|Barack Hussein Obama II - born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is
the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born in Hawaii. Obama previously
served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to
the presidency in November 2008.
Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the
Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a
civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992
to 2004. Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a
seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he ran for United States Senate in 2004. During the
campaign, several events brought him to national attention, such as his victory in the March 2004 Democratic
primary election for the United States Senator from Illinois as well as his prime-time televised keynote address
at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.
Obama began his run for the presidency in February 2007. After a close campaign in the 2008 Democratic
Party presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton, he won his party's nomination. In the 2008 general
election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009.
Obama is the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Parents' Background & Meeting
Barack Obama's parents met in a basic Russian language course while both were attending the University of
Hawaii at Manoa, where Obama's father was enrolled as a foreign student. Obama was born at the Kapi'olani
Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawaii, with his birth being announced in The Honolulu
Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Obama was born in Kapolani Medical Center at 2:30 PM in the afternoon off of, 1319 Punahou Street on
August 4, 1961. The Honolulu Advertiser reports that:
The future president's first boyhood home is still standing on (6085) Kalaniana'ole Highway, in the
Kuli'ou'ou area between 'Aina Haina and Hawai'i Kai. The yellow, four-bedroom, single-story home was
built in 1948. Nani Smethurst, who has owned the home since 1979, said the place is essentially the same
as it was when it was built, although it has been upgraded and landscaped by Smethurst, who is an
architect. The property also has a 450-square-foot cottage in the back that was built in 1953. It's feasible
the couple occupied the back cottage at 6085 Kalaniana'ole. Public records from the time show that
Barack H. Obama, 25, also had a residence at 625 11th Ave. in Kaimuki. The 11th Avenue address is now
occupied by a larger dwelling that was built in 1990.
Old friends in Mercer Island, Washington recall his mother visiting them with her new baby later on that
summer. She subsequently enrolled at the University of Washington, and lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood
of Seattle as a single mother with her son. She and her son left Seattle in the summer of 1962 and she re-
enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
In 1963, Obama moved to 1427 Alexander Street, Apartment 110, which still exists in 2009. Later that year and
for 3 years, Obama's mother's address was listed in the University of Hawaii directory as 2277 Kamehameha
Ave. In 1964, Obama lived at 2234 University Ave. a single story home in the Manoa area of Honolulu near
Noelani Elementary School. His parents divorced in January 1964. After the separation, he, his mother and his
grandparents moved into a single-story home in the Manoa district. His father received a Masters degree in
Economics from Harvard University, then returned to Kenya, where he became a finance minister before dying
in an automobile accident in 1982.
Throughout his early years, Obama was known at home and at school as "Barry." He attended kindergarten at
Noelani Elementary School, near his home. While still resident in Manoa, Dunham married Indonesian student
Lolo Soetoro who was attending the University of Hawaii. When Suharto, a military leader in Soetoro's home
country, came to power in 1967, all students studying abroad were recalled and the family moved to Indonesia.
During his time in Indonesia, Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, from ages 6 to 10, where classes were
taught in the Indonesian language. He first attended St. Francis Assisi Catholic school for almost three years.
When his family moved to a new neighborhood, Menteng, he attended the secular, government-run SDN
Menteng 1 school (also known as the Besuki school) for his fourth year. Obama was a Cub Scout while living in
Indonesia. Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng remembered Obama's stepfather as "not religious", and
"never went to prayer services except for big communal events" When Obama was in third grade he wrote an
essay saying that he wanted to become president. His teacher later told the Chicago Tribune that she was not
sure what country he wanted to become president of but that he said that his reason for becoming president was
that he wanted to make everybody happy.
maternal grandparents at 1617 S. Beretania, Apt. 1206 and two years
later at Apt. 1008. In 1973, Obama's mother returned to Hawaii and
lived in one of the nine apartments at 1839 Poki Street.
Honolulu. He worked at a nearby Baskin Robbins, which still stands
in 2009. His maternal grandparents lived at the Punahou Circle
apartments on South Beretania Street, Honolulu, while attending
Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth
grade until his graduation in 1979.
Obama's mother, Ann, died of ovarian cancer and uterine cancer a few months after the publication of his 1995
memoir, Dreams from My Father.
In the memoir, Obama describes his experiences growing up in his mother's middle class family. His
knowledge about his African father, who returned once for a brief visit in 1971, came mainly through family
stories and photographs. Of his early childhood, Obama writes: "That my father looked nothing like the people
around me — that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk — barely registered in my mind." The book
describes his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He wrote
that he used alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my
mind". Obama has said that it was a seriously misguided mistake. At the Saddleback Civil Presidential Forum
Barack Obama identified his high-school drug use as his greatest moral failure. Obama has stated he has not
used any illegal drugs since he was a teenager.
Some of his fellow students at Punahou School later told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that Obama was mature for
his age as a high school student and that he sometimes attended parties and other events in order to associate
with African American college students and military service people. Reflecting later on his formative years in
Honolulu, Obama wrote: "The opportunity that Hawaii offered — to experience a variety of cultures in a climate
of mutual respect — became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear."
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama took a well publicized trip to Hawaii to visit his dying
grandmother and suspended his campaign.
Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years. He
then transferred to Columbia College in New York City, where he majored in political science with a
specialization in international relations. Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983, then worked at
Business International Corporation and New York Public Interest Research Group.
Early Career In Chicago
After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer. He worked for
three years from June 1985 to May 1988 as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-
based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland,
West Pullman, and Riverdale) on Chicago's far South Side. During his three years as the DCP's director, its
staff grew from 1 to 13 and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000, with accomplishments including
helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization
in Altgeld Gardens. Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a
community organizing institute. In the summer of 1988, he traveled for the first time to Europe for three weeks
then to Kenya for five weeks where he met many of his paternal relatives for the first time.
Harvard Law School
with Ebony in 1990, he stated that he saw a degree in law as a
vehicle to facilitate better community organization and activism:
"The idea was not only to learn how to hope and dream about
different possibilities, but to know how the tax structure affects what
kind of housing gets built where." At the end of his first year he was
selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review based on his
grades and a writing competition. In February 1990, his second year
at Harvard, he was elected president of the law review, a full-time
volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the
law review's staff of 80 editors. Obama's election as the first black
president of the law review was widely reported and followed by
several long, detailed profiles. He got himself elected by convincing
a crucial swing bloc of conservatives that he would protect their
interests if they supported him. Building up that trust was done with
the same kind of long listening sessions he had used in the poor
School when Obama later taught there, said Obama was elected editor "because people on the other side
believed he would give them a fair shake."
While in law school he worked as an associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989, where he met his
wife, Michelle, and where Newton N. Minow was a managing partner. Minow later would introduce Obama to
some of Chicago's top business leaders. In the summer of 1990 he worked at Hopkins & Sutter. Also during
his law school years, Obama spent eight days in Los Angeles taking a national training course on Alinsky
methods of organizing. He graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991 and returned to
Settling Down In Chicago
Law Review led to a contract and advance to write a book about race
relations. In an effort to recruit him to their faculty, the University of
Chicago Law School provided Obama with a fellowship and an office to
work on his book. He originally planned to finish the book in one year, but
it took much longer as the book evolved into a personal memoir. In order
to work without interruptions, Obama and his wife, Michelle, traveled to
Bali where he wrote for several months. The manuscript was finally
published as Dreams from My Father in mid-1995.
her in Hyde Park, a liberal, integrated,middle-class Chicago neighborhood
with a history of electing reform-minded politicians independent of the
Daley political machine. The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born
in 1998; their second, Natasha (known as Sasha), in 2001.
influential Chicagoans. One of Michelle's best friends was Jesse Jackson's
daughter, Santita, later the godmother of the Obamas' first child.
Michelle herself had worked as an aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley. Marty
Nesbitt, a young, successful Black businessman (who played basketball
with Michelle's brother, Craig Robinson), became Obama's best friend and
introduced him to other African-American business people. Before the
marriage, according to Craig, Obama talked about his political ambitions,
even saying that he might run for president someday.
Obama directed Illinois Project Vote from April to October 1992, a voter registration drive, officially
nonpartisan, that helped Carol Moseley Braun become the first black woman ever elected to the Senate. He
headed up a staff of 10 and 700 volunteers that achieved its goal of 400,000 registered African Americans in the
state, leading Crain's Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be.
