Black History

Black History

Dr. Matthew Ricketts

Dr. Matthew Ricketts

Dr. Matthew Oliver Ricketts was the political leader of Omaha’s African Americans at the turn of the 20th century. Ricketts was born to an enslaved couple near New Castle, Kentucky in 1858. He later received a degree from Lincoln Institute at Jefferson City, Missouri, and three years later moved to Omaha.

When he arrived in Omaha in 1880, despite scarce resources, he was admitted to Omaha Medical College, where he worked as a janitor to pay his tuition. Elected to the state legislature for the sessions of 1892 and 1894, he became the first Nebraskan of African descent to sit in that body

Milton L. Olive III

Milton L. Olive III

PFC Milton Olive III was only 18 at the time of his death in Vietnam, but his heroic acts were so great, that the City of Chicago has honored him in two ways. Chicago is home to Olive Park and Olive-Harvey College both named for this brave soldier.

PFC Olive belonged to the 3rd Platoon of Company B. As they moved through the Vietnam jungle to find the Viet Cong, Olive’s platoon was subject to heavy gunfire. Though pinned down temporarily, the unit retaliated by assaulting the Viet Cong positions.

While PFC Olive and four other soldiers were in pursuit, a grenade was thrown in their midst. PFC Olive saw the grenade, grabbed and put his body on it, absorbing the blast and saving the lives of the other soldiers in his platoon.

Fair Employment Practices Committee

On June 25, 1941, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC). The order banned racial discrimination in any defense industry receiving federal contracts by declaring “there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin.” The order also empowered the FEPC to investigate complaints and take action against alleged employment discrimination. Continue reading

Louis (or Lucas) Santomee

Louis was the first university-trained black physician, who after completing studies in Holland, practiced medicine in the colony of New Amsterdam (New York). In 1667 he received a land grant for his services.

 

Carter G. Woodson

Carter G. Woodson

Historian Carter G. Woodson was born to poor, yet land-owning, former slaves in New Canton, Virginia on December 19, 1875.  During the 1890s, he hired himself out as a farm and manual laborer, drove a garbage truck, worked in coalmines, and attended high school and college in Berea College, Kentucky—from which he earned a B.L. degree in 1903.

In the early 1900s, he taught black youth in West Virginia. From late 1903 until early 1907, Woodson worked in the Philippines under the auspices of the U.S. War Department. Continue reading

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  • Nannie Helen Burroughs
  • George H. White
  • Caterina Jarboro
  • Samuel Ringgold Ward
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