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The ghost of the 1921 Greenwood riot.
The role of robust, state-sponsored force in America’s racial conflicts, which so shocked the country in Ferguson, Missouri, this month is far from unprecedented. In just one but by far the bloodiest example, the Tulsa race riot of 1921, the local police armed and enlisted white men to fight groups of blacks who had taken up weapons and called in the National Guard to “restore order”—which at the time meant rounding up black men en masse and putting them in detention camps. When a rumor started that men were coming from a nearby Oklahoma town to help defend Greenwood, the besieged black community, Tulsa authorities put out a machine gun crew to stop them.
The result was the largest civil disturbance in American history, claiming 300 lives and destroying more than 1,200 homes in a prosperous community known as Tulsa’s Black Wall Street. Then, for the next 80 years, Tulsans both black and white did their best to ensure that the horror disappeared into history.
Tim Madigan is a writer living in Texas and the author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 and I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers. You can follow him on Twitter at @tsmadigan.
More about the Tulsa Race Riots:
The Tulsa race riot was a large-scale, racially motivated conflict on May 31 and June 1, 1921, in which a group of whites attacked the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It resulted in the Greenwood District, also known as 'the Black Wall Street' and the wealthiest black community in the United States, being burned to the ground.
During the 16 hours of the assault, more than 800 people were admitted to local white hospitals with injuries (the two black hospitals were burned down), and police arrested and detained more than 6,000 black Greenwood residents at three local facilities. An estimated 10,000 blacks were left homeless, and 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire. The official count of the dead by the Oklahoma Department of Vital Statistics was 39, but other estimates of black fatalities vary from 55 to about 300.
The events of the riot were long omitted from local and state histories. "The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place." With the number of survivors declining, in 1996, the state legislature commissioned a report to establish the historical record of the events, and acknowledge the victims and damages to the black community. Released in 2001, the report included the commission's recommendations for some compensatory actions, most of which were not implemented by the state and city governments. The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, economic development of Greenwood, and a memorial park to the victims in Tulsa. The latter was dedicated in 2010.
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Wed Jun 3, 2015, 06:05 AM (8 replies)
William Shemin was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, Oct. 14, 1896. During his teenage years, Shemin played semi-pro baseball. He graduated from the New York State Ranger School in 1914, and went on to work as a forester in Bayonne. After the United States entered World War I, Shemin enlisted in the Army, Oct. 2, 1917. Upon completion of basic training at Camp Greene, North Carolina, he was assigned as a rifleman to Company G, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in France.
During Shemin's service, he participated in the Aisne-Marne Offensive, where he took shrapnel and was wounded by a machine gun bullet that pierced his helmet and was lodged behind his left ear. Following his injuries, Shemin was hospitalized for three months and later received light duty as part of the Army occupation in Germany and Belgium until he completed his tour.
For the injuries he sustained during combat, Shemin received the Purple Heart. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for battlefield valor, Dec. 29, 1919.
Shemin was honorably discharged in August 1919, and went on to get a degree from the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. After graduation, he started a greenhouse and landscaping business in Bronx, New York, where he raised three children. Shemin died in 1973.
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Tue Jun 2, 2015, 10:58 AM (3 replies)
Henry Lincoln Johnson (1897 – July 5, 1929) was a United States Army soldier who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, and the French Croix de Guerre. He was the first American soldier in World War I to receive the Croix de Guerre with star and Gold Palm from the French government. On May 14, 2015, the White House announced that Johnson would be awarded the Medal of Honor, America's highest award for gallantry in combat.
Early life and education
Johnson was born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1897 and moved to Albany, New York when he was in his early teens. He worked as a redcap porter at the Albany Union Station on Broadway.
Johnson enlisted in the United States Army on June 5, 1917, joining the all-black New York National Guard unit, the 15th New York Infantry, which, when mustered into federal service was redesignated the 369th Infantry Regiment, based in Harlem.
