CeeJay's | Black History Month Celebration

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CeeJay's | Black History Month Celebration.

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Ella Baker​


There would not have been a SNCC without Ella Baker. While serving as Executive Secretary for the Sputhern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), she organized the Following conference of SNCC, held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina during the Easter weekend of 1960. She had immediately recognized the potential of the students involved in the sit-in movement and wanted to bring leaders of the Movement together to meet one another and to consider future work. Miss Baker, as the students usually called her, persuaded Martin Luther King to put up the $800 needed to hold the conference. Rev. King hoped they would become an SCLC student wing. Ella Baker, however, encouraged the students to think about forming their own organization.

Born in Norfolk, Virginia and raised in Littleton, North Carolina, she was known by those around her as “a whirlwind.” Her tireless pursuit of change echoed the stories that Baker told about her maternal grandmother. Born a slave in Halifax County, North Carolina, “Bet” Ross refused to marry the man her master had chosen and was punished for her insubordination with hard labor plowing fallow fields. Despite the work, she nevertheless attended every celebration on the plantation, dancing until the early hours of the morning to show that her spirit remained unbowed. That was the energy that young SNCC organizers, some nearly four decades her junior, saw in Miss Baker. And Baker recognized that “the young people were the hope of any movement.

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Whitney Young​


Whitney Young, (born July 31, 1921, Lincoln Ridge, Kentucky, U.S.—died March 11, 1971, Lagos, Nigeria), American civil rights leader who, as head of the National Urban League from 1961 to 1971, spearheaded the drive for equal opportunity for Black people in U.S. industry and government service. Through his advocacy of a “Domestic Marshall Plan”—providing significant financial aid to help solve America’s racial problems, in the same manner that massive spending under the Marshal Plan helped European countries recover after World War II —he strongly influenced federal poverty programs sponsored by the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson during the 1960s.

Named executive director of the Urban League in 1961, Young became known as an influential Black activist who helped bridge the gap between white political and business leaders and disadvantaged Black Americans and those advocating for their rights. He became one of the major Black leaders of the American civil rights movement. Under his direction the Urban League grew from 60 to 98 chapters and shifted its focus from middle-class concerns to the needs of the urban poor. He almost single-handedly persuaded corporate America and major foundations to aid the civil rights movement through financial contributions in support of self-help programs for jobs, housing, education, and family rehabilitation.

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jack

The Legendary Troll Kingdom
It will be a great day in black history when you die.

Please die soon.
 

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Celebrate Black History Month 2024​


Drawn from their ancestors' ancient rites of passage and the shared hopes of liberty, Black artists continue to fuse the rhythmic cadence of creative expressions with the pulsating beats of progress. Our museum celebrates Black Hisrtory Month 2024 by highlighting the "art of resistance" and the artists who used their crafts to uplift the race, speak truth to power and inspire a nation.

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jack

The Legendary Troll Kingdom
It will be a great day in black history when you die.

Please die soon.
 

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President Barack Obama​


After three years of community organizing, Obama enrolled in Harvard Law School. After completing his first year, he worked as a summer associate at Chicago corporate law firm of Sidley & Austin, where his mentor was Michelle Robinson, his future wife. Obama was elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, prior to graduating magna cum laude in 1991. He returned to Chicago in 1992 and served as the Illinois Executive Director of PROJECT VOTE!. In 1993, he was hired as an associate at the firm of Davis Miner Barnhill & Gallard, where he largely worked on voting rights cases.

In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate from the thirteenth district. As a State Senator, he served as Democratic Spokesperson for Public Health and Welfare Committee and Co-Chairman of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, in addition to being a member of the Judiciary and Revenue Committees. He also worked as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago from 1996 until 2004, teaching three courses per year. Obama was elected to a second term in the Illinois State Senate in November 1998. In 2000, Obama made his first run for the U.S. Congress when he sought the Democratic U.S. House seat in Illinois First District. He lost to incumbent Representative Bobby Rush by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

On February 10, 2007, Obama formally announced his candidacy for President of the United States. He accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination at Invesco Stadium in Denver, Colorado on August 28, 2008. On November 4, 2008, Obama became the first African-American to be elected President. He resigned his seat in the U.S. Senate on November 16, 2008. Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

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jack

The Legendary Troll Kingdom
It will be a great day in black history when you die.

