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History – Jupiter Hammon

February 29th, 2012 by Black Gospel Choir

October 17, 1711 – before 1806
Jupiter Hammon was a Black poet who became the first African-American published writer in America when a poem appeared in print in 1760. He was a slave his entire life, and the date of his death is unknown.

jupiter hammon

He was living in 1790 at the age of 79, and died by 1806. Hammon was a devout Christian, and is considered one of the founders of African American literature.

Hammon was born a slave and was owned by four generations of the Lloyd family of Queens on Long Island, New York. His parents were both slaves. His father, called Opium, and unlike most slaves could read and write.

On September 24, 1786, He expressed his views on slavery when he delivered his “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York”, also known as the “Hammon Address”, before the African Society. Hammon wrote the speech at age seventy-six after a lifetime of slavery. It contains his famous words, “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.”

The speech draws heavily on Christian motifs and theology. For example, Hammon said that Black people should maintain their high moral standards precisely because being slaves on Earth had already secured their place in heaven. Hammon’s speech also promoted the idea of a gradual emancipation as a way of ending slavery. It is thought that Hammon stated this plan because he knew that slavery was so entrenched in American society that an immediate emancipation of all slaves would be difficult to achieve. His speech was initially published by the New York Quakers, and was later reprinted by several groups opposed to slavery, including the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, because the strong religious motifs and ideas of gradual emancipation were moderate enough to be taken seriously by whites, but still firmly rooted in abolition.

Hammon’s famous speech and his poetry are often anthologized. The first known African American to publish literature in the US (several years later in 1767, Phillis Wheatley had published her poems, but in England, not the US), Hammon was a favorite servant, clerk, farmhand, and artisan in the Lloyd family business. Hammon was allowed to attend school and was a fervent Christian, as were the Lloyds. His first published poem was written on Christmas Day, 1760. “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760” appeared as a broadside in 1761. Three other poems and three sermon essays followed. In Hammon’s “Address to the Negroes of New York, to the African Society,” he said that while he personally had no wish to be free, he did wish others, especially “the young Negroes, were free.”
source:Wikipedia.com

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History – Coretta Scott King

January 30th, 2012 by Black Gospel Choir

April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006

Coretta Scott King

The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
Mrs. King’s most prominent role may have been in the years after her husband’s 1968 assassination when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself and became active in the Women’s Movement.
Scott King was the third of four children born to Obadiah “Obe” Scott (1899–1998) and Bernice McMurray Scott (1904–1996) in Marion, Alabama. The Scott family had owned a farm since the American Civil War, but were not particularly wealthy. During the Great Depression the Scott children picked cotton to help earn money. Ms. King’s father Obe, was the first black person in their neighborhood to own a truck. He had a barber shop in their home. He also owned a lumber mill, which was burned down by white neighbors.
Though lacking formal education themselves, Coretta Scott’s parents intended for all of their children to be educated. Coretta quoted her mother as having said, “My children are going to college, even if it means I only have but one dress to put on.”

Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr., were married on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her mother’s house; the ceremony was performed by Martin Jr.’s father, Martin Luther King, Sr.. Coretta had the vow to obey her husband removed from the ceremony, which was unusual for the time. After completing her degree in voice and piano at the New England Conservatory, she moved with her husband to Montgomery, Alabama in September 1954. Mrs. King recalled: “After we married, we moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where my husband had accepted an invitation to be the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Before long, we found ourselves in the middle of the Montgomery bus boycott, and Martin was elected leader of the protest movement. As the boycott continued, I had a growing sense that I was involved in something so much greater than myself, something of profound historic importance. I came to the realization that we had been thrust into the forefront of a movement to liberate oppressed people, not only in Montgomery but also throughout our country, and this movement had worldwide implications. I felt blessed to have been called to be a part of such a noble and historic cause.” Coretta Scott King played an extremely important role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Martin wrote of her that, “I am indebted to my wife Coretta, without whose love, sacrifices, and loyalty neither life nor work would bring fulfillment. She has given me words of consolation when I needed them and a well-ordered home where Christian love is a reality.”

Not long after her husband’s assassination in 1968, Coretta approached the African American entertainer and activist Josephine Baker to take her husband’s place as leader of The Civil Rights Movement. After many days of thinking it over Baker declined, stating that her twelve adopted children (known as the “rainbow tribe”) were ” … too young to lose their mother.” Shortly after that Coretta decided to take the helm of the movement herself.
Coretta Scott King broadened her focus to include women’s rights, LGBT rights, economic issues, world peace, and various other causes. As early as December 1968, she called for women to “unite and form a solid block of women power to fight the three great evils of racism, poverty and war,” during a Solidarity Day speech.
As leader of the movement, Coretta Scott King founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. She served as the center’s president and CEO from its inception until she passed the reins of leadership to son Dexter Scott King.
She published her memoirs, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1969.

Every year after the assassination of her husband in 1968, Coretta attended a commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to mark his birthday on January 15. She fought for years to make it a national holiday. Murray M. Silver, an Atlanta attorney, made the appeal at the services on January 14, 1979. Coretta Scott King later confirmed that it was the “…best, most productive appeal ever…” Coretta Scott King was finally successful in this in 1986, when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was made a federal holiday.

bio source:Wikipedia.org

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History – Martin Luther King Jr.

January 9th, 2012 by Black Gospel Choir

January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

Martin-Luther-King-Jr..jpg

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History – William Carney

December 18th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir

Slave – Medal of Honor

william-carney

William Harvey Carney (February 29, 1840 – December 8, 1908) was an American Civil War soldier and the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor.
Carney was born a slave in Norfolk, Virginia, but escaped to Massachusetts like his father through the Underground Railroad. They later bought the rest of the family out of slavery.
Carney served with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as a Sergeant and took part in the July 18, 1863, assault on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. He received his medal for saving the American flag and planting it on the parapet and although wounded, holding it while the troops charged. But recognizing the Federal troops had to retreat under fire, Carney struggled back across the battlefield, and although wounded twice more, returned the flag to the Union lines. Before turning over the colors to another survivor of the 54th, Carney modestly said, “Boys, I only did my duty; the old flag never touched the ground!”
Carney was awarded the Medal of Honor May 23, 1900, nearly 40 years after his act of bravery. In later life, Carney was a postal employee and popular speaker at patriotic events. He died in Boston, Massachusetts, and is buried in the family plot at Oak Grove Cemetery in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Engraved on his stone monument is a gold image of the Medal of Honor.

source:wikipedia.org – photo credit:old-photos.blogspot.com

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History – “Amazing Grace”

August 9th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir

The Story of “Amazing Grace” By Wintley Phipps

The author of the words was John Newton, the self-proclaimed wretch who once was lost but then was found, saved by amazing grace.
The origin of the melody is unknown. Most hymnals attribute it to an early American folk melody. The Bill Moyers special on “Amazing Grace” speculated that it may have originated as the tune of a song the slaves sang.

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