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A Country Rag Native Days

Mixed media by Margaret Gregg, Abingdon VA
Graphic: Mixed media by Margaret Gregg, Abingdon VA


"We The People: The Just Cause"

An exploration through resource documents into recorded experiences of being enslaved, terrified and terrorized, bought and sold as animals prized, derided and/or defiled, worked and bedded, tortured, tormented and "tamed" without choice, property, human right or dignity of any kind regardless of age or gender "under the whip" of the worst of white male slavers, a condition that exists to this day diversely and worldwide in the lives of too many, unfortunately, and in the deranged and diseased minds and visions of "mastahs" believing themselves superior and exempt from laws of God and civil liberty, which they hold in utmost contempt to their ultimate perdition on Earth and elsewhere. God created humans free with independent and individual souls to each, and first God created Africans to whom we owe our earliest cultures, civilizations and spiritualities integrated naturally and reverently into environments and relationships. All of that was much later colonized and nearly obliterated, raped and ravaged of native resources natural and manmade by condescending, supercilious and self-serving invading and invasive outsiders with overwhelming hostile force and superior weaponry. As the world turns, representatives of those descendants now command the highest office of our land, and arguably the world, with the informed choice and consent of our free electorate. We have a lot in this history to learn, honor and accept with gratitude by the grace of God from them and others who've survived, aspired and achieved recognizably "for the greater good" of compassionate toughness, endurance of unearned misery and adversity, governance without rancour or vindictiveness, faithful fortitude, and purposefully positive strength to our own enlightenment and progressive ascension as persons, communities and species. -- jH




"Mary came to Virginia aboard the Margrett and John in the spring of 1622, soon after the Powhatan Indians launched an attack on the English tidewater settlers. She entered a community still reeling from the violent death of 350 colonists killed in a single morning.... She was one of a handful of Africans brought against her will to this struggling Chesapeake colony.... The accounts we have of the brutality of the slave traders, from both black and white witnesses, of the painful forced march to the Atlantic coast of African in which women and men were chained together, of the humiliation of branding, and of the horrors of the 'middle passage' allow us to envision her distress even if we lack her personal testimony on such matters. The knowledge we have of her adjustment to America -- mastering a foreign tongue, adapting to a new climate, to strange clothing and food, a new physical environment, and a culture whose customs and values were alien -- make the loneliness and isolation of her situation certain even if it is undocumented.... Faced with demands for captives, African villages preferred to surrender up their males and protect their female agriculturists; faced with a need for fieldworkers, Europeans preferred to purchase men.... Despite the scarcity of Africans of either sex in the Chesapeake, one of Warresquioake's five lucky survivors of the Good Friday attack was a black man named Antonio. Mary took him as her husband, in fact if not in English law. In a society where early deaths routinely interrupted marriages, Mary and Antonio enjoyed a forty-year relationship. Together they made the transition from bound service to freedom, although how and when is unclear, and together they raised four children, whom they baptized in the Christian faith. Like most freed servants, Mary and her husband -- known in their freedom as Mary and Anthony Johnson -- migrated from Bennett's plantation, seeking arable land of their own. The Johnsons settled on the Pungoteague River, in a small farming community that included black and white families. By mid-century, they had accumulated an estate of over 250 acres on which they raised cattle and pigs.... In seventeenth-century Virginia, taxes were assessed on people rather than on possessions, and Virginia's taxable citizens were those "that worke in the grounde." Such a definition was intended to exempt the wives and daughters of Virginia planters, whose proper occupation was domestic.... In the 1660s, the Johnsons, like other eastern shore colonists, pulled stakes and moved to maryland in search of fresh land. The Johnsons may have arranged to have someone else finance their move, for they were claimed as the headrights of two wealthy planters. They were not, however, claimed as servants. Instead, Anthony was a tenant, leasing a 300-acre farm in Somerset County, Maryland, which he named Tonies Vineyard.... In 1623 Mary Johnson was one of only twenty-three Africans in Virginia. By 1650, she was one of perhaps three hundred.... In the decade of Mary Johnson's death, the African population in the Chesapeake began to rise sharply, reaching 3,000 in Virginia by 1680 and continuing to grow until, by 1700, the colony had almost 6,000 black settlers. African population growth in Maryland was no less dramatic: in 1658 there were only 100 blacks in four Maryland counties, but by 1710 the number had risen to over 3,500, or almost one-quarter of the local pouplation. Nearly 8,000 of Maryland's 43,000 colonists that year were black.... Between 1700 and 1740, 54,000 blacks reached the Chesapeake, the overwhelming majority imported directly to these colonies from Biafra and Angola rather than coming by way of the West Indies. Immigrants from the west, or 'windward,' coast of Africa poured into South Carolina as well. By the time of the American Revolution, over 100,000 Africans had been brought to the mainland colonies. For the overwhelming majority, their destination was the plantation fields of the upper and lower South.... In 1691, Chesapeake colonial assemblies passed a series of laws regulating basic social interaction and preventing the transition from servitude, or slavery, to freedom. Marriage between a white woman and a free black man was declared a criminal offense, and the illegitimate offspring of interracial unions were forced into bound service until they were thirty years old. A master could still choose to manumit a slave, but after 1691 he was required to bear the cost of removing the freed woman or man from the colony.... By 1705, political and legal discrimination further degraded African immigrants and their descendants, excluding them from officeholding, making it a criminal offense to strike a white colonist under any circumstances, and denying them the right to testify in courts of law.... Weakened by the transatlantic voyage, often sick, disoriented, and coping with the impact of capture and enslavement to an alien culture, many women as well as men died before they could adjust to America.... Under such circumstances, African women found it difficult to re-create the family and kinship relations that played as central a part in African identity as they did in Native American identity.... Until the 1740s, those women and men who did become parents rarely belonged to the same master and could not rear their children together.... Most bore only three children, and of these, only two were likely to survive. With twice as many male slaves as female, delayed childbearing, and high mortality among both adults and infants, there was no natural increase among the Chesapeake slaves in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century.... While women of any race or class in colonial society lacked broad control over their person or their actions, the restraints of slavery were especially powerful.... The crops were foreign to most African-born slave women, but the collective organization of workers was not. Indeed, slaves resisted any effort to deny them this familiar, cooperative form of labor...."
-- Carol Berkin in First Generations: Women in Colonial America, 1996



