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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 79,167

Journal Archives

A well pumped-up red rubber ball

...there used to be a mean game of dodgeball in my elementary school days, every afternoon at the end of classes.

We used a well pumped-up red rubber ball that would maim and otherwise injure the hapless lessers who dared join in the game. I was, in fact, that very hapless lesser for almost every bout of that punishing competition which just seemed to spontaneously evolve one Spring into the greatest thing ever.

Two teams would spread out on the court, dangerously close and opposite each other, and the goal was to avoid being struck by the glowering maniac with the ball, who would invariably aim for your shorted legs to keep you from catching the ball which would eject them and cause the entire team on the other side to retreat in either a futile panic of getting hit and ejected, or an anticipatory crouch, ready to catch a halfhearted throw from someone as inept but determined as myself.

There was that tall and lanky Cahill girl in the cutoffs and the sleeves of her t-shirt rolled up for effect who could absolutely make you cry from the sting of that red-rubber ball delivered like lightening to any part of your body she would aim for with a side-armed throw and a toothy grin as you attempted to turn and run.

That's what I remember about the smell of the chill Spring air that's wafting through my door this evening. Running through the neighborhood afterward, late for home, through the field and up the hill...

Thing is, I really, really want a red-rubber ball. It's just 8 o'clock or so, and I could go buy one right now, but I really have no use at all for a red-rubber ball these days.

There was a time, though, when it was everything.

Got my first Moderna shot today

...my wife has had hers, and my two sons get theirs today. We're all in the same house, and my sons have been masking around us for a year now.

I just realized what a milestone this is for us, for me. I just recalled the day I decided not to panic or despair, but rather prepare my family for battle. I was still working grocery retail and finally got to retire last November. My wife and sons, however, kept working throughout, wife in grocery retail, one son working a UPS store, and the other working handyman jobs all over town. It's been terrifying.

I made us early maskers by bringing home material and asking my wife to make masks for us all. I was the first in my department to come to work masked-up, and an early, insistent advocate of masking with my co-workers and anyone close enough to listen.

I credit that decision with keeping the family safe. It was our most reassuring defense, that and my ever-present reminders and virus updates. We were all true warriors in this fight, prepared for battle each and every time we left home, and with some luck, I'm sure, it looks like we made it through. Scared out of our minds, but the family is almost in safe territory today.

Wanted to shout-out to the volunteers and others at the vaccination site. It was a very smooth process and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. We're blessed with good people on this planet and I think we should recognize that wherever we find them.

What a crazy year. I don't think we'll ever be the same as before all of this. Maybe that's for the better, but all I can feel when I think about it is sadness. My state's numbers are still hovering in an unacceptably high range, after flirting for months with more hopeful percentages, hospitalizations, and deaths.

My hope and wish is that we all remain vigilant about our saftey, and the safety of others around us, as well. We can win this fight, but the virus is still doing what it does best, taking advantage of our own negligence, indifference, or ignorance. That's going to be my next battle.

My penny thoughts on Afghanistan

...I'm thrilled Pres. Biden has decided to make good on his objections as VP to keeping troops in Afghanistan. He reportedly opposed then-President Obama's 'surge' of forces to defend Kabul, so his decision to withdrawal troops from there is a natural extension of those earlier sentiments.

I wrote extensively on Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush years, and continued writing a bit about Pres. Obama's continuation of those deployments across sovereign borders. For whatever it's worth, here's a look back on one comprehensive essay I wrote at the time of the surge of forces into the country to defend the Afghan capital and it's beleagured president (Jan-02-09).

What's largely forgotten is that more troops lost their lives in Afghanistan during the Democratic administration, mostly as a result of the surge of forces, than during Bush's terms in office.

I don't make much of a fuss about these things these days, but if I did, it would be uncompromisingly similar to this earlier article. Hope it's an interesting read for folks here, not really meant to be as confrontational as it was for me way back when. Just a looking back post for my journal...


Tweaking the Occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan

In the bloodiest year yet for the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan, 155 American troops and 138 NATO troops were killed in 2008. Those deaths were casualties of the policies of the U.S. dominated NATO which has our troops engaged in missions there ranging from aid and reconstruction; defense of outposts in cities and the border region near Pakistan; patrolling and protecting supply routes; and intercepting and destroying weapons and the combatants who use them in resistance to NATO's nation-building occupation.

The drift of the mission of our forces in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, has been to the desperate defense of the Afghan regime which was installed behind the 'shock and awe' of our invasion following the 9-11 attacks. Like the privileged regime in Iraq which was enabled into influence and authority with votes cast in a dubious election by a minority of citizens under the heavy-hand of their country's invaders, the regime in Kabul relies on their own 'Green Zone' of defense of our military forces as their seat of power to lord over the impoverished country.

It's that opportunistic area of concern surrounding the Afghan regime that the Pentagon has recently designated to receive the bulk of forces which are to be reduced from the Iraqi theater. Some 20,000 to 50,000 troops are to be sent from Iraq to Afghanistan to escalate the occupation of the cities and towns surrounding the Afghan capital and to aid in the desperate defense of the government against the myriads of separate factions which have evolved out of NATO's cynical attempt to dominate the millions of Afghans with their puny, destructive forces.

Some of the forces reduced from the Iraq occupation will undoubtedly be sent to help defend remote outposts which have served as a wavering front-line of defense against invading forces from growing ranks of the disaffected among the exports from the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan who enjoy safe-haven across the border into Pakistan and who have identified themselves with and been inspired by the freedom and impunity of the original 9-11 fugitives who were allowed to escape there.

When the next administration in Washington and Foggy Bottom begin to direct their new assault on whatever they decide is vital to defend in Afghanistan and Iraq, they will be threatening to unleash every instigation of resistance to the presence and activity of the U.S. military on Muslim soil which originated as motivation behind the first bombings the US embassy Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole bombing in Aden in 2000, in addition to the 9-11 attacks.

When those terrorist attacks were perpetrated, there was only isolated resistance and violence directed against U.S. interests and allies in the region. In the bloody aftermath of the Bush administration's provocative invasion of Iraq, terrorist acts of violence have increased and expanded across the globe.

As early as May of 2003, the Brookings Institute found that the invasion of Iraq had "increased the risk of attacks in the United States and Europe by increasing the level of Islamist and anti-American rhetoric, by diverting the attention of political leaders from the central issue of the war on terrorism, and by encouraging the view among the public that the war on terrorism is nearly won."

A Brookings study found that, "The rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups, and the number of people killed in those attacks, increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq. Globally there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) and a 237 percent rise in the fatality rate (from 501 to 1,689 deaths per year). A large part of this rise occurred in Iraq, the scene of almost half the global total of jihadist terrorist attacks. But even excluding Iraq and Afghanistan—the other current jihadist hot spot—there has been a 35 percent rise in the number of attacks, with a 12 percent rise in fatalities. "

Now, at the apex of the results and effects of that resistance to the increased and proliferating U.S. military presence and activity in the region over the years since the Iraq invasion, the Pentagon is poised to stage some sort of sustaining defense in Afghanistan of their own representation of 'democracy' in Kabul against whoever would resist the codifying of Bush's swaggering advance on their territory. The Arab resistance to that advance by NATO forces threatens to be withering and devastating to those U.S.-dominated troops that have been directed to oppose the myriads of factions defending their own piece of their occupied country.

The only lesson that our military invasions have imposed on the region is the one which the authors of the deployments purport to oppose; that of the efficacy of military force and violence as an ultimate avenue to power and authority. In Iraq and Afghanistan, those who support the U.S. military-enabled regimes and seek protection behind our dominating forces are considered 'democratic' and legitimate -- while those who choose to be or find themselves outside of that imposed influence are to be opposed as 'insurgent' or 'radical' in their opposition and defense of their chosen territory against NATO's selfish advance.

In fact, the next opportunity for Afghans to 'vote' on the composition of their imposed authority in Kabul is on the horizon for 2009. The increased occupation is also designed to facilitate that election and to provide the same sort of 'with us or against us' choice that our invading and occupying forces in Iraq offered the citizens there.

