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Black Facts for August 15th

1938 - Waters, Maxine (1938- )

U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters has dedicated over thirty years of her life to local and national politics. Born Maxine Moore Carr in St. Louis, Missouri on August 15, 1938, Waters moved to Los Angeles, California in 1961. While working in a garment factory and for a local telephone company, she enrolled at California State University, Los Angeles. After earning a B.A. in Sociology in 1966, Waters worked as a teacher and as Coordinator of Head Start Programs in Watts.

Maxine Waters developed a keen interest in Los Angeles politics when she began working for city councilman David Cunningham in the 1970s. Waters ran for California State Assembly in 1976, winning the election and serving seven two-year terms in Sacramento.  In 1990 Waters won a seat as Democratic representative of California in the U.S. House of Representatives. As Representative of the 35th district, which encompasses South Central Los Angeles, Playa Del Ray, Inglewood, and several other Los Angeles communities, Waters has spearheaded health care, child care, education, and welfare reform.

Dedicated to improving social, political, and economic conditions in her district, Congresswoman Waters helped obtain crucial federal funding for the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center in Watts. Originally founded in 1966 as the Watts Skills Center, the facility provides South Central L.A. residents with educational and vocational training.  The Center was renamed in her honor.  As co-founder of the Black Women’s Forum, Waters interacts with approximately 1,200 black women throughout Los Angeles County, serving as an active leader among her constituents.

Waters is also involved in national and global politics. She backed the Minority AIDS Initiative in 1998, which allocates money for AIDS research among people of color in the U.S.  In June 2005, she led the “Out of Iraq” Congressional Caucus which investigated the war and devised strategies for removing U.S. troops from Iraq. Waters has repeatedly endorsed debt-relief legislation for African and

1875 - Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel (1875-1912)

1514 - Bartolomé de Las Casas

Bartolomé de Las Casas , (born 1474 or 1484, Sevilla?, Spain—died July 1566, Madrid), early Spanish historian and Dominican missionary who was the first to expose the oppression of indigenous peoples by Europeans in the Americas and to call for the abolition of slavery there. His several works include Historia de las Indias (first printed in 1875). A prolific writer and in his later years an influential figure of the Spanish court, Las Casas nonetheless failed to stay the progressive enslavement of the indigenous peoples of Latin America.

The son of a small merchant, Las Casas is believed to have gone to Granada as a soldier in 1497 and to have enrolled to study Latin in the academy at the cathedral in Sevilla (Seville). In 1502 he left for Hispaniola, in the West Indies, with the governor, Nicolás de Ovando. As a reward for his participation in various expeditions, he was given an encomienda—a royal land grant including Indian inhabitants—and he soon began to evangelize that population, serving as doctrinero, or lay teacher of catechism. Perhaps the first person in America to receive holy orders, he was ordained a priest in either 1512 or 1513. In 1513 he took part in the bloody conquest of Cuba and, as priest-encomendero (land grantee), received an allotment of Indian serfs.

Although during his first 12 years in America Las Casas was a willing participant in the conquest of the Caribbean, he did not indefinitely remain indifferent to the fate of the indigenous peoples. In a famous sermon on August 15, 1514, he announced that he was returning his Indian serfs to the governor. Realizing that it was useless to attempt to defend the Indians at long distance in America, he returned to Spain in 1515 to plead for their better treatment. The most influential person to take up his cause was Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, the archbishop of Toledo and future co-regent of Spain. With the help of the archbishop, the Plan para la reformación de las Indias was conceived, and Las Casas, named priest-procurator of the

1987 - (1987) Thurgood Marshall, “A Colorblind Society Remains an Aspiration”

On August 15, 1987 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall spoke to a gathering of federal judges.  Reflecting on his two decades on the Court and particularly on recent affirmative action rulings by the High Court, Justice Marshall reminded his audience that the United States had not yet achieved racial equality or as he termed it, a colorblind society.  His words appear below.

