“History has reached a turning point, here and over the world”

2883C7DA-BE12-7901-143210C74B6FD18F

Medgar Evers (July 2, 1925-June 12, 1963) was a civil rights activist, born in Decatur, Mississippi. He served in World War II from 1943 to 1945, fighting in Europe before being honorably discharged as a sergeant.

In 1951, he married Myrlie Beasley, a fellow student at the historically black Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University). After graduating in 1952, Evers became an insurance salesman. He later joined the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, his first experience as a civil rights organizer. He led the boycott against gas stations that refused to let blacks use their restrooms, and he and his older brother Charles organized local chapters on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Evers became the first NAACP Field Secretary in Mississippi in 1954. He investigated hate crimes against blacks. He filed lawsuits to end segregation beginning in 1954 when he applied to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Law School and was denied. His case was aided by the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision and the university was integrated in 1962. Additionally, Evers registered black people to vote, organized boycotts and sit-ins, challenging segregated seating on uses and campaigned for better education for all children.

Evers made a 17-minute speech on WLBT on May 20, 1963, describing the black community’s desire for equality. Many Mississippians called in to protest Evers’ speech being broadcast and even threatened his life.

For his efforts, Evers was beaten, jailed and eventually assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi on June 12, 1963. President Kennedy had given his speech supporting civil rights only the day before. After Evers was assassinated, Kennedy to ask Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill, leading to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Many buildings – a post office, library, airport, and college – were named for him, as was a U.S. Navy humanitarian ship in 2011, the first vessel named for a civil rights activist. His widow Myrlie attended the christening in San Diego.

After decades of work, Myrlie Evers efforts paid off and on December 17, 19990, white supremacist Byron De la Beckwith, was as arrested for murdering Evers. The trial lasted two weeks, after which a jury of four whites and eight blacks found Beckwith guilty and in 1997, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the conviction.

Myrlie Evers later became the first woman to chair the NAACP Board of Directors and published her memoir Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be and established the Evers Collection and the Medgar Evers Institute. The collected papers are being preserved and cataloged at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

On May 25, 1999, the Jackson City Council unanimously declared July 4 as Medgar Wiley Evers Day and Mississippi senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott led a resolution that the U.S. Senate adopted, declaring June 9-16 Medgar Evers National Week of Remembrance.

The Evers’ home became a National Historic Landmark and museum in 2019. It was restored to its condition when the family lived there.

nelson_rolihlahla_mandela

From South Africa History Online

Rolihlahla “Nelson” Mandela (July 18 1918 – December 5, 2013) was an anti-apartheid activist who fought against segregation in South Africa.

Mandela was a member of the Madiba clan, was born in the Eastern Cape. His father Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, was a principal counselor to Jongintaba Dalindyebo the Acting King of the Thembu people. After his father died in 1930, Mandela became Dalindyebo’s ward.

Mandela matriculated to the University College of Fort Hare but was expelled for joining student protests. He became more politically active and joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL). His activism eventually led the ANC to became more radical and adopt the Programme of Action, in 1949.

He was chosen as the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign in 1952. The Campaign joined with the ANC and the South African Indian Congress and began a civil disobedience campaign against apartheid. The Campaign began a mass resistance movement against apartheid, which like Jim Crow laws in the United States, separated whites and blacks, with separate entrances and laws such as the Population Regulation Act and pass laws. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act and sentenced to nine months of hard labour, which was suspended for two years.

Mandela was arrested on December 5, 1956 as part of a nationwide raid, leading to the 1956 Treason Trial where 28, including Mandela were accused but acquitted on March 29, 1961. During this time, on March 21, 1960, police killed 69 unarmed protesters against the laws. As a result, the ANC and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) were banned. Mandela and his Treason Trial colleagues were among thousands detained.

A few days before the Treason Trial, Mandela spoke at the All-in Africa Conference, which resolved that he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd requesting a national convention on a non-racial constitution, and to warn that if he did not agree there would be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic. After he and his colleagues were acquitted, Mandela went underground and began planning a national strike from the 29th through the 31st of March.

