For Black History Month, I had to blog about the late Jackie “Moms” Mabley. I couldn’t end Black History Month without talking about her. I grew up listening to her comedy records.
Moms Mabley was a stand up comedian whose comedy roots started in the Chitlin Circuit. Moms Mabley and her stand up acts were in a class of its own. She was sharp, blunt, honest, but she would also have you in tears from laughing so hard.
Born as Loretta Mary Aiken in 1894, Moms Mabley used comedy to deal with her tragic childhood. At the age of 11, she was raped by an elderly Black man and when she was 13, she was raped by a White sheriff. At the urging of her grandmother, Moms Mabley ran away and ended up joining the traveling minstrel show that starred the infamous comedy duo Butterbeans and Susie.
Determined not to allow her painful past to stifle her, Moms Mabley went on to make an incredible name for herself. A name that was echoed and still echoed worldwide. Moms Mabley has often been imitated, but she will never be duplicated. She is the original Queen of Comedy.
If you want a good laugh that will leave you in tears, click here. You can thank me later. 👌🏾.
Rodolphe Desdunes was a poet, civil rights activist, historian and journalist. He was a key player in spearheading the blatant violation of the Separate Car Act. In connection with my previous post, Rodolphe also played a major role in bringing the Plessy v. Ferguson case to Supreme Court.
Born to a Haitian father and Cuban mother, Rodolphe despised the unfair treatment of Black people and other free people of color. Like many others, he was very vocal and was not afraid to speak out against the racial discrimination and segregation that affected Black people and other free people of color.
For as long as he lived, Rodolphe used his voice and penmanship to do as much as he could to change how Black people and other free people of color were treated. Seeing how he was born in 1849, there was not much he could do. To make life easier for himself, he could have hid his racial identity and passed for White, but he chose not to.
If you are an avid reader like myself, check out his book Our People and Our History. It is about fifty prominent Creoles of the 19th century. Rodolphe’s book, published in 1911, has been selected by a number of scholars as a must read because it has been deemed as culturally important.
When I mention the name Homer Plessy, that name doesn’t seem to ring a bell to most people. When I mention the landmark case he was involved in, then his name suddenly rings a bell. What landmarkcase am I referring to?Plessy v. Ferguson.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this case, the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling backed and upheld the practice of racial segregation in regards to the Separate Car Act. Keep reading because the elements of this case is very intriguing.
Homer Plessy, a shoemaker, laborer, clerk and insurance agent was by law an Octoroon. If Homer wanted to, he could have kept his African ancestry hidden and passed for White, but he refused to. Instead of passing, Homer along with other Free People of Color decided to use their racially ambiguous appearance to challenge the Separate Car Act.
Below is a picture of the first African American governor P.B.S. Pinchback, another racially ambiguous man.
Homer, along with the Citizens Committee, decided to violate Louisiana’s separate car law. Homer and the Citizens Committee wanted to show that if you can’t always tell who is White and who is Black, then why should there be laws in place to separate Whites from Blacks? They had a valid point. Keep reading because it’s about to get even more interesting.
When Homer boarded the “Whites Only” train car, he had no problems boarding. When the conductor came to collect his ticket, Homer told him he was 7/8th White and that he refused to sit in the “Blacks Only” car. Needless to say, everyone within that Whites only car immediately became upset. Why? Because they assumed Homer was White. Had he not revealed himself, no one would have ever suspected his racial background.
Homer and the Citizens Committee had hoped to prove their valid point that if you can’t tell who is really Black and who is really White, why create separate laws? They lost their case due to the insurmountable racism and discrimination that existed during their time, but their efforts were not totally in vain.
Ask yourself this: If Homer Plessy were to stand in front of you, would you be able to detect his African ancestry? What about the rest of the racially ambiguous men who were apart of the Citizens Committee? These men were Free People of Color who could have passed for White as well. Do you know who the racially ambiguous man is below?
I’ll give you a hint: he played a major role in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, he too could have passed for White, was often mistaken as White, but he wasn’t White. In fact, he was half Haitian and half Cuban. Drop your answer in the comments if you think you know. 🤔 I will reveal the answer Tuesday evening.
Good morning good people! I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes for Black History Month. These quotes represent what freedom meant for these individuals (during their lifetime) and / or their desire to attain it. These quotes touched my heart and I wanted to share them with you. Enjoy! 🙏🏾 ❤️ 🙏🏾
For Black History Month, I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes by the late poet Lucille Clifton. Lucille’s works of poetry were so good that she almost won a Pulitzer Prizetwice.
Lucille is known for several of her quotes, but there is one quote of hers that stands out from the rest. This particular quote was born out of her frustration with racism and discrimination. Lucille was born in 1937, so one can easily see how frustrating it must have been to live during that time as a Black person.
When you see this quote of hers, you will instantly have a connection to it. Why? Because millions of people use this very same quote to offer encouragement and advice. What quote am I referring to?
When you mention the name Don Cornelius amongst the Black community, there is no need for an introduction. For those who are unfamiliar with Don Cornelius, he was the writer and producer of the nationally syndicated dance and music show Soul Train.
Soul Train was formed because Don noticed in the late 60’s that there weren’t any television shows geared towards Black artists and soul music. With the creation of Soul Train, soul and funk artists could showcase their talents.
Prior to Soul Train, Black people were limited to occasionally performing on TV as guests on White programs. All that changed with Don’s creation of Soul Train. Soon, White audiences started to tune into Soul Train and it’s popularity skyrocketed. Eventually, Soul Train would even showcase White artists whose music was centered around soul, funk and R&B.
I loved watching Soul Train as a child because I loved seeing some of the artists I grew up listening to perform live. And who can forget the infamous Soul Train line and those Ultra Sheen and Afro Sheen commercials? Ultra Sheen and Afro Sheen played a part in Don’sBlack is Beautiful campaign.
Listening to Don talk with his nicely shaped afro and smooth deep voice was a treat. I could listen to him talk all day. One of my favorite parts of Soul Train is when it was ending and Don would say: “I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!”
With all the success and positivity that Soul Train brought to the Black community, it saddens many how Don Cornelius’s life ended. Don suffered with seizures, battled Alzheimer’s and his health steadily declined. He was in constant pain the last 15 years of his life and unfortunately he decided to end his life.
Soul Train will always be one of those shows that is cherished amongst the Black community because it was a show where Black people were portrayed in a good way. It also showed people how to have fun, dance and get down!
If you have never watched an episode of Soul Train, you are really missing out. To see a brief clip of one of my favorite episodes, click here.
The next time you are on YouTube, search for it. It’ll have you smiling and dancing before you know it. 👌🏾
To listen to a brief catchy remix of the theme song, click here.
If you guessed right, give yourself a pat on the back. 🙃
In addition to the accomplishments above, Dr. James Mccune Smith helped start the National Council for ColoredPeople in 1853 and he was the only African American in the world (during his time) to run a successful pharmacy in Scotland.
When you get a moment, read a little bit more about him. His story is both amazing and inspiring.