Black History Lesson

Captain Paul Cuffe

Paul CuffeePaul Cuffee (January 17, 1759 – September 9, 1817) was a Quaker businessman, patriot, and abolitionist of Aquinnah Wampanoag and African Ashanti descent. Cuffee built a lucrative shipping empire. He established the first school in Westport, Massachusetts to be racially integrated.

A devout Christian, Cuffee often preached and spoke at the Sunday services at the multi-racial Society of Friends meeting house in Westport.[2] In 1813, he donated most of the money to build a new meeting house. He became involved in the British effort to resettle former slaves in the colony of Sierra Leone; many had been

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transported from the US to Nova Scotia after the American Revolution after gaining freedom with the British. Cuffee helped to establish The Friendly Society of Sierra Leone, to gather financial support for the colony.

François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture

Toussaint-Louverture (May 20, 1743 – April 7, 1803) was the leader of the Haitian Revolution. Toussaint was Toussaint Louvertureborn in Saint-Domingue, the French colony that would become Haiti. Renowned for his military genius and political acumen, he led the first successful attempt by a slave population in the Americas and the world to win independence from European colonialism.

He defeated the armies of three imperial powers: Spain, France, and Great Britain. The success of the Haitian Revolution had enduring effects on shaking the institution of slavery throughout the New World. The groundwork laid by Toussaint prepared Haiti to become the second independent republic in the Americas.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr.

Marcus GarveyMarcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., ONH (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940)[1] was a Jamaican publisher, journalist, entrepreneur and orator who was a staunch proponent of the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism movements, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL).[2] Prior to the twentieth century, leaders such as Prince Hall, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Henry Highland Garnet advocated the involvement of the African diaspora in African affairs. Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement and economic empowerment focusing on Africa known as Garveyism.[2] Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, ranging from the Nation of Islam to the Rastafari movement (which proclaims Garvey as a prophet). The intent of the movement was for those of African ancestry to "redeem" Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave it. His essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in the Negro World titled “African Fundamentalism” where he wrote: "Our union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… let us hold together under all climes and in every country…[3]"

Stephen Biko

Steve BikoStephen Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977)[1] was a noted anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. A student leader, he later founded the Black Consciousness Movement which would empower and mobilize much of the urban black population. Since his death in police custody, he has been called a martyr of the anti-apartheid movement.[4] While living, his writings and activism attempted to empower black people, and he was famous for his slogan "black is beautiful", which he described as meaning: "man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being".[5] Despite friction between the African National Congress and Biko throughout the 1970s[Need quotation to verify] the ANC has included Biko in the pantheon of struggle heroes, going as far as using his image for campaign posters in South Africa's first non-racial elections in 1994.[6]

Elijah J. McCoy

Elijah McCoyElijah J. McCoy (May 2, 1844[2] – October 10, 1929) was an African Canadian inventor and engineer, known for his 57 U.S. patents.

Professional Life
After studying engineering in Edinburgh, Scotland, and returning home to Canada, he found work as a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad. In a home-based machine shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, McCoy invented an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives and boats. For this he obtained his first patent, "Improvement in Lubricators for Steam-Engines" (U.S. Patent 129,843), on July 12, 1872.

Similar automatic oilers had been patented previously; one is the displacement lubricator which had already attained widespread use and whose technological descendants continued to be widely used into the 20th century. Lubricators were a boon for railroads, allowing trains to run faster and more profitably with less need to stop for lubrication and maintenance.[3]

McCoy continued to refine his devices and design new ones, and after the turn of the century attracted notice among his African-American contemporaries. Booker T. Washington in Story of the Negro (1909) recognized him as having produced more patents than any other black inventor up to that time. This output ultimately propelled McCoy to a heroic status in the African American community which has persisted to this day. He continued to invent until late in life, obtaining as many as 57 patents mostly related to lubrication, but also including a folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Lacking the capital with which to manufacture his lubricators in large numbers, he usually assigned his patent rights to his employers or sold them to investors. Lubricators with the McCoy name were not manufactured until 1920, near the end of his career, when he formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company.[3]

p There is no consensus regarding the importance of McCoy's contribution to the field of lubrication. At one extreme, he is credited in some biographical sketches with revolutionizing the railroad or machine industries with his devices. At the same time, he is scarcely mentioned in the old lubrication literature; for example, his name is absent in E. L. Ahrons' Lubrication of Locomotives (1922) which does refer to several other early pioneers and companies of the field. Origin of the phrase "The real McCoy"

George Washington Carver

George Washington CarverGeorge Washington Carver (January 1864[1][2] – January 5, 1943), was an American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor. The exact day and year of his birth are unknown; he is believed to have been born before slavery was abolished in Missouri in January 1864.[1] Much of Carver's fame is based on his research into and promotion of crops as alternatives to cotton, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes. He wanted poor farmers to grow alternative crops both as a source of their own food and as a source of other products to improve their quality of life. The most popular of his 44 practical bulletins for farmers contained 105 food recipes that used peanuts.[3] He also created or disseminated[clarification needed] about 100 products made from peanuts that were useful for the house and farm, including cosmetics, dyes, paints, plastics, gasoline, and nitroglycerin.

In the Reconstruction South, an agricultural monoculture of cotton depleted the soil, and in the early 20th century the boll weevil destroyed much of the cotton crop. Carver's work on peanuts was intended to provide an alternative crop.

In addition to his work on agricultural extension education for purposes of advocacy of sustainable agriculture and appreciation of plants and nature, Carver's important accomplishments also included improvement of racial relations, mentoring children, poetry, painting, and religion. He served as an example of the importance of hard work, a positive attitude, and a good education. His humility, humanitarianism, good nature, frugality, and rejection of economic materialism also have been admired widely.

One of his most important roles was in undermining, through the fame of his achievements and many talents, the widespread stereotype of the time that the black race was intellectually inferior to the white race. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed him a "Black Leonardo", a reference to the Renaissance Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci.[4] To commemorate his life and inventions, George Washington Carver Recognition Day is celebrated on January 5, the anniversary of Carver's death.

Nathaniel "Nat" Turner

Nat TurnerNathaniel "Nat" Turner (October 2, 1800 – November 11, 1831) was an American slave who led a slave rebellion in Virginia on August 21, 1831 that resulted in 56 white deaths and over 55 black deaths[2], the largest number of fatalities to occur in one uprising prior to the American Civil War in the southern United States. He gathered supporters in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner was convicted, sentenced to death, and executed. In the aftermath, the state executed 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner's slave rebellion. Two hundred blacks were also beaten and killed by white militias and mobs reacting with violence. Across Virginia and other southern states, state legislators passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free blacks, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free blacks, and requiring white ministers to be present at black worship services.

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