Although fundraising was not required for the position when Obama was recruited for the job, he started an
active campaign to raise money for the project. According to Sandy Newman, who founded Project Vote, Obama
"raised more money than any of our state directors had ever done. He did a great job of enlisting a broad
spectrum of organizations and people, including many who did not get along well with one another." The
fundraising brought Obama into contact with the wealthy, liberal elite of Chicago, some of whom became
supporters in his future political career. Through one of them he met David Axelrod, who later headed Obama's
campaign for president. The fundraising committee was chaired by John Schmidt, a white former chief of staff to
Mayor Richard M. Daley, and John W. Rogers Jr., a young black money manager and founder of Ariel Capital
Management. Obama also met much of the city's black political leadership, although he didn't always get along
with the older politicians, with friction sometimes developing over Obama's reluctance to spend money and his
insistence on results. "He really did it, and he let other people take all the credit", Schmidt later said. "The
people standing up at the press conferences were Jesse Jackson and Bobby Rush and I don't know who else.
Barack was off to the side and only the people who were close to it knew he had done all the work."
Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, as a Lecturer for four
years (1992–1996), and as a Senior Lecturer for eight years (1996–2004). During this time he taught courses in
due process and equal protection, voting rights, and racism and law. He published no legal scholarship, and
turned down tenured positions, but served eight years in the Illinois Senate during his twelve years at the
In 1993 Obama joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 12-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights
litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to
1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002. The firm was well-
known among influential Chicago liberals and leaders of the black community, and the firm's Judson H. Miner,
who met with Obama to recruit him before Obama's 1991 graduation from law school, had been counsel to
former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, although the law firm often clashed with the administration of Mayor
Richard M. Daley. The 29-year-old law student made it clear in his initial interview with Miner that he was more
interested in joining the firm to learn about Chicago politics than to practice law. During the four years Obama
worked as a full time lawyer at the firm, he was involved in 30 cases and accrued 3,723 billable hours.
Obama was a founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife,
Michelle, became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago in early 1993. He served on the
board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund Obama's
DCP, from 1993–2002, and served on the board of directors of The Joyce Foundation from 1994–2002.
Membership on the Joyce and Wood foundation boards, which gave out tens of millions of dollars to various
local organizations while Obama was a member, helped Obama get to know and be known by influential liberal
groups and cultivate a network of community activists that later supported his political career. Obama served
on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from 1995–2002, as founding president and
chairman of the board of directors from 1995–1999. He also served on the board of directors of the Chicago
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Lugenia
Burns Hope Center. In 1995, Obama also announced his candidacy for a seat in the Illinois state Senate and
attended Louis Farrakhan's Million Man March in Washington, DC.
|The owner and originator of all information are gathered from various sources and most artists of each photograph are unknown.
All credit belongs to the original author and/or artist.v
|Black History Facts & Black African Americans Who Have Made History
African American autistic savant and musical prodigy on the piano. He had
numerous original compositions published and had a lengthy and largely
successful performing career throughout the United States. During the
19th century, he was one of the most well-known American performing
Wiggins was born on the Wiley Edward Jones Plantation in Harris County,
Mingo Wiggins, to Columbus, Georgia lawyer, General James Neil
Bethune. The new owner re-named the child Thomas Greene Bethune or
Thomas Wiggins Bethune (according to different sources).
Because the blind lad could not perform work normally demanded of slaves, Tom was left to play and explore
the Bethune plantation. At an early age, he evinced an interest in the piano after hearing the instrument played
by Bethune's daughters. By age four he reportedly had acquired intuitive, if rudimentary—and imitative—piano
skills based solely on hearing. He continually intruded upon the Bethune family residence to gain access to the
piano, with Bethune's daughters abetting these intrusions. By age five Tom reportedly had composed his first
tune, The Rain Storm, based on his aural impressions of a torrential downpour. After his extraordinary music
skills were recognized by General Bethune, Tom was permitted to live in a room attached to the family house,
away from the slave quarters. The small room was equipped with a piano. Bethune hired professional musicians
to play for Tom, who could faithfully reproduce their performances, often after a single listening. Eventually he
learned a reported 7,000 pieces of music, including hymns, popular songs, waltzes, and classical repertoire.
There are conflicting historical accounts of Blind Tom's first public performance, some indicating he was as
young as three. One account from 1857 indicates that he had been performing publicly for several years.
Newspaper reviews and audience reactions were favorable, prompting General Bethune to undertake a concert
tour with Tom around their home state of Georgia. Tom later toured the South with Bethune or accompanied by
hired managers, though their travels and bookings were sometimes hampered by the North-South hostilities
which were drawing the nation towards Civil War. In 1860, Blind Tom performed at the White House before
President James Buchanan. Mark Twain attended many of Blind Tom's performances over several decades and
chronicled the proceedings.
On- and offstage Tom often referred to himself in the third person (e.g., "Tom is pleased to meet you"). His
piano recitals were augmented by other talents, including uncanny voice mimicry of public figures and nature
sounds. He also displayed a hyperactive physicality both onstage and off. A letter written in 1862 by a soldier in
North Carolina described some of Tom's eccentric capabilities: "One of his most remarkable feats was the
performance of three pieces of music at once. He played 'Fisher's Hornpipe' with one hand and 'Yankee
Doodle' with the other and sang 'Dixie' all at once. He also played a piece with his back to the piano and his
hands inverted." At concerts, skeptics attempted to confirm if Tom's performance replications were mere
trickery; their challenge took the form of having Tom hear and repeat two new, uncirculated compositions. Tom
did so perfectly. The "audience challenge" eventually became a regular feature of his concerts.
In 1866, at the age of 16, Tom was taken on a European tour by General Bethune.
In 1875, General Bethune transferred management of Blind Tom's professional affairs to his son John Bethune,
who accompanied Tom on tour around the U.S. for the next eight years. Beginning in 1875, John brought Blind
Tom to New York each summer. While living with John in a boarding house on the Lower East Side, Tom
added to his repertoire under the tutelage of Joseph Poznanski, who also transcribed new compositions by Tom
for publication. Many of these were, at Tom's insistence, published under such pseudonyms as Professor W.F.
Raymond, J.C. Beckel, C.T. Messengale, and Francois Sexalise.
In 1882, John Bethune married his landlady, Eliza Stutzbach, who had demonstrated a knack for mollifying
Tom's sometimes volatile temperament. However, shortly after their marriage, John Bethune embarked on an
extended tour of the U.S. with Tom, in effect abandoning Eliza. When Bethune returned home eight months
later, his wife filed for divorce. The couple split up—John took Tom—but a bitter legal squabble ensued, with
Eliza hounding John for financial support, a claim that the courts usually adjudicated in John's favor. After John
Bethune died in a railway accident in 1884, Tom was returned—over Eliza's objections—to the care of General
Bethune (now living in Virginia). After a protracted custody battle in several courts, in August 1887 Tom was
awarded to Eliza (putatively acting on behalf of Tom's elderly mother Charity), who moved Tom back to New
York. Charity accompanied them with the understanding that she would benefit financially from Tom's earnings.
However, after it became apparent that Eliza did not intend to honor any financial obligations to Charity, Tom's
mother returned to Georgia.
Tom continued performing and touring for a number of years under the management of Eliza and her attorney
(and later husband) Albrecht Lerche. Tom was on tour in western Pennsylvania in May 1889 on the day of the
Johnstown Flood, and rumor spread that he was among the casualties. Despite his continued appearances on
the U.S. concert circuit, the rumor persisted for years, with some observers expressing skepticism that the
Blind Tom who appeared in concert after 1889 was the "real Blind Tom."
After being dogged by incessant legal challenges to her custodianship of Tom, Eliza took Tom off the concert
circuit around 1893.
Tom spent the next ten years as a ward of Eliza and her husband, who divided their time between New York city
and New Jersey's Navesink Highlands. In 1903 Eliza arranged for Tom to appear on the popular vaudeville
circuit, beginning with Brooklyn's Orpheum Theater. He spent almost a year performing in vaudeville, before
his health began to deteriorate. It is believed he suffered a stroke (described in some reports as "partial
paralysis") in December 1904, which ended his public performing career.
After the death of her husband, Eliza relocated to Hoboken, New Jersey, with Tom. They kept out of public
view, though neighbors could hear Tom's piano playing at all hours of the day and night. Tom suffered a major
stroke in April 1908, and died the following June. He was buried in the Cemetery of the Evergreens in
Brooklyn, New York.
The people of Columbus, Georgia, raised a commemorative headstone for him in 1976. He was the subject of a
play titled HUSH: Composing Blind Tom Wiggins, which was performed on the Atlanta stage with Del Hamilton
as director. In 1999 John Davis recorded an album of Tom's original compositions on a CD entitled John Davis
Plays Blind Tom. A biography, The Ballad of Blind Tom, by Deirdre O'Connell, was published in 2009.
|Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins
|Barack Hussein Obama II
|Stanley Ann Dunham
Mother of Barack Obama born in 1942, died in 1995.