The plot which is emerging in this Potemkin defense of democracy in Kabul is one which is already well-know to Afghans. Opposition communities will be occupied and intimidated by our forces while supportive communities will be protected and enabled in the run-up to the balloting. The outcome of the vote will likely resemble whatever minority composition of the Afghan population feels unencumbered by the regime's heavy-hand to cast their ballot in their favor.

The result, however, may well bolster whatever legitimacy the West wants to place on their enabled rule in Kabul, but the effect of the increased military activity will have a predictable effect of aligning the myriads of Afghans who are now being led to oppose one another, to band together in resistance against their country's foreign invaders. That will not serve the strategy that the Pentagon has voiced in the past months of recruiting the tribes in their campaign against those Taliban factions along the Pak-Afghan border which threaten U.S. interests and harbor the original 9-11 suspects.

Whatever the goals of the next administration are in their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, they have already been corrupted by a mindset which assumes that our ability to seize and hold territory will impress more than it will repel. The next strategy appears to be an attempt to thread the needle of resistance to the U.S. advance on Afghan territory with a promise of 'stability' of their installed regime.

The counter to that bunk is that nothing at all has been done to address the original complaint of Muslims and Arabs in the way of our nation's swaggering advance across their sovereign borders; that the very presence of our military on their soil is an intolerable aggravation to their religion, values and their wishes - as well as a threat to a great deal of their own safety and security.

The devastating effect of our military intervention in the region, which has cost so many lives caught up in the way of the Bush administration's nation-building folly so far, will only deepen with every tweak and correction that intends to 'win' some sort of 'victory' outside of the pursuit of the original 9-11 suspects. No one expected our forces to prop up anti-democratic, corrupt regimes to counter the attacks on our nation and there isn't any great mass of support in America for investing lives and treasure continuing that pursuit.

I hope the next administration remembers the lessons of our interventions so far as they 'write letters to the families of the troops' who lose their lives for their strategies and schemes they've planned in the region for the future.


https://twitter.com/POTUS/status/1382488847318188041

One year ago today, an ailing John Lewis spoke at the 55th march across the bridge in Selma

Leslie Proll @LeslieProll
One year ago today, was honored to join fellow voting rights advocates in 55th march across bridge in Selma. An ailing John Lewis suddenly appeared at top of bridge, urged us to fight on & essentially said goodbye. Will treasure this forever. #Selma56

https://twitter.com/LeslieProll/status/1368565502730190857


POTUS to work with Congress to repeal AUMFs that have underpinned military operations for decades

Natasha Bertrand @NatashaBertrand
New: POTUS intends to work with Congress to repeal the AUMFs that have underpinned U.S. military operations across the globe for the past two decades, and negotiate a new one that reins in America’s foreign wars, the White House said Friday.

https://twitter.com/NatashaBertrand/status/1367819838823993346

(AUMF: Authorization to Use Military Force, like the Iraq resolution which was used to justify countless incursions in the region since the initial withdrawal)

Biden backs new war powers vote in Congress, White House says
https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/05/biden-war-powers-congress-473843

Mrs. Gilmore's Defining Black History

...old BHM post of mine-.



The theme of this year's Black History Month is black women in American culture and history. The volume of remarkable and celebrated subjects is vast and wide, but there is an endless resource of black women in American history whose accomplishments aren't as widely known and recognized.

I'm fortunate to have a long line of outstanding family members and friends of the family to recall with great pride in the recounting of their lives and the review of their accomplishments. In many ways, their stories are as heroic and inspiring as the ones we've heard of their more notable counterparts.

Their life struggles and triumphs provide valuable insights into how a people so oppressed and under siege from institutionalized and personalized racism and bigotry were, nonetheless, able to persevere and excel. Upon close examination of their lives we find a class of Americans who strove and struggled to stake a meaningful claim to their citizenship; not to merely prosper, but to make a determined and selfless contribution to the welfare and progress of their neighbors.

That's the beauty and the tragedy of the entire fight for equal rights, equal access, and for the acceptance among us which can't be legislated into being. It can make you cry to realize that the heart of what most black folks really wanted for themselves in the midst of the oppression they were subject to was to be an integral part of America; to stand, work, worship, fight, bleed, heal, build, repair, grow right alongside their non-black counterparts.

It can also floor you to see just how confident, capable, and determined many black folks were in that dark period in our history as they kept their heads well above the water; making leaps and bounds in their personal and professional lives, then, turning right around and giving it all back to their communities in the gift of their expertise and labor.

One outstanding black woman who is associated with my family deserves to have her story highlighted a bit in this period where we're striving to elevate and establish the history of blacks in America to an appropriate level of focus.

Elizabeth Harden Gilmore went to school with my mother, living and growing up in the same working-class black community of Charleston, West Virginia. Mrs, Gilmore had the distinction of being the first female black funeral director in the state. She was the owner and funeral director of Harden and Harden Funeral Home.

Before she was widely recognized as a civil rights leader, we used to visit her spooky, classical, revival style mansion in the center of Charleston (now a historical landmark) which had the funeral parlor in the basement. Mrs. Gilmore lived in that house from 1947 until her death.



Recognized today as a civil rights leader in her state and community, Mrs. Gilmore co-founded the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1958 (the first in West Virginia), leading CORE in a successful 1 1/2 year-long sit-in campaign at a local department store called The Diamond. She also served on the Kanawha Valley Council of Human Relations which advanced measures related to housing, transportation, access to other public accommodations.

Mrs. Gilmore also earned a place on the all-white Board of Regents after a successful fight to amend the 1961 state civil rights law. She was also a charter member and Executive Secretary of the Council of Racial Equality.

She was always warm, gracious, and unfailingly generous. Mrs. Gilmore had a gentle, light cadence. She had unusually long fingernails which she would use to gesture toward you as she spoke.

Mrs. Gilmore was well-traveled and would talk with my mother for hours about her experiences abroad and in the community while I fiddled with the expensive crystal she had brought back from Russia and squirmed in my seat.

I came upon a few old articles in my family scrapbooks featuring Mrs. Gilmore in the period of her ambitious work and efforts to serve and elevate her town and its residents. I've transcribed them for a remembrance, and for this year's celebration of black history. I hope you enjoy her enlightened and remarkable perspective on her life and work.


First, an article from 1960 highlighting Mrs. Gilmore's impressions of the struggle for civil rights, six years after the Supreme Court ruled on school segregation:



Negro Says Action The Way To Get Integration

Mrs. Gilmore remembers the first time she decided to actively demonstrate against segregation.

"It must have been 25 years ago," she said. "Lady Baden-Powell, whose husband started the Boy Scouts, was in Charleston and a program was arranged for her at old Garnet High School."

"My Girl Scouts were invited to take part. We found that they had been placed off stage, hidden in the corner, and were supposed to sing spirituals."

"Now I have nothing against spirituals. They're a part of American music, but the whole idea upset me so much, the hurt of those passed-over little girls, that I decided to do something about it."

"I implied that unless new arrangements were made, I would take my little brown-skinned girls and march out right in the middle of the program. Well, something was done about it. They sat on the stage and they held up their heads."

" I guess I've always been something of a protester. My daughter calls me 'Mrs. Ant'iony and Carrie Nation. But my grand mother taught us not to be ashamed because we were Negroes. She said to look people in the eye when we talked to them. She told us we were as good as anybody else, no better, but as good."

(Two years ago), Mrs. Gilmore's protest against racial segregation resulted in her helping to organize a Charleston chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, the first and only CORE chapter in West Virginia (at the time of the article).

CORE, a national organization, is pledged to direct non-violent action against segregation. Such action has included sitting in restaurants and refusing to leave until receiving service (sit-ins), picket-lines, and boycotting.

Activity of the Charleston group, so far, has been limited to lunch counters of variety stores. Eventually, each of the targets changed from a segregated to an integrated policy.

There are 14 active members of CORE here, and about 400 associate ones. Active members pledge to take part in demonstrations when they are asked.

"I am convinced of the efficiency of direct action," Mrs. Gilmore said. "If our people had used it a generation or two ago, we wouldn't be witnessing the things today that shock and sadden people of all races."

