These Black female soldiers brought order to chaos and delivered a blow against inequality

(CNN) — Only four women rest under the long rows of white marble headstones at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, where nearly 9,400 other Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country are buried. Three of the women are African American.

Pfc. Mary J. Barlow, Pfc. Mary H. Bankston and Sgt. Dolores M. Browne endured stifling segregation while serving their country, yet with their comrades they maintained a lifeline between American troops and their families back home.

The women were members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, known as the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black Women’s Army Corps unit to serve in Europe during World War II.

The battalion — which served in England and France — had a tough assignment: clear up an overwhelming backlog of letters and care packages that had been building up for years. Mail was considered a lifeline and a morale booster — a reminder of home and the country those troops were fighting for, and the Army wanted the job done fast.

The Six Triple Eight often worked in cold, dark conditions for months, but completed their mission even earlier than expected. But when they came home, the unit of African American women was treated to little or no fanfare.

“I’m sure that you have seen, as many people have seen, how service people were heralded,” said former WAC Lena King, 97, one of 11 known survivors out of the 855-member battalion. “But our dismissal was quiet and unpronounced. We simply came home.”

More than 6,500 African American women served during World War II. Many enlisted out of a patriotic sense of duty for a country that kept them segregated.

While the Six Triple Eight has received accolades in recent years — including the Army’s Meritorious Unit Commendation in 2019 — supporters are behind bills calling for the battalion to receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their extraordinary service, joining the likes of the Tuskegee Airmen and Montford Point Marines.

“I believe that people are aware that Black women served during World War II,” said retired Army Col. Edna Cummings, who advocates for the women. “But I do not believe they know the full scope of their service.”

This effort to further recognize what Black women endured and accomplished during World War II comes as people across the country are, once again, in a reckoning over race.

King said she believes the service of African American women and men in WWII should have translated into a broader impact on society.

“The thing is you think that all of that is going to make things better for racial equality and so forth, but it has no effect really, she said. “It’s painful to see that we still haven’t really brought it together.

A call for women to join up

In February 1945, the 6888th — commanded by Maj. Charity Adams (later Adams Earley), was sent to England, where a shortage of personnel was wreaking havoc with the mail system.

The battalion knew it needed to excel. They adopted the motto, “No mail, low morale.”

Meanwhile, White WAC units had already been deployed overseas, according to official accounts.

“Mary McLeod Bethune and the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt said the women needed a meaningful assignment to prove that black women could support the Armed Forces just as the white women did,” said Cummings who co-produced a documentary about the Six Triple Eight. Bethune was a friend and adviser to the first lady and a member of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet.”

As Allied troops advanced across Europe, ever-changing locations hampered mail delivery.

Upon arrival in Birmingham, England, the women were shocked to see the mail piled up in hangars and warehouses.

“Oh, God, it was terrible,” said former WAC Indiana Hunt-Martin, one of the few surviving Women’s Army Corps members of the 6888th.

They worked three shifts a day, using information cards and serial numbers to match mail with millions of troops and personnel, according to the US Department of Defense.

The addresses on many of the letters were hard to follow. Loved ones used a slew of different nicknames for service personnel, using “Bob, Rob, Robby, Bert, and so forth, just for Robert,” Adams Earley said in her memoir, “One Woman’s Army: A Black Officer Remembers the WAC.”

Countless soldiers had the same full name. Adams Early said at one point there were 7,500 Robert Smiths.

Hunt-Martin remembers that the men on the front moved around constantly.

“Sometimes, I would send a letter out, by the time I look around (it) was back because he’d moved again,” said Hunt-Martin.

With the work underway, the WACs did enjoy days off, allowing them to see London, go to the theater or travel. Locals invited them to dine in their homes on the weekends, the women remembered.

“The English people were friendly,” said former WAC Fannie Griffin McClendon. “One of the many things they wanted to know is why we were all separated. We didn’t have that answer for them.”