Born Stanley Ann Dunham, she was an American anthropologist who
specialized in economic anthropology and rural development. She earned her
Ph.D from the University of Hawaii and worked with the United States Agency for International
Development, the Ford Foundation, and Women's World Banking, championing microcredit for the
world’s poor. Obama referred to his mother as the dominant figure in his
formative years. "The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics
|Front row (left to right): Auma Obama (Barack's half-sister),
Kezia Obama (Barack's stepmother),
Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama (third wife of Barack's paternal grandfather),
Zeituni Onyango (Barack's aunt)
Back row (left to right): Sayid Obama (Barack's uncle),
Barack Obama, Abongo [Roy] Obama (Barack's half-brother),
unidentified woman, Bernard Obama (Barack's half-brother), Abo Obama (Barack's half-brother).
| Alex Burl - the first Black athlete in CSU history to win the William & Elwood Nye Award
Alex Burl could run faster than anyone else in Colorado and earned the title "Mr. Track and Field."
Burl won city and State championships at Manual High School under Coach Gil Cruter. He then went to
Colorado A&M (now Colorado State), where he was Skyline League champion in the 100- and 220-yard dashes
three years in a row. He ran in the days of the cinder tracks, before synthetic surfaces came into vogue, and
still ran the 100-yard dash in 9.3 seconds in 1956.
"When I was growing up, I made up my mind that I wanted to be the fastest man in the world and I wanted to play
pro football," Burl said. "I figured out what I had to do in order to be able to do those things. I made sure my study
habits were such that I would be eligible to compete."
Davis at A&M. He was in Fort Collins in the era during which the school
produced a number of future NFL stars such as Gary Glick, Jack Christensen,
Dale Dodrill and Jim David. Bob Blasi, who went on to build the football
program at Northern Colorado in Greeley, was another teammate.
the Olympic trials in his day, he went the distance in football as well. He started
at running back and at defensive back, playing in the one-platoon system.
in Chicago's Soldier Field that pitted the top collegiate seniors from across the
country against the defending NFL champions.
lost, but it led me to playing two years for the Chicago Cardinals."
He is a member of the Colorado State University Hall of Fame and was the first Black African American to win
the prestigious William and Elwood Nye Award, given to the university's outstanding senior male athlete, in
He earned All-America honors three times in track and field as well as plaudits in AAU and military competition.
Burl entered public education and eventually coached football at Manual and Denver West high schools.
"I was big on trying to motivate my players," Burl said. "I thought back to when I was growing up, and I pointed
out they should be the best they could be and if they did, they'd be successful. It's just a matter of them making up
Burl began a family tradition
Sons Gary, Farley and Gerald won state high school championships in their events at Manual. They came under
their father's thumb at home and during summer recreation programs.
"He was strict," Gary Burl said. "He was demanding, and most of his pupils are doing well. As we were growing
up, we heard that if we turned out to be half as good an athlete as our dad, we'd do just fine. We knew he was a
heck of an athlete. I think everyone here knew about him."
Gary Burl noted there wasn't as much media attention in his dad's day.
At 75, Alex Burl became a spectator. Knee and hip replacements had slowed him down and even cut into his
fishing. However, he made it to all the high school events to watch the younger members of the Burl clan
Burl still has a title
High School track and field teams in the mid-1960's, came under
Burl's gaze in the summer programs as he grew up. Stevens is an
attorney in Denver.
Stevens said. "He always was very positive. He told us we could do
anything if we wanted to badly enough. We looked up to him because
we knew he was a great athlete who also was a great person. To this
day when I see him, I can't call him anything other than Mr. Burl."
who frequented the Harrington Elementary School summer playground would probably not be here today. Mr.
Burl's influence was just that strong. In the summer 1960, Mr. Burl's first year at Harrington, he changed an
uninteresting barely fun summer experience into a life expanding experience. He taught us about life! He was a
disciplinarian when many of us needed discipline; he was a father figure when our father's were not able to give the
time and affection we craved; he was a dream maker who taught us that there was another world out there other
than East Denver. I am very proud to still consider him a friend and mentor. Bye the way, my father, before he
passed, felt as strongly about Mr. Burl and his impact on the kids in my neighborhood as I do.
|| Home | Life Without Blacks | Our Bill of Sale | What is Black History Month | Contact Us | Site Map |
On Saturday, April 24, 2010, the city of Rosewood Florida and the Real Rosewood Foundation will hold a
Return to Rosewood celebration to preserve the history and tell the true story that left several people dead and
homeless - both Black and white - in 1923.
Rosewood was established in 1870; a city that prospered from the transfer of cedar and other goods through the
railroad. As the cedar depleted, the white families moved 3 miles away to Sumner to work in the mills, leaving
the town predominately Black.
The town existed in peace until a white woman screamed rape on New Year’s Day 1923. Between January 1,
1923 and January 8, 1923 the town of Rosewood, a Black community in Levy County, Florida was ransacked
The entire Black community was displaced and seven people were confirmed killed, three Black men, two
Black women and two white men. However, it was later disputed and questioned that there were more then
two white men killed and that Blacks won the “race war.” Many on both sides were injured or wounded.
The entire incident was predicated on one white woman's claim that she was assaulted by a Black Rosewood
man. No evidence of such an act was ever found. The white woman, Fannie Taylor of Sumner, Florida was not
assaulted in Rosewood.
Ashamed of her affair gone-bad with a white married lover, Fannie Coleman Taylor accused a local Black man of
attacking her. It was the beginning of the end for Rosewood.
Though Fannie Taylor’s story was disputed by her laundress, Sarah Carrier – a Black woman who was present
during the assault – no one cared. Fannie’s husband, James Taylor, sent for a lynch mob to find the man
accused of raping his wife.
After a large angry mob of klan members were called together, they went on the hunt for Jesse Hunter, a
random Black man accused of escaping a convict gang - which was never proven. The mob brutally killed a man
said to be associated with Hunter’s escape, Sam Carter, and tortured Sarah Carrier’s husband, Sylvester –
needing someone to blame for the alleged rape.
Meanwhile, the Black citizens organized and the night before the white mob went after Sylvester Carrier, the
Black group — consisting of men, women and children – ambushed and shot men in the mob.
The Black men went to work the next day at the Sumner mill as if nothing happened. A few days later, the
white mob returned, killed a few others remaining and burned the town to the ground - but the majority of the
Black citizens had already left by train. (None returned to the city, and some even changed their names several
times for protection.)
On May 4, 1994, the Florida Legislature agreed to compensate the survivors and descendants of the massacre.
Then exactly 10 years later, Rosewood was granted a historic marker. Only a single house remains to prove
the city physically existed, but the stories were carried down from generations of Rosewood survivors.
In 1997, film director John Singleton captured the story in “Rosewood” starring actor Ving Rhames.
Broadcast journalist Ted Koppel’s documentary, “The Last Lynching,” which told the story of the Rosewood
riot, aired September 15, 2008, and included comments from then-Senator Barack Obama. The program was
viewed in 115 countries by 1.5 billion people. The story of Rosewood is found in the book “Alachaua County”
by Lizzie Jenkins, author and descendant of Rosewood survivors.
Founding of Rosewood
Rosewood was established around 1870 in Levy County, Florida on a road leading to Cedar Key and the Gulf of
It took its name from the abundant red cedar that grew in the area.
handle the transport of cedar wood to the pencil factory in Cedar
Key and the transportation of timber, turpentine rosin, citrus,
vegetables, and cotton. In 1890 the cedar depleted and many of the
white families moved to Sumner, three (3) miles west of Rosewood
and worked at the newfound saw mill established by Cummer and
Sons. By 1900 Rosewood had a Black majority of citizens.
Ashamed of her affair gone-bad with a white married lover, Fannie
Coleman Taylor accused a local Black man of attacking her. It was
the beginning of the end for Rosewood.
On the morning of January 1, 1923 Fannie Coleman Taylor of Sumner Florida, claimed she was assaulted by a
Black man. Although she was not seriously injured and was able to describe what happened she allegedly
remained unconscious for several hours due to the shock of the incident. No one disputed her account and no
questions were asked. It was assumed she was reporting the incident accurately.
Taylor and was present on the morning of the incident, claimed the man that
assaulted Fannie Taylor was her white lover. It was believed the two lovers
quarreled and he abused Fannie and left. However, in 1923, no one questioned
Fannie Taylor's account and no one asked Sarah Carrier about the incident. The
Black community claimed Fannie Taylor was only protecting herself from
scandal. A posse was summoned and tracking dogs were ordered by James
Taylor, Fannie Taylor’s husband and the foreman at Cummer and Sons saw mill.
The local white community became aroused at the alleged abuse of a white
woman by a Black man, which was an unpardonable sin against Black men back
then to look at a white woman.