"Many people feel as I do. That's why we're opposed to the idea that if we keep our places ans wait patiently these things will come to us. We've been waiting for almost a hundred years and whatever we've got, we've had to fight for. It wasn't given to us. That's why we believe in direct action."

"Segregation, making a person an inferior citizen, is a bad thing, an evil thing. I think the majority of white people would gladly see the end of it if it could be done in a way that would not involve them personally. I think the majority would welcome, if put to a popular vote, an ordinance that would say "we will have no more of this.'"

"I think people would welcome a way of life where man could walk with dignity and live his life to the extent of his potentialities, as a Christian, as a human, as a brother in a free society."

Mrs. Gilmore, as many other observers, thinks that Charleston residents are tolerant toward minority groups. But she adds, tolerance or sympathy is not enough; specific improvements are the things needed.

Restaurants and hotels, she thinks, will end their policy of refusing service to Negroes in the near future; not because they felt it was the proper thing to do, but because pressure was brought against them.

"There are other things when you talk about how tolerant Charleston is," she said, "employment for one. We desperately need some semblance of fair employment. It is the most important thing of all."

"The greater portion of our ills can be laid to the lack of employment opportunities. If we had good jobs, we could have better educations, decent homes, better medical care, all the things that money can buy to enhance a good life."

"If that were so, you wouldn't need to live six to eight to a room and pay $60 a month for a hovel. You could buy good decent clothes for your children; you could buy good books; you could have music in your home. How can you do that on $45 every two weeks? You can't do it! And yet, people criticize these people. They say we don't open our doors to Negroes because we're afraid that type of person will come in."

Mrs. Gilmore thinks that critics of CORE, those who do not believe in protest action, do not understand what it is to be a Negro."

" They can't realize the slights, the rebuffs, the humiliation," she said. "They don't see the tears in their children's eyes. They don't know the sadness, the frustration."

"And it's all so silly. I remember one day I heard one white girl ask another where she had gotten her beautiful tan, and the girl said she had spent two weeks in Florida. I couldn't help thinking that on her it was a beautiful tan; to me, it was a stigma."

"We want what everyone wants: a decent home, records perhaps, the chance to go to a museum or to a theater or to an art galley. We're no different in our hopes and aspirations than anyone else."

"Yet, we're not getting those things, most of us, because of a sociological condition rather than an intrinsic failing. It isn't fair, and our young people, particularly students, are struck by the unfairness it represents."

"My people came over the Appalachians from Virginia before the Civil War because they wanted to find a better place to live," she said.

She said the demonstrations which she helped plan and execute are, to her, the best way to dramatize both the inequality that Negroes face and the inequities of segregation.

"This isn't a go-it-alone battle that we're in," she said. "People of good faith here and throughout the world sympathize with our aims."

"I've been fortunate enough to meet a few of them. I think the greatest thing to happen to Charleston was the Haseldens. (Rev. Haselden was the pastor of the Baptist Temple; his wife was a leader of the Kanawha County Council on Human Relations.)"

"Elizabeth Haselden, with her beauty, grace and dignity, brought to the women of Charleston a graphic story. Albert Schweitzer said, "Example is not the greatest thing; it is the only thing.'"

" She showed them that this battle for human rights was not a brawl of just a rabble's action but it was something that could be done without loss of the things that culture and education bring."

"These women in Charleston have taken their cues from Elizabeth Haselden. They can in good faith, without destroying any of the things that makes a lady, fight this battle and maintain these things -- not only maintain them, but enhance them to make this a better world."

Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, I daresay, provided many, many of the cues for the women of Charleston, and everywhere this great lady's influence was felt and experienced.




One more article featuring Mrs. Gilmore from 1969:



"I'm very honored and pleased," says Mrs. Virgil Gilmore of her appointment to the new state board of regents.

The sole Negro and only woman member on the board, which will supervise eight state colleges and two universities, was asked how she would feel as the lone female in an all-male group. "That doesn't bother me," she says. "I'm an old woman and I've been married twice. I'm not afraid of men or in awe of them."

She's used to the situation anyway, because she's also the sole woman member of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce. As a member of the chamber's education task force, she works with the tutorial program in the Board of education's 'Keep a Child in School' project.

A graduate of West Virginia State College and a licensed funeral director, Mrs. Gilmore has one daughter who is an aerodynamics programmer with General Electric in Cincinnati.

"That's the brains in my family," she says of her daughter. "She received a BS degree in chemistry and math from WV State. I always said nobody could accuse me of pulling her along, because in subjects like that, I could only pull her down."

To her new post as board member, Mrs, Gilmore will take the philosophy: "Our salvation lies in education." She believes most of our ills can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of ourselves, of how to live with others, of how to get the most out of our lives and all the beautiful things that exist . . . There is an adventure about living,: she adds. "It's all here. We're just so sophisticated, or hardened, I guess, that we fail to find the things that make life good."

That personal concept, she says, has paid off. Although she has only one daughter, Mrs. Gilmore says she has "lots of children," including the Girl Scouts, some she has had from the time they were ten years-old on through college.

"And I don't have a single child who can't walk freely and with dignity with kings and princesses," she explains. "They know how to support themselves, they know how to be gentle and kind and decent -- those are the only things you really need."

She says, "those Girl Scouts are more than just Scouts to me. They're my children. I taught them to eat and sleep and walk and talk and I can safely say that two-thirds of them are now business women and degreed women. I've got librarians and school teachers and beauticians -- all kinds of young'uns."

Her Scout were the first Negro girls to attend Camp Anne Bailey and she recalls the bitter struggle involved in actually getting them admitted and the sales they held to finance the trip. "You don't reach into the average Negro's pocket, at least not then, and pull out things like health cards and swimsuits," she explained.

Mrs, Gilmore was a pioneer of the civil rights movement in West Virginia. Of the progress in integration, she tells her youngsters that "the doors are open now. If you don't go through, it's nobody's fault but your own. I remind them we have the government on our side now. If you have a grievance, you don't have top fight it out on you own anymore."

Of her own involvement in the cause of the Negro, she says, "I'm a persistent cuss -- and a mother. My daughter would look up at me with her big brown eyes and ask to have a tall soda at Scott's Drug Store. I would tell her she couldn't and she would say, 'Well, why, mother, why can't I?" That's all it took to get me started.

Mrs. Gilmore refers to herself as a Negro, not black. "I'm old-fashioned," she explains, "My maternal grandmother was from England and my maternal grandfather was from Spain, so, I figure I'm just as much as anything as I am black."

"My great-grandmother came over the mountains to the Kanawha Valley four generations ago looking for a better life. She had six children and only the supplies her master had given her. I tell youngsters today that if one woman could face that alone, that's all the more reason today to seek successful lives for themselves."


Bookend to my Black History Month post, my father's story

..when Dad came to D.C. at the end of the '50's he was wearing suits and hat everywhere he happened about. By the time I recognized him, the hats were tucked away in boxes in the attic, along with the frayed fur coat and a curiously heavy WW2 uniform.

Dad and Equal Employment Opportunity in Black History




SOME of the most important and relevant aspects of our Black History Month celebrations have been our highlighting and honoring of our country's African American heroes whose efforts helped our nation advance and grow beyond our challenging, and often, tragic beginnings. Although most would be loath to call themselves 'heroes' or volunteer themselves for any special recognition at all for their deeds, there is certainly a benefit in framing and promoting these brave citizens' struggles and triumphs as a guide to future generations as they navigate their own inter-ethnic/inter-racial relationships among our increasingly diverse population. Their work and sacrifices form the foundation for the actions we took to reject and defend against discrimination, racism, and other abuses and injustices; as well as provide sustaining inspiration for the conduct of our own lives.

The most enduring and important legacy of these societal pioneers has been the uplifting of a people, and the promises gained, of opportunity and justice for black Americans (and, subsequently, other minorities, women, and the disabled) to be realized through the affirmative action of our federal government.

It was only through the tireless activism and advocacy of notables like Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the civil rights movement in the 1960's, who were protesting and demanding equal opportunity and access for African Americans, that politicians like John F. Kennedy and his political predecessors saw fit to introduce and advance legislation which would bring the federal government into compliance with the aim of equal employment opportunity and require contractors who were hired by government agencies to form 'affirmative action' programs within their own companies as a prerequisite for getting tax dollars from Uncle Sam.

