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Black History Podcast
"Our History Doesn't Begin at Slavery"
Category: History
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The “Black History” podcast ventures to each week introduce an innovative topic, influential person or present interesting aspe...

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October 15, 2017 07:45 PM PDT

In the United States, potatoes are the second most consumed item, just behind rice. But when potatoes are thin sliced, fried and salted, they go from being the number two consumed food to the number one snack food of choice.

George Crum, also known as George Speck, was born in 1824 in Saratoga Springs, New York to a Native American mother and African American father. When he was a young man, Crum worked as a guide in the Adirondack Mountains and an a Native American trader. Eventually however, he realized he had an exceptional ability to cook, and the culinary arts was his calling.

By the summer of 1853, Crum found himself as the head chef at one of Saratoga Spring’s fanciest restaraunts, the Moon Lake Lodge resort, where like many other places, French fries was a famous staple of the menu. Though Crum could make French fries, his specialties were really in his seasoned preparation of wild game like venison and duck, with him not afraid to push the envelope and really experiment with flavors and pairings in the kitchen.

In 1853, Crum was in the Moon Lake kitchen creating his famous French fries for a patron. Well apparently, the diner wasn’t happy with way his fries were cut, and sent them back asking for them to be cut thinner. Crum obliged, and cut them thinner. The diner STILL wasn’t happy, claiming the fries were too soggy, and sent the fries back again. According to legend, Crum was a bit more then perturbed and purposefully sliced the new batch of potatoes as thin as he possibly could, and then purposefully fried them as hard and as crunchy as possible. To top the new batch off, he salted them about as heavily as he could and served it up. Crum, despite his reputation for such amazing cuisine, tried to sabotage his own client. But, to Crum’s surprise, the diner LOVED this new creation, and with his new hit… a new snack was born.

By 1860, Crum had ventured to open his own restaurant in Malta, New York, invariably called “Crum’s House”. Crum’s restaurant was in ridiculously high demand among tourists to the Saratoga Springs area, and even the wealthy seasonal residents of the area. According to diners, “his prices were that of the fashionable high end New York City restaurants, but the food and service were more than worth it, with everything possible raised on his own small farm, and even his farm got his personal attention whenever he could manage to handle both.”
The famed Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt once was obligated to wait over an hour and a half for a meal.”

Though United States’ patent law was created with color-blind language to foster and encourage innovation, the patent system consistently excluded these inventors from their due recognition. Because of these uphill battle in getting a patent, George Crum never even attempted to patent his potato chips, or the process for their creation. Eventually potato chips were being mass produced without him receiving any credit. Today, Americans alone consume about 1.5 billion pounds of potato chips each year.

George Crum died at the age of 90 in 1914; but his potato chips will forever live on.

October 09, 2017 12:29 AM PDT

“I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States."

Curt Flood was born in Houston, Texas on January 18, 1938, but raised in Oakland, California. In 1956, at age 18, Flood was signed to the Cincinnati Redlegs baseball club, but was ultimately traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in December 1957.
For the next twelve (12) seasons, Flood played centerfield for the Cardinals. During the 1969 season, Flood’s offensive production slipped a bit, and on October 7th the Cardinals announced they were trading Flood and fellow Cardinals Tim McCarver, Byron Browne and Joe Hoerner to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Flood was happy being in St. Louis, didn’t want to be traded, and on December 24, 1969 challenged the very nature of the entire professional sports system.

On December 24, 1969, Flood penned a letter to Bowie Kuhn in effect demanding that the commissioner declare him a free agent saying:

“After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several States.

It is my desire to play baseball in 1970, and I am capable of playing. I have received a contract offer from the Philadelphia club, but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decision. I, therefore, request that you make known to all Major League clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season.”

Curt Flood filed a $1 million lawsuit against Bowie Kuhn and Major League Baseball on January 16, 1970. On June 19, 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in favor of Major League Baseball, citing the precedent set forth in the 1922 case Federal Baseball Club v. National League.

