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

William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown was born near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1814. His father was George Higgins, a white plantation owner, but his mother was a black slave. “My mother’s name was Elizabeth. She had seven children, Solomon, Leander, Benjamin, Joseph, Millford, Elizabeth, and myself. No two of us were children of the same father.”

As a house slave he was better treated than the field workers: “I was a house servant – a situation preferable to that of a field hand, as I was better fed, better clothed, and not obliged to rise at the ringing of the bell, but about half an hour after.”

When he was a child his master moved to Saint Charles, Missouri. “My master owned about forty slaves, twenty-five of whom were field hands… in addition to his practice as a physician, he carried on milling, merchandising and farming. He had a large farm, the principal productions of which were tobacco and hemp. The slave cabins were situated on the back part of the farm, with the house of the overseer, whose name was Grove Cook, in their midst.”  Continue reading

James Augustine Healey

James Augustine Healy the first black bishop ordained in the U.S.

James Augustine Healy, was appointed February 12, 1875, and consecrated as Bishop of Portland (Maine) at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (see Cathedral) on June 2, 1875. James Augustine Healy became the first black bishop ordained in the United States. He was the son of an Irish immigrant, Michael Healy, who became a prosperous plantation-owner in Georgia, and a mulatto woman who was actually a slave.

James was educated in northern schools and later attended the newly established Holy Cross College. There he made his decision to enter the priesthood. He furthered his studies in Montreal and Paris where he was ordained in 1854 at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. After ordination Father Healy was assigned to Bishop John Fitzpatrick’s Boston Diocese. He remained there serving first at the House of the Angel Guardian, then as Chancellor of the Diocese and finally as pastor of St. James Church. When his appointment came as the second Bishop of Portland, he was forty-five years old.  Continue reading

Slavery abolished in all French territories

On 4 February 1794, the First Republic (Convention) voted for the abolition of slavery in all French colonies.  The abolition decree stated that “the Convention declares the slavery of the Blacks abolished in all the colonies;  consequently, all men, irrespective of colour, living in the colonies are French citizens and will enjoy all the rights provided by the Constitution.”

Restored by the Consulate in 1802, slavery was definitively abolished in 1848 by the Second Republic, on Victor Schoelcher’s initiative.

Claude McKay

Claude McKay

Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on 15th September, 1890. He began writing poetry as a schoolboy. He worked as a policeman in Spanish Town and when he was twenty-two had his first volume of poems, Songs of Jamaica (1912) published.In 1912 McKay moved to the United States where he attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and Kansas State University. He continued to write poetry and in 1918 his work was praised by both Frank Harris and Max Eastman. The following year, his poem, If We Must Die, was published in Eastman’s journal, The Liberator.

Frank Harris encouraged McKay to obtain writing experience in England. In 1919 McKay travelled to England where he met George Bernard Shaw who introduced him to influential left-wing figures in journalism. This included Sylvia Pankhurst, who recruited him to write for her trade union journal, Workers’ Dreadnought. While in London McKay read the works of Karl Marx and becomes a committed socialist.  Continue reading