Although President Kennedy didn't live to see the passage of the Civil Rights Act, he did manage to accommodate the lobbied demands of Dr. King in both, his Executive Order 10925, introduced. in 1961, establishing a 'Committee On Equal Employment Opportunity' (providing for the first time, enforcement of anti-discrimination provisions) ; and in his introduction of the Civil Rights Act to Congress on 19 June 1963.

Almost a year after President Kennedy's assassination, Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress and signed it into law. One of its major provisions was the creation of the 'Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.' The law provided for a defense by the federal government against objectionable private conduct, like discrimination in public accommodations; authorized the Attorney General to file lawsuits to defend access to public facilities and schools, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, and to outlaw and defend against discrimination in federal programs.

So, Dr. King and others in the civil rights effort, had done their part in agitating and promoting through demonstrations, the notion and the ideal of advancing equal opportunity into action and law. The passage of the Civil Rights Act was, by no means, the end of advocacy by black leaders. Neither was it the end of the political effort by Johnson and others committed to advancing and enhancing black employment and establishing anti-discrimination as the law of the land.

On September 24, 1965, President Johnson originated and signed Executive Order 11246 which established new guidelines for businesses who contracted with the Federal government agencies, and required those with $10,000 or more of business with Uncle Sam to take 'affirmative action' to increase the number of minorities in their workplaces and keep a record of their efforts available on demand. It also set 'goals and timetables' for the realization of those minority positions.

As far as the activists and politicians' abilities went, they had stepped up to the plate and hit the ball into the outfield. Now, the challenge was to bring the jobs home; to protect and defend the new employment provisions in the federal government, as well as, around the nation in the myriad of public facilities and other amenities which were connected to the federal government through funding. Enforcement was the key.

That would require reliance on a newly formed bureaucracy and its government managers and directors; some appointed by the president, most others brought into government on a less auspicious level.

One of those 'managers and directors' who was present and accountable in government at the time of these important changes in our employment law was my father, Charles James Fullwood.


Charles James Fullwood

In a bit of a self-indulgent look back at his almost 40 years in government -- in relation to some of the changes in the federal government's evolving embrace of its responsibility to defend and promote the remedies and benefits of the equal protection clauses in the Constitution -- we can see a tenuous, but, determined fight beyond the protests; beyond the political arena; to press on with the implementation and realization of some of the promises of the Civil Rights movement.

In Charles Fullwood's personal development and advancement in the military and in government, we can also see many of the dynamics of inclusion and adjustment in play which marked his coming of age in the midst of poverty and oppression, and also, the period beyond the bold actions and bold choices our nation subsequently undertook through their elected representatives.

As humble beginnings go, it's hard to get more quaint than his first home near an Indian reservation in the mountains of Black Hills, North Carolina. He said his daddy used to run a speakeasy with a still in the cellar which he liked to nip at a little when he fetched and filled the jugs for the blues-loving customers partying upstairs. A run-in by my grandfather with a local sheriff was said to have sent the Fullwoods packing and making their way up North in a hurry. The family of eleven settled down in Reading, Pennsylvania, and, but for a few exceptions, like Dad, lived most of the rest of their entire lives there.


On the Sidewalk Outside of 4th Street Address

Reading was a hard-scrabble, mostly poor community which was mostly known, as my father liked to say, for it's 'pretzels, prostitutes, and beer.' In his neighborhood, at least, he described a people who were laid low by poverty and discrimination, and advantaged more by the 'mob' than by the government or its industry. Their burly representatives were said to bring food and clothing to some of the needy families in the neighborhood, once, as Dad described it, looking in the door and seeing all of the children running around, remarked, 'Look at all the hungry little bastards! Little bastards gotta eat.'

Dad said that they would come by occasionally with items like underwear that folks had discarded, and, they'd take them -- happily, because it might be their only opportunity. It's not as if their father hadn't worked to provide for his large family. In fact, James Beulo Fullwood, who immediately applied for 'Relief', upon arrival in town, refused to send his children to school unless the local government provided all nine of them with new clothes. I'm told he got the clothes.





Somehow, Dad and his sister Olivia (who was a young, tragic casualty of the seedy side of the town) managed to gain admission to a Quaker grade school nearby and enjoyed the benefits of educational integration well before most of the rest of the nation. He also worked with the conscientious objectors in the Quaker community as a member of the local Civilian Conservation Corps.


Dad and the Reading Civilian Conservation Corps

Like most endeavors in his life, Dad was on the cusp of a revolution of societal changes which would both advance his careers, and bring his life experiences to bear as he took advantage of the opportunities that the political community's (and the nation's) determination to implement the 'Great Society' ideals expressed and advanced by King, Kennedy, and Johnson into action or law afforded him.

Charles completed three years of high school (vocational school) without a degree and worked as a machinist apprentice operating a drill press. As far as opportunity went in that town, he had the best of it at the machine shop.

He joined the U.S. Army, in 1942, during WWII. He'd had enough of life in Reading and the world was beckoning. That summer as he trained in munitions handling and other military tasks, U.S. troops had landed on Guadalcanal. A year later, as Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met together for the first time, Dad was aboard a Navy carrier bound for New Guinea (the time of his life).



He was attached to the 628th Ordinance Company and their mission was to establish an ammo dump near Brisbane, Australia. The voyage was 'uneventful;' touching once at Wellington, New Zealand and eventually docking at Sydney, Australia.


Members of the 628th Ordinance Company

"Today is cruel:" he wrote, in a brief, but compelling journal of his first voyage] and his first trip abroad. "the sky is cold. not a particle of cheery blue is seen. Nature has sketched a lifeless and deadly scene whose background is obscurity . . The elements are warring."

(sorry, photobucket host is gone. Here's his retyped sample of his leather-bound journal)





New Guinea -- Cadre and Locals

Dad gained a field promotion in New Guinea to Staff Sargent after his superiors recognized him as a leader among his unit of black soldiers. He had an experienced ability to relate with and communicate effectively with the majority of white commanders and superiors in the military and that also served to elevate his profile among the military leadership.

Dad returned from his voyage and two-month deployment to New Guinea and Australia, newly energized and ambitious. On the way home from the West, he had to repeatedly switch trains to ride on the 'colored' cars through the segregated states and towns. He arrived home to Reading and immediately threw his abusive, deadbeat father to the curb. He didn't plan to stay there long, though.


Dad and Sister

Charles received an honorable discharge in 1946. Four years later, he was a graduate student on the GI Bill at West Virginia State College. Dad met my mother there and married her after graduation. He received a degree there in Psychology and went on to further his education at Princess Anne College in Maryland, where he described living in a rundown, segregated, barrack-like dorm.





At WVa. State College, Dad became a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and joined the ROTC.


W.Va, College President, John W. Davis Presents the ROTC Unit's Colors to Senior Cadet, Lt. Charles Fullwood

He subsequently enlisted in the USAR in 1950 where he was assigned to work on civil affairs, recruiting, and personnel. Years after that, in 1963, Charles became a military policeman in the National Guard of the District of Columbia.


Public Safety Officer With D.C. National Guard

Back in his community, Mr Fullwood had also organized a civic association in his home named the Raritan Valley Association which was founded to further the goal of racial equality and for "greater awareness among Negroes of their own responsibility to the community."





It was also at this time -- right at the point in 1963 where President Kennedy is introducing the Dr. King-inspired Civil Rights bill of his to a divided Congress -- that Charles Fullwood was hired as an Employee/Management Relations Specialist in the Office of Undersecretary of the Army overseeing and processing complaints that passed through the Army Policy and Grievance Board.

When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, Mr. Fullwood had been promoted to a Personnel Staffing Specialist, Chief of Employee Services Section, at NASA, with responsibility for managing equal employment, mentally ill, and affirmative action programs; along with responsibility for recruiting and outreach. By 1966, he was NASA's 'principle action,' Equal Opportunity Employment Specialist for the Federal Government, and assisted in the implementation of Kennedy and Johnson's 'affirmative' action-based Executive Orders, 10925 and 11246.