Please die soon.
Please die soon. Black History depends on it :bigass:
 

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ALTHEA GIBSON​


Althea Gibson, a sharecropper’s daughter, entered the world of sports when segregation severely limited opportunities for African Americans. She eventually became the first black athelete to cross the color line of international tennis and golf. In 1950, Gibson became the first black player to compete in the United States National Championships (now the U.S. Open) at Forest Hills, New York. Although she lost narrowly to Louise Brough, the reigning Wimbledon champion, the following year she won her first international title, the Caribbean Championship in Jamaica in 1951. After graduating from Florida A&M, Gibson took a job teaching physical education at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, but she continued her tennis competitions. In 1955, the U.S. State Department sent her on a goodwill tour of Asia. When the tour was over, she remained abroad, winning sixteen of eighteen tournaments in Europe and Asia.

Gibson was the first African American woman named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. She was inducted into the South Carolina, Florida, and New Jersey Sports Halls of Fame, the International Women’s Sports Halls of Fame, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She was also among Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 Greatest Female Athletes.

In 1956, Gibson became the first African American to win the French Open. Later she won the Wimbledon doubles title with Briton Angela Buxton, the Italian National Championship in Rome, and the Asian championship in Clayton. In July 1957, she won Wimbledon, considered at the time the world championship of tennis, and received the trophy personally from Queen Elizabeth. She won the doubles championship as well, and when she returned to New York City, she became only the second athlete, after Jesse Owens, to receive a ticker tape parade.

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jack

The Legendary Troll Kingdom
It will be a great day in black history when you die.

Please die soon.
 

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30 Civil Rights Leaders of the Past and Present​


When you're asked to think of vita Black Americanl civil rights leaders, it’s likely that Dr. Matin Luther King, Jr.., instantly comes to mind—and why wouldn’t he? Throughout the 1950s and 60s, the civil rights hero was an unparalleled pillar of strength for African Americans in the nonviolent fight toward equality and the end of legal segregation in the United States. It’s clear that understanding his work—from his arrests to his demonstrations to his unforgettable worlds of wisdom—is key to having a clearer picture of American history.

But he’s not the only figure we should actively learn about. Many figures preceded him, stood beside him, or came after him and toiled in his memory, making it their priority to fight for the freedom of all Black Americans against all odds. Although you may recognize a few of these names from the pages of your history books or Black History Month lessons, others may turn out to be welcome discoveries—like hidden figures of our time. You may already know the rest as critical voices of the present moment who work to ensure we'll never forget tha #BlackLivesMatter. While their collective work spans various decades, they all have something in common: We'll continue to feel their impact for generations to come.

Here are some highlights from the illustrious careers of numerous civil icons, including: W.E.B. Du Bois, Dorothy Height, John Lewis, Ibram X. Kendi, and Ruby Bridges.

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jack

The Legendary Troll Kingdom
It will be a great day in black history when you die.

Please die soon.
 

jack

The Legendary Troll Kingdom

Franklin DeWayne Alix​

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Franklin DeWayne Alix (August 6, 1975 – March 30, 2010) was an American rapist, robber, kidnapper, and serial killer who committed at least three murders, two attempted murders, nine robberies, two rapes, and four kidnappings during a crime spree in the late 1990s. Most of his crimes occurred at apartment complexes in Houston, Texas. Alix was sentenced to death for one of the murders and executed in 2010.

Alix was born in Harris County, Texas. As a child, he was active at his church. Alix sang in the choir and taught Sunday school.[1] He later said he was raised in a strict household.[2]

In September 1992, Alix tried to steal a bus. He was arrested after a 10 minute chase and received a six-month sentence for theft.[3]

On April 8, 1993, Alix stole a woman's car from her driveway. He was later arrested while driving the car. Alix received a three-year sentence for motor theft and was released from prison in 1996.[3]

On July 11, 1996, he was stopped for jaywalking in Houston and was found to be illegally carrying a pistol and ammunition. He was convicted of illegally carrying a weapon and was sentenced to 70 days in jail.[3]

In August 1997, Alix embarked on a six month violent crime spree in Houston. Over the course of the crime spree, he committed at least three murders.[4] Alix committed most of his crimes at apartment complexes and kidnapped people by forcing them into car trunks on four occasions.

