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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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January 11, 2016 06:32 AM PST

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa surrounded by six (6) countries. As of 2014 the population of the country hovered just over 17.3 million. Not a tiny country, but definitely not very large either.

Originally known as the Republic of Upper Volta, Sankara renamed the country “Burkina Faso” in August of 1984.

Thomas Isidore Noél Sankara was born December 21, 1949 in Yako, Burkina Faso as the son of Marguerite Sankara and Sambo Joseph Sankara. In high school, Sankara attended basic military training, and in 1966, he began his military career at the age of 19. Sankara was originally trained as a pilot in the Upper Volta Air Force. During this time, Sankara immersed himself in the works of Karl Marx and Vladmir Lenin. He would go on to become a very popular figure in the capital city, and his charisma would surely serve him well.

Sankara wasn’t just a military figure, he was also a pretty good guitarist, and played in a band call “Tout-å-Coup Jazz”; and his vehicle of choice was a motorcycle. The military career, accolades, honors, and private passions would serve to make Sankara a very influential image that would be admired by many. Sankara would become military commander of the Commando Training Center in 1976; and in the same year met a man named Blaise Compaoré in Morocco.

In November 1982, a political coup brought Major-Doctor Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo to power, and Sankara was asked to serve as Prime Minister in January 1983. This position allowed him an entry into the realm of international politics and a chance to meet with other leaders of the non-aligned movement including Fidel Castro [of Cuba], Samora Machel [of Mozambique] and Maurice Bishop [of Granada].

On August 4, 1983 a coup d’etat supported by Libya, would result in the formation of the National Council of the Revolution and rise Sankara to President of the country at the age of only 33. Sankara viewed himself as a revolutionary and was inspired by the examples set by Fidel Castro in Cuba, Che Guevara and Ghana’s military leader Jerry Rawlings.

As President, Sankara promoted the “Democratic and Popular Revolution” with the ideology of the Revolution, as defined by Sankara, to be anti-imperialist. Sankara’s primary policies were directed at fighting corruption, reforestation, averting famine, and re-shifting political focuses to make education and health real priorities.

On the first anniversary of his presidency, Sankara took the bold move of renaming the country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which in the two major languages of the country, Moré and Djula, means “the land of upright people”.
Sankara stripped away much of the powers that tribal chiefs held in the country. This act actually served a dual purpose for the country; first, it created an average higher standard of living for the average Burkinabe; and second, it created the most optimal situation to encourage Burkina Faso into food self-sufficiency.

Sankara would be quoted as saying:
“Our country produces enough to feed us all. Alas, for lack of organization, we are forced to beg for food aid. It’s this aid that instills in our spirits the attitude of beggars.”

Burkina Faso reached not only food sufficiency, but had actually reached a food surplus. Sankara launched mass vaccination programs all in an attempt to eradicate the country of polio, meningitis and measles as well. In one week alone, in the country of 17 million, 2.5 million Burkinabé were vaccinated, getting acclaim from the World Health Organization.
Sankara’s administration was also the first African government to publicly recognize the AIDS epidemic as a major threat to Africa.

On a philosophical level, Guevera and Sankara were both Marxist revolutionaries, who believed that an armed revolution against imperialism and monopolized capitalism was the only way for mass progress. They both denounced financial neo-colonialism before the United Nations and held up agrarian land reform and literacy campaigns.

On October 15, 1987, Thomas Sankara was killed by an armed group along with about twelve (12) other government officials in coup d’état organized by his former partner, Blaise Compaoré.

Sankara’s body was dismembered and he was unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave, while his widow and two (2) children fled the country.
by the evening of the assassination, Compaoré was installed as the new president.
. On December 22, 2015, so just mere 2 weeks ago; Al Jazeera ran an article that you can find relating that Burkina Faso had issued an international arrest warrant for Compaoré in connection with the murder of Thomas Sankara.
Collections of Thomas Sankara’s speeches were published following his death, including Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987; Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle; and We are the Heirs of the World's Revolutions.

On October 9th, Sankara gave a speech marking and honoring the 20th anniversary of Guevera’s execution. Just a mere week before his death, in the same speech for Guevara Thomas Sankara addressed his people and proclaimed, “while revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.”

Thomas Sankara belongs to the group of African leaders who wanted to give the continent in general and their countries in particular a new socio-political dimension. He was the hope of the African youth before being coldly murdered.

January 06, 2016 07:35 AM PST

There are three (3) historical documents that support the existence of an Emily Morgan in connection with the time period immediately surrounding the independence of Texas.

Emily ended up catching the eye of Mexican General Santa Anna, and against her will was forced to her tent and kept there for his amusement and entertainment.

The legend goes, Santa Anna was so enthralled with Emily’s beauty that he was literally caught with his pants down when Sam Houston and troops rode into the fields of San Jacinto and decimated the Mexican army in one fell swoop; also capturing Santa Anna while he tried to escape. But, the story of the legendary Emily Morgan doesn’t end there, legend goes that Emily Morgan may have intentionally stayed behind in New Washington, and then became a prisoner of Santa Anna all in an effort to distract him and potentially act as a spy to learn his plans and potential troop movements. Whatever the case, Santa Anna was forced to attempt his escape in only a linen shirt and silk drawers.