Dad at NASA

By 1967, Charles had advanced to the U.S Civil Services Commission, assisting in developing general and special inspection plans for employer compliance with affirmative action laws and participating in EEO reviews.


Graduating Class at Judge Advocate General's School

In 1968, after being a rare bird in the Judge Advocate General's School and completing its International Law course, he was, simultaneously appointed Deputy Chief, Placement at the Office of Economic Opportunity Personnel and Job Corps. The remnants of the OEO that were reorganized into the Department of Health and Human Services. were the last vestiges of Sargent Shriver's hopes and dreams which Nixon had dismantled and tried to underfund and eliminate.

The next year, Charles Fullwood was moved to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a senior consultant top legislative officers of state, local governments, and private industry in providing ways to implement Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.



By 1970, he was promoted to a position as Deputy EEO Officer, responsible for implementing and evaluating a program of equal employment opportunity for employees of the Public Health Service hospitals, clinics, and major health services divisions.

Later, as Deputy Director of OEEO and HSMHA in 1972, Mr. Fullwood would direct the implementation and administration of affirmative action, upward mobility programs, and the processing of the Federal Women's and the Spanish-Speaking Program which had also been folded under EEO's mantle. This was the period where EEO had been granted actual authority to file lawsuits against violators. In the past, those cases were processed and prosecuted by the Labor Dept., with EEO merely providing friend-of-the-court briefs in support or opposition.

Dad took advantage of this period to play 'Lawrence of Arabia' and leave his paperwork-laden office and go out in the field to bonk some heads. He'd take a sheaf full of the new regs and new authority and put on his best angry administrator face for the code violators and abusers he encountered along the way. Not to diminish the effect of the enforcement ability afforded EEO, there were several landmark cases which were quickly prosecuted by the government and won.

____ It was also during this period that my father had become frustrated over being ignored, yet again, for a promotion in his membership as a major in the Army Reserve. He had been with the Reserve for over 20 years at that point, attending to that career at the same time he was submerged in his government one. Three times he had achieved the required service for consideration for advancement, and twice he had been passed-up.

Anxious that this third bid was destined to be rejected, he wrote then- Brigadier General Benjamin L. Hunton, USAR Minority Affairs Officer, and complained about a process where there were never enough blacks available in the pool to ever stand a chance of any minority gaining the promotion.



"There are a total of 61 officers in the unit," he wrote. "Two are minority group members; a total of 67 officers in another -- two are minority group members . . . a total of 63 in yet another unit with three minority members. The first cited has seven officer vacancies."

"The normal promotional procedure has been to select company and field-grade officers from the companies to fill headquarters vacancies. The procedure of promoting from within is as it should be. My only reservation," he wrote, "is that there are too few black officers at the company grade level available for consideration -- and when available, not selected for promotion."



450th - First Year With Unit

After little more than lip service from the general, Major Fullwood wrote then-Major General Kenneth Johnson:

"I am concerned that, despite the rhetoric and regulations, the Army Reserve and Command, have not now, nor in the past, initiated programs designed to seek and encourage blacks and other minorities to enlist in the Reserve forces . . ."

"Where they do exist, implementation of programs designed to recruit and maintain minority members has been delegated to local commanders with authority to implement according to local needs, but, without specific guidance or compliance review. Herein lies the problem; historically, the Reserve program, as you know, has been a haven for white boys. It has not changed . . . "



450th - Two Years Later

"I have approximately 22 years of combined service in the National Guard and Reserve Corps and am now being denied the opportunity for advancement. If local commanders can capriciously and unilaterally make the decision to deny me, an officer, opportunities that have been offered in abundance to whites, it doesn't require a great deal of imagination to realize the treatment black applicants to the reserve are being subjected to . . . The Reserve recruiting proedures and the Reserve program are, in the main, designed for whites, and consequently, mitigate against recruiting career-minded blacks," he wrote.



Dad's in the far back row, third from the left, behind a soldier

Major Fullwood recieved his commission to Lieutenant Colonel almost 3 years after he had lodged his complaints, and he retired from the Reserve at that rank in 1981.

Ironically, one year after that promotion, LTC Fullwood was assigned by the U.S. Army as an Education and Training Officer, providing support and assistance to U.S. Army Race Relations/Equal Opportunity Staff in preparation and presentation of the Unit RR Discussion Leader Course.



In a validating, but dumbfounding review by his commander, of his new promotion and new 'race relations' assignment, LTC Fullwood was described as 'diligent' and 'exemplary' in the performance of his duties. "His background as Director of Equal Opportunity for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare enabled him to greatly assist First U.S. Army in establishing the Unit Race Relations Discussion Leaders Course," the recommendation read.

No kidding.

Charles Fullwood would serve as Acting Director of OEEO and the Health Services Administration from August 1973 to September 1974. Next, he would serve as Special Assistant to the Administrator for Civil Rights, and then, as Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.



"The HSA Administrator is responsible for the administration of the EEO and Civil Rights programs," Mr. Fullwood told the 'Health Services World' magazine in 1976, after gaining his appointment, "And Dr. Hellman, HSA Administrator, has appointed me to implement them. I intend to do just that, with the help of all of the HSA employees," he said.

That's the long and short of Dad's military and public service. He advanced in the military and the government -- almost Gump-like in his relative obscurity; an uncomfortable aberration in the images capturing the racial make-up of his peer groups -- working to elevate and implement so many of the ideals and initiatives contained in the civil rights legislation that Martin Luther King Jr. and others fought for; working to implement the orders and initiatives from two successive presidents determined to make the 'Great Society' programs a reality (and Nixon, curiously providing the first actual governmental language), and serving as administrator for the inevitable outgrowths and expansions of those initiatives into the federal workforce and beyond; recruiting countless African Americans into the federal workforce, in his time, and providing some of the early backbone for the nation's new impetus in the hiring and advancement of blacks in government.

Most interesting to me, is that image after image shows the extent that, in those early days, Mr. Fullwood was usually, either the only black official in the rooms where important decisions were made concerning equal employment and other vestiges of the Civil Rights Act; or he was one of just a few. It's remarkable how steadfast he appeared over the years as he navigated his way to the senior positions he held in government and in the military.




Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Moves to HSA

In our nation's democracy, social, economic, and legal changes are advanced by a combination of activism, political initiative, and administrative implementation and interpretation. We are advantaged in the realization of our individual and collective ideals by activists, politicians, and bureaucrats. They all contribute.

It's wise to avoid getting too sentimental about the role of government in carrying out our ideals and addressing our concerns in the form of legislation or Executive actions. We, correctly, continue to press our concerns, even after we've passed our legislative remedies and tasked them to administrators and managers to implement. However, it doesn't hurt to recognize the tenacious, principled individuals inside of government who are driven by a determination to make it all work for as many Americans as possible to carry out our political mandates.

I think my father (with the help of countless others assuming the same responsibilities of implementing the dream) fulfilled that role with a characteristic routineness that mirrored the disciplined, principled personal life this African American sought to lead against so many obviously threatening odds; mirroring the unflagging commitment to the nation's advancement that countless generations of black Americans have repeatedly demonstrated, against all odds.

With all of the controversies today about corruption and greed influencing our political and governmental leaders, it's nice to know that there was a sober and trustworthy individual working on these issues behind the scenes. Charles Fullwood was transparently, if nothing more, a decent and principled man. That seems to be a rarity in government these days. It's certainly worth celebrating.

We're left to wonder just what we'd do without them; these good guys in government . . . I look optimistically to the future for more Chuck Fullwoods to run the bases after we've hit our political balls deep into the nation's outfield. How have we ever managed without him?




bookend post, my mother's story: https://www.democraticunderground.com/118769079

It's Black History Month, and I'm in the mood to re-share a couple family bios

...first, a focus on my Mom's family (original post linked at the bottom contains replies from distant relatives and revelation about my great-grandmother's marriage to her enslaver).

Remnants, Remembrances, and Legacies of Black History



If you can spare it, take some time out this month to look at any of the retrospectives, remembrances, and celebrations of the lives, achievements, and contributions of African Americans throughout our nation's history that folks are offering. Their remarkable and notable stories will be revealed and told to us through the rare photos; the rare anecdotes; through the recounting of the histories of famous and important persons in our communities and in our personal lives. The memories are preserved in fragments of time and place, held in fragile care and often degraded beyond recognition; or just gone for good.

