Updated: May 21
Tomorrow, Monday, February 28, 2022, we are coming to the close of another Black History Month; and what a historic one it has turned out to be. This Black History Month 2022 we have witnessed justice being served when three ex-Minneapolis policemen present at the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, were found guilty of "deliberate indifference to [Mr. Floyd's] serious medical needs" during the attempted arrest in May 2020. The three men convicted in Ahmaud Arbery's February 2020 murder were also found guilty of federal hate crimes. This month also caused for celebration; it is closing with President Joe Biden nominating Ketanji Brown as his Supreme Court nominee. If she is confirmed, she will be the first Black woman to serve on the nation's highest court.
This month, we at Envision Coaching & Consulting LLC set out with the mission to inspire our readers with motivational quotes that not only motivate and invigorate the spirit while reignited interest in histories long forgotten. Below we are closing with seven more history making individuals who lived, loved, and triumphed through the complexities and struggles of existing while Black.
As always, we appreciate your readership.
Dick Gregory (October 12, 1932 - August 19, 2017)
Born Richard Claxton Gregory, Dick Gregory was an American comedian and civil rights activist. He ran track in school, even going on to win the state cross country championship in 1950. He attended Southern Illinois University on a track scholarship and joined Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He was drafted into the United States Army, thus interrupting his college attendance. It was in the army that he got his start with comedy. After the army, he returned to college but ultimately dropped out to pursue his comedy career. His comedy routine often included current events, particularly racial issues.
He also delved into politics-running for mayor of Chicago in 1967 and for President of the United States of America in 1968 as a write in candidate. He was also active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and also became vegetarian and fasting activist-seeing civil rights and animal rights as linked. He became seen as a nutrition guru, advocating for diets consisting of raw fruits and vegetables. He developed a beverage called the Bahamian Diet Nutrition Drink. In 2004 Gregory was listed as number eighty-one on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time; has also his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
"A man without knowledge of himself and his heritage is like a tree without roots." ~Dick Gregory
Bass Reeves (July 1838 - January 12, 1910)
Bass Reeves was born into slavery in Crawford County, Arkansas. He and his family were enslaved by Arkansas state legislator William Steele Reeves. At some point during the Civil War, Reeves escaped slavery. He fled to Indian Territory where he lived among the Cherokee, Creeks and Seminoles learning their languages. When slavery was abolished in 1865, he moved as a freedman to Arkansas. James F. Fagan, a US Marshal recruited Reeves as a deputy, making Reeves the first Black deputy to serve west of the Mississippi River. He was a marksman with a rifle and revolver and developed superior detective skills. He brought in some of the most dangerous criminals of his time yet he was never wounded despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions. By the time he retired in 1907, Reeves had on his record over 3,000 arrests of felons, killed 14 outlaws to defend his life, and even had to arrest his own son for murdering his own wife. In 1992, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Did you know?
Any time you see the Lone Ranger portrayed in movies he is always portrayed by a white actor. However, historian Art Burton has said that Reeves was the inspiration for the character of the Lone Ranger. His evidence? The number of people Reeves arrested without taking any serious injury, coupled with the fact that many of these arrested were incarcerated in the Detroit House of Correction, the same city where the Lone Ranger radio plays were broadcast on WXYZ.
"Maybe the law ain't perfect, but it's the only one we got, and without it, we got nuthin'." ~Bass Reeves
Steve Biko (December 18, 1946 - September 12, 1977)
Bantu Stephen Biko was born in King William's Town, South Africa. After he graduated from St. Francis in 1966, Biko began attending the University of Natal Medical School, where he became active with the National Union of South African Students, a multiracial organization advocating for the improvement of Black citizens' rights. In 1968, he co-founded the South African Students' Organization, an all-Black student organization focusing on the resistance of apartheid, which subsequently spearheaded the newly started Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. Biko believed that black people needed to rid themselves of any sense of racial inferiority, an idea he expressed by popularizing the slogan "black is beautiful." After his expulsion from the University of Natal due to his political activism in 1972, he went on to co-found The Black People's Convention. In 1973, Biko was banned by the apartheid regime; he was forbidden to write or speak publicly, to talk with media representatives, or to speak to more than one person at a time.
During the late 1970s, Biko was arrested four times and detained for several months at a time. However, in August 1977, he was arrested and held in Port Elizabeth. The following month, on September 11, Biko was found naked and shackled several miles away, in Pretoria, South Africa. He died the following day, on September 12, 1977, from a brain hemorrhage—later determined to be the result of injuries he had sustained while in police custody. The news of Biko's death caused national outrage and protests, and he became regarded as an international anti-apartheid icon in South Africa. The police officers who had held Biko were questioned thereafter, but none were charged with any official crimes. It would be two full decades after Biko's death, that five former officers confessed to killing Biko.
"I'm going to be me as I am, and you can beat me or jail me or even kill me, but I'm not going to be what you want me to be." ~Steve Biko
Huey P. Newton (February 17, 1942 – August 22, 1989)
Born Huey Percy Newton, Dr. Newton was an African American revolutionary and notable cofounder of the Black Panther Party. He crafted the Party's ten-point manifesto with Bobby Seale in 1966. He graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1959, earned his Associate of Arts degree in 1966 from Merritt College, studied at San Francisco Law School and the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He joined Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. He completed a PhD in social philosophy at Santa Cruz in 1980.
