Category: Landmarks

Los Angeles City Council Approves Changing Name of Rodeo Road to Obama Boulevard

The Los Angeles City Council voted to rename Rodeo Road as Obama Boulevard in honor of former President Obama, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in a tweet Tuesday night.

“We’re thrilled that Angelenos and visitors will forever be reminded of the legacy of President @BarackObama when traveling across L.A.,” he said in the tweet.

City Council President Herb Wesson proposed the name change in June 2017.

Not to be confused with the upscale Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Rodeo Road is a 3.5-mile street that runs from near the Culver City border east to Mid-City.

In his proposal, Wesson noted that Obama held a campaign rally at Rancho Cienega Park on Rodeo Road when running for president and that the area already has streets named after presidents, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It’s a residential strip in a predominantly African American community.

The road is also home to Dorsey High School, Baldwin Hills Elementary School and Rancho Cienega Sports Center and Park — where Obama held a campaign rally when he was running for president. East of La Brea Avenue, the new Obama Boulevard will intersect with Martin Luther King Boulevard (which was renamed from Santa Barbara Avenue in 1983).

The move is not the first to honor the former president in the greater Los Angeles area. In September, a resolution by state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) to rename a portion of the 134 Freeway passed. Several California schools have also been named after Obama, and in the Monterey Bay town of Seaside, city leaders designated one street Obama Way.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-oabma-boulevard-20180828-story.html

Alice Allison Dunnigan, 1st Black Woman Journalist to Cover the White House, to be Honored with Statue in D.C.

White House correspondent Alice Allison Dunnigan (photo via Wikipedia)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Associated Press, Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first African-American woman journalist credentialed to cover the White House, will be honored with a life-sized statue to be erected next month in Washington D.C.

Dunnigan, a Kentucky native who died in 1983, was the first Black female journalist to cover a presidential campaign — President Harry Truman’s whistle-stop campaign tour in 1948. She subsequently received credentials to cover the White House.

As head of the Associated Negro Press’ Washington bureau for 14 years, Dunnigan supplied stories to 112 African-American newspapers across the nation. She was also the first Black woman to obtain press credentials to cover the U.S. Congress, the State Department, and the Supreme Court.

“Throughout Dunnigan’s career, she battled the rampant racism and sexism that dominated the mostly white and male professions of journalism and politics. She once famously stated, ‘Race and sex were twin strikes against me. I’m not sure which was the hardest to break down,’” the Newseum, the non-profit news museum in the nation’s capital that will be displaying the sculpture, said in a statement.

The bronze sculpture, created by fellow Kentuckian Amanda Matthews, will be displayed at the Newseum from Sept. 21 until Dec. 16, before moving to Dunnigan’s hometown of Russellville, KY.

It will be installed on the grounds of the West Kentucky African American Heritage Center as part of a park dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement, the Newseum said.

Oregon State University Changes Three Building Names That Honored Proponents of Slavery

Oregon State University buildings to be renamed (photos via cbsnews.com; facebook.com/DailyBarometer)

by Saul Hubbard via registerguard.com

After a two-year process, Oregon State University President Ed Ray announced recently that he has chosen new monikers for three university buildings whose previous namesakes have ties to historical racist positions or beliefs.

OSU’s Benton Hall will become Community Hall, honoring local residents who raised funds to start the college in 1860s and 1870s; Benton Annex, the university’s women center, will become the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center, after an African-American suffragette who lived in Portland in the early 20th century; and Avery Lodge will be renamed Champinefu Lodge, borrowing a word signifying “at the place of the blue elderberry” from the dialect of the local native Kalapuya Tribe.

“The names of buildings and places play a very important role in our university,” Ray said Monday in a prepared statement. “They speak to the history of OSU, the university’s values and mission, and our efforts to create an inclusive community for all. Names also recognize and honor the positive contributions of those associated with the university.”

The changes follow a push that has occurred across the country in recent years to proactively remove names and take down statues that honor people who held overtly racist views, in the name of improving race relations. Those efforts have faced blow-back from people who argue that they erase history and punish historical figures for views that were widely held during their lifetimes.

Ray decided last November that the building names associated with former Missouri U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton and Corvallis co-founder Joseph C. Avery should be stripped from the buildings, following community input and scholarly research into their positions.

Hattie Redmond (photo via Ohio Historical Society)

An architect of the United States westward expansion and backer of the Manifest Destiny, Benton “supported federal legislation to remove Native Americans from their tribal lands and, while he was opposed to extending slavery into western states, he was not in favor of abolishing slavery elsewhere,” Ray wrote last November.