With this year's observance of Black History Month, we've taken yet another step away from the often tragic and perpetually challenging beginnings of those Americans who often found themselves at desperate odds with a society determined to relegate their livelihoods and their rights to separate and often unequal consideration -- usually for no reason other than the color of their skin or their ethnic origin.

The month provides us with a 'teachable moment,' to recall, not only the institutionalized and personalized discrimination; not just revisit the violence; not solely focus on the insults and indifference perpetrated by some against black Americans, but, to recognize the depth and breadth of the motivations and determination of a people so convinced of their rightful place in a country so bent on their oppression to continue to reach out their hands to help the larger society as they helped themselves progress.

"This year's theme, "Black Women in American Culture and History," invites us to pay special tribute to the role African American women have played in shaping the character of our Nation -- often in the face of both racial and gender discrimination," wrote our nation's first black Chief Executive in his 2012 presidential proclamation.

I've been aware of the contributions of women to African American history since the occasion was called 'Negro History Week,' and I stood, terrified, before a huge assembly in our large Washington, D.C. elementary school auditorium and read the several paragraphs my father had written for me the night before (and I had partially memorized) on life of the black, contralto opera singer, Marion Anderson.

Of course, we all learned of the brave and heroic efforts of black women like Harriet Tubman and her 'Underground Railroad' shepherding fleeing slaves from capture. Sojourner Truth, an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, provides and early example of a courageous commitment to the betterment of a people and the larger community. We also learned of people like Bessie Coleman who became the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license and first American of any race or gender to earn an international license.

We can also see the contributions of those black American women gifted with artistic and musical ability to develop and fashion the texture and flavor of our culture, from the theater; to the gallery; to the runway; and beyond. We are encouraged and energized by the passion and diversity of African-American women's expression throughout our nation's history. The icons and favorites of our time join their brothers and sisters from the past in their timeless constructions and performances of their inner visions and activism. Many a song; many a performance; many an artwork; sparked or gave encouragement or comfort to changes in our nation -- provided positive reinforcement of progress; or offered stark denouncements of objectionable national behavior or attitudes. Others gave us comfort or provided introspection into the harmony or discord in our own souls and psyches.

There is yet another set of black women 'heroes' and achievers who aren't as readily or frequently recognized for their accomplishments and contributions. There are the folks who made it their mission to advance the causes of equality and integration for themselves, even as they worked to serve the needs and advancement of the public welfare of those outside of their own, mostly-segregated communities. Elected women officials are rare in our nation's early history, but there are countless examples of public and civic activists and advocates who helped form the organizations and commissions which held our nation accountable for its promises of equality and justice before the nation's voters saw fit to elect more women to our legislatures and our public offices.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first black woman to receive an M.D. degree. She graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864. Phillis Wheatley became the first known African-American woman to publish a book in 1773. Sarah Jane Woodson Early was the first African-American female college instructor (Wilberforce College). Mary Jane Patterson was the first African-American woman to earn a B.A (Oberlin College). Cathay Williams was the first African-American woman enlistee in the U.S. Army . . .

We see the obvious contributions and legacies of these courageous and ambitious women in almost every aspect of our modern lives. Generations of women and men draw inspiration and heed the lessons of these African-American histories in their own pursuits of achievement and greatness. We can track the attitudes of service and commitment to country and community that these black women imbued in their everyday struggles, right up to the present attitudes and efforts of their offspring and the lessons they preserved and are sharing with the young leaders of the future.

____ A journey back through my scrapbooks this week took me on a trip beyond my own mother's past; beyond her mother's -- to the amazing history of an enterprising African-American lady whose ambitions and accomplishments helped provide the impetus and underpinning for the success and progress of countless black women in America as they worked tirelessly to navigate and overcome the many obstacles placed in their path.



Annie Turnbo-Malone

At the turn of the last century, Annie Turnbo Malone, the tenth of eleven children, began working on the hair of family members after she was unable to complete high school because of an illness. Looking for another method to straighten their hair, other than the popular (but injurious) method of pressing it with an flat iron heated on the stove or the fire, Ms. Malone developed her own formula which she named 'Wonderful Hair Grower.' Along with her own brand and style of hot comb, she created an entire arsenal of products to aid in the styling of African women's hair.

In 1902, Annie Malone moved her hair care enterprise from her shack of a headquarters in Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri, in anticipation of generating business at the upcoming World's Fair. In addition to her booth, Mrs. Malone recruited assistants to sell her formula and on-the-spot hair treatment door-to-door. It was such a success that she was able to tour the South the next year and begin to build her fortune. The proceeds enabled her to open a salon in St Louis and she began to market her hair care products under the name of 'Poro.'

By 1910, she had expanded her St. Louis operation to several offices, and in 1917, she opened 'Poro College,' the first hair and cosmetology training facility for the care of African American women's hair. Poro College was a new construction which stretched a full block, and boasted an auditorium, an ice cream parlor and bakery, a theater, a rooftop garden, as well as an entire marketing, manufacturing, and distribution center for her products which provided rare and important employment for hundreds in the community.

The neighborhood surrounding the "Ville" went from 8% black to 86%. Some called it 'white flight,' but it was actually a progression of an oppressed people toward the opportunity and elevation the enterprise provided. The college was also a hub of activity for black entertainers, and several African American organizations located their headquarters in the building. By the 1920s the Poro business, reportedly, employed 175 people in St. Louis and claimed to have as many as 75,000 agents in the United States and elsewhere. Annie Turnbo was said to have amassed as much as $14 million at the height of her operation. She was a proliferate giver and hosted at least two students in each of the scarce black colleges throughout the country.

Although the school offered no formal degree, it provided the teaching and foundation for black women to start and maintain their own businesses; as well as an etiquette training center and springboard for African American women agent/recruiters who prospered by promoting the 'Poro' brand and related services around the country -- and eventually, around the globe.


"Poro" College contract
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Mostly unrecognized for years, or dismissed or ignored, is the fact of the more famous and more celebrated "Madame Walker's" advantageous beginnings as an actual student at Annie Turnbo Malone's 'Poro' beauty school.

Sarah Breedlove, also know as, 'Madam C. J. Walker,' became one of Ms. Malone's sales agents during 1903. Two years later, however, Ms. Breedlove had developed her own brand of hair care products and moved her new operation, successfully, to Denver. She expanded that operation into hundreds of salons around the country and made a famous fortune selling her hair care solutions to black women.

Another enterprising African American woman, Marjorie Stewart Joyner, also achieved her own expansive legacy of accomplishment and influence in the sunshine and light generated from Poro's beginnings and successes.

Ms. Joyner jump-started her expansive career working for Ms. Walker (Breedlove) in the 1920's, supervising several of her offices and salons. She had been enrolled in the A.B. Molar Beauty School, and in 1916 had become the first black women to graduate from there. She opened her own salon which catered to mostly white clients. She was encouraged to get more training by relatives and she chose the Walker school, which, in turn, recruited her into their business enterprise.

Frustrated that the hair treatments she was providing women seemed to fall apart the next day, Ms. Joyner later invented a contraption, similar to a German one, which would electrify the hairstyle into a hold that would last for days. She patented her invention in 1928 and called it the "Permanent Waving Machine." It's a crazy-looking contraption which hangs from above and connects a single current to several points in a hood from a tangle of wires.

Women were more than satisfied with the long-lasting effects of the treatment to overcome any fear of process. Despite the success of the invention it was considered to be developed using Madame Walker's facilities and resources, so Ms. Joyner never profited directly from Waving Machine. It soon became commonplace in many salons around the country.

“I just wanted to improve the whole process and make it better for both the beauty operator and the client, and to help Black women hold their style for longer periods of time. Who benefited from it wasn’t as important to me as the purpose for which I created it,” she had said.

Marjorie S. Joyner was promoted to manage the Madame C.J. Walker Beauty Colleges as national supervisor after Ms. Breedlove's untimely death in 1919. She oversaw more than 200 schools.

