This Black History month we salute African American who made American history.
On this day in 1900, James Weldon Johnson wrote the lyrics for “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. This song would later be referred to as the Negro National Anthem. Believe it or not, the song was written in celebration of President Lincolns birthday. Johnson’s brother J. Rosamond arranged the track and it was sung by 500 children in Jacksonville, Fla.
Founded on this day in 1909 in New York City by a group of black and white citizens committed to social justice, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People best known as the NAACP was founded. The NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization. The NAACP was formed mainly because of the continuing horrific practice of lynching, murders and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and resting place of President Abraham Lincoln. Appalled by the violence committed against blacks, a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, both the descendants of abolitionists, William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice.
More than 60 people showed up, seven of whom were African American (including W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell). The NAACP’s objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority citizens in United States. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes.
In 1930 on this day in Tuskegee, Alabama, the Rosenwald Fund made grants to the Alabama State Board of Health to help meet the cost of a sutdy of syphilis in African American men living in rural Georgia and Alabama. This would begin a four decade long study of syphilis without treatment. Over 400 men were allowed to carry the disease without medical treatment for nearly 40 years. Several government agencies including the Federal Public Health Service and the Center for Disease Control participated in the unethical study. It was kept a secret until 1972 when a newspaper reporter disclosed it.
On this day in 1962, the bus boycott of 1962 in Macon, Georgia was led by William “Billy” Randall. This was a pivotal event in the civil rights movement in Macon. [video of Billy Randall addressing a mass meeting] The bus boycott was a campaign to end segregation on the Macon city buses and to increase the employment of blacks as bus drivers and mechanics. Mr. Randall requested that Linton D. Baggs, head of the Bibb County transit company, desegregate the busses, but Mr. Baggs refused. The boycott of the Macon buses began on February 12, 1962, and it lasted for three weeks. Even though there was a restraining order against Randall and the other leaders, they continued to lead the boycott. Judge William Bootle ruled that segregated bus seating laws were unconstitutional, and ordered the transit company to put an end to segregated bus seating. The bus boycott was ended by a mutual decision of both black and white Maconites, who agreed that it was the best decision to end the boycott at that particular time. To everyone’s surprise, the boycott ended quite peaceably, without any mass demonstrations or violent eruptions.
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