The only written account of this was captured by a visiting Englishman named William Bollaert, who captured the following in a diary entry from 1842 after being told the story by Sam Houston :

“The Battle of San Jacinto was probably lost to the Mexicans, owing to the influence of a Mulatto girl, Emily, belonging to Colonel Morgan, who was closeted in the tent with General Santa Anna, at the time the cry was made ‘the enemy! They come! They come!’ and detained Santa Anna so long, that order could not be restored readily again.”
The Texas State Library actually has documentation to even further reinforce the story and the myth. In 1837, “Emily D. West” applied to the Secretary of State for the Republic of Texas for a passport to return home, stating in fact that she had lost her “free papers” at San Jacinto in April 1836. The document with the Texas State Library further states that the Emily applying for the passport came to Texas from New York in 1835 with James Morgan, and further confirms that she was in fact a woman of color, but not a slave.

The lyrics of the original song said the following:

There’s a yellow rose in Texas, that I am going to see;
No other darky knows her, no darky only me;
She cried so when I left her, it like to broke my heart;
And if I ever find her, we nevermore will part.

She’s the sweetest rose of color this darky every knew;
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew;
You may talk about your Dearest May, and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas beats the belles of Tennessee;

When the Rio Grande is flowing, the starry skies are bright;
She walks along the river in the quiet summer night;
She thinks if I remember, when we parted long ago;
I promised to come back again, and not to leave her so;

Oh now I’m going to find her, for my heart is full of woe;
And we’ll sing the songs together, that we sung so long ago;
We’ll play the banjo gaily, and we’ll sing the songs of yore;
And the Yellow Rose of Texas shall be mine forevermore.

The immortalization of a black woman in song, especially one sung on the battle lines, and otherwise racially divided segments of white Texans comprises an unprecedented circumstance matched only by a second fascination that’s a quieter kept secret, but plays to the importance and impact of the diaspora. A love story between black people that was powerful enough to be immortalized in song. The woman and the song serve Texas history well, but they serve African American history, folklore and culture even better.

December 29, 2015 06:44 PM PST

Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña (Spanish: [biˈsente raˈmoŋ ɡeˈreɾo salˈdaɲa]; August 10, 1782 – February 14, 1831) was one of the leading revolutionary generals of the Mexican War of Independence. He fought against Spain for independence in the early 19th century, and later served as President of Mexico. Of Afro-Mestizo descent, he was the grandfather of the Mexican politician and intellectual Vicente Riva Palacio.

In November 1810, the revolution for Mexican independence from Spanish rule broke out, and though Vincente’s family was devout supporters of Spanish rule, Vincente expressed a great deal of anti-colonialist sentiment and within two (2) years of the revolution’s onset, Vincente had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was responsible for organizing forces in the southern regions of the country.

“Compañeros...I have always respected my father but my Motherland comes first.”

Between the years of 1810 and 1821, Vincente won a total of four hundred and ninety-one (491) battles, using primarily guerrilla tactics in his victories against the Spanish army. While he is afforded the credit in history, he instead credited his fellow soldiers, to say, “It wasn’t me, but the people who fought and triumphed.”

Vincente wasn’t President for very long, but he was surely effective in implementing sweeping reforms and changes to help the working class and extending additional rights to the indigenous people of Mexico.

He instituted taxes on the rich, provided protections to small businesses, abolished the death penalty, and advocated for villages to elect their own councils of representatives. He was a very strong advocate for social equality as well, and even took to signing his official correspondences as “Citizen Guerrero”.

December 17, 2015 10:14 AM PST

George Alexander McGuire was born on March 26, 1866 at Sweets, Antigua, in the Caribbean West Indies. As a child, he studied in local grammar schools on the island, then continued on at the Antiguan branch of Mico College for teachers and eventually at the Moravian Miskey Seminary in the Danish West Indies. McGuire pastored a Moravian congregation at Frederikstad, St. Croix, but when he came to the United States in 1894, he chose to be confirmed in the Protestant Episcopal Church.

At the beginning of his career, McGuire led small mostly black Episcopal churches in Cincinnati, Richmond, Virginia and Philadelphia.
From 1905 to 1909, McGuire served as Archdeacon for Colored Work in Arkansas where he passionately worked to increase the number of missions from one to nine.

While involved with the Arkansas Diocese, McGuire wrote a crucial addendum to a book entitled, “The Crucial Race Question OR Where and How Shall the Color Line Be Drawn?” in it, McGuire revealed publicly for the first time, not only his eloquent and learned style, but also the pride of race that characterized his life and the way in which he taught. McGuire reflected that the Episcopal’s record of dealing with race issues left much to be desired and that the affairs of segregation within the sect were so bad, that publicly, both Black Methodists and Baptists openly would refer to them as a “black body with a white head”.