During his time at Merritt College, he met Bobby Seale, and the two co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP) in October 1966. Newton adopted what he termed "revolutionary humanism." The Black Panther Party founded over 60 community support programs/survival programs including food banks, medical clinics, sickle cell anemia tests, prison busing for families of inmates, legal advice seminars, clothing banks, housing cooperatives, and their own ambulance service. The most famous of these programs was the Free Breakfast for Children program which fed thousands of impoverished children daily during the early 1970s.
Dr. Huey P. Newton's legacy is complicated and a story not free of controversy. In 1967, he was involved in a shootout which led to the death of a police officer John Frey and injuries to himself and another police officer. In 1968, he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for Frey's death and sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison. However, in May 1970, the conviction was reversed and after two subsequent trials ended in hung juries, the charges were dropped. Later in life he was also accused of murdering Kathleen Smith and Betty Patter, although he was never convicted for either death.
August 22, 1989, Dr. Newton was murdered in front of 1456 9th Street, near the corner of Center Street in the Lower Bottoms section of West Oakland, California. During his memorial, his achievements in civil rights and work on behalf of Black children and families with the Black Panther Party were celebrated.
"The task is to transform society; only the people can do that-not heroes, not celebrities, not stars." ~Dr. Huey P. Newton
Sadie T. M. Alexander (January 2, 1898 – November 1, 1989)
Sadie T. M. Alexander was a Black professional and civil rights activist. In 1919, she was elected the first national President of Delta Sigma Theta. In 1921, Sadie Tanner Mossell became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in economics in the United States. In 1927, she became the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School thus becoming the first Black woman to practice law in Pennsylvania. In 1946 she was appointed to the President's Committee on Civil Rights established by Harry Truman.
Sadie T. M. Alexander's focus was frequently on racial and economic justice for the working class, especially for working men and women. However, unlike Dubois or Randolph, she never embraced socialism. She generally supported the Republican Party; she was suspicious of the control of conservative southern whites over the Democratic Party. She was unafraid to criticize the Republican political appointments and what she saw as uneven benefits of the New Deal which did not do enough to help blacks who were most hurt by the great depression. In 1980, Alexander received the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Pennsylvania's Law School. She retired in 1982 from practicing law.
"Don't let anything stop you. There will be times when you'll be disappointed, but you can't stop." ~Sadie T. M. Alexander
Shonda Rhimes (b. January 13, 1970)
Shonda Lynn Rhimes is an American television producer, screenwriter, and author. She received her BA from Dartmouth College and an MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television. She is best known as the showrunner—creator, head writer, and executive producer—of the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, its spin-off Private Practice, and the political thriller series Scandal. Rhimes is also the CEO of Shondaland, the global media company that encompasses brand partnerships, merchandise, theatrical and streaming content and a digital division. In 2017, Rhimes shifted the entertainment industry’s business model when she left network television and brokered an unprecedented agreement for Shondaland to produce streaming content exclusively in partnership with Netflix.
Rhimes is the first woman to create three television dramas that have achieved the 100 episode milestone-Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal. Shonda Rhimes is the recipient of numerous awards including the Peabody Award, career achievement awards from the Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, and Director’s Guild of America. She's received several AFI Awards for Television Program of the Year and NAACP Image Awards, champion awards from Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD and The Feminist Majority as well as the Harvard Medal. She has twice been included on the TIME 100 list of most influential people as well as Fortune Magazines, “50 Most Powerful Women in Business.” In 2018, Rhimes was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Ms. Rhimes story is still being written in the annals of history.
"Dreams are lovely but they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It's hard work that makes things happen. It's hard work that creates change." ~Shonda Rhimes
Yvette Clarke (b. November 21, 1964)
Yvette Diane Clarke is an American politician serving since 2013 as the U.S. representative for New York's 9th congressional district. She is a member of the Democratic Party, she first entered Congress in 2007, representing New York's 11th congressional district until redistricting. Clarke represented the 40th district in Brooklyn on the New York City Council from 2002 to 2006.
Both of her parents were immigrants from Jamaica. Clarke made history in 2001 when she succeeded her mother, former City Council member Una S. T. Clarke, who held the seat for the 40th district of the New York City Council for more than a decade, making theirs the first mother-to-daughter succession in city council.
Congresswoman Clarke believes smart technology will make communities more sustainable, resilient, and livable and works hard to ensure communities of color are not left behind while these technological advancements are made. She formed the Multicultural Media Caucus to address diversity and inclusion issues in the media, telecom, and tech industries. She is one of the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, which develops programs to support the aspirations of Black women of all ages. Congresswoman Clarke is also the co-chair of the Medicare for All Caucus, where she is fighting for the right to universal health care. Congresswoman Clarke's story is still being written in the annals of history.
"We must never forget that Black History is American History. The achievement of African Americans have contributed to our nation's greatness." ~Yvette Clarke
We are so glad that you, dear readers, have stuck around with us to the finale of our Black History Motivationals series. Which was your favorite quote for this week? Please feel free to share in the comments below.
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