In January 1962, using the name David Motsamayi, Mandela secretly left South Africa, traveling around Africa and visiting England to gain support for the struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was arrested and charged with leaving the country without a permit and inciting workers to strike. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

In October 1963, Mandela and 10 others went on trial for sabotage in what would become known as the Rivonia Trial. On June 12 the following year, Mandela and seven others were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

He was released from prison in 1990, nine days after the ban on the ANC and PAC were lifted. In 1993, he and President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on April 27, 1994 he voted for the first time.

On May 10, 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President. He kept his promise of only serving one term. After he left office, he continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund he had set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

He died at his home in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013.

Five years later, a collection of letters that Mandela sent from prison was published as The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela,” edited by South African journalist Sahm Venter. It featured 255 letters, of which roughly half had never been released to the public.

Loving v. VA

Getty Images

Loving v. Virginia

On June 12, 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that all laws prohibiting interracial marriage in the Untied States were unconstitutional. Anti-miscegenation laws had been in effect for 103 years, since Maryland enacted the first law banning marriage between black men and white women in 1664. Interestingly, Japan enacted its law allowing interracial marriage in 1873.

The trial was held on April 10, 1967, and it took two months for the decision to be handed down. In addition to the two ACLU attorneys, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, the Supreme Court granted William Marutani, a Japanese-American lawyer to speak on behalf of the Japanese-American Citizens League (JACL) which had filed an amicus brief in support. Marutani would marry a white Virginia woman in 1975.

I created a website for a class project on the history of anti-miscegenation laws using Peggy Pascoe’s What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America as a base, including links to various media, from books to songs. Please enjoy!

“I was to be smuggled out of Shanghai on a fishing boat”

Julia Lin

Smith College International Advancement Blog

Julia Chang Lin (May 4, 1928-August 1, 2013) was born Ming-hui Tsang in Shanghai to Tsang Foh-Sing and Sung Zong-Cui in Shanghai, China. She grew up there and in Amoy, a small southern coastal town. Her mother Julia was a nurse, her father was an ophthalmologist educated at the University of Pennsylvania. One of his patients was

Madame Sun Yat-sen. Both of her grandmothers were doctors, long before women were allowed to have such professions.

She attended St. Mary’s Hall School for Girls and St. John’s University in Shanghai. On May 24, 1949, the day that the Communist troops marched into Shanghai, Chang received a telegram announcing her acceptance to Smith College and awarding her a scholarship. Her family’s housekeeper Liu Ma sewed the telegram and $20 into Julia’s clothes. Chang and her best friend Shirley Wang were smuggled out of the country in August on a fishing boat as the Nationalist government bombed the coast. She would not see her brothers for three decades and she would never see her father, grandmothers, or Liu Ma had died.

The pair went to the Zhoushan Islands, a group of small islands still occupied by the Nationalist government. They were detained there for several weeks before Chang arrived at Smith in October, 1949. While her godmother had hoped Chang would go into medicine, Chang discovered English literature and graduated with a BA in English in 1951.

She received her MA in English from the University of Washington in 1952 and entered the University of Washington for her Ph.D. in an emerging field, Chinese Language and Literature. Chang spoke several languages: Mandarin, Shanghainese, an Amoy dialect, English, Cantonese, French, Fukienese (her husband’s native tongue), and some Japanese. One of her professors Theodore Roethke, liked her poem, “Song of the Crazy Monk,” so much that he mailed it to Botteghe Oscure, a prominent literary journal, which became Chang’s first publication. Her Ph.D. thesis was published as Modern Chinese Poetry: An Introduction. Her publication was completely shortly after Nixon allowed Americans to visit China. Chang traveled to gather materials and became friends with many poets. Chang received her Ph.D. in 1965.

Chang met Henry Huan Lin, whose father Lin Chang-Min was a politician and calligrapher and helped establish the Chinese League of Nations. His stepsister Lin Huiyin, was considered the first female architect in China. The couple moved to Athens, Ohio in 1959. Lin taught English at Ohio University for thirty years and helped establish the Chinese language courses. She was the only member of the Asian Studies department, which introduced students to The Tale of Genji and Journey to the West. She wrote four books, bringing Chinese women poets to western audiences.

In 1999, she was one of 29 women honored by Smith College for “achievements representing the accomplishments of generations of Smith alumnae.” She was writing her auto-biography when she died in New York in 2013.

