CLEVELAND – They came through the woods, through the water, through a hostile territory. Slaves fled with a goal, to achieve freedom. Some of them did so through the Underground Railroad, a network of whites and blacks who helped move the escaped slaves to our shores on the railroad without tracks.
The houses along the way were called stations or depots and were managed by the stationmaster. The conductors led the slaves. The routes offered less than ideal conditions. Many of them brought north, brought to Ohio.
In Elyria, Monteith Hall is still standing. The house was built in 1835 and owned by Reverend John Monteith.
“It’s more than a home,” says Amanda Davidson of the Lorain County Historical Society. “This house has been on the underground railroad for seven years after its construction. Reverend Monteith was a very blunt abolitionist. “
Once in Monteith Hall, Davidson claims that the escaped slaves were only ten miles from freedom. They hid in the hall, in the basement, waiting for a ship in Canada, knowing that if they were caught first, they would be brought back into slavery.
“Imagine you’re right in the center of Elyria, the prison a couple of blocks away,” says Davidson. “All this within a penny you could go back to slavery and those punishments were extremely severe. We have so many graphic and exhausting stories of fugitive slaves when they returned to theirs, to the plantations.”
Episcopal Church of San Giovanni
In Cleveland, it wasn’t just houses that served as stops or stations. The episcopal church of San Giovanni on Church Street was a beacon of hope and a stop on the underground railway.
“When I first entered this church you can hear, while we were talking, you can hear something very special here,” says Raymond Bobgan of the Cleveland Public Theater.
Each year, the Theater puts on Station Hope in the church. “At Station Hope, hundreds of artists perform simultaneously in this sanctuary, in the parish hall, outside, all perform together,” says Bobgan. “Thousands of people come here for this one day, not only to celebrate the incredible courage of the seekers of freedom, but to see where we are today, but the journey we have yet to travel. That journey to the polar star. “
During the Underground Railroad period, Station Hope meant that slaves were so close to freedom.
“I am a skeptical person about holy places, but I think what makes this place holy is what people have done: who has crossed the doors, what has risked,” says Bobgan.
San Giovanni was their last stop. And his neighbors helped serve as their protectors, according to Bobgan.
“Whenever there was a bounty hunter in the neighborhood, everyone went to the porch and rang the bells. if you heard a bell ring, you rang your bell, so this whole community only rang those bells that said, be careful, there is someone here, and the freedom seekers would have entered the church, would have gone up to the bell tower, which is where you they hid while the bounty hunters were here. “
It is a sacred site with special meaning for activist Joan Southgate, a woman who walked 519 miles of the Underground Railroad.
“Recently I had the opportunity to enter this church which I know was looking for freedom, and I had the opportunity to look through the window in the bell tower and feel their presence,” he says. “I felt their presence, what an experience that was. Knowing they were there. Safe, and to establish that connection from Cleveland, which was the code name Hope, they knew they would cross the lake.”
The enemy Hank Bolden
faced did not come from a distant front line.
It came from the skies.
It’s a battle that’s still going on 65 years later. Bolden, who is now 82 years old, is an atomic veteran – one of hundreds of thousands of American service members used in human testing by the United States government during post-WWII nuclear tests and sworn to a secret life.
“They wanted to see how the living soldiers would resist the exposure
to radiation, ”recalls Bolden. “Before using live soldiers they were using
mannequins. But you don’t get real results using mannequins as you would
live bodies. “
A DIFFERENT TIME
While accompanying a friend to a New Haven recruiting station in 1953, Bolden was invited to join the army. At just 16 years old then and already out of high school, he admits that he “pulled down” his birth certificate to move to the age of 18, joining the approximately 200,000 underage soldiers who would have served during the Second World War and the eras of the Korean War.
After basic training in
Fort Dix was assigned to work as a tank mechanic in Texas before moving to Texas
California and becoming a surface-to-air missile mechanic.
Despite an executive order issued in July
26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman to desegregate the armed forces, the last one
the all black units of the army were not abolished until 1954. And in 1955, Bolden
he says, racist attitudes persist even after the units have been racially integrated.
“The residual thoughts of people were firm
linger, “he says.” My outfit was 800 people strong. Thirteen of us were
black. Ten were from the South, who were more tolerant of treatment
they got racially. But the three of us from the North couldn’t tolerate it,
so I have had many fights over this. So I was the guy they wanted
get rid of.”
It would not be the only race
discrimination Bolden would witness as a soldier.
In 1955, the seventeen year old
he was suddenly ordered to the Nevada desert without explanation.