"Charlottesville, Oct. 8th, 1852 -- Dear Husband I write you a letter to let you know my distress my master has sold albert to a trader on Monday court day and myself and other child is for sale also and I want you to let [me] hear from you very soon before next cort if you can I don't know when I don't want you to wait till Christmas I want you to tell dr Hamelton and your master if either will buy me they can attend to it know and then I can go afterwards. I don't want a trader to get me they asked me if I had got any person to buy me and I told them no they took me to the court houste too they never put me up a man buy the name of brady bought albert and is gone I don't know where they say he lives in Scottesville my things is in several places some is in staunton and if I should be sold I don't know what will become of them I don't expect to meet with the luck to get that way till I am quite heartsick nothing more I am and ever will be your kind wife Maria Perkins"
-- letter to Richard Perkins, Ulrich B. Phillips Collection, Yale University Library, New Haven CN



"Because masters understood the connection between literacy and rebelliousness, slaves were rarely taught to read and write.... Most firsthand evidence of the experience of being a slave comes from narratives prepared by ex-slaves afger they were free. Some accounts were published by abolitionist societies before the Civil War; some people were interviewed by agents of the Freedmen's Bureau after the war. A large group of elderly ex-slaves was interviewed in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project.... It has long been known that Sally Hemings, one of Thomas Jefferson's slaves, was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles.... In 1998, DNA tests established that the contemporary descendant of Eston Hemings Jefferson carries the same Y chromosome as that carried in Thomas Jefferson's own lineage.... it is certain that Jefferson owned Hemings, and that she had no free choice in the matter.... Sojourner Truth,... who was born a slave named Isabella in New York's Hudson River Valley, was emancipated by state law in 1827, moved to New York City in 1828, worked in private households to gain her living, became an unorthodox Methodist, and made a reputation as an exhorter. In 1843, divine inspiration directed her to take the name Sojourner Truth and become an itinerant preacher. Addressing outdoor camp meetings on Long Island and up the Connecticut River Valley, she reached the utopian Northampton [MA] Association in the winter of 1843-1844, where she settled and met abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass.... Truth was illiterate, and she dictated her narrative to Olive Gilbert, a teacher from Connecticut. In 1850 Truth paid to have The Narrative of Sojourner Truth published and began traveling the reform lecture circuit, speaking against slavery and for women's rights. Wherever she appeared she sold her Narrative, which provided her material support. A women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851, furnished Truth an opportunity to address a sympathetic gathering and sell books...."
-- Women's America: Refocusing The Past, edited by Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart



"What I say am de facts. If I's one day old, I's way over 90, and I's born in Bell Country, right here in Texas, and am owned by Massa William Black. He owns mammy and pappy, too.... Mass Black am awful cruel and he whip de cullud folks and works 'em hard and feed dem poorly. We'uns have for rations de cornmeal and milk and 'lasses and some beans and peas and meat once a week. We'uns have to work in de field every day from daylight till dark and on Sunday we'un do us washin'. Church? Shucks, we'uns don't know what dat mean. I has de correct mem'randum of when de war start. Massa Black sol we'uns right den.... Massa Hawkins takes we'uns to his place and it am a nice plantation.... Dere is 'bout 50 niggers what is growed and lots of chillen. De first thing massa do when we'uns gits home am give we'uns rations and a cabin. You mus' believe dis nigger when I says dem rations a feast for us. Dere plenty meat and tea and coffeee and white flour. I's never tasted white flour and coffee and mammy fix some biscuits and coffee. Well, de biscuits was yum, yum, yum to me, but de coffee I doesn't like.... Dere am no floor, jus' de ground. Massa Hawkins am good to he niggers and not force 'em work too hard.... Maassa Hawkins 'lows he niggers have reason'ble parties and go fishin', but we'uns am never tooken to church and has no books for larnin'. Dere am no edumcation for de niggers. Dere am one thing Mass Hawkins does to me what i can't shunt from my mind.... What he done am force me to live with dat nigger, Rufus, 'gainst myh wants.... I's 'bout sixteen year old and has no larnin', and i's jus' igno'mus chile. I's thought dat him mean for me to tend de cabin for Rufus and some other niggers.... Now, I don't like dat Rufus, 'cause he a bully. He am big and 'cause he so, he think everybody do what him say.... When we'uns am given freedom, Massa Hawkins tells us we can stay and work for wages or share crop de land.... My folks and me stays. We works de land on shares for three years, den moved to other land near by. I stay with my folks till they dies. If my mem'radum am correct, it am 'bout thirty year since I come to Fort Worth. Here I cooks for white folks till I goes blind 'bout ten year ago. I never marries, 'cause one 'sperience am 'nough for dis nigger. After what I does for de massa, I'd never wants no truck with any man. De Lawd forgive dis cullud woman, but he have to 'scuse me and look for some others for to 'plenish de earth."
-- Rose, Manuscript Slave Narrative Collection, Federal Writers' Project, 1941, vol. 17, Texas Narratives, part 4, pp 174-78, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.