County, who was ending a staged KKK rally leading up to January 1, 1923, on
the court house square in downtown Gainesville, where a large number of KKK
Gainesville in regards to Fannie Taylor’s allegations provoked four to five hundred Klansmen that headed to
Sumner at the appeal of James Taylor. With reaping tension displayed they willingly accepted the invitation and
came to Sumner vigorously to participate at any cost necessary. They arrived enraged and combed the woods
behind the Taylor’s home looking for a suspect. Suspicion soon fell on Jesse Hunter an allegedly Black man
who had allegedly had recently escaped from a convict road gang. No proof of the escape was ever provided.
The posse confronted Sam Carter at his home and Carter allegedly admitted to helping Hunter escape.
Allegedly, the posse forced Carter to take them to the place where he last saw Hunter. Carter allegedly took
the posse to where he parted ways with Hunter. When no trace of Hunter could be found the posse turned into
an out of control lynch mob and tortured Carter, riddled him with bullets and hung him from a tree.
The posse continued their hunt in Rosewood. They found Aaron Carrier, cousin and friend, to Sam Carter, in
bed at Sarah Carrier’s house, yanked him out of bed, tied a rope around his neck and dragged him behind a
Model “T” from Rosewood to Sumner. They tortured him, beat him with gun butts and kicked him until he lost
consciousness before shooting him.
Levy County Sherriff Bob Walker aborted the shooting when he yelled, “Don’t! I’ll finish the “N” off."
The magic “N” word saved Carrier’s life.
The posse returned to Rosewood to hunt for Sylvester Carrier. Sheriff Walker threw Aaron Carrier in his
Model “T” taking him to Gainesville, Alachua County jail and begged Sheriff James Ramsey to hide Carrier
from the public and his family until tempers settled down and suggested he get medical help for him. Sheriff
Ramsey brought in two local Black doctors, Dr. Parker and Dr. Ayers to treat Carrier for six months
unknowingly to the public and his family. Fuming with anger because they had not found the attacker James
Taylor sent Sylvester Carrier a message “We are coming to get you” the night of January 2nd.
for a showdown, “to kill or be killed” because they were dissatisfied
with the lack of success they anticipated. The mob formed a "party
of citizens" to discuss how to investigate and accomplish their
mission to find and silence Sylvester Carrier, who had become a
lightning rod for their anger.
friends who bravely traveled to Rosewood to help avert the planned ambush of its citizens.
The white mob burned the Black churches in Rosewood. Philomena Goins' cousin Lee Ruth Davis heard the
bells tolling in the church as the men were inside setting it on fire. Even the white church in Rosewood was
destroyed. Many Black residents fled into the nearby swamps, some clothed only in their pajamas.
Wilson Hall was nine years old at the time; he later recalled his mother waking him to flee into the swamps
early in the morning when it was still dark; the lights from approaching cars could be seen for miles.
The Hall family walked 15 miles (24 km) through swampland to the town of Gulf Hammock. The survivors
recall that it was uncharacteristically cold for Florida, and people spent several nights in raised wooded areas
called hammocks to evade the mob. Some took refuge with sympathetic white families. Sam Carter's 69-year-
old widow hid for two days in the swamps then was driven by a sympathetic white mail carrier, under bags of
mail, to meet her family in Chiefland.
White men began surrounding houses, pouring kerosene on and lighting them, then shooting at those who
emerged. Lexie Gordon, a light-skinned 50-year-old woman who was ill with typhoid fever, had sent her
children into the woods. She was killed by shotgun blast to the face when she fled from hiding underneath her
home, which had been set on fire by the rampaging mob. Fannie Taylor's brother-in-law claimed to be her killer.
On January 5, more whites converged on the area, forming a mob of between 200 to 300 people. Some came
from out of state.
Mingo Williams, who was 20 miles (32 km) away near Bronson, was collecting turpentine sap by the side of the
road when a car full of whites stopped and asked his name. As was custom among many residents of Levy
County, both Black and white, Williams used a nickname that was more prominent than his given name. He
replied to the car full of white men with the name everyone used, "Lord God", and they shot him dead.
killed. It had come down to Sylvester Carrier’s recruited men or
the mob. The posse, intoxicated with moonshine and ignorance, was
met head-on with resistance and several were killed or injured,
however, not accurately reported in the “all white” 1923
newspapers. When the gun battle ended the posse that was able to
return to Sumner, did return, leaving behind their guns. Others lay
dead and wounded in Sarah Carrier’s yard.
When the massacre ended that morning before dawn, Sylvester
Carrier’s friends returned to their homes as they came, quietly “the
back way” – going to work at Sumner saw mill and other places of
The posse started firing upon arrival. Henry Andrews, an Otter Creek resident and C. Poly Wilkerson, a
Sumner merchant were killed by Sylvester Carrier when they kicked in the door of his mother’s home, who
they shot and killed through a window as she was walking through the house to quiet the children.
Someone stationed in the house screamed, “Oh my God, Aunt Sarah’s been shot and Sylvester yelled,
“SHOOT EVERYBODY, SHOOT!”
The posse realized too late they were encircled by resisting Black men hiding in the dark pumping hails of lead
to protect the Rosewood citizens, women and children, barricaded in the Carrier’s home. Hails of gunfire came
from under the house, from behind the house and behind the barn. Hours later, the fight ended in a bloodbath
that surprised the surviving posse as they mosey back to Sumner in disbelief, pain, and shame.
The broken posse returned to Sumner to regroup and wait for Sheriff Walker - who they refused to listen to
earlier – to bring them an update. However, gun shots being fired in the air as Rosewood kept the posse at bay
until the Sheriff was able to finalize the escape route for the Rosewood citizens.
For sure, guns belonging to the posse - dead and injured - were left in Rosewood and unaccounted for in
Sumner. The sound of shots being fired in Rosewood signified that there was still life in Rosewood and the
posse was not in a hurry to return risking more lives in defense of Fannie Taylor's horrific lies.
James Taylor sent the posse to Rosewood to participate in the attack on Rosewood citizens although he never
left Sumner surviving all physical harm. The posse now sought Sheriff Bob Walker to inquire about Rosewood’
s state of affairs but the Sheriff was too busy negotiating with the Cedar Key train conductors, the Bryce
Brothers, on how to move the citizens out of Rosewood safely.
escaped into the swampland under the cover of fear, hiding out and waiting
for the train to come and bring them to safety. Other citizens hiding in
Sarah Carrier’s house knew they had to leave their Rosewood homes
before the posse returned, therefore, they fled to store merchant John
Wright’s home unannounced as instructed by Sheriff Bob Walker. John
Wright was in total shock to see his store customers arrived at his home
seeking refuge. They were instructed to wait there in hiding until they
heard back from the Sheriff who was traveling back and forth to Cedar
Key, Sumner, and Rosewood in an effort to move them safely out of
Rosewood on the 4 AM early morning train conducted by the Bryce
Brothers from Bryceville, Fla.
although she was left in her home too ill to flee. When the posse returned
to Rosewood days later to make an assessment of the damages they
James Carrier, an animal trapper, who had suffered a stroke a few years earlier was the husband to Amma
Carrier, the father of Aaron Carrier, and brother-in-law to Sarah Carrier, was ordered to dig his own grave and
was shot and killed because he knew nothing about what was happening in Rosewood when he returned from
his animal traps deep down in the woods.
On Sunday morning the posse returned and one by one angrily burned the last remaking structures belonging
to the Black community. The homes were burned because they did not want the public to know the real truth,
“more than two whites were killed.” Therefore, they burned the evidence, bodies and all.
“Until the Lion tells his own story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
investigate the massacre. After twenty-five white and allegedly
eight Black witnesses testified, the jurors reported that they could
find no evidence on which to base any indictments.
confirmed killed, three Black men, two Black women and two white
men. However, it was later disputed and questioned that there were
more then two white men killed and that Blacks won the “race
war.” Many on both sides were injured or wounded.
The Black community of Rosewood never returned. Many left for other cities and counties losing touch with
each other never sharing the Rosewood story with family members. And a number changed their names
including Aaron and Mahulda Gussie Brown Carrier, Rosewood’s historians and schoolteacher. She was born
Mahulda Gussie Brown May 5, 1894, in Archer, Alachua County, Florida. She married Aaron Carrier
December 19, 1917. After the Rosewood tragedy they moved more than fifteen times escaping accumulated
fear. They changed their name to Aaron and Mahulda G. Carroll. They even changed their birth dates.
25, 1948, Tampa, Florida at the Clara Frye hospital. Her name is
listed as “Mahulda G. Carroll” on her headstone.
Jenkins’, mother strongly encouraged her to preserve Rosewood
history never forgetting her Rosewood sister, Mahulda Gussie
Brown Carrier/Carroll’s suffrage.
and featured in the 2000 Great Floridians Magazine. Her name is
in the third edition of the Florida Black Heritage Trail. Carrier is also featured in a book, Alachua County
Florida, marketed online by Florida Magazine. Jenkins’ Rosewood re-constructive research is dedicated to the
Rosewood survivors and descendants in memory of Rosewood culture.
