May. 21, 2019

Two Names Ring Out In Our May 21 Black History Bruce and Grimes

One of the great points of creating a blog on black history is that you always have posts that you can go back to. I've had my blog now for over three years (www.joesmokethoughts.com). During that period of time, I have had over 430,000 unique viewers as well as over 3/4 of a million page views. It takes a great deal of effort to maintain an active black educational blog. For one, not many people will take the time to interact with a blog that comes from one individual person, especially if that person is black. I don't like to feed into misconceptions about our black community but it not like we anxiously await reading written blogs. That is why I can always revisit my blog posts that reflect our magnificent black history.

I have 2 objects for today's lesson. First, I will go back to May 21, 2017. On May 21, 1881, Blanche Bruce was appointed the United States Treasurer. Blanche Bruce, former governor of the state of Louisana; elected to the United States House of Representatives and appointed United States Senator from Louisana as well became the first American of African Descent to have his name stamped on paper money in this country. This was quite an achievement since Blanche Bruce came up from being born the son of a freed slave and white plantation owner to working the Mississippi River as a steamboat gambler to serving in the Union Army to defeat the Confederacy. Blanche Bruce endured many struggles to rise above this country's racial barriers to be in the room with the great historical minds in the 1800s. Men like Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, The Black Capitol Men who served in Congress during Reconstruction and all the other black leaders who fought for our civil and social rights. I will read a speech given by Blanche Bruce in my role as the Blackman Who Reads Aloud.

The second object takes me back now 50 years to the campus of North Carolina A&T, a black college that always seemed to be placed first and foremost in our struggle for civil and social rights. 50 years ago today, Willie Grimes, a student at North Carolina A&T was murdered in cold blood during a student demonstration. Willie Grimes's name will not be placed in the pantheon of people like Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, 4 Little Girls at the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama, or may even Jimmie Lee Jackson but Willie Grimes's life was snuffed out by forces intent on fighting against blacks getting full citizenship rights. Willie Grimes paid the ultimate price for those of us who walked behind him today for the rights we take for granted. Not fully understanding the price others have paid previously. Today, The Blackman Who Reads Aloud reads an article that discussed the events that led to Willie Grimes's murder.