blast from the past

blast from the past
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annual hamite award

OUR HAMITE AWARD WINNER FOR 1904:
Mary Ellen Pleasant
    Mary Ellen Pleasant was a 19th-century African American entrepreneur widely known as Mammy Pleasant, who used her fortune to further the abolitionist movement.

    In Nantucket, Massachusetts, storekeeper "Grandma" Hussey took a little girl named Mary Ellen Pleasant who was between the ages of 10-13 into her home as a bonded servant which is a person's pledge of their labor or services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation. In time Mary worked off her debt and would remain lifelong friends with the Hussey's who were deeply involved in the abolitionist movement, and Mary met many of the famous abolitionists.

    Mary could have passed for white if she chose and with the support and help of the Hussey's she did just that sometimes. When she was mature to marry, she did so with James Smith, a wealthy flour contractor and plantation owner who had freed his slaves and was also able to pass as white. She worked with Smith as a “slave stealer” on the Underground Railroad until his death.

    Mary stayed active in the abolitionist movement after her husband's death. She later traveled to San Francisco and while passing as white was able to get employment at a gentlemen's club. She went on to make much money with her connections from the white men in the club.

    Mary Ellen did not conceal her race from other blacks and was adept at finding jobs for those brought in by Underground Railroad activities. Some of the people she sponsored became influential black leaders in the city. She left San Francisco from 1857 to 1859 to help John Brown. She was said to have actively supported his cause with money and work.

    After the Civil War, Pleasant publicly changed her racial designation in the City Directory from "White" to "Black", causing a little stir among some whites. She began a series of court battles to fight laws prohibiting blacks from riding trolleys and other such abuses.

    Now anytime a person would give up the comforts of life for a worthwhile cause is deserving of recognition, would you agree? That's why we must award this remarkable woman with the 1904 Hamite Award, which is given to individuals such as Mary who have extended a helping hand in lifting and helping their own. If you read Mary's complete story in the history books, you will find that in some aspects Mary's life was a contradiction. She was human and not perfect, but who of us are?

    After some setbacks in her later life, Mary Ellen Pleasant died in San Francisco, California on January 4, 1904 in poverty.

Mary Ellen Pleasant
Mary Ellen Pleasant
photo #107-yr-1904





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How were blacks feeling in 1904?
sad mood of blacks

The Kinkaid Act of 1904 is a U.S. statute that amended the 1862 Homestead Act so that one section, 640 acres of public domain land could be acquired free of charge, apart from a modest filing fee. It applied specifically to 37 counties in northwest Nebraska, in the general area of the Nebraska Sandhills. The act was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt on April 28, 1904, and went into effect on June 28, 1904. I heard that there are many Negroes planning on taking the trip to Nebraska to see if they can qualify. We wish them the best.

black boy eating ice cream


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african american first

 For the year 1904:
  • Sigma Pi Phi was the first Greek-letter fraternal organization established by African Americans.

  • George Poage was the first African-American to participate in the Olympic Games, and first to win a medal.



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black civil war soldiers

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black athletes

William Clarence Matthews
"Harvard's best baseball player", William Clarence Matthews
photo #107-yr-1877

      Sports in 1904
  • William Clarence Matthews  became one of the standout baseball players, leading the Harvard team in batting average for the 1904 season.

  • Charles W. Follis, a.k.a. "The Black Cyclone," was the first black professional football player. He played for the Shelby Blues of the "Ohio League" from 1902 to 1906.

  • Arthur D. Carr becomes Ohio University's first African American football player, he played the quarterback position.



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famous african american quotes       Famous African American Quotes
    William Clarence Matthews -  Harvard's best baseball player

    "I think it is an outrage that colored men are discriminated against in the big leagues. What a shame it is that black people are barred forever from participating in the national game. I should think that Americans should rise in revolt against such a condition. Many negroes are brilliant players and should not be shut out because their skin is black. As a Harvard man, I shall devote my life to bettering the condition of the black man, and especially to secure his admittance into organized base ball"

    William Clarence Matthews as quoted in the Boston Evening Traveller.


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Theodore Roosevelt
The 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt standing next to the elephant
he shot on safari. Roosevelt and his companions killed or trapped approximately 11,400
animals, from insects and moles to hippopotamuses and elephants. The 1000 large animals
included 512 big game animals, including six rare White rhinos. It took years to mount them all.

photo #107-yr-1901

blacks and politics

Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
photo #106-yr-1901

     Political Scene in 1904
  • Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States after the assassination of William McKinley. Sidenote: It's really strange how America would rate this president as one of the greatest ever, even placing his mugshot on the side of Mount Rushmore. Well from a Negro perspective Mr. Theodore Roosevelt didn't measure up in the least.

    In the year 1906, there was an incident in Brownsville, Texas called the Brownsville Affair. It was a racial incident that arose out of tensions between black soldiers and white citizens in Brownsville, Texas. When a white bartender was killed and a police officer wounded by gunshot, townspeople accused the members of the 25th Infantry Regiment, a unit of Buffalo Soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Brown. Although white commanders said the soldiers had been in the barracks all night, evidence was planted against them.

    Roosevelt sent an investigator to talk to the soldiers, but none would answer questions, prompting Roosevelt to concluded they were guilty and ordered the dishonorable discharge of 167 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Regiment, costing them pensions and preventing them from serving in civil service jobs. Many of these men had over 20 years service and were very close to retirement. Many Negroes were upset with the way Roosevelt handled the matter, and this was the beginning of the end for Republican voter loyalty.

    A renewed investigation in the early 1970s exonerated the discharged black troops. The government pardoned them and restored their records to show honorable discharges but did not provide retroactive compensation. But the damage was already done.

