Friday, July 3, 2009

Reid Temple AME

By: Juanita Fisher
HS 129, Summer 1 2009

In October 4, 1994 the doors of Reid Temple AME church opened for worship and were named after honoree Bishop Frank M. Reid Sr. Reid Temple went through many struggles doing their time of growth and also went through a series of ministers. Rev. Dr. Lee P. Washington is the current Minister of Reid Temple for over 10 years. Even though the church went through hardship, Reid Temple was still growing and continuing to have new members and a variety of ministries for the members of the church. In 1990, Reid Temple had approximately 300 members. In 2009, Reid Temple now has approximately 2,000 members.

My children and I joined Reid Temple in October 2009. I joined this organization because I am Methodist and I wanted to stay in the Methodist denomination. My mother visited the church first and told me that I should attend service one Sunday and I did. I felt Reid Temple had everything I needed on spiritual basics. After my family and I joined, we were told to attend a new- membership orientation that explains the history of A.M.E. and who founded Reid Temple.

I choose this item because of the history of A.M.E. that my family and I are part of as African Americans. Reid Temple symbolizes the spiritual growth being an African American in today’s society.

Clarence Thomas Speaks at Quince Orchard H.S. Graduation

By: Angie Powell
HS129, Summer 1 2009

On June 1, 2009 I had the pleasure of hearing Justice Clarence Thomas speak at Quince Orchard High school’s graduation. When I went up on stage to receive my diploma, I, along with all my classmates, got the privilege of shaking this man’s hand. Justice Clarence Thomas was the keynote speaker at my graduation at Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. He left my peers and me with interesting and motivational words to help us in the future. After hearing what he had to say, I was interested in finding out more about this man and this gave me an opportunity to research Justice Thomas in detail. Also, the convenience that Justice Thomas was at my high school graduation also motivated me to write this post about him.
The surprised reactions and concerns that swarmed through the halls of my school when everyone found out that Thomas would be speaking at graduation were insane. Before everything, I didn’t even know who Thomas was. I was clueless. Even with no knowledge of this man, and I still felt honored that a Supreme Court Justice would take time out of his busy schedule to come talk at Quince Orchard High’s graduation. Walking from class to class, I overheard multiple opinions about Thomas. Some classmates reacted positively and were really excited the Quince Orchard managed to get a Supreme Court Justice. Others however didn’t react so positively.

The controversy that has gone on throughout Thomas’s life concerning sexual harassment charges took a toll on some of my classmates. One classmate in particular actually threatened a strike or to stand up and turn their back while Thomas was speaking. The principal of my High school, Carole Working, warned this student that they wouldn’t be able to receive their diploma if they disrespected the speaker. She couldn’t stop her from a strike since it would violate the first amendment but the strike never happened. In reaction to this classmate’s threats about what she would do at graduation, many believed she would ruin it. I remember hearing someone say “I know she has a right to free speech and everything, but she still shouldn’t ruin this day for everyone else.”

The controversy about Thomas heightened so much that I spent an entire period, 45 minutes, in my Advanced Placement Environmental Science Class discussing what graduation would be like and what our one classmate might do that may ruin it for many if not everyone. One person who took part in that discussion was Stanford bound football player and my classmate, Terrence Stephens. Stephens along with another football player and classmate Jason Ankrah were the reason for Thomas speaking at graduation.

Ankrah and Stephens were on a flight back from Nebraska where they were being recruited for football when they met Thomas. They sat in coach, and Thomas surprisingly did to. Terrence told my environmental class during our discussion that he had no idea who Thomas was when he approached him and Ankrah on the plane. Thomas asked them if they were the football players from Quince Orchard named Terrence Stephens and Jason Ankrah. Not knowing who he was, Ankrah and Stephens were terrified. After a little conversation, they found out he was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. During conversation, Stephens brought up the issue of not having a keynote speaker for graduation at that time. Thomas agreed that he would speak and one of his reasons for being at Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall on June 1st was because of Ankrah and Stephens.