January 1, 2000, a plaque bearing Mahulda Gussie Brown Carrier’s name hangs on the porch of the Archer
Train Depot, the same depot Carrier exited January 4, 1923, driven by the Bryce Brothers.
Rosewood, a small majority Black town in Levy County was destroyed by a vigilante posse in 1923.
May 4, 1994
survivors and descendants. Compensation disbursed to Aaron
Carrier proven in-laws and Mahulda Gussie Brown Carrier sister,
Theresa Brown Robinson and brother, Richard Brown, sister-in-laws
Queenie Jones Brown Monroe and Marie Brown Randle each
received $3,333.33. Carrier niece Arbeaulah “Helen” Brown Porter
Warmack and nephew Addison P. Brown, Jr., each received
$1,616.16. Carrier nieces Elizabeth Crawford Mulligan and Bernice
Crawford, niece-in-law Mabel Thomas Crawford and nephew Charlie
Crawford each received $833.33, for a collective total of $19,900.96
paid to Aaron and Mahulda Gussie Brown Carrier family from the
state of Florida compensation fund.
Governor Lawton Chiles, Governor Jeb Bush dedicated a Historic
Marker in Rosewood May 4, 2004, in memory of the Rosewood
lived up to in honor of her mother’s principles and recorded family history.
This summary of Rosewood’s history is not research - it’s history.
Their land was confiscated under tax sales and not until 1994 did the state or any public entity offer an apology
or make any compensation.
Lizzie Jenkins, whose aunt was the Rosewood schoolteacher, explained her participation keeping Rosewood's
"It has been a struggle telling this story over the years, because a lot of people don't want to hear
about this kind of history. People don't relate to it, or just don't want to hear about it. But Mama told
me to keep it alive, so I keep telling it.... It's a sad story, but it's one I think everyone needs to hear."
|In January 1923 the Town of Rosewood, Florida was destroyed
philanthropist, ship captain, and devout Quaker transported 38 free
African Americans to Sierra Leone, Africa in 1815 in the hopes of
establishing Western Africa. He also founded the first integrated school in
Massachusetts in 1797.
and African Ashanti descent. Cuffee built a lucrative shipping empire. He
established the first school in Westport, Massachusetts to be racially
services at the multi-racial Society of Friends meeting house in Westport.
In 1813 he donated most of the money to build a new meeting house in
1813. He became involved in the British effort to resettle former slaves in
Revolution after gaining freedom with the British.) Cuffee helped to establish The Friendly Society of Sierra
Leone, to gather financial support for the colony.
Paul Cuffee was born on January 17, 1759, free during the French and Indian War, on Cuttyhunk Island,
Massachusetts. Paul was the seventh of eleven children. His father, Kofi (also known as Cuffee Slocum), was a
member of the Ashanti ethnic group. He had been captured at age ten and brought as a slave to the British
colony of Massachusetts. Paul's mother Ruth Moses was Native American, a member of the Wampanoag
Nation. Kofi was a skilled carpenter who was self-educated. He worked long hours and earned enough money to
buy his own freedom in 1776. He eventually bought a 116-acre (0.47 km2) farm.
During Paul Cuffee's youth, there was no Quaker meeting house on Cuttyhunk Island, so the family held
religious services in their kitchen. Kofi preached from the Scriptures. In 1767 when Paul was eight years old,
the family moved to Dartmouth, Massachusetts where they had a farm. Kofi died when Paul was thirteen. Paul
and his brother John took over operating their farm, and cared for their mother and three younger sisters. Paul
persuaded his brothers and sisters to use their father's English first name, "Cuffee", as their family name, to
drop the association with their father's former master.
At the time of his father's death, young Cuffee knew little more than the alphabet but dreamed of gaining an
education and being involved in shipping. The closest mainland port to Cuttyhunk was New Bedford,
Massachusetts - the center of the American whaling industry. Cuffee used his limited free time to learn more
about ships and sailing from sailors he encountered. Eventually, he was given a lesson in navigation by one of
the sailors. Although initially discouraged by his difficulty in understanding the necessary mathematics, Cuffee
studied whenever he could. Finally, at age 16, Paul Cuffee signed onto a whaling ship and, later, cargo ships,
where he learned navigation. During the American Revolution, he was held prisoner by the British for a time.
After his release, Cuffee moved to Westport, Massachusetts. He farmed and studied and saved money from his
produce sales. In 1779, he and his brother David built a boat by hand. Although his brother was afraid to sail in
dangerous seas, Cuffee went out alone in 1780, to deliver cargo to Connecticut. The boat was lost during a
storm. Undaunted, Cuffee built another boat, also by hand. Again, he set out to sea alone. During this voyage,
his ship and his cargo were seized by pirates. A third time he and David built a boat, and he borrowed money for
the cargo. Cuffee set off for Nantucket alone. Chased by pirates chased him and, in his haste to flee them, his
ship hit a rock, but he was not captured. However, he hit a rock while fleeing them but was able to make it
back to Westport. Although Cuffee reached Nantucket, he did not turn a profit on the venture. Finally, he made
yet another trip to Nantucket that turned a profit.
Cuffee finally made enough money to purchase another ship and hired crew. He gradually built up capital and
expanded ownership to a fleet of ships. He bought a 116-acre (0.47 km2) farm in Westport.
At the age of twenty-one, Cuffee refused to pay taxes because free Blacks did not have the right to vote. In
1780, he petitioned the council of Bristol County, Massachusetts to end such taxation without representation.
The petition was denied, but his suit was one of the influences that led the Legislature in 1783 to grant voting
rights to all free male citizens of the state.
At age twenty-four, Cuffee became part owner of a small sailing vessel and married Alice Pequit. Like his
mother, Pequit was also Wampanoag. The couple settled in Westport, Massachusetts, where they had and
raised their eight children. As Cuffee became more successful, he invested in more ships and made a sizable
fortune. In the 1790s, he made money in cod fishing and smuggling goods from Canada. With this money,
Cuffee bought a large farm along the Westport River (now known as the Paul Cuffee Farm). He also invested in
the expansion of his fleet.
Cuffee's investment in Sierra Leone
Paul Cuffee wanted to improve conditions for the many African Americans who lived under in the American
colonies. Due to his wealth, Cuffee did not live the average life of Blacks in America so he sought ways to help
others who had not been as fortunate. Unfortunately, most Englishmen felt that people of African descent were
inferior to Europeans, even in the predominantly Calvinist and Quaker New England. Although slavery
continued, some believed the emigration of Blacks to colonies outside the United States was the easiest and
most realistic solution to the race problem in America.
Attempts by Europeans and Americans to colonize Blacks in other parts of the world had failed, including the
British attempt to colonize Sierra Leone. They offered migration there to free African Americans whom they
had resettled in Nova Scotia and London after the American Revolution. Beginning in 1787, 400 people
departed from Great Britain for Sierra Leone. The colony was plagued with serious problems in trying to
establish a working economy, as well as problems developing a government that could survive pressures from
other peoples. Its London sponsors hoped to gain a return more quickly than was possible.
Although colonizing Sierra Leone was difficult, Cuffee believed it was a viable option for Blacks and threw his
support behind the movement. Paul Cuffee wrote: “I have for these many years past felt a lively interest in their
behalf, wishing that the inhabitants of the colony might become established in truth, and thereby be instrumental in
its promotion amongst our African brethren.”
Cuffee was encouraged by people in New York, Baltimore, and Boston, as well as members of the African
Institution. Cuffee mulled over the logistics and chances of success for the movement for three years before
deciding in 1809 to move ahead with the project. On January 2, 1811 he launched his first expedition to Sierra
Cuffee reached Freetown, Sierra Leone on March 1, 1811. He traveled the area investigating the social and
economic conditions of the region. He met with some of the colony’s officials, who opposed Cuffee’s idea for
colonization of Blacks from the United States for fear of competition.
Cuffee sailed to Great Britain to seek help from people in the region. While there, he met with the heads of the
African Institution and was granted permission to continue with his mission in Sierra Leone. Cuffee then left
Liverpool and sailed back to Sierra Leone, where he finalized his plans for the colony.