Segregation and inequality for Black WACs

Like much of the country, the military was segregated throughout World War II. Black service members faced continuous racism, and the women of the 6888th have sharp memories of being segregated on trains, spat at and demeaned by White men and women.

Even the battalion’s boss was not exempt.

Adams Early wrote that a general told her: “I’m going to send a white first lieutenant down here to show you how to run this unit.”

Her response? “Over my dead body, sir.”

Former WACs said the prejudice particularly stung because they’d signed up for the war effort out of a sense of duty. Many also looked for opportunities long unafforded to most Black women, who were often relegated to service roles such as maids and cooks.

Those with undergraduate and higher degrees said that they were hoping the military would profit from their education and provide training for more skilled work. According to historian and author Sandra Bolzenius, most went unsatisfied.

“There was not a lot of excitement for Black women to be in the military,” said Bolzenius, arguing that military leaders didn’t like to be forced to change hiring practices. “Unbelievable, because the crisis, the shortage of troops was real.”

Increased pressure to desegregate the military came from Black newspapers, activists and the NAACP even before the US entered the war.

When thousands of Black women were allowed to enlist in 1942, they had to have separate lodging and training classes and could not dine with their male or White female comrades.

Bolzenius said many White post commanders were reluctant to request Black WACs join their bases after graduating from basic training. They did not want to go to the trouble of setting up separate quarters, schedules and classes for Black WACs. If they did, commanders relegated them to lower skilled roles as orderlies, laundry workers and cleaners.

In March 1945 in Massachusetts, about 100 Black WACs went on strike refusing to show up for work at a hospital in Fort Devens. They’d been been promised jobs as technicians but were assigned menial roles instead.

Four of the women were court-martialed and convicted, but the War Department ended up dismissing the charges against them after a popular outcry, detailed in Bolzenius’s book, “Glory in Their Spirit: How Four Black Women Took on the Army During World War II.”

“You know, there was a confidence about these women that led them to strike,” said Bolzenius. “They knew that the way other people were looking at them was completely wrong.”

The 6888th completes its mission

While unequal conditions were a shock to some, they were expected by those accustomed to the nation’s racial divide. But, in speaking to CNN, the surviving members of the Six Triple Eight spend far more time remembering their contributions to the war effort.

They processed an average of 65,000 pieces of mail per shift (which would net out to nearly 6 million pieces of mail per month.) They finished their first assigned six-month stint in three months, then completed assignments in Rouen, France, and Paris, according to the US Army Center of Military History.

Their accomplishments showed the world how well Black women could perform in the military, said retired US Navy Cmdr. Carlton Philpot.

“As with most initiatives for minorities and women, if the initial group fails, then that’s not a good thing,” said Philpot, who was instrumental in the construction of a monument honoring the Six Triple Eight at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 2018. “But if they’re successful, they may not get full credit, but it does open the hearts and minds of a lot of good people.”

The war ended and the unit completed its mission in early 1946. Soon after returning to the US, Adams Earley become the first African-American woman promoted to lieutenant colonel. She later became a college dean and community leader.

Lena King continued her education in England. Fannie McClendon went into the Air Force and later had an antique shop. Hunt-Martin worked for the Labor Department. Some were active in the civil rights movement.

But three women never came home. Pfc. Mary J. Barlow, Pfc. Mary H. Bankston and Sgt. Dolores M. Browne were killed in a jeep accident while on duty in France in July 1945.

The women of the Six Triple Eight organized to prepare the bodies for burial and held memorial services.

The story of the 6888th is solidified in history by those graves at Normandy and they are now a greater part of the story of World War II.

“We want to leave a legacy that we have done something that is remarkable,” said King. “We’ve done so much I think to show that we are just as interested and love our country as much as anyone else.”

Reverend Doctor Joseph Echols Lowery, Age 98 October 6, 1921 – March 27, 2020

Our beloved, Rev. Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery, made his transition peacefully at home at 10 p.m., Friday, March 27, at the age of 98. He was surrounded by his daughters.

