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Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was born October 6, 1917 in the Mississippi Delta. Inspired by the fighting spirit of her mother, Fannie Lou Hamer became widely known as the “Spirit” of the Civil Rights movement. In the early 1960’s a Black man or woman could lose their life trying to register to vote in some towns in Mississippi. But even at the risk of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer registered to vote.  Continue reading

Robert Tanner Freeman

Robert Tanner Freeman
The First Black Dentist

Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman was the first African American dentist to receive a degree in the United States. He graduated from the Harvard University Dental School in 1869.  He and George Lewis Ruffin (Law School) share the distinction of being the first African Americans to graduate from Harvard University. Freeman was born in Washington, D.C. to former slaves from North Carolina, and as a young man was hired by a local dentist, Dr. Henry Bliss Noble.

He began as a clerk and became a dental assistant. Dr. Nobel encouraged him to pursue a career in dentistry as a way to help alleviate the sufferings of other blacks.Freeman applied to, and was rejected by, two colleges before he was accepted, in 1867, as one of the sixteen members of the inaugural class at the newly formed Harvard Dental School.

His fellow classmates included another African American, George Franklin Grant. Upon graduation in 1869 he returned to Washington, D.C. to set up private practice in the same building as his previous employer and mentor.Freeman died four years later.  Continue reading

Janet Collins

Janet Collins was the first Black Artist to perform in a Met Opera

Janet Collins was born on March 2, 1917 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She grew up in Los Angeles, California. She auditioned for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo when she was only 15. She was very talented, but she was not accepted because she was black.

They told her she would have to dance in a white face. She said no thanks. She went to New York City in 1948. She had a chance to dance at the 92nd Street YMHA in February 1948. Many other black dancers got their big chance there.In 1951 she became the first African American prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera in NY, NY.

She made a lot of African American little girls want to be ballerinas. Janet taught at the School of American Ballet in New York City. She moved to California and continued to teach dance. In the 1960s, Janet taught dance at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. (very close to Pocantico Hills School.) Janet Collins opened the door for other African American girls and women who want to be ballet dancers. Continue reading

JH Hunter

John W. Hunter, on Nov. 3, 1896, received patent number 570,553 for a portable weighing scales
John W. Hunter, on Jan. 19, 1909, received patent number 909,902 for a hair dressing device

J.H. Hunter, an African-American inventor, patented the weighing scale on November 3, 1896.It was patent number 570, 533. The weighing scale is used to determine the weight or mass of an object or individual.

On Jan. 19, 1909, he also received patent number 909,902 for a hair dressing device

School desegregation ends

Desegregation at Little Rock: Little Rock Central High School. February 14. 1969

On October 29, 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that school districts must end segregation “now and hereafter.�  With this unambiguous language, the Court, which now had Thurgood Marshall as a member, left no room for doubt or delay.Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education is an important (and, today, curiously underrated) Supreme Court decision from 1969. It mandated immediate action in the segregation of public school facilities.

The Court was responding to a legal challenge from diehard anti-integrationists, who had learned—from civil rights proponents, no doubt—that the legal system could be used to support social objectives. The anti-integrationists, however, received a major defeat when the Court ruled unanimously that Mississippi (and, by extension, the nation) was obliged to integrate public schools “at once.� Continue reading

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Upcoming Black History Posts
  • Martin R. Delany
  • Dr. Percy Lavon Julian
  • Segregation in buses and terminals banned
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • National Council of Negro women
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  • Lena Horne
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