When Thomas got up to speak, no one knew what to expect. He talked about perseverance through adversity, overcoming obstacles to capture your dream, and his life. His speech was heartfelt and I feel as if everyone took something from his words. Whether it was being inspired or just learning about Thomas’s life, I am sure that everyone will remember the day when Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at Quince Orchard High School’s graduation on June 1st, 2009 and received a standing ovation.

Hours before Thomas entered Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., some men from secret service swept through the Hall swabbing for gun powder and maybe even anthrax, one of my friends told me. They had earpieces in their ear and were stationed throughout the hall when Thomas arrived until he left. I am not sure about how he arrived or left, but he made a lasting impact on everyone in Constitution Hall that day, even my classmate who threatened to strike.

Clarence Thomas was born on June 23, 1948 in a small, impoverished African American community in Pinpoint, Georgia. It was settled by freed West African slaves known as Gullahs (Kroft). His family descended from slaves in the South. Thomas’ father left his family when Thomas was only two and when he was seven, he and his younger brother moved in with their Grandfather. When Thomas was ten, he began to work on the fields that his grandfather owned from sunrise to sunset. He was what CBS news called a “field hand.”

Thomas was the only African American at his high school and at the age of sixteen, since his Grandfather was Catholic, he considered entering the priesthood. He attended St. John Vianney’s Minor Seminary on the Isle of Hope. After that, he attended the Conception Seminary College which was a Roman Catholic seminary in Missouri. He left the church due to a racist comment from one of his classmates about the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. A nun from the seminary suggested going to the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. There, he founded the Black Union in the school and he received multiple deferments from the military draft. Many young African American men received deferments to enter the Vietnam War, like Thomas. He ended up avoiding the draft due to curvature of the spine, and he went on into the study of law (The Oyez Project).

In 1971, Clarence Thomas graduated High school with a cum laude in English literature and went on to Yale Law School. In 1974 he earned a Juris Doctor degree and graduated towards the middle of his class. Between 1974 and 1977, he was appointed and served as the Assistant Attorney General in Missouri under John Danforth (Cornell). In 1977 to 1979, he became an attorney with a lawyer named Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri.

In 1979 Thomas moved to Washington D.C. where he again worked under John Danforth, this time as a legislative assistant. In 1981 he joined the Reagan administration and was then appointed Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education until 1982. In 1982 Thomas became chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which he served for eight years.

In June of 1989 he was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He took the oath of office on March 12, 1990 and lasting until October 1991, Clarence Thomas served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. When news came about concerning the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to take his place. Thomas took the oath of office in October 23, 1991 and to this day he remains one of the Supreme Court Justices in the country (Cornell).

However, Thomas’s journey to get to office is complicated and filled with controversy. When Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his retirement, Bush decided to nominate Thomas. Many opposed this nomination especially minority groups who opposed Thomas’s views on civil rights. Before Senate voted to appoint Thomas, he had to go through questioning from the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.

What delayed his appointment was a last-minute witness named Anita Hill. She accused Thomas of sexual misconduct when she worked for him. Many were appalled and surprised about the accusation put on Thomas by Hill but the Committee was not able to find convincing proof that the allegations were true. Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm Thomas’s nomination to the High Court. Even though nothing was proven, the accusation split black community’s views over Thomas’s nomination but nevertheless he became a Supreme Court Justice. To this day, people still believe that Thomas was involved with sexual harassment shown by the reactions of some of my classmates, but nothing has been proven (The Oyez Project).

The treatment of blacks throughout the country has improved since the pre Civil War era, but it still lacks in some respects because of expectations of some people. In a CBS interview, Thomas states that people think that because he is black, he must think a certain way. He told the interviewer, "I'm black. So I'm supposed to think a certain way. I'm supposed to have certain opinions.” He states that some people to this day still make judgments based on what you look like. This statement proves that racism is still exists today. Even though racism still is present in our society, future historians should note the change between now and back then. Back then, African Americans were thought of as an inferior race but now they are acknowledged as human beings that deserve the same treatment as whites, even if they may not receive it.

