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And that’s why y’all ain’t get sh*t last Thursday and Friday.
I went to Alabama. On vacation. On purpose.
I was in the COUNTRY country, y’all.
And I did stuff that is so unlike me that I have to tell you about it:
I got a fried catfish plate. With mac & cheese and green beans
(because while I enjoy being a stereotype when it comes to loving music and watermelon I hate greens)
Anyway. Not the surprising part. BUT. I GOT IT AT A GAS STATION.
Honestly, y’all. It was SO GOOD. But I would still never do that in Los Angeles, California.

You know something else I’d never do in LA? Go to a Mardi Gras parade! Because we don’t have them!
But I kinda did. Because I went to Lower Alabama (LA)/Mobile, Al and went to theirs!
I had the BEST TIME. Not so much drunken revelry (it was early), but lots of beads and moon pies.

And then I came back home and said to myself (per usual): “Self, WTF kinda BHFOTD are you gonna pull outta you’re a$$ when you spent your entire vacation eating at questionable eating establishments with the locals?”
SO THEN I looked up “What Mobile Alabama known for?”
TURNS OUT, Mobile is known for having the oldest organized Carnival/Mardi Gras in the US!
It was started when Mobile was the capital of Louisiana, 15 years before New Orleans was founded.
The More You EFFING Know, right?! Because I truly did not know EITHER of these things!
There’s more. Of course. But since my fact is actually NOT about Mardi Gras, I’m gonna move on.

Anyway. My point was that I was completely surprised that Mobile was not most known for racism*!
Because ALABAMA. Ya dig? Like. I was totally nervous about driving the back roads after dark because
I WAS IN ALABAMA, which seems pretty ridiculous only my family is from the South and so maybe not as ridiculous as you’d think.
So Mardi Gras was a day trip. And on the way back to the car I saw this:

The Slave Market Marker

Inscription: After the abolition of international slave trading in 1808, dealers transported slaves from all over the South into Mobile. On this site, Africans were sold as chattel to southern planters through public auction. Between auctions, a three-story holding facility housed the slaves until they were displayed and sold. In an attempt to make this inhumane and abhorrent aspect of slavery less conspicuous, the City banned slave depots from the downtown area. A developing rail system eventually made Montgomery, Alabama, the principal slave market. However, planters who sold cotton in Mobile continued to buy and sell slaves in this City.

And that’s today’s BHFOTD kids.

** Also I was kinda right about racism: Laws in Mobile regulated activities based on race during Carnival season. In 1845, A Mobile city ordinance prohibited free blacks or slaves from holding balls at their place of residence. In 1866, laws restricted noise or any party where “immoral or disorderly persons” might gather. Give you one guess who was assumed to be immoral and/or disorderly?

 

So. One random afternoon I went out with a friend to grab a beer. Or rather HE got a beer and I got booze because Imma just keep it a buck with y’all and tell you that booze > beer and the only time I MIGHT choose beer over booze is if they have SOURS and this bar didn’t. I’ll tell you what else this bar didn’t have: the beer that my friend wanted to have. But because this dude was a good bartender, he asked what kind of beers he liked so that he could try something comparable.

 

Friend: I like dark beers.

Bartender: How dark?

Asshole & Bartender::::: looks at me::::

“Friend”: Darker

Me: F*CK THE BOTH OF Y’ALL.

ANYWAY. I’m telling y’all this completely ridiculous story about skin tones (and I guess black ones* in particular) to STILL not talk about the Oscars. Not because I don’t have a fact (because I do and it’s a gimme per usual), OR EVEN because there wasn’t a lot to work with ‘cause there were only 5 black nominees this year – down from 15 last year and I guess we can all go back to runnin’ our business since they gave so many black people nominations LAST YEAR and that should be plenty to show that the Oscars aren’t racist  #SOWHITE right? Because it’s not like the Oscars and the Movies haven’t been biased down to the very FILM from the very beginning right?

Wait. What?

WELL YOU GUYS.  GUESS WHAT I LEARNED TODAY?