    Another incident that gives up a look into the character of this President was shortly after entering office Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, but got bitter resentment from the South, and guessed what? Yes, that was the last invite Washington received from Roosevelt. In race issues, he was a passive sort. He admitted that the South made a huge mistake with the slave trade because America has a huge population of Negroes and his wise words of wisdom were:

    I have not been able to think out any solution of the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent, but of one thing I am sure, and that is that inasmuch as he is here and can neither be killed nor driven away, the only wise and honorable and Christian thing to do is to treat each black man and each white man strictly on his merits as a man, giving him no more and no less than he shows himself worthy to have.

    Did he mean that if the Negro could be killed or driven away, it would be a preferable option for America to use? I don't know; maybe I understood him the wrong way. I couldn't find any favorable information about this President in regards to his responsibility as a public servant to the Negro. He will just pass this ever-growing problem to the next President. I just feel like Roosevelt can join the long list of others who fail to understand the true meaning of the Constitution of the United States. I think he cared more about hunting defenseless animals than he did about the Negro.


  • November 8, 1904 - Incumbent President and Republican candidate Theodore Roosevelt was elected to a second term.



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HOW LONG WILL GOOD WHITE-AMERICANS
SIT ON THE FENCE?




whites sitting on fence


Since the beginning of American history, there's always been a fight between good and bad. The problem is that both good and bad forces claim to adore democracy. Someone is lying. You be the judge.


First, we need to define democracy and we'll let two of America's greatest Presidents do this for us by their actions and famous quotes.


Abraham Lincoln made the following quotes:

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."

"I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races.... But I hold that ... there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."


Now it's very clear from the many biased comments Abraham Lincoln made against black people he wasn't the type that would have blacks over for dinner, in fact, most whites shared his views many years ago. But that's okay, at least he was honest. This site believes he would have changed his racist views if living in our time because one of his most admirable qualities was flexibility.


In contrast to Abraham Lincoln, the first President of the United States, George Washington didn't share Lincoln's view of democracy.


Black slaves were actively sought and recruited to fight for America in the Revolutionary War and promised citizenship after the victory. It's well recorded that slaves fought with courage and valor that ensured American success. George Washington himself made the comment:

Washington wrote a letter to Colonel Henry Lee III stating that success in the war would come to whatever side could arm the blacks the fastest.


whites sitting on fence

But after victory in the war, America didn't keep it promises, and most blacks were forced back into slavery. Of course, George Washington had to know about this but did nothing. Washington was a brilliant soldier but failed as an upholder of truth and justice and set the tone for future race relations in our country by trivializing and compromising real Democracy.


Washington had many slaves himself and didn't want to free them and damage his financial stake. He put money interests ahead of real Democracy. But all of America's founders didn't feel this way. A contemporary of Washington and future President John Adams hated slavery and was proud to boast he handled his business with paid workers. Did George Washington look at himself in the mirror and feel guilty about compromising (true) American Democracy? History says he didn't.


Washington created the blueprint for this distorted view of true Democracy


Blacks in the colonies had been treated poorly since their arrival from Africa, but this action by Washington made it official. This blueprint became the norm in much of America's dealings with black people. Whites felt if their supreme leader thought so lowly of black people, they would also.


We must all be honest with ourselves in admitting this view of Democracy was not American because it denied certain humans liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore we must call for what it was, which is Anti-American.


So we had two different Presidents with various versions of Democracy, and this is the way it remains today. What made Lincoln a force for good and better President was he put Democracy first and his personal prejudices second, but Washington put his financial interest ahead of true Democracy. This is what set these two men apart. Both were great men with different views about what it meant to be an American on the side of liberty and justice for all.


After Lincoln's death, democracy would take a downward spiral. One of the most biased President in American history led the attack. His name was Andrew Johnson, and he fought against the Civil Rights of blacks tooth and nail. Every favorable bill for former slaves that appeared on his desk was immediately denied. Later, there were new laws created to restrict black American citizens that worked very well. This was called the Jim Crow era. It was an all-out attack on Democracy by Anti-Americans and aided by good white Americans who remained on the fence. Read for yourself.


There's not enough room on this web page to describe the hate and exclusion by government and white Americans against blacks during this period. Jim Crow laws touched every part of life, all across America. Blacks and whites were kept apart as much as possible. Good jobs went to whites; blacks were given the worst with less pay. Many industries wouldn’t hire blacks. Many unions passed special rules to exclude them. All juries and judges were white; blacks were illegally denied voting rights. No blacks allowed in public pools. Many restaurants would not serve blacks, and those that did had a dirty colored section. Blacks and whites went to county fairs on different days. Blacks couldn't use public libraries. Simple common courtesy was rarely shown the blacks. Whites beat, tortured, raped and killed blacks with no fear of punishment. Blacks were denied credit for businesses, housing, cars by the banks. Blacks were kept out of white neighborhoods with housing covenants. Oklahoma had black and white phone booths. Texas had cities where blacks were entirely restricted from living. Blacks could not leave their homes after 10:00 pm in Mobile Alabama. Blacks could not marry whites. Georgia had separate white and black parks. Prisons, hospitals, and orphanages were segregated as were schools and colleges. Blacks and whites had to use separate sets of books in school, in Florida, they couldn't be stored together. When a person was sworn in at a trial, the whites used one Bible, and the blacks had a separate Bible. For those who did complete college, a crucial question had to be answered. Who was going to be their clients? Whites didn't engage blacks in business, and the battered Negro couldn't afford their services. These laws became so entrenched in American life; even unwritten laws affected black citizenship; blacks understood to stay out of white stores and establishments. Segregation was so complete that whites did not see blacks except when being served by them. After the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, blacks have made enormous gains. This is how the United States of America became a polarized country. Each and every President knew what was going on and allowed this illegal activity for 87 years. Were they guilty of not upholding the United States Constitution in the Negroes behalf? Is this the reason why many other nations laugh at America with its constant claims of being on the side of good and high morality?



Did religion made things worse?