On August 8, Alix allegedly shot 41-year-old Gregorio Ramirez during an attempted robbery in an apartment parking lot. Ramirez's widow identified him as the shooter. On August 15, Alix pumped gas without paying. When he got stuck in traffic and the store owner confronted him, Alix punched the man in the face.[3]

On September 2, Alix bumped into a woman's car. When she asked him for his insurance papers, he threw her to the ground and robbed her at gunpoint. He then fled after the woman started screaming and another woman said she was calling the police.[3]

On September 29, Alix robbed a woman and kidnapped her at gunpoint as she got out of her car in an apartment parking lot. After forcing her into her trunk and driving off, Alix pulled over and made the woman perform oral sex on him before fleeing.[3]

On October 5, Alix fatally shot Selemawi Tewolde in an apartment parking lot. On October 13 he robbed a man at gunpoint at an apartment, and on On November 30 robbed a man getting out of his car in an apartment parking lot and locked him in the trunk.[3]

On December 6, Alix stopped a patrolling apartment security guard at gunpoint. He had the security guard turn around and run away. He then fired three shots, hitting the guard in the back. The man survived.[3]

On December 19, Alix shot and wounded a townhome security guard after searching for money. Later that day, Alix got out of a car to rob a man in an apartment parking lot. The man got in the car and drove away. He later found a woman in the trunk. The woman said she had been robbed and raped.[3]

On January 3, Alix kidnapped 19-year-old Karyl Bridgeford. After forcing her into her car trunk and driving off, Alix threatened her and demanded money. Karyl told him he could take things from her home.[3]

Alix threatened Karyl with his gun, saying he would kill her and anyone else in the house if anything went wrong. Alix then searched the home and stole several electronics. He also raped Karyl. As he was ransacking the home, Karyl's 23-year-old brother Eric and his friend suddenly arrived. The two men fled, but Alix chased them and fatally shot Eric. Later that day, Alix pulled over a woman in an apartment parking lot at gunpoint before robbing and kidnapping her. The woman was forced into her car trunk. Alix, who then started driving the car, released her half an hour later.[3]

On January 4, Alix robbed a man walking home. Later that day, he robbed and fatally shot 34-year-old Christopher Thomas as he was listening to music in his car outside of his home.[5]

On January 6, 1998, officers in Houston arrested Alix. He confessed to killing Eric on videotape and led police to the weapon.[3]

Alix was charged with capital murder for killing Eric. Prosecutors announced they would seek a death sentence for him. While in jail awaiting trial, Alix got into two fights with other inmates, one on April 6, 1998, and the other on May 27, 1998. Alix's trial started in August 1998. During the trial, he admitted to kidnapping Karyl but claimed the sex was consensual, the stolen items were gifts, and that he killed Eric in self defense. Alix was found guilty of capital murder on August 26, 1998.[3]

During the sentencing phase, the prosecution introduced Alix's prior convictions and evidence of the other crimes he committed. They said he was the poster boy for capital murder and called him a "one-man crime wave".[6] The defense had witnesses testify that Alix was kind when he was younger. One person described him as having been a "typical fun-loving teenager". Alix himself said he committed the crimes under duress, and that a man named Kevin Smith had threatened to kill him if he did not pay a drug debt.[1][3]

Although Texas did not have life without parole at the time, the judge also allowed the defense to tell the jury that if they gave Alix a life sentence, he would not become eligible for parole for 40 years. This meant that Alix would have no chance of release until he was in his early 60s.[7]

During his trial, Alix had several outbursts. At one point, he was removed from the courtroom. The jury ultimately recommended a death sentence, and Alix was formally sentenced to death on September 2, 1998. In 2006, the crime lab for Houston Police Department was caught in a controversy over complaints of bad police work and mishandled evidence in multiple cases. In Alix's case, his lawyers argued that DNA evidence did not conclusively connect him to Ramirez's murder. However, an appellate court ruled that this would not have changed the jury's decision, pointing to Alix's lengthy history of violence and other evidence.[3]

