THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CIVIL WAR MEMORIAL & MUSEUM

The mission of the African American Civil War Museum is to correct a great wrong in history that largely ignored the enormous contributions of the 209,145 members of the United States Colored Troops. It tells the stories and preserves for posterity the historic roles these brave men of African, European, and Hispanic descent played in ending slavery and keeping America united under one flag.

Hours of Operation:

Monday 10am to 5pm
Tuesday – Friday 10:00am to 6:30pm
Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm
Sunday 12pm to 4:00pm

The museum is located at 1925 Vermont Ave, NW Washington DC, directly across the street from the African American Civil War Memorial, located at 1th and U Streets, NW Washington DC. For more information, click HERE.

The Long-Lasting Legacy of the Great Migration

When millions of African-Americans fled the South in search of a better life, they remade the nation in ways that are still being felt

By Isabel Wilkerson  SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE 

By (1963), millions of African-Americans had already testified with their bodies to the repression they had endured in the Jim Crow South by defecting to the North and West in what came to be known as the Great Migration. They were fleeing a world where they were restricted to the most menial of jobs, underpaid if paid at all, and frequently barred from voting. Between 1880 and 1950, an African-American was lynched more than once a week for some perceived breach of the racial hierarchy.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/long-lasting-legacy-great-migration-180960118/#IlFcMhg0kzBh4iEJ.99

Elizabeth Keckly

Elizabeth Keckly, Dressmaker and Confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln

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Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley ( February 1818 – May 1907) was a former slave who became a successful seamstress, civil rights activist, and author in Washington, DC. She was best known as the personal modiste and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln, the First Lady. Keckley had moved to Washington in 1860 after buying her freedom and that of her son in St. Louis. She created an independent business in the capital based on clients who were the wives of the government elite. Among them were Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis; and Mary Anna Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee.   After the Civil War, Keckley wrote and published an autobiography, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House(1868). It was both a slave narrative and a portrait of the First Family, especially Mary Todd Lincoln, and is considered controversial for breaking privacy about them. It was also her claim as a businesswoman to be part of the new mixed-race, middle-class that was visible among the leadership of the black community. Read more HERE.

Gladys West

When You Are Lost, Thank Gladys West for Your GPS

In a Jan. 19, 2018 photo, Gladys West and her husband Ira West stand in their home in King George, Va. West was part of the team that developed the Global Positioning System in the 1950s and 1960s. (Mike Morones/The Free Lance-Star via AP)

byCathy Dyson, The (Fredericksburg, Va.) Free Lance-Star /AP via militarytimes.com

Gladys West was putting together a short bio about herself for a sorority function that recognized senior members of the group.  She noted her 42-year career at the Navy base at Dahlgren and devoted one short-and-sweet line to the fact she was part of the team that developed the Global Positioning System in the 1950s and 1960s. Read more HERE.

Mabel Grammer, Whose Brown Baby Plan Found Homes for Hundreds

By Alexis Clark

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They were called “brown babies,” or “mischlingskinder,” a derogatory German term for mixed-race children. And sometimes they were just referred to as mutts.  Born during the occupation years in Germany after World War II, the offspring of German women and African-American soldiers, their fathers were usually transferred elsewhere and their mothers risked social repercussions by keeping them, so the babies were placed in orphanages. But when Mabel Grammer, an African-American journalist, became aware of the orphaned children, she stepped in.  Read more about this extraordinary woman HERE and HERE.  The documentary, Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story is available for use to libraries, schools and museums. For more information about the film, visit http://brownbabiesfilm.com/.

Who Created Black History Month?

Meet the man who created Black History Month

By CNN Staff    Updated 12:34 PM ET, Fri February 1, 2019

February marks Black History Month, a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in shaping US history. But how did this celebration come to be — and why does it happen in February? Carter G. Woodson, considered a pioneer in the study of African-American history, is given much of the credit for Black History Month. Get more information HERE

Henrietta Lacks

Cancer cells were taken from her body without permission. They led to a medical revolution.

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BY ADEEL HASSAN

She never traveled farther than Baltimore from her family home in southern Virginia, but her cells have traveled around the earth and far above it, too.

She was buried in an unmarked grave, but the trillions of those cells — generated from a tiny patch taken from her body — are labeled in university labs and biotechnology companies across the world, where they continue to spawn and to play the critical role in a 67-year parade of medical advances.  READ MORE

Mary Eliza Mahoney, 1st African American licensed nurse

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by BREANNA EDWARDS via essence.com

If you are a medical professional (particularly a Black medical professional), or just an overall Black history buff, you likely have heard of Mary Eliza Mahoney.  For those who have been denied tales of Mahoney’s excellence, she is heralded as the first African-American licensed nurse. Mahoney worked in nursing for almost 40 years before retiring, but during her time as a medical professional, as well as long after, she was a champion of women’s rights. A trailblazer, not just as a Black person, but also as a woman. Read more HERE.

