2021 Black History Basic Training, Week 2

We have come to a close of the second week of Black History Month 2021. This year, the Say it Loud! Employee Affinity Group is hosting a Black History Basic Training (inspired by GirlTrek campaigns from the past year), where we highlight individuals, organizations and events that made significant contributions to the African American experience. This week, we celebrated World War I heroes the Golden 14, the Revolutionary War document the Book of Negroes, Civil War hero and statesman Robert Smalls, barrier breaking couple the Lovings, and the Reconstruction era agency the Freedmen’s Bureau.

The Golden 14

During World War I, fourteen women took advantage of a loophole and the need for clerical workers and became the first Black women to enlist in the United States Navy. The Golden 14served as Yeowomenin the all important Muster Roll Division –tracking and monitoring the movements of the vast amounts of enlisted sailors and servicemen during the War. This group within the Muster Roll Division was assembled under John T. Risherat the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. ArmeldaH. Greene was the first to enlist on Aug 18, 1918. As ordered, all Yeowomenwere required to disenrollby the end of 1919, but many of the Golden 14 continued to work for the Navy in civilian capacities. Like other service members of WWI, the women received the World War I Victory Medal.

Links in the Golden 14 card:

The Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroesor the Inspection Roll of Negroesis the documentation of Black Loyalists who were evacuated from the United States following the American Revolution in 1783. The Book of Negroes gives a glimpse into the life experiences of enslaved, indentured and freed African Americans who signed up to fight on the side of Britain. The ledgers recorded country of birth, names and ages of immediate family, and physical description. Compiled by both British and American representatives, the Book of Negroes was functionally used as an IOU for compensation to American slave owners for their loss of “property.” Approximately 3,500 Black Loyalists were relocated to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Links in the Book of Negroes card:

Robert Smalls

Robert Smallswas born enslaved on April 5, 1839, in Beaufort, South Carolina. His owner hired him out as a waiter, ship rigger, and sailor in Charleston. As part of being hired out, Smalls was allowed to keep a tiny portion of the money he earned, which he used to purchase the freedom of his wife and daughter. In 1861, Smalls was hired as a deckhand on the Confederate transport thePlanter. On the evening of May 13, 1862, he was left alone to guard the ship while the white sailors went ashore. Smalls quickly loaded his wife and children, along with several other enslaved men and women, and set sail towards the Union blockade. Smalls was successful with delivering the Planterto the Union and became a war hero. After the War, Smalls was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate, and served two terms in the US House of Representatives from 1874.

Links in the Robert Smalls card:

The Lovings

Mildred Loving and her husband Richard Loving were an American interracial couple involved in the landmark US Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia. Their relationship sparked both controversy and inspiration across the nation and they were prosecuted in Virginia because of it. The couple decided to appeal and their case was overturned by the Supreme Court ruling that convicting them for their relationship status violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Links in The Lovings card:

The Freedmen’s Bureau

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen’s Bureauwas established in 1865. Its mission was to administer all forms of aid to the previously enslaved and poor whites throughout the South after the Civil War. In the effort to help freedmen become self sufficient, the Bureau issued food and clothing, operated hospitals, set up schools, supervised labor agreements, managed the re-settlement of confiscated and abandoned lands, and assisted in the monumental task of reuniting families that had been separated during slavery. Although the agency only operated from 1865-1872, the records created are an invaluable resource for genealogists, social scientists, and historians.

Links in the Freedmen’s Bureau card:

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