"On Easter Sunday, 1939, the contralto Marian Anderson sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Daughters of the American Revolution had refused to let her appear at Constitution Hall, Washington’s largest concert venue, because of the color of her skin. In response, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the D.A.R., and President Roosevelt gave permission for a concert on the Mall. Seventy-five thousand people gathered to watch Anderson perform. Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, introduced her with the words 'In this great auditorium under the sky, all of us are free.'... One person who appreciated the significance of the occasion was the ten-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. Five years later, King entered a speaking contest on the topic 'The Negro and the Constitution,' and he mentioned Anderson’s performance in his oration: “She sang as never before, with tears in her eyes. When the words of ‘America’ and ‘Nobody Knows de Trouble I Seen’ rang out over that great gathering, there was a hush on the sea of uplifted faces, black and white, and a new baptism of liberty, equality, and fraternity. That was a touching tribute, but Miss Anderson may not as yet spend the night in any good hotel in America.” When, two decades later, King stood on the Lincoln Memorial steps to deliver his 'I Have a Dream' speech, he surely had Anderson in mind. In his improvised peroration, he recited the first verse of 'My Country, ’Tis of Thee,' then imagined freedom ringing from every mountainside in the land.... Anderson was born in 1897, in a poor section of Philadelphia. Her father died when she was young; her mother worked in a tobacco factory, did laundry, and, for some years, scrubbed floors at Wanamaker’s department store. Her musical gifts were evident early, and new possibilities seemed open to her. Four years before she was born, the Czech composer Antonín Dvorák, the director of the National Conservatory, in New York, had declared that spirituals and Amerindian themes would form the basis of American music, and African-Americans were admitted to the school free of charge. Because of those encouraging signals, many black families saw classical music as a realm of opportunity. Yet, of thousands who pursued a hopeful regimen of piano lessons and vocal coaching, Anderson was one of very few who graduated into a real classical career. A core of self-confidence, rarely visible behind her reserved façade, allowed her to endure a series of potentially crushing disappointments. The sharpest setback is described in her autobiography, 'My Lord, What a Morning': when she applied to a Philadelphia music school, in 1914, a young woman at the reception desk made her wait while everyone behind her in line was served. Finally, the woman said, 'We don’t take colored.'... Anderson was a musician of a pure, inward kind, to whom grand gestures did not come naturally. The historical drama at the Lincoln Memorial was not something she sought, and, in fact, she contemplated cancelling the concert at the last minute. Throughout her life, she preferred not to make a scene. As Arsenault writes, her negotiation of Jim Crow America displayed a 'spirit of pragmatism' that could also be interpreted as 'quiescence.' Although she refused to sing in halls that employed “horizontal segregation”—that is, with whites in the orchestra and blacks in the galleries—for many years she did accept vertical segregation, with whites on one side of the aisle and blacks on the other. She usually took her meals in her hotel room, in order not to cause complications in restaurants. 'I always bear in mind that my mission is to leave behind me the kind of impression that will make it easier for those who follow,' she explained in her memoir. Sometimes she extracted a certain dignity from the ugliness of segregation: when the Nassau Inn, in Princeton, New Jersey, refused to give her a room, she spent the night at the home of Albert Einstein. But at other times the humiliation must have been intense. In Birmingham, Alabama, during the Second World War, she had to stand outside a train-station waiting room while her accompanist, the German pianist Franz Rupp, went to fetch a sandwich for her. Sitting inside was a group of German prisoners of war.... What has changed since Anderson made her lonely ascent, basking in ecstatic applause and then eating alone in second-class hotels? Certainly, she made it easier for the black singers who came after her, especially the women. Leontyne Price attained the operatic triumphs that were denied to Anderson, and after Price came such female stars as Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, and Kathleen Battle—although the rapid flameout of Battle’s career might indicate the difficulties that await a black diva who doesn’t go out of her way to avoid making a scene. Opportunities for black males have been markedly more limited, despite the pioneering work of Roland Hayes, Paul Robeson, Todd Duncan, and George Shirley, among others. African-American conductors are hard to find; the most prominent is James DePreist, who happens to be Marian Anderson’s nephew. According to statistics compiled by the League of American Orchestras, only two per cent of orchestral players are black. African-American composers are scattered across college faculties, but they seldom receive high-profile premières. The black contingent of the classical audience is, in most places, minuscule.... Yet there is another, less baleful explanation for the absence of African-Americans from classical music: beginning with jazz, black musicians invented their own forms of high art. The talent that might have dominated instrumental music and contemporary composition migrated elsewhere. Perhaps Simone would have made a fine concert pianist, and Davis surely would have been a sensational first trumpeter in a major orchestra, but it’s difficult to imagine that they would have found as much creative fulfillment along those paths. Instead, they used their classical training to add new dimensions to jazz and pop. Davis, an admirer of Stockhausen, made a point of criticizing the 'ghetto mentality' that prevented some black musicians from investigating classical music. Several of Simone’s songs are shot through with Bachian figuration, and her terrifying version of “Strange Fruit” rests on Baroque harmonies of lament.... Why does it still somehow seem inherently unlikely that a black person should compose an opera for the Met, or become the music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra? Unlikelier things have happened, such as the election of a half-Kansan, half-Kenyan as President of the United States. Incidentally, President Obama apparently has a taste for classical music; several years ago, he narrated a performance of Aaron Copland’s 'Lincoln Portrait.'... Anderson died in 1993, at the age of ninety-six.... Her happiest memories, one gathers, were of those international tours in the thirties, when the European critics declared her a singer to watch, and the Finns went wild, and Toscanini blubbered his praise, and she became nothing less—and nothing more—than one of the great voices of her time." -- Alex Ross in Voice of the Century, The New Yorker 4/13/09




The March of History

by Dr. Gwendoline Y. Fortune


(retired Social Sciences professor, activist and author multiply)

The modern day "middle-class" is the much-enlarged entrepreneurial or merchant class from classic historical times. Think "Mercantile." In Europe, for example, with variations from England to Russia, the monarchy and nobility were the disaster capitalists of their day, living on the labor of the bulk of the population, serfs so-called and bound to the lands of the nobility that were the families of the monarchy and officers of the military who fought for the monarchs and were awarded "booty," generally vast amounts of land. They, then, amassed their own serfs. Remember The Magna Carta (13th century), Glorious Revolution (1688), American Revolution (1776), French Revolution (1791), Russian Revolution (1917), Chinese-Mao Revolution (1930-1950), Vietnam-Ho (1940s-1970s). All were efforts and attempts that have been used by people under domination of a small class of rulers for change and freedom around the world -- into today, particularly in South America -- a reversal of the European invasions of the 15th century.