Her daughter Maya Lin, then a Yale student, deigned the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The design was chosen in a nationwide competition which had over 1,400 submissions. Maya Lin received an honorary degree from Smith in 1993 and was chosen to re-design Neilson, the college’s social sciences and humanities library. It also includes the Smith College Archives, the Mortimer Rare Book Room, and the Sophia Smith College, one of the world’s largest and most important women’s history archives.

“Simply remembering what happened was an act of resistance.”

It is fitting that I post this entry on May 1, the beginning of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Today’s Google Doodle commemorates Ruth Asawa who, along with her family, was sent the Santa Anita racetracks and the Rohwer concentration camp during World War II.

I began this blog on February 19, 2018, the 76th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, when President Franklin Roosevelt authorized over 120,000 Japanese-Americans and others to be incarcerated, six weeks after Pearl Harbor. This included 5,918 children born in the assembly centers and camps, 1,118 people from Hawaii, and 219 non-Japanese (mostly husbands) who voluntarily accompanied their families.

On April 27, I attended the 50th Annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar, one of ten camps where between 110,000 and 120,000 Japanese-Americans were incarcerated during World War II, and one of two in California.

I first heard about Mazanar when I took a course called “The Narratives of Internment” during my sophomore year at Smith College. We read poetry by Mitsuye YamadaJohn Okada‘s historical fiction No-No Boy, Miné Okubo‘s Citizen 13660 (1946), “the first illustrated memoir chronicling the camp experience.” But the book that had the most impact on me, personally and for my career was Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston‘s Farewell to Mazanar.  It describes the author’s childhood experiences at the Manzanar, located in the desert near Independence, CA and the hardships that her family endured.

At camp, Jeanne makes friends with a Japanese girl, whose adoptive parents are a Japanese man and his half-black wife, who was passing as Japanese to stay with her family. I was intrigued because I had thought that interracial marriage was illegal. I decided to look into it and uncovered some heartbreaking stories of families torn apart, mixed-race children in orphanage being ostracized, including Dennis Tojo Bambauer who didn’t know he was Japanese until the military took him to a Japanese orphanage. The orphans lived in the Children’s Village at Manzanar, though some were re-united with their families in camp.

There was even a case of a family incarcerated despite not being Japanese-American, because the husband had his Japanese-American stepfather’s surname. My class project became one of my long-term research interests. Over the last ten years, I have learned that there were several hundred mixed-race families in the camp, and have expanded my research to the history of mixed-race Japanese-Americans and their families in the U.S. and Japan, learning about some fascinating and important people such as Takamine Jokichi, in the early years of interracial marriage between Japan and the United States.

While reading Farewell to Manzanar, a classmate asked if we could go. To our delight, half of my class and I attended the 38th annual pilgrimage. We spent four and a half hours one way on the bus with former incarcerees. None of them had been in Manzanar, but it was the only location at the time that had a pilgrimage.

As we neared the camp, we were struck by the beauty of the flowers and mountains, which surrounded the site.

Desert

The surrounding mountains were a stark contrast to camp.

Mountains and Desert

There was little left, the remains of a block garden, a replica guard tower, a few signs, the original guardhouse, and the visitor’s center in the auditorium, which had been used by Inyo County as a road maintenance facility. The buildings had been torn apart right after the war, much of it re-used by local communities.

Guard Tower

Block Garden

Block Garden

Temple

The 38th pilgrimage was dedicated to Sue Kunitomi Embrey, who had worked to make Manzanar a National Historical Site, as she had died shortly after the 2006 pilgrimage. The ceremony began with a rendition of “Ue o muite” (Look Up), re-named for American audiences to “Sukiyaki” which had been a hit in the U.S. in 1963. This was followed by a process of flags bearing the camp names, speakers, and an interfaith service at the graveyard.

It was a haunting experience, to be surrounded by so many who had been sent to such desolate places simply because of their ancestry. Had I been born forty-five or more years earlier on the west coast, I would have been one of them. But, because of the racist, patriarchal attitudes, the Western Defense Command believed that children with non-Japanese fathers were culturally more American. Therefore, families with children like me, would not only have been allowed out of the camps, but been permitted to go home. But families with non-Japanese mothers, while permitted to leave the camps, could not go back to the restricted areas and had to find a new place to live. Nor were interracial couples without children permitted to leave. But this did not prevent such families from being sent to assembly centers. Despite noting that such families and children in care of non-Japanese foster parents were exempt from evacuation, this was not the case, as children living with white foster parents were also incarcerated. There was at least one exception, Ronald, Hirano, a Deaf boy who was temporarily adopted by an acquaintance and given special permission to stay to continue attending the California School for the Deaf. Other Deaf people and those with other disabilities were not as lucky.

