book of poems, “Color,” with Harper in 1925, Cullen won a Guggenheim Fellowship that allowed him to spend two years in Paris, which he adopted as his “second home” and where he spent 12 consecutive summers. The late ‘20s were productive ones for Cullen, whose new volumes of poetry — “Copper Sun,” “Harlem Wine,” “The Ballad of the Brown Girl,” and “The Black Christ” — won him nearly universal critical acclaim.
                          But the Depression put an end to Cullen’s poetry. He tried to make a living as a novelist, but while his debut effort, 1931’s “One Way to Heaven,” was well-received critically (the New York Times said it was “not to be missed”), it proved a disappointment financially and he found writing it so difficult he never wrote another.
                          He spent the last decade of his life trying to jump-start a career writing plays for the theater, but they remained unproduced, including “Medea,” the first translation by an African-American writer of a Greek tragedy (he also translated Baudelaire and other French poets). “St. Louis Woman,” a play that he and Arna Bontemps adapted from a Bontemps novel, ran on Broadway for 113 performances in 1946. Cullen, however, died the second week of that year, an irony not without meaning in Molesworth’s view.
                          Because its subject was a prostitute, even before it was produced, “St. Louis Woman” was attacked by what were then called “race men,” who hadn’t even read it, because it depicted unattractive aspects of Negro life at a time when racial politics demanded a literature of “uplift” filled with positive black images. Molesworth speculates that the strain of fighting these misguided attempts at censorship may have led to Cullen’s untimely death.
                          But it is for his poems on race that Cullen is largely remembered today. As Langston Hughes wrote on the death of his friend, “Among the most beautiful of his poems was ‘Heritage,’ which asked, ‘What Is Africa to Me?’ Had the word negritude been in use in the twenties, Cullen as well as [Claude] McKay, [James Weldon] Johnson, [Jean] Toomer, and I might have been called poets of negritude.”
                          “Collected Poems of Countée Cullen” is scheduled to be published next year by Library of America. That, in tandem with this fine new biography, may help restore this queer genius to his proper place as an American original. Cullen was a man of enormous talent and courage who unfailingly devoted his life to his art and his people while retaining the individualism that made him a unique figure in our literary history.
                          AND BID HIM SING: A BIOGRAPHY OF COUNTÉE CULLEN | By Charles Molesworth | University of Chicago Press | $30 | $304 pages
                          What nonsense! How can you have a revolution without shooting people ? Lenin 26th October 1917...
                          If Christians go to heaven, I do not want to go to Heaven: Hatuey. 2/02/1512


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