So far, none of these movements for freedom has been fully successful. Incremental changes have resulted with much, still, to be accomplished. Don't be fooled that European serfs were freed. Freed only inasfar as they were not called slaves. They could not move, unless another "Lord" would provide sustenance. They owned nothing. Today's mental slaves do not believe they are slaves.

Under the mercantile economic system -- the earlier form of capitalism -- craftsmen who allied with the monarch and nobility were able to amass property, even serfs of their own on a small scale. The rulers, absolute monarchs and oligarchies, controlled their people by dint of armed and economic power. The romanticism of the days of knighthood blinds people to the reality of the barbarity and cut-throat competitiveness of Nubia-Egypt, China-Mongolia, Greece-Rome, Europe-America -- a continuous enlargement of hierarchical societies.

This was the way of the world from antiquity to the revolutionary period that began with the 17th century enlightenment. Even as Columbus invaded the western hemisphere, he and the others did so in the names of monarchs. There is surfacing anthropological evidence that points to earlier, neolithic cooperative societies, and many indigenous, cooperative societies in every hemisphere were destroyed in the rise of mercantile-capitalist, world conquest.

I've studied the combination of forces that ushered in these changes/movements for five decades. It is fascinating and has lessons for today, as Santayana wrote, but leaders and their followers don't care anymore today than they ever did before.

College education opened the door to the sons, and some daughters, of unionized workers -- about 57% at its height and now in the teens -- that began to grow during FDR's tenure. Remember he was in office from 1932 to 1944, and despite heavy opposition, his plans enabled the Federal government to begin the rise of the middle class. (Long involved story here.)

Interesting it is that Roosevelt -- he of the upper class (old money made by entrepreneurial ancestors) -- widened the opportunities for "middle-managerial" employees in American industry beginning in the 1950s. Even that early, Eisenhower saw the dangers of collusion between the grown-fat war manufacturers and the federal government -- what I call the bloated Corporate Governmental power, and Klein calls disaster capitalism. Both are symbolized by the bloated bodies of uninvolved victims in the waters after Katrina. As written, nature always models in ways to inform humans. All we have to do is observe. We do not.

Strangely, unionized workers who initiated the movement from two classes to three were the first to be decimated by both upper and middle classes in the 1960-70s. This means that organized workers were able to move into the middle-class for about 30 years, post WWII to the war against unions. I was appalled when the suburban students I taught made derogatory comments about unions, when they were only one generation removed from the "working class" themselves.

After the enlightenment revolutions that arrived as the mercantile class gained education and leisure time, the American Revolution made the first transition from nobility to the "upper class." Many of these families were slightly removed from the nobility, called "third sons" who did not inherit land, but were educated. The combination of an educated class and merchants/entrepreneurs, such as Ben Franklin, provided the basis for the middle-class that was small until it burgeoned in the middle of the 20th century -- about 200 years. Only with the perks after WWII -- GI Bill, no down payment, four percentage house and business loans (from which most Americans of color were excluded until after The Civil Rights Bills beginning in the 1960s) -- did the movement of the recent middle class increase in size, significantly, beyond the entrepreneurial-upper and upper-middle classes, about 5% of total population.

Massive loans to businesses funded the rise of the giant investment houses and banks. The Ponzi scheme called "Wall Street" grew exponentially between the 1970s and now for its decreasing top percent, from five to approximately one to two percent in 2009. Once investments were a means of providing business enterprise with capital to expand, the reward being return on investment over time -- years. Currently the cutting and tacking of "phantom paper" with no actual resources to support the investment has resulted in an economic and financial scheme that has no validity -- even of slaves.

It is wise to remember that all of this "progress," upper, middle and working class, came by exploitation of human labor/capital, conquest and exploitation of natural, non-renewable resources. Sub-prime loans, inflated prices and foreclosures are the natural, expected outcome of a system with no validity, morality, logic and rational -- only greed, subterfuge and incompetence.