McGuire's experience in the Episcopal Church had been tainted with incidents of discrimination against himself and fellow black clergy.
He severed his ties with the Church and decided that only in a denomination of Blacks with a Black administration would equality and spiritual freedom be attained. Stating: “The white churches in America had drawn a circle to exclude people of color. Our vision is to draw a wider circle that will include all people.” At its inception the African Orthodox Church took strides to establish ecclesiastical and spiritual freedom for Blacks and people of color.

December 01, 2015 01:54 PM PST

Susie King Taylor was born a slave, the first of nine children at Grest Farm (35 miles south of Savannah) in Liberty County, Georgia on Aug. 6, 1848. Her mother was a domestic servant for the Grest family. At the age of about five she had mastered the skills of reading and writing. Taylor soon became a skilled reader and writer. Those abilities to read and write proved invaluable to the Union Army as they began to form regiments of African American soldiers.

Two days after Fort Pulaski was taken by Union forces, Taylor fled with family to St. Catherine Island, where they receive Union protection and a transfer to the Union-occupied St. Simons Island where she claimed her freedom.

Since most blacks were illiterate, it was soon discovered that Taylor could read and write. Five days after her arrival, Commodore Louis Goldsborough offered Taylor books and supplies if she would establish a school on the island. She accepted the offer and became the first black teacher to openly instruct African Americans in Georgia.

She would meet and eventually marry Sergeant Edward King while teaching at St. Simon Island, and the two would move to Port Royal Island off the coast of South Carolina. When Union officers raised the First South Carolina Volunteers of African American soldiers, Taylor signed on as a nurse, and soon started a school for black children and soldiers. Taylor would then serve for more than three years traveling with her husband's unit, the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops , as a doctor’s aid, washing, cooking, and burning or burying human limbs.

In 1890, after a trip to care for her dying son in Louisiana, Taylor wrote her memoirs which she privately published them as a book in 1902 as Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd US Colored Troops. Taylor spent much of the remainder of her life in the North, serving as a teacher, domestic servant and cook.

November 23, 2015 09:56 AM PST


Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. was born on August 17, 1887 in Saint Ann’s Bay, Jamaica to Marcus Garvey, Sr. and Sarah Jane Richards. After studying at Birkbeck College in London, in 1914 Garvey, and his first wife - Amy Ashwood Garvey - would organize and start the Universal Nego Improvement Association (the "UNIA") as a "social, friendly, humanitarian, charitable, educational, institutional, constructive and expansive society, and it being founded by persons desiring to do the utmost work for the general uplift of the people of African ancestry of the world. [The] members pledged themselves to dall all in their power to conserve the rights of their noble race and to respect the rights of all mankind, believing always in the Brotherhood of Man and the Fatherhood of God." Its motto being, "One God! One Aim! One Destiny!"

November 19, 2015 08:46 AM PST

Seneca Village may possibly have been Manhattan, New York’s first stable community of African-American property owners ; and it is considered by historians as well to be one of Manhattan’s earliest communities of African-American property owners. Located from 81st to 89th Streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, the village is a terribly important part of the history of New York City.

November 09, 2015 06:37 AM PST

With certainty, we can only date Black hockey to the early 1870’s, yet we know that hockey and Black history in Nova Scotia have parallel roots, going back almost 100 years. The Colored Hockey League was like no other hockey or sports league before or since. Approximately half the players in the Coloured Hockey League were from families who came to Canada during the American Revolution; and another quarter had relatives who came across the border through the Underground Railroad.

Primarily located in a province, reputed to be the birthplace of Canadian hockey, the league would in time produce a quality of player and athlete that would rival the best of White Canada. Such was the skill of the teams that they would be seen by as worthy candidates for local representation in the annual national quest for Canadian hockey’s ultimate prize – the Stanley Cup.

November 02, 2015 07:21 AM PST

Betty Boop is one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time, a virtual sex symbol created during a time where bold women were often frowned upon. The character’s signature vocals stood out, but she wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a Black woman in Harlem who inspired the style. Those famous words “Boop-Oop-A-Doop” that are so famously associated with Betty Boop, and the girlish “booping” style, were first sung and performed on stage in the Harlem Cotton Club by a jazz singer named Baby Esther.

October 27, 2015 06:46 AM PDT

Rastafari is a belief which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia (ruled 1930–1974), much in the same way as Jesus, or as God the Father. Members of the Rastafari way of life are known as Rastafari, Rastas, or simply Ras.
The name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the title (Ras) and first name (Tafari Makonnen) of Haile Selassie I before his coronation.
Some Rastafari do not claim any sect or denomination, and thus encourage one another to find faith and inspiration within themselves, although some do identify strongly with one of the "Mansions of Rastafari"—the three most prominent of these being the Nyahbinghi, the Bobo Ashanti, and the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
By 1997 there were around one million Rastafari worldwide. In the 2011 Jamaican census, 29,026 individuals identified themselves as Rastafari. Other sources estimated that in the 2000s they formed "about 5% of the population" of Jamaica, or conjectured that "there are perhaps as many as 100,000 Rastafari in Jamaica".

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