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Black Facts for February 21st

Selma - The Bridget to the Ballot - Movie

1883 - (1895) John H. Smyth, “The African in Africa and the African in America”

Virginia-born John Henry Smyth, late 19th Century lawyer and diplomat, had spent nearly five years as the U.S. Minister to Liberia, representing both President Rutherford B. Hayes and Chester A. Arthur.  He was given an L.L. D. degree by Liberia College and appointed Knight Commander of the Liberia Order of African Redemption by Liberia"s President H. Richard Wright Johnson.  In the speech below, given in 1895 at the Cotton States Exposition (where Booker T. Washington made his most famous address) Smyth discussed the nexus between Africans and African Americans.

The fact will be readily admitted by those most familiar with the sentiment of a large and not unimportant portion of our American citizenship, who, by the fortunes and misfortunes of war, viewed from the standpoint of one or the other combatants of the sanguinary struggle of 1861—62—63—64, were made equal before the law with all other citizens, that as a class they are averse to the discussion of Africa when their relationship with that ancient and mysterious land and its races is made the subject of discourse or reflection. The remoteness of Africa from America may be a reason for such feeling; the current opinion in the minds of the Caucasians, whence the American Negroes’ opinions are derived, that the African is by nature an inferior man, may be a reason. The illiteracy, poverty, and degradation of the Negro, pure and simple, as known in Christian lands, may be a reason in connection with the partially true and partially false impression that the Negroes, or Africans, are pagan and heathen as a whole, and as a sequence hopelessly degraded beings. These may be some of the reasons that make the subject of Africa discordant and unmusical to our ears. It is amid such embarrassments that the lecturer, the orator, the missionary must present Africa to the Negro in Christian America.

In view of recent newspaper articles about migration of Negroes to Liberia, so much has been recently said by men of African descent of prominence, and by men of like

1965 - Malcolm X

Malcolm X was a civil rights leader, spokesman for black nationalism and leader of the Nation of Islam, and had a major influence on the political and social thinking of African Americans. His birth name was Malcolm Little and he was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska to Louise and Earl Little. Earl was a Baptist preacher and member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The family often faced frequent racial discrimination and threats from radical groups such as Ku Klux Klan and the Black Legion. Malcolm recalls the men who used to come to his house in Omaha, brandishing their guns and rifles. In one particularly scary incident, they broke all the windows of the house, after which Earl decided to move with his family to East Lansing, Michigan.

However, the incidents and threats continued, even in Michigan. In 1929, a group of racist citizens burned the Little’s house down as they watched helplessly. They cried out for assistance but none was forthcoming from the fire fighters or emergency response team which only had white members. Two years later in 1931, a much bigger tragedy struck; Earl was murdered and his body was laid out on the railway tracks. Although it seemed quite likely that the act was committed by a white supremacy racist group, the local police ruled the cause of death as suicide, thereby depriving the family of the premium from the life insurance policy that Earl had purchased to provide for them in the event of his death.

The family struggled to make ends meet after Earl’s death, especially given that the Great Depression was in full swing in the 1930s. Louise became mentally ill and was committed to a mental institution, whereas Malcolm and his siblings were sent to live with foster families. He was a juvenile delinquent by the age of 13, and was sent to live in a detention home for young boys. By the age of 15, he dropped out of school. He continued to hold menial jobs and indulge in petty crime. At the age of 20, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for burglary. It

Black Sands, Legends of Kemet Official Trailer

1945 - Gossett, Larry (1945-- )

Born on February 21, 1945 in Seattle to parents, Nelmon and Johnnie Carter Gossett, Larry Gossett has been a dedicated public servant for over 40 years. After graduating from Franklin High School, he was a VISTA volunteer in Harlem (1966-1967). Gossett attended the University of Washington, where he was one of the original founders of the Black Student Union (BSU) in 1968. As a respected student activist, he fought to eliminate racial discrimination and increase the enrollment of African Americans, and other students of color at the University.

