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Black Facts for May 22nd

1967 - Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes , in full James Mercer Langston Hughes (born February 1, 1902, Joplin, Missouri, U.S.—died May 22, 1967, New York, New York), American writer who was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance and made the African American experience the subject of his writings, which ranged from poetry and plays to novels and newspaper columns.

Hughes’s parents separated soon after his birth, and he was raised by his mother and grandmother. After his grandmother’s death, he and his mother moved to half a dozen cities before reaching Cleveland, where they settled. He wrote the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” the summer after his graduation from high school in Cleveland; it was published in The Crisis in 1921 and brought him considerable attention. After attending Columbia University in New York City in 1921–22, he explored Harlem, forming a permanent attachment to what he called the “great dark city,” and worked as a steward on a freighter bound for Africa. Back in New York City from seafaring and sojourning in Europe, he met in 1924 the writers Arna Bontemps and Carl Van Vechten, with whom he would have lifelong influential friendships. Hughes won an Opportunity magazine poetry prize in 1925. That same year, Van Vechten introduced Hughes’s poetry to the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, who accepted the collection that Knopf would publish as The Weary Blues in 1926.

While working as a busboy in a hotel in Washington, D.C., in late 1925, Hughes put three of his own poems beside the plate of Vachel Lindsay in the dining room. The next day, newspapers around the country reported that Lindsay, among the most popular white poets of the day, had “discovered” an African American busboy poet, which earned Hughes broader notice. Hughes received a scholarship to, and began attending, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in early 1926. That same year, he received the Witter Bynner Undergraduate Poetry Award, and he published “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”in The Nation, a manifesto in which he called for a

1922 - Rawles, George Washington (1845–1922)

George Rawles was born in South Carolina to a young slave mother owned by Benjamin Rawles II.  At the age of 17 and now living in Perry County, Mississippi, he was given to his master’s son, Benjamin Rawles III to be his body servant during the Civil War. Both men enlisted in the Confederate Army into Company B, 7th Battalion Mississippi Infantry; Benjamin as an officer and George as a private. Although the Battalion engaged in several battles including the siege and surrender at Vicksburg, Mississippi in June 1863 and the siege at Atlanta, Georgia between July and September 1864, it is not known if George Rawles actually took up arms against the Union Army. Both he and his master Benjamin survived the war. Benjamin Rawles died in 1910.  

Rawles married after the end of the Civil War. He and his wife, Jane, spent many years in South Carolina farming. They had nine children but only two survived to adulthood.  When news of the 1880 Lake County, Colorado mining boom reached South Carolina, the Rawles family migrated to Leadville, Colorado where George obtained a job as a hod carrier.     

With the dwindling of mining jobs after 1893, George and Jane Rawles moved to Seattle where he worked as a street laborer for the city. After the death of Jane in 1907, he remarried the following year to Jane York. Very little is known about his life in Seattle other than his arrival in the city when he was 53 years old. George Washington Rawles died on May 22, 1922 in Tacoma, Washington.

Sources:

Stewart Sifkas, Compendium of Confederate Armies (Baltimore: Heritage Books,  2003); US Federal Census 1910, Microfilm number T624-1662, Page 3B, Enumeration District 188, Seattle Ward 11, King County, Washington acknowledges his service in the Confederate Army.

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1948 - Claude McKay

Claude McKay , (born September 15, 1889, Nairne Castle, Jamaica, British West Indies—died May 22, 1948, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.), Jamaican-born poet and novelist whose Home to Harlem (1928) was the most popular novel written by an American black to that time. Before going to the U.S. in 1912, he wrote two volumes of Jamaican dialect verse, Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads (1912).

After attending Tuskegee Institute (1912) and Kansas State Teachers College (1912–14), McKay went to New York in 1914, where he contributed regularly to The Liberator, then a leading journal of avant-garde politics and art. The shock of American racism turned him from the conservatism of his youth. With the publication of two volumes of poetry, Spring in New Hampshire (1920) and Harlem Shadows (1922), McKay emerged as the first and most militant voice of the Harlem Renaissance. After 1922 McKay lived successively in the Soviet Union, France, Spain, and Morocco. In both Home to Harlem and Banjo (1929), he attempted to capture the vitality and essential health of the uprooted black vagabonds of urban America and Europe. There followed a collection of short stories, Gingertown (1932), and another novel, Banana Bottom (1933). In all these works McKay searched among the common folk for a distinctive black identity.

After returning to America in 1934, McKay was attacked by the communists for repudiating their dogmas and by liberal whites and blacks for his criticism of integrationist-oriented civil rights groups. McKay advocated full civil liberties and racial solidarity. In 1940 he became a U.S. citizen; in 1942 he was converted to Roman Catholicism and worked with a Catholic youth organization until his death. He wrote for various magazines and newspapers, including the New Leader and the New York Amsterdam News. He also wrote an autobiography, A Long Way from Home (1937), and a study, Harlem: Negro Metropolis (1940). His Selected Poems (1953) was issued posthumously.