Throughout Clarence Thomas’ life, he has overcome adversity and has accomplished so many things that no one would have ever thought possible. From working on his grandfather’s fields like a slave to becoming one of the most influential and important men in the country, Clarence Thomas has proved most of the society wrong. After a trivial case based on allegations of sexual harassment by his subordinate, Thomas was still appointed as one of the Supreme Court Justices (Kroft). Clarence Thomas stands as the second African American to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, an accomplished and successful black man, and someone that everyone should know. He is the epitome of the Marty McFly’s statement, “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

Works Cited:
"'If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything' - Marty McFly."Muze Clothing Blog. Muze. 06 June 2009 .

"Clarence Thomas." The Oyez Project. 06 June 2009 .

Kroft, Steve. "Clarence Thomas: The Justice Nobody Knows - CBS News." CBS News - Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News. 30 Sept. 2007. 06 June 2009 .

"LII: US Supreme Court: Justice Thomas." Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. 06 June 2009 .

Boyds Negro School

By: Corey Watkins
HS 129, Summer 1 2009

This time I chose to go and check out the Boyds Negro School. It is located in Boyds, Maryland. I chose this site because I have driven past it before and was curious to learn more about it since it is so close to where I live. I then searched it on the web and found a web site for the location. It is located off of White Ground Road, a back road located at the end of Clopper Road in Boyds. I visited this site on June 14th 2009.

The school is a one-room 22 x 30 foot wooden building, heated by a wood stove. This school served as the only public school for African Americans in the Boyds area from 1895-1936. The schoolhouse served students in grades 1-8, many of whom walked for miles to attend classes at the school. The school was purchased in 1980 by BHS (Boyds Historical Society), the school was then restored to its original condition in approximately 1900.
Boyds Historical Society was organized in 1975 (as the Boyds/Clarksburg Historical Society). Their membership consists of local residents who share an interest in preserving the community's history. The Boyds Historical Society has done many things for the Boyds Community today which makes it very important for future generations to know to keep the BHS going. They have established an archive and museum facility for the community. They have preserved the Boyds Negro School as a Maryland Historic Site and they promote and encourage activities that educate, entertain, and develop community fellowship. They also provide space for community functions, events and festivals. This is just an overall great place for the community and is a great place to remember.

This site depicts where African Americans would have gone to school in the early 1900’s. It shows that they didn’t have the best facilities as it is a one room building that is not very big. They had an old outdoor restroom that was basically a hole in the ground that was in the middle of the woods. They used hand me down books from the white schools and didn’t have the best supplies. This site is important to see because you can see for yourself how African Americans were segregated and how they didn’t receive the best schools, books and basically everything. Just another thing to show you how African Americans did not deserve what they got. This shows future historians why the world should never be segregated again and that everyone deserves equal opportunities.
Works Cited:
Boyds Historical Society:

Dee's Beauty Supply and Salon

By: Alex Williams
HS 129, Summer 1 2009

The pictures attached are of Dee’s Beauty Supply and Salon. I believe this black business is a great depiction of African American life today as we continue to grow in current America. This black business is located in Germantown, Maryland and was founded by Dee Harris in 1992.

I chose to write about this business because I have known the owner, Dee Harris, since my family and I moved to Germantown in 1999. Ever since 1999 my family and I have been customers of Dee’s Beauty Supply and Salon. In its early existence Dee’s shop was not solely a beauty supply shop. For the first 9 years of its existence it was a movie rental store that also sold a small selection of beauty supplies. This movie rental business was somewhat successful but over the years competition began to impose on her proceeds.

When a new Blockbuster Video opened across the street from the Dee’s Shop it forced her to shift her efforts to her beauty supplies. This move proved to be a smart business choice as there were few other beauty supply areas to compete with. Although there were many commercial hair products on the market, Dee’s Beauty Supply and Salon, allows African Americans to locate products specifically created for their hair. It was not until Dee opened a salon within the shop that her business truly began to flourish. This provided a convenient place for my sisters as well as other local women to get their hair washed and styled. In 2007 Dee was able to expand her business by opening another beauty supply and salon shop in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Dee’s Beauty Supply and Salon not only shows how African Americans were able to make their way in today’s business world, but how they were able to improvise as well as adapt in order to survive. In many ways, it resembles our days as a people trying to survive in this country’s founding years.

