Posts Tagged ‘Black History’

It’s Laying-the-Groundwork Day!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

 

On this day in 1789, Benjamin Banneker began to lay out the boundaries of Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s design for Washington DC.

You’ve probably heard of L’Enfant, the temperamental French-born architect who designed our capitol city, but what about Banneker – who was he?

Benjamin_Banneker_woodcut,_age_64

Benjamin Banneker was a free-born black man who, despite little formal education, became a scientist and surveyor; his work made the creation of Washington DC possible.

At age 22, Banneker carved a clock out of wood, and it was still running when he died over 50 years later. Banneker was also a farmer who wrote and published six almanacs between 1792 and 1797.

As a staunch opponent of slavery, Banneker was enraged that certain founding fathers could speak so eloquently about freedom but still keep others in bondage. He wrote an impassioned letter to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to protest his ownership of slaves and support for the institution. The letter didn’t do any good, of course.

George Washington appointed the commission to design the capitol of the brand-spanking-new United States. Those who planned and surveyed its borders represented both the potential and the problems of our nation: black and white, foreign and native-born, instigators of skirmishes and nepotism. By all accounts, Benjamin Banneker was like most of us – he just did his job and did it well.

So today let’s celebrate laying the groundwork!

National Black Finger Puppet Month: Barack Obama

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

February is Black History Month, so we have decided to honor the occasion by posting about great African Americans we have immortalized as finger puppets.

Today we highlight the 44th president of the United States, BARACK OBAMA.

Obama

Here are some facts about Barack Obama and about UPG’s Barack Obama finger puppet:

Barack Obama is the first African-American president, the first president born in Hawaii, the first U.S. president to address the British Parliament, and the first president to endorse gay marriage.

The Barack Obama Finger Puppet is approximately 4″ tall.

“Barack” means “one who is blessed” in Swahili.

Barack Obama has won two Grammys and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Barack Obama is the 6th left-handed post-war president.

The Barack Obama Finger Puppet is also a magnet.

When he was living in Indonesia, young Barack Obama had a pet ape named Tata.

We were happy that Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination in 2008, because his likeness is much more conducive to designing a finger puppet than Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama’s secret service code name is “Renegade.”

National Black Finger Puppet Month: Harriet Tubman

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

February is Black History Month, so we have decided to honor the occasion by posting about great African Americans we have immortalized as finger puppets.

Today’s personality is the legendary abolitionist HARRIET TUBMAN (1820-1913).

Tubman

Here are some facts about Harriet Tubman and the Harriet Tubman Finger puppet:

Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849, and returned to rescue her family. She would go on to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

The Harriet Tubman Finger Puppet is approximately 4″ tall.

As a child, Harriet Tubman was struck in the head by a slave overseer. Her resulting head injury led to seizures, headaches, narcolepsy and powerful visions throughout her life. Tubman was a devout Christian, and she saw these visions as messages from God.

Harriet Tubman’s nickname was “Minty.”

Harriet Tubman was a spy and nurse for the Union army during the Civil War, and was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war.

The Harriet Tubman finger puppet is also a magnet.

Tubman underwent brain surgery in the 1890s and refused anesthesia. She just chewed a bullet during the surgery.

National Black Finger Puppet Month: Frederick Douglass

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

February is Black History Month, so we have decided to honor the occasion by posting about great African Americans whom we have immortalized as finger puppets.

Today we highlight the great abolitionist FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1818-1895).

Douglass_0255

Here are some facts about Frederick Douglass and the Frederick Douglass Finger puppet:

Frederick Douglass was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. When he escaped from slavery, he named himself after a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel The Lady of the Lake.

We opted to go for the older bearded Douglass as the look for the Frederick Douglass Finger Puppet. He looks distinguished with the beard. Although he looks pretty dreamy without it.

Frederick Douglass was a strong supporter of women’s rights, and was the only African-American participant at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

Douglass was a highly-valued consultant to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. After President Lincoln’s death, Mrs. Lincoln sent Douglass her late husband’s walking stick.

The Frederick Douglass finger puppet is also a magnet.

Douglass was biracial. His mother was a slave and his father was a white man unknown to him.

Frederick Douglass ran for vice president with the Equal Rights Party in 1872 (Victoria Woodhull was the nominee for president). At the 1888 Republican National Convention, Douglass was the first African-American to receive a vote in nomination for the presidency.

After his first wife died, Douglass married his white secretary. Douglass said in response to the ensuing controversy, “This proves I am impartial. My first wife was the color of my mother and the second, the color of my father.”

Frederick Douglass’ three autobiographies are American classics and are regarded as some of the finest examples of the slave narrative tradition.

The Frederick Douglass finger puppet is approximately 4″ tall.

