ShowCase Fact Of The Day

(1842) Charles Lenox Remond, “The Rights Of Colored Citizens In Traveling”

In 1842 Charles Lenox Remond became one of the first African Americans to give testimony before a state legislature when he addressed a committee of the Massachusetts House of Representatives investigating discrimination in public transportation. Here Remond contrasted the absence of discrimination in his travels in Europe with his rude treatment on public transportation in and around Boston. His remarks appear below.

Mr. Chairman, and Gentlemen of the Committee: In rising at this time, and on this occasion, being the first person of color who has ever addressed either of the bodies assembling in this building, I should perhaps, in the first place, observe that, in consequence of the many misconstructions of the principles and measures of which I am the humble advocate, I may in like manner be subject to similar misconceptions from the moment I open my lips in behalf of the prayer of the petitioners for whom I appear, and therefore feel I have the right at least to ask, at the hands of this intelligent Committee, an impartial hearing; and that whatever prejudices they may have imbibed, be eradicated from their minds, if such exist. I have, however, too much confidence in their intelligence, and too much faith in their determination to do their duty as the representatives of this Commonwealth, to presume they can be actuated by partial motives. Trusting, as I do, that the day is not distant, when, on all questions touching the rights of the citizens of this State, men shall be considered great only as they are good—and not that it shall be told, and painfully experienced, that, in this country, this State, aye, this city, the Athens of America, the rights, privileges and immunities of its citizens are measured by complexion, or any other physical peculiarity or conformation, especially such as over which no man has any control. Complexion can in no sense be construed into crime, much less be rightfully made the criterion of rights. Should the people of color, through a revolution of Providence, become a

Black Facts for February 25th

1837 - Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (1837-- )

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, located near Cheyney, Pennsylvania,  was founded on February 25, 1837, making it the oldest predominantly African American institution of higher education in the United States. It was originally known as the African Institute was renamed the Institute of Colored Youth in 1852.

The monetary funds to start the institution were bequeathed by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist.  Humphreys was born on a plantation in the West Indies and came to Philadelphia in 1764. After seeing many African Americans lose employment to more skilled immigrants, he provided in his will $10,000 to start an institution that would teach young African American boys and girls the skills they needed to be more competitive in the job market. Originally located in Philadelphia, the school taught basic subjects such as reading, writing and math as well as mechanics and agriculture. Humphreys envisioned the institute training the teachers who would then instruct far more young women and men.

In 1902, the school purchased a farm owned by another Quaker, George Cheyney, and relocated 25 miles west of Philadelphia. Booker T. Washington served as keynote speaker at the school’s reopening in 1905. In 1914 the school was renamed to Cheyney Training School for Teachers after receiving aid from the State of Pennsylvania.  It became Cheyney State College in 1959 and in 1983 the institution adopted its current name, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania remains a small institution with an estimated 1,600 students enrolled in October 2009. With a School of Arts and Sciences and a School of Educational and Professional Studies, Cheyney now offers over 30 baccalaureate degrees and a variety of MA degrees in Education.  The vast majority of Cheyney"s students are African American. When Cheyney University of Pennsylvania was founded, it was originally for African Americans only.  The university now accepts people of all races and religions.

Cheyney University"s most famous alumni

2006 - Gabre-Medhin Tsegaye

Gabre-Medhin Tsegaye , also called Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin (born August 17, 1936, Boda, near Ambo, Ethiopia—died February 25, 2006, New York, New York, U.S.), Ethiopian playwright and poet, who wrote in Amharic and English.

Tsegaye earned a degree (1959) from the Blackstone School of Law in Chicago. His interests soon turned to drama, however, and he studied stagecraft at the Royal Court Theatre in London and at the Comédie-Française in Paris. After returning to Ethiopia, he served as director of the Haile Selassie I Theatre (now the National Theatre) from 1961 to 1971. He later founded Addis Ababa University’s theatre department.

Tsegaye wrote more than 30 plays, most of them in Amharic, and translated a number of plays of William Shakespeare and Molière into that language as well. His Amharic plays deal primarily with contemporary Ethiopia, especially with the plight of youth in urban settings and the need to respect traditional morality, as in Crown of Thorns (1959). Oda Oak Oracle (1965) is Tsegaye’s best-known verse play written in English. Like his other English plays, it is based on Ethiopian history and focuses on religious conflict. Collision of Altars (1977) is an experimental play that includes mime, incantation, dance, and the use of masks.

Tsegaye was considered Ethiopia’s leading poet. His English poetry appeared in Ethiopian journals and was included in several anthologies of African poetry, including New Sum of Poetry from the Negro World (1966). A prolific poet, he wrote about a wide variety of subjects, including Ethiopian history. Tsegaye was also a noted human rights activist, and he traveled widely to promote Ethiopian culture.