This is but one of the reasons that students need to learn accurate history, The USA is not a country of "born aristocrats." The Kennedys of the second world war were two generations removed from small entrepreneurial origins -- a saloon owner who, supposedly, did well during prohibition in the old mercantile tradition that followed the ancient pirate and privateer history.

The advantages of education -- particularly eastern private schools, Andover, Phillips Exeter, Harvard, Yale, the "Ivy League," -- afforded the third generation of Kennedys, as with FDR and some of the other upwardly mobile American success stories, the leisure of wealth, freedom and possible insight to become involved in philanthropy and the plight of the vast underclass that had been left out of the rise of labor, especially people of color and women.

We're told that every family has its proverbial "horse thief" -- countries, too. If one is honest, traces history accurately and is able to draw inference and conclusion within that framework who knows? The human species might one day find freedom, democracy and all that good stuff.

Historians speak of something called "the march of history," in which can be discerned an increasing opening-up of the process of citizenship -- i.e., freedom and democracy. This process was snail slow for millennia. The acceleration begun under the scientific revolution, and the consequential enlightenment, was a giant leap forward for the bulk of western humanity.

The ages old dominance and control aspect by the "powers that be" -- remember absolute power corrupts absolutely -- has not departed the bio-chemical mind of the species, especially in the polyglot society of the USA. European societies have a longer, more cohesive history and have progressed to the concept of seeing the people as a community and offering programs (social programs) for their citizens, like Scandinavia, downward. The USA is back-peddling as fast as it can in its fear of change. This appears "odd" because the USA is the youngest of western societies, but its "westward, Ho," "Rugged Individualism" heritage negates possibilities. History seems to take one step forward and two steps back. Marvelous opportunities exist to extend the expansion of freedom, democracy, justice and equity, but mis-education and the sense of fear that permeates this culture may well set that "march of democracy" back into another dark age. C'est la vie. The earth, moon, sun and solar system all cycle with the larger cycles of galaxies and universes. It is a shame that the tiny, by comparison, asteroids and comets can destroy the larger complex.



A few other notables from Tennessee African American History:
  • "... Dr. Robert H. White was an amazing writer.... He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1910 and completed his graduate work at George Peabody College and the University of Chicago. The state historian positioin was created in 1955 by the General Assembly. Governor Frank G. Clement appointed White [Crockett County, 1883-1970], as African-American man, as the first historian for the state of Tennessee.... White also created the school textbook Tennessee: It's Growth and Progress...."
  • "Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. [1942-2008], one of music's iconic figures is known as an American soul and funk singer, songwriter, musicians, record producer, arranger, composer and actor. A native Memphian, Hayes was one of the main creative forces behind the music label Stax Records, where he served as both an in-house songwriter and producer with partner David Porter during the mid-1960s...."
  • "The founding president of Tennesseee State University (the former Tennessee A & I State College) was William J. Hale [1874-1944].... He supervised the construction of the college, developed the curriculum and hired teachers to serve as the first instructors at the school.... He endured Jim Crow (legal segregation) conditions to build the state's first public college for Negro citizens. Under his leadership, Tennessee A & I State College became a notable African American institution and one of Tennessee's best known colleges...."
  • "Organized in 1871, the Fisk Jubilee Singers continue to perform today and are still considered a musical force of nature.... The original Jubilee Singers were instrumental in introducing slave songs to the world.... They broke racial barriers in the United States and abroad in the late 19th century and entertained Kings and Queens in Europe...."
  • "Rita Sanders Geier is an example of how one person can really make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.... Today, because of her decision to take a stand, all students have equal access to higher education and over $77 million has been spent on state colleges and universities to increase equality and diversity... She has worked as a trial attorney and administrator for the Department of Justice and as general counsel for the Appalachian Regional Commission. Before going to work for the federal government, she was a manager with Legal Sservices Corporation, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of legal services for low-income people...."
  • "Justice Adolphus Birch was Tennessee's first African American chief justice of the State Superme Court.... Birch, who earned his B.A. and law degrees from Howard University in Washington D.C., is a former associate professor of Legal Medicine at Meharry Medical College and a former lecturer in law at Fisk University and Tennessee State University...."
Related resources on-line:




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text © authors as cited, graphics © Jeannette Harris, October 2009. All rights reserved.


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