Remembering Ancestor Mother Susie Jackson : A Pillar of Faith and History

Tomorrow at Mother Emmanuel Church, Charleston SC the life of Mother Susie Jackson, one of the 9 murdered in that cSusie Jacksonhurch will be celebrated. She particularly of all the victims have been in my thoughts.

Can you imagine what she has seen, how much she knew from 87 years of living Black in Amrerikka? We all know this woman. She arrived at this time, in Faith and believing that there is a Balm in Gilead. In the last moments of her life, I imagine her whispering, “Dear Jesus, oh my God”. A prayer she might have uttered many times in her life. I think about her, fearing for her nephew, Tywanza Sanders,26 sitting at that same table. He, in his youth and Faith, brave enough to plead for their lives to an unmoved monster.

I want to remember her as I imagine her preparing for Bible Study. Picking up around the house, having an early dinner and clearing and cleaning the dishes. Maybe even visiting that day with a friend. Ensuring that she studied “the word” of the week, marking a small tablet with her impressions and questions for the evening session. Making sure to put some mint candy in her purse and a handkerchief or tissue. I know she was not thinking too much about that “crazy girl trying to be Black”. I imagine she might have been singing or humming some old hymn, giving her lift to her step as she advanced to the time. Maybe “A closer walk” or ” faith of our fathers”. Getting a ride or even walking to the church, participating in a bit of chatter once seated. We all know who she was beyond the oldest of the victims. One of the Mothers of the church, having survived and found sanctuary in her Black life.
Tomorrow there will be no President with a eulogy for her. Her one spiritual leader and confidante is gone as well. So who will witness her life, her deepest victory over a moment’s fractured faltering Faith, her fear of Black night terror and the wonderment of her journey ? We will Mother Susie, we will. All respect for your life of prayer and purpose. We who understand and rejoice for you. You who sought in this time in your life, one thing – A Closer Walk with Thee. Your life’s journey and what you chose as your comfort lifted you in the church you loved and served. Rest well Mother Ancestor.

I imagine her smile, listening to something like this.

Vanished: The Forgotten Sacrifices Of The Negro Washerwoman | Black Then

Vanished: The Forgotten Sacrifices Of The Negro Washerwoman | Black Then.

 

he Negro washerwoman.

The Negroes of this country keenly resent any such thing as the mention of the Plantation Black Mammy, so dear to the hearts of those who believe in the traditions of the Old South. Such a reminder of that low status of the race in the social order of the slave regime is considered a gross insult. There is in the life of the Negro, however, a vanishing figure whose name every one should mention with veneration. She was the all but beast of burden of the aristocratic slave-holder, and in freedom she continued at this hard labor as a bread winner of the family. This is the Negro washerwoman.

This towering personage in the life of the Negro cannot be appreciated today for the reason that her task is almost done. Because of the rise of the race from drudgery and the mechanization of the industrial world the washerwoman is rapidly passing out. Confusing those women employed in laundries with those washing at homes, the Bureau of the Census in 1890 reported 151,540 washerwomen, 218,227 in 1900, and 373,819 in 1910. In 1920, however, there were actually 283,557, but this number has comparatively declined.1

Through machinery and the division of labor the steam laundry has made the washing of clothes a well organized business with which the toiler over the wash tub cannot compete. The price required for this laundry service is not always lower than the charges of the washerwoman, but the modern laundry offers so many other conveniences and advantages that the people are turning away from her to the new agency. Only the most unfortunate and the most inefficient washerwoman who is unable to do anything else and must work for the lowest wages remains to underbid or obviate the necessity for introducing the steam laundry system. The Negro washerwoman of the antebellum and the reconstruction periods, then, has passed from the stage. For her, however, an ever grateful people will have a pleasant memory, and generations unborn may honor her in brass and stone.

And why should the Negro washerwoman be thus considered? Because she gave her life as a sacrifice for others. Whether as a slave or a free woman of color of the antebellum period or as a worker in the ranks of an emancipated people, her life without exception was one of unrelenting toil for those whom she loved. In the history of no people has her example been paralleled, in no other figure in the Negro group can be found a type measuring up to the level of this philanthropic spirit in unselfish service.

The details of the story are interesting. When a slave she arose with the crowing of the fowl to sweat all but blood in the employ of a despotic mistress for whose household she had to toil often until late in the night. On return home she had to tax her body further to clean a neglected hut, to prepare the meals and wash the clothes of her abandoned children, while her husband, also worn out with the heavier burdens of the day, had time to rest. In addition to this, she often took in other work by which she saved sufficient money to purchase her freedom and sometimes that of her husband and children. Often she had compassion on a persecuted slave and used such savings to secure his liberation at a high cost only to let him go free for a nominal charge.2

As a slave, too, the washerwoman was the head of the family. Her husband was sometimes an uncertain quantity in the equation. Not allowed to wed according to law, they soon experienced that marriage meant living with another with the consent of the owners concerned and often against the will of the slaves themselves. Masters ordered women to take up with men and vice versa to produce numerous slave offspring for sale. When the slave hesitated because of the absence of real love the master’s will prevailed. Just as such matches were made according to the will of the master they were likewise broken by the selling of the man or the woman thus attached, and in the final analysis the care of the children fell to the mother while the father went to the bed of another wife on some remote plantation.3

To provide for her home the comforts which the custom of slavery did not allow she had to plan wisely and work incessantly. If the mother had not developed sufficiently in domestic art to earn a little money at leisure she usually fell back on “taking in washing.”4 When free during the antebellum period the drudgery of the Negro washerwoman was not much diminished. The earning power of her husband was not great since slave labor impoverished free labor, and the wife often had to do something to supplement the income of her unprofitable husband. Laboring, too, for those who were not fortunately enough circumstanced to have slaves to serve them, the free Negro woman could earn only such wages as were paid to menial workers. In thus eking out an existence, however, the washerwoman was an important factor. Without her valuable contribution the family under such conditions could not have been maintained.5 In the North during these antebellum times, the Negro washerwoman had to bear still heavier burdens.

In the South, her efforts were largely supplementary; but, in the North, she was often the sole wage earner of the family even when she had an able-bodied husband. The trouble was not due to his laziness but to the fact that Negro men in the North were often forced to a life of idleness. Travelers of a century ago often saw these black men sitting around loafing and noted this as an evidence of the shiftlessness of the Negro race, but they did not see the Negro washer-woman toiling in the homes and did not take time to find out why these Negro men were not gainfully employed. Negro men who had followed trades in the South were barred therefrom by trade unions in the North,6 and the more enlightened and efficiently trained Irish and Germans immigrating into the United States drove them out of menial positions.7

In many of the Northern cities, then, Negro men and children were fed and clothed with the earnings of the wife or mother who held her own in competition with others. In most of these cases the man felt that his task was done when he drew the water, cut the wood, built the fires went after the clothes, and returned them. Fortunate was the Northern Negro man who could find acceptance in such a woman’s home. Still more fortunate was the boy or girl who had a robust mother with that devotion which impelled her to give her life for the happiness of the less fortunate members of an indigent group. Without the washerwoman many antebellum Negroes would have either starved in that section or they would have been forced by indigent circumstances to return to slavery in the South, as some few had to do during the critical years of the decade just before the Civil War.8

The Negro washerwoman, too, was not only a breadwinner but the important factor in the home. If the family owned the home her earnings figured in the purchase of it. When the taxes were paid she had to make her contribution, and the expenses for repairs often could not be met without recourse to her earnings. When the husband could not supply or showed indifference to the comforts of the home it was she who replaced worn out furniture and unattractive decorations and kept the home as nearly as possible according to the standards of modern times. She could be depended upon to clean the yard, to decorate the front with flowers, and to give things the aspect of a civilized life. In fact, this working woman was often the central figure of the family and the actual representative of the home. Friends and strangers calling on business usually asked for the mother inasmuch as the father was not always an important factor in the family.9

This same washerwoman was no less significant in the life of the community. The uplift worker sought her at home to interest her in neglected humanity, the abolitionist found her a ready listener to the story of her oppressed brethren in chains, the colonizationist stopped to have her persuade the family to try life anew in Liberia, and the preacher paid his usual calls to connect her more vitally with the effort to relieve the church of pecuniary embarrassment. While burdened with the responsibility of maintaining a family she was not too busy to listen to these messages and did not consider herself too poor to contribute to the relief of those who with a tale of woe convinced her that they were less favorably circumstanced than she. Oftentimes she felt that she was being deceived, but she had rather assist the undeserving than to turn a deaf ear to one who was actually in need.10

The emancipation of the Negroes as a result of the Civil War did not immediately elevate the status of the Negro washerwomen nor did it bring them immediate relief from the many burdens which they had borne. In their new freedom certain favorably circumstanced Negroes were disposed to assume a haughty attitude toward these workers. After emancipation Negro men rapidly withdrew their wives and daughters from field work and restricted their efforts largely to the home; but the washerwomen who went out occasionally to do day work or had the clothes brought home, remained for several generations. There was yet so much more for them to do in the reconstruction of a landless and illiterate class that the importance of this role could not be underrated. For a number of years thereafter, then, certainly until 1900 or 1910 there was little change in the part which these women played in the economic life of the Negro.11

Why should the Negro washerwoman have to continue her unrelenting toil even after emancipation? This makes an interesting story. In the first place, the Negro was nominally free only. The old relation of master and slave was merely modified to be that of landlord and tenant in the lower South. The wage system established itself in the upper South, but soon broke down in certain parts because there was no money with which to pay; and the tenant system which followed with most of the evils of slavery kept the Negro in poverty.

With such a little earning power under this system it was a godsend to the Negro man to have a wife to supplement his earnings at some such labor as washing. She did not always receive money for her services, but food and cast-off clothing and shoes contributed equally as much to the comfort of her loved ones. White employers and black employees were all hard put to it while the South was trying to recover from its devastation and the whole country was undergoing a new development, but one class could help the other, and both managed in some way to live.12

In the course of time, too, when the problem of eking out an existence had been solved there came to the ambitious program of the freedmen other demands which made the services of the Negro washerwoman indispensable. In the first place, the freedmen were urged to buy homes, and they could easily see the advantage of living under one’s own vine and fig tree and of thus forming a permanent attachment to the community. Land was cheap, but money was scarce. To make such a purchase and at the same time carry the other burdens did not permit the withdrawal of the washerwoman from her arduous task. Often she was the one who took the initiative in the buying of the home, for the husband did not always willingly assume additional responsibilities.13

Then when the home had been purchased the children had to be educated. Negroes were ambitious to see their children in possession of the culture long since observed among the whites; and they were urged by the missionary teachers from the North to seek education which, as a handmaiden of religion, would quickly solve their problems. This often meant the education of the whole family at once; for, since the indifference and the impoverished condition of the South rendered thorough education at public expense practically impossible, the washerwoman had to come to the front again to bear more than her share of the burden. The missionary schools established by teachers from the North required the payment of tuition as well as board and room rent. Many things now supplied to students free of charge, moreover, had to be purchased in those days by their parents.14

Sometimes, too, when there were no children to educate, the husband was ambitious to become a teacher or minister, and he had to go to school to qualify for the new sphere. The wife usually took over the responsibility of the home which she often financed through the wash tub. The Negro teacher or minister who did not receive such support in obtaining his education was an exception to the rule. Without this particular sacrifice of the washerwoman the Negro professional groups would be far less undermanned than what they are today. Many of the prominent Negro teachers, ministers, business men, and professional workers refer today with pardonable pride to sisters, mothers, and wives who thus made their careers possible.15

In not a few cases the earnings of the Negro washer-woman went to supplement that of her husband as capital in starting business enterprises. This effort today is not easily estimated because most of such enterprises never succeeded. For lack of experience and judgment these pioneers in a hitherto forbidden field soon ran upon the rocks, and the highly prized savings of their companions together with their own accumulations sank beneath the wave only to discourage a people who had to grope in the dark to find the way. As a rule, however, the woman bore her losses like a heroine in a great crisis, being the last to utter a word of censure or to despair of finding some solution of a difficult problem. Often when the man at his extremity was inclined to give up the fight it was his courageous companion who brought a word of cheer and urged the procession ouward.16

In cooperative business, this worker was a still larger factor. The Negro washerwoman, continuing just as she had been before the Civil War in social uplift and religious effort, served also in the capacity of a stockholder in the larger corporations of Negroes. Being already the main support of the school and church, she could easily become interested in business. At the same time the Negro teachers and professional classes, who in being taught solely the superiority of the other races had developed an inferiority complex, could not have confidence in the initiative and enterprise of the uneducated Negroes who launched these enterprises.

The Negro working women who had not been misguided by such theories had no such misgivings. The only thing they wanted to know was whether it was something to give employment, prestige, and opportunity for leadership. They believed in the possibilities of their own group and willingly cooperated with any one who had a high sounding program. They were not the ignorant and the gullible, but the true and tried coworkers in the rehabilitation of the race along economic lines.17

Some of the leading enterprises like the St. Lukes Bank in Richmond, the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company of Durham, and the National Benefit Life Insurance Company of Washington still count among their stockholders noble women of this type. These businesses have developed to the point that the well-to-do and educated Negroes now regard them as assets and participate in their development, but the first dimes and nickels with which these enterprises were launched came largely from women of this working class.

C. G. WOODSON

Remembering “Dr. Ben” ll In Conversation with Sirius/XM Host, Dr. Wilmer Leon,

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

This Week

Tribute to Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan  In Conversation with Dr. Wilmer Leon
HOST, “Inside the Issues with Dr. Wilmer Leon
Sirius/XM Radio
March 21, 2015 10 pm ET LIVE

03-21-15 wilmer2

Join the broadcast Here: http://bit.ly/1bkVIxc

dr.ben2ABOUT Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan

He was one of the most courageous and inspiring scholars of our time would live for nearly a century, paying personal witness to dramatic transformations in the lives of Black people across the globe. Now a Beloved Ancestor.

ABOUT Dr. WilmerLeon Dr. Leon’s Prescription

Wilmer Leon is the Nationally Broadcast Talk Show Host of “Inside The Issues with Wilmer Leon” Saturday’s from 11:00 am to 2:00pm on Sirius XM (126).

Wilmer_Leon_2011-02-17_18-12-03_webWilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D. is a Political Scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics and Public Policy. Wilmer has a BS degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.Dr. Leon is also the host of XM Satellite Radio’s, “Inside The Issues”, a three-hour, call-in, talk radio program airing live nationally on XM Satellite Radio channel 126.”

Dr. Leon was a featured commentator on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight and is also a regular contributor to The Grio.com, The Root.com, TruthOut.org, The Maynard Institute.com and PoliticsInColor.com. He is an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice for more than 5 years.

We will discuss with Dr. Leon about today’s urgent and pressing issues and events before African-Americans.


                                                                               

Sankofa 2015

                                          BROADCASTING BOLD BRAVE and BLACK

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OCG Freedom Note >> Thinking About Black History Month 2014

Runoko Rashidi

“Our history and culture is our immune system.”
–Marimba Ani

Copy (2) of bl_hist_logoThinking About Black History Month 2014

According to whether or not the year leaps or not, February 28th marks the end of what should always be a national celebration of the achievements and contributions made by African-Americans in America – National Black History Month. Despite slavery, government imposed oppressive conditions under which they were made and the lack of routine appropriate vehicles of credit and recordkeeping for tremendous accomplishments, and efforts of denial, it is clear that African-Americans have lifted America in extraordinary ways. In education, politics, science and arts, literature and philosophy there is no absence of an abundance of achievement by our people.  Every American or foreign visitor has experienced our footprint and infusion of cultural richness in the short and painful time of our existence in this nation.

The extraordinary people, inventions, music, dance, art and thoughts of our people recorded or passed along orally are treasures that we all share. Black History Month has become a tradition.  I was a young girl when it was still Black History Week and the only public acknowledgement was within segregated schools and communities, and Black publications. Growing up Black in the South the facts and episodes of our history, the people, their images and their oration was made sacred by my parents, grandparents and people in our community. People like Ida B. Wells, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson and W.E.B. DuBois were honored and familiar visitors at our breakfast and dinner table. My Mother spoke of the women and for such a long time, I really thought that they were her friends who lived elsewhere.  My Father spoke bleeding his expression with the words of dead men, Carver, Garvey and Douglas recalling their words as though they had relayed them directly to him. Telling the tales of a Harlem in Renaissance, of a budding Malcolm and the lives women crooners named Billie, Sarah who sang with  the Duke, and laughed with Dizzy and Louie. My Dad danced the Savoy and lounged the Paradise and boldly breathed the air of Black progress and pain.  The books, the authors, required and yearned for, bought, shared and placed on shelves for prosperity.  The speeches learned and kept close to the heart.  The people, and the events that they recalled was  testimony validating and affirming the character of the lives of Black folks. Enumerating Black worth in America and checking the validity of the equation.  An account so carefully recorded- a burden so deftly carried. Black people waiting for the Pittsburgh Courier and the Ebony magazine for assurance that they were real.

03-1 2black history So many years later, I not only seek our history to bind my life, but see into it as I navigate forward. This is what we do during this month of February. We raise it up, make it a sacred light illuminating the pathways of our future. It makes us real in the universe, assured that we will always have a special brand of hope which is ours and ours alone. All through the year, we must spend our time putting our lives, the echo of who we are into the record, sorting it and ordering it to build the bridges that will take us safely across.