Chief Judge [Wilfred] Feinberg [of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit] and friends: As you know, it is wonderful to come up here and, am one of the Justices of this Court who appreciates the circuit, because I don’t have much trouble with it, I sit there at times and listen to the bandying back and forth about all the problems they have in this Circuit and that Circuit, and every now and then somebody asks me, “What about your circuit?” I say, “It runs itself.”

What I have to say this morning is, I hope, of interest…

I would like to speak today about an issue much discussed in recent months, in part because of cases which came to our Court from this Circuit last year. I refer to the Sheet Metal Workers case, in which our Court affirmed the excellent decision by Judge Pratt, and to the question of affirmative action. Much has been said lately about the scope of permissible remedies, both voluntary and mandatory, in cases of employment discrimination. The decisions of our Court in this past term suggest to me that there is still a basic agreement among a majority of the Justices that the commands of Title VII and the equal protection clause should be implemented, where necessary, through broad-based relief including the imposition of affirmative duties to eradicate the effects of past discrimination, But because statements in sharp opposition to the use of affirmative remedies have recently been heard with increasing frequency, I think it is appropriate to share with you some general thoughts about why affirmative action is necessary, and on the role which it plays in our law despite many people in high offices trying to

Literature Facts

2015 - Julian Bond

Horace Julian Bond was a civil rights activist and politician. He was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 14, 1940 to Julia Agnes and Horace Mann Bond. His father was a respected professor who later became the first black president of Lincoln University and later the president of Atlanta University. His mother used to work as a librarian. Julian’s parents were friends with many famous literary figures of the time, including W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson. Bond Sr. was a respected educator, noted for his protests against racial segregation and discrimination. Julian studied at a mixed race school as a child, and was a bright and capable student. He won the award for being the brightest student in his class. He then attended a private boarding school in Pennsylvania.

After high school, Julian enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1957. He took an active part in civil rights demonstrations at college, and was soon named the coordinator and spokesman for civil rights demonstrations. He also started a student organization by the name of the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights. In 1960, while attending a meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organized by Ella Baker, Julian, along with some fellow students, was motivated enough to form their own student organization by the name of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The SCLC was headed by Martin Luther King Jr., and the SNCC worked hand in hand with them. Julian was the communications director of this organization, and he worked with them from 1960 to 1966. He then dropped out of college, but later returned to finish his degree in 1971.

After leaving college, Julian Bond was persuaded by many of his followers to run for government office. This was a time when very few blacks held positions of power, so Julian was initially reluctant to do so. He campaigned by personally visiting voters in their homes and won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. However, his fellow legislators voted to keep him out of the

1883 - (1883) Alexander Crummell, “The Queens of Womanhood”

On August 15, 1883, Alexander Crummell, founder of the Union of Black Episcopalians and the American Negro Academy and a graduate of Oxford University in England, gave the address below to the Freedman"s Aid Society at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

IT IS AN AGE CLAMOROUS everywhere for the dignities, the grand prerogatives, and the glory of woman. There is not a country in Europe where she has not risen somewhat above the degradation of centuries, and pleaded successfully for a new position and a higher vocation. As the result of this new reformation we see her, in our day, seated in the lecture-rooms of ancient universities, rivaling her brothers in the fields of literature, the grand creators of ethereal art, the participants in noble civil franchises, the moving spirit in grand reformations, and the guide, agent, or assistant in all the noblest movements for the civilization and regeneration of man.

In these several lines of progress the American woman has run on in advance of her sisters in every other quarter of the globe. The advantage, she has received, the rights and prerogatives she has secured for herself, are unequaled by any other class of women in the world. It will not be thought amiss, then, that I come here to-day to present to your consideration the one grand exception to this general superiority of women, the black woman if the South.

The rural or plantation population of the South was made up almost entirely of people of pure Negro blood. And this brings out also the other disastrous fact, namely, that this large black population has been living from the time of their introduction into America, a period of more than two hundred years, in a state of unlettered rudeness. The Negro all this time has been an intellectual starveling. This has been more especially the condition of the black woman of the South. Now and then a black man has risen above the debased condition of his people. Various causes would contribute to the advantage of the men: the relation of

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