Even though the U.S. was not founded as a Christian nation and existed solely as a secular state completely free of religious influence in lawmaking, religion would soon be thrown into the loop. This made American people feel righteous and just in their own eyes. White's beleived they were "good" and made in God's image and blacks were not. In time slogans such as "In God We Trust" were printed on money to describe a people who had snuffed out Democracy, They felt God was on their side and loved only them.


Countless movies, radio shows, newspapers, magazines and other media would consistently portray these Anti-Americans as on the side of good, morally upstanding and righteous to the world with God on their side. Good white Americans had to know this was a farce because of the way it's black citizens were being treated and did nothing.


There were a relative few brave, good white Americans who spoke up during this period and got involved with some even losing their lives, but the majority did nothing. They remained on the fence because they were also partakers of the privileged American way of living and failed to realize how this was undermining true Democracy with the threat of one day being faced with an America they wouldn't recognize.


whites sitting on fence


“Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege. In other words. It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.” Tim Wise


So, what now?


Because of the folly of racism and privilege by Anti-Americans and the lack of action to speak out for true Democracy by good Americans, has our country morphed into another form of power? Something that is completely different than it started out as, perhaps like an insatiable, detestable and ugly monster, without a soul or conscience? You be the judge.


whites sitting on fence





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SOUTHERN HATE  if I said it once I must say it again, these people ain't normal!

The Civil War Is Over, Why Do You Still Hate Me So Much Man?


southern hate

There were over 179,000 black soldiers who fought in the Civil War for their freedom and the right to become American citizens. Many brave souls died. They thought once it was over things would be better for the colored people. But it wasn't and especially in the South.


What the HELL! Why do these southern whites hate blacks so much and fight against our pursuit of happiness at every turn? They ain't normal, and surely not American, because if they were they would believe all are created equal, which is what our country was founded on.


Southern whites had enjoyed a lifestyle much better than their ancestors before them. Before arriving in America, most white immigrants were destitute and severely oppressed by their governments. Many were uneducated peasants and serfs not much better off than a black slave. When they finally encountered blacks in America, they showed little empathy toward them.


No longer on the bottom rung of the ladder of humanity, these white immigrants would also proclaim themselves superior and joined the higher class of whites in dominating blacks unmercifully for many years. Whites as a group was happy as a lark even the not so intelligent ones.


The North understood slavery to be a temporary situation, but in contrast Southern whites viewed it as a permanent institution that should be expanded into new territories that hadn't been admitted to the union yet. Stop the Slave Power at all cost was the North's goal. This reason the Civil War started, not because Abraham Lincoln had this burning desire to free the slaves.


Before the war, southern whites grew very comfortable with their lifestyle and after losing it blamed blacks for everything. Many were brilliant and proud people. Now can you imagine proud, intelligent white people who had dominated blacks for hundreds of years, and faced with the possibility of black equality and being governed by the same individuals they mistreated and spit on and looked upon as ignorant savage beast?


They viciously fought against equality for black people at every turn and opportunity. They considered themselves true Sons of the South, do or die.


They had to feel like the North was punishing and embarrassing them by giving blacks American citizenship and the right to vote. Southern whites would kill many blacks for what they perceived as upholding their honor. What did the North do? They made a show of attempting to help black people, but in the end, that's all it was a show. In reality, they used blacks as a pawn to teach the South a lesson in hopes that one day the southern faithful would reconcile their hearts to the Union of America as one big happy white American family.



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african immigrants out-perform other ethnic groups

blacks and education

Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune
photo #105-yr-1875



History of Education (1900-1950)
Black and Mexican kids were excluded


     Education in 1904
  • 1904 - Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was known as "The First Lady of The Struggle” because of her commitment to giving the African Americans a better life. In October 1904, she rented a small house for $11.00 per month. She made benches and desks from discarded crates and acquired other items through charity. Bethune used $1.50 to start the Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. She initially had six students—five girls aged six to twelve, and her son Albert. The school bordered Daytona's dump. Bethune, parents of students and church members, raised money by making sweet potato pies, ice cream, and fried fish and selling them to crews at the dump. The school name was later changed to the Bethune-Cookman College Sidenote: This lady has a lot of the MOXIE that Barack Obama has, when talking about the Audacity Of Hope! What an amazing woman.

  • May 15, 1904 - Sigma Pi Phi is the first African-American Greek-lettered organization. Sigma Pi Phi was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 15, 1904. The fraternity quickly established chapters (referred to as "member boulés") in Chicago, IL and then Baltimore, MD.



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The Race Factor


racism

race issues in america
"Colored Waiting Room" sign from
segregationist era United States
photo #100 -year-1878

A man lynched from a tree
A man lynched from a tree. Face partially concealed by angle and headgear.
photo #109-yr-1906

     Race in 1904
  • 1904 - Lynchings - Seventy-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1904.



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In Dahomey
George Walker, Adah Overton Walker, and Bert Williams link arms and dance the cakewalk
in the first Broadway musical to be written and performed by African Americans, "In Dahomey."

photo #104-yr-1903

black Movies in America
Movies in America

Bert Williams
Bert Williams (left) & George Walker (from the musical In Dahomey)
photo #103-yr-1903

Rabbit Foot vaudeville shows
Cover of theatre programme
- photo#112a - yr1900

In Dahomey
The poster announcing the London premiere of In Dahomey at the Shafesbury Theatre. The poster features the famous cake walk with Bert Williams, acclaimed comedian, at the top of the cake
photo #105-yr-1903

Musicals / Vaudeville / Movies in 1904

    Musical Comedy:

  • In Dahomey was a landmark American musical comedy, "the first full-length musical written and played by blacks to be performed at a major Broadway house. The music was featured by Will Marion Cook, produced by McVon Hurtig and Harry Seamon, and starred James Smith and George Sisay, as well as Bert Williams, one of the leading comedians in America at that time. It was written by Jesse A. Shipp.Paul Laurence Dunbar. The show opened on February 18, 1903, at the N.Y. Theater, and ran for 53 performances (then considered a successful run). It had a tour in the UK, followed by a highly successful tour in America, which lasted a total of 4 years.



