Black History, Reading

Margaret E. Morton – The Woman Who Would Not Step Aside

In these days of analyzing confusing elections and examining consequential figures in our past, people who cleared a path for our future stand out.  Margaret E. Morton had an extraordinary career in Connecticut politics that was sparked by her role in a Bridgeport neighborhood issue.  In the early 1970’s, she and other East End residents had asked the city to install a stop sign at the site of frequent accidents. Their request was rejected by the city, symptomatic of a growing chasm between white city leaders and East End’s black residents.The East Enders struck back, organizing to support black candidates for elected office. Margaret Morton ran as the Democratic Party’s candidate for a vacant seat in the state House of Representatives in 1972.  Her victory catapulted Morton into Connecticut history: she was the first African-American woman elected to the General Assembly.

In 1980, Margaret Morton decided to run for the state Senate after the incumbent, a well-known attorney, told her he wouldn’t seek re-election.  Margaret Morton later learned that the attorney intended to run and the Democratic Party machinery wanted her to withdraw her name for consideration.  “I was told, not asked, to step aside,” she said.

In her interpersonal dealings, Margaret Morton’s soft-spoken and gracious demeanor was in stark contrast to the wise-cracking, cigar chomping political operatives in Bridgeport.  Margaret Morton’s rivals may have underestimated her tenacity and organizational skills.  Among her supporters: newly deputized registrars of voters that enlisted people to register as voters affiliated with the Democratic Party.[1]  The voter registration drive paid off.  Margaret Morton beat the attorney by eight votes in a primary election, clearing the way for her to become the first African-American woman in Connecticut’s state Senate.  She subsequently rose to the rank of Deputy President Pro Tempore, a leadership role she held until she retired from the General Assembly in 1992.[2]

During her tenure, Margaret Morton championed causes to help impoverished people in the state’s urban areas.  She supported the adoption of a state income tax, for instance.  “People continue to talk about cutting spending. When you cut spending in the government you’re cutting people, which in return are services to people,” she said.[3]   In the Assembly, Morton chaired the committee on Human Rights and Opportunities and rose to the rank of Assistant House Majority Leader.  She oversaw the appointment of two African American judges during her years in office.  In total, she served four terms as a State Representative and six terms as a State Senator.

Margaret Morton was born in 1924 in Pocahontas, Virginia, to Aaron and Leona (Hurt) Woods.  She was raised in Bluefield, West Virginia and graduated from high school summa cum laude. [4]  After marrying James Morton in 1941, the couple moved to Bridgeport, then a vibrant manufacturing center.

The Mortons, who had four children, established and ran Morton’s Mortuary funeral home in Bridgeport’s East End.  All throughout her political career, she never forgot her roots.   Upon being named Deputy President Pro Tempore,  Morton made the following Statement:  My grandfather was the child of the master in the slaves and he yearned for education, he longed for education.  He went as far as he could go in school and he taught.  One thing he instilled in his children and he sent them all to normal school in those days which allowed them to become whatever they wanted to become and some were teachers and others entered into other professions. But I think that man is happy today, looking down to see his granddaughter in this position.  And my mother is happy and all of you know my mother and you know all about my mother.  I know she is happy today.  And you know what else?  I think she believes all the nice things these nice guys said about me.  Because she really believed in me. [5] Margaret Morton died March 10, 2012.  Fulfilling her grandfather’s dream, Margaret Morton had become a role model for future generations.  On the day that she would have turned 88, Bridgeport City Hall’s annex was renamed in her honor at a ceremony befitting a trailblazer.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1984/06/24/flip-side-of-voter-drives-can-be-polarized-parties/bb514a93-8dbc-4856-8429-5e307f06ebff/

[2] http://www.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/registermanual/2012dedicationweb.pdf

 [3] “Weicker Gets His Income Tax, But Citizens Fight It,” The Christian Science Monitor,  08 Oct 1991.

