Politics

Alexander L. Twilight

TWILIGHTAlexander Lucius Twilight is the first African American to graduate from a U.S. college, receiving his bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in 1823. Also a pioneer in Vermont politics, Twilight became the first African American to win election to public office in 1836, joining his home-state legislature. He died in Brownington, Vermont, on June 19, 1857.

Born on September 23, 1795 (though sources vary on the month and day of his birth, with some saying September 26 and others noting July 15), in Corinth, Vermont, where he also grew up, Alexander Lucius Twilight was one of six children born to Ichabod and Mary Twilight. The Twilights were one of the few African-American families living in the area at the time. According to the Old Stone House Museum’s website, Ichabod Twilight served in the American Revolutionary War.  Continue reading

Bakke Decision

Bakke Decision Protesters

Bakke Decision Protesters

Bakke decision, formally Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, ruling in which, on June 28, 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court declared affirmative action constitutional but invalidated the use of racial quotas. The medical school at the University of California, Davis, as part of the university’s affirmative action program, had reserved 16 percent of its admission places for minority applicants.

Allan Bakke, a white California man who had twice unsuccessfully applied for admission to the medical school, filed suit against the university. Citing evidence that his grades and test scores surpassed those of many minority students who had been accepted for admission, Bakke charged that he had suffered unfair “reverse discriminationâ€� on the basis of race, which he argued was contrary to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.  Continue reading

Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit, Michigan in July, 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad, also known as W. D. Fard Muhammad (1877–1934). The N.O.I. teaches that W. Fard Muhammad is both the “Messiah” of Judaism and the Mahdi of Islam. Within one year, he had approximately 25,000 followers who knew him as Prophet W.D. Fard, at Mosque of Islam #1.

Fard’s assistant minister Elijah Muhammad succeeded him as head of the movement in 1934. Because of dissension within the Detroit temple, he moved to Chicago where he established Mosque No. 2. During World War II, he advised followers to avoid the draft, as he said the US did nothing for blacks. He was charged and convicted of violating the Selective Service Act and was jailed (1942–46). Continue reading

L Douglas Wilder

L. Douglas Wilder

L. Douglas Wilder

L. Douglas Wilder was (the first Black) governor of Virginia from 1990 until 1994. His was a political career of many firsts: the grandson of slaves, he was the first African American elected governor of any state in America.

He was the first black member of the Virginia Senate in the twentieth century. And he was the first African American to win statewide office in Virginia when he was elected lieutenant governor in 1985. A Democrat, he ran briefly for United States president in 1991 and in 2004 was elected mayor of Richmond, serving until 2008.  Continue reading

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

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