Today I learned that if you developed film between the 1940’s through 1990’s (which was 30 years ago!) the accuracy of your photos were based on this photo or a photo like it with some random white woman.

Shirley

This photo is called a color reference card. Also known as a Shirley card. Interesting. Not Becky or Karen. Okay. Alright. (But can I just say that whenever I think of Shirley, I think of HER not this woman in her graduation photo wrap? No?)

ANYWAY. After that card became an industry standard, many color reference cards began to be known as “Shirley cards.” These cards generally showed a single white woman dressed in bright clothes, and color film chemistry at the time was designed with a bias towards light skin. IMAGINE THAT. The bias towards skin with higher reflectivity meant that there were often exposure issues when shooting non-white folks.

Things started changing in the 1970’s when WOOD FURNITURE AND CHOCOLATE MAKERS BEGAN COMPLAINING THAT KODAK FILM WASN’T CAPTURING THE DIFFERENCE IN WOOD GRAINS AND CHOCOLATE TYPES*. (NOT. BECAUSE. OF. PEOPLE. :::rage screams into the void:::: clears throat:::: Coincidentally, film and TV industries ALSO began becoming more diverse.

In 1995, Kodak introduced a new multi-racial skin color reference card that featured a Caucasian, Asian, and African woman with different skin and clothing colors:

everyone card

Kodak also began advertising its films as being able to capture darker tones in low light.

Color film and digital color sensors have a much broader dynamic range, and many of the technological biases have since been corrected, but the LEARNED BIAS toward lighter skin in technology (and film, and loans, and education, and housing and jobs) still exists.

*tbh, describing my skin tone in beer color is way better than describing in chocolate or wood. Unless, of course, it’s this wood..

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I was back on vacation. I had a great time! I did NOT take a lot of pictures because I spent most of my vacation in sweats and no makeup. MOST. I don’t need to put on brows if I’m not leavin’ the house you guys. Which, YOU ARE WELCOME. We’ve taken lots of photos over the years where I look like a PERSON and I’m in PUBLIC and I’m wearing makeup. I was going to add that I was acting like a normal person only… have we met?

THEN I thought to myself (WTF AM I GONNA WRITE THIS FACT ON?!): MAYBE I HAVE A PHOTO OF ME ACTING LIKE A NORMAL PERSON WITH PEOPLE. And I did! But. WHERE IS THE FUN IN THAT AND ALSO HOW THE FREAKINGFUCK CAN I TIE IT INTO A BHFOTD?

So here’s a picture of me giving Zero Fux in front of the police. This is 100% the level of NotGivingAFuckness that I aspire to daily, but ESPECIALLY this month:

color crime

And if you’re wondering HOW in all the world I’m about to turn this into a fact, well. Today while I was doing stuff, I ran across this photo that gave me the same energy. Like to see it? Here it go:

water fountain

[This photo, taken by Rendell Harper, is a picture of Cecil Williams coming back from a trip in 1956 photographing South Carolina’s segregated beaches for Jet Magazine. They stopped at a (closed) filling station, and Cecil grabs a drink from the “white only” water fountain.]

Cecil J Williams is an American photographer, publisher, author AND inventor (!!!) who is best known for (the above photo. And) his photography documenting the civil rights movement in South Carolina in the 1950’s.

When Cecil was 9, his brother passed down his camera and he was the picture taking-est child from that moment on. At 11, he photographed his first wedding and at 12, he was asked to take photos of churches of Clarendon County – which happened to hold the families of the DeLaine and the Pearson families from the Briggs vs. Elliott petition (one of the five cases that was combined into Brown vs. Board of Education). At the age of 14, he was one of 25 photographers around the world freelancing for JET magazine. JET caught wind of the movement growing in Orangeburg, they needed an onsite correspondent for constant updates, and someone to be there all the time documenting the events for them. The only time Williams made the cover of JET was during the 1969 Charleston hospital workers’ strike, and his picture of Coretta Scott King speaking at the protest.

