Tag: Black History Month

BHM: Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner – The Forgotten Inventor Who Revolutionized Menstrual Pads

From Vice:

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner (1912–2006) always had trouble sleeping when she was growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her mother would leave for work in the morning through the squeaky door at the back of their house and the noise would wake Kenner up. “So I said one day, ‘Mom, don’t you think someone could invent a self-oiling door hinge?’” She was only six at the time, but she set about the task with all the seriousness of a born inventor. “I [hurt] my hands trying to make something that, in my mind, would be good for the door,” she said. “After that I dropped it, but never forgot it.”

This pragmatic, do-it-yourself approach defined her inventions for the rest of her life. But while her creations were often geared toward sensible solutions for everyday problems, Kenner could tell from an early age that she had a skill that not many possessed. When her family moved to Washington DC in 1924, Kenner would stalk the halls of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, trying to work out if someone had beaten her to it and led a patent for an invention first. The 12-year-old didn’t find any that had done so.

In 1931 Kenner graduated from high school and earned a place at the prestigious Howard University, but was forced to drop out a year and a half into her course due to financial pressures. She took on odd jobs such as babysitting before landing a position as a federal employee, but she continued tinkering in her spare time. The perennial problem was money; filing a patent was, and is, an expensive business. Today, a basic utility patent can cost several hundred dollars.

By 1957 Kenner had saved enough money to her first ever patent: a belt for sanitary napkins. It was long before the advent of disposable pads, and women were still using cloth pads and rags during their period. Kenner proposed an adjustable belt with an inbuilt, moisture-proof napkin pocket, making it less likely that menstrual blood could leak and stain clothes.

“One day I was contacted by a company that expressed an interest in marketing my idea. I was so jubilant,” she said. “I saw houses, cars, and everything about to come my way.” A company rep drove to Kenner’s house in Washington to meet with their prospective client. “Sorry to say, when they found out I was black, their interest dropped. The representative went back to New York and informed me the company was no longer interested.”

Undeterred, Kenner continued inventing for all her adult life. She eventually filed five patents in total, more than any other African-American woman in history.

Read more: The Forgotten Black Woman Inventor Who Revolutionized Menstrual Pads – VICE

African American Miniature Museum Founder and Artist Karen Collins Has”Greensboro Four” Piece Highlighted by Google to Kick off Black History Month

“The Greensboro Four” by Karen Collins

Sixty years ago, four African American college students sat down quietly at a whites-only Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. They received no service, only requests to leave, but they kept waiting for hours. And the next day, they returned and waited again. Within three days of their protest, more than 300 students joined the young people who became known as the “Greensboro Four” in their sit-in.

The Four’s actions set off a wave of similar demonstrations throughout the South, drawing national attention to the fight against Jim Crow-era segregation and marking a turning point in the civil rights movement. Today’s Google Doodle commemorates these brave activists to kick off Black History Month.

According to CNN.com, the doodle is actually a photo of a diorama by Compton-based artist Karen Collins, who is also the founder of the African American Miniature Museum. “Organized by four Black college freshmen, the protest against segregation served as a catalyst for similar demonstrations throughout the nation,” Collins wrote in a blog post.

Artist Karen Collins (photo via CNN.com)

Collins has been creating dioramas that capture moments in black history for 24 years through the African American Miniature Museum, a project she started with her husband Eddie Lewis.

Collins had always wanted a dollhouse as a little girl, but as the daughter of a single mom, her family couldn’t afford it, she wrote in a blog post. When she bought her first dollhouse 40-some years later, she discovered her passion for using dioramas to tell stories.

That passion gained a new meaning when her son was incarcerated, she wrote. In the midst of her pain and anguish, she started the African American Miniature Museum. The museum began as a mobile project in the 1990s, when Collins displayed her work in venues like schools, libraries and churches as a way of contextualizing black history for children.

Today, she continues to operate the museum from home. Collins says on her website she hopes to have a permanent location one day for the more than 50 dioramas she has created, which depict events from the Middle Passage to the Black Lives Matter protests. Below are some examples of her work from an exhibit of her collection Collins had at the Los Angeles Public Library in 2018:

“Black Lives Matter” by Karen Collins
Madam CJ Walker by Karen Collins

“For me, the museum was a way to turn the negativity into something positive and share the stories of our ancestors’ strength and perseverance through hardship,” Collins wrote in a blog post.

“I want young people to learn about those that came before them who sacrificed to help make the lives they live today possible. Most importantly, I want them to see that we each have the power to make it through difficult times to thrive and hopefully make things better for those who come after us.”

BHM: “Queen Sugar” Marathon to Screen February 23 & 24 at Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills

(Credit: OWN Network)

In honor of Black History Month, on February 23/24 at 12pm PST,The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, CA is screening a FREE Queen Sugar marathon. It’s a chance for Queen Sugar fans to come together and enjoy several of their favorite episodes from the OWN series.

