On this day in history: Henry Highland Garnet was born in captivity in Maryland in 1815. When he was nine, his family secured their freedom via the Underground Railroad. Garnet entered the African Free School in NYC in 1826. In 1834, Garnet and some of his classmates formed their own club, the Garrison Literary and Benevolent Association.
Because the society was named after a controversial abolitionist, the public school where the group wanted to meet insisted that the group first change their name. To do otherwise would be to risk mob violence. The club decided to keep their name and instead change their venue. The first meeting of the group garnered over 150 African Americans under 20.
Garnet is perhaps most famous for his radical speech of 1843, “An Address to the Slaves of the USA.” In this speech, Garnet speaks directly to those enslaved, urging them to rebel against their masters. . . Because of Garnet’s outspoken views and national reputation, he was a prime target during the 1863 New York City draft riots. Rioters mobbed the street where Garnet lived and called for him by name. Fortunately several white neighbors helped to conceal Garnet and his family. Garnet was also involved in the fight to desegregate streetcars.
This description is from The New York African Free School Collection. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1eQgGhz Photo from National Portrait Gallery.
Read about more black abolitionists and download a free lesson on the people’s history of Abolitionism, by Bill Bigelow from Rethinking Schools, here: http://bit.ly/LAl8tP
On this anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks (Feb. 4, 1913 – Oct. 24, 2005), it’s time to teach the full store of her life of activism. Read “The Politics of Children’s Literature: What’s Wrong with the Rosa Parks Myth” by Herbert Kohl from Rethinking Schools: http://bit.ly/1lymHIR. Photo: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, Rosa Parks and Ralph Abernathy at the Highlander Center, 1957.
“Rosa Parks: Angry, Not Tired” — Rosa Parks would be 101 today. In this article for Huffington Post, the popular legend that she was a tired middle-aged seamstress who, at the spur of the moment after a hard day at work, decided to resist Montgomery’s segregation law by refusing to move to the back of the bus on December 1, 1955. She is typically revered as a selfless individual who, with one spontaneous act of courage, triggered the bus boycott and became, as she is often called, “the mother of the civil rights movement.” In fact, Parks’ defiance was not an isolated incident. It was part of a lifelong crusade to dismantle Jim Crow. She was a veteran activist and part of a local movement whose leaders had been waiting for the right moment to launch a campaign against bus segregation. (You’ll also see a wonderful photograph of Parks with Pete Seeger and Martin Luther King at the Highlander Folk School in 1957).Peter Drier