National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Our visit to the National Memorial, a memorial to the named and unnamed victims of lynching, began in the rain. We toured the grounds and looked at row upon row of rectangular steel blocks inscribed with the names of victims in each county in which a lynching took place.

Steel blocks with names of lynching victims

We walked a winding path through the field of blocks, suspended in the air and clearly marked with the names of men women and children lynched. Some counties had 1 victim, others with a dozen or so. Counties ranged from the deep southern states of Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Arkansas to the Midwest.

Hartford Black History

Citizens of Color, 1863-1890:
Black society after the Civil War

In the nineteenth century, there were five Black churches. That number was probably due more to the variety of beliefs than a reflection of the number of Black neighborhoods in Hartford.

According to the Hartford Black History Project, “Although the Front Street Black Neighborhood was not the oldest, its Talcott Street Congregational Church (the “African Church”) built in 1823 is the first Black Church in the city. The Black population in Hartford until then relied on the white churches if they went to church at all. One suspects that the Talcott Street Church probably arose as a result of the formation of a sense of Black community in Hartford, for it was not only associated with the riot of 1835, but later with the abolitionist movement in the Black community. So, while the Park River Black Neighborhood was probably older, it was perhaps socially less viable than the Front Street Black Neighborhood that arose near all the shipping activity along the Connecticut River.”

A.M.E. Zion Church

The other primary “African” church in Hartford was the American Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (African), which was established in 1836 at 269 Pearl Street to serve the needs of the nearby Park River Black Neighborhood. In 1857 the church was rebuilt at 91 Pearl Street. The building shown in this lithograph from Geer’s Hartford Directory (Connecticut Historical Society Library) is identified as the new church, but on architectural grounds it seems more likely to be the original building of 1836. It was built for $6000 and could seat 445 people. Although it might seem modest today, it was at the time among the City’s major constructions.

[AME Zion Church (1857)

Here in fact is the new A.M.E. Zion church, but in the Italianate style one might expect for 1857. It stood at the southwest corner of Pearl and South Ann Street, right at the northern edge of the old Park River Black Community. At the left of the photo we look south down Ann Street, which ended a block away at the Park River. So we would be looking right into Hartford’s oldest Black community, except that by the time this picture was taken in June 1898, the entire neighborhood had been displaced and the church was being relocated to North Main Street. The building seen to the right of the church was the fire department which now occupies the land on which stood the church.

We associate the Baptist religion with the wave of southern migration, and indeed, Shiloh Baptist (not at its present location) was established in 1889. Thanks to the first wave of migration, it became the largest Black Church in Harford and prospered around the time of World War I. The Union Baptist Church, was built on Mather Street a little earlier in 1871. Further investigation might show that while the target of the first wave of southern migration was the Windsor Street Neighborhood, it grew to include the early settlement near Mather Street and what had been called “Nigger Lane.” There was also built on Mather Street St. Monica’s Episcopal Church in 1912. The absence of an earlier church in the area might be because folk went to the Talcott Street Church, which was closer.

Holdridge Primus The Primus family can be traced back to a Black freeman, simply named Primus, who was servant and apprentice of a Dr. Wolcott in the mid-18th century East Windsor area. He went on to become a doctor himself. One of his immediate descendents was the sailor, Ham Primus, whose service was so outstanding he gained a status rare for Blacks: American citizenship. He married Temperance Asher, and their children were an important part of Hartford’s early Black community. Holdridge Primus was one of their children. This is a photo of him from the article, “The Colored People Who Live in Hartford,” in the Hartford Courant of 24 October 1915.
Holdridge was employed as a clerk at Humphrey and Syms, which sold sugar, coffee and tea, during much of his life and eventually became a silent partner. Here he can be seen standing in the light snow in about 1860 in front of the store (Connecticut Historican Society Museum). He married Mehitable Jacobs, a dressmaker and a founder of the Talcott Street Congregational Church. By 1850 the couple had acquired a home at 20 Wadsworth Street, and were considered wealthy for a Black family.   Among their four children was Rebecca, who was a Maryland schoolteacher with the Freedman’s Bureau, where she sought to advance the condition of Black people. When she returned to Hartford she married a Charles Thomas and fell into obscurity, but continued to teach at the Talcott Street Church school.

Read more history of Hartford’s African American community and Faith Church HERE.