1990 - Williams, Franklin Hall (1917-1990)

Longtime civil rights organizer and later U.S. Ambassador, Franklin Hall Williams was born on October 22, 1917, in Flushing, New York. His mother died in 1919. Williams was raised by his maternal grandparents. He graduated from Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1941. After serving in the United States Army, he completed Fordham University Law School in New York City in 1945, passing the New York State bar examination before receiving his degree.

Williams was appointed assistant special counsel to the Legal Defense and Educational Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1945. He served as a special aide to Thurgood Marshall who headed the Legal Defense Fund. Marshall and Williams handled a number of death penalty cases in the South. Williams appeared before the Supreme Court and won reversals of death sentences for several African American youths who had been unjustly convicted of capital crimes.

After five years in the national office of the NAACP, Williams in 1950 was appointed regional director of the Association’s West Coast office located in San Francisco, California. He was responsible for legal, legislative, and membership matters in nine western states and the territories of Alaska, and Hawaii. Williams continually campaigned against racial discrimination in California and played a major role in civil rights reform. He won the first judgment in a major case involving school desegregation, fought successfully to remove restrictive covenants in real estate, and helped secure a state law that forbade employment discrimination.  

California Attorney General Stanley Mosk appointed Williams Assistant Attorney General in 1959, the first African American to hold this position. Williams established the state’s first Constitutional Rights division in the Department of Justice.

In 1961, Sargent Shriver invited Williams to Washington to assist him in organizing the new Peace Corps in the administration of President John F. Kennedy. He and Shriver

1967 - Hughes, Langston (1902-1967)

Poet, novelist, playwright, librettist, essayist, and translator, James Mercer Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri on Februray 1, 1902 to parents Caroline (Carrie) Mercer Langston, a school teacher, and James Nathaniel Hughes, an attorney. His parents separated before Langston was born and he spent his preadolescent years with his maternal grandmother, Mary Patterson Langston, in Lawrence, Kansas.  Mary Langston was the second wife of Charles Henry Langston, a major black political activist in Kansas, and the sister-in-law of former U.S. Congressman John Mercer Langston. After his grandmother’s death, Caroline married Homer Clark, a steel mill worker in Lincoln, Illinois. The couple settled in Cleveland, Ohio with Langston and his younger brother, Gwyn.

Hughes was fiercely independent from an early age. When his mother and brother followed his stepfather who occassionally left the family in search of higher wages, Langston stayed in Cleveland to finish high school. He also had a volatile relationship with his attorney father who pursued work in Cuba and who by 1920 was general manager of an American company in Mexico. Langston Hughes joined his father in Mexico City briefly in 1919, moved back to Cleveland to complete high school, and then upon receiving his diploma in 1920, returned to Mexico City.

Rather than acquiesce to his domineering father’s demands that he pursue a degree in mining engineering, Langston moved to New York City, New York and enrolled in Columbia University. Hughes quit Columbia after a year and decided to acquire a more worldly education. In 1922, he began a two-year stint as a ship crewman, during which he traveled to, and spent considerable time in, western Africa, France, and Italy. He also briefly lived in the expatriate community in London, England before returning to the United States in November 1924 to live with his mother in Washington, D.C.  While there in 1925 he became the personal assistant of historan Carter G. Woodson, the founder of the Association for the Study

Politics Facts

Facts About Women

1874 - Daniel F. Malan

Daniel F. Malan , in full Daniel François Malan (born May 22, 1874, near Riebeeck West, Cape Colony [now in Western Cape, S.Af.]—died Feb. 7, 1959, Stellenbosch, S.Af.), statesman and politician who formed South Africa’s first exclusively Afrikaner government and instituted the policy of apartheid (the enforced segregation of nonwhites from whites).

Malan was educated at Victoria College, Stellenbosch, and at the University of Utrecht, Neth., where he received a doctorate in divinity in 1905. He returned to the Cape to enter the ministry of the Dutch Reformed Church. Always a vigorous exponent of Afrikaner aspirations and the use of the Afrikaans language, Malan left the pulpit in 1915 to edit Die Burger, a Cape Town newspaper that supported the National Party, which had been founded by J.B.M. Hertzog the previous year.

On entering Parliament in 1918, Malan soon demonstrated considerable talent, especially as a forceful speaker. The following year he became a member of the delegation that went to the Versailles Peace Conference to request independence for South Africa on the basis of self-determination. In 1924 he joined Hertzog’s Cabinet as minister of the interior. While holding that post he instituted laws that established a South African nationality and a flag and recognized Afrikaans as an official language of the Union, replacing Dutch (sometimes referred to as Netherlandic), from which it had evolved. (Formerly only English and Dutch had been used officially.) When Hertzog’s National Party merged with Jan Smuts’s South African Party in 1934, Malan left the government and founded the Purified National Party, which became the official opposition.