In 1945 Joyner co-founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association with Mary Bethune McLeod. They co-founded the Alpha Chi Pi Omega Sorority and Fraternity to help raise professional standards for beauticians and direct their energy and efforts for the good of the broader community. In 1973, at the age of 77, Ms. Joyner achieved her bachelor's degree in psychology from Bethune-Cookman College. In fact, one of the first and most enduring efforts of the sorority was/is to raise funds for the preservation of the Bethune College.

“Poro College is consecrated to the uplift of humanity—Race women in particular,” Annie Turnbo Malone once said of her enterprise.

"Uplift" them, it certainly did. My grandmother was among that fortunate progression of African American women who were uplifted by Annie Malone's vision and determination. My grandfather's sister was also directly uplifted by Poro College.


Poro College graduates in 1921
from the Fullwood Family Collection

My grandmother, Rochelle Knight Searcy (pictured above, at the top left), and my aunt, Mary S. Thomas, were both early Poro College graduates. Rochelle got her first diploma in 1921 and Mary received her diploma in 1922, with her baby girl in tow.

Rochelle was an African American woman with very light skin. She was the tenth of 26* children born to Jacob Knight in Molena, Ga., in 1902. Knight was said to have, literally, populated an entire town that he had built up on the 200, or so, acres of land he owned. In 1917, Mrs. Searcy graduated from the Seminar English Preparatory School of the Morris Brown University of Atlanta, Ga..


Rochelle and Henry Searcy
from the Fullwood Family Collection

In 1919, she married Mr. Henry K. Searcy (listed in certificates as a 'farmer') and they soon moved to Charleston, W.Va. -- sister Mary and her husband had already moved there from Georgia. Mr. Thomas had found work as the first Negro bricklayer called to work at the South Charleston Naval Ordinance Plant.

Charleston, in a state which was founded on its resistance to slavery and its allegiance to the Union in 1863, was adapting to the changing demographics of its refuge and opportunity for migrating blacks.

"Between 1919 and 1921 T. G. Nutter, Harry Capehart, and T. J. Coleman, three African-American legislators, were responsible for the creation of several state-funded institutions for blacks. The West Virginia Industrial Home for Colored Girls in Huntington and the West Virginia Industrial Home for Colored Boys in Lakin, the West Virginia Colored Deaf and Blind School at Institute, and the West Virginia Hospital for Colored Insane at Lakin were all given state funding. The institutions were to be run by African Americans. Other publicly funded institutions for African Americans included the West Virginia Home for the Aged and (Infirmed) Colored Men and Women in Huntington, the West Virginia Colored Orphans Home in Huntington, and the West Virginia Colored Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Denmar." Source: Posey, The Negro Citizen of West Virginia, 58-62; Acts of the West Virginia Legislature.

Charleston wasn't exactly a progressive town, but it was one of those regions which contained a sufficiently large black population to facilitate and require a proportionally adequate number of institutions, facilities, and amenities to satisfy the African Americans community's needs, wants, and concerns. Those would require a workforce able and adequate to the tasks, as well. The Searcys had the right mix of skills and education to make them integral to the success of their new community.


Rochelle Knight Searcy
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Records obtained from W.Va. indicate that Rochelle was pregnant at the time she attended and graduated from Poro College, but sadly, the baby (Mattie J.) was born 'Immature', at home (5 months from the time she received her 'Poro' degree) and the newborn died within hours. Mrs. Searcy successfully bore my mother, three years later. Although there was the certain stress over the shock that the infant, 'Annie Maude', was born blind, her sight was quickly and adequately restored by a new surgical procedure.

It bears reminding that, although my mother was born with skin that was indistinguishable from most white Americans (and with beautiful blond hair and hazel eyes as a compliment), she was still considered and designated on her birth record as 'Negro' and was not allowed to advantage herself of any of the non-black medical facilities.

Fortunately, Charleston was an able town. It eventually produced a man, Dr. John C. Norman (a schoolmate of my mothers' at the all-black Garnet High School), who became a surgeon key in a new procedure in which a pigs' bladder was used to draw off toxins in liver operations. They took good care of their citizens.

The town also produced a couple of African American beauty salon owners. Within the time-frame of my mother's birth, Rochelle had opened her own beauty salon -- 'Rochelle Beauty Shop' on Morris St.. Mrs. Searcy would own and operate that salon for over 37 years. She looked to be at the height of her confidence and ability in this early street scene:


Rochelle in Downtown Charleston
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Rochelle raised Annie Maude (my mother) and included her in almost every aspect of society, enrolling her in the Girl Scouts and Camp Fire Girls Clubs in which she became a leader. Annie Maude also became a Sunday School teacher at the First Baptist Church in Charleston. She became a member in the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International and a member of the Ivy Leaf Club.

Annie Maude Searcy took a decidedly more personal approach to the furtherance of the prospects of Charleston's youth; mainly in her own social and educational development.


Annie Maude Searcy
from the Fullwood Family Collection

A graduate from the the all-black Garnet High School, which closed in 1955 due to integration, Ms. Searcy went on to become a teacher, attending and obtaining degrees from West Virginia State College; Atlanta University; UDC; Catholic University; and Trinity College. At West Virginia State, she was secretary to the Dean of Women.



After graduating Garnet High School, Anne (as she later referred to herself), became a supervisor at the West Virginia Industrial Home for Colored Girls in Huntington, W.Va..


Anne Searcy
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Anne was a medical secretary at Community General Hospital in Reading, Pa.. She worked for the federal government in Metuchen N.J. for 10 years. She became an elementary school teacher with the Washington, D.C. public schools for 20 years and volunteered as a substitute teacher and teacher's aide for over 20 more years at a nearby Shepherd Elementary school.

____ Sister-in-law, Mary Thomas, also opened a beauty shop in 1924. Mary had twins, a boy and girl, in Charleston, in 1919. The boy died from spinal meningitis when he was 18 months old. She maintained ownership and operation of that salon for nearly 36 years.

In addition to her course at the Poro College, Mrs. Thomas had also obtained a degree in 1909 from Fort Valley State College in Georgia. After two years, and a growing cadre of young women eager to learn the trade -- and Mary eager and Poro-qualified to teach them -- she opened what is considered to be the first beauty/culture school for black women in the state of West Virginia.


Graduates of Mary Thomas' Beauty/Culture School (Mary, at far left)
from the Fullwood Family Collection

She later said she had a love for "doing hair' and a long line of women wanting her to 'do their hair." Mary maintained the shop on Jacob St. for about 35 years and helped many, many women all along the way, reportedly, often putting in twelve-hour days.

Mrs. Thomas also traveled to as many as twenty different states during her career, attending beautician meetings and conventions. Her first visit was to New York.


(Mary Thomas, lower left - Rochelle Searcy, second up from bottom left)
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Mary later helped organize a sorority of beauticians in the Charleston area under the banner of Ms. Bethune's and Ms. Joyner's Alpha Chi Pi Omega group. Later in life, Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Bethune met and became friends.

In this article, Marjorie Stewart Joyner is seen (sitting, second from the left) in a photograph of a gathering of sorors at a Piano recital.



and here, in the original, with my grandmother, Rochelle, and Aunt Mary in attendance:


Alpha Chi Pi Omega Sorority Recital
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Here they are at another gathering; no doubt, organizing some civic mission or raising funds for some public endeavor (Rochelle, seated, on the far right - Mary, standing, second from the right) :


Alpha Chi Pi Omega Sorority Members
from the Fullwood Family Collection

After 1940, Charleston became a hub of activity in opposition to segregation of public facilities, stores, transportation, and other public accommodations. There were also intensified efforts by local residents to get businesses to hire more blacks. Although there were citizens from every corner of the community who gradually rose in support of integration and non-discrimination (in in tune with the emerging legal prohibitions on such acts) there were notable figures who stepped in front of the crowd and waged their own civil-disobedient battles in leading sit-ins and other gradually successful protests in Charleston and the surrounding areas.

"Segregation, making a person an inferior citizen, is a bad thing, an evil thing. I think the majority of white people would gladly see the end of it if it could be done in a way that would not involve them personally," said Elizabeth Harden Gilmore, a local activist and family friend, in 1960. "I think the majority would welcome, if put to a popular vote, an ordinance that would say "we will have no more of this.'"

