Moment in Black History: Unfamiliar Facts

Here are a few facts that are rarely mentioned even during Black History Month. Brush up on this info and pass it on to the babies it could make for a great Black History report

  • The Birth of the Black Church: During the 1750s, the cultural institution that has come to be known as the Black Church began on two plantations -- one in South Carolina and the other in Virginia. Just as it helped slaves find a place of solace back then, this formal structure for black religion and worship remains the most powerful organizing force for African-Americans today.
  • Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion: On August 31st, 1831, American slave Nat Turner launched the slave rebellion, also known as the Southampton Insurrection. Led by Turner, rebel slaves killed approximately 55 white people, the highest number of fatalities caused by slave uprisings in the South. The rebellion was suppressed within a few days, but Turner survived in hiding for several months. He was eventually captured and executed for his actions.
  • The Harpers Ferry Raid: On October 15th, 1859, white abolitionist John Brown took direct action to free slaves by force, leading a raid on Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Although it was initially successful, by the morning of October 18th, the engine house -- later known as John Brown's Fort -- was surrounded by a company of U-S Marines. Brown and several of his co-conspirators were hanged. 
  • The Buffalo Soldiers: The Buffalo Soldiers -- originally members of the U-S 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army -- formed on September 21st, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Congress established the group as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army. On September 6th, 2005, Mark Matthews, the oldest living Buffalo Soldier, died at the age of 111. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna depicted the experiences of the 9th Cavalry regiment, one of six the Buffalo Soldiers belonged to.
  • The Peabody Fund: On January 6th, 1867, the Peabody Fund was established to provide money for construction, endowments, scholarships, teacher salaries and industrial education for newly freed slaves.
  • The Pullman Porters Strike: On May 11th, 1894, three-thousand employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company began a wildcat strike in response to recent reductions in wages, bringing train traffic west of Chicago to a halt. George Pullman started the company, which hired former slaves to work on the railroads as porters on sleeping cars, shortly after the American Civil War.
  • First Black-Owned Insurance Company: On October 20th, 1898, the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company opened -- the first African-American-owned insurance company. Founded by seven men and later stewarded by John Merrick, Dr. Aaron M. Moore and Charles C. Spaulding, the Durham-based firm is the oldest insurance company chartered in the state of North Carolina.
  • Black Women Join the U.S. Navy: On October 19th, 1944, the U.S. Navy began accepting black women. President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that the Navy would accept a "limited number of especially qualified Negro women" to serve "as an integral part of the Women's Reserve."
  • Jonestown: On November 18th, 1978, more than 900 people, most of them African-Americans, died in mass murder and suicide pact in Jonestown, Guyana. Members of the Peoples Temple, an American cult led by evangelist preacher Jim Jones, settled there to establish the "Peoples Temple Agricultural Project," which was considered a modern-day utopia until Jones became increasingly paranoid about U.S. officials looking into claims of members being held against their will. He ordered the mass suicide in which people drank poisoned fruit punch.
  • "Negroes" and "Blacks" Become "African-Americans": In a speech on December 21st, 1988, Reverend Jesse Jackson urged the use of the term "African-American" in place of "black" or "Negro."




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