In 2017, with the 25th anniversary of Manzanar becoming a National Historic Site, and the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, the Manzanar National Historic Site began building recreations of everything from a classroom, barracks, basketball court, mess hall, and women’s latrine.

IMG_20190427_143839

The incarcerees lived in hastily-built, tar paper shacks without proper heating or water. The camp was over 540 acres, surrounded by barbed wire. Inside were 67 blocks, including 36 residential, two staff housing, one administrative, two warehouse, one garage, and a military police, and a hospital.  Each residential block had 14 barracks, a mess hall, recreation hall, two bathhouses, a laundry and ironing room, and a heating oil storage tank.  Later, a Bank of America branch and Sears Roebuck cataloger store would be added.

IMG_20190427_143122

The bathrooms offered no privacy and incarcerees had build their own partitions.

IMG_20190427_143328IMG_20190427_143239

 

IMG_20190427_142601

But the most gratifying for me were two new addition. The first was the Children’s Village, which is still under archaeological investigation. I had read Catherine Irwin’s Twice orphaned : voices from the Children’s Village of Manzanar several years earlier. Unfortunately it hadn’t been published when I was doing my undergraduate research. But it provided a lot of valuable information and showed how different the experiences were for the orphans than those who were incarcerated with their families.

IMG_20190427_141159IMG_20190427_141152IMG_20190427_141208

The other was a replica of a classroom. This included information on children with disabilities, another of my research interests. I learned about the Helen Keller School at Tule Lake, a short-lived program for children with disabilities, a few years ago. I also found letters from Deaf and blind schools across the country offering to take children into their institutions. To my surprise, I found that camp newspapers had extensive coverage of “crippled children” with disabilities such as harelip, partial hearing and sight loss, paralysis due to polio, etc, as well as wounded soldiers. But this was the first time that I found any mention of special education programs in any exhibits and it was gratifying to see that it was finally being included.

IMG_20190427_144930img_20190427_144916.jpg

Seeing the camp with these additions made it all the more heartbreaking. But I am grateful that more of this story is being told, to include those who have been overlooked.

“Somehow I could in no way dispel the feeling of utter dread and desolation”

On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England. On April 11, it arrived in Queenstown, Ireland before setting sail for New York. Shortly before midnight on April 14, the ship struck an iceberg and sank in the early hours of April 15. Of the 2,28 onboard, only 705 survived. They were picked up by the S.S. Carpathia around 4 a.m.

Masabumi Hosono

Masabumi Hosono (October 15, 1870-March 14, 1939) was the only Japanese passenger on the RMS Titanic. He was born in Nīgata, Japan in 1870. After graduating from the Tokyo Higher Commercial School and a brief time at Mitsubishi, he joined the Ministry of Communications in 1897. He was a civil servant working for the Japanese Ministry of Transportation. He was sent to Russia in 1910 to research their railway system. On the way back to Japan, he went to London and lived there for a short time, intending to return to Japan via the U.S.

He boarded the Titanic in Southampton on April 10 as a second class passenger. Hosono did not wake up when the ship struck an iceberg and only when a steward entered and instructed him to put on a lifejacket. Hosono was blocked when he tried to get to the boat deck, who probably assumed he was a third class passenger. Hosono eventually slipped passed the crew to the deck where emergency flares were being fired.

When an officer shouted that there was room for two more on Lifeboat 10, Hosono and another man jumped in. While Hosono claimed that his was the last lifeboat to leave the Titanic, his was the second from the last. Around 8 a.m. on April 15, the RMS Carpathia arrived and rescued the survivors.

Hosono went to San Francisco and asked friends for help in returning to Japan. He received little press attention. The Japanese press dubbed Hosno the “lucky Japanese boy”. He was interviewed by several magazines and newspapers, including photographs of him and his family. But he soon went from famous to infamous when Archibald Gracie’s account branded him as a ‘stowaway.” Additionally, Edward Buley, an Able Seaman on the Titanic told the US Senate Inquiry that Hosono and the other man who boarded Lifeboat 10 must have disguised themselves as women to board the lifeboat. This false report did not feature in the Japanese media.