The 15th Infantry Regiment joined its Brigade upon arrival in France, but the unit was relegated to Labor Service duties instead of combat training. The 185th Infantry Brigade was assigned on January 5, 1918 to the 93rd Division . The 15th Infantry Regiment, NYARNG was reorganized and designated, March 1, 1918, as the 369th Infantry Regiment, but the unit continued Labor Service duties while it waited the decision as to what to do with it.
Although General John J. Pershing wished to keep the U.S. Army autonomous, he "loaned" the 369th to the 161st Division of the French Army. Supposedly, the unreported and unofficial reason why he was willing to detach the Afro-American / Negro Regiments from American command was that vocal and bigoted white American soldiers objecting and refusing to perform combat duty and to fight alongside the black troops - although they were all American citizens. These regiments suffered considerable harassment by American white soldiers with many dying on American soil at their hands and even denigration by the American Expeditionary Force headquarters which went so far as to release the notorious pamphlet Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops, which "warned" French civilian authorities of the alleged inferior nature and supposed rapist tendencies of African Americans. Johnson arrived in France on New Year’s Day, 1918.
The French Army and people had no such problem and were happy and welcoming to accept the reinforcements. Among the first regiments to arrive in France, and among the most highly decorated when it returned, was the 369th Infantry (formerly the 15th Regiment New York Guard), which later became famous as the "Harlem Hellfighters." The 369th was an all-black regiment under the command of mostly white officers including their commander, Colonel William Hayward. The idea of a black New York National Guard regiment was first put forward by Charles W. Fillmore, a black New Yorker. Governor Charles S. Whitmore, inspired by the brave showing of the black 10th Cavalry in Mexico, eventually authorized the project. He appointed Col. William Hayward to carry out the task of organizing the unit, and Hayward gave Fillmore a commission as a captain in the 15th Infantry Regiment, New York National Guard. The 15th New York Infantry Regiment became the 369th United States Infantry Regiment prior to engaging in combat in France.
The 369th got off to a rocky departure from the United States, making three attempts over a period of months to sail for France before finally getting out of sight of land. Even then, their transport, which had stopped and anchored because of a sudden snow storm which arose before they could get out of the harbor, was struck by another ship due to the poor visibility. The captain of the transport, the Pocahontas, wanted to turn back, much to the dismay of his passengers. The by now angry and impatient members of the 369th, led by Col. Hayward, took a very dim view of any further delay. Since the damage to the ship was well above the water line, the ship's captain admitted that there was no danger of sinking. Col. Hayward then informed the captain that he saw no reason to turn back except cowardice. Col Hayward's men repaired the damage themselves and the ship sailed on, battered but undaunted. According to Col. Hayward’s notes, they “landed at Brest. Right side up” on December 27th 1917. They acquitted themselves well once they finally got to France. However, it was a while before they saw combat.
The French Army assigned Johnson's regiment to Outpost 20 on the edge of the Argonne Forest in the Champagne region of France and equipped them with French rifles and helmets. While on guard duty on May 14, 1918, Private Johnson came under attack by a large German raider party, which may have numbered as many as 24 German soldiers. Johnson displayed uncommon heroism when, using his rifle, a bolo knife, and his bare fists, he repelled the Germans, thereby rescuing a comrade from capture and saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. Johnson suffered 21 wounds during this ordeal. This act of valor earned him the nickname of "Black Death", as a sign of respect for his prowess in combat.
The story of Johnson's exploits first came to national attention in an article by Irvin S. Cobb entitled "Young Black Joe" published in the August 24, 1918 Saturday Evening Post.
Returning home, now Sergeant Johnson participated (with his regiment) in a victory parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City on February 1919. Sergeant Johnson was then paid to take part in a series of lecture tours. He appeared one evening in St. Louis and instead of delivering the expected tale of racial harmony in the trenches, he instead revealed the abuse black soldiers had suffered, such as white soldiers refusing to share trenches with blacks. Soon after this a warrant was issued for Johnson's arrest for wearing his uniform beyond the prescribed date of his commission and paid lecturing engagements dried up.