National Black Finger Puppet Month: Sojourner Truth

Friday, February 7th, 2014

February is Black History Month, so we have decided to honor the occasion by posting about great African Americans who we have immortalized in the form of finger puppets.

Today we’ll talk about abolitionist and women’s rights activist SOJOURNER TRUTH (1797-1883)

Truth

Here are some facts about Sojourner Truth and about UPG’s Sojourner Truth finger puppet:

Sojourner Truth’s birth name was Isabella Baumfree.

Truth’s owners were Dutch, so Dutch was Truth’s first language. She spoke English with a Dutch accent.

The Sojourner Truth finger puppet can have any kind of accent you want.

After her son had been sold to a man in Alabama, Truth went to court and won him back, one of the first times a black woman won a court case against a white slave holder.

Truth dropped the name Isabella Baumfree and became Sojourner Truth on June 1, 1843.

Sojourner Truth was a towering 6’2″.

The Sojourner Truth finger puppet is approximately 4″ tall.

Sojourner Truth gave her most famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” at a woman’s rights conference in Akron, Ohio as part of a nation-wide lecture tour in 1851. You can read the text here.

Truth met with Abraham Lincoln at the White House in 1864. She called him the “best president who has ever taken the seat.”

Truth lobbied against segregation laws in Washington D.C., and played an instrumental role in desegregating streetcars in that city.

The Sojourner Truth finger puppet is also a magnet.

Black History / President Month: Black Presidential Candidates

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

It’s Black History Month, and also the month in which we celebrate our presidents on Presidents Day. So throughout February on the PhLog, we’re publishing a few posts about Black History as it pertains to our presidents.

Today’s post is about African Americans who ran for president.

Before Barack Obama, several African Americans unsuccessfully ran for president. Some received the nomination of minor parties, others tried for major party support and failed.

The first black candidate to appear on a presidential ticket was Frederick Douglass, but as VP rather than president. In 1872, Douglass ran alongside a woman – suffragist leader Victoria Woodhull. And in 1888, Douglass became the first black man to receive a vote for president at a major party convention (the Republicans).

In the many years that followed, a slew of African Americans ran on various fringe party tickets. George Edwin Taylor ran in 1904. Eldridge Cleaver and Dick Gregory in 1968.

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to run for the presidential nomination of a major party. A Democtatic member of U.S. House of Representatives, Chisholm failed to win the nomination, but she did get the most votes for a female candidate at a major party convention in U.S. history.

Chisholm

Jesse Jackson ran for the Democratic nomination in 1984 and 1988. He failed to win, but he was quite a popular candidate in 1988, winning many primaries before losing to Michael Dukakis.

In 1988, Psychologist and activist Lenora Fulani was the first African American presidential candidate (and the first woman) to appear on ballots in all 50 states, under the New Alliance Party banner.

And then in 2008, Barack Obama became the first African-American major party nominee and was elected president.

Black History / President Month: The Roosevelt-Washington Dinner

Monday, February 11th, 2013

It’s Black History Month, and also the month in which we celebrate our presidents on Presidents Day. So over the next few weeks on the PhLog, we’re publishing a few posts about Black History as it pertains to our presidents.

Today’s entry is about a remarkable event between President Theodore Roosevelt and African-American activist, author, and educator, Booker T. Washington.

Roosevelt had a close relationship with Booker T. Washington. Throughout his presidency, he consulted Washington on a number of matters, such as on appointing judges in Southern states.

On October 16, 1901, Roosevelt went so far as to invite his friend and advisor to dinner with his family at the White House.

At first glance, this may not seem like a big deal. After all, African-Americans built the White House. Notable African-Americans from Fredrick Douglass onwards had met with presidents at the White House on a regular basis, but it was not until October 16, 1901, that one had been allowed to dine there.

And at the time, segregation was law. As Roosevelt was about to extend the invitation, he hesitated, then was so ashamed at his hesitation that he sent the invitation immediately.

Washington understood the significance of the offer. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to face the consequences of what would follow, but really had no choice. He couldn’t turn down the president.

The day after the dinner, when the story was leaked, all hell broke loose.

Newspapers and public officials excoriated Roosevelt. Vicious racist attacks were launched on both of them. The fact that an African-American was treated as an equal at a meal with a President (and his wife!) was too much for much of the country to handle.

An assassin was hired to kill Washington. Threats were made against Roosevelt. Former president Grover Cleveland sent an angry letter to the House of Representatives.

roosevelt_washington

But liberals and African-Americans praised the two for their bravery and marked the event as a significant moment in American history. Scott Joplin used the dinner as the topic of his first opera, now lost. And in 2008, Senator John McCain would note this milestone dinner between Washington and Roosevelt in his concession speech to an African American president-elect. Who, presumably, can comfortably eat a meal any time he wants to at the White House without protest.