Alix was interviewed on death row shortly before his execution:

Referring to his alleged drug debt, Alix said he had wanted to do the right things in life, but got caught with a bad crowd. He admitted to killing Eric but claimed his gun went off after Eric charged at him. Alix said he did not want to die. He claimed he was remorseful, but said he would not apologize. Alix admitted to some of the robberies, but denied most of the other crimes, including the rapes and all of the other murders.[3]

Alix was executed by lethal injection at the Huntsville Unit on March 30, 2010. He declined a last meal. Alix's last words were "I am not the monster they made me out to be. I made lots of mistakes that took your son. I messed up, made poor choices. I'll take it to the grave, I will be at peace. It is what it is. I got peace in my heart." He was pronounced dead seven minutes later.[3]

Bridgeford's sister and mother, as well as Thomas's father and sister, witnessed the execution. "Our lives are forever changed but we need to go on", said Bridgeford's mother, Janey. She said she took no pleasure in seeing Alix die and that she forgave him, but understood he might not admit to everything he did. Janey brought a photo of her son to the witness room. "Every photo has been of Alix", she said. "I wanted to put a face to this." Janey said her family had been through a lot of pain and it took two years before she could return to work.[1] Thomas's sister, Fernellifa Jolivette, said she had to forgive Alix to find peace with herself.[3]
 

jack

The Legendary Troll Kingdom

Wanda Jean Allen​

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Wanda Jean Allen (August 17, 1959 – January 11, 2001) was sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of Gloria Jean Leathers, 29, her longtime girlfriend. Allen was the first black woman to be executed in the United States since 1954.[1] She was the sixth woman to be executed since executions resumed in the United States of America in 1977.[2] Her final appeals and the last three months of her life were chronicled by filmmaker Ivana Barrios in the documentary The Execution of Wanda Jean (2002).

Background

Wanda Jean Allen was born on August 17, 1959, the second of eight children. Her mother was an alcoholic; her father left home after Wanda's last sibling was born and the family lived in public housing and scraped by on public assistance.

At the age of 12, Allen was hit by a truck and knocked unconscious, and at 14 or 15 she was stabbed in the left temple. It was found that Allen's actual abilities were markedly impaired and that her IQ was 69. Found particularly significant was that the left hemisphere of her brain was dysfunctional, impairing her comprehension, her ability to logically express herself, and her ability to analyze cause and effect relationships. It was also concluded that Allen was more chronically vulnerable than others to becoming disorganized by everyday stresses, and thus more vulnerable to a loss of control under stress.

By age 17, she had dropped out of high school.

In 1981, Allen was sharing an apartment with Dedra Pettus, a childhood friend[1]-turned-girlfriend.[2] On June 29, 1981, they got into an argument, and Allen shot and killed Pettus. In her 1981 confession, Allen stated that she accidentally shot Pettus from roughly 30 feet away while returning fire from Pettus' boyfriend. However, the forensic evidence was inconsistent with Allen's story; in particular, a police expert believed that bruises and powder burns on Pettus' body indicated that Allen had pistol-whipped her, then shot her at point-blank range. Nevertheless, prosecutors cut a deal with Allen, and she received a four-year sentence[2] in exchange for a guilty plea to a manslaughter charge. She served two years of the sentence.

Pettus was buried at Trice Hill Cemetery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Seven years after the death of Dedra Pettus, Allen was living with her girlfriend Gloria Jean Leathers. The two met in prison and had a turbulent and violent relationship. On December 2, 1988, Leathers, 29, was shot in front of The Village Police Department in Oklahoma City. Fifteen minutes before the shooting, the two women were involved in a dispute at a grocery store. A city officer escorted the two women to their house and stood by while Leathers collected her belongings. Before Leathers left the house, Allen asked her to "stay and attempt to work out their difficulties."[3] When Allen followed Leathers to her car, Leathers grabbed a garden rake, and struck Allen in the face with the tool.[4] Leathers and her mother left and drove to file a complaint against Allen.[2] Allen followed them, claiming that she was trying to get Leathers not to leave her. When Allen approached Leathers in the parking lot, she saw Leathers still had the rake.[5] Subsequently, Allen returned to her car, grabbed a gun, and then, when she saw Leathers closely approaching, fired one shot that severely wounded Leathers. [6] Leathers' mother witnessed the shooting. Two police officers and a dispatcher heard the shot fired, but no police department employee witnessed the shooting. The police recovered a .38-caliber handgun they believe was used in the shooting near the women's home. Leathers died from the injury three days later, on December 5, 1988.

