Just in case you did not know, Juneteenth commemorates the day when Union soldiers delivered the news of emancipation to slaves in Galveston, Texas (June 19, 1865). Never mind that the emancipation proclamation was actually signed on January 1, 1863, but it explains a lot about Texas and how a lot of Texans do things. Depending on where people are, it is celebrated with a parade, a picnic a music festival or a similar gathering. Growing up in the South, it was a big thing there but I have attended events as far away as Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.
Last night I was overjoyed to see Google’s doodle of Edmonia Lewis, the first woman of African American and Native American heritage to achieve international recognition as a sculptor. I wrote about her eleven years ago, so I was ecstatic that more people would learn about her. I hope that this also means that more is discovered about her and her groundbreaking body of work.
Now you know I wasn’t going to go the whole February without doing ANYTHING related to Black History Month 🙂 Here are some interesting facts I found at biography.com and other places on the net.
- Tice Davids, a runaway slave from Kentucky, was the inspiration for the first usage of the term “Underground Railroad.” Davids’ owner assumed the slave had drowned when he attempted his swim across the Ohio River. He told the local paper that if Davids had escaped, he must have traveled on “an underground railroad.” Davids, however, did live, giving the Underground Railroad its now-famous name.
- Buffalo Soldiers is the name given to the all-black regiments of the U.S. Army started in 1866. The name was respectfully given to the African–American cavalries during the 1800s by the Native American Kiowa tribe. More than 20 Buffalo Soldiers received the highest Medal of Honor for their service—the highest number of any U.S. military unit. The oldest living Buffalo Soldier, Mark Matthews, died at the age of 111 in 2005. These soldiers received second class treatment and were often given the worst military assignments, but had the lowest desertion rate compared to their white counterparts.
- Cathay Williams was the one and only female Buffalo Soldier, posing as a man named William Cathay to enlist in the 38th infantry in 1866. She served for two years before a doctor discovered that she was a woman, leading to her discharge.Read More »