“Black Girls Vote” is a non-profit non-partisan organization that was founded in 2015 by Nykidra Robinson, a first generation college graduate who earned her degree in business marketing from Frostburg State University. The impetus for founding the organization came after the shooting death of a man not far from her Northwest Baltimore home. Though the registration effort and organization is not restricted to just “young black women,” Robinson sees their entry into the realm of voting and public policy development as a key to improving the area’s public schools, job market and access to health care. As one male member of the group’s executive team noted, “Black women are the matriarchs of the family. When women move, the men will follow.” Studies indicate that although many black women vote, it is usually an older population, with only 9% of the total number of women in Baltimore between the ages of 18 and 24 even being registered according to the State Board of Elections. “Black Girls Vote” hopes to expand that base, not only by registration, but by following up, getting people out to vote when it’s time and removing any hindrances in that regard. Since its founding the organization has developed a website, held numerous registration and informational events, and garnered the assistance of several agencies. (See Notes.)
The button depicting Frederick Douglass was worn during Maryland History Advocacy Day on February 23, 2016. It was distributed by Preservation Maryland to activists who traveled to Annapolis to meet with legislators in support of historic preservation programs. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), was a former slave born in Talbot County, Maryland who became an abolitionist, newspaper publisher (The North Star), and orator.
The Tuskegee Airmen was established in 1941 and served during World War II. Trained by the Army Air Corps, the term Tuskegee Airmen not only applied to African-Americans pilots, but also to the bombardiers, navigators, mechanics, nurses, instructors, and other maintenance and support personnel. The Tuskegee Airmen consisted of 996 pilots and over 15,000 support personnel. They flew 15,500 combat missions and earned over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. Their success during World War II helped initiate the integration of the Armed Forces in 1948. The Airmen also encountered various forms of racial discrimination during their time of service. For more information on the Tuskegee Airmen and three local men who served in the Airmen, see the write-ups on Randolph Wilson Bromery, William Colbert and Clifton Brooks in the Military chapter of this website.
The National Council of Negro Women was established in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) who had been serving in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as Advisor of Minority Affairs. Bethune had called together the leaders of 28 national women's groups to form a "national council." Basically, the purpose of the NCNW is to advocate for and develop programs that provide opportunities and enhance the quality of life for black women, their families and communities. The NCNW remains today as an umbrella organization for over 30 national and local women's groups in over 30 states.
Muhammad Ali(1942-) was born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. He first gained fame by winning the Light Heavyweight Boxing Gold Medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960. In 1964 he became the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World. It was also in 1964 that he joined the Nation of Islam, a black Muslim group, and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. In 1967, during the Vietnam War which he strongly opposed, Ali was drafted but refused to serve on the basis of his Muslim beliefs and as a conscientious objector. He was arrested, stripped of his boxing title and found guilty of violating Selective Service laws. Ali remained free on appeal and in 1971 the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. Known for referring to himself as "The Greatest", Ali would go on to win the heavyweight title twice before retiring. Though diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984, Ali remains a social activist and involved with several philanthropic causes.
In early 1942, shortly after America’s entry into World War II, a growing movement was underway by an African-American newspaper and known as the Pittsburgh Courier’s Double Victory Campaign. The Pittsburgh Courier had been established in 1907 and by the 1930’s had a readership equaling the Afro-American as well as the Chicago Defender. The campaign resulted from a letter the Courier featured on January 31, 1942 from an African-American in Kansas who though expressing his patriotism was confounded by the oppression and discrimination he received on a daily basis. The newspaper’s response which appeared two weeks later formally launched the Double Victory Campaign:
“We as colored Americans, are determined to protect our country, our form of government, and the freedom which we cherish for ourselves and the rest of the world, therefore we have adopted the Double ‘V’ war cry – victory over our enemies at home and victory over our enemies on the battlefields abroad. This is our fight for freedom as we wage a two pronged attack against our enslavers at home and those abroad who would enslave us. WE HAVE A STAKE IN THIS FIGHT… WE ARE AMERICANS, TOO!”
As the button above depicts, with a “Double V” sign designed by the newspaper, the campaign sought victory abroad, as well as “at home” in the way of democracy and civil rights. Future newspaper articles, letters, editorials and photographs portrayed the patriotism and willingness of African-Americans to serve and die for their country, while at the same time experiencing inequality and discrimination at home.
On April 5, 1942 the National Baptist Convention along with several other African-American organizations declared Easter Sunday, April 5, 1942 as National Negro Double Victory Day. National Negro Double Victory Day gathered support from clergy across the nation to support this dual agenda.
The Pittsburgh Courier suffered declining circulation after the war, and in 1965 was sold to the Chicago Defender. It is published today with the name, “The New Pittsburgh Courier.”
Jack "Jackie" Roosevelt Robinson (1919-1972) signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team in 1947. He thus became the first black baseball player in the major leagues in the modern era. Prior to that time he had played in the Negro Leagues and an all-white farm team for the Dodgers. Robinson was named the 1947 Rookie of the Year and helped the Dodgers win the 1955 World Series Championship. He also faced racial abuse and slurs from not only fans, but other teams and fellow baseball players as well. During his service in the military Robinson was once arrested for not moving to the back of a segregated bus. He was to become an activist for civil rights and other social causes, and served on the board of the NAACP. In 1962 Robinson became the first African-American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was once quoted as saying, "There's not an American in this country free until every one of us is free."
Information for “Black Girls Vote” from a Baltimore Sun article entitled, “Black Girls Vote looks to get young women to polls” by Yvonne Wenger and Mary Carole McCauley, January 3, 2016 and the Black Girls Vote website.
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008