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February 2010







Wednesday, February 24, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 24

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24: RITA DOVE

Audio

Profile America for the 24th day of Black History Month. Rita Dove is among the nation's most recognized African-American poets. She was the youngest person and the first black to serve as Poet Laureate of the United States. Her most widely known work is "Thomas and Beulah," a collection of poems telling the story of her grandparents, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. Rita Dove has been a professor of English at the University of Virginia since 1993. In the U.S. today, there are nearly 1.3 million college professors and instructors, 46 percent of them women and 6 percent African-American.

Sources: www.poets.org

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 596
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/24/10 at 1:51 pm EST


Sunday, February 21, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 21

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21: SAM GILLIAM

Audio: http://www.census.gov/multimedia/www/radio/black_history_month/black-21.php

Profile America for the 21st day of Black History Month. Sam Gilliam is widely recognized as one of the foremost contemporary African-American artists, whose work reflects the school of art known as color field painting. Inspired by laundry hanging outside his studio, he was the first artist to champion displaying paintings as draped objects rather than attached to a frame. One of Gilliam's works hangs in the Census Bureau building in Suitland, Maryland -- one of the most dramatic new federal office buildings in the country. In the U.S., there are 227,000 artists along with those who work in the art community, just over 2 percent of them African-American.

Sources: www.rogallery.com

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 596
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html


Posted by
Staff on 2/21/10 at 2:16 pm EST


Thursday, February 18, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 18

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18: BESSIE COLEMAN

Audio

Profile America for the 18th day of Black History Month. Bessie Coleman picked cotton to help support her family and finished high school by studying on her own. Her dream was to fly but no flying school would accept her because of her gender and race. So she learned French and went to France, where she earned her International Flying License, making her the only licensed black woman pilot in the world. Bessie Coleman died in a crash while practicing for an air show in 1926 -- her controls jammed by a loose hand tool. There are 123,000 pilots and flight engineers in the U.S., slightly more than 4 percent female and less than 1 percent African-American.

Sources: U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 596
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html

More about Bessie Coleman

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/18/10 at 8:29 pm EST

Archbishop Tutu's DNA helps show African diversity

By MALCOLM RITTER

NEW YORK Scientists who decoded the DNA of some southern Africans have found striking new evidence of the genetic diversity on that continent, and uncovered a surprise about the ancestry of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

They found, for example, that any two Bushmen in their study who spoke different languages were more different genetically than a European compared to an Asian. That was true even if the Bushmen lived within walking distance of each other.

"If we really want to understand human diversity, we need to go to (southern) Africa and we need to study those people," said Stephan Schuster of Pennsylvania State University. He's an author of the study, which appears in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

The study also found 1.3 million tiny variations that hadn't been observed before in any human DNA. That should help scientists sort out whether particular genes promote certain diseases or influence a person's response to medications. Findings like that could have payoffs both within Africa and elsewhere, experts said.

The genetic diversity of Africa's population is no surprise to scientists. Modern humans evolved on that continent about 200,000 years ago and have lived there longer than anyplace else. So that's where they've had the most time to develop genetic differences. The varied environments of Africa have also encouraged genetic differences.

Africa was the ancient source of modern humans worldwide, so "we're looking really back into the wellspring of our genetic origins here," said Richard Gibbs, a study author from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The study focused on genomes, a person's complete collection of DNA. The researchers decoded genomes of a Kalahari Desert bushman and of Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace laureate and former head of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. They also decoded partial genomes from three other Bushmen.

Tutu was included to represent a Bantu ancestry, in contrast to Bushmen. Bantu people have a tradition of farming, while Bushmen are longtime hunter-gatherers who represent the oldest known lineage of modern humans.

But when researchers looked at Tutu's genome, they found surprising evidence that his mother's ancestry includes at least one Bushman woman. It's not clear how many generations back that woman lived.

Tutu told The Associated Press that discovering he is related to "these wise people" made him feel "very privileged and blessed."

While the study found many previously unknown DNA variations in Tutu's genome and especially the Bushman DNA, it's important to remember that overall, the genomes of any two people are virtually identical. The differences tracked in the new study lie in individual "letters" of the 3 billion-letter genetic sequence.

"We are all very, very similar to one another," Schuster said. Gibbs said the DNA differences discovered in the African subjects can't be used to support racist arguments. He noted that DNA diversity within a continent is greater than the differences between continents. The study found, in fact, that Bushmen are as different from a previously studied Yoruba man in Nigeria as a European man is.

The new work "is a great start" toward more genome-decoding studies in Africa, said Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania.

More studies are needed to get a fuller picture of the continent's diversity, said Tishkoff, who studies that topic.

Source: Associated Press

Posted by Staff on 2/18/10 at 12:19 am EST

When presidents and slaves mingled at the White House

By Liza Mundy
Monday, February 15, 2010

Sometime around the middle of April 1804, a slave named John Freeman wrote a letter to the president of the United States. Freeman, technically owned by a Maryland doctor, William Baker, had been contracted to work for Thomas Jefferson, who engaged him to serve in the White House and accompany Jefferson on trips to Monticello.