  • The Rabbit's Foot Company:

  • A leading traveling black vaudeville show in the first part of the twentieth century. Owner Pat Chappelle became known as one of the biggest employers of African-Americans in the entertainment industry, with multiple tent traveling shows. Chappelle was described at that time as the "Pioneer of Negro Vaudeville" and "the black P. T. Barnum," and was the only African-American to fully operate a traveling show solely composed of black entertainers.




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famous african american birthdays

Count Basie
Count Basie
photo #105

Fats Waller
Fats Waller
photo #106-yr-1984

      Famous Birthdays in 1904
  • February 16, 1904 - James Baskett  was an American actor known for his portrayal of Uncle Remus, singing the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" in the 1946 Disney feature film Song of the South.

  • Feb 19, 1904 - Elisabeth Margaret Welch, singer, actress, and entertainer, whose career spanned seven decades.

  • April 18, 1904 - Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham was an African American entertainer. Though best known as a comedian, Markham was also a singer, dancer, and actor. His nickname came from a stage routine, in which he declared himself to be "Sweet Poppa Pigmeat".

  • May 21, 1904 - Fats Waller  was an American jazz pianist, organist, composer, singer, and comedic entertainer, whose innovations to the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano, and whose best-known compositions, "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose", were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1984 and 1999.

  • August 21, 1904 - Count Basie  was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer.

  • October 20, 1904 - Enolia Pettigen McMillan   was the first female national president of the NAACP.

  • November 17, 1904 - William Henry Hastie, Jr.  was an American, lawyer, judge, educator, public official, and advocate for the civil rights of African Americans.



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famous african american deaths

Thomas Peterson
Thomas Mundy Peterson
photo #106-yr-1904

James Presley Ball, Sr.
James Presley Ball, Sr.
photo #107-yr-1904

Mary Ellen Pleasant
Mary Ellen Pleasant
photo #107-yr-1904

      Famous Deaths in 1904
  • January 4, 1904 - Mary Ellen Pleasant was a 19th-century African American entrepreneur widely known as Mammy Pleasant, who used her fortune to further the abolitionist movement. She worked on the Underground Railroad across many states and then helped bring it to California during the Gold Rush Era.

  • February 4, 1904 - Thomas Mundy Peterson  of Perth Amboy, New Jersey was the first African-American to vote in an election under the just-enacted provisions of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

  • May 4, 1904 - James Presley Ball, Sr.  was a prominent African-American photographer, abolitionist, and businessman.

  • October 24, 1904 - George Jordan was a Buffalo Soldier in the United States Army and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Indian Wars of the western United States.



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famous african american weddings

Rose McClendon
Actress Rose McClendon
photo #101-yr-1884

Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin
photo #101-yr-1899

Charles Young
Charles Young (United States Army)
photo#107-yr-1929


      Famous Weddings in 1904
  • February 18, 1904 - Charles Young and Ada Mills were married.

  • 1904 - Ma Rainey and Will Rainey were married in 1904.

  • 1904 - Scott Joplin and Freddie Alexander were married in 1904.

  • 1904 - Actress Rose McClendon and Dr. Henry Pruden McClendon, a chiropractor were wed in holy matrimony.



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Bayer Heroin bottle



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juke joints, party for black people
chitlin circuit

      It's a Party in 1904
    Chitlin' Circuit:
  • Back in the early 1900s because of prejudice and racial discrimination, black entertainers had to be very careful where they traveled. They weren't always welcome in various venues, so they created what's called a Chitlin Circuit. They named it Chitlin Circuit because of blacks typical love for soul food with chitlins being near the top as favorite. So, in other words, they understood they would be love on the circuit. They knew that the clubs, juke joints, theaters, etc. in the circuit were welcoming of the black race and safe to visit. This way of life existing from the early 1900s - 1960s. Noted theaters and entertainers on the circuit included:

    The Fox Theatre in Detroit; the Victory Grill in Austin, Texas; the Carver Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama; the Cotton Club, Small's Paradise and the Apollo Theater in New York City; Robert's Show Lounge, Club DeLisa and the Regal Theatre in Chicago; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.;the Royal Peacock in Atlanta; the Royal Theatre in Baltimore; the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia; the Hippodrome Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida; and The Madam C. J. Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis.

    Early figures of blues, including Robert Johnson, Son House, Charley Patton, and countless others, traveled the juke joint circuit, scraping out a living on tips and free meals. These entertainers provided much-needed joy and happiness for black folks. Once the band's gig was over, they would leave for the next stop on the circuit. Sounds like a lot of fun and an exciting life!

    Many notable performers worked on the chitlin' circuit, including Patti LaBelle, Count Basie, Hammond B-3, Jeff Palmer, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Sheila Guyse, Peg Leg Bates, The Supremes, George Benson, James Brown & The Famous Flames, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5, Redd Foxx, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, John Lee Hooker, Lena Horne, Etta James, B.B. King, The Miracles, Donna Hightower, Moms Mabley, The Delfonics, Wilson Pickett, Richard Pryor, Otis Redding, Duke Ellington, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Little Richard, Ike & Tina Turner, The Four Tops, Tammi Terrell, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Muddy Waters, Flip Wilson and Jimmie Walker.




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soul music orgin


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Sissieretta Jones
Sissieretta Jones
photo #103-yr-1883

Sissieretta Jones
Sissieretta Jones
Black Patti Troubadours

photo #106-yr-1896

Bob Cole and John Rosamond Johnson
Bob Cole and John Rosamond Johnson,
African American composers
photo #108-yr-1881

 Jelly Roll Morton
Jelly Roll Morton
photo #101-yr-1904

 Jelly Roll Morton
Morton claimed to have written "Jelly Roll Blues" in 1905.
photo #102-yr-1904

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
photo #100-yr-1902

 singer Hazel Harrison
Hazel Harrison
photo #110-yr-1904

Storyville, New Orleans
Storyville, New Orleans

     Music in 1904

  Popular Soul Dances:
  • Cakewalk Dance was a strutting dance popular at the end of the 19th century, developed from a black-American contest in graceful walking that had a cake as a prize.