Twenty-six (26) years following the Supreme Court’s decision in Flood v. Kuhn, the Curt Flood Act of 1998 was passed. The act implemented exactly what Curt Flood himself was hoping for; it stopped major league baseball team owner from singlehandedly controlling the contracts and careers of the individual players.

October 01, 2017 11:12 AM PDT

Toussaint L’Ouverture’s father was a man named Gaou Guinou, the son of the King of Allada, a west African kingdom located in present-day Benin. L’Ouverture’s father was captured during a war, and subsequently sold into slavery. L’Ouverture’s mother was named Pauline, Guinou's second wife, and L’Ouverture was the oldest child between the married couple.

L’Ouverture started life as an enslaved person, and ended as a free man.

The Haitian Revolution lasted from approximately 1791 to 1804; and essentially it was a slave revolt in Saint-Domingue that culminated in the elimination of slavery on the island, and thereupon established the Republic of Haiti. Through the course of recorded history, it is the first and only slave rebellion that led to the founding of a state and is generally considered to be the most successful slave rebellion to have ever occurred in all of the Americas. Beginning in 1789, the freed people of color were inspired by the French Revolution to expand their own rights, and seek complete freedom.

On August 29, 1793, L’Ouverture made a famous declaration before his countrymen at St. Domingue:

"Brothers and friends, I am Toussaint Louverture; perhaps my name has made itself known to you. I have undertaken vengeance. I want Liberty and Equality to reign in St. Domingue. I am working to make that happen. Unite yourselves to us, brothers and fight for the same cause."

By 1796, L’Ouverture was thee dominant force in the fight for freedom. By early 1801, L’Ouverture’s troops had captured Santo Domingo, the capital of the Spanish part of Hispaniola. With this capture, the entirety of the island was under L’Ouverture’s control.

Napoleon refused to respond, and eventually sent 20,000 of his men to Saint Domingue to restore French authority. L’Ouverture’s original plan was to scorch the earth, meaning he would burn the coastal cities and as much of the plains as possible and retreat with his troops into the mountains, generally inaccessible to those who were uninitiated, until such time as fever would destroy the French army. L'Ouverture's troops never fully gained their fighting strength, and eventually an amnesty was agreed upon.

Following the amnesty, L'Ouverture was captured and arrested by French troops, sent to a French prison and died on April 7, 1803.

Once he was deceased, Jean-Jacques Dessalines led the remainder of the Haitian rebellion until its completion, completing its defeat of the French in 1803.

May 29, 2017 08:02 AM PDT

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. His ethnic background was Hatian, through his father,
and Puerto Rican, through his mother.

Basquiat had an interest in art that was developed from his mother’s insistence, and encouragement; but he learned to draw just by teaching himself through practice. By the age of 11, Basquiat was fluent in Spanish, French and English. At 15, Basquiat ran away from home, and slept on park benches in Manhattan’s East Village
Not long after running away from home, Basquiat dropped out of high school in the 10th grade.

After he dropped out, and though he was attending the alternative school, his father kicked him out of the house, causing Basquiat to stay with friends in Brooklyn and make ends meet by selling t-shirts and homemade post cards. Under the name “SAMO”, in the late 70’s, as a pre-teen Basquiat worked with a close friend to put graffiti on the trains, and buildings around various parts of Manhattan.

In 1980, Basquiat would star in an independent film called Downtown 81. In 1981, Basquiat starred in a Blondie music video for the song “Rapture” as a nightclub DJ.

After struggling to get his work noticed, and selling random items, Basquiat’s break came in 1980. He was fortunate enough to have his work featured with a group in an art show.

He joined the Annina Nosei gallery, and worked in the basement under the gallery toward his first one-man show that took place in March 1981. In December 1981, Reñe Ricard published an article titled “The Radiant Child” in Artforum magazine featuring Basquiat and from there he was brought to the attention of the art world.

The work of Basquiat was inspired by his graffiti past. Basquiat’s work was ripe with symbology, and references, to African history as well. In the mid-1980’s, Basquiat had a famed collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol.

At only 25 years old, Basquiat exhibited nearly 60 paintings at the famed Kestner-Gesellschaft Gallery in Hanover, Germany; becoming the youngest artist to ever showcase their work in the gallery.