Hailed as the “Dean of the Civil Rights Movement” upon his receipt of the NAACP’s

Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Lowery had assumed and executed a broad and diverse series of roles over the span of his nine decades: leader, pastor, servant, father, husband, freedom fighter and advocate.

Born in Huntsville, Ala., on October 6, 1921, his legacy of service and struggle was long and rich. His genesis as a civil rights advocate dates to the early 1950s, when he headed the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, which led the movement to desegregate buses and public accommodations. In 1957, with friend and colleague Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

He served as Vice President (1957-1967), Chairman of the Board (1967-1977), and as President and Chief Executive Officer (1977-1998). To continue his legacy and promote non-violent advocacy among future generations, The Joseph E. Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights was founded in 2002 at Clark Atlanta University. The Institute was later renamed to include and honor Dr. Evelyn Lowery, his beloved partner in marriage and the movement for 67 years.

Calling on his over 40 years as ‘pastor’ and in his inimitable style, Dr. Lowery delivered the benediction on the occasion of President Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States in 2009. Later that year, President Obama awarded him the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the nonviolent struggle for the causes of justice, human rights, economic equality, voting rights, peace and human dignity.

Please pray and respect the privacy of the entire Lowery family during this difficult time. The family will not be conducting interviews during this grieving period.


Marc Morial, Melanie Campbell, Derrick Johnson & Rev. Al Sharpton Question Availability of Testing and Care, Disruptions to Education and Employment

The nation’s leading civil rights organizations have requested an urgent meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer regarding racial equity in the coronavirus response proposal.

Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable; NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, insisted that coronavirus response legislation must take racial equity into account.

“As we often say, when white America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia, and never has that metaphor been more apt,” Morial said. “Urban communities of color are likely to suffer the brunt of the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis and any legislative response must contain targeted relief.”

“We’re concerned about the impact it will have on children who are out of school and don’t have the broadband internet access they need for digital learning at home,” Campbell said, “And comprehensive paid family leave for all is needed now more than ever.”

“Low-income workers, who are disproportionately African-American, are the least likely to have paid sick leave,” Johnson said. “Black workers are more likely to face short-term layoffs or total loss of employment. How is the country going to address their plight?”

Sharpton noted that urban neighborhoods and communities of color often lack access to quality health care facilities.

“What efforts will be made to make testing freely available in urban and poor communities?” Sharpton asked. “We need to make sure that the relief offered in any coronavirus response plan does not bypass the communities most in need.”

The leaders said discussions would include the possibility of making some provisions of the response plan permanent.

Wells Fargo Announces $50 Million Investment In African-American Minority Depository Institutions

U.S. Black Chambers (USBC) President Ron Busby released the following statement regarding Wells Fargo $50 million investment in African American community-based banks”

“We’re on the front lines of advocating for access to capital for Black business owners, Black business owners are historically and presently blocked from opportunites to obtain business loans and access to capital.

We applaud Wells Fargo for its $50 million investment in Black community-based banks. Wells Fargo has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to supporting economic growth in the Black community. Whether its their sponsorship of our chambers or small business initiatives, like our Entrepreneur Training & Financial Education Program, Wells Fargo is a leading example of broadening access and opportunites that support economic growth in the Black community,” says Ron Busby, President & CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers

Wells Fargo announces it is seeking to commit up to $50 million in capital for Minority Depository Institutions

The investment furthers the company’s commitment to help African American communities succeed financially.

Wells Fargo has announced it is seeking to invest up to $50 million in capital for African American Minority Depository Institutions, or MDIs, as part of its commitment to supporting economic growth in African American communities.

MDI support fits in among other efforts to empower diverse communities:

In 2018, Wells Fargo funded $15.3 billion in new purchase loans to low- and moderate-income households.

In 2019, Wells Fargo announced a $1 billion commitment to address the housing affordability crisis in the United States through 2025.