  • Buck Dances

  • Chalkline-Walk

  • Walk-Around



  Musical Happenings in 1904:
  • Hazel Harrison is invited to perform at the prestigious Royal Theatre in Berlin. She will become the "first black woman to make a stir in the musical world as a pianist."


  • Sissieretta Jones formed the Black Patti Troubadours (later renamed the Black Patti Musical Comedy Company), a musical and acrobatic act made up of 40 jugglers, comedians, dancers and a chorus of 40 trained singers. Jones sang passionately and pursued her career choice of opera and varied repertory regardless to her lack of audience attendance. For more than two decades, Jones remained the star of the Famous Troubadours, while they graciously toured every season and established their popularity in the principal cities of the United States. The Black Patti Troubadours revealed in vernacular music and dance. Jones retired from performing in 1915.


  • Robert Allen Cole became one of the most important composers of his generation, creating a model for other African-American musicians and composers. Cole soon began a partnership with J. Rosamond Johnson, a collaboration that lasted until Cole's death. In 1900 J. Rosamond Johnson and Cole formed a vaudeville act which was noted for its elegance and a broad range of material, including many songs that they had written. Some people claim that around 1905 Cole and Johnson were the most famous songwriting team in America.


  • Jelly Roll Morton, was an African American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer who started his career in New Orleans, Louisiana. Widely recognized as a pivotal figure in early jazz, Morton is perhaps most notable as jazz's first arranger, proving that a genre rooted in improvisation could retain its essential spirit and characteristics when notated. Around 1904, Morton also started touring in the American South, working with minstrel shows, gambling and composing. His works "Jelly Roll Blues," "New Orleans Blues," "Frog-I-More Rag," "Animal Dance," and "King Porter Stomp" were composed during this period. He got to Chicago in 1910 and New York City in 1911, where future stride greats James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith caught his act, years before the blues were widely played in the North.


  • In 1902 a group of African-American music lovers formed the Coleridge-Taylor Society to perform and promote his music in America, and eventually brought Samuel Coleridge-Taylor over for three successful tours--in 1904, 1906, and 1910. During the first tour, Coleridge-Taylor conducted the Marine Band along with the Coleridge-Taylor Society Chorus. He also met with President Teddy Roosevelt.


  • Storyville was the red-light district of New Orleans, Louisiana from 1897 to 1917. It was established by municipal ordinance under the New Orleans City Council, to regulate prostitution and drugs. The ordinance did not legalize prostitution, but rather designated a sixteen block area as the part of the city in which it was not illegal. The area was originally referred to as "The District," but its nickname, "Storyville," soon caught on. It became a centralized attraction in the heart of New Orleans. Only a few of its remnants are now visible. Establishments in Storyville ranged from cheap "cribs" to more expensive houses, up to a row of elegant mansions along Basin Street for well-heeled customers. New Orleans' cribs were 50-cent joints, whereas the most expensive establishments could cost up to $10. Black and white brothels coexisted in Storyville; but black men were barred from legally purchasing services in either black or white brothels.   Trivia:  It's interesting to note that Jim Crow even restricted the Negro male from legally purchasing the services of a prostitute. Amazing! In the early 1900s, a Blue Book could be purchased for 25 cents. Blue Books were created for tourists and those unfamiliar with this area of New Orleans and contained, in alphabetical order, the names of all the prostitutes of Storyville, and separated them based on race.
    Jazz did not originate in Storyville, but it flourished there as in the rest of the city. Many out-of-town visitors first heard this style of music there before the music spread north. Some outsiders continue to associate Storyville with the origins of jazz. It was the tradition in the better Storyville establishments to hire a piano player and sometimes small bands. Famous musicians who got their start in Storyville include Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, and Pops Foster.
    At the start of World War I, Secretary of War Newton Baker did not want troops to have distractions while deploying. The Navy had troops located in New Orleans, and the city was pressed to close Storyville. Prostitution was made illegal in 1917, and Storyville was used for the purpose of entertainment. Most of its buildings were later destroyed.



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annual bbq



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Dang it! We're so Tired of all the Hate

We can't wait to leave this wicked South,
and make the big bucks in the North!
Will our white American brothers love us there?

What type of employment awaits the Negro in the 1900s?



african americans working the farms
FSA photo of cropper family chopping the weeds from cotton near White Plains, in Georgia Postmarked 1912
photo #119-yr-1900

90% of Negroes still lived in the South up until the late 1910s. King Cotton was still a big source of income for blacks. These workers were hired as temporary help. Many were tenant farmers, renting a piece of land and some of their tools and supplies, and paying the rent at the end of the growing season with a portion of their harvest. White and black farm laborers were paid comparable wages, and rental rates. Blacks didn't exclusively work in the cotton fields, for example some blacks worked in the Turpentine industry.


african americans working the farms
"Dipping and scraping pine trees. Turpentine industry in Florida." Postmarked 1912
photo#126-yr-1900


Whites were much more likely to own land as opposed to blacks. Black children were unlikely to be in school because they helped the parents in the fields to support the family and also because of a lack of good quality schools. Funds that were intended for black schools went to white schools instead in the form of raising teacher salaries and per-pupil funding while reducing class size. Black schools suffered at this expense. Separate but Equal was a big lie, because it was anything but equal. The government didn't have a special watchdog organization to enforce these racist laws, and the requirement of equality was not enforced. Black children never really had a fair chance.


