Today in “Hidden” History

Today in “Hidden” History is a daily listing of important but little-known events illustrating the range of innovators, contributors, or incidents excluded from formal history lessons or common knowledge. Hidden history is intended not as an exhaustive review, but merely as an illustration of how popular narratives "hide" many matters of fundamental importance. Bookmark this page and check daily to quickly expand your knowledge. Suggest entries for Today in “Hidden” History by clicking the Contact Us link. Entries for July 16:

1862Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, an investigative journalist, educator, early leader in the civil rights movement, and a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War, Wells later co-owned and wrote for the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper, reporting on incidents of racial segregation and inequality. In articles and through her pamphlet called Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, Wells documented and exposed lynching as a barbaric practice that South whites used to intimidate and oppress African Americans. In response, a white mob destroyed her newspaper office and presses. Subjected to continued threats, Wells left Memphis for Chicago. She married Ferdinand L. Barnett in 1895 and had a family while continuing her work writing, speaking, and organizing for civil rights and the women's movement for the rest of her life. A skilled and persuasive speaker, Wells was outspoken regarding her beliefs as a Black female activist and faced regular public disapproval, sometimes including from other leaders within the civil rights movement and the women's suffrage movement. She established several notable women's organizations. Over the course of a lifetime dedicated to combating prejudice and violence, and the fight for African-American equality, especially that of women, Wells arguably became the most famous Black woman in America. Learn more.
1882Violette Neatley Anderson, the first African-American woman to practice law before the United States Supreme Court (on January 29, 1926) and one of the most prominent advocates of the landmark Bankhead-Jones Act that helped secure rights and economic mobility for sharecroppers in the South, is born in London, England, in 1882, to a German mother and a West Indian father. She moved to Chicago with her family as a small child. Learn more.
1936The Green Pastures, an American film depicting stories from the Bible as visualized by Black characters, premieres at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. It starred Rex Ingram (in several roles, including "De Lawd"), Oscar Polk, and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. It was based on the 1928 novel Ol' Man Adam an' His Chillun by Roark Bradford and the 1930 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Marc Connelly. The Green Pastures was one of only six feature films in the Hollywood Studio era to feature an all-Black cast, though elements of it were criticized by civil rights activists at the time and subsequently. Despite criticisms about its racial stereotyping, The Green Pastures proved to be an enormously popular film. On its opening day at New York's Radio City Music Hall, tickets sold at a rate of 6,000 per hour. The film was held over for an entire year's run at some theaters. It remained the highest-grossing all-Black-cast film until the release of Carmen Jones in 1954. Learn more.
1944Irene Morgan, a 27-year-old Black woman, traveling by bus from Gloucester, Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland is arrested in Virginia for refusing to give up her seat for a white passenger. Under Virginia law at that time, racial segregation was mandatory on state-sponsored transportation. Ms. Morgan insisted that her presence on an interstate bus meant that Virginia law did not apply. Police physically dragged the young Black woman from the bus, held her in the Saluda City Jail, and convicted her of violating the state segregation law. Ms. Morgan appealed and two years later the United States Supreme Court reversed the conviction and held that state segregation laws were unconstitutional as applied to interstate bus travel. Learn more.

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Author Talk w/ Marc Lamont Hill and Todd Brewster

May 24, 2022 @ 7:00 pm 8:30 pm EDT

Click Here to Register for this Event at Ridgefield Library

Todd Brewster and Marc Lamont Hill talk about their new book, Seen and Unseen: Technology, Social Media, and the Fight for Racial JusticeMr. Hill will be joining by Zoom and Mr. Brewster will be in person. read more

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