On August 12, 1988, Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at his art studio on Great Jones Street in Manhattan. He was only 27 years old.

April 17, 2017 12:17 AM PDT

Prior to the Pilgrims arriving to to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, people of African descent had been in the United States, since at least 1619. In addition, one of the early settlers of Plymouth Colony was in fact a black man. By the 1640s black Pilgrims were serving in the Plymouth Colony militia.

Free African colonists worked hard trying to build a future for their children, but it was nearly impossible, as opportunities for blacks to move up in society were few and far between. While working to improve their own lives and those of the families, in a society still dominated by the culture and economy created by slavery, free Africans also worked towards a day when one person could never own another.

From the time of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the American colonies in 1619, the enslaved persons were generally welcomed into the ranks of the local militias to counter the threat from local Native American tribes. And in fact, this practice continued, especially in the northern colonies, for more than 150 years, until George Washington took control of the Continental Army in 1775.

April 06, 2017 11:56 PM PDT

Crispus Attucks was the first casualty of the American Revolution when he was shot and killed at the Boston Massacre, also known as the “Incident on King Street”. Some reports say Attucks was a leader, and instigator of the event, and over the centuries debate rages as to whether he was a hero and patriot, or a rabble rouser. Either way, Attucks is immortalized in African American history and American history as “the first to defy, and the first to die”.

Crispus Attucks will always be remembered as a true martyr, “the first to pour out his blood as a libation on the alter of a people’s rights”.

November 13, 2016 09:54 PM PST

Carthage was founded in 814 B.C. For most of its history, Carthage was on hostile terms with the Greeks in Sicily and especially with the Roman Republic. These hostilities would culminate in the Greek-Punic Wars (Carthage and Greece) lasting the span of about 375 years, and the Punic Wars (Carthage and Rome) lasting about 115 years. Carthage is known as present day Tunisia at the northern-most tip of the continent of Africa.
Hannibal’s father was Hamilcar Barca, who was the leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War. In 221 BC, Hannibal was proclaimed commander-in-chief by the army and was confirmed by the government. Hannibal left the city of New Carthage, on the tip of Spain late in 218 BC. But of course this was no easy task; he took a detach of 20,000 troops and fought his way through France to the Pyrenees Mountains before reaching the Alps. The Alps stretch about 750 miles, covering eight present day countries. By the time Hannibal reached the foot of the Alps, he arrived with approximately 38,000 infantrymen, 8,000 cavalry and 38 elephants.
The impact of Hannibal’s cross-Alps trip shook the entire Mediterranean region, and has rippling repercussions that would last for more than 2 decades to follow.

Hannibal was unable to maintain his stronghold, his Italian allies didn’t support him properly, and he was essentially stranded and abandoned by his own government, and therefore wasn’t able to match the resources of Rome.
In 203 BC, after nearly fifteen (15) years of fighting in Italy, and with the military strength of Carthage failing, Hannibal was recalled to Carthage to command the forces defending the homeland against a Roman invasion led by Scipio Africanus.

As with most, the oligarchy of Carthage was ever corrupt, and this gave Hannibal an opportunity to rise in the political ranks, and he was elected chief magistrate. Under Hannibal, just as when he led the military, the economic situation of Carthage reached renewed heights. The economic prosperity of Carthage terrified Rome, and it led them to demand Hannibal surrender. Hannibal went into a voluntary exile. His first stop was Tyre, a port city in Lebanon; then to Ephesus, just southwest of present-day Turkey, and finally to an honorable reception in Syria, where Antiochus III was himself planning an offensive against Rome.

The year of his death is reported to have been anywhere between 183 BC and 181 BC.
Hannibal’s military legend left a great deal to history, and his reign of terror on the Romans was unmatched, even to the point of their Senators having a popular saying to express fear or anxiety, “Hannibal ante portas” meaning “Hannibal is at the gates.”

April 07, 2016 07:33 AM PDT

Leroy Robert Paige was born somewhere around July 7, what we believe to have been 1906 in Mobile, Alabama. Leroy started off scouring local alleyways and cashing in the empty bottles he’d find on the street. His mother sent him to earn money as a child carrying luggage for businessmen at the local train station to the nearby hotels, where he earned the nickname "Satchel".

At the Alabama Reform School for Juvenile Negro Law-Breakers in Mount Meigs, Alabama, Satchel would learn and develop the skills necessary to be a baseball player. Satchel would go on to later say: “You might say I traded five years of freedom to learn how to pitch.”

Because of the deals Major League teams had in place, black players began to form their own professional leagues and teams in the late 1880s. After leaving the reform school, Satchel Paige would return home and join the black semi-professional Mobile Tigers. At this time, Satchel would say, “I gave up kid’s baseball – baseball just for fun – and started baseball as a career."

He would play for the Birmingham Black Barons, Baltimore Black Sox, Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Kansas City Monarchs, New York Black Yankees, Memphis Red Sox.

Satchel knew not only his talent, but also his entertainment value. When he was on the field, he could attract a very diverse clientele and that definitely included white patrons as well. He was more than capable of amazing spectators with an array of pitches and gave them all catchy colorful names like the “jump ball”, the “bee ball”, the “screw ball”, the “wobbly ball”, the “whipsy-dipsy-do”, the “hurry-up ball”, the “nothin’ ball” and the “bat dodger”.

One year after Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers, on July 7, 1948, Satchel Paige was signed to a contract with Cleveland Indians
In his rookie season, Satchel Paige posted an impressive 6 and 1 record, with a 2.48 ERA, and down the stretch helped the Indians to win not only the American League pennant, but most importantly the World Series as well.

In 1971, Satchel Paige was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, and by doing so would become the first player elected to the Hall of Fame from the Negro Leagues.

Satchel Paige would pass away from a heart attack on June 8, 1982 in the city where he spent much of his Negro League career, Kansas City, Missouri.

Boston Red Sox hitter, Ted Williams said, “Paige was the greatest pitcher in baseball”.

March 07, 2016 08:28 PM PST

After the Berlin Conference of 1884 the 905,000 square miles of the Belgian Congo [now the Democratic Republic of the Congo] became the personal property of King Leopold II of Belgium. His genocidal exploitation of the territory, particularly the rubber trade, caused many deaths and much suffering. Murder, rape and mutilation were common.

February 14, 2016 06:17 PM PST

Kathleen Neal was born on May 13, 1945 in Memphis, Texas. With two parents who were college graduates, it wouldn’t be tough to see the important role that education and higher learning would go to play in her life; and also the intellect that she would go on to display in her activism work.
Her father joined the Foreign Service and the family would spend the next several years in India, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Philippines. These experiences abroad in countries populated mainly by people of color, especially such diverse ethnic groups would forever shape her demeanor and outlook. In the early 60’s, Kathleen Neal returned to the United States to go to high school. Initially she enrolled at Oberlin College in Ohio, and then transferred to Barnard College in New York City.

In 1966, Neal’s heavier interest in activism saw her drop out of Barnard and concentrate her involvement in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. One of her first tasks was to organize a black student conference to take place at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. At this conference is where she would meet the then Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Eldridge Cleaver. Kathleen would go on to say her and Eldridge were a “meeting of the spirit, she was becoming a revolutionary and was very impressed with his statesmenlike quality.”
carrying the name Kathleen Cleaver, she decided to leave SNCC and join her husband in San Francisco to work for the Black Panther Party.
Cleaver would become the first woman included in the Party’s central committee. Engaged as the Communications Secretary, Cleaver’s role was to write and give speeches nationwide, and also be the media spokesperson for the organization.

Kathleen returned to college receiving a full scholarship to Yale University in New Haven, CT where she would enroll in August 1981. She would graduate in 1983, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in History.

In 1987, Kathleen Cleaver divorced Eldridge, while in law school. She would graduate from Yale Law School in 1988; joining the New York City law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore shortly thereafter before accepting a position as a law clerk for the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in 1991. Then in 1992, Cleaver joined the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where she teaches the law.

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