Faces of Our History: John S. Rock

rock_johnJohn S. Rock was born to free African American parents John and Maria in Salem, New Jersey on October 13, 1825.

Although attending school in his formative years was rare for African American children, his parents pushed him to focus on his education. John did exactly what his parents required him and earned enough to allow him to become a teacher. In 1844, he landed a job in a Salem class from where he would continue for four years.

John had an amazing work ethic, so much so he got the attention of fellow teachers. He began teacher classes longer and offered private tutor classes. Dr. Shaw and Dr. Gibson, two distinguished medical doctors taught him all they knew about medicine. John started his apprenticeship, to that he could gaining the appropriate medical training to pursue his career. In 1848, John applied to medical school but was denied due to his race.

In 1849, John transferred to a dentistry and started his apprenticeship under Dr. Harber who had recently opened a dental practice in Philadelphia in 1850. A year after he was awarded a medal for his work on a set of silver dentures. John applied to American Medical College in Philadelphia and was admitted. In 1852, he graduated becoming the f1st African American earn a degree in medicine.

John was proud of his accomplishments, at the age of 27 he had established himself and was well-respected as a teacher, dentist, and physician.

John was also known as a passionate abolitionist and civil rights leader. John became a part of the national Equal Rights League, along with many other famous abolitionist including Fredrick Douglass, Henry H. Garnet and many others.

John is known for coining the phrase “Black is Beautiful” during a speech in March 1858 at Faneuil Hall. It was later said that although he did not speak those exact works, rather saying something similar like “the beautiful, rich color of the negro”.

In 1856, John traveled to Paris seeking medical attention after being denied a passport. Upon his return doctor’s orders stated that he needed to cut his workload to remain healthy. During this time, he decided to study law. John passed and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. He began to work even harder for the rights of African Americans.

John felt as though he was not making any head way for his fellow African Americans and strive to achieve another level in which he could make more of an impact. February 1, 1865, congress approved the 13th Amendment ending slavery. Charles Sumner put forth a motion that made John the 1st African American to be admitted to the bar of the US Supreme Court and also the 1st African American to be received on the floor the US House of Representatives.

The Civil Rights Acts which enforced the 13th Amendment was passed on April 9, 1866. John was excited and happy, but shortly after fell ill. On December 3, 1866 he passed away in his mother home at the age of 41. He was laid to rest and buried in Everett’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

 

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Faces of Our History: Louise Beavers

viewLouise Beavers was born to Ernestine and William M. Beavers on March 8, 1902 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Louise’s mother was a teacher and worked as a voice coach. Louise learned how to sing for concerts from her mother. Louise attended Pasadena High School where she engaged in several after school activities. After graduation in June 1920, she got a job working as a dressing room attendant. She also was the personal made to a white film start named Leatrice Joy.

It is uncertain how her acting career started but due to the lack of roles for African Americans, her role choices we slim. Most of her roles were playing the character of “mammy”. Louise’s role as Julia in the movie “Coquette” which starred a known actress by the name of Mary Pickford. Her role was a maid who was the mother figure to a white woman.

In 1934, she landed the role of Delilah in “Imitation of Life”. This role was much more than what standard roles for black people in that time. Her character was a secondary parallel plot. This role made people pay attention to the unfair practices of Hollywood actor/actress of color to their racial counterparts. Although, her performance was praised she was not recognized by the Academy solely based on her skin color.

As Louise became more famous, she spoke about the unfair practices and limited portrayal of African Americans in the film industry. She endorsed and support those who wanted to right for civil rights of African Americans.

Louise died following a heart attack on October 26, 1962 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles.

In 1976, Louise was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

 

Faces of Our History: Lloyd L. Gaines

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Lloyd L. Gaines

 

Lloyd Lionel Gaines was born in 1911 in Water Valley, Mississippi. He was the one out of eleven children born into the Gaines family. Lloyd was a great academic, he went on to be the class valedictorian at Vashon High School. Lloyd participated in was essay writing college and won a scholarship for college, attending Lincoln University. He received his bachelor’s degree in history.