Exclusive merchandise will be given out to fans on a first come, first served, while supplies last.

Screening Schedule:

“First Things First”

In the series premiere, directed by award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay (Selma), Charley, a savvy wife and manager of a professional basketball star living an upscale Los Angeles lifestyle, returns to her family home—an 800-acre sugarcane farm in the heart of Louisiana—after her father suffers a stroke and she receives alarming news about her husband. There, she reunites with her estranged siblings Nova and Ralph Angel. Together, they must navigate the triumphs and struggles of their complicated lives in order to run an ailing farm in the New South. (2016; 44 minutes)

“Give Us This Day”

Charley continues to make calculated choices regarding Davis’s (Timon Kyle Durrett) basketball career and her desire to secure an investor. Nova and lover Calvin (Greg Vaughan) finally reunite, but their union causes controversy in the community. Davis attempts to repair his relationship with son Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe), but he faces resistance. Aunt Violet (Tina Lifford) learns of Hollywood’s (Omar J. Dorsey) departure and tries to make amends, and Ralph Angel makes a shocking discovery that changes everything. (2016; 43 minutes)

“After the Winter”

Charley and Davis remain entangled, Ralph Angel tries to find his footing on the family farm, and Aunt Violet confronts her feelings for Hollywood. Plus, Micah has a dangerous encounter with a police officer. (2017; 43 minutes)

“Dream Variations”

Charley’s shocking plan to save her business puts her relationship with Remy in jeopardy. Hollywood proposes to Violet, and Nova and Remy share an unexpected moment. Finally, Ralph Angel decides if he can forgive Darla. (2017; 65 minutes)

“From on the Pulse of Morning”

Ralph Angel receives some unexpected news, the fate of the correctional facility is revealed, and Charley makes a proposal on behalf of the farmers. Plus, Violet and Hollywood celebrate their love. (2018; 60 minutes)

About The Paley Center for Media:

The Paley Center for Media is a nonprofit organization with locations in New York and Los Angeles which works to expand the conversation about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms. Drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the leaders of the media community, the Paley Center examines the intersections between media and society.

The general public can access the Paley Center’s permanent media collection, which contains over 160,000 television and radio programs and advertisements, including the expanded collection of African-American Achievements in Television, and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media.

For more information, visit paleycenter.org.

BHM: “Ain’t I A Woman?” The Life and Legacy of Abolitionist and Activist Sojourner Truth

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

It’s February 1st, which means it is now officially Black History Month! Although we here at Good Black News celebrate the achievements of Black people every day of the year, it is always lovely when the rest of the U.S. joins in to do the same for at least 28 of them. So, for #BHM2019, GBN will be highlighting the achievements of black women, past and present, who have and are paving the way to a better future.

Sojourner Truth Google Doodle (via google.com)

And what better person to start with than today’s Google Doogle, abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, who, with “Ain’t I A Woman?” gave one of the most powerful and unforgettable American speeches of all time on what we now call intersectionality?

In 2014, Sojourner Truth was included in Smithsonian Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” – yet the majority of Americans don’t know who she was, what she did, or they confuse her with Harriett Tubman.

Born Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree circa 1797, Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, in 1828 she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.

She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside “testifying the hope that was in her.” Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously, in 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title Ain’t I a Woman?,” a variation of the original speech re-written by someone else using a stereotypical Southern dialect. Truth was from New York and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language, and had a Dutch accent. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth)

There are a lot of other events and details in Truth’s life, of course, including collaboration with Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, President Abraham Lincoln and varied suffragists and women’s groups – Truth was known for her persuasive speeches against slavery as well as sexism – she even once defiantly opened her top and showed her breasts during a speech when she was accused of being a man.  

But what is remarkable and often not mentioned is that she is likely the first black woman in the U.S. to attain national fame (she sold photos and autographs of herself at events to make money “I sell the shadow to support the substance”) and the first to have her voice heard in America. It is also rather ironic that many of the records of her speeches were written by white men, and thus often altered to their perception of a black, female, former slave.

Some would quote that she had 13 children who were sold away from her (she had 5 and raised most of them) or say she was raving when she was calm. Truth’s was a 19th-century case of what is all too familiar today – media distortion by the dominant culture trying to make sense of “the other”- and in her instance, white men trying to process the experiences and truths of black women.

However, Truth was self-possessed – she claimed her ownership of herself by renaming herself and writing her own Narrative in 1850. Truth traveled and spoke to hostile, indifferent and embracing crowds, fought for women’s rights and black women’s right to vote, fought for land grants and reparations for former slaves, prison reform and the end of capital punishment.

Truth was in her 80s when she died at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1999, a 12-foot high monument was built in Battle Creek to honor her. The calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church remembers Truth annually, and the Lutheran Church calendar of saints remembers her on the same day as Harriet Tubman. 