After this press coverage, Hosono lost his job and the Japanese press condemned him for cowardice. The public also had a hostile reaction, stating that he “betrayed the Samurai spirit of self-sacrifice.” He was accused of pushing others aside to board a lifeboat. But the ministry later gave him back his job because of his valuable skill and he worked for them until he died in 1939.

The Hosono family regained its honor in 1997 when an investigation revealed that the story of Hosono was false. Matt Taylor, who organized the Exhibition Titanic Japan which opened in July 1997, discovered a latter Hosono wrote to his wife after the sinking. In it, he explained that a ship’s officer urged him into a lifeboat and he helped row the lifeboat away from the sinking ship, saving their lives. The letter also refused the Japanese press’s claim that Hosono as the Asian man aboard lifeboat 13 who rushed to escape. Taylor found the letter in Hosono’s belongings and persuaded his family to allow it to be translated and released. His account is “considered to be among the most expressive and detailed renderings of the panic aboard the ill-fated ship.” It is believed to be the only piece of Titanic stationary to have survived.

His memoirs were also on display at the Yokohama Minato Museum in from April 19-May 18, 2014, one of a rare collection of Titanic artifacts. Hosono wrote his account on paper bearing Titanic’s name and seal.

TITANIC SURVIVOR STORIES - THE LAROCHE FAMILY

Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche (May 26, 1886 – April 15, 1912) was a Haitian man who grew up in the northern part of the country. In 1901, when he was fifteen, he accompanied his teacher Monseigneur Kersuzan to France. Laroche attended the engineering school in Beauvais. While there, he accompanied Monseigneur Kersuzan to visit his friend Monseigneur Lafarge. Laroche became friends with his daughter Juliette. They married in March 1908 after Joseph graduated and got his engineering certificate. However, Laroche could not find employment because of racial prejudice.

Their daughters Simonne and Louis were born in 1909 and 1910. Louise suffered from many medical problems and in 1911, Laroche decided to return to Haiti, where he believed there would be great need for qualified engineers. They planned to go the following year. When Juliette discovered she was pregnant in March 1912, they moved their travel plans up and booked passage on the French CGT’s newest steamship on her maiden voyage to New York. To Laroche’s dismay, he found that company policy did not allow children in the ship’s restaurant. They transferred to the White Star Line’s Titanic which left ten days earlier.

After the ship hit the iceberg, Laroche put the family’s valuables into a coat and gave it to his wife before putting her and their daughters on a lifeboat. Juliette and the girls survived, but Laroche stayed, helping others safety and presumably drowned, though his body was never found. Juliette and the children eventually returned to France after World War II, living in poverty until she won a settlement.

Though the Laroche daughters never married, the son Joseph Jr. (Born: December 17, 1912) married a woman named Caludine and had two sons and a daughter. It wasn’t until 1995 when a French member of the Titanic Historical Society interviewed Juliette that the story began to spread. That year, the family was featured at the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Marjorie Alberts of California discovered her connection to the Laroche family around 2000. Her stepmother found an article in Ebony magazine. She showed it to her husband Robert Richard who explained that his father’s surname had been Laroche, but because he and his mother never married, they did not have his surname. After some research, Alberts learned that Joseph Laroche’s grandfather Henri Cadet Laroche – a cobbler who made boots for Haiti’s first king – was married 11 times. Joseph was born to Laroche’s eleventh wife, while Alberts’s and her family were descended from Laroche and his first wife. Alberts, an actress and writer was working on a screenplay about Laroche.

Serge Bile’s Black Man on the Titanic: The Story of Joseph Laroche published in 2019 tells his story.

_59645169_victor-giglio2

Victor Gaitan Andrea Giglio (June 17, 1888-April 15, 1912) was valet to millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim.

Giglio was born in Liverpool to FJ Giglio, an Italian and a woman who may have been Egyptian, from Alexandria. The couple lived in Alexandria for several years before moving to England, first living in London before ending up in Liverpool.

He was the youngest of four brothers. Though there is no information about the family, given that Alexandria and Liverpool were both important in the sea trade, the family may have been in the shipping business.

Giglio traveled with Guggenheim in first class while Guggenheim’s chauffeur traveled in second class.