Wells Fargo pursues opportunities to engage the diverse supplier community, increase diverse spend, and build capacity and expertise for high-potential diverse suppliers.

The NeighborhoodLIFT® program, Wells Fargo’s signature sustainable housing collaboration with NeighborWorks® America, has assisted more than 20,000 homeowners.

Wells Fargo works with organizations, such as United Negro College Fund, Rainbow Push, NAACP, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, 100 Black Men of America, and U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., to conduct free financial capabilities seminars and workshops.

Wells Fargo delivers resources and guidance to support financial health, including Hands on Banking®, a noncommercial program that teaches people about the basics of responsible money management, and Path to Credit, a site that offers interactive videos, tips, infographics, and quizzes that can help consumers learn ways to build and rebuild their credit.

What is an MDI?

MDIs are FDIC-insured depository institutions where either (i) minority individuals represent at least 51% of voting stock or (ii) a majority of the board of directors is minority and the community that the institution serves is predominantly minority.

“MDIs are a key part of the lending ecosystem for underserved communities, playing an important role in neighborhood revitalization, and we look forward to helping African American MDIs grow,” said Jonathan Weiss, CEO of Corporate & Investment Banking and interim CEO of Wealth & Investment Management at Wells Fargo.

MDIs — often community-based banks — play an important role in providing mortgage credit, small business lending, and other banking services.

MDIs have received increased focus recently with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and Congressman Gregory Meeks sponsoring legislation to enhance MDIs. MDIs have recently struggled to attract new capital and remain reasonably profitable, making it more challenging to achieve their mandate. The overall number of MDI charters have decreased by over 30% since 2008. Over this time, African American MDI charters in particular have declined at an even faster rate than their peers.

Wells Fargo’s new CEO: ‘We will get it done’

In his first few months on the job, CEO Charlie Scharf has instilled the company with a sense of urgency in addressing its priorities.

With the investment, Wells Fargo aims to help stimulate economic growth and opportunities in the communities MDIs serve. The investment will contribute capital, connections, and expertise to help MDIs grow, serve their communities, and expand their sphere of influence.

“An infusion of capital in these smaller, community-based banks is truly a meaningful investment, because the ultimate beneficiaries are minority members of low- to moderate-income communities, a demographic that Wells Fargo is committed to supporting,” said Gigi Dixon, Wells Fargo’s senior director of external relations for national constituents. “Their success is tied to the success of our broader communities.”

Investing in MDIs is one more step in Wells Fargo’s long history of helping African American communities succeed financially.

This investment complements the Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program, a five-year, $175 million program working with Community Development Financial Institutions to empower diverse small business owners with greater access to capital and technical assistance so they can grow and sustain local jobs. The DCC program is a collaboration with Opportunity Finance Network and CDFIs across the country. To date, the CDFIs in this program have made 124,000 loans, delivered 322,000 hours of technical assistance, and benefited 49,000 small business owners who collectively sustain more than 183,000 jobs in rural and urban markets nationwide.

It also aligns with Wells Fargo’s 10-year initiative to work with the National Urban League and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers to create 250,000 African American homeowners and invest an additional $15 million in homeowner education and counseling. Wells Fargo has helped to create 42,947 African American homeowners in the first two years of the commitment with $10.6 billion in financing and provided $4.7 million in homebuyer education and counseling.

Congratulations Chairperson Karen Bass And The Majority Of The Congressional Black Caucus For Standing Up To Big Tobacco

House approves bill to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes/menthol cigarettes!

The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) wants to wholeheartedly congratulate Chairperson Karen Bass and the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus for standing up to Big Tobacco; thus, leading the fight to pass H.R. 2339. Prohibiting the manufacturing and sale of menthol and all flavored tobacco products will ultimately save Black Lives by stopping the predatory marketing of these products in our communities, something that has been going on for the past 60 years.