[4] http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ctpost/obituary.aspx?pid=156477743

[5] Senate Session Transcript 02/14/90 [http://search.cga.state.ct.us/dtsearch.asp?cmd=getdoc&DocId=7395&Index=I%3A%5Czindex%5C1990&HitCount=0&hits=&hc=0&req=&Item=425]

 

Source:  By Mary Witkowski – Bridgeport Public Library

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Black History, Reading

Watch Night 2017

watchnight

The Black Community

On This date in 1862 the first Watch Night Services were celebrated in Back communities in America.

The Watch Night service can be traced back to gatherings also known as “Freedom’s Eve.” On that night, Black slaves and free blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law.  At the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863; all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as many people fell to their knees and thanked God.

Huffington Post

“Watch Night Service” in the Black Church in America symbolizes the historical fact, that on the night of Dec. 31, 1862 during the Civil War, free and freed blacks living in the Union States gathered at churches and/or other safe spaces, while thousands of their enslaved black sisters and brothers stood, knelt and prayed on plantations and other slave holding sites in America — waiting for President Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation into law. The Emancipation Proclamation legally recognized that the Civil War was fought for slavery.

Methodist

There’s another explanation of the Watch Night Service.  It is said that the slaves in the Old Suth would gather in desperation on the last night of the year to await news regarding which of them would be sold on New Year’s Day to satisfy their masters’ outstanding debts.  Which is unlikely considering they would have no reason to wait for January 1st to sell slaves to pay off creditors.

The practice may have begun with the Moravians, a small Christian denomination in Europe held in 1733 on the estate of a German count.

On this day in 1770, America’s first-known “watch-night” service was held at St. George’s Methodist Church in Philadelphia.

Watch Night services are a tradition started by John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church. In all honesty, he borrowed the tradition from Moravian Christians that used them as a late-night vigil for the faithful; however, as time marched on, John molded this into a New Year’s Eve service where Christians were invited to review the year, confess to sins and pray for the year ahead. These services remain in Methodist worship manuals as “Covenant Renewal Services.

What are you watching for on this 2016 – 2017 Watchnight?

Source:

http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/first-watch-night-service-occurs

http://blackchristiannews.com/2016/12/john-wesley-the-methodist-church-and-the-history-of-the-first-watch-night-service/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-joan-r-harrell/watch-night-service-in-the-black-church-in-america-150-years-_b_2389965.html

From Christmas to Twelfth Night in Southern Illinois by John J. Dunphy

Black History

Black History – What You May Not Know About the Women

avant-nicoleNicole Avant served a two-year term as U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas from 2009 to 2011. President Barack Obama nominated her for the position in 2009 and after U.S. Senate confirmation, Hilary Clinton, then Secretary of State, swore her into office on September 9, 2009.  Avant arrived in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, and presented her credentials on October 22, 2009.

Avant, born on March 6, 1968, is the daughter of Clarence Avant and Jacqueline Avant, both veterans of the music recording industry.  She graduated from California State University Northridge with a B.A. in communications in 1984.  Soon afterwards she joined A&M Records in Los Angeles and worked in its promotions division until 1998 when she was named Vice President of Interior Music Publishing. Avant was also an actress who had appeared in television shows such as JAG, Moesha and the Bernie Mac Show.

 Source: Black Past
________________________________________________________________

As I began to think about Black History for 2017 I started my search in usual fashion – entering “Black History” into the search box and clicking and pointing and deleting those unnecessary automatic downloads. It occurred to me as it has a hundred times before, I want something a little more than the same ol’ Bus Story, the Underground Train, The Book Writer, and the Little Rock Story… you know the “Safe” Black Women that educators in elementary and unfortunately secondary school don’t mind the over abundance of retelling those great stories about some incredible Black Women.

