History and Healing: Week of November 19
"...she had nothing to fall back on; not maleness, not whiteness, not ladyhood, not anything. And out of the profound desolation of her reality she may well have invented herself."
Brilliant multiple prize-winning author
Black Women's Sexual Integrity
In addition to her courageous and enlightening work on lynching, the great Ida B. Wells, and many other prominent Black women, like Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Mary Church Terrell, worked to restore and reclaim the image and reputation of Black women. These women worked to confront racial and sexual atrocities.
Intent on sexually ravaging Black women, white men manufactured and propagated vicious and appalling lies about Black women that still resonate in the culture to this day.
They even created the false narrative that Black women couldn’t be raped because supposedly any sexual encounter with a Black woman was welcomed—no matter how brutal. The more she fought and struggled, the more she must have wanted it, so the lie went.
In fact, white men blamed Black women for the supposed"bestial" nature of Black men; there were just so many vile, destructive lies spewed out about the sexuality of Black women and men to justify unconscionable white male behavior.
Moving forward, before she ever refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, Rosa Parks, on behalf of the NAACP, investigated the outrageous case of Recy Taylor, a beautiful, 24-year-old, Black, married mom who was abducted, at gunpoint, outside of her church as she and some friends left a night service in Abbeville, Alabama in 1944. Recy was driven to some woods, savagely raped by at least six of the white thugs, and left on the side of the road naked. A newspaper account at the time said the cretins who raped her were from "prominent" white families.
While this conversation is taking place in the culture about sexual misconduct and assault, make sure you recognize, honor, and say a prayer for the countless Black women all over this country who were and are traumatize and devastated by unimaginable and incomprehensible sexual violence. Stay awake.
Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin
** Edited the Women's Era, the first American newspaper published by and for African American women
** Abolistionist who also worked hard as a suffragist
** Husband was the first Black graduate of Harvard Law School, George Lewis Ruffin, who served on the Boston City Council, as a state
legislator, and as the first Black municipal judge in Boston
** Mother of four
** Was one of the founders of the Women's Era Club
** One of the founding members of the Boston NAACP
** Born in 1842; Died in 1924
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
** A teacher, poet, activist, fiction writer, and essayist -- considered the mother of African American journalism for her anti-slavery writings
** Helped financially support the Underground Railroad with earnings from her writings
** Raised by her uncle and aunt; her uncle founded and taught at the the Watkins Academy School
** Lectured on the anti-slavery and temperance circuits
** A co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women, a member of the American Women's Suffrage
Association, and director of the American Association of Colored Youth
** Published the novel, Iola Leroy, and this was a watershed event in Black fiction publishing in 1892
Mary Church Terrell
**Born in 1863, she was the daughter of Robert Church, a brilliant, former enslaved man, who became one of the wealthiest Black men in the
country (some sources say he was a millionaire) by purchasing land in Memphis when many people moved away during the yellow fever
epidemic in the 1800s.
**A writer, activist, orator, and educator, Mary earned both her bachelor of arts and master's degrees from Oberlin College (now university)
and became one of the founders of the NAACP
**Taught at Oberlin and, later, at the M Street Colored High School, which became the famed Dunbar High School in Washington D.C.
**Her husband, Robert Terrell, was the chariman of the language department at M Street.
**Lobbied President Harrison to condemn public lynching without success, so formed the Colored Women's League to address racial social ills
**Co-founder, and first president of, the National Association of Colored Women
** Served on the Washington, D.C. board of education
**Published her autobiography -- A Colored Woman in a White World.
**Died in 1954, the year of Brown v. Board of Education
Updated November 29, 2017; errors corrected: yellow fever epidemic (not smallpox); Robert Church may not have been quite a millionaire, but he was very, very wealthy -- different sources read differently; a typo said Mary Church Terrell died at 20 :)
History and Healing: Week of November 5 "I can't die but once."
When Spirit Calls: Is your Spirit calling you to great things?
Harriet Tubman (History & Healing; Part 1)
Think you know everything you need to know about Harriet Tubman? Think again! This lady was the embodiment of what it means to be psychologically healthy.
When Spirit Calls…
What animated Harriet? Is your life force calling you to do something big; or, perhaps, something small that will have a big impact?
When you bring into consciousness the image of this tiny woman traveling into danger again and again to free Black people, you have to conclude, as did the influential psychologist, Abraham Maslow, that Harriet Tubman was the very representation of what it means to be psychologically well, to be healthy.
A spiritual woman, not only was Harriet the greatest conductor on the Underground Railroad, she was also a spy and a scout who gathered invaluable intelligence for Union commanders. A master strategist, she directed forces during the Civil War, including on the gutsy Combahee River Raid where her group destroyed millions of dollars worth of Confederate property and supplies—while liberating more than 700 slaves.
Like many of our ancestors, Harriet understood the medicinal properties of plants and herbs, so she was a reassuring nurse (or should we say "doctor") of tremendous reputation among military men in need of healing.
A suffragette with style, Harriet married a war veteran 22 years her junior.
Let’s all hail this queen by freeing ourselves from what Malcolm X famously called the prison of our minds. Do You. Free yourself of your psychological luggage, so you can be yourself.
Harriet’s genius and bravery allowed her to famously declare, “I never lost a passenger.” What will yours allow you to say?
What is the lesson of Harriet Tubman telling you? Are you grappling with something that has been laid on your heart, that you can’t shake, but that you consider too awesome. Something you think is out of your grasp? Will you be able to forgive yourself years from now when you realize you gave up too easily?
If it’s one thing that Black people know how to do, it’s strive and work hard—very hard. You work hard on your job—some of us work two and three jobs; why not work hard for your dream, whatever it is? Black people! We know how to innovate, how to make a way out of no way, how to improvise—never forget that. It’s in your DNA. Just decide for whom you want to do all that work!
Think of it this way: Five or ten years from now, you will have accomplished what you want to do, or you will not have even tried, but five or ten years will still have elapsed. Don’t die while you’re still alive. Free yourself and be yourself!
“I can’t die but once.”
“Once in Hilton Head, Harriet began her work as a spy and an organizer and leader of scouts. She selected and paid (out of “secret service money”) nine reliable Black scouts, riverboat pilots who knew every inch of the local waterways, and trained them in methods of gathering intelligence. Using Harriet’s knowledge of covert travel and subterfuge and their familiarity with the terrain, these scouts mapped the shorelines and islands of South Carolina… Historian H. Donald Winkler, in his book Stealing Secrets, writes: ‘Harriet and her nine-man spy team evolved into a kind of special-forces operation for the Black regiments. Her team sneaked up and down rivers and into swamps and marshes to determine enemy positions, movements, and fortifications on the shoreline beyond the Union pickets.’” To read more go to: https://www.army.mil/article/126731/harriet_tubman_nurse_spy_scout
Cool Fact: Harriet Tubman is to be honored on the 20 dollar bill—replacing the murderous Andrew Jackson.
Why the course? Because "the truth shall make you free." We need to know the truth, not the bastardized narrative we have been told in an attempt to dehumanizes us. Our historical reality is worlds apart from what most of us have been taught. The honest history of our people will both empower and provide us with an understanding of why the world around us looks the way it does. Our aim is to share knowledge, provoke thought, advance understanding, and promote healing. We hope you like it!