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See below an archive of brief articles and excerpts addressing interesting topics within the fields of:

Africana | History | Biography | Esoterica

*Instructions: Click the underlined title to access the full article*

 
 
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William Edward Burghart DuBois: Cultural Icon, Scholar, Civil Rights Pioneer, and Intellectual (1868-1963)

W.E.B DuBois is arguably the greatest African American scholar, writer, intellectual, and civil rights pioneer of the 20th century. DuBois, whose life spanned nearly a century, was an immediately recognizable figure, a brilliant scholar and a prolific writer. He was born February 23, 1866 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In 1890 he graduated cum Laude from Howard and attended the University of Berlin in 1892. In 1896 DuBois became the first Black person to receive a PH. D from Harvard University. After teaching at Wilberforce University in Ohio and the University of Pennsylvania, he went on to establish the first department of sociology in the United States at Atlanta University. W.E.B. DuBois devoted his lifetime to the tireless effort of advocating for the rights of African Americans. His 1896 book “The Philadelphia Negro” is credited with single-heartedly creating the profession of sociology...


Thomas Morris Chester: Civil War Correspondent (1834-1892)

The American Civil War was carefully observed by all the nations of the western world. Correspondents came from all over Europe to cover this epic conflict. Hundreds of foreign correspondents arrived in the United States to record the events, battles and personalities of one of America’s bloodiest wars. The outcome of this struggle would have significant implications for this young nation’s future and the race was on to document the conflict from beginning to end. Among all of these correspondents only one was an African American; only one was chosen by a major American daily newspaper; only one was assigned to the Union’s Army of the Potomac; that reporter was Mr. Thomas Morris Chester. He was hired by the “Philadelphia Press,” a Philadelphia daily newspaper. Thomas M. Chester was the son of an escaped slave. He was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on May 11, 1834. As an adult and a member of the American Colonization Movement, he traveled to and from Monrovia, Liberia several times as well as studying and teaching there...

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Spring = 23.5 Degrees

On our planet, the most welcomed seasonal event is the advent of Spring. The earth seems to reawaken itself from a deep slumber and announce the return of renewed vitality. Young men’s fancies turn to romance. Aahh... there is love in the air. Few however, really understand what is actually happening. Those who know what’s occurring, celebrate the event. The actual time of the event is plotted to the minute and the second. All over the planet there are religious and cultural celebrations. And it’s all about 23.5 degrees. Over the millennia, Spring has acquired many names and depending upon the culture of an individual, represents a variety of deities all of whom personify the feminine principle. Spring is fertility, it is love, it is reproduction, it is fecundity, and it is re- birth. All of these phenomena are associated with a goddess. Easter, which was originally celebrated on the first day of Spring, takes its name from the Teutonic goddess “Eostre”. An obvious association can be readily established between the name Eostre and the word “estrus or oestrus...”


Ralph Featherstone: Activist, Freedom Fighter, Friend (1939-1970)

Ralph Featherstone was the unlikeliest candidate on the campus of the D.C. Teachers College during the 1960’s to become a militant Black activist. He was quiet by nature and unassuming in demeanor. He was rather short by the standards of the time for men’s height and possessed a rather slender frame. Some would say he was a soft-spoken introvert. None would ever suspect that below the surface of Ralph’s low-key exterior , beat the heart of a fearless warrior. “Feather”, as I called Ralph, was originally on course to become an ordinary public school teacher and dutifully blend into the background. He was a “college man.” He graduated from DC Teachers College, taught in the system briefly as a speech pathologist and then no one saw him for a while. Vietnam was burning, the Civil Rights Movement was at full throttle and at the same time white college campuses were in full social revolt. It was the “60’s.” Unbeknownst to most of those who knew Ralph, he had quietly become one of the leading proponents of civil rights for black people...

