Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Alex Miller (December 5, 1912 – May 25, 1965), known professionally as Sonny Boy Williamson, was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, from Mississippi. He is acknowledged as one of the most charismatic and influential blues musicians, with considerable prowess on the harmonica and creative songwriting skills. He recorded successfully in the 1950s and 1960s, and had a direct influence on later blues and rock performers.

His head stone found in or near Tutwiler, Mississippi, lists his name as Aleck Miller, his birth date as March 11, 1908 and his date of death as June 23, 1965.

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Boy Williamson

Born John Lee Williamson in Jackson, Tennessee. One of the founding members of the post-War Chicago blues scene, Sonny Boy Williamson did more to popularize the harmonica than any of his contemporaries. His musical and geographical migration from the deep South up the Mississippi to Chicago exemplifies his rise in popularity. Williamson never realized his full potential as a musician, as he was tragically murdered at the peak of his career.

He taught himself to play harmonica as a teenager and by his late teens was touring the Depression-era South, playing with the likes of Big Joe Williams and Robert Nighthawk. With his masterful harp (harmonica) playing and country-blues sound, Williamson fused a new band format with the harmonica as lead instrument. Continue reading

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson was born a slave in Charles County, Maryland. Throughout his life, he saw the way masters and overseers treated slaves and he studiedtheir reactions towards different types of behavior.

By watching the actions of the other slaves, Henson soon learned that if he was loyal and provided diligent service to his master, he would not get into very much trouble andhe might even become fairly successful. Henson followed his plan and became successful on the plantation where he lived. He was an outstanding worker, supervisor, and in 1828, he became a preacher.  Continue reading

Enlistment of Slaves as Union Sailors

Enlistment of Slaves as Union Sailors

Civil War sailor George Commodore. (NARA, Records of the Veterans Administration, RG 15)

The Secretary of the Navy Authorized enlistment of slaves as Union sailors,  September 25, 1861

The Union Navy began to employ African American men on board ships as crew members and sailors very early in the war. And as the war progressed, blockading squadrons and naval vessels also took on board numerous “contraband” slaves who managed to escape from land to sea.

By 1863, the Union navy was enlisting and actively recruiting runaway slaves as crewmembers or paid sailors, usually at the low rank of “landsman.” By the end of the war nearly 20,000 black sailors had enlisted, a figure which represented nearly 20 percent of the navy’s enlisted men. The majority of these black sailors were men who had been enslaved but seized naval service as a route to freedom.  Continue reading

Georgia Equal Rights Association

Georgia Equal Rights Association1866 – The Georgia Equal Rights Association First organized.
1867 – The Georgia Equal Rights Association met in Macon.
Its primary goal was to encourage blacks to register and vote on a new state constitution.

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