Congressmember Karen Bass represents California's 37th Congressional District

Courtesy Photo

Congressmember Karen Bass represents California’s 37th Congressional District

Some have argued that prohibiting the sale of menthol products would be discriminatory toward Black people – “it’s their cigarette; they prefer them.” This line of argumentation turns the world upside down. It was, and continues to be, the tobacco industry that pushed these products down our throats in the first place through saturation advertising, lucrative promotions, free giveaways, and discounted pricing; yes, menthol cigarettes are cheaper in the Black Community, not to mention the silencing of our media and leadership groups through strategically pernicious manipulation and co-optation.

Others have argued that prohibiting the sale of menthol cigarettes will lead to increased criminalization of Black people by the police; that black males, in particular, will be arrested for possessing menthol cigarettes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s be clear, H.R.2339 will outlaw the sale of these products, not the possession or use of them.

The Bill states on Page 6:

”(iii) APPLICABILITY TO CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS.-Notwithstanding any provision of this Act, no individual who purchases for individual consumption, possesses for individual consumption, or consumes, a tobacco product that is in violation of the prohibition under this subparagraph, including a tobacco product that contains a characterizing flavor of menthol, shall be subject to any criminal penalty under this Act for such purchase, possession, or consumption, nor shall such purchase, possession, or consumption be used as a justification to stop, search, or conduct any other investigative measure against any individual.”

On Page 9:

4) LIMITATION ON ENFORCEMENT.-A law enforcement officer of a State or political subdivision thereof may not enforce (including by making any stop, search, seizure, or arrest or by pursuing any prosecution, trial, or punishment) any provision of section 907(a)(1)(A) or 910(h) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended and added by this subsection.

Moreover, there haven’t been any arrests, that’s no one, not Black or otherwise, for possessing menthol products in the jurisdictions where the sale of these products is prohibited. Again, this bill is not about possession, it is about manufacturing and sale.

Still, other commentators state that outlawing menthol cigarettes will lead to a black market. There is not a scintilla of evidence that a black market has arisen in any of the jurisdictions where menthol is prohibited for sale.

We are glad to see that the majority of the CBC rejected these falsehoods instigated by the tobacco industry and stood firm in the support of the Black Community.

The AATCLC looks forward to working with Chairperson Bass and the CBC in the near future, in a joint fight to save the 45,000 Black Lives lost each year to tobacco-induced diseases. We look forward to working to ensure that our people our provided with the services they need to quit smoking. For more information about the AATCLC, please visit our website,

(AATCLC) African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council

Courtesy Photo

(AATCLC) African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council

Moms Demand Action Applauds Maryland Senate For Passing Background Checks Legislation

The Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statement after the Maryland Senate passed legislation requiring background checks on all rifle and shotgun sales in Maryland. The legislation now heads to the Maryland House of Delegates, and likely onto a conference committee.

“This vote marks a new milestone in the fight to keep our families safe from gun violence,” said Danielle Veith, a volunteer with the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action. “After the disappointment of last session, we refuse to stand by and watch our elected officials let Maryland communities down again. As this bill moves forward, we hope lawmakers will have the courage to stand up for what’s right and fight for the strongest bill possible.”

Last session, volunteers with Maryland Moms Demand Action spent countless hours urging lawmakers to pass comprehensive background check legislation. However, efforts to close Maryland’s dangerous background check loophole were blocked when since-departed Senate leadership ran out the clock.

Under current Maryland law, sales of rifles and shotguns by unlicensed sellers do not require a background check. That makes it easy for convicted felons, domestic abusers and other people who are legally prohibited from having guns to obtain these deadly weapons from unlicensed sellers through sales arranged online or at gun shows. For more than two decades, Maryland law has required background checks on all handgun sales.

About Everytown for Gun Safety

Everytown for Gun Safety is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with nearly six million supporters and more than 375,000 donors including moms, mayors, survivors, students, and everyday Americans who are fighting for common-sense gun safety measures that can help save lives. Learn more at and follow us @Everytown.

About Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Moms Demand Action is the nation’s largest grassroots volunteer network working to end gun violence. Moms Demand Action is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization with nearly six million supporters and more than 375,000 donors. Moms Demand Action campaigns for new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families. There is a Moms Demand Action chapter in every state of the country and more than 700 local groups across the country. For more information or to get involved visit Follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter at @MomsDemand

Cardin Commemorates The 55th Anniversary Of “Bloody Sunday”

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) issued the following statement to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the March 7, 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama which culminated in the violent attacks against protesters known as “Bloody Sunday”.

“Fifty-five years ago, Bloody Sunday marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama demanding full civil and voting rights for Black Americans only to be met with violence enacted by state law enforcement to silence their voices and the movement. Their heroism led to the historic passage of the Voting Rights Act that same year. Yet decades later, many brave individuals who marched that morning have also witnessed the erosion of its protections in 2013’s Shelby v. Holder decision.

“In order to fully honor their struggle, we must take up the fight to continue their work – in Congress and the voting booths – to end voter suppression against communities of color and fulfill the right to vote for all. The anniversary of Bloody Sunday calls upon us all to continue marching toward justice – as the protesters did that day. It calls upon us all to hold our nation accountable to the rights it guarantees to all.”

Senator Cardin’s full remarks are as follows:

Statement Of The Honorable Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.)

Commemorating 55th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”

This weekend will mark the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, one of the darkest moments in our democracy. On March 7, 1965, Alabama law enforcement officers brutally attacked hundreds of peaceful demonstrators marching from Selma to Montgomery to demand full civil rights for African Americans. These brave protesters put their safety and liberty on the line to build an America that lives up to its ideals of freedom, justice, and equality. It is thanks to their heroism – and the heroism of many civil rights activists before and since – that our country has made great strides towards those ideals.

However, in order to fully honor their struggle, we must also recognize that much of the hatred and discrimination which they fought to root out persists, though perhaps in less overt or easily recognized forms.

One of the strongest, most disheartening examples of this phenomenon is the ongoing assault on the right of minorities to vote. This is not ancient history. States all over the country continue to “modernize” strategies developed a century ago to suppress African American voting power. Some of these strategies are blatant and recognizable, like mass purges of voter rolls; the gerrymandering of districts with “surgical precision,” according to one court; and intimidation of voters of color. Some of the strategies are disguised behind excuses or fear tactics, like obstructive voter ID laws, felony disenfranchisement, and closures of polling sites in heavily minority-populated areas.

So long as we allow these sorts of practices to continue, we are denying American citizens the right to vote promised to them by our Constitution and we are undermining the integrity of our democracy. This is a problem on principle, of course – until we guarantee the right to vote regardless of race, we fall short of the unique promise and potential of the United States of America. But it is also a problem for broader practical reasons – when we exclude people from fully participating in our democracy, we prevent them from achieving the social, economic, and civic reforms they need to strengthen their communities.

So, what are we going to do about that? I know what I will do: I will fight for laws that will guarantee every American a voice in our democracy. That is why I have introduced bills like the Democracy Restoration Act (S.1068) to restore the federal right to vote to ex-offenders, and the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation and Suppression Act (S.1834) to penalize the voter suppression efforts so frequently aimed at minority communities.

It is also why I am a fervent supporter of H.R.4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act. This bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives at the end of last year, would remedy the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision decimating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and thereby strengthen our ability to prevent discriminatory changes to state voting laws and procedures. I thank Senator Leahy for championing this bill and call on Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham to urgently bring H.R.4 for consideration in Committee and in the Senate.

Let’s honor all of those whose struggles for freedom and equality throughout our nation’s history have been met with violence and hatred. Let’s carry on their torch and help make their dreams a reality. Let’s fulfill the right to vote.




There’s no ONE way to be a black woman.

There’s no ONE way to be a black woman.

There’s no ONE way to be a black woman.