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Organ Regeneration

It’s not to be confused with science fiction. Actually it’s a cutting-edge medical discovery with implications for radically altering the way that organ replacement in humans is approached. “Star Trek” technology has found its way into the complex world of human organ transplantation/regeneration. Not only is it possible to regenerate soft tissue organs, but also the extremities of the body, complete with proper bone content and proportion. According to American military researchers, the Pentagon has appropriated $250 million to subsidize a 5 year program to in regenerative medicine aimed at helping U.S. soldiers and civilians who have sustained serious bodily injury. The poster child for this new medical phenomenon is an unlikely guy who severed a finger tip in a hobby shop accident. Mr. Lee Spievak, 69, allegedly re-grew a finger tip in four weeks after applying a powder supplied by Dr. Stephen Badylak, an expert in regenerative medicine. The powder used on Mr. Spievak’s finger by Dr. Badylak is made of cells extracted from pig intestin... 


Opinion: Red Meat and The Old Testament

The Old Testament is replete with directives, which if followed, are intended to lead to a virtuous, rewarding and healthy life. It is comparable to an operating manual for mankind. Manuals are standard equipment with every conceivable consumer device, so why not one for people? A form of these ubiquitous instructions is found in the Old Testament and essentially amount to guidelines for the way the deity demands that Christians live their lives. On an ordinary level, the manufacturer sends assembly or operation instructions with the product. On a Cosmic level, the deity acts through prophets to inform mankind of how to act and how to be. In the Christian western world, the TEN COMMANDMENTS and the BOOK OF GENESIS serve as manuals for the leading of a healthy and virtuous life. These documents constitute the operation/instructions manual for those who adhere to the Christian theology. Genesis explains and justifies submitting to these Holy directives. It’s common knowledge that most Christians tend to selectively obey these divine instructions...

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Ona Maria (Oney) Judge: A Darling Heroine for Freedom (?-1848)

Ona Judge Stains led a remarkable life. Ona was born a slave. Her mother Betty, was an expert at textiles and her father, Andrew Judge, was a white indentured servant from Leeds, England who arrived in America in 1772. “Oney” as she was called was a slave owned by President George Washington and his wife Martha. Oney was a “dower slave”. Martha Washington’s first husband’s estate actually owned Oney. In effect, this slave girl belonged to the descendants of Daniel Parker Curtis. Legally, she was on-loan to Martha and George. The “First Family” of the new nation eventually amassed more than 300 black men, women, and children as slaves. While the White House was being built in 1796, President Washington and his wife took their personal servants and relocated to Philadelphia. Ona was among them. By this time, she was a maid-in- waiting for the First Lady, Martha Washington. As a personal servant (house Negro) of Martha, Oney was not exposed to any particular hardships...


Professor Bill Messenger: Jazz Historian & Musician

Professor Bill Messenger is considered one of the foremost authorities on the history of jazz. He is a musician, composer, teacher and lecturer in the jazz arena. He has played with and traveled with some of the finest groups in American music lore. He can play the piano. Professor Messenger teaches a “Jazz History” course as a lecturer at the Peabody Conservatory. This article is liberally excerpted from his course. The “roots” of jazz are found in the field songs, shouts and call and response interactions of slaves in the American south. As slaves were confined to the plantations, their ethnic musical forms did not get out into the general population for a long time. When it does, it appears as banjo music accompanied by what was called “bones playing”. Bones were the shortened ribs of a cow, dried and polished and played two in each hand, producing a crisp, clear rhythmic click. This form of music later accompanies a high stepping form of plantation dancing called a “cakewalk...” 

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Wayne Chandler: Intelligent Design?

Arguments on both sides of the debate have essentially been exhausted. Neither camp seems willing to concede victory...yet unsettling cracks occasionally appear in the “con” side of the debate. The arguments of the non-believers contain generally recognized contradictions, and though these inconsistencies fail to allow for a decisive refutation of the “pro” position, they generate sufficient reason for pause. Is there or is there not a “Divine Architect” of the cosmos and by inference a creator of the galaxies and stars and constellations and mankind? Could there be a benevolent, all- powerful entity underlying the creation of consciousness in the universe and guiding the ethos and progress of human beings? Well...there just may be organic correlations which can inform an opinion in this regard. Consider this: Albert Einstein once remarked that “God must be a mathematician.” Number is everywhere. Select the number 9 for example...a powerful number with metaphysical importance...


Washington Post: With D.C.’s African American population declining, many wonder how the city’s identity will change. 