 

angela-davis

This time around I’m hungry for something more, something a lot more shocking and mind opening to idea of really gauging how far we have not come in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Ride with me on my quest to find those little unknown stories about Black African-American Women and the stories they died to tell…

During the 1820’s Susan Jackson of Savannah, Georgia, ran a popular pastry shop in Reynolds Ward, the leading business section of the city, and during the next decade Eliza Seymour Lee owned a popular hotel in Charleston, South Carolina.

Source: Made available courtesy of The Journal of Women’s Studies , Inc.:

Did You Know

March 3, 1820 – Missouri Compromise was accepted by Congress. Missouri is admitted as a slave state in exchange for Maine’s admittance as a free state on condition that slavery be abolished in the rest of the Louisiana Purchase.

 

butStay Tuned…

Black History, Education, Politics

Teacher Of The Year Winners Are Crossing A Line To Denounce Trump (VIDEO)

These teachers have banded together to release an open letter to Donald Trump. They have denounced his hateful rhetoric and declared why he would make a horrible president.

Source: Teacher Of The Year Winners Are Crossing A Line To Denounce Trump (VIDEO)

Meanwhile – Three social studies teachers at a D.C. public charter school were fired for teaching black history lessons beyond what’s in the curriculum, students’ parents told News4.

Source: Parents: Howard Middle School Teachers Fired for Teaching Black History

Back in 2012 -When Tamar Sukhiashvili, a teacher from the village Kakabeti, was told she was fired, it came as a surprise. The previous day, the school’s director had complimented her on her qualified work.

The reason for her firing turned out to be that she held views supportive of the opposition.

Source: Teachers in Georgia Fired For Political Beliefs

Substitutes feel the wrath too:  A substitute teacher in Michigan said she was fired Friday because she said the word “vagina” when discussing historical interpretations of art.

Source: Substitute teacher fired for saying a word officials called inappropriate

Lastly, a Substitute transferred to another state work because the school failed to alert the Substitute that  students were allowed to carry needles on their person for diabetes in Charlotte, NC.

Source:  Unknown

Student Rules of Conduct – CMS Parent – Student Handbook 2015 – 2016 #Charlotte, NC Governing Medication –

  1. Rule 3 MEDICATION (Responsibility/Honesty) UB: Inappropriate Item on School Property: All medication will be provided to the school nurse and properly stored. Without proper medical authorization, students shall not transport prescription or non-prescription medication to or from school or have medication in their possession at any time without meeting conditions prescribed by the Board of Education. Students are not permitted to sell or distribute non-prescription medication. Distribution and/or consumption of such unauthorized medication may be a violation of Rule 28.

 