When the ship hit the iceberg, the pair put on their lifejackets and went up to the deck. When they realized their fate, Guggenheim told a survivor: “No woman should be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward.” They assisted women and children into the lifeboats. Then, they returned to their cabins, changed into evening dress and sat on deck chairs, sipping brandy and smoking cigars as the ship sank. Survivors recalled Guggenheim saying: “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.”

After the Titanic sank, pupils at Ampleforth College, the Benedictine boarding school in Yorkshire where Guglio was educated, left tributes to him.

In 2012, Father Anselm Cramer, Chief Archivist at Ampleforth College discovered a photograph of Giglio taken in 1901. This discovery showed that Guglio was dark-skinned, leading experts to speculate that Guggenheim stayed with Guglio because they knew that he would not be allowed to board a ‘first-class’ lifeboat because of his race and chose to stay with him.

“I still paint according to my own ideas”

March is Youth Art Month originated as Children’s Art Month in 1961, which the Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) created to show children the value of visual art education. Eight years later, secondary school students were added and it was re-named Youth Art Month. Youth Art Month recognizes that art is necessary for developing a better quality of life and fosters critical thinking. Youth Art Month also encourages commitment to and creating opportunities and support for art and art education. In 1984, ACMI created The Council for Art Education (CFAE) a non-profit that advocates for visual art education, which coordinates national Youth Art Month. There are local and state events at libraries, museums and state capitol buildings. As of 2018, New York has received an award honoring New York State (NYS) art educators at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) conference. The 2018/2019 theme is “Your Art, Your Story”.

440px-Angelica_Kauffmann_by_Angelica_Kauffmann

Maria Anna Angelika Kauffmann, known as Angelica Kauffman (October 30, 1741-November 5, 1807) was the daughter of muralist Johann Joseph Kauffman, who trained her. During the 1760s, she worked as her father’s assistant, traveling with him through Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. This allowed her to copy classical and Renaissance paintings and meet leaders in the burgeoning movement, Neoclassicism. She stayed in Italy for three years, gaining a reputation as a portrait painter. She also painted history paintings.

She was elected to the Rome’s Accademia di San Luca in 1765, to recognize her accomplishments. The following year, she moved to London and immediately became successful as a portrait painter. She was one of two women founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768 and held regular exhibitions there, working for many aristocratic and royal patrons. She married painter Antonio Zucchi in 1781. He succeeded her father as her business manager. When she died, her funeral was directed by Antonio Canova, a famous Neoclassical sculptor who based it on the funeral of the Renaissance painter Raphael.

Wang Yani (Born: 1975) is a painter, whose father is a self-taught oil painter. He gave up his painting to prevent his style from influencing hers, and to help promote her career.

Wang began painting when she was two and had her first exhibit by six. By 1989, she had shows in West Germany, Britain, and Japan. She gave her painting “Impressions of the Zoo,” which she did at fourteen, to the city of San Francisco in 1989 when she was 14. It was done in the xieyi or “idea writing style,” depicting a flock of flamingos at the zoo. Her work was displayed across the U.S. over several months. That year, she became the youngest person to give a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute, with a show at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery for Asian art in Washington. The exhibit was called “Yani: The Brush of Innocence” and ran from June to October 1989.

In 1991, she returned to the U.S. to promote a children’s book about her life and paintings, A Young Painter: The Life and Paintings of Wang Yani-China’s Extraordinary Young Artist by Zheng Zhensun and Alice Low. It was written after Zheng Shensun, a journalist and photographer visited Wang’s family home in rural Guocheng.

By 16, Wang had completed more than 10,000 paintings, and only a few, done during overseas visits and donated to foreign institutions were sold.

Edmund Thomas Clint (May 19 1976-April 15, 1983) was an Indian boy. He, like Wang, began drawing at 2, using, using crayon, oil paint, and water color. At 5, he won a competition for painters under 18. By the time he died, a month before turning 7, he had painted over 25,000 pictures. He is the subject of a biography A Brief Hour of Beauty.

With weary feet the paths of pain

Horace_Pippin

Horace Pippin (February 22, 1888 – July 6, 1946), was a self-taught African-American painter whose subject matter ranged from trench warfare to historical, and religious.