Malan’s Purified National Party voted (unsuccessfully) to keep South Africa out of World War II in September 1939. Hertzog, who also favoured neutrality, soon reconciled with Malan, and the two formed the Re-united National Party in late 1939. Differences between the two leaders reemerged, and Hertzog and others eventually withdrew because of the Malan’s

1920 - Cayton, Horace Roscoe (1859-1940)

Horace Roscoe Cayton spent nearly all his life combating racism. The child of a Mississippi slave, Cayton came of age during the Reconstruction, and post-Reconstruction eras and had already cultivated strong opinions on human, political, and civil rights by the time he settled in Seattle, Washington in 1890. Using his weekly newspapers The Seattle Republican (1894-1913) and Cayton’s Weekly (1916-1920) as major weapons, he fought ferociously for the rights of African Americans. Because of his fearless reporting, Cayton faced threats on numerous occasions, including an arrest in 1901 ordered by Seattle Chief of Police W.L. Meredith, and a 1918 “visit” by a U.S. Special Prosecutor for supposedly seditious editorials published during World War I.

In addition to his publishing activities, Cayton was deeply involved in community affairs throughout his life. He was a charter member of the (Seattle) Negro Business Men’s League; an executive committee member of the King County Colored Republican Club; a founder and executive committee member of the Seattle, Washington branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Cayton served as a Republican County Convention delegate on numerous occasions between 1900 and 1920. He also helped raise money for the Mt. Zion Baptist Church new building construction fund by publishing a Souvenir edition of Cayton’s Weekly on May 22, 1920.

Horace Cayton’s newspaper reports on the activities of Washington’s Black residents now serve as instructive historical resources. Realizing it or not, Cayton served as an historian of Washington’s early Black history. Cayton died in Seattle, Washington at on August 16, 1940. He was 81 years old.

Association for African American Historical Research and Preservation (AAAHRP)

1948 - McKay, Claude (1889-1948)

Harlem Renaissance writer Festus Claudius McKay was born on September 15, 1889, in Sunny Ville, in the Clarendon Hills of Jamaica, to peasant farmers Hannah Ann Elizabeth Edwards  and Thomas Frank McKay. Young Claude was tutored by his elder schoolmaster brother, Uriah Theodore McKay, who introduced him to a library dominated by the ideas of the great free thinkers, particularly Thomas Huxley and Herbert Spencer. While working in Kingston as a constable, McKay became the protégé of Walter Jekyll, a British aristocrat and anthropologist who also placed his personal library at Claude McKay’s disposal.    

McKay published his first two volumes of poetry, Songs of Jamaica (1912) and Constab Ballads (1912), written in the island’s rich dialect, before migrating to America to study agronomy at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and later at Kansas State University. By 1917, however, he was no longer in college and living in Harlem. 

McKay’s very formal sonnets, “Harlem Shadows” and “Innovations,” published in the Liberator in 1917, place him among the founders of the emerging Harlem Renaissance.  Yet his militant sonnets:  “If We Must Die,” “The White House,” and “America,” first published in 1919, best epitomized the uncompromising “voice” of this “New Negro movement.” With the publication of Spring in New Hampshire (1920) and Harlem Shadows (1922) during the early years of the Harlem Renaissance, McKay emerged as one of its significant poets.  While many literary critics and historians point to the militant voices of McKay"s speakers and the radicalism of his associates on the political left, and especially the Communist Party in the early 1920, McKay remained an incurable Romantic, infected by the pastoral legacies of agrarian Jamaica.

Claude McKay wrote three novels: Home to Harlem (1929), Banjo (1929), and Banana Bottom (1932).  He also published a collection of short stories titled Gingertown in 1932.  Written during an era where black writers often pandered to the stereotypes of the

Education Facts

1967 - Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes, or just Langston Hughes, was an American writer, poet and social activist, born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. Most popularly recognized and appreciated for his work in literary art form of jazz poetry and the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, Hughes worked in the poetic and writing business for close to 40 years. The Renaissance particularly revolved around the emergence of African-American culture in literature and the liberal arts, something that Hughes devoted his life’s work to. As a child, Hughes became dedicated to the cause of African-American and racial rights, setting foundations for some of his most popular works. Another important theme that he pertained to in his poetry concerned the ideology of Communism, as he believed the Communist ideology was the only solution to the discriminations against the African-Americans in the United States.

Like the broader themes of Communism and African-American rights, Hughes was also particularly keen on highlighting the various prejudices in the socio-economic settings of society on the basis of skin color, and at the same time spoke for the troubles suffered by the Black working middle class. Along similar lines, he was also a huge adherent of national and international African ideologies and unity, implying how there needs to be racial consciousness clear of hatred not just on a local platform but one that on the global scale as well. One of his earliest works signifying these themes included a poem published in The Crisis called The Negro Speaks of Rivers became a popular effort on Hughes’ part. Another piece concerning similar ideas called The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain was published in The Nation in 1926, encouraging Blacks to proceed through societal and economic efforts without fear and shame. His first novel, called Not without Laughter, came out in 1930, entirely supported by private patrons at a time when art grants were difficult to secure. The story narrates the life of an African boy and his family,

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