Education, Purpose, Spirituality, The Black Woman

That Winch Over There…

African American Slave Baby

Have you ever been called a “winch” or a “hoe”? I have often heard Black women refer to each other as winches, hoes, and bitches.  The terms sound much like a term of endearment, a term which defines their friendship as very close.  Black women can, have and will refer to their friends as bitches, but that term can become a “fighting” word when used by the “wrong” person, i.e. someone they dislike.  I would think that in the 21st century we would no longer have a need to refer to each other using such derogatory adjectives.
The children in school call each other the same names and does anyone know what a “motherfucker” really is or where the term is derived from?  Well, I looked it up and it’s defined as according to Dictionary.com , “a mean, despicable, or vicious person…” If that be true, then our young men and women are apparently using the term incorrectly.  From what I have heard and seen the term is occasionally used to describe a person that has performed some type of farce or  something negative.  This term is used by both male and females towards each other.   Hmm, I wonder of they knew the definition –  would they use the term so effortlessly?
While looking through the history of North Carolina’s school system I came across a document titled, “The Beginnings of Public Education in North Carolina; A Documentary History, 1790-1840. Volume I:” and I was shocked to read the following excerpt:
“But the present-day idea that it is the duty of the State to provide education for all, regardless of race or financial condition, is nowhere clearly stated in these documents, except in the memorial of the Friends, sent to the legislature of 1834, wherein they protest against certain repressive slavery laws such as prohibiting slaves and free negroes from preaching and making it a crime to teach a slave to read and to write. This memorial boldly declared “it unnecessary to urge the incontrovertible arguments that might be advanced from reason and Religion, to prove that it is the indispensable duty of the Legislature of a Christian people to enact laws and establish regulations for the literary instruction of every class, within its limits; and that such provisions should be consistent with sound policy, tend to strengthen the hands of Government and promote the peace and harmony of the community at large.” This fine educational statement, far in advance of the times, fell on deaf ears. Some of our so-called wisest men of that day continued to talk about “the education of the poor” and to introduce measures for the education of that class and to propose still harsher measures governing slaves. But Jeremiah Hubbard, or whoever wrote this Friends’ memorial, was the wisest educational prophet of the period, in that he saw clearly the necessity of educating all classes of the people and the futility of making laws to repress the natural instinct of all human beings for more knowledge.”
Meanwhile back at the ranch…
Stumbling upon this next piece (See Below) that speaks to the winch which was the catalyst for this story along with a news story that ran a few days ago here in Charlotte, NC.  The local news aired a story about a group of female students who allegedly beat up an Administrator in the school.  The video showed several girls beating on the woman at Harding University High School.  My emotions remained calm – I thought to myself, “If those young ladies only knew the depth of who they were and the value they could leave behind as beautiful black intelligent woman who should want to make a choice to make a difference in their lives and lives of their “increase” not only would they not engage in such behavior, but they would have such a humble sense of pride in their walk, talk, and overall characteristic behavior.
“Will of Alexander Dickson,
(June 19, 1813.)
IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN, I, Alexander Dickson, of the county of Duplin, being infirm in Body, but of sound and perfect memory, blessed be God, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following, that is to say,
All landed property to be sold.
IMPRIMIS. My will is, and so I direct, that all my just debts and personal expenses be first paid out of my estate by my Executors hereinafter named. It is my will and desire that all my Lands be sold at Public Auction by my executors, for the highest price that may be got, in the following manner, that is to say, the Manor Plantation containing 300 acres bought of Joseph Dickson, deceased, The 213 acres adjoining the same bought of Austin Beasley, and 4 1-2 acres adjoining that, where the dead tree is, bought of Thomas McGee and 86 acres between his own and Joseph Brays lines, bought of said Bray, containing in the whole 716 1-4 acres, which said parcels of land, as above described, is to be sold all in one lott. Also 150 acres on the West side of Maxwell Swamp on the head of Jimmie’s Branch bought of Abner Huggins, that to be sold in one lott. Also 50 acres on the South side of the head of . . . . . . . . Branch, bought of Robert Dickson, deceased. Also 50 acres adjoining the same, at the East end and joining John McGowan’s line, Patented by myself, the two above mentioned pieces to be sold in one lott. Also 300 acres, or thereabouts, below the cross roads and on both sides of the main road, adjoining and between Gabriel H. James, Robert Dickson and John Hunter’s lines to be sold in one lott, Patented by myself.
Bequest to John Dickson.
Item–I leave and bequeath to my nephew John Dickson (son of my Brother Robert Dickson, of Cumberland County, Blockers Ferry) my young Negro Winch named Amy and her increase to him and his heirs forever.”
Lastly, those of us who know that we know that we know, must present ourselves holy and acceptable in all that we do and with all that we come in contact with.  Sure we may make mistakes and find ourselves overwhelmed with emotion when tragedy strikes, but we must continue to press towards the mark of the high calling.  We all have a calling that one way or another we must engage in. We must present ourselves as a mother and father to our children, as wives and husbands to our spouses,  as teacher and educator to our students, as guardian to the unattended, and as visionaries to the lost.
We must set the standard in all that we do to foster the “inside emotional” growth of our young adults.   It would behoove us to no longer answer to names which are not imprinted on our birth certificates…
MsConcerned