For all the history geeks out there, Black History Month provides another opportunity to look into the lives of people that lived, made a change, and gave us all hope. While researching who I wanted to write about this February I was amazed at how many ordinary people took drastic measures to reach their goals.
Mr. and Mrs. Craft
The first persons who struck my attention were Mr. and Mrs. Craft – William and Ellen, respectfully. These two were slaves living in Macon, Georgia in the 1800’s. Ellen was mixed-race (her father was her first master and her mother was bi-racial) and William was a cabinet maker at the time. Both lived on different plantations and could only see each other if the masters gave them passes or permission slips. Long story short, William concocted a plan for his wife to disguise herself as a white man traveling with his slave, of whom he would play the part. They had many close calls, but made it all the way to Philadelphia safely. Even after reaching freedom, the two were not completely out of harm’s way. They had to run away to England after only two years due to slave hunters trying to trek them down. However, they were able to return to the US after 20 years and subsequently opened a school in the 1870’s in Georgia for newly freed African Americans.
Now that’s motivation and determination.
This story makes my heart sing. Bessie Coleman was one of 13 children living in Atlanta, Texas in the late 1800’s with her mother and father. In this family, as soon as you got of age, you made it your business to help or at least take care of yourself. So, after several job attempts and an abrupt withdrawal from college due to lack of funds, Bessie moved to Chi-town. She soon started hearing about the adventures of World War I pilots. Of course, because she was an African American woman, entrance was closed to her, but this didn’t stop her. She simply taught herself French and entered France’s well-known Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation. This provided her the opportunity to make a living doing stunts and aerial shows. Even though – due to a rehearsal stunt gone wrong – she had a brief life (1892-1926), she set the bar and remains a pioneer in the field of aviation today.
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler
Another one of my newly-founded sheroes…Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler. She was the first African American women to earn her M. D. degree. Okay, how about it was in 1864, ya’ll?!?? This was in part due to the example of her loving aunt who raised Dr. Crumpler as well as helped neighbors when they fell sick. After the Civil War, Dr. Crumpler assisted other black doctors for the time; the purpose of this endeavor was to help as many freed slaves since they would not have gotten the necessary medical attention otherwise. In 1883, she published a book based on her journal notes.
Can somebody say girl power?