In 1960, Williams graduated from Claflin University with a degree in Art. Although better known for photography, Williams’ painting, art, graphics, and architectural renderings, represent proficiency, especially among minimalists. Because of his race, he was barred from attending Clemson University in his state to study architecture, he drew plans for several residences; one of which was featured in the June 1977 issue of Ebony; Space Age Home.

And since he couldn’t be a student at Clemson, he documented Harvey Gantt’s desegregation of Clemson University in 1963. HE ALSO documented the 1969 Charleston hospital workers’ strike and the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre. The massacre involved the South Carolina Highway Patrol shooting and killing three African American males and injuring 27 other South Carolina State University students. AND He worked as the official photographer for the South Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, South Carolina State University, Claflin University and National Conference of Black Mayors, Inc. for more than 20 years, beginning in the 1960s. His work has been exhibited at many institutions and museums, such as Claflin University, University of South Carolina, Columbia Museum of Art, Clemson University, Columbia College, Furman University, Rice Museum in Georgetown, South Carolina State University, Museum of the New South in Charlotte.

In 2015, he invented the FilmToaster, a camera scanning platform and system and digitizes film negatives faster than other methods.

He CURRENTLY owns a portrait studio, event, wedding photography business based in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He serves as the director of Historic Preservation at Claflin University. He is a Getty Images contributor and photographer. He also tours the nation giving presentations at conferences, events and institutions about his work during the civil rights movement. He is 82 and I am tired just copying all this sh*t he did.

AND LAST SUMMER, Williams opened the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum to house hundreds of images and artifacts from the civil rights movement.  The Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum looks like an ultra-modern day home which Williams designed himself in 1983-36 years before he made it into his own museum. The theme for his museum is “The South Carolina Events that Changed America”. The museum will also double as the neighborhood community center.

 

Hope it has a water fountain. It gets hot in the South Carolina.

 

 

 

Alllll my bosses skipped out early and I had done all I was gonna do before I spent several days not giving work a second thought, I was just here spinning around in my chair and I took a long lunch and personally hand walked things over to people that I normally woulda just scanned because OHMYGAHIAMSOFAKINGBORRRRED, but THEN I remembered that my job had been stalking me because HEY WE NEED BLOOD AND WE HEARD YOU HAVE THE GOOD SH*T AND IF YOU COULD JUST SPARE SOME WE’LL GIVE YOU A MOVIE TICKET. And generally there’s a raffle, but they were BEGGING BEGGING so strictly quid pro quo. [<- – – did you need a definition? Because I linked one here] One blood for one ticket.

 

Normally, I don’t have to enter a raffle when I donate ‘cause I DO in fact have that good good (blood. Although…never mind) and my blood is given to patients with particular blood disorders who can only receive blood from people with specific blood types and markers. And all I did to find this out was donate. They did all the type matching and checking for fancy stuff and then they ASKED ME if I would agree to being in this program to help patients.  That’s as specific as I can get because “Mitochondria is the power-house of the cell” is really as scientific as I can get at any given point in time. I AM NON-CLINICAL STAFF, YOU GUYS. I DON’T *HAVE* TO SCIENCE. BUT I’M *GONNA* (sorta) SCIENCE BECAUSE THAT IS THE PERFECT LEAD TO TODAY’S BHFOTD, which is…Loretta Pleasant.

 

SOME BACK STORY:

Loretta Pleasant was born to Eliza and Johnny Pleasant August 1, 1920. Nobody (??) seems to know when her name changed from Loretta to HENRIETTA, but did you know that Hennessy was created in 1765? *she was nicknamed Hennie. When Henrietta was 4, her mother died giving birth to her 10th (10th!!!) child and her father moved the family to Virginia where the family was distributed among family. Henrietta ended up with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks, and shared a room with her cousin/future husband David Lacks. They married and moved to Maryland in 1941.

