Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) the legendary civil rights activist would have been 100 years old this year. While many people know of her role as catalyst of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and as an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, many people are not aware that her career as an activist started before her arrest in 1955. At least I didn’t.
Here’s an interesting interview w/ Jeanne Theoharis, a Rosa Parks biographer conducted by Gwen Ifill on the PBS NewsHour detailing the beginnings of her life as a civil rights and community activist:
In the past I’ve occasionally posted some drawings for Black History Month. Since it’s that time again, I thought it might be fun to revisit some old subjects.
Back in 2010 I did a sketch of a young Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993), the first African American on the Supreme Court and the lawyer who argued the famous Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court. This current sketch was drawn from a photo taken in 1967, around the time he became the court’s 96th justice.
I’ve always been fascinated by his story: the grandson of a slave, who initially went to college to study medicine and become a dentist, eventually becomes an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Check out his biography on Wikipedia.
Bessie Coleman (1892 – 1926) was the first woman to earn an International Aviation License and the first African-American licensed pilot.
Born in Texas, Bessie was the 10th of 13 children. Unhappy with small town life in Texas, she moved to Chicago in 1915 to join her brother and make a life for herself. She learned the beautician’s trade, but what she really wanted to do was be a flier.
Being a woman, and black, she couldn’t find anyone who would teach her fly. On the advice of a friend she decided to go to France and learn to fly there. She saved and raised money, learned some French, and arrived in France in 1920. She received her aviation license in 1921.
After earning her license, Bessie made her living as an exhibition flier, occasional parachutist, and lecturer. Unfortunately her life was cut short by a crash during a test flight in 1926.
You can get a better idea of Ms. Coleman’s struggles, achievements, and her legend by reading her bio on BessieColeman.com.
Rev. Jesse Jackson was the second African America to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. A civil rights activist, and Baptist minister, he ran twice in 1984 and 1988.
In 1984, he was pretty much written off as a fringe candidate. Therefore, it was quite a surprise when he came in third in the nomination race behind Gary Hart and Vice President Walter Mondale. He won 18.2% of the popular vote, won 5 state contests and 12% of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
When he ran for the Democratic nomination in 1988, his results were even better. He came in second to Michael Dukakis. He won 29% of the popular vote, 11 state contests, and 29.7% of the delegates.
Jackson has been in the public eye for many decades and has been involved in numerous civil rights and international activities. He is primarily known as the founder of the Rainbow Coalition which merged with PUSH to create the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
In 2004, Rev. Al Sharpton and Former Sen. Carol Mosely-Braun both briefly ran for the Democratic nomination, but dropped out early in the race.
Mosley-Braun, most noted for being the first African American woman elected for the U.S. Senate, dropped out in January 2004 right before the Iowa caucus and endorsed Howard Dean.
Sharpton dropped out of the race in March 2004 and endorsed John Kerry.
Well, that is it. Now I’ll sit back and watch how this current nomination race unfolds. It has definitely been interesting.
This year’s race for the U.S. Democratic nomination has been interesting to watch and it got me thinking about the other African American candidates of the past. Interesting enough, they have all run during my lifetime.
I decided to work on ink portraits of each candidate as way to practice my technique. I’m no historian, so forgive me if my profiles are extremely sketchy. There will be links at the end of the posts if you would like to learn more.
The first in this series is Shirley Chisholm (1924 – 2005). I will spend more time on this profile than the others Ihave planned because I consider her to be a pretty important historical figure. She was the first African American to seek a major party nomination for the presidency. She ran in 1972 with the slogan “Unbossed and Unbought” which later became the title of a 2005 Peabody award winning documentary of the campaign. Isn’t that a great slogan?
Chisholm had an ethnically diverse group of support that included the National Organization for Woman. She did not win any primaries, but did win 152 delegates, ultimately losing the nomination to George McGovern.
Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to Congress, representing New York’s 12th District from 1969 – 1983. She briefly served as ambassador to Jamaica during the Clinton Administration.
She was a founding member of the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus.
I can’t even begin do just to the career of this amazing, gutsy, outspoken woman. Here are some links if you would like to find out more: