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Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays was a giant in the Christian ministry and American education. He is remembered for his outstanding leadership and service as a teacher, preacher, mentor, scholar, author and activist in the civil rights movement.

Born August 1, 1894 near Epworth, South Carolina, he was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College in Maine. He served as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church from 1921-1923 in Atlanta, Georgia. Recruited by Morehouse President John Hope, Mays would join the faculty as a mathematics teacher and debate coach. He obtained a master’s degree in 1925 and in 1935 a Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago. In 1934, he was appointed dean of the School of Religion at Howard University and served until 1940.  Continue reading

Mother Matelda Beasley

Mother Matelda Beasley

Mother Matelda Beasley

When Mathilde (later spelled Mathilda) Taylor was born on November 14, 1832 in New Orleans, to Caroline, a slave owned by James C. Taylor, few would have believed that she would later successfully defy the very laws that kept her and her mother from their freedom. It was speculated that her father was Native American and Mathilda inherited her “extreme height and her commanding figure” from him.

Little is known of Mathilda’s early years in Louisiana and there is no record of how she achieved her freedom to move to Savannah as a young woman. But by 1859, records indicate that she had been operating a secret school for African-American children at a time in history when “punishment for teaching slaves or free person of color to read” was a “fine and whipping.” Facing great personal risks, she was committed to educating children who otherwise would have no opportunity for schooling and because there is little information about her school, she seems to have achieved her goal of keeping her efforts from the authorities.  Continue reading

Charles Deslondes

Newspaper Report Of The Charles Deslondes Revolt Of 1811:

Charles Deslondes

Charles Deslondes

In 1811, another “largest slave revolt in American history” took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. During this revolt about 500 enslaved Africans, armed with pikes, hoes, axes and a few firearms, marched on the city of New Orleans with flags flying and drums beating. Many of the slaves had participated in the Haitian Revolution. This revolt was led by Charles Deslondes, a mulatto from Saint Dominique, Haiti. They were well-organized and used military formation dividing themselves into companies commanded by various officers. They showed a variety of military formations, but collapsed in combat against a well- armed militia and regular army troops under General Wade Hampton.

The events were as followed. On January 8, 1811 the rebellion began late in the evening on the plantation of Colonel Manuel Andy located in the German Coast County, some thirty-six miles northwest of New Orleans near present-day Norco. According to contemporary sources the leader of the revolt was a mulatto “a yellow fellow,” probably of Santo Domigan or Jamaican origin. He was the property of the Widow Jean–Baptiste Deslondes at the time of the uprising. Charles Deslondes was in the temporary employment of Colonel Andry or Andre, the sources use alternate spellings of his name. Continue reading

Thomas Elkins

 patent #221,22

patent #221,22

Thomas Elkins designed a device that helped with the task of preserving perishable foods by way of refrigeration. At the time, the common way of accomplishing this was by placing items in a large container and surrounding them with large blocks of ice. Unfortunately, the ice generally melted very quickly and the food soon perished.

Elkins’ device utilized metal cooling coils which became very cold and would cool down items which they surrounded. The coils were enclosed within a container and perishable items were placed inside. The coils cooled the container to a temperature significantly lower than that inside of a room thereby keeping the perishable items cool and fresh for longer periods of time.

chamber commode

chamber commode

Elkins patented this refrigerated apparatus on November 4, 1879 and had previously patented a chamber commode in 1872 and a dining, ironing table and quilting frame combined in 1870.

An improved chamber commode (toilet) was patented by Thomas Elkins on January 9, 1872. Elkins’ commode was a combination bureau, mirror, book-rack, washstand, table, easy chair, and chamber stool. It was a very unusual piece of furniture.

Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.  Continue reading

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee’s acting career has spanned more than fifty years and has included theater, radio, television, and movies. She has also been active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace on October 27, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents, Marshall and Emma Wallace, moved the family to Harlem in New York City when Dee was just a baby. In the evening Dee, her two sisters, and her brother read aloud to each other from the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882), William Wordsworth (1770–1850), and Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906). As a teenager Dee submitted poetry to the New York Amsterdam News, a black weekly newspaper. Later in life, Dee admitted that during those years she was a shy girl but that she always felt a burning desire to express herself.  Continue reading

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