While in Sierra Leone, Cuffee helped to establish the Friendly Society of Sierra Leone, a trading organization
run by Blacks. He believed that the Friendly Society would help to establish a more powerful Sierra Leone
economy as well as self-help projects for the residents of the colony. Cuffee’s friends from the African
Institution made grants to the Friendly Society money for these goals. Heartened by London’s response, Cuffee
believed the trip to Sierra Leone was successful. He worried that when he and other powerful leaders left, some
of the colonists might revert to non-Christian religious practices. He tried to encourage them to comply with
After returning to the US in 1812, Cuffee was arrested for bringing British cargo into the United States. His
brig, the Traveler, was seized as well. He was summoned to Washington, D.C. for violating trade laws. There he
met with President James Madison. He was warmly welcomed into the White House by Madison. Madison later
decided that Cuffee was not aware of and did not intentionally violate the national trading policy. Madison
questioned Cuffee’s experience as well as the conditions of Sierra Leone and was eager to learn about Africa
and the possibility of further expanding colonization. Madison evaluated Cuffee’s plans carefully, but rejected
them, as he believed there would be too many problems in further US attempts to colonize Sierra Leone, a
British project. He regarded Cuffee as the authority on Africa in the US. Cuffee intended to return to Sierra
Leone once a year but the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain prevented him from doing so. He
visited Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, speaking to groups of free Blacks about the colony. He also
urged Blacks to form organizations in these cities to communicate with each other and to correspond with the
African Institution and with the Friendly Society at Sierra Leone. He printed a pamphlet about Sierra Leone to
inform the general public of his ideas.
In the spring of 1813, Cuffee suffered several monetary losses because of some unprofitable ventures of his
ships - one ship never returned. After getting his finances in order, he prepared to return to Sierra Leone. The
war between the U.S. and Britain continued, so Cuffee decided he would have to convince both countries to
ease their restrictions on trading. He was unsuccessful and was forced to wait until the war ended. He left on
December 10, 1815 with thirty-eight Black colonists and arrived in Sierra Leone on February 3, 1816. Cuffee
and his emigrants were not greeted as warmly as before. The authorities were already having trouble keeping
the general population in order and were not thrilled at the idea that more emigrants were arriving. Although
things did not go exactly as planned, Cuffee believed that once continuous trade between America, Britain, and
Africa commenced the society would realize his predicted success. Cuffee left Sierra Leone in April filled with
optimism for its future.
Cuffee's Later Years
On his return to New York in 1816, Cuffee exhibited to the New York African Institution certificates of the
landing of those persons at Sierra Leone. He also received from Gov. M'Carthy a certificate of the steady and
sober conduct of the settlers since their arrival, and an acknowledgment of $439.62, humanely advanced to
since they landed, to promote their comfort and advantage.
In 1816, Cuffee’s vision resulted in a mass emigration plan for Blacks. Congress rejected his petition for funds
to return to Sierra Leone. During this time period, many Black Americans began to demonstrate interest in
emigrating to Africa, and some people believed this was the best solution to problems of racism in the society.
Cuffee was persuaded by Reverends Samuel J. Mills and Robert Finley to help them with their colonization
plans of the American Colonization Society (ACS). Additionally, they became active, but found there was more
reason to encourage emigration to Haiti, where American immigrants were welcomed by the government of
President Boyer. Beginning in September 1824, nearly 6,000 Americans, most of them free Blacks, emigrated
to Haiti. However, because of the nation's poverty and problems, many Americans returned to the US.
In the beginning of 1817, Cuffee’s health deteriorated. He never returned to Africa. He died on
September 7, 1817 and left an estate with an estimated value of $20,000.
Cuffee is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on March 4.
In 1797, when his children were prevented from attending their local school because of their mixed race, he
decided to start a new school for children of all ethnicity’s. This was only one of the many bold actions Paul
Cuffee took during his lifetime to improve civil rights in this country. Two hundred years later, the founders’ of
the innovative model for urban education, were inspired by his integrity, determination and accomplishments,
and named a public charter school, with a maritime theme, in his honor.
|Mary “Stagecoach Mary” Fields
Toledo and worked for the Catholic convent. She formed a strong bond with Mother
Amadeus. When the nuns moved to Montana and Mary learned of Mother Amadeus'
failing health, she went West to help. Having nursed Mother Amadeus back to health,
she decided to stay and help build the St. Peter's mission school. She protected the
nuns. Mary was a pistol-packing, hard drinking woman, who needed nobody to fight her
battles for her. When turned away from the mission because of her behavior, the nuns
financed her in her own business. She opened a cafe. Mary's big heart drove her
business into the ground several times because she would feed the hungry.
County region of central Montana. She and her mule Moses never missed a day, and it
was in this capacity that she earned her nickname of "Stagecoach Mary", for her
Former Slave, Mary Fields Felt At Home In Montana Whether Working In A Covenant or Mail Route
A Black gun-totin' female in the American wild west. She was six feet tall; heavy; tough; short-tempered; two-
fisted; powerful; and packed a pair of six-shooters and an eight or ten-gauge shotgun. A legend in her own time,
she was also known as
Mary Fields was born as a slave in Tennessee during the administration of Andrew Jackson -- a feisty sort with
whom she shared driving ambition, audacity, and a penchant for physical altercation on a regular basis. She
smoked rather bad homemade cigars.
Well after the Civil War loosened things up, as a free woman in 1884, having made her way to Cascade County
(west central Montana) in search of improved sustenance and adventure, she took a job with the Ursuline nuns
at their mission in the city of Cascade. Named, St. Peter Mission, the nun’s simple frontier facility was
relatively well funded, and the nuns had a thriving business converting heathen savages, and other disgusting
customers, to the true path of salvation -- although not salvation from the white men.
Mary was hired to do 'heavy work' and to haul freight and supplies to keep the nuns' operation functional and
well fed. She chopped wood, stone work, rough carpentry, dug certain necessary holes, and when reserves were
low, she did one of her customary supply runs to the train stop. These “supply runs” consisted of traveling to
Great Falls or the city of Helena when special needs arose. On such a night run (it wasn't very far, but it was
cooler at night), Mary's wagon was attacked by wolves (maybe they wanted some of the dried beans or nun suits
on board). The terrified horses bolted uncontrollably and overturned the wagon, thereby unceremoniously
dumping Mary and all her supplies onto the dark prairie. However, Mary kept the wolves at bay the entire
night with her revolvers and rifle. And when dawn broke, she got the freight delivered to the great relief of the
nuns who had spent more than $30 on the goods in question (which was their principle concern). At the same
time, they had no hesitation to dock Mary's pay for the molasses that leaked from a keg, which was cracked on
a rock in the overturn.
fashion statement. She did not look or act the part of a woman in the Victorian
age (albeit on the frontier), however, certain ruffian men would occasionally
attempt to trample on her rights and hard won privileges. Woe to all of them.
She broke more noses than any other person in central Montana.
was earning $2 a month more than he was ($9 vs. $7), and why did she think that
she was worth so much money as “an uppity colored woman.”
public at one of the local saloons where Mary was a regular customer, and
followed that up with a (more polite) version directly to Bishop Filbus N.E.
Although Mary’s wages did not change, the statement and complaint was more than enough to boil her blood,
and at the very next opportunity the two of them were engaged in a shoot-out behind the nunnery.
The shoot out went on and when Mary went to simply shoot the man as he cleaned out the latrine - figuring to
dump his body in there - she missed. He shot back and the fracas was on. Bullets flew in every direction until
the six-guns were empty, and blood was spilt. Neither actually hit the other by direct fire, but one bullet shot by
Mary bounced off the stone wall of the nunnery and hit the forlorn man in the left buttock, which completely
ruined his new $1.85 trousers. Not only that, but other bullets Mary fired passed through the laundry of the
bishop, which was hanging on the line, generously ventilating his drawers and the two white shirts he had
shipped from Boston only the week before. That was enough for the bishop; he fired Mary, and gave the
injured man a raise.
Out of work and needing money, Mary took a stab at the restaurant business in Cascade. However, Mary’s café
did not last long as she could not help feeding the poor and eventually, her restaurant was forced to close.
In 1895, she landed a job carrying the United States Mail. Since she had always been so independent and
determined, this work was perfect for her, and quickly she developed a reputation for delivering letters and
parcels no matter what the weather, nor how rugged the terrain. She and her mule, Moses, plunged through
anything, from bitterly raw blizzards to wilting heat, reaching remote miner's cabins and other outposts with
important mail that helped accommodate the land claim process. These efforts on her part helped greatly to
advance the development of a considerable portion of central Montana, a contribution for which she is given
Known by then as Stagecoach Mary for her ability to deliver on a regular schedule, she continued in this
capacity until she reached well into her sixties, but it wore her down. She retired from the mail delivery
business, although she still needed a source of income. So, at the age of seventy, she opened a laundry service,
also in Cascade.
laundry, but rather spent a considerable portion of her time in the local
saloon, drinking whiskey and smoking foul cigars with the sundry
assortment of sweating and dusty men who were attracted to the place.