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks went to Johns Hopkins, the only hospital in the area that treated black patients, because she felt a “knot” in her womb. She had told her cousins previously about said knot and they assumed correctly that she was pregnant. But after giving birth, things did NOT get better. She went back to Johns Hopkins where her MD took a biopsy of the mass on Lacks’ cervix and was told she had malignant epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix. [in 1970, physicians discovered they’d misdiagnosed and she had an adenocarcinoma, but this would not have changed treatment options] She was treated with radium tube inserts and discharged with instructions to return for x-ray treatments. During her treatments, two samples were taken from Lacks’ cervix WITHOUT HER PERMISSION OR KNOWLEDGE (healthy tissue/cancerous tissue) and given to George Otto Gey, an MD and cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins. The cells from the cancerous sample eventually became known as the HeLa immortal cell line, a commonly used cell line in contemporary biomedical research.

SOME SCIENCE SH*T:

George Otto Gey, the first researcher to study Lacks’s cancerous cells, observed that her cells were unique in that they reproduced at a very high rate and could be kept alive long enough to allow more in-depth examination. Lacks’s cells were the first to be observed that could be divided multiple times without dying, which is why they became known as “immortal.” Gey was able to start a cell line from Lacks’s sample by isolating one specific cell and repeatedly dividing it, meaning that the same cell could then be used for conducting many experiments. They became known as HeLa cells, because Gey’s standard method for labeling samples was to use the first two letters of the patient’s first and last names.

The ability to rapidly reproduce HeLa cells in a laboratory setting has led to many important breakthroughs in biomedical research. SUCH AS:

Jonas Salk using HeLa cells to develop the polio vaccine.

Research into cancer, AIDS, effects of radiation and toxic substances, and gene mapping.

Testing human sensitivity to tape, glue, cosmetics, etc.

 

ALSO:

HeLa cells were the first human cells successfully cloned in 1955.

Since the 1950s, scientists have grown as much as 50 million metric tons of her cells, and there are almost 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells.

 

ANYWAY. Neither Henrietta Lacks nor her family gave her physicians permission to harvest her cells. At that time, permission was neither required nor customarily sought. And I’m pretty sure this had nothing AT ALL to do with her being a black woman in the 50’s. I’ve skipped over a lot of things because this is getting long BUT. In March 2013, researchers published the DNA sequence of the genome of a strain of HeLa cells. There were objections from the Lacks family about the genetic information that was available for public access. In August 2013, an agreement was announced between the family and the NIH (National Institutes of Health) that gave the family some control over access to the cells’ DNA sequence found in the two studies along with a promise of acknowledgement in scientific papers. In addition, two family members will join the six-member committee which will regulate access to the sequence data.

 

Some OTHER SH*T

 

ON MY BORN DAY, 1996, Morehouse School of Medicine shamed Johns Hopkins held its first annual HeLa Women’s Health Conference. Led by physician Roland Pattillo, the conference is held to give recognition to Henrietta Lacks, her cell line, and “the valuable contribution made by African Americans to medical research and clinical practice” [Chile. Can’t nobody shade you like southern Black folk]. The mayor of Atlanta declared the date of the first conference, October 11, 1996, “Henrietta Lacks Day”

 

Some other stuff happened here, but again. This is getting long and I have things to do.

 

In 2010, the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research established the annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture Series to honor Henrietta Lacks and the global impact of HeLa cells on medicine and research.

 

AND THEN. On October 6, 2018, Johns Hopkins University announced plans to name a research building in honor of Lacks at the 9th annual Henrietta Lacks memorial Lecture surrounded by several of Lacks’ descendants. “Through her life and her immortal cells, Henrietta Lacks made an immeasurable impact on science and medicine that has touched countless lives around the world,” Daniels said. “This building will stand as a testament to her transformative impact on scientific discovery and the ethics that must undergird its pursuit. We at Johns Hopkins are profoundly grateful to the Lacks family for their partnership as we continue to learn from Mrs. Lacks’ life and to honor her enduring legacy.” The building will adjoin the Berman Institute of Bioethics’ Deering Hall, located at the corner of Ashland and Rutland Avenues and “will support programs that enhance participation and partnership with members of the community in research that can benefit the community, as well as extend the opportunities to further study and promote research ethics and community engagement in research through an expansion of the Berman Institute and its work.”