While the 1947 naming of Benton Hall was designed to honor Benton County residents, not Thomas Benton, Ray determined that the hall’s name didn’t make that distinction clear. Joseph Avery, meanwhile, pushed “views and political engagement in the 1850s to advance slavery in Oregon (that) are inconsistent with Oregon State’s values,” Ray wrote, making the 1966 name untenable.

Ray decided against renaming OSU’s Gill Coliseum and the Arnold Dining Center, however, after ruling that their namesakes, Benjamin Lee Arnold and Amory Gill, displayed some signs of forward-thinking racial acceptance, outweighing the more controversial parts of their biographies.

The new names announced Monday were chosen by Ray, after receiving input from OSU faculty, students and leaders of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon.

Champinefu, which is pronounced CHOM-pin-A-foo, was chosen because Native Americans of the Kalapuya Tribe traveled to the area around Corvallis to harvest wild blue elderberries.

Hattie Redmond, meanwhile, was part of the successful push in 1912 to give women the right to vote in Oregon, after voters previously had rejected it five times. According to the Oregon Historical Society, Redmond’s role was little known and not celebrated until 2012, when details of her biography were discovered during the centennial celebration of woman suffrage in Oregon. Redmond, the daughter of slaves, moved to Portland in 1880, in an era when the state still had a black exclusion law in its constitution. Redmond was the president of the Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association during the 1912 campaign and organized meetings and educational lectures on the issue in a local church.

Read more: http://www.registerguard.com/news/20180730/osu-changing-three-building-names-to-promote-inclusivity

HISTORY: Movement to Honor Anti-Lynching Crusader and Journalist Ida B. Wells in Chicago is Gaining Momentum, and is ‘Long Overdue’

Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post)

Adapted from a story by The Washington Post’s Peter Slevin. via thelily.com

Ida B. Wells, a crusading African American journalist who exposed the crime and shame of lynching and fought for women’s suffrage, spent half her life in Chicago. She died in 1931 after dedicating her life to the battle against racial injustice. Yet her pioneering work is all but unrecognized in Chicago, which has no shortage of statues and monuments to leading white men.

There is the grave marker at Oak Woods Cemetery. It reads BARNETT. Along the bottom, “Crusaders for Justice.” On the left, there is her name: Ida B. Wells, beside her husband’s.

Ida B. Wells's gravesite in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post)
Ida B. Wells’s gravesite in Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post)

Then, there was a housing project, erected in 1941 and called Ida B. Wells Homes. It grew to 1,662 units, but it did not end well. The project succumbed to neglect and dysfunction before the last building was torn down in 2011, doing no honor to her name.

That’s it.

Michelle Duster, her great-granddaughter, aims to change that. For the past decade, Duster and a few friends have labored, dollar by dollar, to raise $300,000 to build a monument to Wells in Chicago. They’re still barely halfway there, but the word is getting out.

“You can’t just gloss over this history,” said Duster, a writer and lecturer who sees a need for Wells’s example these days. “She not only believed in certain principles and values but she sacrificed herself over and over and over again. She was called fearless. I don’t believe that she had no fear. I believe she had fear and she decided to keep going forward.”

A monument will honor the legendary activist, as well as introduce her to people who aren’t familiar with her place in American history.

People who may know nothing about Ida B. Wells will find things about this extraordinary woman they didn’t know anything about,” said Kirk Savage, an art historian at the University of Pittsburgh who studies public memorials.

In 1862, Wells was born in Holly Springs, Miss., a few months before the Emancipation Proclamation. She passed a teacher’s exam at age 16 and taught school. In 1884, after she moved to Memphis, three railroad workers forcibly removed her from a train for refusing to leave a car reserved for white women, even though she had purchased a ticket. She sued and won, only to see the verdict overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Wells began writing newspaper columns and purchased a share of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. When three of her black friends were lynched after opening a grocery store in competition with a white-owned business, she started investigating and challenged the assertion that large numbers of black men were raping white women.

The city of Memphis, she wrote, does not protect an African American “who dares to protect himself against the white man or become his rival.” After a mob destroyed the printing presses, she moved for good to Chicago in the early 1890s. There, she married lawyer Ferdinand Barnett, had four children, worked as a probation officer and supported migrants from the South, all the while traveling widely to oppose racial terror.