He was born West Chester, Pennsylvania until he was three when his family moved to Goshen, New York. He left school at fifteen to support his ailing mother. After she died, he moved to New Jersey and worked various jobs before enlisting in the army in 1917. During the war, he recorded his experiences, including drawings. His papers are housed at the Archives of American ArtHe seriously wounded his right arm in France and received the French Croix de Guerre. He left the army in 1919 and married the following year before returning to West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Pippin’s injury led him to explore other artistic expressions, including pyrography, or burnt-wood panels (he drew on wood using hot pokers). But he preferred oil painting and it became a form of therapy to deal with his memories from the war. In the early 1930s, he completed an oil panting on the about his experiences, called The End of the War: Starting Home.

He was the first black painter to use art to express concerns about war and sociopolitical injustice, and to have his paintings accepted by the West Chester County Art Association. He became known regionally and in 1939 his fame spread when the Robert Carlen Galleries of Philadelphia became his dealer. The following year, Pippin gave sporadic lectures at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. His most renowned works include three paintings of the abolitionist John Brown. He also created a series of paintings based on the Bible and the works of the Quaker painter Edward Hicks.

In 1938, the Museum of Modern Art included four of Pippin’s paintings in a traveling exhibit. By the time he died in 1946, he had solo shows in Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, had won prizes in important contemporary art shows had become famous internationally, and sold most of his 130 paintings, wood panels, and drawings to museums and influential collectors across the country.

You can help transcribe his writings through the Smithsonian Digital Volunteer program. 

440px-Women_of_distinction_-_remarkable_in_works_and_invincible_in_character_(1893)_(14598047448)

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (September 24, 1825–February 22, 1911) was a poet, fiction writer, journalist, and activist. She was born in Baltimore, the only child of free black parents. She attended the Academy for Negro Youth, which her uncle founded, until age 13. Then she went to work in a Quaker household where she read a wide range of literature.

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which required escaped slaves who were captured to be returned to their masters. Harper moved to Ohio and began teaching at the Union Seminary, a new school for black children in Columbus. The principal was abolitionist John Brown. Harper was the first black woman to teach vocational courses at the school, teaching domestic and homemaking skills.

In 1851, Harper moved to Pennsylvania and worked with William Still, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, which helped slaves escape to Canada on the Underground Railroad. She became a traveling speaker on abolition and wrote for anti-slavery newspapers, becoming the “mother of African American journalism.”

She was a prolific writer who published many poetry collections, such as Autumn Leaves (also published as Forest Leaves) (1845); Sketches of Southern Life (1872), about the post-Civil War (1861-1865) Reconstruction and novels, including Iola Leroy (1892), essay collections, and short stories, such as “The Two Offers,” the first short story published by an African American.

She married Fenton Harper in 1860. After he died in 1864, Harper continued to support her family though speaking engagements. She championed civil rights, women’s rights, and educational opportunities for all. She was superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), co-founder and vice president of the National Association of Colored Women, and a member of the American Woman Suffrage Association, and director of the American Association of Colored Youth. Harper died nine years before women gained the right to vote.

“In the end we must live independent or die”

Carter_G_Woodson_portrait

In 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson travelled from Chicago to DC to participate in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the emancipation proclamation. He was among the thousands of black people who went to see the exhibit which highlighted the progress made since slavery had been abolished. The event inspired Woodson who formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) to “to promote the scientific study of black life and history.”

The following year, he established the Journal of Negro History, and encouraged black civic organizations to promote researchers’ findings. In 1924, his fraternity brothers at the Omega Psi Phi, created Negro History and Literature Week, later renamed Negro Achievement Week. Wanting to reach a wider audience, Woodson decided in 1925 that the ASNLH would take over and announced Negro History Week in February, 1926.

February was chosen for several reasons: 1. It included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, which black communities had celebrated for several decades. However, Woodson wanted to broaden the scope. He believed that the focus should be on “the countless black men and women who had contributed to the advance of human civilization.” The response was overwhelming. Teachers solicited materials and history clubs were established, and soon mayors issued proclamations for Negro History Week.

Over the next decades, efforts to expand Negro History Week increased and in many communities Negro History Week became Negro History Month. In 1976, Negro History Week became Black History Month, and, because of the ASNLH’s efforts, since the mid-1970s, every president has issued a proclamation endorsing the annual theme.