 

**closes Wikipedia**

 

And so there you have the story of how a black woman has been/is saving [what’s left of] the world.  And per usual was getting NO CREDIT. The End.

 

 

*TO BE FAIR, her great-grandpa and great-uncle were rapists slave owners so maybe it’s possible they knew what henny was? No?

 

 

Which means that y’all ain’t getting’ another fact until Monday.

 

I KNOW. How effing DARE me?

Short answer: I DO WHAT I WANT.

Long Answer:

Every year for the last few years I’ve been taking some time off to watch the Oscar’s Best Picture Nominated flicks with friends.

That’s right, you guys. I have friends. SURPRISE!

What does that mean exactly?

It means that instead of harassing y’all with black history facts, I’m gonna be watching movies with little to no black people

Because the Oscars continue to be SO SO WHITE. (And also very male, but I’m totally not here for this. RIGHT NOW)

 

 

BUT NEVER FEAR.

Because even though today’s BHFOTD IS about the Oscars, I still managed to find the blackest thing I could find about it.

Which is that in 1971, Isaac Hayes was the first African American to win an Oscar in a non-acting category: Best Original Song*.

He was ALSO the first person to write and perform an Oscar winning song during the televised ceremony.

What song, you ask? The “Theme from Shaft” from the blaxploitation film, um…*checks notes* Shaft.

 

I don’t think you can get blacker than that guys. So anyway, that’s today’s fact.

See you guys Monday with possibly ANOTHER Oscar BHFOTD if I can pull one out of all this whiteness.

Who knows?

[I know you’re thinking EYE do, but even though I keep saying Imma plan these out, I don’t, so honestly I won’t know until Monday rolls around]

But until then. Please enjoy this picture of Isaac Hayes looking like your mama’s favorite rapper. You’re welcome in advance.

 

[No. I am not sorry]

 

 

 

*I feel like there’s an inappropriate joke in there about the only other category where there are a large amount of black Oscar winners are in music (including my faves Oscar winners 3 six mafia) but *squints* I’m not gonna make it. TODAY. (Month’s not over folks. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll make it before the month is over)

 

 

 

And you know what that mean.

It means…I get to give y’all a gimme.

 

*CLEARS THROAT DRAMATICALLY*

HELLO everyone! WELCOME to Black History Month!

It’s me, Briya – your teller of ridiculous facts and whatever else I feel like telling y’all

‘cause I write the songs that make the whole world sing facts.

So please to enjoy a month of black people doing stuff because they can but then it ends up being history

because nobody wanted black people to do stuff until they did it.

 

ANYWAY. Back to y’all’s fact:

SO TODAY IS THE DAY AFTER THE SUPER BOWL.

AND I…didn’t watch it.

Yes it’s a political stance, NO I’m not about to knock those of y’all who watched it.

(Congrats Kansas City! I heard y’all are from Kansas* played a good game!)

And! Because I love you, I *STILL* dug up a fact from the Super Bowl 2020.

 

DID YOU KNOW….

That the FIRST Black person to serve as a field official in Super Bowl history was Burl Toler? In 1965?

That’s only 55 years ago! I am completely blown away.

I feel like some THINGS were happening around 1964-65 with Black people but…well.

I COULD BE WRONG.

 

BUT THAT AIN’T TODAY’S FACT!

‘Cause I said I was gonna dig up a fact from YESTERDAY’S SUPER BOWL.

In Two Thousand and Twenty.

And that fact is that yesterday, on the second day of Black History Month

The NFL gave to us, FIVE Black officials working the Super Bowl!

Which is the most for ANY NFL game, including The Big Game. (Honestly I just got tired of typing out SUPER BOWL)

 

The five African American officials that worked Sunday’s game are: line judge Carl Johnson; side judge Boris Cheek; field judge Michael Banks; back judge Greg Steed; and umpire Barry Anderson.

(I had no idea football had an umpire. The more you know.)

 

And that’s today’s gimme. A random black history fact for the biggest football game of the year where there are ALREADY so many black people, they added FIVE MORE.

 

Hope you enjoyed today’s BHFOTD! If you didn’t there’s always tomorrow!