Now, Freeman was writing because he wanted the president to buy him outright.

"I am sorye to trubel you with a thing of this kind," he began, saying he felt obliged to do so because "I have been foolish anufe to in gage myself to Melindar."

The letter was an extraordinary feat of persuasion, heartfelt but also artful. Freeman, promising to serve Jefferson faithfully, went on to ask whether the president might even be "so good as to keep us [both]" -- that is, purchase a female slave named Melinda Colbert. On their trips to Virginia, Freeman had become enamored of Colbert, a niece of Sally Hemings who belonged to Jefferson's daughter Maria and her husband. Maria died that month, and the two slaves feared Melinda would be sold away.

The letter was one among numerous acts of resourcefulness and initiative that would result, years later, in John Freeman's being purchased and owned by not one U.S. president, but two. He would marry his beloved Melinda; gain his freedom; and, not least, purchase a piece of property on K Street in Northwest Washington, between 18th and 19th streets. There Freeman would establish a home for her and their children, taking his place among a unique, now largely forgotten community of free black residents with ties to U.S. presidents such as Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington.

In the ensuing years Freeman'sneighborhood became home to by a striking number of freed slaves who also had been owned by presidents. In the middle of the 19th century, the community included men and women whose start in life was about as disadvantaged as a human being's could be, but who, through drive and intellect and that classic Washington ingredient -- influential connections -- were able to improve their prospects. They would socialize together, work together and acquire property that in some cases would allow descendants to enjoy lives easier than theirs had been.

"Wouldn't you like to have had a piece of property on K Street?" says Beth Taylor, an independent scholar and former director of education at Montpelier, the historic home of James Madison. While researching Madison slaves, Taylor has become fascinated by this area, once home to what she calls Washington's "first families of color." Their life stories testify to the bonds between freed blacks in antebellum Washington, and remind us that a number of early American presidents did indeed own other human beings.

"As I do more research on the neighborhood, I wouldn't be at all surprised if I found descendants of slaves who worked for Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Jackson,"Taylor says. "These were all presidents, like Jefferson and Madison, who had slaves working for them in the White House."

In the early days of the union, she explains, presidents needed 10 or12 people to run the domestic side of the White House. The staff was often a mix of whites, free blacks and slaves, some from their own plantations, some purchased in the city and some, like Freeman, hired from other masters.

"One aspect of it that always strikes me is how these statesmen . . . had a real tendency to talk about the slavery problem, the slavery issue," Taylor reflects. "There was this lack of understanding on their part. . . . This is not the slavery problem. These are people enslaved."

Read the rest of the story ► ►

Source: Washington Post

Posted by Staff on 2/18/10 at 12:17 am EST


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb.17

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17: ANN LOWE

Audio

Profile America for the 17th day of Black History Month. One area of black history that is largely undocumented is the field of fashion. A prime example is Ann Lowe. She learned to sew at an early age from her mother, who ran a small dressmaking shop in New York. Lowe became so well known for her original designs that she eventually made more than 2,000 of them for New York society. Her most famous creation was the wedding dress for future First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Making that dress took more than two months and 50 yards of silk taffeta. While they sell less spectacular examples, there are more than 40,000 stores across the U.S. selling women's dresses, suits, blouses, and accessories.

Sources: Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 1009
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/17/10 at 7:19 am EST


Monday, February 15, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 15

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15: BILLIE HOLIDAY

Audio

Profile America for the 15th day of Black History Month. One of America's premier jazz singers was born 95 years ago this year. Named Eleanora Fagan, she performed as Billie Holiday, but was also widely known as "Lady Day." Many jazz critics rank her among the very top of American jazz singers, and her difficult life is thought to have added a note of poignancy to her vocal stylings. Among her most famous recordings are "Lover Man," "God Bless the Child" and "Strange Fruit." Many critics say she was at her best singing before a live audience. In the U.S. today, about 11 percent of adults listen to live jazz at least once a year.

Sources: Chase's Calendar of Events 2010, p. 213

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 1198
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html


Footage of Billie Holiday performing "Strange Fruit"


Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.


Posted by Staff on 2/15/10 at 6:22 am EST


Sunday, February 14, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 14

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14: DR. DANIEL HALE WILLIAMS

Audio

Profile America for the 14th day of Black History Month. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams was a prominent surgeon in Chicago at the end of the 19th century. He founded Provident Hospital, the nation's first interracial hospital, and established the first school for black nurses. In 1893, he saved the life of a man who had been stabbed by performing one of the earliest known open-chest heart operations. Dr. Williams received many honors and became the only African-American among the 100 charter members of the American College of Surgeons. Today in the U.S., there are 888,000 physicians and surgeons, nearly 6 percent of them African-American.