My body type does not add to or subtract from my blackness.

Whether light or dark or in between.

My body type does not add to or subtract from my blackness.

Whether my hips be big or small or nonexistent.

Whether my lips be full or thin.

Whether the shape of my eyes is oval, slant, or round like the moon.

My body type does not add to or subtract from my blackness.

Whether my height is short or tall or in between.

Whether I am plus size or society standard.

Whether my hair is braided, or in a weave or in an Afro.

Whether it be 4c or 1b or whatever other number and letter you try to group me in.

My aesthetic does not add to or subtract to my blackness.

My strength does not add to or subtract from my blackness.

My attitude does not add to or subtract from my blackness.

My tone does not add to or subtract from my blackness.

My sensuality does not add to or subtract from my blackness.

Nor does my swag, nor my style, nor my deepness.

My education does not add to or subtract from my blackness.

I am a black woman because I am a black woman.

And there’s no ONE way to be a black woman.

We are loud, we are soft, we are strong, and we are weak.

We are the light, we are the dark, we are life, and we are death.

We are the mother, we are the child.

We are truthful, we are liars, we are sensual, and we are void of sensuality.

We are bold, we are fearful.

We are for the movement, we are against it, we are fighters, we are lovers, we are black and proud, and we are full of self-hate.

We are nerds, we are full of cool.

We are straight, we are gay.

We are real and yet we are full of magic too.

No matter how you slice it we are not all the same.

And that’s okay.

Because there’s no ONE way to be a black woman.

Copyright © 2020 BSW Chronicles, D. Sylvester All rights reserved.




Black in Space: Smithsonian Channel Explores Untold Journey Toward Racial Equality

In recognition of Black History Month, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum partnered with Comcast and the Smithsonian Channel to air a special screening on February 19, 2020 that highlighted the accomplishments of the world’s first black astronauts.

“Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier,” a documentary presented by the Smithsonian Channel, chronicles some of America’s noteworthy experiences during the Civil Rights Movement in connection with the well-documented “Space Race” between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Concurrent with the Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the documentary delves into the decades-long battle between the two superpowers for the first to bring diversity to outer space. The Black in Space screening shed light on the astronauts who were a part of that particular chapter of world history and the race to put the first black astronaut into orbit.

For the past five years, typically around February, the Reginald Lewis museum has used the partnership with the Smithsonian Channel to air films that deal with an aspect of Black History. This year’s screening, was unique in that black astronauts is a rare topic in public discourse, according to Jackie Copeland, the executive director of Reginald Lewis Museum.

“[The screening is] significant because no one thinks about African American astronauts, but we are a place that tells those stories,” Copeland said. “I’m very excited about it because, again, we’re a place where there’s knowledge and learning taking place, and we like to expose our visitors to the history of African Americans in all disciplines— and right now in space. Who would’ve thunk it, right?”

The courageous black men and women represented in the film like Robert Lawrence Jr.; Ronald McNair; Edward Dwight; and Guion Bluford; became astronauts at a time that many would consider risky, given the transformative era when the Space Race occurred. The film also studies the lasting legacy of the world’s first black astronauts— men who led the way for more diversity and inclusion in future NASA classes and space programs around the world.

“Black in Space” underlined some of NASA’s discriminatory practices against aspiring black astronauts while detailing how Russia exposed America’s glaring racism and hypocrisy by making history in sending the first person of African heritage to space: Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, an Afro Cuban who flew in space on September 18, 1980.

Thus, the Soviet Union proved to the world that it was capable of changing the geo-political landscape of space by flying the world’s first black man.

But shortly thereafter, Bluford made history on August 30, 1983, becoming the first black American to travel in space. The Philadelphia native was a crewmember aboard the space shuttle Challenger, which took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In addition, the screening had a segment that emphasized the racial tensions during the civil rights era and the subsequent protests and uprisings by black activists at the time. Civil rights figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Gil Scott Heron expressed disdain with the idea of the U.S. government prioritized putting a man on the moon while many black citizens were being mistreated and were suffering from impoverished conditions.