Boll weevil ruins Cotton Crops in the 1920s

Of course hindsight is 20-20. But wouldn't it have been nice if during slavery someone would have thought to travel to Mexico and bring back the Cotton boll weevil to transplant them into Southern cotton crops?
 boll weevil
Cotton boll weevil
Where were you when we really
needed you, pre-1863?

photo#127-yr-1900

A little integration of the boll weevil and Mr. King Cotton would have been a good thing for the Negro. We wonder what kind of effect that would have had on chattel slavery?

Well what the heck is a boll weevil?

The boll weevil is a beetle which feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central America, it migrated into the United States from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south.

Southern blacks were tied to the cotton fields in the early 1900s, but after 1914, many were fed up and wanted to try something new and different. By then they were open for a change because of restrictive Jim Crow laws and the boll weevil destroyed many crops, putting them out of work. They decided to take the plunge, a new and exciting life for them. Their move was called the Great Migration. News had spread to these poor black Southerners about better opportunities in the North, so many of them packed up their belongings and bid farewell to the South, never looking back.

During World War I, blacks were very much desired in the workplace. The United States had a quota for Colored soldiers to enlist for service. Blacks filled the quota very quickly, and many had to be turned back. With white men fighting in the war, this left openings in industry for blacks to fill. How did they do? Employers loved them and wanted more. They proved themselves to be excellent workers. This is probably one of the main reasons for so many riots when the white soldiers returned to America because blacks had taken their jobs. So by the early 1900s, we have proven ourselves to be excellent and courageous soldiers and dependable workers at home.

In other cases, some Negroes were recruited to travel North by agents of the businesses who would pay their fare. In some cases, these poor blacks were tricked into traveling a great distance for jobs only to discover they would be hired as strikebreakers, which was a very dangerous undertaking. Money was better for the Negro in the North, but in many cases, racism persisted with many riots happening. Many unions in the North had explicit rules barring membership by black workers.

Blacks had various successes at different job locations, for example when the auto industry took off, Ford Motor Co. hired many blacks to work in its automobile plant, but other auto plants often excluded them. Jobs were not a certainty for the Negro; he had to stay alerted and knock on many doors. But blacks were making a little advancement, by 1940 there were more than 200,000 African Americans in the CIO, many of them officers of union locals.

 boll weevil
A. Philip Randolph
photo#128-yr-1900

When the war broke out a very special man by the name of A. Philip Randolph petitioned President Roosevelt for jobs in the Defense plants which previously had been reserved for whites. Randolph had a special card up his sleeve in the form of 100,000 peaceful marchers on Washington to protest if Roosevelt declined.

Roosevelt half-heartedly gave in and created a new program for blacks called the Fair Employment Practice Committee which was designed to monitor the hiring practices of companies. The Committee did accomplish many blacks being hired into the Defense departments at very nice wages but closed down later because of a lack of funding from the U.S. Government.

After World War II, The G.I. Bill which was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments of tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation was a big boon for whites and was a major factor in the creation of the white American middle class.

But sadly because of racial inequality, many of the benefits of the G.I. bill were not granted to black soldiers. This is because "at the very moment when a wide array of public policies was providing most white Americans with valuable tools to advance their social welfare—insure their old age, get good jobs, acquire economic security, build assets, and gain middle-class status—most black Americans were left behind or left out." It seems like we can get off the ground with these people, but we never give up. Also the black middle class failed to keep pace with the white middle class because blacks had fewer opportunities to earn college degrees.

G.I. Bill

In time, it became critical to have a college degree, for better pay wages which many whites were now working toward with the help of the G.I. Bill, but blacks were left behind in dying trades or just making it the best way they could because of racial discrimination and National leaders doing absolutely nothing to help.

Once they returned home after the war, blacks faced not only discrimination but also poverty, which confronted most blacks during the 1940s and 1950s and represented another barrier to harnessing the benefits of the G.I. Bill, as poverty made seeking an education problematic to while labor and income were needed at home. Banks and mortgage agencies routinely refused loans to blacks, making the G.I. Bill even less effective for blacks.

In addition to the other obstacles, gaining admission to universities was no easy task for blacks on the G.I. Bill. Most universities had segregationist principles underlying their admissions policies, utilizing either official or unofficial quotas. Those blacks that were prepared for college level work and gained access to predominantly white universities still experienced racism on campus.

During the 70s and 80s, the number of employed blacks increased. The civil rights movement played a huge role in this development. There were heavy gains in blue-collar jobs, such as steel, automobile production, electrical and non-electrical machinery, appliances, food and tobacco manufacturing, and textiles, and also white-collar occupations, where the four major subcategories-professional and technical, managerial and administrative, sales, and clerical increased very sharply.

Black professionals

The black labor force by the late 1990s, approximately sixty percent of these were white-collar sales and clerical personnel; many in this group were non-union workers with limited benefits and wages. However, another twenty percent of the black labor force, nearly three million workers, was classified as professional and technical employees and administrators. The percentage of the black labor force in the blue-collar field declined.

So what type of work did blacks do in the 1900s?

There were black doctors, dentist, newspaper editors, plumbers, mailman, teachers, singers, scientist, athletes, Pullman porters, laborers, politicians, judges, lawyers, mill workers, welders, domestic help, authors, factory workers, customer service, business owners, policemen, firemen, and every other profession you could think of. Sadly, their numbers and presence weren't as high as white Americans because of entrenched discrimination against the black race. It's in the history books, read it for yourself.

Black lady welder

Blacks have historically had a harder time than other races being employed in America, ever since emancipation, and for the most part it has to do with racism. We're not fooled into believing any different. But we don't let this stop us and continue to push on. Our amazing journey has had many barriers and roadbloocks every step of the way.

The Fair Employment Practice Committee of the 40s and the Civil Rights movement helped a bit, but after slavery and the following Jim Crow years, racism had become deeply entrenched in the American workforce. It's not out in the open as it was during Jim Crow days but today more subtle and hidden, but just as hurtful, degrading and discouraging. But to our credit, blacks seem always to find a way. Truly remarkable American people, and if it were possible, would make our battered ancestors who sailed deep seas, shout for joy in their graves.