In 2009, Truth became the first black woman honored with a bust in the U.S. Capitol.

Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton honoring Sojourner Truth as her likeness is added to U.S. Capitol (photo via sfgate.com)

To learn more about Truth, you can read her autobiography The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, the biography Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter, and for children, Who Was Sojourner Truth?  or My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth written by Ann Turner and illustrated by James Ransome.

To watch a mini-biography on Truth on biography.com, go to: http://www.biography.com/video/sojourner-truth-mini-biography-11191875531

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Gift Ideas For Friends, Family or Yourself

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Shirley Chisholm T-Shirt

article bvia madamenoire.com

Who says Black History Month isn’t a celebration? Check out 10 super chic items for you (or others) that celebrate blackness.

To see more options and to click through to buy, go to: I’m Black Y’all: 10 Black History Month Gifts For Yourself

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Inspiring Stories of African Americans to Air on Disney Channel this February

Disney Animator Floyd Norman (photo via ShadowAndAct.com

article via ShadowAndAct.com

To cultivate kids’ deeper interest in history and inspire them to feel their own significance in the present and future, stories about distinguished men and women including the Tuskegee Airmen Chief Civilian flight instructor Charles Alfred “Chief” Anderson, the history-making commercial airline pilot Stephanie R. Grant, animator and Disney legend Floyd Norman, and physician, role model and activist Dr. Myiesha Taylor, will be presented as part of Disney|ABC Television Group’s “Be Inspired” interstitial series during Black History Month on Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior.

Paul DeBenedittis, senior vice president, Programming Strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide, said, “As television programmers, we work every day to better serve our kid viewers by reflecting the diverse and varied world they live in, and our ‘Be Inspired’ programming is designed to give them access to stories that can spark their deeper exploration into the rich and celebrated history of African Americans.”

The initiative begins with the story of acclaimed African-American pilot Charles Alfred “Chief” Anderson Sr., known as the “Father of Black Aviation” for his brave and innovative leadership as Chief Civilian Flight Instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen. The story, hosted by Nathaniel Potvin (Disney XD’s “MECH-X4”), originates from the non-profit Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton, California, and includes the museum’s founder and executive director Robin Petgrave, Ted Lumpkin of the Tuskegee Airmen 100th Fighter Squadron, and Kimberly Anyadike, the youngest African-American female to pilot an airplane across the United States. Geared toward kids age 6-14, the interstitial began airing Weds, Feb 1, on Disney Channel and Disney XD.

For younger viewers (age 2-7), Doc McStuffins, the title character from the acclaimed animated series, introduces notable women and men in a series of interstitials to be presented on Disney Junior. They are Stephanie R. Grant, a pilot who led the first all-female African-American flight crew to operate a commercial airliner; Disney legend Floyd Norman, one of the first African-American animators at Walt Disney Studios during the 1950s; and Dr. Myiesha Taylor, an emergency doctor and founder of the Artemis Medical Society, an organization comprised of over 4700 women physicians of color from around the world. Disney Junior and Disney Channel will debut the interstitials beginning Weds, Feb, 8.

To read more, go to: Inspiring Stories of Distinguished African Americans to be Presented During Black History Month on Disney Channels – Shadow and Act

Black History Month: Google Doodle Salutes Pioneering Sculptor Edmonia Lewis

Google Doodle of sculptor Edmonia Lewis (image via Google)

article by Michael Cavna via chicagotribune.com

To kick off its celebration of Black History Month, Google turns to a 19th century artist who burned so bright that her twin gifts of blazing talent and steely determination could not be denied even in the face of her era’s discrimination. Time and again, sculptor Edmonia Lewis — nicknamed “Wildfire” — faced obstacles and setbacks, yet she persevered as if her greatness were already cast.

Lewis was orphaned at age 9, when she was adopted by maternal aunts and joined their Mississauga tribe.  She endured bitter racial bias at Oberlin College, which she began attending at age 15; she was falsely accused of poisoning classmates and was beaten, and was ultimately denied the chance to graduate.

She then was refused apprenticeships in Civil War-era Boston, until she encountered the well-connected sculptor Edward Brackett, whose clients included well-known abolitionists.  And she would then run a small art studio in Rome (a space formerly used by neoclassicist Antonio Canova), eschewing assistants because she was often without the means of fellow expat artists in Italy.

Yet she would shine as the first woman of American Indian and African-American descent to discover international renown in the arts.

Wednesday’s Google Doodle, by artist Sophie Diao, salutes Lewis and her great work “The Death of Cleopatra,” which rests today in Washington at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (Her work “Forever Free” resides nearby, with the Howard University Gallery of Art.) And the ribboned “Google” wording shines bright, befitting Lewis’s nickname.