Mrs. Gilmore, a co-founder of the first CORE chapter in West Virginia, explained: "The greater portion of our ills can be laid to the lack of employment opportunities. If we had good jobs, we could have better educations, decent homes, better medical care, all the things that money can buy to enhance a good life . . . "Yet, we're not getting those things, most of us, because of a sociological condition rather than an intrinsic failing. It isn't fair, and our young people, particularly students, are struck by the unfairness it represents," she said.

Certainly, Mary Thomas' and Rochelle Searcy's children were to be the beneficiaries of the society that these impressive women were building and molding with their steady and dignified lives and efforts.


Mary Thomas' Daughter, Helmar Washington
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Mary's daughter, who she had toted along on her many trips around the country in support of beauticians and in furtherance of her own trade, grew to become a public advocate and activist in her own right. Her efforts were waged inside of the political system after being hired by the newly emerging Social Security administration which she joined in 1955 as a field representative and continued for almost 30 years, retiring as an operations supervisor. Thomas often worked closely with Sen. Jay Rockefeller, in his younger days as a legislator.

Here she is in a newspaper clip on one of her many outreach visits, working to enroll citizens (all races) to advantage them of the newly enacted provisions of the social and retirement law:



Helmar Thomas-Washington was also involved in local politics as league secretary for the Young Negro Democratic Voters League of West Virginia, seen here with her cadre of black and white male associates and legislators:



Mary Thomas, aided by the almost constant companionship of her daughter, went on to live to be 103 years-old.



I see all of those ads for wrinkle cream," she joked, "so I'm thinking I might get me some.

"I just wish - just once - that I could see all of the people I came up with," Mary said in a 1987 interview at 102 years, I wish we could talk about old times. But, they're gone."



Rochelle Searcy went back to St. Louis in 1930 and obtained another degree from Turnbo-Malone's Poro College in 'Fancy Hairdressing.'


Poro College Degree
from the Fullwood Family Collection

Rochelle continued her education as a beautician through the 1950's, enrolling in the beauty school established by Marjorie S. Joyner and Mary Bethune, the United Beauty School Owners and Teacher's Institute. She obtained two more certificate degrees in Advanced Study in Beauty Culture, Methods of Teaching, and Hair Styling; one from New York and another from Detroit, Michigan.


from the Fullwood Family Collection


from the Fullwood Family Collection

Anne Searcy married Charles Fullwood in Reading, Pa. in 1957.



She had 2 children, a boy; Ronald, and a girl; Maria, who passed away at age 48.


from the Fullwood Family Collection

Shortly before the arrival of her son, Mrs. Fullwood was said to have expressed misgivings about her young marriage and asked her mother, Rochelle, to visit and help straighten things out. In 1961, both Aunt Mary and Rochelle boarded a plane and came to Metuchen in support of their girl. Unfortunately, Charles (Dad) sent them packing back to Charleston, almost as quickly as they had arrived. Rochelle, who had been ill for over three years, died of an infection, at age 59, shortly after her return.


Rochelle, Mary, and Anne
from the Fullwood Family Collection

From these few remnants, recollections, and images from this relatively small community in Charleston W.Va., we can see both the outline and the reality of the sustaining influence of African American women, like Annie Turnbo-Malone, 'Madame Walker', Marjorie Stewart Joyner, and the rest, whose efforts stood out and stood tall against the backdrop of our nation's divided past as they actively and aggressively sought to transform their successes into actual gains for the black women (and men) in their community and for the broader public, as well.

Look at them. Look at their faces. There's almost no trace of the struggle and of the oppression and discrimination raging around their young lives. There's little trace of any of the certain insecurity they must have felt as they pressed forward. On the contrary, there's every evidence that their own individual and collective strengths, intelligence, and abilities enabled them to achieve these remarkable accomplishments against the faltering, but omnipresent, resistance with grace and dignity.

More importantly, these few stories illustrate the profound ignorance and short-sightedness of those who sought to keep these folks down or relegate them to a sub-standard, unequal existence. The more the African American community was forced to rely on themselves, the more they prospered; not in any small part due to the myriad of dynamic women who found a way to learn, develop, build, and prosper; reaching back for every outreaching hand they could grab a hold of -- pulling them up and pushing them forward.

Down to the small kitchens in Charleston, West Virginia -- where the overpowering smell of burning hair being treated and processed with ointments, and hot combs heated on the stove fire lingers in our longing memories for that communal past -- the impact of Annie Turnbo-Malone and the other African American women who stepped out ahead of the racism and bigotry which sought to define their young lives is still being felt and reflected in almost every feminine expression of independence and responsibility in our black communities.


from the Fullwood Family Collection

For my mother, that spirit of advocacy and activism didn't stop at Charleston's border. Anne Searcy Fullwood became more involved in the associations and groups which continue to dedicate themselves to the furthering of their efforts against segregation, discrimination, and the like, into the present day.



She achieved a position on the membership committee of the Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (her joy). Mrs. Fullwood was also a member of the NAACP and a lifetime member of the National Council of Negro Women.

In fact, after marrying and moving to Metuchen, New Jersey, Anne Fullwood joined the local Auxiliary Memorial VFRW Post and took a secretarial position at the local Raritan Arsenal.



Charles Fullwood also assumed the responsibilities of citizenship and community as he organized a civic group dedicated to the needs of the entire community, all races, which met in their home, "as a watchdog over human rights and a goad to improvement in Negro community consciousness"





Racism was on the way out of public view and on the way out of our public institutions as this young couple started their new lives. But, there were still remnants of discrimination persisting which echoed the past struggles in Charleston; much like the strikes white students held in the town in an attempt to resist integration of blacks into the public schools.



The above article appeared in a local paper in 1962, along with a front-page explanation of the article by the editors of the paper apologizing to readers for being compelled enough by the seriousness of the conflict described to bother to run such story. A local aid squad had rejected the membership of an African American couple with longstanding ties to the community, based solely on their race. Eventually, under public pressure, the offending members on the board resigned and those remaining relented on the memberships and allowed the black couple to serve.

Mom saw the article and responded (much like her son does today) with a sarcastic and scalding letter to the editor; calling the report 'exasperating.'



"How brainy can this borough be?" she wrote. "A new family establishes residency in a new area; for two years a happy Metuchen family, thinking of a way they might make a worthy contribution to the community; and, one day the thought is real -- the Metuchen Aid Squad -- and another day the idea is ended-gone, without brainy reason or fact why the application was returned."

"Congratulations to the members of the squad who were working whole-heartedly, for the purposes of the squad, rather than the 'Color of the Squad'.

How positively 'brainy'. How positively inspiring.


from the Fullwood Family Collection



original post: https://upload.democraticunderground.com/1187585

bookend post, my father's story: https://www.democraticunderground.com/118769081

Everyone thought they knew what would happen today

David Corn @DavidCornDC
This is why we call it news. Everyone thought they knew what would happen today. Guess what.

https://twitter.com/DavidCornDC/status/1360613826845155336

...I always counsel that politics isn't a static enterprise. It's nebulous and dynamic.

Indeed, the political forces will often not bend to the will of the people without strong activism and advocacy. It's no secret that politicians are as politically afraid as they are politically craven, and there are myriad opportunities to compel these politicians to do their jobs. It makes no sense to respond to their political obstinacy like Eeyore, insisting that republicans are some immovable force, just because they threaten to acquit.

Hearts

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Love is what's partaken when someone takes time
To reply to persons mostly unknown to them,
Sharing a bit of the precious kindness we possess,
Benignity we grow and store inside our minds,
Troubled and aspiring, lonely, injured, and intrepid.

Hope is a brave promise made to ourselves and others
That someday we might gather up love and fashion it
Into a community of caring which helps sustain us all,
Like the community of interests assembled here at DU.

We bring it all; anger, resentment, pain, sorrow, angst.
There's also joy, achievement, redemption, forgiveness here;
All of the ingredients that go into life's stew, sweet and savory,
With the hearts we give each other spread all over these pages.


Thank you for all the hearts, DU.
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