Leathers was buried at Green Acres Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Sperry in Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

The state charged Allen with first-degree murder and announced that it would seek the death penalty. Evidence that Leathers had a history of violent conduct, and that she had stabbed a woman to death in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1979, was central to the self-defense argument at Allen's trial. Allen testified that she feared Leathers because she had boasted to her about the killing. The defense sought to corroborate this claim with testimony from Leathers' mother, whom Leathers had told about the stabbing. However, the prosecution objected, and the court prohibited the introduction of such testimony because it was considered hearsay. The prosecutor depicted Allen as a remorseless liar. The jury found her guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced her to death.

During the punishment phase the prosecutors argued that Allen should be sentenced to death because she had been previously convicted of a felony involving the use or threat of violence; that she was a continuing threat to society; and she committed the murder to avoid arrest or prosecution. The jury found that the first two aggravating circumstances existed in Allen's case. Her defense presented numerous mitigating circumstances including good relationship with her family, good work habits, and her fear of the victim.

In the sentencing phase the prosecution presented testimony on the circumstances of the death of Dedra Pettus, and compared this previous crime to the death of Leathers.

In a 1991 affidavit, her defense lawyer David Presson stated that after the trial he learned that when Allen was 15 years old, her IQ was measured at 69, placing her "just within the upper limit of the classification of mental retardation" according to the psychologist who analyzed her and that an examining doctor had recommended a neurological assessment because she manifested symptoms of brain damage. The lawyer stated, "I did not search for any medical or psychological records or seek expert assistance for use at the trial."

A psychologist conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Allen in 1995 and found clear and convincing evidence of cognitive and sensory-motor deficits and brain dysfunction possibly linked to an adolescent head injury.

Of the five members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, three were appointed by Governor Frank Keating.[2]

Keating who considered giving Allen a stay based on the narrow issue of whether the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board had enough information regarding her education. Allen's attorneys have pointed to her score, a 69, on an IQ test she took in the 1970s, arguing she was in the range of intellectual disability. Prosecutors said Allen testified during the penalty phase of her trial that she had graduated from a high school and received a medical assistant certificate from a college, but they[clarification needed] said Allen dropped out of high school at 16 and never finished course work in the medical assistant program.

Allen spent 12 years on death row. Her application for clemency was denied.

While in prison, she became a born-again Christian. The Reverend Robin Meyers, who served as a spiritual adviser to Allen, is quoted as saying,

I always suspected that Wanda's renunciation of lesbianism had more to do with helping to revamp herself in the most palatable way for her clemency and appeal processes. She knew perfectly well that her being a lesbian was a big strike against her and that it's an embarrassment in the black community. She was going to play the best hand that she could play at the very end.
Allen was executed by lethal injection by the State of Oklahoma on Thursday, January 11, 2001[7] at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Twenty-four relatives of murder victim Gloria Leathers and manslaughter victim Dedra Pettus traveled there for the execution. Many of them watched the execution from behind a tinted window. While lying on the execution gurney, Allen said, "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." She also stuck her tongue out and smiled at her appeal lawyer, David Presson, who had become her friend. He says she was "dancing on the mattress, while they tried to kill her." She was pronounced dead at 9:21 p.m. Relatives of Leathers expressed the execution gave them "closure".[1]

She was buried at Trice Hill Cemetery in Oklahoma City.
 