A Weekend Gathering

By: Min Park
HS 129, Summer 1 2009

The last weekend of May, 2009, I visited one of my best friend’s work. We were planning a party for her mother’s birthday. That’s how I happened to take pictures of her coworkers and boss. This hotel that she works for is located in Greenbelt, Maryland. When I was deciding what to write about for the second blog assignment, I came up with these pictures. Since the assignment is supposed to show daily life of African American in these days, it perfectly fits to bring out pictures from my experience.

As this course is mainly about the history of African American, I am able to see how it has changed over times from the period of slavery and now where everyone is considered equal. Learning how poor condition of their lives held before and how they worked hard to stand where they are now is just beautiful and emotional. Unlike early 1800s now African Americans are gaining higher education. It is even amazing to see that not only they are educated, but they are in the position to educate people and become leaders of others.

These pictures prove that people are living in such a blended society and we feel comfortable working around anybody from any racial background and fully ready to accept the diversity with no problems. Every worker in this hotel has become friends to each other even though I know most of these people working in the hotel are from Poland, Russia, or Moldavia. I can tell that this is a perfect example of place that explains how we coexist.

After that day I met them in the birthday party of my friend’s mother. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures from the party but we had a great time together. This second piece is now completing the blog assignment, but I know that it is going to be opening more opportunity for future historian to study and research life of African American in 21st century. I am glad to work on this assignment and hoping that the world gets better for the future as we get a better understanding for each other.

Thurgood Marshall

By: Kris Lasko
HS 129, Summer 1 2009

In the mid 20th century while Malcolm X preached of “bloody overthrow” of the injustices toward black people, and while Martin Luther King Junior was staging non-violent civil rights protests, Thurgood Marshall was fighting in court to break the bonds of the racist Jim Crow Laws. [1] Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated at the top of his class from a historically black college called Lincoln University. Immediately after graduation he attended Howard University Law School, where he met his long time mentor named Charles Hamilton Houston. It was with this mentor that Thurgood Marshall sought to overturn the 1898 court case of Plessy v. Ferguson.[2]

I chose to post about Thurgood Marshall because he is a native of Maryland, and he has a local school named after him that is called Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. This school is in Gaithersburg, MD, and it’s located at 12260 McDonald Chapel Drive. Although I did not attend this school I do have many friends whom went there. One friend named Neal said that he remembers in one of his classes that he learned a little history about Thurgood Marshall. The picture of the school is from

Thurgood Marshall has other honors than just schools that are named after him. There is a Thurgood Marshall memorial located in Annapolis, Maryland. At this memorial there is a bronze bust of Thurgood Marshall. The picture is from this website:

Thurgood Marshall is most well-known for his perseverance and victory as a lawyer in the Supreme Court case named Brown V. Board of Education held in 1951. This case led to the legal integration of school systems and denied that “separate, but equal” from Plessy V. Ferguson was indeed, not equal. Thurgood Marshall argued that the 14th amendment provided equal protection under the law, and that this includes African-Americans. After winning this landmark case, Thurgood Marshall helped to spark the civil rights movement.[3] Winning this case seems to deem naming a school after him a perfectly fitting honor.

Thurgood Marshall has done more than just one win landmark case. In his lifetime he has: been Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people, helped draft a constitution for the emerging nations of Ghana and Tanzania, served as a judge on the U.S Court of Appeals, and served as Justice on the United States Supreme Court.2

Future generations should remember the perseverance of Thurgood Marshall and how he never lost track of his goal to gain equal rights for African-Americans in the United States. African-Americans have the strongest sense of actualization of goals and historians should document this accordingly. African-Americans have come from slavery to centuries of protests and standing up for their rights and accepting nothing but success in gaining equal rights as people in the United States of America.