In spite of his heroism and multiple injuries (including loss of a shinbone and most bones of one foot), the United States government denied Johnson a disability pension throughout his life.
Later life and death
Johnson died in New Lenox, Illinois at the veterans' hospital, on July 5, 1929, penniless, estranged from his wife and family and without official recognition from the U.S. government. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The French government awarded Johnson the Croix de Guerre with special citation and a golden palm. This was France's highest award for bravery and he was the first American to receive it.
Former United States President Theodore Roosevelt called Johnson one of the “five bravest Americans” to serve in World War I.
Interest in obtaining fitting recognition for Johnson grew during the 1970s and 1980s. In November 1991 a monument was erected in Albany, New York's Washington Park in his honor, and a section of Northern Boulevard was renamed Henry Johnson Boulevard.
In June 1996, Johnson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart by President Bill Clinton. In February 2003, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second highest award, was presented to Herman A. Johnson, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, on behalf of his father. John Howe, a Vietnam War veteran who had campaigned tirelessly for recognition for Johnson, and U.S. Army Major General Nathaniel James, President of the 369th Veterans' Association, were present at the ceremony in Albany.
In December 2004 the Postal facility at 747 Broadway was renamed the "United States Postal Service Henry Johnson Annex".
On September 4, 2007 the City of Albany dedicated the Henry Johnson Charter School. Johnson's granddaughter was in attendance.
A 1918 commercial poster honoring Johnson's wartime heroics was the subject of an 2012 episode of the PBS television series History Detectives.
As of December 3, 2014, the national defense bill included a provision, added by Senator Chuck Schumer, to award Johnson the Medal of Honor.
On May 14, 2015, the White House announced that Sgt. Johnson would be receiving the Medal of Honor posthumously, presented by President Barack Obama.
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Tue Jun 2, 2015, 10:47 AM (3 replies)
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Sat May 30, 2015, 02:02 PM (4 replies)
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria meet in the company’s “spiritual home” in Liverpool for the very first time as part of the company’s 175th Anniversary celebrations, May 25, 2015.
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Tue May 26, 2015, 06:59 PM (3 replies)
God damn it. There's the Jimmys. They both rock!
But, for the first time in 33 years, I've got nothing on Dave.
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Thu May 21, 2015, 08:25 PM (18 replies)
What was your first thought when you read that?
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Mon May 18, 2015, 06:09 PM (16 replies)
Margaret Isabel Dunning (June 26, 1910 - May 17, 2015) was an American philanthropist and benefactor of the Plymouth (Michigan) Historical Museum. She was born in Redford, Wayne County, Michigan, United States.
Margaret Dunning, benefactor of the Plymouth Historical Museum, Plymouth, Michigan, stands at the entrance to the "Dunning Parlor"--one of the Museum's exhibits dedicated to Ms. Dunning. The mannequin inside the room is representative of Margaret at age 30.
Dunning is the daughter of Charles Dunning and Elizabeth (Bessie) Rattenbury. Margaret spent her first 13 years on a dairy and potato farm owned by her father, located at the corner of Plymouth and Telegraph roads in Redford Township, Michigan. The 156-acre (63 ha) farm had been purchased by her grandparents, who were original settlers in the area. When Charles died in 1923, Margaret and her mother, Bessie, moved into Redford and later to the village of Plymouth. Bessie purchased property in the village and built the home where Margaret resided. Margaret attended the country school where her father was a student, and was then sent to Dana Hall, a private school in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She returned to Plymouth in 1927 and graduated from Plymouth High School in 1929. She attended the University of Michigan for two years and then studied at the Hamilton Business School in Ypsilanti.