1965 - Webb, Veronica (1965- )

Veronica Webb is an African American model, actress, writer, and television personality. Webb was the first African American to have a major cosmetics contract when she signed with Revlon in 1992. Webb also appeared on the covers of Vogue, Essence, and Elle magazines and had the opportunity to be on the runway for Victoria’s Secret and Chanel. Webb was born on February 25, 1965, in Detroit, Michigan, to Marion Webb, a registered nurse, and Leonard Douglas Webb, an electrician.

Growing up, Webb identified with magazine models and women who were involved in the fashion industry She also enjoyed comic books and dreamed initially of becoming an animator. Webb attended the Detroit Waldorf School, a private institution located in the historic Detroit Indian Village neighborhood where she graduated in 1983. After graduation, Webb moved to New York City, New York to study design. When a makeup artist saw her in a boutique, he encouraged her to drop out of school to become a model. Webb pursued a modeling career in New York City and eventually became a spokesmodel for the cosmetics giant Revlon. Webb, at the age of twenty-seven, was the first black model to win an exclusive contract for a major cosmetics company.

In 1991 Webb made her feature film debut in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. Her other film credits include Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992), The Big Tease (1999), and Someone Like You (2001). Webb also had a recurring role on the television show Damon and appeared on Just Shoot Me, Becker, and Clueless. In 2006 Webb appeared in the independent feature film Dirty Laundry.

During her career as a runaway model, Webb modeled fashions from the collections of major designers, including Azzedine Alaia, Isaac Mizrahi, Karl Lagerfeld, and Todd Oldham. Webb was named to American Vogue’s best-dressed list three times. She has also written essays and columns for the interview publication, Paper Magazine (“New York City’s style guide to downtown cool), Panorama (an Italian weekly news magazine), Details, Elle, The British Sunday

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Malcolm X Speaks on History of Politics in the U.S.

1980 - Robert Hayden

Robert Hayden , in full Robert Earl Hayden, original name Asa Bundy Sheffey (born August 4, 1913, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.—died February 25, 1980, Ann Arbor, Michigan), African American poet whose subject matter is most often the black experience.

Hayden grew up in Detroit and attended Detroit City College (now Wayne State University; B.A., 1936). He joined the Federal Writers’ Project, researching black folklore and the history of the Underground Railroad in Michigan. His first collection of poems, Heart-Shape in the Dust, was published in 1940. While a graduate student at the University of Michigan (M.A., 1944), he studied poetry with W.H. Auden. During much of his career as a Fisk University professor (1946–69) his work was not well known, but he gained a public after his A Ballad of Remembrance (1962) won a grand prize at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in 1966 in Dakar, Senegal. In 1976 he became the first African American to be appointed poetry consultant to the Library of Congress (now poet laureate consultant in poetry).

Hayden was influenced by a wide range of 20th-century poets, from W.B. Yeats to Countee Cullen. His best-known poem dealing with black history is “Middle Passage,” an alternately lyric, narrative, and dramatic view of the slave trade. Hayden’s Bahaʾī beliefs were often reflected in his poetry, which confronted the brutality of racism. While teaching at the University of Michigan (1969–80), he published the poetry collections Words in the Mourning Time (1970), including his tribute to Malcolm X; The Night-Blooming Cereus (1972), concerned with the meaning of life; Angle of Ascent: New and Selected Poems (1975); and American Journal (1980). Hayden’s The Collected Prose (1984) and Collected Poems (1985, reprinted, with a new introduction, 1996) were posthumously published.

1975 - Elijah Muhammad

Elijah Muhammad was an African American religious leader of the Nation of Islam, a religious movement based on the principles of Islam, focused specifically on black Muslims. His birth name was Elijah Robert Poole and he was the seventh of thirteen children born to William and Mariah Poole. His parents were Baptist sharecroppers. He only received formal education up till the fourth grade, after which he left school to work in sawmills and brickyards in order to provide for his family. This was a time marred by racial oppression, and Muhammad and his family felt the brunt of it. He married Clara Evans with whom he eventually had eight children.

He moved his family to Michigan where he worked at an automotive factory. While in Michigan, he began attending various meetings of Black Nationalist movements. During one of these meetings, he met William Fard, who gave a speech on Islam and black empowerment. Elijah was impressed and believed Fard to be God, or Allah himself, while he considered himself as a messenger of Islam. He decided to join the movement and became an ardent follower of Fard, as did some of his siblings and his wife. He was given an Islamic name, first Karreim, and later Muhammad. He was soon appointed as the leader of the Chicago headquarters of the movement, named Nation’s Temple No. 2, and later relocated to Detroit. When Fard mysteriously disappeared in 1934, Elijah became the leader of the movement. He established a university named “Muhammad University of Islam” but this was challenged by the school boards. There were several violent confrontations between the movement’s members and the police, and Elijah was put on probation.

Other leaders of the movement, including Elijah Muhammad’s own brother, challenged his teachings and authority. Elijah relocated with and without his family several times, and established Temple No. 3 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Temple No. 4 in Washington, D.C. In 1942, he was imprisoned for evading the draft for World War II, for which he spent 4 years in jail. He

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