“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
– Dr. Seuss
Note: photograph is of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, from 1925.
Elizabeth Keckley was born a slave in Dinwiddie Court-House, in Virginia.
But she was skilled at making relationships with the right people and for being business savvy, and the time came that Elizabeth was able to secure a loan to buy her freedom and the freedom of her son.
As a free woman, life would take her to Washington DC, where she became a dressmaker. The dressmaker of the city. For “her garments had extraordinary fit” and were worn by many notable women, including Varina Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis, and Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of Abraham Lincoln.
Sources: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/…/the-story-of-elizabeth-ke…/…, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Keckley
His father was a thoughtful man of few words. A man who learned to read in night school. And who then went into business for himself as a brick maker, where he was known to have a strong propensity for math. He could estimate the number of bricks needed for any size contract with amazing accuracy. And he was a righteous man. The men who worked for him never used profanity in his presence. Not because he forbade it, but because they held him in such high regard.
Then there was his maternal grandfather who was freed as a young man. “He was useless to his master because he viciously resisted his masters attempt to bend [his] will.” Slavery was not justifiable in his mind.
And then there was his paternal grandfather, a man who bought his and his wife’s freedom.
Nathan Francis Mossell came from a lineage of people who fought to overcome adversity. And he followed in their path. In 1882, he became the first African-American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
“If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live.”
Happy birthday, JFK. He would have been 100 today.
Everyday at 9am, Susie King Taylor and her brother would walk half a mile to the small schoolhouse, their books wrapped in paper to prevent the police or white persons from seeing them. Her grandmother made sure of it – she wanted Susie to be able to read and write.
Susie was barely in her early teens when her family fled to St. Simons Island, a Union controlled area in Georgia, during the Civil War. With her inquisitive eyes and kind demeanor and her education, she impressed the army officers. They asked that she become a teacher for children and even some adults. “I would gladly do so, if I could have some books,” she replied. And so she became the first black teacher of freed black students to work in a freely operating freedmen’s school in Georgia.
Not long after, Susie married, and joined her husband and his regiment as they traveled. She became their teacher, teaching the illiterate men to read and write. It was also during this time that she became a nurse to the men, thus making her the first black army nurse in the Civil War.
All this she accomplished before the age of 18.
Looking back on her time as a nurse, she said that “I gave my service willingly for four years and three months without receiving a dollar. I was glad…to care for the sick and afflicted comrades.
People say wrinkles tell stories. Imagine her stories.
A Klamath woman, 1923.
One day a long time from now you’ll cease to care anymore whom you please or what anybody has to say about you. That’s when you’ll finally produce the work you’re capable of.
– J.D. Salinger
He had a deep voice and a soft playful smile, and he knew all the history of his hometown of Alton, Illinois, and he liked to take photographs of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus that he was part of.
And in so many ways he was just a kid, sixteen, doing normal activities such as serving as the advertising manager for his school’s yearbook.
But he always stood out. For Robert Wadlow was tall. Very tall. By sixteen, which is when this photograph was taken, he was almost eight feet tall. And he would continue to grow. All the way to a height of 8 feet 11.1 inches.
His rapid growth left him with brittle bones. Rarely did he walk without leg braces and a cane. And while he had relatively good health in his youth, Robert had little feeling in his legs and feet as he grew older.
He passed away at the age of 22 from an infection, caused by a faulty brace which irritated his ankle and led to a blister. At the time of his death, it was said that he was still growing.
Note: Photograph is of Robert and his father, taken in 1938.
Sources: http://bit.ly/2s0joj0, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTAXzJbIOBQ, https://www.reddit.com/…/a_20_year_old_robert_wadlow_the_w…/
Kindertransport was the informal name of a program started in 1938 to rescue Jewish children from Nazi Germany.
First pushed by a group of Jewish and Quaker leaders, the program was adopted by the British government in a bill that “stated that the British government would waive certain immigration requirements so as to allow the entry into Great Britain of unaccompanied children ranging from infants up to the age of 17.”
When the program was announced to British citizens, around 500 households volunteered.
Children who were selected for rescue would have to leave their families behind. Once in the UK, they would be housed in foster homes or in a camp. Which meant that for many of the kids that came, they would never see their parents again.
Close to 10,000 kids were saved over about nine months.
Source: http://www.kwu.edu/about-the-kindertransport-of-jewish-chil… & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kindertransport
A literacy teacher instructs 87-year-old Julia Wilson in Birmingham, Alabama.
A snapshot of life, 1938.