While growing up on the farm, Dunning developed a lifelong love of tinkering with old cars. She restored several old cars that she owned. In 1985, she donated a restored 1906 Ford Model N to the Gilmore Car Museum at Hickory Corners, Michigan. She also donated a 1930 Cadillac convertible to the museum. She still drives one of her cars in the annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit each August.
At the age of 102, feeling a need to complete whatever she begins, she applied to the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) hoping to complete her bachelor's degree in business. Dunning was accepted, and subsequently awarded a 100% tuition scholarship, provided to her by the Fram Group (which also provided her with free car care products for the remainder of her life).
In the early 1930s, Dunning briefly worked making voltage regulators at the Phoenix Mill Ford plant in Plymouth, a Ford Village Industries plant that employed only women. She worked as a bank teller and assistant cashier for the First National Bank of Plymouth between 1935 and 1940. During that time, she was among the victims of a bank robbery. The bank robber, Willard Long, was eventually caught in East St. Louis, Illinois, and extradited back to Michigan. After the First National Bank, she went to work at the Plymouth United Savings Bank for several years.
In 1947, Dunning purchased Goldstein's Apparel on Main Street in Plymouth and renamed the store Dunning's. In 1950, she moved Dunning's Department Store to Forest Avenue in downtown Plymouth, about two blocks away. She sold Dunning's in 1968 to Minerva Chaiken, and the store became known as Minerva-Dunning's.
Volunteer and philanthropic activities
Margaret Dunning in Red Cross uniform, 1943
Dunning's largest impact on the Plymouth community has been in her volunteer and charitable endeavors that began in 1942. From 1942 to 1945, Dunning served as a volunteer in the local American Red Cross motor pool, driving a truck.
In 1947, Margaret and her mother, Bessie, purchased a property and building to house the Plymouth branch of the Wayne County Library System. Because of their generosity, the city renamed the branch the Dunning Branch. Today, the Plymouth District Library, no longer part of the Wayne County System, is housed in the Dunning-Hough Library.
Dunning served on the board of Community Federal Credit Union in Plymouth from 1962 to 1984, and was president of the board for 19 of those years. The assets of the credit union increased from $1 million and one office to $40 million and six offices during Dunning's tenure on the board. The credit union established the Margaret Dunning Scholarship Fund in 1989 in her honor for her contributions to the Plymouth community. She has served on other local boards, including the Board of Directors of the Dunning Branch of the Wayne County Library.
In 1971, when the Plymouth Historical Society was looking for money to build a new museum building, Dunning stepped forward and donated in excess of US$100,000. That donation allowed for the construction of a 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) building to house the historical artifacts of the community. In 1998, the Plymouth Historical Society purchased a sizeable collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia from Dr. Weldon Petz. By this time, the museum was at capacity and had nowhere to store or exhibit the new collection. Again Dunning stepped forward, this time with a $1 million donation to add an additional 9,800 square feet (910 m2) to the museum building on two floors. Dunning is a permanent member of the Plymouth Historical Society's Board of Directors.
In 1997, Dunning established the Margaret Dunning Foundation as a private grantmaking foundation, which also gives occasional grants to the Plymouth Historical Museum.
Dunning was in the first group of 16 individuals inducted into the Plymouth Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Plymouth Kiwanis Club, on August 11, 1980. Others inducted were some of Plymouth's founders and benefactors, including Ebenezer J. Penniman and George Anson Starkweather.
What a human being!!!
Cross gently, Margaret.
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Mon May 18, 2015, 04:59 PM (2 replies)
Eddie is like a big brother to me. When I was growing up, he was a local star with the hometown ball team (The Auburn Phillies-he lived across the street from me then). He effed up his shoulder and his ball career was over, unfortunately. But, he went to work in the local steel mill to support his family.
40 years later, he's received his degree from LeMoyne College.
God speed, my friend!!!!
Posted by Cooley Hurd | Sun May 17, 2015, 11:30 AM (5 replies)