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Ida B. Wells’s 153rd Birthday and Her Connection with Dr. Tyree Wieder

16 Jul

idabwellsToday, Thursday, July 16, 2015, Google is honoring the 153rd birthday of civil rights activist, suffragist and journalist, Ida B. Wells, with a Doodle of her typing away on typewriter with a piece of luggage by her side.

In a tribute to Wells, Google wrote, “She was a fierce opponent of segregation and wrote prolifically on the civil injustices that beleaguered her world. By twenty-five she was editor of the Memphis-based Free Speech and Headlight, and continued to publicly decry inequality even after her printing press was destroyed by a mob of locals who opposed her message.”

Read the full article from the Huffington Post article here.

Did you Know?

Ida B. Wells credits Rev. Robert Nelson Countee, the great-grandfather of Los Angeles Valley College President Emeritus and previous Interim Chancellor, Dr. Tyree Wieder, for beginning her career in journalism.  See the quote below from the book, “They Say:  Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race” by James West Davidson:

“When Ida B. Wells first sued the C&O in the winter of 1883-1884 Memphis minister Rev. Robert N. Countee was in the process of launching a blackReverend Robert Countee newspaper, the Living Way.  The opportunity to be published was gratifying, if only a small step up from Wells’ occasional essays for the Memphis Lyceum. What made the crucial difference was that Countee sent the Living Way to a number of nonlocal subscribers, including T. Thomas Fortune, a sharp-eyed editor of another black paper, the New York Globe.”

How great it to have a personal LACCD connection with the “fearless and uncompromising” Ida B. Wells!

Source:  Huffington Post, Dr. Tyree Wieder

Tribute Thursday: Thomas Henry Peterson, First African American Voter

26 Jun
Born:  October 6, 1824 Metuchen, New Jersey Died:  February 4, 1904 (age 79) Perth Amboy, New Jersey Known for: The first African American to vote in the United States after the passage of the 15th Amendment

Born: October 6, 1824
Metuchen, New Jersey
Died: February 4, 1904 (age 79)
Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Known for: The first African American to vote in the United States after the passage of the 15th Amendment

Today’s Tribute Thursday goes to Thomas Mundy Peterson (October 6, 1824 – February 4, 1904) of Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  He was the first African-American to vote in an election under the just-enacted provisions of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution. His vote was cast on March 31, 1870.

Thomas Mundy Peterson was born in Metuchen, New Jersey. His father, also named Thomas, worked for the Mundy family. It is unclear if he was a slave of the family or not. His mother, Lucy Green, was a slave of Hugh Newell (1744-1816) of Freehold Township, New Jersey. She was manumitted at age 21 by Newell’s will.

He was a school custodian and general handyman in Perth Amboy. Active in the Republican Party, he became the city’s first African-American to hold elected office, on the Middlesex County Commission.  He was also the city’s first “colored” person to serve on a jury.

Peterson voted in a local election held in Perth Amboy, NJ over the town’s charter. Some citizens wanted to revise the existing charter while others wished to abandon the charter altogether in favor of a township form of government. Peterson cast his ballot in favor of revising the existing charter. This side won 230 to 63.  Peterson was afterward appointed to be a member of the committee of seven that made the revisions.  Historical records as to his contribution to revisions in the form of minutes, writing, or other records are still wanting.

To honor Thomas Mundy Peterson as the first African-American voter after the passage of the 15th Amendment, the citizens of Perth Amboy raised $70

The medallion awarded to Thomas Mundy Peterson by the citizens of Perth Amboy in 1884.

The medallion awarded to Thomas Mundy Peterson by the citizens of Perth Amboy, New Jersey in 1884.

(over $1,000 in 2010 dollars) to award him with a gold medallion. The full medallion consists of a gold bar from which a two inch diameter medallion was hung. The hanging medallion featured a profile bust of a clean-shaven Abraham Lincoln. It was presented to Thomas Mundy Peterson on Memorial Day, which was then called Decoration Day, May 30, 1884.  


He is said to have loved the medal and never considered himself properly dressed without it affixed to his left breast. Later in life financial instability forced Peterson to sometimes pawn the medallion. It is currently housed at the historically African-American Xavier University of Louisiana.

Thomas Peterson is buried at the St. Peters Episcopal Church cemetery in Perthy Amboy, New Jersey. When his grave was found years after his passing in 1904, it was given a historical marker. March 31st is considered Thomas Mundy Peterson Day in New Jersey.

