March 13, 1779 – Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, an explorer of African descent, from Santo Domingo (Haiti), builds the first permanent settlement at the mouth of the river, just east of the present Michigan Avenue Bridge on the north bank, of what is now the city of Chicago, Illinois.
This is the story of 40 year old Frazier Baker, a school teacher that was appointed postmaster of Lake City, SC who was lynched. The federal government appointed Blacks in certain areas of the south as postmasters as part of the reconstruction period. Unfortunately, this did not please the local whites. White folks were so outraged; a white mob attacked Frazier and his wife and kids. On February 22, 1898 Frazier and a daughter was killed. His wife Julia and another child was wounded and barely escaped.
A white South Carolina senator made the statement that the fine white people of Lake City refused to receive their mail from a “nigger.” So, those fine white folks at 1am decided to set the post office on fire that also was where Frazier and wife and children called home. Frazier was unsuccessful when he tried to put out the fire and when they opened the door the white mob fired at them. His wife Julia was holding their 2 year old in her arms when the child was shot and killed. He was so furious that he swung the door open and died from a hail of bullets. The rest of the family took flight and hide in bushes until the fire died down and the gun shots stopped.
Julia and the children who escaped went to a neighbor for help. One daughter had been shot in the arm and Julia was wounded by the same bullet that killed her 2 year old daughter. They went untreated for days. The news of this lynching was received with condemnation. Ida B Wells-Barnett argued that this lynching is a federal matter because Frazier was appointed to postmaster by President McKinley. Federal government investigated and tried those involved but the all-white jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared and the men were never tried again.
The men who were tried for the lynching and murder of the Bakers is listed below:
Charles D. Joyner
W. A. Webster
1851 – African American abolitionists invade a Boston courtroom and
rescue a fugitive slave from federal authorities. The fugitive,
Shadrach Minkins was about his job as a waiter in Boston when
United States federal officers showed up at his workplace and
arrested him. Minkins had escaped from slavery in Virginia
the previous year. An act passed by Congress in 1850, the
Fugitive Slave Law, had just been enacted, allowing slave
holders to enlist the aid of the federal government in
recapturing runaway slaves. The Minkins case is to be an
early test of the new law. Within a few hours of his arrest,
Minkins is brought before a federal commissioner. But as he
is being led from the courtroom, a group of Boston African
Americans overpower the guards and free him. He immediately
disappears and is never seen in Boston again. With the help
of the Underground Railroad, Minkins will travel north through
New Hampshire and Vermont, crossing into Canada six days after
his rescue. Out of reach of the U.S. government, Minkins will
settle in Montreal, marry an Irish woman and raise two children
before his death in 1875. Minkins’s rescue will come to
symbolize the spirit of resistance to the legal institutions of
the slave system.
Orator, Activist, and Abolitionist
February 1, 1810 – Charles Lenox Remond is born in Salem, Massachusetts to free parents. He will become one of the most prominent of the African American abolitionist crusaders. Charles Remond will begin his activism in opposition to slavery while in his twenties as an orator speaking at public gatherings and conferences in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New York and Pennsylvania. In 1838 the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, will choose him as one of its agents. As a delegate from the American Anti-Slavery Society, he will go with William Lloyd Garrison to the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840. He will have a reputation as an eloquent lecturer and reported to be the first Black public speaker on abolition. He will recruit Black soldiers in Massachusetts for the Union Army during the Civil War, particularly for the famed 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry. He will also be active in recruiting for the U.S. Colored Troops. After the Civil War ends, he will work as a clerk in the Boston Customs House, and as a street lamp inspector. He will later purchase a farm in South Reading (now Wakefield), Massachusetts. He will join the ancestors on December 22, 1873.
One of our great writer and poet, Richard Wright was born September 4, 1908 in Roxie Mississippi. Richard migrated to Chicago and after several jobs ended up with the Federal Writers Project in 1935 and shortly thereafter became famous for Uncle Tom’s Children. Richard received praises and one critic said: “Uncle Tom’s Children has its full share of violence and brutality; violent deaths occur in three stories and the mob goes to work in all four. Violence has long been an important element in fiction about Negroes, just as it is in their life. But where Julia Peterkin in her pastorals and Roark Bradford in his levee farces show violence to be the reaction of primitives unadjusted to modern civilization, Richard Wright shows it as the way in which civilization keeps the Negro in his place. And he knows what he is writing about.” He earned a $500 prize from Story magazine for Uncle Tom’s Children.
In 1939 Richard got a Guggenheim Fellowship that allowed him to quit the Writers Project and finish Native Son the 1940 best seller. Richard moved to New York where he was told he had a better chance of being published. Then, Richard wrote an autobiography Black Boy in 1945. He was part of the Harlem Renaissance. And, for a short time was a Communist. When he resigned from the Communist party he wrote an article titled “I tried to be Communist?” Even though, Zora Neal Hurston and others criticism of hatred and racism in his writings labelling them violent did not prevent him from becoming successful.
Some African American artist and writers during Richard’s time left America disappointed with the lack of opportunities and Jim Crow racism for Paris. Richard visited Paris in 1946 and came home and moved his family to Paris. He was married to Ellen who was white. He never came back. Wright died in Paris, France, on November 28, 1960.
ELLA JOSEPHINE BAKER
1903 – Ella Baker is born in Norfolk, Virginia. A civil rights
worker who will direct the New York branch of the NAACP,
Baker will become executive director of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference in the 1960’s during
student integration of lunch counters in the southern
states. She also will play a key role in the formation
of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and its
voter registration drive in Mississippi. She will join
the ancestors on December 13, 1986 in New York City. Strange
but true, she died on her 83rd birthday.