 

 

 

*y’all’s (never my) president is DUMB AF.

 

 

I am SOFA KING tired you guys. Last night I went to bed at my normal hour (which, to be fair, IS EARLY. but also, I AM OLD) and I woke up around….3AM. AY. EM. And did feel like I was gonna be going back to sleep anytime soon, so I turned my TV and scrolled through the guide to see what was on and saw that Roll Bounce was on to be followed by You Got Served, which is a guilty pleasure movie for me. It’s right up there with Showgirls because honestly, who doesn’t enjoy a good ridiculous movie from time to time?

ANYWAY. I decided to watch Roll Bounce and forgot how much I really REALLY liked this movie. It’s also mildly ridiculous. Because it’s a movie about roller skating set in the 70’s. HOW CAN I NOT ENJOY THIS? ALSO. I really love roller skating. Love. Like, I own roller skates [even though it’s been a cool minute since I’ve used them]

BUT. My cousins were here a few months ago and my nephew (hi auntie’s baby!) who goes skating all the damn time invited us all out to skate with him and so off we went!

And so here we are. Is there a BHFOTD hidden in my random roller-skating rink story? Of course!

AHEM

Roller-skating was originally an entertainment for the rich. But by the end of the 1800s roller skates were being mass-produced in the US.

Roller-skating has gone through several phases of mass popularity, but it became popular again in the 1950s and then became a mass craze in the 1970s and 1980s as roller rinks became roller discos.

However, up until the 1960s most roller-skating rinks, amusement parks and swimming pools were either formally segregated or Black and Latino people were simply barred from using them. This was not confined to the Southern states where Jim Crow was in operation. In the Northern states time-honored racist practices meant amusement owners denied Black and Latino people entry into their facilities. There were always police and white racists at hand to enforce these practices. The struggle to desegregate recreation increased after the Second World War.

The campaigns took many different forms: the civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the US Communist Party (CPUSA) used a combination of pickets, boycotts and legal measures to challenge segregation.

In 1938 the CPUSA organized an interracial campaign to desegregate a roller-skating rink in Brooklyn. The following year black and white catering workers’ union members in New York threatened to take the Mecca Roller Skating Palace to court when it wouldn’t sell tickets to their Black members. The management backed down and the victory was celebrated with a mass integrated roller-skate party at the Mecca. [ALL SKATE!!]

In 1942 CORE – the Congress of Racial Equality – was launched. One of its first targets was the aptly named White City roller-skating park in Chicago. When CORE’s legal challenge failed it changed tactics and organized direct action against the rink.

CORE also developed the tactic of the “stand in” – blocking the entrances so nobody could get in. The protests went on for several months and a number of activists were arrested. But they did manage to cut the attendance down by 50% – and the White City management was forced to desegregate the rink.

From the opening shots of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the battles to desegregate roller-skating rinks and amusement parks played an important if unrecognized role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Random fun fact!

The birth of hip hop was influenced by skating rinks. Rinks would allow dancing and skating as they provided a space for artists that found it hard to showcase their new style of Black music. Before the rest of the world knew who they were, the pioneers of rap, including Wu-Tang (see? Wu-Tang really is for the kids!), Queen Latifah, and N.W.A., got their starts performing in rinks.

The environment was so pivotal for black youth and music that gangs would call truces for skate venues [INSIDE. Please leave in an expeditious manner at the end of the night lest you get caught in the crossfire. OR SO I HEARD]

 

:::closes history book:::

I honestly had NO idea where I was going with this when I started this fact. And I had NO IDEA about this. The best part about digging up random things to talk to y’all about is the random things I learn when I’m doin’ it.

Anyways. That’s it. That’s my time to tell you about black stuff and black people. Tomorrow will be March and I’ll still be black which is why you’ll still get BHFOTD whenever I feel like it, or have time, or just wanna brag on black folks. Hope you enjoyed this little stroll into black excellence.

As always, anytime you’re feeling impatient for some black history knowledge stuff, google is free as fuck.

OH: One last thing! IF you are like me and just randomly curious about black culture and roller-skating shit, HBO has a documentary called United Skates. It’s On Demand!