Browsing through any of DC’s daily newspapers, it’s pretty much the usual suspects no matter the day of the week; crime, war, politics and the economy. But wait a minute...what’s this? There it is again, this time in the Style section...another maudlin, avuncular pronouncement of the demise of DC’s African American community. Newspapers in DC relish the opportunity to forecast the implications of shifting demographics. The underlying idea of these kinds of articles is a feigned regret that the black population of the city seems to be statistically declining while wistfully acknowledging that an African American footprint will likely remain on the city for some time. With fewer blacks, it is believed that the culture of the city is obligated to change. The Census Bureau number crunchers, in their infallibility, have statistically sounded the death knell of “Chocolate City.” So what’s new...lol!

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Ft. Stevens: A Historical Battle in DC

Fort Stevens, now partially restored and located at 13th and Quackenbos Streets, NW, was built to defend the approaches to Washington from the 7th Street Pike (now Georgia Avenue) which was then the main thoroughfare from the north into Washington. Originally called Fort Massachusetts by the soldiers from that state who constructed the fort, it was later named after Brigadier General Isaac Ingalls Stevens, who was killed at the Battle of Chantilly, Virginia, September 1, 1862. In the summer of 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant had Confederate General Robert E. Lee in a deathtrap around Richmond and Petersburg. When General Grant had moved south, he stripped Washington, D.C. of many well trained troops. As a result in July of 1864 there were only 9,000 troops to defend the city, down from over 23,000 that had been there the year before. Those that were left were primarily poorly trained reserves. General Lee sought desperately to...


Dispatches From Richmond: One Man's Account

From the firing on Fort Sumter South Carolina by Confederate forces on April 12, 1861, to the surrender of General Lee to Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, Thomas Morris Chester was the only African American among 500 others assigned to cover the Civil War for a major daily newspaper. He was hired as a war correspondent in 1864 for the state of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Press newspaper. He wrote many articles from the eastern theater of the Civil War. This Harrisburg Pennsylvania native, born in 1834 in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, was the son of an escaped slave woman from Baltimore Maryland and a popular restaurant owner and oyster salesman in Harrisburg. While he is easily one of Harrisburg’s most famous 19th century African American residents, he is virtually unknown to, or forgotten by present day African Americans. According to Sharon Shahid, senior Web editor at the Newseum in Washington D.C., “Independent eyewitness reporting did not emerge until the wars of the mid-19th century... 

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Charles Waddell Chestnutt: First African American Novelist, Civil Rights Activist, Social Critic (1858-1931)

Charles W. Chestnutt never intended to become a writer. Had things gone as planned, he would have become a grocery store owner, just as his father had been and lived a modest, uneventful life. Such was not to be the case however, and fate chose a path for the young man far from the ordinary, but safe existence he had envisioned. Charles Chestnutt was born in 1858, the year of the Lincoln- Douglas debates over slavery, and died in 1932, the year Franklin Roosevelt was first elected to the presidency. He led a full and engaged life during some of the most tumultuous times in the history of the modern era in the United States. Charles was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the first child of Jack Chestnutt and Ann Marie Sampson. In Cleveland, Jack Chestnutt was a horse-car conductor. Charles’ mother was a “born educator” who taught slave children clandestinely in defiance of the law, according to Sylvia Lyons Render in her biography, Charles W. Chestnutt...


Black Confederate Soldiers

Its one of those inconvenient truths...some African Americans in the south, did in fact, fight for and support the rebel army of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. They fought for the South. These Black southerners were ready to die for the South...after all, it was their home too. Award-winning professor, Edward C. Smith, is Director of American Studies at American University in Washington DC, Vice President of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, a Smithsonian Institution scholar, and an authority on the participation of Blacks on the Southern side of the War Between the States. Professor Smith, who is black, admits that he catches hell from the PC crowd from time to time, but he speaks like a true scholar who is indignant at the falsity and misconception that often passes for history in this age of political correctness. He speaks of the absolute proof of black Southerners participating with whites as soldiers in the Confederate armies who as one Yankee officer observed, were “mixed up with all the Rebel Hoard...” 