Thanks for joining with us at OUR COMMON GROUND, or supporting our efforts at OUR COMMON GROUND to honor the ritual to lift up the journal of the Black experience in America. #HistoryMatters

Janice Graham

OUR COMMON GROUND Media & Communications

TruthWorks Network Radio

 

The Annual OUR COMMON GROUND Black History Games >> March 1st LIVE

The Annual OUR COMMON GROUND
Black History Games
March 1, 2014 10 pm ET LIVE

Challenge Your Black History Intelligence

03-1 2black history

20 Questions – 10 Points Each
Call In to pick up Bonus Questions
Call In WITH a BONUS QUESTION
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African Americans, as a distinct ethnic variation in the African diaspora, were created by slavery. Millions of Africans wound up in America only because they were kidnapped to fill the needs of a slave economy. This process forged a new people, who became American by necessity, and included 12 generations of chattel slavery. For nearly 250 years, American culture dehumanized those it enslaved and, more insidiously, socialized generations of African Americans for enslavement. The nation’s economic reliance on slavery mandated a rigid and pitiless racial hierarchy.

THE HISTORY of BLACK HISTORY MONTH

As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925.
Seeing the need to spread the news about Black history to the general public as well as scholars, Dr. Woodson and the ASNLH pioneered the celebration of “Negro History Week” in 1926, which has since been extended to the entire month of February.
By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.
The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year

03-1 black historyIn honor of this bold act for empowerment of our people, OUR COMMON GROUND celebrates Black History Month with the nation throughout the month. Each year, we use our broadcast to host, the Annual OCG Black History Games. Testing and challenging your Black History intelligence.

About The Games
1. We select and structure 20 questions covering significant facts about events, people and accomplishments in Black History from Reconstruction through 2014. For each question, listeners can assign 10 points for each correct answer. Five (5) of the questions will feature a (5 point bonus) question. Listeners listen for the questions, answer and call in with the answers once all the questions are posed.
2. For bonus points, callers who call in with their scores can ask for an additional listener only question to bolster their overall score.
3. We encourage teams made of family, friends and regular listeners who want partners.

 

#HISTORY MATTERS
#TALKTHATMATTERS

ocggames3

BROADCASTING BOLD BRAVE BLACK 

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

“Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves” 

email: OCGinfo@ourcommonground.com

LISTEN LIVE and Join the OPEN Chat: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/OCG
Call In – Listen Line: 347-838-9852

Community Forum:http://www.ourcommonground-talk.ning.com/

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Call In – Listen Line: 347-838-9852

What Was the 2nd Middle Passage?

What Was the 2nd Middle Passage?

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro: A second forced migration of slaves wasn’t transatlantic.

 

 

Slaves work a cotton gin, drawn by William L. Sheppard, 1869 (Library of Congress)

Editor’s Note: For those who are wondering about the retro title of this black history series, please take a moment to learn about historian Joel A. Rogers, author of the 1934 book 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro With Complete Proof, to whom these “amazing facts” are an homage.

(The Root) — 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 16: What was the second Middle Passage?

Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by David Eltis and David Richardson, we know that about 388,000 Africans were transported directly to the United States over the course of the slave trade, which ended officially in 1808. This brutally cruel and disruptive phase of the trade, as all American schoolchildren should be taught, is known as “the Middle Passage.” But what is often left out of many survey courses is the second Middle Passage, and that dark chapter in American history involved far more black people than were taken from Africa to the United States. It was also uniquely cruel and brutally destructive. And it unfolded during the era when cotton was “king.”

That second forced migration was known as the domestic, or internal, slave trade: “In the seven decades between the ratification of the Constitution [in 1787] and the Civil War [1861],” the historian Walter Johnson tells us in his book Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market, “approximately one million enslaved people were relocated from the upper South to the lower South … two thirds of these through … the domestic slave trade.” In other words, two and a half times more African Americans were directly affected by the second Middle Passage than the first one.

When we think of the image of slaves being sold “down the river” on auction blocks — mothers separated from children, husbands from wives — it was during this period that these scenes became increasingly common. The enslaved were sometimes marched hundreds of miles to their destinations, on foot and in chains. Indeed, the years between 1830 and 1860 were the worst in the history of African-American enslavement.