Following the 51-minute film, there was a brief panel discussion. Moderator Vic Carter, a WJZ anchor; and panelists Cathleen Lewis, a curator from the National Air and Space Museum; and Smithsonian Channel executive producer Dan Wolf offered reflections before answering questions from the audience.“I’m not sure why I waited this long but I also know that there’s a lot of films [that] could potentially be made to help celebrate Black History Month, and this one came up,” Wolf said during the panel discussion. “This is really an amazing story and so I think it was not even much of a debate. It was like— ‘let’s do this film.’”

Lewis expounded on Dwight’s perseverance and experience along with some of the restrictions designed to make it hard for black people to navigate through NASA’s space program. “Why this is really important for us, is to be able to bring these great stories to diverse audiences, especially here at Reginald F. Lewis and our Baltimore community,” said Jessica Gappa, the director of community impact for Comcast – Beltway Region. “This is such an intriguing story for people to take pride in such talented astronauts and such talented scientists, to uncover this information.” “Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier,” premiered on February 24, 2020 on the Smithsonian Channel. Check your local listings for air dates and times in your area.

Documenting History: Rep. John Lewis Leads 55th Anniversary Selma March

Legendary Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) made an inspiring return to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 1 to help commemorate the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”

“Fifty-five years ago, a few of our children attempted to march across this bridge. We were beaten, we were tear gassed. I thought I was going to die on this bridge, but somehow and someway, God almighty helped me here,” Lewis offered while several people held the 80-year-old icon up to make sure the large crowd in attendance could see him and hear his encouraging words.

During the original march in 1965, Lewis suffered a broken skull after white police officers attacked him and others in an attempt to stop the civil rights activists.

Diagnosed late last year with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Lewis implored everyone to cast their vote in the 2020 election.

“We must go out and vote like we never, ever voted before. I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to give in. We’re going to continue to fight,” he said.

“We need your prayers now more than ever before. We must use the vote as a nonviolent instrument or tool to redeem the soul of America.”

With the Revs. William Barber, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton, and former Georgia Rep. Stacey Abrams among the many participating, the commemorative march paid tribute to civil rights protests that pushed for voting rights.

In the 1965 march, Lewis, who was part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Rev. Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), led participants in an attempt to walk from Selma to Montgomery.

Alabama state police and other authorities intervened, violently beating Lewis, Williams, and other protestors, which led to dozens of injuries.

The anniversary also paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., traveled to Selma where King attempted another march but, to the dismay of some demonstrators, turned back when troopers again blocked the highway at the Pettus Bridge.

After a federal court order permitted the protest, the voting rights marchers left Selma on March 21, under the protection of federalized National Guard troops.

Four days later, they reached Montgomery with the crowd growing to 25,000 by the time they reached the capitol steps, according to the History Channel.

To document the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” newspaper personnel from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), including reporters and photographers from the Birmingham Times, Green County Democrat, and NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

While in Selma, Chavis earned induction into the Voting Rights Museum Hall of Fame for Ministers.

Located at the foot of the Pettus Bridge, the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute counts as the cornerstone of the contemporary struggle for voting rights and human dignity.

“The Black Press of America, represented by NNPA, retook steps along with thousands of people, to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate Bloody Sunday in 1965 in Selma, Alabama, in our long struggle for voting rights in America,” Chavis stated.

“On the eve of the 2020 Super Tuesday primary elections in 12 states across the nation, our commemorative march this year in Selma had critical relevance to our demand for full restoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that has been diluted,” he noted.

Chavis continued:

“The Black vote is 2020 will determine the next President of the United States and the makeup of the U. S. Congress. We cannot afford to allow anyone or anything to keep us from voting. The Black Press has always been on the frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement and we remain there today. Black Votes Matter, and the Black Press Matters.”