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Egbert (Bert) Austin Williams: Entertainer Extraordinaire (1876-1922)

In 1912 Bert Williams was earning over $10,000 a week as a minstrel in black face. In today’s money that would be equivalent to $220,000 a week. It was an enormous sum of money for that era. Bert was a man who though extremely successful, was full of contradictions; a college student who had to be taught black dialect so that whites would consider his stage performance credible; an actor who introduced a musical form (ragtime) through a dance genre (cake-walk); a fair complexioned black man who had to put burnt cork on his face to entertain white audiences. He is considered by many as the greatest vaudeville performer in the history of that genre. His work electrified audiences and established the American comedic stage with the ingenious use of the stand-up comic format. Bert was born in Antigua, Nassau in 1875 though the place and date vary in different biographical sources. It is certain though that he was West Indian in origin. His family immigrated first to New York City and then to San Francisco...  


The Almost Forgotten First Rhode Island Regiment

The First Rhode Island Regiment, a Continental Army regiment, was well known as the “Black Regiment”, because for some time, it allowed several companies of African American soldiers. They served in their own segregated companies within the larger integrated unit. The First Rhode Island Regiment, in 1778, was made up mostly of recently freed black slaves. These men that fought in the American Revolutionary War not only fought for political liberty, but for personal liberty as well. In the south, as many as 10,000 black soldiers were enlisted by the British army, with promise of freedom for service, and at least 5,000 blacks served the Americans. On the American side, they served anywhere from being infantrymen to cooks, and some used their Navy experience as seamen and pilots. On the British side, they were rarely given any combat duty. They were mostly used as they had been their whole lives, for meaningless manual labor. They dug most of the trenches and fortications...

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Who is Professor Gabriel Oyibo?

WHO is Professor Gabriel Oyibo? Well... it depends upon who you ask. By all appearances, he is an accomplished scientist with solid credentials and research experience. His specialty though is mathematics. It seems that his life was cruising along rather uneventfully until he announced that he had discovered a mathematical theorem which explained the universe and existence. He named this theorem GAGUT, God Almighty Grand Unified Theorem. Dr. Oyibo contends that his theorem completes the unfinished work of Dr. Albert Einstein. The elusive Unified Field Theory which has confounded the scientific community for decades, is alleged by Dr. Oyibo to have been solved with his equation. Dr. Oyibo is a Nigerian national and apparently well respected in his country. The problem is this: he contends that his theorem synthesizes the religious, scientific and Ancient Egyptian creation accounts. His emphasis is on the idea of waves; waves of water, waves of light and waves of sound... 


A Witches Brew: Water

I’m not feeling well. It’s some kind of stomach, headachy thing that’s got me down. I’m home alone with chicken soup, tea with lemon and honey...and TV. The History Channel is on but I decide to go lower on the selection scale. I tried the teens. The one I randomly hit is the City Council channel. But something’s going on here. It’s too quiet; Chairman Gray is looking unusually stern, Catania briefly offers his comments without the normal condescension and Barry is delivering a heartfelt plea for clean...WATER. For a minute, the scenario is confusing because Barry is apparently making a scientific appeal to the Council’s conscience and its sense of public duty. His argument made sense. It goes like this: 1) it seems that there are contaminants in the drinking water in DC, 2) the contaminants include pharmaceuticals and hormones, 3) people on medication don’t know that they are ingesting trace amounts of these substances, 4) these substances could be interacting with the drugs being taken by residents who are on various medications... 

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Kidnapped by the State: Maryland's Response to President Lincoln's January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation

On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln indicated his intention to abolish slavery issue by announcing his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Once and for all he was prepared to established that slavery was at the root of Civil War; a conclusion that the slaves had reached from the beginning of the con ict. Lincoln’s announcement sent shockwaves through the slave-owning plantation class in Maryland. With an economy rmly resting upon free labor and unrestrained control of a captive labor force, the state’s aristocracy faced unparalleled nancial disaster if radical and sudden changes to that arrangement became law. The impending emancipation of Maryland’s slaves meant that a labor crisis of unprecedented proportion was rapidly bearing down on the suddenly vulnerable plantation class. A way of economic and social life generations in the making now faced unexpected and imminent collapse...