The Dictionary Lady
In 1992, noticed that children on their way to school in her Savannah, Georgia, neighborhood were not carrying books. With $50, she bought thirty dictionaries and handed them out to children on the street corner. In each book, she wrote the motto of the United Negro College Fund, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
When others heard of her idea, they began sending her money so she could expand the project. She also sold t-shirts to raise more money. By 1996, she had given dictionaries to more than 17,000 children, by 1999, nearly 35,000. Annie Plummer was one of 12 children. She dropped out of school to have a baby and her first job was as a maid. She managed to find time to become involved in community affairs and is an example to us all of how anybody can have a good idea to help people.
John Brown was a man of action — a man who would not be deterred from his mission of abolishing slavery. On October 16, 1859, he led 21 men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His plan to arm slaves with the weapons he and his men seized from the arsenal was thwarted, however, by local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, most of Brown’s men had been killed or captured.
John Brown was born into a deeply religious family in Torrington, Connecticut, in 1800. Led by a father who was vehemently opposed to slavery, the family moved to northern Ohio when John was five, to a district that would become known for its antislavery views. Continue reading
Freed American slaves established country of Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, 1824. After the struggle for liberty in the American Revolution, free and enslaved African Americans faced continued hardship and inequality. A number of white Americans, for a variety of reasons, joined them in their efforts to resolve this complex problem.
One possible solution (advocated at a time when the assimilation of free blacks into American society seemed out of the question) was the complete separation of white and black Americans. Some voices called for the return of African Americans to the land of their forebears. Continue reading
On a December day in 1747 Briton Hammon, a slave to Major John Winslow of Marshfield, Massachusetts, walked out of town with, as he put it, `an Intention to go a voyage to sea.’ Tucked into the sandy bight of Cape Cod Bay, some thirty miles south of Boston, and reeking of tidal flats and Stockholm tar, Marshfield was a minor star in the galaxy of Britain’s commercial empire, and only a short walk from Plymouth, where Hammon shipped himself the next day `on board of a Sloop, Capt. John Howland, Master, bound to Jamaica and the Bay’ of Campeche for logwood.
Experienced at shipboard work, as were approximately 25 percent of the male slaves in coastal Massachusetts during the 1740s, Hammon had not run away. But like all black people in early America who wrought freedom where they could, nurtured it warily, and understood it as partial and ambiguous at best, Hammon seized the moment. Continue reading
In 1634 Matthias de Sousa and John Price were picked up on the island of Barbados by two small ships that were sailing towards the Chesapeake Bay. Neither of the men had any money to pay for their voyage, so they agreed to work for up to seven years in order to repay the debt. Once their term of service was over, they were both to be declared freemen. Not much is known about the life of John Price after the seven years of service, but there is some documented records concerning Matthias de Sousa.
Matthias de Sousa was a passenger on the Dove when it landed on St. Clemens Island on March 25, 1634. “He was an aide to Father White, the Jesuit priest who came with the founding company of the state of Maryland.” Continue reading
A senior aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during the 1960s, Andrew Young had a meditative temperament that shaped his views as a proponent of nonviolent resistance. By the time he was sworn in to Congress in 1973, Young was committed to bringing King’s vision of civil rights to the nation and the world.1 His experiences in the grass-roots politics of the civil rights movement, combined with his diplomatic perspective and attitude, allowed Young to take principled but pragmatic stands for his constituents.
Andrew Jackson Young, Jr., was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Andrew and Daisy Fuller Young. His father was a dentist and his mother was a schoolteacher. Continue reading
Soon after Union troops had captured and occupied the southern city of Natchez, Mississippi, in the summer of 1863, northern missionaries set about establishing the region’s first schools for freedpeople. But they were surprised to learn that at least one school already existed, and it had been in operation for many years.
Even more astounding, the students at this school were slaves and so was their teacher, Lily Ann Granderson. (Other sources identify her as Milla Granson and Lila Grandison.) Although a small number of slaves learned to read and write in the antebellum South, schools for slaves and slave teachers were extraordinarily uncommon. Continue reading
Roland Burris, a longtime Illinois state official, was named to succeed former Senator and President-elect Barack Obama on December 31, 2008, becoming the sixth African American to serve in the United States Senate.1 Burris started his political career as a teenager at a swimming pool in his hometown of Centralia, Illinois, in the south central part of the state. Burris’s father, who was vice president of the local chapter of the NAACP, had his son and four friends racially integrate the pool after a two-year struggle. The successful effort made Burris focus on law and politics: “If we, as a race of people, are going to get anywhere in this society, we’ve got to have lawyers and elected officials who are responsible and responsive–that’s what my dad said, and it resonated with me.” Continue reading