While he is known today as “Thomas Mundy Peterson,” there are no contemporary records that include the three names together. The one exception is the cover for the program describing the ceremony when he was given the “voting medal,” and that calls him “Thomas Peterson-Mundy.” Contemporary documents refer to him as either Thomas Peterson or Thomas (or Tom) Mundy. His death certificate, the undertaker’s accounts book and a land deed all refer to him as “Thomas H. Peterson.” In the obituary appearing in The Perth Amboy Evening News he is called Thomas Henry Peterson.


In October 1989, the school where Peterson had worked was renamed after him.

In New Jersey, March 31 is annually celebrated as Thomas Mundy Peterson Day in recognition of his historic vote.


Source:  and

California Red Tails to Fly Over Allensworth for Juneteenth Celebration

12 Jun

Juneteenth ImageColonel Allensworth State Historical Park is the only California town to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans.  On June 14, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Friends of Allensworth will host its annual Juneteenth celebration.

When: Saturday, June 14, 2014

Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Where: Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. It was on June 19th, that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official on January 1, 1863. This day is celebrated by African Americans in honor of their ancestors who received notice of being set free from slavery on June 19, 1865.

There will be great entertainment, great speakers and, of course, fabulous free tours of the historic buildings, given by the Friends of Allensworth docents for your educational enrichment.

This year there will be a special treat.  The California Redtails will participate in a fly-over at Allensworth State Park.  The pilots will meet at Delano Municipal Airport for a pre-flight briefing and depart for the state parCalifornia Redtailsk known as the first Black township in California.  Ten private airplanes from throughout California; Hayward, Watsonville, Compton, Whiteman, Cable, and Hawthorne will descend on the Delano Municipal Airport. They will receive a short safety briefing and pre-flight review, then remount their planes and taxi to runway 32. After receiving clearance from the tower they will takeoff one after the other and head north.

Upon receiving the signal from the ground crew, the pilots will turn south, then lineup in a formation. The lead pilot gives the command “Tighten Up, Straighten Up and Fly Right” and the formation drops down to 1,000 ft as they fly over the Juneteenth celebration at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

Colonel Allensworth

Colonel Allensworth

The pilots are members of the California Red Tails, one of fourteen Black Pilots of America chapters. The Black Pilots of America is a non-profit flying organization that encourages under privileged youth to enter the field of aviation. The California Redtails are named after 332nd fighter group, the African American fighter pilots that escorted bombers during World War Two. They are better known as the Tuskegee Airmen because they were trained at Tuskegee, Alabama.

The campground at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is named after Tuskegee Airmen Lieutenant Colonel John “Mr. Death” L. Whitehead, Jr., who served in World War Two, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

For more information or to request a vendor application contact Friends of Allensworth President Thomas Stratton at 530-949-2168 or

For more information, visit , , and to download a flyer, click here:  Red Tails Flyer for 2014 Juneteenth Celebration at Allensworth.

Black History Bus Tour

15 Feb

LA 1878On Friday, February 21, 2014 from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, discover the 1781 African connection to the founding of Los Angeles; travel to the Bridget “Biddy” Mason Memorial and learn the history about the first African-American—a former slave—to purchase land in Los Angeles; learn about the history of the Watts Tower; view the Mother of Humanity sculpture and tour the Civil Rights Museum; learn about the black entertainers like actress Louise Beavers, Pearl Bailey, Hattie McDaniels (first African American to win an Oscar), Earl Grant (jazz organist), and Ray Charles, of “Sugar Hill” in the 1940s; visit the historic mural in the oldest black church in Los Angeles, First AME; and much more!

Leading us on this journey is Tour Director, Dr. Toni-Mokjaetji Humber, professor of ethnic and women’s studies at Cal Poly Pomona and member of Our Authors Study Club, Inc., the Los Angeles chapter of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc., established in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson, founder of Black History Month.

$10 for BFSA Members | $20 for Non-BFSA Members / Optional Soul Food Buffet Lunch at Dulan’s on Crenshaw for an extra $15 / RSVP with Toni Johnson at x 7111 or  Click the following link to download a flyer:  Black History Bus Tour of LA.

This event is sponsored by Los Angeles Community Colleges District Black Faculty & Staff Association.  Speak to your Professional Development Coordinator for information regarding flex credit.

The Etymology of “Picnic”

18 Jun

Several LATTC BFSA meetings ago, some members were concerned about using the term, “picnic” in describing our Juneteenth celebration.  Etymologists dismiss the claim that the word picnic derived from events in which blacks were lynched, and online sources like Snopes and Urban Legends support those claims.

However, the response from Dr. David Pilgrim, sociology professor and curator of Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, describes a different perspective.  He said that although “etymologists smugly dismiss the claim” that picnic began with the lynchings of black Americans, there is some truth in it, “as the lynchings of blacks often occurred in picnic-like settings.”  Read the whole response at and visit their archives for more interesting readings.

So, should we or should we not use the term?