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31 Little-Known Black History Facts You May Not Have Learned in School​


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  1. 1.In case you didn’t already know, the creator of Black History Month was historian Carter G. Woodson. Often referred to as the “Farther of Black History,” he was notably the second African American to graduate from Harvard University with a doctorate degree, and is credited with being one of the first scholars to study and research the history of African Americans.
  2. William Tucker was the first known Black person to be born in the 13 colonies. He was born in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1624. According to BlackPasr.org, his parents were indentured servants and part of the first group of Africans brought to colonial soil by Great Britain.
  3. After years of remarkable work as an attorney, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to serve in the U.S.Supreme Court. Officially nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, he served as a justice until 1991.
  4. In 1854, John Mercer Langston notably became the first African lawyer in the state of Ohio. He went on to serve as the dean of the law department and vice president of Howard University. He’s also remembered as the first African American from Virginia to be elected to public office, specifically to the U.S. Congress.
  5. Anthony Benezet, a white Quaker, abolitionist, and educator, is credited with creating the first public school for African American children in the early 1770s.
  6. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1850 with a literary degree, Lucy Stanton became the first Black women in America to earn a four-year college degree.
  7. Martin Luther King, Jr. started as a freshman at Morehouse College at the young age of 15.
  8. James McCune Smith was the first African American person to earn a medical degree. He also started the nation's first pharmacy under Black ownership, and was the first African American to have their work published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
  9. After attending Barnard College, Lila Fenwick graduated from Harvard Law School in 1956, becoming the first African American woman to graduate from the prestigious legal institution. She also later studied at the London School of Economics and worked at the United Nations.
  10. Hiram Rhodes Revels was sworn in as the first Black U.S. senator in 1870.
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The Legendary Troll Kingdom

Annice (slave)​

Details
Annice
DiedAugust 23, 1828
Missouri, U.S.
Cause of deathExecution by hanging
OccupationSlave
Criminal statusExecuted
MotiveUnknown (possibly mercy killing)
Conviction(s)Murder (5 counts)
Criminal penaltyDeath
Victims5
CountryUnited States
State(s)Missouri
Date apprehendedJuly 27, 1828
Annice (died August 23, 1828) was the first female slave known to have been executed in Missouri. She was hanged for the murders of five children, two of whom were her own.
Annice was owned by Jeremiah Prior of Clay County, Missouri. On July 27, 1828, she was indicted for the murders of five slave children also owned by Prior – Ann, Billy, Nancy, Nelly, and Phebe. Billy (aged five) and Nancy (aged two) were Annice's own children, but the parentages and ages of the others were not identified. According to the indictment, she pushed the children "into a certain collection of water of the depth of five feet and there choaked [sic], suffocated and drowned, of which they instantly died".[1] Annice was given a jury trial and a defense attorney, but was found guilty. She was publicly hanged by Sheriff Shubael Allen the following month, at the county seat of Liberty.[2] Hers was the first legal execution in Clay County (established 1822),[3] and she is the first enslaved woman known to have been executed in Missouri.[2]
One author has suggested that by killing the children Annice was "depriving her owner of no fewer than five potentially valuable properties", thus striking out against "the curse of involuntary servitude".[2] Annice is the only slave known to have been executed for infanticide in Missouri. Enslaved women believed that by killing their children they were sparing them a lifetime of subjugation.[1] There has been some speculation that Annice was the mother of another female slave of the same name, who was lynched in Clay County in 1850 for the attempted murder of her owner. However, there is no direct evidence linking the two other than their shared names and location.[4] In 1976, Clay County erected a memorial plaque at Tryst Falls (near Excelsior Springs), identifying it as the location of the drownings. The plaque was modified a few decades later to remove the specific details of Annice's actions.[2]

See also​


References​

  1. Frazier (2001), p. 255.

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  • This page was last edited on 4 January 2024, at 0
 

jack

The Legendary Troll Kingdom

Lena Baker​

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Lena Baker (June 8, 1900 – March 5, 1945)[1] was an African American maid in Cuthbert, Georgia, United States, who was convicted of capital murder of a white man, Ernest Knight. She was executed by the state of Georgia in 1945.[2] Baker was the only woman in Georgia to be executed by electrocution.[3][2]

The execution came during a decades-long period of state suppression of civil rights of black citizens in white-dominated Georgia. The state had disenfranchised black people since the turn of the century, and imposed legal racial segregation and second-class status on them. At the time of the trial, a local newspaper reported that Baker was held as a "slave woman" by Knight, and that she shot him in self-defense during a struggle.[4]

In 2005, sixty years after her execution, the state of Georgia granted Baker a full and unconditional pardon. A biography was published about Baker in 2001, and it was adapted for the feature film The Lena Baker Story (2008), chronicling the events of her life, trial, and execution.