After graduation in 1971, Gossett was the first supervisor of the Black Student Division, in the Office of Minority Affairs. From April 1979 until December 1993, he was the Executive Director of the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP), one of the oldest and largest community action agencies in the city of Seattle. In 1975 Larry Gossett married Rhonda Christine Oden.  The couple have three children, Nicole, Malcolm and Langston, and two grandchildren.

Larry Gossett entered politics in the 1990s.  In 1993 he was elected to the King County Council, representing District Ten (currently District Two), which encompassed most of the inner-city neighborhoods in Seattle. He was overwhelmingly re-elected in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.  In 2007 Gossett became just the second African American elected to be chair of the King County Council.

Councilmember Gossett is a highly respected community leader who has advocated for the underrepresented and underprivileged in King County for all of his adult life and in particular as a public official since 1993.  He has long fought for programs that help inner-city youth and reduce racial and class disparities in our local criminal justice system.

Councilmember Gossett has also traveled all over the world attending forums and conferences on social justice questions.  While in office he has participated as a delegate in numerous International Trade Missions usually with the goal of ensuring that African Americans and other people of

1940 - Lewis, John R. (1940- )

John Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama on February 21, 1940.  In 1961 he received a B.A. from American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1967 he received an additional B.A. from Fisk University located in Nashville, Tennessee.

While attending American Baptist Seminary, Lewis emerged as a civil rights leader after his participation in the Nashville sit-in movement in 1960 and the Freedom Rides the following year.  In 1963 at the age of 23, Lewis helped plan the March on Washington and was one of the keynote speakers.  Lewis also served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966.  By the time he assumed the leadership of SNCC he had been arrested 24 times as a consequence of his protest activities.  Lewis became nationally known after Alabama State Troopers and other police attacked him and 500 other protesters as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge during the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March.  To this day some of the wounds from his beating are still visible.

In 1966 Lewis left SNCC as it embraced a “black power” ideology, and started working with community organizations in Atlanta, Georgia.  Later that year he was named director of community affairs for the National Consumer Co-op Bank in Atlanta.

Lewis first ran for office in 1977 in an unsuccessful attempt to win the vacant 5th District Congressional Seat created when President Jimmy Carter appointed Congressman Andrew Young to be Ambassador to the United Nations.  Lewis lost the special election to the future U.S. Senator Wyche Fowler who at the time was an Atlanta City Councilman.  Four years later Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council, a position which helped him gain crucial experience and exposure for his next congressional race.  In 1986 Fowler decided to run for the U.S. Senate which left his seat open.  Lewis ran for the seat, winning the Democratic primary and then the general election.  John Lewis was only the second African American since

1965 - Malcolm X

Malcolm X , original name Malcolm Little, Muslim name el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (born May 19, 1925, Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.—died February 21, 1965, New York, New York), African American leader and prominent figure in the Nation of Islam who articulated concepts of race pride and black nationalism in the early 1960s. After his assassination, the widespread distribution of his life story— The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965)—made him an ideological hero, especially among black youth.

Born in Nebraska, while an infant Malcolm moved with his family to Lansing, Michigan. When Malcolm was six years old, his father, the Rev. Earl Little, a Baptist minister and former supporter of the early black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, died after being hit by a streetcar, quite possibly the victim of murder by whites. The surviving family was so poor that Malcolm’s mother, Louise Little, resorted to cooking dandelion greens from the street to feed her children. After she was committed to an insane asylum in 1939, Malcolm and his siblings were sent to foster homes or to live with family members.

Malcolm excelled in school, but after one of his eighth-grade teachers told him that he should become a carpenter instead of a lawyer, he lost interest and soon ended his formal education. As a rebellious youngster, Malcolm moved from the Michigan State Detention Home, a juvenile home in Mason, Michigan, to the Roxbury section of Boston to live with an older half sister, Ella, from his father’s first marriage. There he became involved in petty criminal activities in his teenage years. Known as “Detroit Red” for the reddish tinge in his hair, he developed into a street hustler, drug dealer, and leader of a gang of thieves in Roxbury and Harlem (in New York City).

While in prison for robbery from 1946 to 1952, he underwent a conversion that eventually led him to join the Nation of Islam, an African American movement that combined elements of Islam with black nationalism. His decision to join the Nation also was influenced by