In 1936, Lloyd applied to University of Missouri School of Law, but was denied because of his race. The Missouri Constitution called for segregated education of the races. The law required Missouri to send Lloyd to school outside of his home town. Lloyd, however was determined to attend the school in his home town. Lloyd reached out to the NAACP to help him fight the separate by equal laws that the NAACP had experience with and had successfully overcome such laws.

In 1938, Lloyd won the Gaines v. Canada. He case paved the way for similar cases like his to be heard and won. Most notably, was Brown v. Board of Education, which made it illegal to segregate public schools.

March 1939, Lloyd Gaines was never seen again. His last known whereabouts was in Chicago. He fought so hard to attend law school, but never got the chance to attend. He was 28 years old at the time of his disappearance.

Lloyd’s family never requested he be declared dead. There were many rumors going on around the time of his disappearance, some saying he went into hiding, was bribed, committed suicide, and that he was killed. The family hoped that he just left due to the pressure. In 1999, the family had a monument erected in a cemetery in Missouri.

The University of Missouri started a scholarship in Lloyd’s name in 1995. Even though he never was admitted as a student they wanted to recognize him for his part in making history. In the school law building, Lloyd portrait hangs in a prominent place. The Missouri state bar granted him an honorary law license.

Faces of Our History: Daisy Bates

Grown Folk Talk Radio

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Daisy Lee Gatson was born in Huttig, Arkansas on November 11, 1914. Shortly, after giving birth to Daisy’s mother was sexually assaulted & murdered by three white men. He father left shortly after that and Daisy was raised by a family friend.

On her adoptive father’s death bed he gave her advice on her pining anger for the lack of justice for her mother’s death:

“You’re filled with hatred. Hate can destroy you, Daisy. Don’t hate white people just because they’re white. If you hate, make it count for something. Hate the humiliations we are living under in the South. Hate the discrimination that eats away at the South. Hate the discrimination that eats away at the soul of every black man and woman. Hate the insults hurled at us by white scum—and then try to do something about it, or your hate won’t spell a thing.” via Wikipedia

At age…

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Faces of Our History: Bayard Rustin

Grown Folk Talk Radio

untitledBayard Rustin was born on March 17, 1912 in West Chester, Pennsylvania to Florence Rustin and Archie Hopkins. Bayard was raised by his mother’s parents Julia & Janifer Rustin. His grandmother Julia was a member of the NAACP, Rustin grew up seeing the widely recognized people who were leaders in the NAACP in his home. This is what spark is interesting in racial discrimination.

In September of 1932, Rustin enter a historically black college named Wilberforce University. There he was active in various campus organizations but was expelled 4 years later for organizing a strike.

Shorty after moving to Harlem in 1937, he was involved in the Scottsboro Boys case. Where 9 young black men in Alabama were accused of raping 2 white women on a train in 1931.

In 1947, Bayard and George Houser organized the Journey of Reconciliation. It was the first of the more commonly known “Freedom Rides”. The…

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Faces of Our History: Dr. Mae Jemison

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Dr. Mae Jemison (NASA Astronaut)

Dr. Mae Jemison was born on October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. Her mother Dorothy Green was an elementary school teacher, while her father was a maintenance supervisor for local charitable organization.

When Jemison was three her family moved to Chicago, Illinois. She was always dream and thought she would get to go into space. She was quoted saying, “rather than waiting around in a cornfield, waiting for E.T. to pick me up or something.” She decided to apply to be a shuttle astronaut.

Jemison was extremely interested in science, and her family supported her. She loved everything that had to do with space. She remember when the airing of the Apollo, what stood out more that and bothered her that there was no women astronauts.

Jemison admire Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She took his “I have a dream” speech as a call to action and wanted to make her dreams come true. “The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.”

In 1983 Jemison felt that this was her chance to pursue the career she has been dreaming about, so she applied. Despite some delays after the Challenger disaster,  and also having to reapply, she finally got the call she had been waiting for in 1987. Mission Specialist, Jemison flew her only 8 day space mission starting on Sept. 12 through Sept. 20, 1992.

In March of 1993, Jemison resigned for NASA. She wanted to focus more on science and technology. She founded the Jemison Group, the Dorothy Jemison Foundation and BioSentient Corp.

Want to find out more about Dr. Mae Jemison, click here