[1] Williams, Juan. "Introduction to the Book." Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary. 4 June 2009.
[2] "Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice." Thurgood Marshall Biography. Thurgood Marshall College. 5 June 2009
[3] "About the Case." Brown vs. Board of Education. 11 Apr. 2004. Brown Foundation for Educational Equity. 5 June 2009
2 "Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justice." Thurgood Marshall Biography. Thurgood Marshall College. 5 June 2009

Prince Hall Masonic Temple (D.C.)

By: Jada Johnson
HS 129, Summer 1 2009

While reading the chapters for this week’s assignment, I discovered that the Prince Hall Masons and African Methodist Episcopal Church significantly influenced the lives of African Americans prior to, during, and after the antebellum era. The topic immediately peaked my interest because my father is a Prince Hall Mason and a Steward at Galbraith AME Zion Church in Northwest Washington D.C. However, because I lacked knowledge in freemasonry, I sought mainly to focus on Prince Hall Masonry as it pertains to this era.

Yesterday, Saturday, June 13, 2009, I went to the Masonic Temple located at 1000 U St. Northwest, Washington D.C. but it was closed. This did not faze me because I’ve been inside several times for annual scholarship ceremonies and breakfasts and found nothing that was worthy of note anyway. Other than the pictures hung up of current and past grandmasters there was no way you could tell you were in a Masonic temple- it looked like the inside of any other regular building.

As I was leaving I was drawn to a corner stone placed alongside the building, which displayed the year in which the Masonic Temple was built. An illustrated, well-known symbol of the Prince Hall Masons composed its center; above it, contained an image of a group of Prince Hall Masons. Since the engraving was difficult to read, with my father’s directions, I went to the temple of Most Wishful King Soloman, located on 2245 Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast Washington D.C. to get a better look. The symbol, which features the letter “G” in the center, represents God and Geometry for all mankind; a compass and square, which represents the rules and guides for life, surrounds the “G.” Its design paired with its covert meaning made the symbol all the more unique and appealing.

Intrigued by the emergence of black freemasons in northern cities, discussed in the book: The African-American Odyssey, Vol. One: to 1877, by Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine, and Stanley Harrold, I was propelled to interview my father- a 4 year mason invited to join in masonry by the present worshipful master and past grandmaster. I questioned him about the current purposes, practices, and accomplishments of Prince Hall Masons. Considered to be the oldest black fraternity, the Prince Hall Mason’s primary goal is to “take good men and make them better men” (as stated in their motto). They are community-oriented, usually doing charity work, adopting schools, and giving scholarships.

To become a mason, one must first be recommended and eventually initiated. Because of the secretive nature of Masonic practices and rituals, most topics were briefly discussed during the interview. Nevertheless, I learned that the Prince Hall Masons are separated by lodges, degrees, and house colors. The number of the lodge distinguishes each group of Prince Hall Masons from one another; the degree depicts the level of each mason; and the various house colors study different Masonic information. The Worshipful Grandmaster is the highest authority over the Grand Lodge and every lodge and chapter there under. The Masonic attire, described in the book as “fancy regalia,” continues to compose the Masonic dress of and unify the lodges of Prince Hall Masons. The fact that these men are continuing the traditions of past Prince Hall Masons shows the common element of past and current Prince Hall Masons.

It amazes me that an organization that began centuries ago still exists, with many aspects still intact. Future historians should know that African Americans Masons were ready to help each other regardless of the situation, with a cheerful heart and a giving spirit. Such organizations give people the opportunity to interact with people beyond their family. Providing structure, offering a greater sense of purpose, teaching history, and encouraging one to become a more critical thinker, there is no doubt that Prince Hall Masonry should be continued by future generations of all mankind.

Works Cited:
Hine, Darlene Clark, William C. Hine, and Stanley Harrold. The African-American Odyssey Volume One: To 1877. 3rd. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2006.
National Register “Princehall Masonic Temple on Flickr- Photo Sharing” 14 June 2009.