Wells “challenged every type of convention,” including sexism in the civil rights community and racism in the women’s suffrage movement, New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones said. “She refused to stay in her place at a time when doing something could be debilitating, could be dangerous.”

Hannah-Jones, whose 75,000 Twitter followers see her handle as Ida Bae Wells, also worked to create the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Journalism, designed to increase and elevate investigative work by people of color.

Last month, Hannah-Jones flew to Chicago to help raise money for the Wells monument, which has been a slow-moving project.

Continue reading “HISTORY: Movement to Honor Anti-Lynching Crusader and Journalist Ida B. Wells in Chicago is Gaining Momentum, and is ‘Long Overdue’”

Will Smith Honored with Mural in West Philadelphia (VIDEO)

Will Smith mural in West Philadelphia (photo via ambrosiaforheads.com)

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

Will Smith is the native son of West Philadelphia and the city that raised the mega movie star paid homage with the painting of a mural by British artist Richard Wilson.

Wilson reportedly envisioned Smith’s painting in the light of Kehinde Wiley’s presidential portrait of Barack Obama, except that Smith has on more casual attire.

Smith, said it was humbling to learn that Wilson, a renowned artist chose him as his subject to paint a mural which lives on the wall of Gevurtz Furniture store on Girard Ave in the city. “The idea that there would be a mural of me on the side of a school in West Philadelphia just wrecked me,” said an emotional Smith, wiping away tears in a video about the mural.

Will Smith’s mom, Caroline Bright, also was at a loss for words when she came to see the mural firsthand. Even Smith’s close friend and former bodyguard Charlie Mack, complimented Wilson on getting Smith’s protruding ears just perfect.

Dr. Naomi Booker, CEO of Global Leadership Academy was moved knowing that her school sits near the giant mural and her students can take a page from Smith’s book and dream big. “This man is an icon and he’s looking at GLA (Global Leadership Academy) so my kids everyday will see this image and know that you can be whatever you want to be,” Booker said according to Philly.com.

“This is a man who grew up in Philadelphia, went to Overbrook High School up the street was a part of this world, that he now is looking at us,” she said about the mural facing the school.

Smith hasn’t yet see the mural in person but reportedly plans a visit to the city to check it out. In the meanwhile, he’s launched a fundraiser and is selling merchandise where 100% of proceeds will go to West Philadelphia’s Global Leadership Academy Charter School and artist Richard Wilson.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/07/03/will-smith-and-his-mom-celebrate-philadelphia-mural/

Nina Simone’s Childhood Home in North Carolina Designated a National Treasure

Photo via blueridgenow.com

by Parker Riley via newsone.com

Musician Nina Simone passed away in 2003 at 70 years old, but her legacy survives. A 2015 documentary on her life, What Happened, Miss Nina Simone?, received an Oscar nomination and her influence has touched everyone from Lauryn Hill to Mary J. Blige.

Now the icon is receiving a huge honor. Her childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina will be designated a national treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Her home is now a vacant wooden cottage with three rooms and measuring 660-square feet. The house was put on the market in 2016 and was recently purchased by four Black artists to maintain Simone’s legacy. One, Adam Pendleton, said in a press release, “Last year, my fellow artists and I felt an urgent need to rescue Nina Simone’s childhood home—a need sprung from a place of political activism as well as civic duty.” He continued, “A figure like Nina Simone—an African American woman from a small town in North Carolina who became the musical voice of the Civil Rights Movement—is extraordinarily relevant to artists working today. She constantly expressed her commitment to the democratic values our country espouses by demanding that we live up to them. We are honored to partner with the National Trust to further protect her legacy.”

Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a press release, “Nina Simone’s distinctive voice and social critique in the mid-20th century was unlike anything America had ever heard before. And while her musical and social justice legacy burns bright, her childhood home has been neglected. We’re delighted to work with the home’s new owners and the local community to chart a new future for the property that will honor her tremendous contributions to American society and inspire new generations of artists and activists to engage with her legacy.”

Source: https://newsone.com/3811737/nina-simone-honored-national-trust-for-historic-preservation/

NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson to Be Honored by West Virginia State University With Bronze Statue and Scholarship

(L-R) Actor Janelle Monae, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and actors Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer pose backstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

via apnews.com

INSTITUTE, W.Va. (AP) — Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician whose calculations helped astronauts return to Earth, is being honored at her alma mater West Virginia State University with a bronze statue and a scholarship in her name. West Virginia State says a dedication ceremony is planned for Aug. 25, the day before Johnson’s 100th birthday.