You all haven’t been getting your facts the way I usually give them and y’all. I’m sorry. I mean, I haven’t even written a Disney is the Devil post. And those are my favorite because to be honest, they make it SO. SO. EASY. BUT. It’s been a very busy month. If it’s not vacation, it’s work. And truly. Maybe next year will be the year that I finally get my shit together and PLAN THESE OUT AHEAD.

HAHAHAHAHAHA *cough*

Anyway. Today is no different. I have a pile of work to do, and so much catching up on CURRENT EVENTS that I really just don’t have the time for a fancy lead in, so lemme just get to your BHFOTD.

:::flexes fingers and clears throat:::

William Levi Dawson, the politician (NOT the composer*) was a politician who represented Chicago, IL for more than 27 years in the US House of Representatives from 1943 to 1970.

Dawson moved to the Chicago area in 1912 to study at Northwestern University Law School. He was initiated into Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the first fraternity founded by and for African Americans, at Theta Chapter. He reached Chicago at the beginning of the Great Migration of hundreds of thousands of African Americans from rural areas of the South to industrial cities in the North and Midwest.

Dawson entered politics, becoming a member of the Republican Party in 1930 as a state central committeeman for the First Congressional District of Illinois until 1932. He was elected as a Democratic Representative for Illinois in 1942.

He was active in the civil rights movement of the times and sponsored registration drives. Dawson was a vocal opponent of the poll tax, which in practice was discriminatory against poorer voters. Poll taxes were among a variety of measures passed by southern states to disfranchise most black voters and tens of thousands of poor whites as well, particularly in Alabama through the 1940s.

Dawson, a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), had the long-term goal of increasing national black support for the party. Since the Civil War, most blacks had been allied with the Republican Party, as it had emancipated the slaves and led the movement for amendments to grant them citizenship.

NeNe laugh

[Sorry. That laugh just slipped out]

Dawson was the first African American to chair a committee in the United States Congress, when he chaired the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments. He served as Chair of that committee and its successor for most of the years between 1949 and 1970.

BONUS FUN FACT:

While I was looking for/up this fact, I learned that the Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments, has gone through a few name changes! It was created in 1927 by consolidating the 11 Committees on Expenditures previously spread among the various departments of the federal government to oversee how taxpayer monies were spent.

AND THEN. It was renamed Committee on Government Operations in 1952 and renamed AGAIN as the Committee on Government Reform. The name changed ONE MO’ GAIN to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

AND THEN. The 116th Congress changed it again to its current name: the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

YES I TOTALLY ABSOLUTELY THREW THIS FACT IN FOR NO REASON. WHY DO YOU ASK?.

*And to make this long post even LONGER: William Levi Dawson, THE COMPOSER, was an African American composer, choir director, and professor specializing in black religious folk music, ALSO KNOWN AS NEGRO SPIRITUALS. And then, I fell down another wormhole that talked about how negro spirituals are typically sung in a call and response form, with a leader improvising a line of text and a chorus of singers providing a solid refrain in unison.

For instance: Is anybody praying for an impeachment?

Chorus of singers providing solid refrain: King Jesus is a listenin’   (which, by the by, is popular composition by William Levi Dawson. Composer. Not Congressman)

And that’s today’s fun fact. Stay tuned for WTF I’m gonna pull out of a rabbit’s hat to talk about on the last day of Black History Month!

GUYS. I’d just like to say that the miracle isn’t that Ruth E. Carter won for Best Costume Design. It’s that I didn’t throw a brick through my TV when The Green Book won for Best Pic AND THEN the director specifically thanks Viggo “totally didn’t mean to drop the n-word AT A PRESS SCREENING” Mortensen because without him that movie that was literally about Dr. Don Shirley could not have been made. Girl, I guess.

Also. Generally, when I’m sitting still for any period of time, I fall asleep because apparently, I’m a shark? [Not sorry!] But I guess I caught up on all my sleepin’ because I watched some of red carpet AND the actual show. Which, is awesome since the whole point of me watching all of those Oscar nominated Best Pics is so that I can sound like I know when I’m talkin’ about when I start talking out of my ass who should win. My pick.

