Negro Marines prepare for action. Breaking a tradition of 167 years, the U.S. Marine Corps started enlisting Negroes on June 1, 1942. The first class of 1,200 Negro volunteers began their training three months later as members of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion at Montford Point, a section of the 200 square mile Marine Base, Camp Lejeune, at New River, North Carolina. Evidence of the lack of racial friction may be seen in the sports program at the camp. On the baseball team Negro enlistees and white non-com officers are teammates. Camp Lejeune has its own baseball league, with the Montford Point team a strong contender for championship honors
On this day, August 24, 1950, Edith Sampson, pictured on the right with Eleanor Roosevelt on the left, was named the first black delegate to the United Nations. Sampson held this position for three years. Sampson’s first degree was in social work and then she went to John Marshall for Law School, graduating with a dean’s commendation. She received her master of law degree from Loyola University and became one of the first African American women to join the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Women Lawyers and to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Sampson later became a judge elected to a Municipal Court.
Lewis Latimer, 1882. Latimer was a son of a former slave, born in 1848. In 1863 he lied about his age so that he could enlist in Union Navy during the Civil War. After the war, he moved to Boston where he learned drafting, and one of his assignments was to draw the technical figures for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patents. In 1885 he was hired by Thomas Edison, and received several patents for improvements in electrical lighting and refrigeration systems. In 1918 he was named an Edison Pioneer, the only African American who was bestowed with that honor.
As the Great War Centenary commemoration begins, here’s a project that aims to ensure Africa’s involvement is no longer forgotten or ignored.
Photo: Senegalese Troops. Illustration from Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the World War, by Emmett J. Scott, Arno Press, 1919. Courtesty Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
On this day in 1973, DJ Kool Herc dropped a new sound that changed history. While DJ’ing at his sister’s back-to-school party, Herc tried something new on the turntable: he extended an instrumental beat (scratching the track) to let people dance longer (break dancing) and began MC’ing (rapping) during the extended breakdancing. And so DJ Kool Herc set hip-hop on its dynamic evolution towards the expressive art form it is today.
These are images and accounts of how people worked, raised families, built communities, worshiped, maintained relationships, expressed themselves and coped with changes and challenges in the past. Most of the subjects are Americans of African descent.
"We have beautiful history, and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world." — Marcus Garvey, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey: Africa for the Africans