Haiti

Haiti is often left out of Black History Month. The first inhabitants of what are now Haiti and the Dominican Republic were the Taíno, who may have arrived as early as 4000 BCE. Other indigenous groups from present-day Venezuela joined them and settled across the Caribbean. The Taino name for the island was Ay-ti meaning “land of mountains.” Columbus re-named it La Isla Española (‘The Spanish Island’) when he arrived in 1492, which evolved to Hispaniola.

The Spanish brought sugar cane from the Canary Islands, causing a significant increase in West African slaves in the early sixteenth century. This led to the first major slave revolt in the Americas in 1522. The uprising occurred at the sugar plantation of Diego Colón, Christopher Columbus’s son. Many slaves escaped to the mountains and form the first communities of freed slaves. The communities grew as more imported slaves escaped. This instability led the French to establish control of parts of the island and the nearby island of La Tortue (Tortuga) in the early 1600s. In 1664, France formally claimed the western portion of Haiti, which they called Saint-Domingue. Thy too, established plantations, with coffee in addition to sugar, importing millions of Africans as slave labor. As with the Spanish, thousands escaped into the mountains and established free settlements. By 1790 there were more than 500,000 enslaved Africans, 28,000 free gens de couleur, the free, mostly mixed-race intermediate class, and about 30,000 Europeans (mostly French), who held all political and economic power.

In August 1791, enslaved Africans in the north rebelled and the revolution spread. A Haitian born man Toussaint L’Ouverture soon took control and formed alliances with the gens de couleur and the escaped slaves. By 1794, L’Ouverture’s forces had liberated the colony from French control. In response, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a contingent of French troops in 1801 to subdue the colony and reinforce slavery. L’Ouverture was captured and taken to France where he died in prison the next year.

But this was not the end. Others took up the cause and the French army defeated. On January 1, 1804, Haiti declared its independence. It became the second independent republic in the New World after the United States and was re-named Hayti (Haiti). The 1805 Constitution, which reaffirmed the abolition of slavery, made Haiti the first free black state in the Western hemisphere. Official racial distinctions were eliminated, and all Haitians were considered black.

France refused to recognize Haiti’s independence until the 1830s when Haiti agreed to pay 150 million francs (over $21 billion) to compensate French plantation owners for their losses. This plunged the Haitian government into debt, truing it from one of France’s wealthiest colonies to one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. In 1844, the eastern two-thirds of the island declared its independence and became the Republic of Santo Domingo (today, the Dominican Republic). The United States did not recognize the nation until 1862.

In 1915, during the First World War, the United States, which already controlled the Dominican Republic, invaded Haiti. The occupation ended in 1934 and was then controlled by a mixed-race minority. In 1957, Dr François Duvalier was elected by popular vote. However, his regime was soon being criticized for its harsh treatment of political adversaries. When he died in 1971, his 19-year-old son Jean-Claude Duvalier took control.

On February 7, 1986, Jean-Claude Duvalier, the “president for life” of Haiti, who had succeeded his father in 1971 at 19, fled to France after an uprising against the dictator. Five years later, on February 7, 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide became the first democratically-elected president of Haiti. However, Aristide’s time in office was also not without controversy, with rumours of human rights abuse, drug trafficking, and other crimes. He was ousted by a coup in 1991, returned to power in 1994 to finish his term, then re-elected in 2001. But he was ousted in another coup in 2004 before going into exile in South Africa, which he is forbidden to leave, until he was permitted to return to Haiti in 2011. In March 2017, Aristide survived a possible assassination attempt in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.

After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Julia Gaffield, a Canadian graduate student at Duke University, found “the first known, government-issued version of Haiti’s founding document” in the British National Archives. She found the eight page document in a leather-bound binder of Jamaican records from 1804.

13th-amendment

On February 7, 2013, Mississippi became the last state in the United States to certify the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. The resolution was ratified in 1995 but was never sent to the U.S Archivist. The error was discovered after a Mississippi resident Ranjan Batra saw the film Lincoln, which includes the fight the pass the Thirteenth Amendment. Batra did some research and learned that the amendment was ratified after three-fourths of the states approved it in December 1865. The other states did, though Mississippi did not ratify it until 1995. But the amendment was never made official because the U.S. Archivist was not notified, though the reasons are unclear. The Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann sent a copy of the resolution to the Office of the Federal Register on January 30 and the Federal Register made the ratification official on February 7, 2013.