Lena Baker was born June 8, 1900, to a family of sharecroppers and raised near Cuthbert, Georgia. Her family, which included three siblings, moved to the county seat when she was a child. As a youth, she and her siblings all worked as farm laborers; she chopped cotton for a farmer named J.A. Cox.[5]

By the 1940s, Baker was the mother of three children and worked as a maid to support her family.

Killing​

In 1944, Baker started working for Ernest Knight, an older white man who had broken his leg. He owned a gristmill and, upon sexually assaulting Lena multiple times, he would keep her there imprisoned for days at a time in "near slavery."[4] Knight's son and townspeople disliked their "relationship", and tried to end it through threatening Baker.[2] One night an argument between the two ensued, during which Knight threatened Baker with an iron bar. As she tried to escape, they struggled over his pistol and she shot and killed him. She immediately reported the incident and said she had acted in self-defense.

Trial and execution​

Lena Baker was charged with capital murder and stood trial on August 14, 1944. The trial was presided over by Judge William "Two Gun" Worrill, who kept a pair of pistols in view on his judicial bench.[5] At her trial, Baker testified that Knight forced her to go with him on that Saturday evening of April 29. The town disliked their sexual relationship and the county sheriff had warned her to stay away from Knight, or risk being sent to jail. But she was afraid of Knight's physical abuse; he had forced relations on her. His son had also beat her on another occasion, warning her to stay away from his father.[4] Baker said she got away from Knight that night and slept in the woods. As she returned to Cuthbert the next morning, Knight cornered her, taking her to the gristmill and locking her in. When Knight returned, Baker told him she was leaving. According to Baker, they "tussled over the pistol", after he threatened her with an iron bar.[3] She immediately reported it to J.A. Cox, the county coroner who had previously employed her.

The all-white, all-male jury rejected Baker's plea of self-defense and convicted her of capital murder by the end of the first day of the trial.[5] This charge carried an automatic death sentence. In addition to the legal racial segregation imposed by the white-dominated Georgia legislature, it had disenfranchised most black people since the turn of the century, which disqualified them from jury service. After Baker's court-appointed counsel, W.L. Ferguson, filed an appeal, he dropped Baker as a client.[5]

Governor Ellis Arnall granted Baker a 60-day reprieve so that the Board of Pardons and Parole could review the case, but in January 1945 it denied Baker clemency.[6] She was transferred to Georgia State Prison at Reidsville on February 23, 1945.[6]

What I done, I did in self-defense, or I would have been killed myself. Where I was I could not overcome it. God has forgiven me. I have nothing against anyone. I picked cotton for Mr. Pritchett, and he has been good to me. I am ready to go. I am one in the number. I am ready to meet my God. I have a very strong conscience.
— Baker's last words[5]
Baker was executed on March 5, 1945.[2] She was buried in an unmarked grave behind Mount Vernon Baptist Church, where she had sung in the choir.

Posthumous pardon​

In 1998, members of the congregation arranged for a simple headstone for her grave.[6] That year two articles were published about her case.[7]

In 2003, descendants of Baker's family began to mark the anniversary of her death and Mother's Day at her graveside. That year Baker's grandnephew, Roosevelt Curry, requested an official pardon from the state, aided by the Georgia-based prison advocacy group, Prison and Jail Project.

In 2005, the Parole Board granted Baker a full and unconditional pardon.[2][6][5] Commentators have suggested that in 1945, the Board of Pardons and Parole could have lowered her charge to voluntary manslaughter, which would have carried an average 15-year sentence and saved her life.[2][8]

Representation in other media​

In 2001, Lela Bond Phillips, a professor at Andrew College, published a biography titled The Lena Baker Story, which was adapted into a feature film of the same name in 2008. Tichina Arnold played the role of Lena Baker.

See also​

References​

  1. "Executed US maid to be pardoned". BBC News. August 16, 2005. Retrieved August 10, 2008.

Further reading​



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  • This page was last edited on 20 November 2023,
 
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