Voting Rights Act Of 1965, August 1965
In August 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law with the goal of overcoming the legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevents African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment in the Constitution of the U.S. The Voting Rights Act was spurred by the events that took place during the Selma to Montgomery march where marchers were beaten and tear gassed by Alabama state troopers in March of 1965. Less than a week later President Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress, calling for federal legislation to ensure protection of the voting rights of African Americans. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965. The Voting Rights Act vastly improved voter turnout. In Mississippi alone, voter turnout among African Americans increased from six percent in 1964 to 59 percent in 1969.
Million Man March, 1995
On October 1995, over a million black men gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Million Man March, organized and led by Minister Louis Farrakhan in order to declare their right to justice to atone for their failure as men, and to accept responsibility as head of the family. The Million Man March is one of the largest demonstrations of its kind in the capital’s history. On that day, many black men stood there for 10 hours fasting and praying together creating a spirit of unity, brotherhood, and love. There were no fights or arrests that day. People around the world watched and participated in the fasting as well. On that day, the world saw a vastly different picture of black men in America. The world saw black men demonstrating the willingness to shoulder the responsibility of improving themselves and the community. As a result of the March, around 1.7 million Black men registered to vote and organizational memberships including churches, mosques, and the NAACP skyrocketed.The National Association of Black Social Workers reported a flood of 13,000 applications to adopt Black children as well.
Its success also spurred the organization of a Million Woman March, which took place in 1997 in Philadelphia.
Kimberly Evans Paige
Many are unaware that behind some of the marketing and branding of the Coca-Cola product, Sprite, there is an African-American woman with a hefty resume and commendable experience.
Continue reading Black History: Kimberly Evans Paige
After years of executing graceful pirouettes, and crisp dégagés, African American ballerina, Misty Copeland, finally danced her way to the top.
Continue reading Black History: Misty Copeland
The verdict of the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson held that segregated public facilities were constitutional as long as the black and white facilities were equal to each other. As a result of this, large portions of the United States had racially segregated schools. This started to change with the verdict made on May 17, 1954 with the case of Brown v. Board of Education, where the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.
Continue reading Black History: Brown v Board of Education
Marcus Garvey was born on August 17, 1887, in Saint Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. In 1914, he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) with the goal of uniting all of African diaspora to “establish a country and absolute government of their own.” Continue reading Black History: Marcus Garvey
As we now celebrate Black History Month, here is a reflection of a hometown establishment that was celebratory of African American culture 365 days a year.
In 1986, then married couple Gerald Chaka, a member of the black cultural nationalist US Organization & Terry Chaka, a Rochester native and visual artist, opened Rochester, New York’s first Afrocentric bookstore and art gallery called Kitabu Kingdom. Kitabu is the Swahili word for book.
The significance of the grand opening of the store in 1986 is that it was the same year that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was observed as a national holiday.
Kitabu Kingdom sold African American books, original fine art, collectibles from Africa, Afrocentric fashions and provided custom framing services. The store also served as an African American community center where they put on African Fashion Shows, Drumming Classes, Kwanzaa celebrations and various special events with prominent African American artists, poets, authors, designers and activists to raise cultural consciousness and pride. Additionally, Kitabu Kingdom provided African American children’s books and workshops to the city school district, helping to get multi-cultural education into the educational curriculum.
As one of the largest African American owned bookstores in the nation, Kitabu Kingdom became a hub for raising Afrocentric awareness in western New York. It first opened on Genesee Street and later expanded by popular demand to a two story building on Thurston Road. The store eventually closed after a decade of being in business.
Written by Atu
Claudette Colvin was born on September 5, 1939, in Montgomery, Alabama. Months before Rosa Parks, in 1955, at the young at of 15 years old, Claudette Colvin stood up against segregation when a bus driver told her to give up her seat to a white passenger. In an interview Colvin said that she felt compelled to stand her ground stating, “I felt like Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman was pushing down on the other—saying, ‘Sit down girl!’ I was glued to my seat.” In 1956, Claudette Colvin became one of the four plaintiffs in the Browder v. Gayle case. The decision from the case ruled that Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional.
Nat Turner was born into slavery on October 2, 1800 in Southhampton County, Virginia. He is known for leading the only effective slave rebellion in U.S back in the summer of 1831. In early 1831, Nat Turner interpreted a solar eclipse as a sign from God that the time for a revolution was near. Continue reading Black History: Nat Turner