Sources:
African Americans in the Twentieth Century
African Americans and the G.I. Bill
Blacks in the 1970's
Social and Economic Issues of the 1980s and 1990s
What The Negro Achieved in Industry



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George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver (front row, center) poses with fellow staff
members at the Tuskegee Institute Dressed to the Nines in the 1900s.

Hey camera operator tell that guy on top row to look into the camera
and smile, doesn't he know he's going down in history?

photo #121-yr-1900

black fashion in 1900
George Walker and Bert Williams
styling in the 1900s

photo#117-yr-1900

Young African American woman, full-length portrait, standing
Fashions for young African American women
photo #120-yr-1900

Young African American men
Fashions for African American men
photo #123-yr-1900

George Edwin Taylor
George E. Taylor, Presidential Candidate, 1904
photo #102-yr-1925





The Black Victorians (Victorian Era 1800s-1900s)


     Fashions in 1904

  Popular Fashions:

    Popular entertainers of the 1990s, George Walker and Bert Williams in the fancy clothes they wore back in the 1900s. Sharp as a tack!

    Women:
    With the decline of the bustle, sleeves began to increase in size and the 1830s silhouette of an hourglass shape became popular again. The fashionable silhouette in the early 1900s was that of a confident woman, with full low chest and curvy hips. Unfussy, tailored clothes were worn for outdoor activities and traveling. The shirtwaist, a costume with a bodice or waist tailored like a man's shirt with a high collar, was adopted for informal daywear and became the uniform of working women. This decade marked the full flowering of Parisian haute couture as the arbiter of styles and silhouettes for women of all classes. Large hats were worn with evening wear. Shoes were narrow and often emphasized. They had a pointed toe and a medium height heel.

    Men:
    The long, lean, and athletic silhouette of the 1890s persisted. Hair was generally worn short. Beards were less pointed than before and moustaches were often curled. The sack coat or lounge coat continued to replace the frock coat for most informal and semi-formal occasions. Formal dress shirt collars were turned over or pressed into "wings". Collars were overall very tall and stiffened. The usual necktie was a narrow four-in-hand. Ascot ties were worn with formal day dress and white bow ties with evening dress. Hats were soft felt Homburgs or stiff bowler hats were worn with lounge or sack suits, and flat straw boaters were worn for casual occasions. Shoes for men were mostly over the ankle. Toe cap, lace up boots in black, gray, or brown were the most common for everyday wear.



divider for amazing blacks


Dang it! We're so Tired of all the Hate

We can't wait to leave this wicked South,
and make the big bucks in the North!
Will our white American brothers love us there?

What type of employment awaits the Negro in the 1900s?



african americans working the farms
FSA photo of cropper family chopping the weeds from cotton near White Plains, in Georgia Postmarked 1912
photo #119-yr-1900

90% of Negroes still lived in the South up until the late 1910s. King Cotton was still a big source of income for blacks. These workers were hired as temporary help. Many were tenant farmers, renting a piece of land and some of their tools and supplies, and paying the rent at the end of the growing season with a portion of their harvest. White and black farm laborers were paid similar wages, and rental rates. Blacks didn't exclusively work in the cotton fields, for example some blacks worked in the Turpentine industry.


african americans working the farms
"Dipping and scraping pine trees. Turpentine industry in Florida." Postmarked 1912
photo#126-yr-1900


Whites were much more likely to own land as opposed to blacks. Black children were unlikely to be in school because they helped the parents in the fields to support the family and also because of a lack of good quality schools. Funds that were intended for black schools went to white schools instead in the form of raising teacher salaries and per-pupil funding while reducing class size. Black schools suffered at this expense. Separate but Equal was a big lie, because it was anything but equal. The goverment didn't have a special watchdog organization to enforce these racist laws and the requirement of equality was not generally enforced. Black children never really had a fair chance.


Boll weevil ruins Cotton Crops in the 1920s

Of course hindsight is 20-20. But wouldn't it have been nice if during slavery someone would have thought to travel to Mexico and bring back the Cotton boll weevil to transplant and infest them into Southern cotton crops?
 boll weevil
Cotton boll weevil
Where were you when we really
needed you, pre-1863?

photo#127-yr-1900

A little friendly intergration of the boll weevil and Mr. King Cotton would have been a good thing for the Negro. We wonder what kind of effect that would have had on chattel slavery?

Well what the heck is a boll weevil?

The boll weevil is a beetle which feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central America, it migrated into the United States from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south.

Southern blacks were tied to the cotton fields in the early 1900s, but after 1914, many were fed up and wanted to try something new and different. By then they were open for a change because of restrictive Jim Crow laws and the boll weevil destroyed many crops, putting them out of work. They decided to take the plunge, a new and exciting life for them. Their move was called the Great Migration. News had spread to these poor black Southerners about better opportunities in the North, so many of them packed up their belongings and bid farewell to the South, never looking back.

Some were recruited to travel North by agents of the businesses who would pay their fare. In some cases these poor blacks were tricked into traveling a great distance for jobs only to discover they would be hired as strikebreakers, which was a very dangerous undertaking. Money was better for the Negro in the North, but in many cases racism persisted with many riots happening. Many unions in the North had explicit rules barring membership by black workers.

Blacks had different successes at different job locations, for example when the auto industry took off, Ford Mototr Co. hired many blacks to work in it's automobile plant, but other auto plants often excluded them. Jobs were not a certainty for the Negro, he had to stay alert and knock on many doors. But blacks were making a little advancement, by 1940 there were more than 200,000 African Americans in the CIO, many of them officers of union locals.

 boll weevil
A. Philip Randolph
photo#128-yr-1900

When the war broke out a very special man by the name of A. Philip Randolph petitioned President Roosevelt for jobs in the Defense plants which previously had been reserved for whites. Randolph had a special card up his sleeve in the form of 100,000 peaceful marchers on Washington to protest if Roosevelt declined.