Sources: www.blackinventor.com

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 596
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/14/10 at 12:54 pm EST


Saturday, February 13, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 13

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13: MAE JEMISON

Audio

Profile America for the 13th day of Black History Month. Mae Jemison has several distinctions. She is the first African-American woman to travel into space and the only astronaut to have appeared on "Star Trek." She was on an eight-day mission aboard the shuttle Endeavor and appeared in an episode of "Star Trek, The Next Generation" called "Second Chances." Before being selected by NASA for the astronaut training program, Jemison had earned two undergraduate degrees, a medical degree, and served over two years as a Peace Corps medical officer in West Africa -- all before her 30th birthday. Among African-American adults, 1.4 million hold advanced degrees. Ten years earlier, that number was just under 860,000.

Sources: www.jsc.nasa.gov

U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, CB10-FF.01
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/014487.html

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/13/10 at 6:07 am EST


Thursday, February 11, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 11

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11: JOSEPH LEE

Audio

Profile America for the 11th day of Black History Month. A century ago, bread bought in stores was handmade, a time and labor-intensive process. That changed when an African-American food executive from Boston, Joseph Lee, invented an automatic bread-making machine. This device mixed the ingredients and then kneaded the dough, dropping the cost of making bread while increasing production. Lee also developed a machine to eliminate the waste of unsold bread by recycling the loaves into bread crumbs -- which proved to be popular in restaurants the world over. Today in the U.S., African-American families buy an average of $232 worth of bakery products annually.

Sources: Black Inventor Online Museum

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 664
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/11/10 at 6:53 am EST


Thursday, February 04, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 4

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4: EDNA LEWIS

Audio

Profile America for the fourth day of Black History Month. Edna Lewis was a tiny woman who strode large on the stage of life and especially the culinary world. One of eight children born in the little hamlet of Freetown, Virginia, she learned true Southern cooking from her Aunt Jenny, using a wood-fired stove. In 1948, when an African-American female chef was a rarity, she opened a restaurant in New York City. Lewis wrote several cookbooks, among them the classic "The Taste of Country Cooking." In the U.S. today, there are 345,000 chefs and head cooks, 21 percent female, and just over 12 percent African-American.

Sources: Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 596
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/04/10 at 3:28 am EST


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 3

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3: SATCHEL

Audio: http://www.census.gov/multimedia/www/radio/audio/bh100203.mp3

Profile America for the third day of Black History Month. In February, 1971, Leroy Robert Paige -- better known as "Satchel" -- was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. While he was not the first African American to enter major league baseball, Paige's election capped a legendary career. He pitched for 25 years in baseball's professional Negro League and once threw 64 scoreless innings in a row. He also once won 21 games in a row. He was 42 when he came to the majors with the Cleveland Indians, but even so, Joe DiMaggio called him the "the best and fastest pitcher I ever faced." Today, African Americans contribute to every team in major league baseball, which draws nearly 81 million fans to games each year. This special edition of Profile America is a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau, conducting the 2010 Census beginning April 1st. I'm Andrea Roane.

Sources: Chase's Calendar of Events 2010, p. 361

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 1205
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/03/10 at 9:02 pm EST


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 2

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2: FLORENCE MILLS

Audio: http://www.census.gov/multimedia/www/radio/audio/bh100202.mp3

Profile America for the second day of Black History Month. When Florence Mills died in 1927, more than 150,000 people jammed the streets of Harlem to mourn her passing. Duke Ellington wrote the song "Black Beauty" to honor her. Today, she is little known, because her unusual singing voice was never properly recorded and her graceful dancing was never filmed. During her brief career, she made sensational appearances in Europe and in various shows in New York. She was revered for her efforts to create opportunities for African-American performers, and to bring black culture to Broadway. Today, there are about 40 new shows opening on Broadway each year, attended by 12 million people annually. This special edition of Profile America is a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau, conducting the 2010 Census beginning April 1st. I'm Andrea Roane.

Sources: Chase's Calendar of Events 2010, p. 100

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2009, t. 1194
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2009/2009edition.html

Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. These daily features are available as produced segments, ready to air, on a monthly CD or on the Internet at http://www.census.gov (look under the "Newsroom" button).

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Staff on 2/02/10 at 2:42 am EST


Monday, February 01, 2010

U.S. Census Bureau Black History Month Feature for Feb. 1

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following is the daily Black History Month feature from the U.S. Census Bureau:

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1: BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Profile America for the first day of Black History Month. February is a time to recall and honor the many positive contributions to our nation made by the people of African descent. Started as a special week 84 years ago by historian Carter G. Woodson, the observance is now a full month of activities across the country. There are just over 41 million African-Americans in the U.S., 13 percent of the total population. They are the largest minority group in 24 states. New York has the largest number of blacks at 3.5 million, and 17 other states are home to al least 1 million. The state with the highest percentage of African-Americans among its population is Mississippi at 38 percent. This special edition of Profile America is a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau, conducting the 2010 Census beginning April 1st.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, CB10-FF.01

Profile America is produced by the Public Information Office of the U.S. Census Bureau. These daily features are available as produced segments, ready to air, on a monthly CD or on the Internet at http://www.census.gov (look under the "Newsroom" button).

SOURCE U.S. Census Bureau

Source: PRNewswire

Posted by Staff on 2/01/10 at 6:28 am EST



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