Why? Because of the unprecedented growth of the cotton industry. Until Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and had it patented in 1794, cotton harvesting was extremely labor-intensive. The cotton gin is deceptively simple: It just separates cotton fibers, or “lint,” from the seeds. Before the cotton gin, one person could clean five or six pounds of cotton a day; using the cotton gin, one person could clean a thousand pounds of cotton a day! The effects were immediate and dramatic: As the historian Ronald Bailey explains in an article for Agricultural History, in 1790, the United States produced 1.5 million pounds of cotton; in 1800, it produced 35 million pounds of cotton! By 1830, that figure had grown to 331 million, and by 1860, on the eve of the Civil War, cotton production had grown to 2,275 million pounds. 

The more money the planters made from cotton, the more cotton they wanted to grow. The more cotton the planters wanted to grow, the more slaves they needed to grow the cotton. The world’s desire for cotton — and the Southern planters’ and Northern industrialists’ desire for profits — seemed insatiable. 

Meanwhile, since the slave trade from Africa was ended in 1808, slaves in the Upper South had become extremely valuable commodities. Their owners, whose tobacco plantations were no longer, say, sufficiently profitable, sold them south, in droves. As Ira Berlin concludes in The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations, “the internal slave trade became the largest enterprise in the South outside of the plantation itself, and probably the most advanced in its employment of modern transportation, finance and publicity.”

Most of us are familiar with the dreadful Trail of Tears, which in 1838 removed the last of the Chickasaw, the Cherokee, the Creek, the Choctaw and the Seminoles from the region of the South known as the “black belt,” resettling them to “Indian Territory,” which became the state of Oklahoma in 1907. Ever wonder why this was necessary? In a word, cotton. These Native American people were living on what was perhaps the richest cotton soil in the world. And their removal, following the Louisiana Purchase, created a scramble to settle their lands and raise cotton, leading to one of the greatest periods in economic expansion and profitability in American history. 

The number of slaves needed in the new states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, where cotton reigned, increased by an average of 27.5 percent each decade, demanding that entire families be relocated from plantations in the East and Upper South. As Steven Deyle points out, “Southern slave prices more than tripled,” rising from $500 in New Orleans in 1800, to $1,800 by 1860 (the equivalent of $30,000 in 2005).

Of the 3.2 million slaves working in the 15 slave states in 1850, 1.8 million worked in cotton. No wonder the dominant motto of the era was “Cotton is King!” Cotton produced by slave labor was so profitable that it would take a costly Civil War, and the loss of more than 600,000 lives, to end it.

As always, you can find more “Amazing Facts About the Negro” on The Root, and check back each week as we count to 100.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief ofThe Root.

Three Black Women Pioneers in Technology

images

 

By Victor Trammell

In Black Blue Dog’s month-long Your Black Historytribute, our publication has mostly tried to focus on profiling black Americans in history that have contributed to our society in other areas than sports and entertainment.

Today’s edition of our series, which promotes the historical achievements of black Americans features the stories of three women who pioneered key groundbreaking inventions.

Marie-Van-Brittan-Brown1. Marie Van Brittan Brown

Marie Van Brittan Brown was born on October 30, 1922 in Queens, New York. She was the first person in America to develop the patent for closed circuit television security. Brown’s innovative model was a motorized camera that contained four peepholes. The motorized camera could be moved from one peephole to the other while the camera’s images were able to be displayed on a monitor. The camera’s door could be unlocked remotely by using an electrical switch. Brown was able to officially patent her invention in 1969.  Her brilliant invention laid the ground work for today’s closed circuit television system that law enforcement bureaus and private companies use for crime prevention, traffic monitoring, and surveilance.

220px-Patriciabath2. Dr. Patricia Bath

Dr. Patricia Era Bath was born on November 4, 1942 in Harlem, New York. In 1981, Dr. Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe. The Laserphaco Probe is used to remove cataracts. Cataracts are an eye disease that can cause blindness. However, earlier surgical procedures used to remove cataracts had numerous side effects. In 1988, Dr. Bath perfected her great invention even further and received the first of four patents issued pertaining to the Laserphaco Probe. Dr. Bath’s modifications to the laser probe for cataract removal made the mechanism more accurate and helped the process of removing cataracts occur much more quickly.

Dr-Betty-Harris-351x4143. Dr. Betty Harris

Betty Harris earned her Ph.D. from the University of New New Mexico. After Harris’ earned her doctorate’s  degree in chemistry, she went to work as a reasearch chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. While at Los Alamos, Dr. Harris worked specifically in the explosives field. In 1986, Dr. Harris obtained a patent for a mechanism that identified the sensitivity level of explosives. Her contributions were very significant in the field of science. In 1996, Dr. Harris was one of only eight people selected to be inducted in the National Science Foundation’s “Women in Science” profile.