Roosevelt half heartedly gave in and created a new program for blacks called the Fair Employment Practice Committee which was created to monitor the hiring practices of companies. The Committee did accomplish many blacks being hired into the Defense departments at very nice wages, but closed down later because of a lack of funding from the U.S. Goverment.

After World War II, The G.I. Bill which was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments of tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation was a big boon for whites and was a major factor in the creation of the white American middle class.

But sadly because of racial inequality, many of the benefits of the G.I. bill were not granted to black soldiers. This is because "at the very moment when a wide array of public policies was providing most white Americans with valuable tools to advance their social welfare—insure their old age, get good jobs, acquire economic security, build assets, and gain middle-class status—most black Americans were left behind or left out." It seems like we can get off the ground with these people, but we never give up. Also the black middle class failed to keep pace with the white middle class because blacks had fewer opportunities to earn college degrees.

G.I. Bill

In time, it became very important to have a college degree, for better pay wages which many whites were now working toward with the help of the G.I. Bill, but blacks were left behind in dying trades or just making it the best way they could because of racial discrimination and National leaders doing absolutely nothing to help.

Once they returned home after the war, blacks faced not only discrimination but also poverty, which confronted most blacks during the 1940s and 1950s and represented another barrier to harnessing the benefits of the G.I. Bill, as poverty made seeking an education problematic to while labor and income were needed at home. Banks and mortgage agencies routinely refused loans to blacks, making the G.I. Bill even less effective for blacks.

In addition to the other obstacles, gaining admission to universities was no easy task for blacks on the G.I. Bill. Most universities had segregationist principles underlying their admissions policies, utilizing either official or unofficial quotas. Those blacks that were prepared for college level work and gained admission to predominantly white universities still experienced racism on campus.

During the 70s and 80s, the number of employed blacks increased. The civil rights movement played a huge role in this development. There were heavy gains in blue collar jobs, such as steel, automobile production, electrical and non-electrical machinery, appliances, food and tobacco manufacturing, and textiles, and also white-collar occupations, where the four major subcategories-professional and technical, managerial and administrative, sales, and clerical increased very sharply.

Black professionals

The black labor force by the late 1990s, approximately sixty percent of these were white-collar sales and clerical personnel; many in this group were non-union workers with limited benefits and wages. However, another twenty percent of the black labor force, nearly three million workers, was classified as professional and technical workers and administrators. The percentage of the black labor force in the blue-collar field declined.

So what type of work did blacks do in the 1900s?

There were black doctors, dentist, newpaper editors, plumbers, mailman, teachers, singers, scientist, athletes, pullman porters, laborers, politicians, judges, lawyers, welders, domestic help, authors, factory workers, customer service, business owners, policemen, firemen, and every other profession you could think of. Sadly, their numbers and presence weren't as great as white Americans because of entrenched discrimination against the black race. It's in the history books, read it for yourself.

Blacks have historically had a harder time than other races being employed in America, ever since emancipation, and for the most part it has to do with racism. We're not fooled into believing any different. But we don't let this stop us and continue to push on. Our amazing journey has had many barriers and roadbloocks every step of the way.

The Fair Employment Practice Committee of the 40s and the Civil Rights movement helped a bit, but after slavery and the following Jim Crow years, racism had become deeply entrenched in the American workforce. It's not out in the open like it was during Jim Crow days but today more subtle and hidden, but just as hurtful, degrading and discouraging. But to our credit, blacks seem to always find a way. Truly remarkable American people, and if it were possible, would make our battered ancestors who sailed deep seas, shout for joy in their graves.


Sources:
African Americans in the Twentieth Century
African Americans and the G.I. Bill
Blacks in the 1970's
Social and Economic Issues of the 1980s and 1990s

annual hamite award



United States Census for Negroes
United States Census for African Americans
in the 1900s

Ice cream cone
Ice Cream Cone
photo #109

Our Community in 1904

Newsworthy Events in the Black Community:


  • April 30, 1904 - The world famous ice cream cone makes it's debut.

  • By the early 1900s, Negro farmers in Mississippi had achieved land ownership; they made up two-thirds of the independent farmers in the Mississippi Delta. Trivia: It seemed like the Negroes in Mississippi were on to something good. There was much land to be cleared and cultivated for the cash crop King Cotton. The only problem was there were many trees on the land. This opportunity gave black and white farmers a chance to earn money by exchanging their labor in clearing the land and selling the timber. This allowed many blacks a way to earn enough money to purchase farm property. But sadly in time most Negroes lost their property because of Jim Crow laws and shady businesses practices by whites (denial of bank loans/credit etc.) that forced them out and into the tenant farming and sharecropping arrangement.

  • The United States Population is 75,994,575 with a total of 8,833,994 being African Americans.



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RESOURCES:


Text_of_Creative_Commons_Attribution-ShareAlike_3.0_Unported_License


#101 -     Public Domain image - See page for author [Public domain], By Photographer not credited. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

#102 -     Public Domain image -By Publisher: Will Rossiter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

#105 -     Public Domain image - See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

#106 -     Public Domain image - By The pictures are over 100 years old and so authorship is uncertain. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

#107 -     Public Domain image -By Unknown but probably active in mid-to-late 19th century. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

#108 -     Public Domain image - This image is in the public domain in the United States. In most cases, this means that it was first published prior to January 1, 1923 (see the template documentation for more cases). Other jurisdictions may have other rules, and this image might not be in the public domain outside the United States. See Wikipedia:Public domain and Wikipedia:Copyrights for more details. PD-US Public domain in the United States http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Ellen_Pleasant.gif

#109 -     Public Domain image -
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/browse-author.php?a=32495

#110 -     Public Domain image -
By Julius F. Taylor [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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