While she claimed to be a crack shot, actually her aim toward the cuspidor
was rather general, to the occasional chagrin of any nearby fellow patrons
-- never mind, she did laundry. One lout failed to pay his bill to her
however (he had ordered extra starch in the cuffs and collar). Hearing him
out in the street, she left the saloon and knocked him flat with one blow -
at the age of 72. She told her wobbly drinking companions that the
satisfaction she got from that act was worth more than the bill owed, so the
score was settled. As luck would have it, she knocked out his tooth that
had already been giving him trouble and the man was grateful.
that this mellow (!?) old woman of 80 was the hard-shooting and short-tempered female character of earlier
years they had heard so much about. But they were wrong, she was.
I am Mary Fields.
People call me "Black Mary."
People call me "Stagecoach Mary."
I live in Cascade, Tennessee.
I am six feet tall.
I weigh over two hundred pounds.
A woman of the 19th Century,
I do bold and exciting things.
I wear pants.
I smoke a big black cigar.
I drink whiskey.
I carry a pistol.
I love adventure.
I travel the country,
driving a stagecoach,
delivering the mail to distant towns.
Strong, I fight through rainstorms.
Tough, I fight through snowstorms.
I risk hurricanes and tornadoes.
I am independent.
No body tells me what to do.
No body tells me where to go.
When I'm not delivering mail,
I like to build buildings.
I like to smoke and drink in bars with the men.
I like to be rough.
I like to be rowdy.
I also like to be loving.
I like to be caring.
I like to baby sit.
I like to plant flowers and tend my garden.
I like to give away corsages and bouquets.
I like being me, Mary Fields.
name was made famous through the infamous Watergate scandal of
Office building in 1972 when he noticed a piece of duct tape on a
door lock while making his usual rounds.
the burglars had replaced the tape over a lock.
Wills could have ignored it, but instead, he called the police, which led to the arrest of five men in the biggest
Washington scandal in history. Because of his instinct, President Richard Nixon resigned and several
administrators in the White House were indicted and convicted.
After his exposure, the life of Frank Wills changed was changed forever. He quit his job as a security guard
when he did not receive a raise for his huge discovery, which led to high-profile experiences in music and
movies. In a Hollywood replay of the Watergate scandal, Wills would play his own part, particularly in “All the
President’s Men,” nominated for eight Academy Awards. The song, “The Ballad of Frank Wills,” was written
by Ron Turner in his honor. There would be other songs dedicated to him, and he would go on to work for Dick
Gregory, live for some time in the Bahamas and appear on talk shows. But eventually, it all came crashing down
after he was unable to hold down a job.
In 1973 - he left GSS due to their unwillingness to provide paid vacations. He had trouble finding full-time
employment after that. In the Washington Post he was quoted as saying... "I don't know if they are being told
not to hire me or if they are just afraid to hire me."
On the 25th anniversary of the break-in (1997), Wills was bitter. In a Boston Globe interview, he said, "I put my
life on the line. If it wasn't for me, Woodward and Bernstein would not have known anything about Watergate. This
wasn't finding a dollar under a couch somewhere."
Wills would return to South Carolina to care for his sick mother until she died and was convicted of shoplifting
in 1983. He did however, gain a role in “Forrest Gump” in 1994 as a prison guard. But 10 years later, Wills was
seen living in poverty, washing his clothes in a bucket. He died from a brain tumor in 2000. Posthumously,
Wills’ story was mentioned in Spike Lee’s 2004 movie, “She Hate Me.”
Frank Wills died broke on September 27, 2000 at age 52 in a hospital in Augusta, Georgia. Brain tumor.
American inventor whose curiosity
and innovation led him to develop
several commercial products, the
successors of which are still in use
people safer and more convenient.
Among his creations was the three-position traffic signal, a traffic management device that greatly improved
safety along America's streets and roadways. Morgan's technology was the basis for the modern-day traffic
signal and was a significant contribution to development of what we now know as Intelligent Transportation
The Inventor's Early Life
1877. His parents were former slaves. Morgan spent his early childhood
attending school and working with his brothers and sisters on the family
farm. He left Kentucky while still a teenager, moving north to Cincinnati,
Ohio in search of employment.
handyman for a wealthy Cincinnati land-owner. Similar to many African
Americans of his generation, whose circumstances compelled them to
begin working at an early age, Morgan's formal education ended after
elementary school. Eager to expand his knowledge, however, the
precocious teenager hired a tutor and continued his studies in English
grammar while living in Cincinnati.
machine repairman for a clothing manufacturer. Experimenting with
proficiency for fixing things traveled fast and led to numerous job opportunities with various manufacturing
firms throughout the Cleveland area.
Morgan opened his own sewing equipment and repair shop in 1907. It was the first of several businesses he
would start. In 1909, he expanded the enterprise to include a tailoring shop which retained 32 employees. The
new company made coats, suits, and dresses, all sewn with equipment the budding inventor had made himself.
In 1920 Morgan started the Cleveland Call newspaper. As the years progressed, he became a prosperous and
widely respected businessman. His prosperity enabled him to purchase a home and an automobile. Morgan's
experiences driving through the streets of Cleveland are what led him to invent the nation's first patented
three-position traffic signal.
The Three-Position Traffic Signal
The first American-made automobiles were introduced to U.S. consumers shortly before the turn of the century.
Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 and with it American consumers began to discover the What's
Ahead of the open road. At that time, it was not uncommon for bicycles, animal-powered carts and motor
vehicles to share the same thoroughfares with pedestrians. Accidents frequently occurred between the
vehicles. After witnessing a collision between an automobile and a horse-drawn carriage, Morgan was
convinced that something should be done to improve traffic safety.
While other inventors are reported to have experimented and even marketed their own three-position traffic
signals, Garrett A. Morgan was the first to apply for and acquire a U.S. patent for such a device. The patent was
granted on November 20, 1923. Morgan later had the technology patented in Great Britain and Canada as well.
Prior to Morgan's invention, most of the traffic signals in use featured only two-positions: Stop and Go.
Manually operated, these two-position traffic signals were an improvement over no signal at all, but because
they allowed no interval between the Stop and Go commands, collisions at busy intersections were common
during the transition moving from one street to the other. Another problem with the two-position traffic signals
was the susceptibility to human error. Operator fatigue invariably resulted in erratic timing of the Stop and Go
command changes, which confused both drivers and pedestrians. At night, when traffic officers were off duty,
motorists frequently ignored the signals altogether.
The Morgan traffic signal was a T-shaped pole unit that featured three positions: Stop, Go and an all-directional
stop position. The third position halted traffic in all directions before it allowed travel to resume on either of the
intersection's perpendicular roads. This feature not only made it safer for motorists to pass through
intersections, but also allowed pedestrians to cross more safety. At night, or at other times when traffic was
minimal, the Morgan signal could be positioned in a half-mast posture, alerting approaching motorists to
proceed through the intersection with caution. The half-mast position had the same signaling effect as the
flashing red and yellow lights of today's traffic signals.
Morgan's traffic management technology was used throughout North America until it was replaced by the red,
yellow and green-light traffic signals currently used around the world. The inventor eventually sold the rights to
his traffic signal to the General Electric Corporation for $40,000. Shortly before his death in 1963, Morgan was
awarded a citation for the traffic signal by the U.S. Government.
Other Morgan Inventions
Garrett Morgan was constantly experimenting with new ideas. Though the traffic signal came at the height of
his career and became one of his most renowned inventions, it was just one of several items he developed,
manufactured, and sold over the years.
One day, while tinkering in his workshop, Morgan accidentally discovered that some of the chemicals used in
his sewing machine repair business also relaxed the tight curl pattern of kinky hair. To market his new
discovery, he started the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company in 1913. Later, he created both a hair dying
ointment and a curved-tooth pressing comb. The new company manufactured and sold these items as well as
the hair processing cream. Morgan also invented a zig-zag stitching attachment for manually operated sewing
machines and a self-extinguishing cigarette filter.
Another Significant Contribution to Public Safety
years later, a refined model of this early gas mask won a gold medal at the
International Exposition of Sanitation and Safety, and another gold medal from
the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
several men trapped during an explosion in an underground tunnel beneath Lake
Erie. Following the rescue, Morgan's company was bombarded with requests
from fire departments around the country that wished to purchase the new life-
saving masks. The Morgan gas mask was later refined for use by U.S. soldiers
during World War I.
inventions, such as the gas mask and the traffic signal, demand for these
products grew far beyond his home town. He was frequently invited to
Morgan came of age at a time when the United States was struggling to rid itself of the institutionalized racism
which remained even after slavery was abolished in 1863. Described by those who knew him as a gentle and
devoted family man who enjoyed the outdoors and was a model of self-discipline, Morgan also was a man who
disdained discrimination. He had contempt for people who thought they were better than others, either
because of social standing or color.
Though Morgan's inventions and entrepreneurship afforded him a level of prestige, wealth and respect denied
to many of his Black contemporaries, he too experienced prejudice.