Related: Katherine Johnson Computational Facility Opens at Langley Research Center 

Long before the digital era, Johnson worked as a human “computer” at the agency that became NASA, working in relative obscurity as an African-American woman. Her contributions were later recognized in the “Hidden Figures” movie, with actress Taraji P. Henson playing her role.

West Virginia State hopes to endow the scholarship at $100,000, awarding money to students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, targeting people who are underrepresented in those fields.

Source: https://www.apnews.com/4267eb76ac9541428e20c0368c3483d9/NASA-mathematician-Katherine-Johnson-being-honored-in-bronze

Obama Presidential Center Gets Green Light from Chicago City Council

The design for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park was unveiled May 3, 2017 (photo via chicagotribune.com)

by Lolly Bowean via chicagotribune.com

Culminating a three-year campaign by the Obama Foundation, the Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved measures to allow construction of the Obama Presidential Center. The approval, which came on a 47-1 vote, means the foundation can move forward into federal reviews of the project with city support as a badge of endorsement.

No public comment was allowed during the council meeting, and aldermen discussed the matter for just over an hour — a contrast to the extended and heated debate last week during a Plan Commission hearing. Hundreds of residents, activists and leaders of cultural institutions testified both in favor of the presidential center and against it. The commission voted overwhelmingly in support, as did the Zoning Committee on Tuesday, which paved the way for Wednesday’s City Council vote.

The City Council decision was just another step in a long process. Besides the federal review — which is required because Jackson Park, the site of the center, is on the National Register of Historic Places — the foundation still must secure a formal long-term contract to lease Jackson Park from the city. The foundation already has hired a collective of construction firms to build the center, but they have to develop and hire a workforce.

Betsey Stockton and James Collins Johnson, Former Slaves with Ties to Princeton University, Have Campus Locations Named in their Honor

Betsey Stockton (photo via jbhe.com)
James Collins Johnson (photo via paw.princeton.edu)

via jbhe.com

The board of trustees of Princeton University in New Jersey has voted to honor two former slaves who played a role in the university’s early history. A new green roof garden at the Firestone Library will honor Betsey Stockton and an arch in the East Pyne building on campus will honor James Collins Johnson.

Betsey Stockton was born into slavery in Princeton at the end of the eighteenth century. She worked in the home of Ashbel Green president of Princeton University. After gaining her freedom, she established a missionary school for native Hawaiian children. She later started a school for Black children in Philadelphia and taught for 30 years in the only public school in Princeton for African American children. Stockton died in 1865.

Jimmy Johnson was a fugitive slave who arrived in Princeton in 1839. He worked as a janitor until 1843. That year, a student recognized him and had him apprehended as a runaway slave. Local residents raised money to buy Johnson’s freedom and he started a small business selling snacks to Princeton students. Johnson died in 1902. (To learn more of Johnson’s story, click here.)

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/05/princeton-to-name-two-campus-locations-after-former-slaves/

Civil Rights Leader and Educator Clara Luper Has Department Named in her Honor at University of Oklahoma

Civil Rights Leader and Activist Clara Luper (photo via blackthen.com)

via jbhe.com

The University of Oklahoma has announced that it is recognizing educator and civil rights leader Clara Luper by naming the department of African and African American studies in her honor.

Known as the “Mother of the Oklahoma Civil Rights Movement,” Luper led a sit-in at the segregated lunch counter at the Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City in 1958. She later led campaigns for equal rights in employment opportunity, banking, open housing, and voting rights.

David L. Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma, said that “we honor Clara Luper as a trailblazer for human rights and as a symbol of the university’s commitment to equal opportunity for all people.”

Clara Luper was born 1923 in rural Okfuskee County, Oklahoma. She graduated from an all-Black high school and then enrolled at historically Black Langston University in Oklahoma. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1944. She later earned a master’s degree in history education at the University of Oklahoma.

Luper taught history in high schools in Spencer, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City for 41 years. She was the first African American vice president of the Oklahoma City Social Science Teachers Association and the first African American vice president of the Oklahoma County Teachers Association. Luper also hosted her own radio show for 50 years.

A state highway bears her name and the Clara Luper Scholarship Program has been established at Oklahoma City University. More on the life of this civil rights pioneer can be found in her autobiography Behold the Walls (1979).

Clara Luper died in 2011.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/03/university-of-oklahoma-names-an-academic-department-to-honor-clara-luper/