Anyway. I am not going to let this bring me down, because SO. MANY. THINGS. TO CELEBRATE. But also so much work to do, so you know what dat mean, kids. It’s a lightening round:

  • Hannah Beachler – FIRST Black woman nominated (who also WON) Best Production Design
  • Mahershala Ali – The only other Black person (aside from Denzel Washington) to win more than one Oscar
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – First to ever feature a Spidey of Color (Afro-Latino Miles Morales) won for Best Animated Film
    • Side note: I can NOT say enough things about how awesome this movie is. At all. Did you see it? Go see it. Or go see it again. Really.

AND I’M REPEATING THIS ONE BECAUSE SHE DESERVES IT

  • Ruth E. Carter – FIRST Black woman to win Best Costume Design
    • Who immediately got up there and thanked Spike Lee, who gave her start by hiring her for Do the Right Thing. And Spike also won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. He was not a FIRST he was an ABOUT DAMN TIME.

And normally, I would take this time to insert some commentary about how in the 90 years that the Oscars have been in existence there are still clearly a pile of firsts to be had because #OscarsSoWhite doesn’t just mean the people on the moving picture screen, ya dig? And there are so many other black people* who will see these wins and say they got next because CLEARLY IT IS POSSIBLE.

But I’m not gonna do that today. Today I’m just gonna be happy that every year, the Oscars gets a little less white and a little MORE representative of its movie going audience. And leave you with this very fancy photo of Spike Lee.

Do the Right Thing

*AND people of color, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how many people of color blazing trails for others to follow

**Please note: I will never say people of color when I mean BLACK. Deal.

 

So today for lunch I went shopping at Forever 21 (don’t ask) and guys. When they say everything old is new again, this is exactly what they mean. Like, I totally remember wearing a significant amount of these outfits as a teen in the 80’s (I AM OLDER THAN I LOOK OKAY). They had flower print leggings and bodysuits and they were playing my sissie’s favorite song  by RUN DMC and I was like WOW, TAKE ME BACK TO YE OLDE SCHOOL. I was 14 when that song came out! And I remember it well because me and my cousin used to always listen to it when we would be running the streets on our bikes doing shit that we absolutely should not be doing. Sorry, mommy! You were right, I was bad as hell.

Actually, there were TWO songs that I remember listening back to back in the summer of 1986. The other was Paul Revere by the Beastie Boys.

Which is only amusing in that I ended up eventually living in Boston and every year they would reenact Paul Revere’s ride in Lexington because of COURSE THEY DID and lemme tell you guys, I never EVER saw Adrock, M.C.A OR Mike D.

And WHY EXACTLY am I talking about white people during Black History Month? I’m not!

Today when I was driving in to work, I saw a building (the South Central Los Angeles Regional Office) and it was dedicated to Paul Revere and I was like WHAAAA? But when I actually READ the dedication, it said Paul Revere WILLIAMS. And so here is your fact:

Paul Revere Williams was an American architect based in Los Angeles, California. He became a certified architect in 1921, and the first certified African-American architect west of the Mississippi. At age 25, he won an architectural competition and three years later opened his own office. Known as an outstanding draftsman, he perfected the skill of rendering drawings “upside down.” This skill was developed because in the 1920s many of his white clients felt uncomfortable sitting directly next to a black man. He learned to draft upside down so that he could sit across the desk from his clients who would see his drafts right-side-up.

Williams designed more than 2,000 private homes, most of which were in the Hollywood Hills and the Mid-Wilshire portion of Los Angeles (including his own home in Lafayette Square, part of historic West Adams, Los Angeles, California). He designed the homes of numerous celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and Lon Chaney. Williams famously remarked upon the bitter irony of the fact that most of the homes he designed, and whose construction he oversaw, were on parcels whose deeds included segregation covenants barring blacks from purchasing them.

Anyway.

A number of his works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Like, yannow. This place:

LAX

I really, REALLY love my city.