To read more: Google Doodle salutes pioneering sculptor Edmonia Lewis to kick off Black History Month – Chicago Tribune

Puma Creates BHM Sneakers in Honor of Iconic Olympic Sprinter Tommie Smith

Image #: 13530908 American athletes Tommie Smith (middle, gold medal) and John Carlos (right, bronze medal) at the Award Ceremony for the 200m race at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, October 16, 1968. The Olympics Black Power salute was a notable black power protest and one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games. DPA/LANDOV
American athletes Tommie Smith (middle) and John Carlos (right) at the Award Ceremony for the 200m race at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, October 16, 1968. (Photo: DPA/LANDOV)

The image above is a powerful one. This black power salute is embedded in our history. In 1968 Olympics athletes Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) made history during the Olympic games in Mexico City. With the world watching the sprinters stood on the medal podium and raised their black-gloved fists in the air in silent protest for human rights and for black Americans to stand in solidarity.

It’s that powerful image that was the inspiration for Puma’s capsule collection honoring Tommie Smith and Black History Month. What I didn’t realize is that gold medalist Tommie Smith removed his suede Pumas right before he stepped onto the podium shoeless in black socks, to represent poverty and slavery.  After that subtle statement, he then raised his fist.  With that unmistakable gesture, Tommie Smith altered the course of history and dedicated his life to change. Emblazoned with Tommie Smith’s silhouette, with fist raised, the Black History Month Pack honors a legacy on the track and off. I must applaud Puma for honoring this hero.

Yara Shalhidi and Tommie Smith at the Puma and Sheikh Shoes Launch Celebration at Mastro’s Beverly Hills
Yara Shalhidi and Tommie Smith at the Puma and Sheikh Shoes Launch Celebration at Mastro’s Beverly Hills (Photo credit: Charles Jim-George)

puma

Check out Puma’s Black History Month Collection here:

http://us.puma.com/en_US/men/featured/black-history-month

Sheikh Shoes:

http://www.shiekhshoes.com/m-9-puma.aspx

For more about the 1968 Olympic Black Power Salute:

http://time.com/3880999/black-power-salute-tommie-smith-and-john-carlos-at- the-1968-olympics/

Lesa Lakin GBN Lifestyle
Lesa Lakin, GBN Lifestyle

Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative Receives $1,000,000 Grant from Google

bryan_stevensongoogle
Bryan Stevenson at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Feb. 26, 2016. (photo via theroot.com)

article by Angela Bronner Helm via theroot.com

Tech giant Google announced on Friday that its philanthropic arm would be donating $1 million to Bryan Stevenson’s Alabama-based non-profit, Equal Justice Initiative.

The Harvard-educated Stevenson is a lawyer who has for decades fought the good fight—winning major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent prisoners on death row, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults in a deeply flawed American criminal justice system.

EJI has also created the nation’s first lynching memorial and fastidiously marked lynching sites throughout the South.

Justin Steele, a principal with Google.org and the Bay Area and racial justice giving lead told USA Today, “I think what’s exciting about what EJI is doing is that at a national level it is really trying to tell the untold history around race in this country and help people develop a deeper understanding for the narrative around race and how we have gotten to where we are.”

Google.org made the announcement during a Black History Month celebration at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters where Stevenson gave a speech on how the Google grant will help further his work.

USA Today reports that the racial justice grants were born out of a growing consensus inside Google that it must respond to the police slayings of African Americans and the fatal shooting of nine black citizens inside a Charleston, S.C., church last summer.

In November, Google.org made its first racial justice grants, giving $2.35 million to community organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. This week, Google.org made four more grants, totaling $3 million.

Keeping in line with the activist mantra of organizing locally and thinking globally, the Equal Justice Initiative grant was the only grant gifted to a national non-profit—all other money was given to local organizations in the Bay Area working to eliminate racial disparities in education.

To see video of Bryan Stevenson’s Google talk, click here.

Read more at USA Today.

BUSINESS: Ernst and Young LLP Hosts Free Black History Month Executive Roundtable in Los Angeles

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article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

In celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth, Ernst and Young LLP will be hosting a Black History Month Executive Roundtable event in Los Angeles tonight that focuses on stories of cultivating and leveraging diverse teams and achievements of successful black professionals.

Ernst and Young partner Gracelyn Hodge will be moderating the panel. Panelists will be Dr. Robert Cherry, Chief Medical and Quality Officer at UCLA Health, Cookie Johnson, President of CJ by Cookie Johnson, Beverly Kuykendall, President of American Medical Depot and Guy Primus, CEO and Co-Founder of The Virtual Reality Company.

WHEN:
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. |  Reception/Networking
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. |  Program/Panel Discussion/Q&A

WHERE:
The L.A. Hotel Downtown, 333 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

RSVP:
http://bit.ly/1S6PKDi