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Showing posts from February, 2008

Ida B. Wells-Barnett - Crusader for Justice

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Long before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, a young school teacher refused to move from the Ladies Car on the train on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. When she was removed from the train, she sued and won proving that a woman of color could make her voice heard. Although the decision was later over-turned, Ida B. Wells-Barnett kept raising her voice, educating Americans and Europeans about the horrors of lynching, and other social injustices that were being heaped on African-Americans in the 19th century. Ida wasn't one to back down and compromise. She was tough, and argumentative, and she clashed with several prominent African-American leaders of the time compromising instead of standing firm. She also clashed with various whites including temperance advocate Frances Willard. She owned newspapers and wrote articles at a time when most women were relegated to writing what was known than as the 'women's page.' She hyphenated her name at a time whe

Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans

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Actually there are two women who can claim that title, a mother and daughter, both named Marie Laveau. Very little is known about the first Marie. Accepted wisdom for years has been that Marie I was born in 1794 to a French creole planter, Charles Laveau and his mistress Marquerite Darcentelin Saint Dominique (modern day Haiti) and moved to New Orleans as a child. However, there is compelling evidence that Marie was actually born in 1801 in New Orleans. This is due to research by Ida Fandrich recently who found a baptismal certificate for a Marie Laveau born on September 10, 1801 in New Orleans. Whether this is the same Marie Laveau is still debatable as it was not an uncommon name in New Orleans. Marie I was described as beautiful, tall, and statuesque with curly black hair, flashing bright eyes, reddish skin and 'good' features (meaning that she favored her white ancestry as opposed to her African). She married a free born man of color Jacques Paris in 1819, which would h

Lucy Parsons - An American Revolutionary

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Lucy Parson (1853-1942) was an early activist of color, one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, the ‘wobblies’); and the widow of executed “Haymarket 8” figure, Albert Parsons. For more than half a century, she fought for the rights of the poor. Lucy's radical activism challenged the racist and sexist sentiments in a time when Americans believed that a woman's place was in the home. She was once described by the Chicago Police Department as "more dangerous than a thousand rioters," in the 1920's. She born in Texas, where her parents were probably slaves before the Emancipation Proclamation. She always claimed to be of Mexican and American Indian heritage, disavowing having African parentage. Given the Jim Crow laws in the South after Reconstruction, which ended any hope of blacks having equal rights, it would have been prudent for Lucy to have disavowed being black. Not much is known about her early life before she met and married Alber