2021 Black History Basic Training, Week 3

We have come to a close of the third 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 Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. William H. Carney, the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s, the Agana Race Riot during World War II, and early LGBTQ+ activist William Dorsey Swann.

Sgt. William Carney

Sgt. William Harvey Carneywas the first African American to perform an action for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Born into slavery in Norfolk, VA in 1840, Carney and his family made their way to Massachusetts before the Civil War broke out. Carney enlisted with the 54thMassachusetts Infantry Regiment in 1863. At the Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina (dramatized in the movie Glory) the Union Army forces came under heavy attack that would eventually end in defeat. In spite of the heavy assault and receiving a wound in his thigh, Sgt. Carney was commended for his action of keeping the American flag aloft throughout the course of the battle. His actions were pointed out as early as November, 1863, but Carney did not receive the Medal of Honor until May 23, 1900.

Links in the Sgt. William Carney card:

The Black Arts Movement

TheBlack Arts Movement(BAM) emerged out of an explosion of creativity by African American poets, writers, painters, and musicians in the 1960s and 1970s. They used art, poetry, music, fashion and sports to openly and proudly express their Blackness. BAM shared the same sentiment for love of Black people with the Black Power Movement. Performance artists and poets words inspired the Black community by bringing attention to Black love, hope and unity. BAM also held space for Black visual artists to create works the expressed the beauty of being Black in America. Members included:Faith Ringgold,Audre Lorde, and Gil Scott-Heron.

Links in the Black Arts Movement card:

Agana Race Riot

TheAganaRace Riotwas a series of disputes between Black and white military members from December 24-26, 1944, in Agana, Guam. While developing a base of operations, Black troops from the Marine 25thDepot Company experienced discrimination, racial slurs and constant mistreatment. On Christmas Eve, Black Marines were fired on by their white counterparts when they were seen talking to local Chamoru(indigenous Guamanian) women. The Marines returned to base and armed themselves to confront the offenders. After of couple of days of violence, Black servicemen were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly, rioting, theft of government property, and attempted murder. Forty-four Black Marines were court-martialed. In 1946, their verdicts were over-turned and they were released from prison.

Links in the Agana Race Riot card:

William Dorsey Swann

William Dorsey Swannwas the first person to self identify as a queen of drag and early queer activist. They were born into slavery in Maryland in 1860, and lived as a freedpersonafter the abolishment of slavery. Living in Washington, DC, Swann may have attended school and worked for an educational system. In their personal and social life, Swann was known as “The Queen” and held “drags” in their home where men of different races danced and drank. One of the drags was raided and Swann was arrested and charged with keeping a disorderly house (parlance for running a brothel). Swann and members of the community filed for a pardon from President Grover Cleveland –marking the first time an American took legal action to defend the right of the queer community to gather peaceably.

Links on the William Dorsey Swann card:

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