Morgan's commitment to fighting racial prejudice was demonstrated by his membership and service as an
officer in the Cleveland Association of Colored Men. He was actively involved in that organization from 1914
until it merged with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Morgan
remained a member of the NAACP until his death at the age of 86, on August 27, 1963.
swept dirt, dust or trash out of a door onto the ground outside or used a piece of
paper in order to collect it.
handle in which trash could be swept without getting one's hands dirty. The
device was patented on August 3, 1897 and is called a dustpan.
improvement in dustpans.
wooden handle in which trash could be swept into, without getting one's hands
|Lloyd P. Ray
County Tennessee, Nat (pronounced Nate) Love would grow up to be one of the
most famous cowboys in the Old West.
and his mother worked in the kitchen of the "big house.” Looked after primarily
by an older sister when he was young, but she, like her mother, had duties in the
kitchen so Nat primarily looked after himself. Though he had no formal
education, with help from his father, he learned to read and write.
farm that he rented from his former master, Robert Love. However, freedom
was to be short-lived for the former slave, as he died just a few years later. Nat
In 1869, Love left his family in an uncle's care and headed West with $50 in his pocket. When he reached
Dodge City, Kansas he ran into the crew of the Texas Duval Ranch. Having just brought a herd to the Kansas
railhead, the cowboys were having breakfast when Nat joined them. The young man soon approached the trail
boss asking for a job. The boss agreed that Nat could join them if he could break a horse named Good Eye. The
wildest horse in the outfit, Nat would later say it was the toughest ride he’d ever had. But ride he did and got
the job with the Duval Ranch at $30 a month.
The 16 year-old quickly adapted to the life of a cowboy, showing excellent skills as a ranch hand and practiced
so often with a .45 revolver that his shooting skills also became very good. Earning a reputation as one of the
best all-around cowboys in the Duval outfit, he soon became a buyer and their chief brand reader. In this
capacity, he was sent to Mexico on several occasion and soon learned to speak fluent Spanish.
After three years with the Duval Outfit, Love moved on to Arizona in 1872, where he went to work for the
Gallinger Ranch on the Gila River. There he traveled many of the major western trails, sometimes working in
dangerous situations in Indian battles and fighting off rustlers and bandits. During these years as an Arizona
cowboy, Nat was referred to as Red River Dick and claimed to have met many of famous men of the West
including Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid.
In the spring of 1876, the Gallinger cowboys were sent to deliver a herd of three thousand steers to Deadwood,
South Dakota . When the crew arrived on July 3rd, the locals were busy preparing for a 4th of July celebration.
One of the many organized events included a "cowboy” contest with a $200 cash prize to the winner. The
contestants competed in roping bridling, saddling, and shooting. Winning every competition, hands down, Nat
walked away with the $200 prize and the nickname of "Deadwood Dick."
Nat continued to work as a cowboy in the southwest for another 15 years before settling down and marrying in
1889. The next year he took a job in Denver, Colorado as a Pullman porter on the Denver and Rio Grande
Railroad. As such, he worked on the routes west of Denver and moved his family several times to Wyoming ,
Utah , and Nevada before finally settling down in southern California.
In 1907, Nat Love published his autobiography, "The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the
Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick,"" a tale that tended to take on the epic proportions more noted in the
many "dime novels” of the time. Love’s last job was working as a courier for the General Securities Company
in Los Angeles, CA.
love of the free and wild life on the range. Soon he was known as a good all
down to Texas. There was several good Black cowboys in the outfit. After
sharing breakfast with the crew, Nat asked the trail boss for a job. The boss
agreed if Nat could break a horse named Good Eye - the wildest horse in the
outfit. Bronco Jim, another Black cowboy gave Nat some pointers and Nat rode
that horse. He said later that it was the toughest ride he had ever had. The work
was very hard. Nat rode through hailstorms so violent that only strong men
could withstand them. The first time he met hostile Indians, he admitted he was
too scared to run. After going through a number of such trials he adjusted to the
ways of the cattle country and could handle any problem.
Nat had a forty-five and he would practice with every time he had a chance and later became very good and
could shoot better than any of his friends.
Nat left the Texas Panhandle, and rode into Arizona where he got a job working for an outfit on the Gila River.
He had ridden many of the trails of the southwest and he believed that he was a capable cowboy. While in
Arizona working with Mexican vaqueros, he learned to speak Spanish like a native and he became very good at
In the spring of 1876, Nat Love's outfit received orders to deliver three thousand steers to Deadwood City in
the Dakota Territory. They arrived July 3rd just as the town was preparing for the 4th of July. The mining men
and gamblers had gotten together and organized a contest with $200 prize money. Nat said that six of the dozen
men in the contest were Black. Each Black cowboy was to rope, throw, tie bridles, and saddle a mustang in the
shortest possible time. The wildest horses were chosen for this event. Nat roped, threw, tied bridles, saddled,
and mounted his mustang in exactly nine minutes. The next competitor took twelve minutes and thirty seconds.
In the rifle and Colt events, shooting at 100 and 250 yards with 14 shots, Nat placed all of his shots in the bulls
eye and 10 of the 12 pistol shots in the bulls eye.
Nat Love was the obvious winner and along with the prize money, the town gave Nat the title of "Deadwood
collection of poems by Phillis Wheatley.
the Wheatley family in 1761.
or slaves to be educated at all, but Phillis Wheatley, with the support of her
friends and family, learned to read and write. Her first poem was published
at the age of 12, “On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin”.
was a strong supporter of independence during the Revolutionary War.
Phillis' popularity as a poet both in the United States and in England ultimately brought her freedom from
slavery on October 18, 1773. She even appeared before General Washington in March 1776 for her poetry and
was a strong supporter of independence during the Revolutionary War.
Phillis Wheatley felt slavery was the issue that separated whites from true heroism. Wheatley wrote, “Whites
can not hope to find divine acceptance with the Almighty mind when they disgrace and hold in bondage Africa’s
Phillis Wheatley was a slave child of seven or eight and sold to John and Susanna Wheatley in Boston on July
11, 1761. Her first name was apparently derived from the ship that carried her to America: The Phillis.
During her life, while it was not common for American women to be published, it was especially uncommon for
children of slaves to be educated at all. Her gift of writing poetry was encouraged by her owners and their
daughter, Mary; they taught Phillis to read and write, with her first poem being published at the age of twelve,
"On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin." The countess of Huntingdon, Selina Hastings, was a friend of the Wheatley's
who greatly encouraged and financed the publication of her book of poetry, Poems. Obour Tanner, a former
slave who made the journey through the middle passage with Phillis also was one of the chief influences and
supporters of Phillis' craft. She was especially fond of writing in the elegiac poetry style, perhaps mirroring the
genre of oration taught to her through the women in her African American tribal group. Her elegy on a popular
evangelical Methodist minister, George Whitefield, brought her instant success upon his death. She also was
well versed in Latin, which allowed her to write in the epyllion (short epic) style with the publication of "Niobe
Phyllis is remembered for many first time accomplishments from a woman of her day:
Phillis Wheatley died in December 1784 in Boston, Massachusetts as a result of childbirth.
|Katie Washington is Notre Dame's first Black valedictorian
Saturday, April 24, 2010 5:37 PM
never had there been a Black African American as valedictorian… until
majoring in biology and minoring in Catholic social teaching. According to
the Northwest Indiana Times, Washington plans to continue her studies at
Johns Hopkins University and follow in her father’s footsteps into
medicine. Washington says she is humbled by the honor of being named
Katie Washington, a biological sciences major from Gary, Indiana has been
named valedictorian of the 2010 University of Notre Dame graduating
Notre Dame stadium.
research on lung cancer at the Cold Spring Harbor labs and performed genetic studies in the University’s Eck
Institute for Global Health on the mosquito that carries dengue and yellow fever. She is the co-author of a
research paper with David Severson, professor of biological sciences.
Washington directs the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir at Notre Dame, is a mentor/tutor for the Sister-to-Sister
program at South Bend’s Washington High School and serves as the student coordinator of the Center for
Social Concerns’ “Lives in the Balance: Youth Violence and Society Seminar.”
Upon graduation, Washington plans to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D program at Johns Hopkins University.
According to nwitimes.com, she has been accepted to five schools, including Harvard University but plans to
attend Johns Hopkins University and pursue joint degrees in M.D. and Ph.D.
In 2006, Washington was the valedictorian at West Side High School located in Gary, Indiana and stems from a
family of high achievements:
Katie Washington’s Mother, Jean Tomlin is a nurse at Women, Infants and Children program in Gary,
West Side High School said they are not just proud of Washington but also of her classmate Dominique Taylor,
who will graduate from Notre Dame. The two friends have known each other since they were in second grade at
the Banneker Achievement Center.
|The owner and originator of all information are gathered from various sources and most artists of each photograph are unknown.
All credit belongs to the original author and/or artist.v