Black Facts for February 20th

1895 - Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; c. February 1818 [4] – February 20, 1895) was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his dazzling oratory[5] and incisive antislavery writings. In his time, he was described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to slaveholders" arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.[6] [7] Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave.[8]

Douglass wrote several autobiographies. He described his experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active campaigner against slavery and wrote his last autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. First published in 1881 and revised in 1892, three years before his death, it covered events during and after the Civil War. Douglass also actively supported women"s suffrage, and held several public offices. Without his approval, Douglass became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate and Vice Presidential nominee of Victoria Woodhull, on the Equal Rights Party ticket.[9]

Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was also a believer in dialogue and in making alliances across racial and ideological divides, and in the liberal values of the U.S. Constitution. When radical abolitionists, under the motto "No Union With Slaveholders", criticized

2012 - Hall, Katie Beatrice (1938-2012)

Democratic representative Katie Hall was elected to the United States Congress in 1983. Born in Mound Bayou, Bolivar County, Mississippi in 1938, she attended Mississippi Valley State University and Indiana University before teaching in the public schools of Gary Indiana. Hall was elected to the Indiana State Legislature in 1972, and then to the Indiana State Senate in 1974, a position she was continually reelected to until 1983 when she campaigned for Congress from Indiana’s First Congressional District which is mostly Gary and the northwestern corner of the state.

Hall was nominated to run as a representative by the Democratic Party when Congressman Adam Benjamin died in office in 1982 shortly after winning reelection. Through a well organized six week campaign, Hall achieved an impressive 60% of the votes in the 1983 special election to become First District Representative, winning 97% of the black vote and a surprising 51% of the white vote.

Hall’s goals in office were to support a working-class constituency, to fight the rising unemployment in her district, and to combat high military spending and governmental support of big business over small businesses and the working class. Once in Congress, she became chairperson of the Census and Population Subcommittee, and of the Civil Service and Post Office committee. She is famous for having introduced the bill to make Martin Luther King Jr., birthday a national holiday. Representative John Conyers Jr. had first introduced legislation for the holiday days after Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. However it was Hall’s final version of the bill was passed into law in 1983.

Despite her striking victory in the 1983 special election, Hall did not win her bid for re-nomination in 1984 Democratic primary. Mrs. Hall blamed her failure on racism; however the 1984 campaign was weakly organized, and despite the symbolism of the King bill success, voters saw little economic progress during Hall’s term. She failed to win the support of the black community, losing by

Politics Facts

Education Facts

1895 - Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass , original name Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (born February 1818?, Tuckahoe, Maryland, U.S.—died February 20, 1895, Washington, D.C.), African American who was one of the most eminent human rights leaders of the 19th century. His oratorical and literary brilliance thrust him into the forefront of the U.S. abolition movement, and he became the first black citizen to hold high rank in the U.S. government.

Separated as an infant from his slave mother (he never knew his white father), Frederick lived with his grandmother on a Maryland plantation until, at age eight, his owner sent him to Baltimore to live as a house servant with the family of Hugh Auld, whose wife defied state law by teaching the boy to read. Auld, however, declared that learning would make him unfit for slavery, and Frederick was forced to continue his education surreptitiously with the aid of schoolboys in the street. Upon the death of his master, he was returned to the plantation as a field hand at 16. Later he was hired out in Baltimore as a ship caulker. Frederick tried to escape with three others in 1833, but the plot was discovered before they could get away. Five years later, however, he fled to New York City and then to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he worked as a labourer for three years, eluding slave hunters by changing his surname to Douglass.

At a Nantucket, Massachusetts, antislavery convention in 1841, Douglass was invited to describe his feelings and experiences under slavery. These extemporaneous remarks were so poignant and eloquent that he was unexpectedly catapulted into a new career as agent for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. From then on, despite heckling and mockery, insult, and violent personal attack, Douglass never flagged in his devotion to the abolitionist cause.

To counter skeptics who doubted that such an articulate spokesman could ever have been a slave, Douglass felt impelled to write his autobiography in 1845, revised and completed in 1882 as Life and Times of Frederick

Arts Facts

1874 - Burton, Walter Moses (1829?-1913)

Walter Moses Burton holds the distinction of being the first black elected sheriff in the United States.  Burton was also a State Senator in Texas.

Burton was brought to Fort Bend County, Texas as a slave from North Carolina in 1850 at the age of twenty-one.  While enslaved, he was taught how to read and write by his master, Thomas Burton. After the Civil War his former owner sold Burton several large plots of land for $1,900 making him one of the wealthiest and most influential blacks in Fort Bend County.  In 1869, Walter Burton was elected sheriff and tax collector of Fort Bend County.  Along with these duties, he also served as the president of the Fort Bend County Union League.

In 1873 Burton campaigned for and won a seat in the Texas Senate, where he served for seven years, from 1874 to 1875 and from 1876 to 1882.  In the Senate he championed the education of African Americans.  Among the many bills that he helped push through was one that called for the establishment of Prairie View Normal School (now Prairie View A&M University).  Burton also served the Republican Party as a member of the State Executive Committee at the state convention of 1873, as vice president of the 1878 and 1880 conventions, and as a member of the Committee on Platform and Resolutions at the 1892 state convention.

In January 1874, Burton was granted a certificate of election from the Thirteenth Senatorial District, but a white Democrat contested the election. The Texas Senate confirmed Burton"s election on February 20, 1874.  Burton ran for and was reelected to the Senate in 1876.  He left the Senate in 1882 but remained active in state and local politics until his death in 1913.

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1927 - Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier is an American actor and director, and the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was born on February 20, 1927 to Evelyn and Reginald James Poitier who were farmers from Bahama. At the time of Poitier’s birth, his parents were in the U.S. to sell the produce from their farm, and Poitier was born two months prematurely. He was a very weak baby and wasn’t expected to survive but his parents stayed behind in the U.S. to nurse him back to health before taking him back to the Bahamas with them. He grew up in the Bahamas but received a U.S. citizenship as he was born there. He lived on Cat Island until the age of 10, and then lived in Nassau until the age of 15. Then he moved to Miami to live with his brother for 2 years, and at the age of 17, he moved to New York City.

In New York, Poitier worked a string of menial jobs, improved his English with the help of a waiter who taught him to read and then joined the United States Army. He auditioned at the American Negro Theatre and landed a role in a production there. However, his first venture into acting was not very successful, especially as he lacked singing talent. He then worked to improve his acting skills and to get rid of his Bahamian accent. Over the next 6 months, he received better roles and established himself as an actor. His first leading role was in the Broadway production “Lysistrata” and his performance garnered positive reviews from critics. He landed a role in the 1950 film “No Way Out” in which he played the role of a doctor, which led to more prominent roles such as the 1955 film “Blackboard Jungle”.

Poitier became the first male African American actor to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award for his role in the 1958 film “The Defiant Ones”. In 1963, he made history by becoming the first African American actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1963 film “Lilies of the Field”. Despite this immense honor, he was concerned with being a token African American actor cast in typical roles,

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