The city of Chicago is a very interesting city with respect to American History. The third largest city, it experienced significant growth in the early 1900s due to an industrial boom, railroad expansion, and the 1893 World's Fair. When the economy boomed during World War I and after, the increase in jobs brought in a … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 24 – The Death of a Revolutionary
The song "Strange Fruit" was originally a poem written and published in 1937. It was written by English teacher Abel Meeropol under his pen name Lewis Allan. Inspired by the photograph of two African American men who were lynched while surrounded by a large crowd of White Americans, it protested American racial violence (specifically lynching). … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 22 – Lady Day Sings of Lynching
In the early 1900s, Tulsa Oklahoma was home to a prosperous African district known as Greenwood. This district was so successful that a dollar would stay within the district an estimated nineteen months before being spend elsewhere. Home to many successful black businesses, the "colored district" of Tulsa was much more prosperous than its white … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 19 – Tulsa’s Black Wall Street
John H. Johnson is a familiar name to nearly every African-American family. As the founder of Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazine, his publications were in nearly every African-American household in America. His vision to provide news and stories relevant to black people made him one of the most significant businessman and … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 16 – The Man Who Told Our Story
Elijah J. McCoy was a Canadian-American inventor and engineer who was notable for his 57 U.S. patents, most having to do with the lubrication of steam engines. In 1872 he designed a “lubricating cup” that distributed oil evenly over an engine's moving parts. Though other inventors made an effort to sell their own models of … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 13 – The Real McCoy
Jesse Owens was a track and field athlete who became the first American in Olympic Track and Field history to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This record was unrivaled until Carl Lewis matched Owens' feat nearly 50 years later at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 12 – Jesse Owens Goes to Germany and finds Brotherhood
Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer who was diagnosed with cervical cancer and unknowingly became the progenitor of the HeLa cell line, one of the most important cell lines in medical research ever discovered. Her immortal cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 11 – The Immortal Henrietta Lacks
Throughout history, it has proven obvious that men of considerable physical prowess and charisma would be celebrated. This is especially true in America, but with respect to men of color the caveat is that they would also become as hated as they were loved. This would hold true for athletes such as O.J. Simpson, Mike … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 9 – Jack Johnson
Good morning, Travelbox fans! Yesterday, I shared with you the story of Charles Hamilton Houston, the man whose decades long strategy led directly to the racial integration of American schools. Today I wanted to share with you the story of a little girl who was the very first beneficiary of that legacy. Her name is Ruby Bridges. … Continue reading Black History Month: Day 6 – Ruby Bridges
Charles Hamilton Houston was born on September 3, 1895 in Washington, D.C. His father William was also a lawyer. Prior to his legal career, in the remarkable M Street High School, the first black high school in the United States. Houston then attended Amherst College in 1911 where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa and graduated as valedictorian in 1915. He would go on teach English at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Later he joined the U.S. Army as an artillery officer during World War I. At the time the army was racially segregated, and Houston bore witness to numerous situations in which black enlisted officers were treated unfairly. These incidents occurred inside the barracks, inside the military courts, and on the streets outside the Army camps (where he and several other officers came close to being lynched by white officers due to "niggers forgetting themselves just because they had a uniform on"). The racism that Houston experienced while serving fueled his determination to continue fighting for freedom once he got home. In his eyes, Houston was glad he hadn't died while serving the United States. His battlefield was back in America.