“They don’t tell you what you’re going to face,” he said. “Nobody
they knew what they were going to face. ”
What he would eventually face was a classified operation known as Operation Teapot at the Nevada Test Site. In a series of 14 bomb throws, or “hits”, military officials tried to test the effects of nuclear bombs on structures and strategies, animals and people.
All races of military personnel
participated in the Teapot operation. But upon arrival in Nevada, Bolden was
astounded to accomplish all the other soldiers in his new specially selected unit
for a mysterious assignment they were also black.
“There was this myth about black people
be able to resist, tolerate certain things more than any other race “, he
He says. “So it was a test on that too.”
AN ATOMIC NIGHT
One morning in February, Bolden
the unit was ordered in a desert trench. Unbeknownst to them, it was excavated
the expected route of the fallout, only 2.8 miles away from what it would have become
ground zero for the launch of an atomic bomb.
Even though a countdown sounded on the speakers, Bolden says, the soldiers still had no idea what they were about to face. Without protective gear in addition to the normal fabrics and helmets, they waited and looked.
“They tell you to cover your eyes”
On February 18, 1955, Shot Wasp, the first nuclear test of Operation Teapot, detonated a Mark 6 nuclear bomb dropped by a B-36 exactly at noon. A monstrous cloud of mushrooms filled the sky, reaching 21,500 feet in height.
“With radiation, when you put your arms over your eyes or hands, you actually see the bones, you see the bones in your body from the exposure. You can see your skeleton. “
After the relapse the warning came.
“You swore not to speak
“said Bolden. The soldiers were threatened with imprisonment and fines for violation
For 60 years, Bolden didn’t tell anyone. No this
family, not his wife, not his children. Not even her doctors when she spies on her
tumors have started to show. He developed bladder and posterior subcapsular cancer
cataract and in 1990 multiple myeloma was diagnosed.
“They actually gave me three and a half years
four years to live, ”recalls Bolden. So in 1995 I should have been a statistic. “
But in 1995, Bolden was in remission. He is a citizen
the secret was coming to light.
Government figures estimate between 400,000 and 550,000 US military personnel who participated in a series of nuclear tests between 1946 and 1992. According to the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, this includes post occupation forces -Second World War of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, prisoners of war in Japan at the end of the Second World War, participants in the atmospheric nuclear tests in Nevada and the Pacific from 1945 to 1962 and participants in the underground nuclear tests in Nevada from 1951 to 1992.
Many of these “atomic veterans” have succumbed before their own
the stories have become public, their bodies are full of tumors. In
1990, the veil of secrecy began to lift.
After setting up the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments to investigate 10-year experiments, President Clinton made a formal apology to American atomic veterans on October 3, 1995. By order of the president, Congress would repeal the nuclear radiation agreement law. and secrecy, allowing atomic veterans to talk about their experiences without fear of fines or treason charges. And financial compensation has been opened to all qualified atomic veterans.
“Those who led the government when these decisions were made are no longer here to take responsibility for what they have done. They are not here to apologize to survivors, family members or their communities whose lives have been overshadowed by shadow of these choices So today, on behalf of another generation of American leaders and another generation of American citizens, the United States of America offers sincere apologies to those of our citizens who have undergone these experiments. the government is wrong, we have a moral responsibility to admit it, “said President Bill Clinton on October 3, 1995
But the television address has been obscured. The same happened
day when OJ Simpson’s verdict was issued in a live classroom feed, taking
on televisions and news cycles across America.
As a result, many skilled veterans had no idea of the ban
the secrecy had been lifted, nor that they could claim benefits. Bolden no
find out until he researched the Internet, he says, in 2015.
“I was once so angry and so aggravating with the government that I thought I would be murdered to keep me from talking,” he says.
When Bolden attempted to apply for subsidies, he found that the burden of proof was placed on his fellow atomic veterans. The government would give compensation from the date a complaint was filed, but not retroactively, and only if the veteran could prove that he had participated in the tests – which proved to be an almost impossible task after millions of military documents were destroyed in a 1973 fire against the National Staff Registration Center. As many as 18 million documents were burned, including 80% of all army personnel discharged between 1912 and 1960.
“They hoped for it
would have died sooner or would have been one of those guys who surrendered ”
says Anthony Bolden, Hank’s son. “No thanks. Hank doesn’t have it.”
After paying her
own pocket for a polygraph lie detector pouch, Hank eventually claimed
approved, setting a precedent for other atomic veterans whose records were
Photo: Hidden story: the atomic veterans of America
Hit a high note
“The love of music has
I’ve always been there. “
After his honorable discharge
from the army, Bolden went to work as an engineer before deciding to pursue a
career as a jazz musician who works while his family grows. Tell the story
while cradling the tenor saxophone that has been at his side since 1967. The “Rolls
Royce “of tools, he says.
The brand is Selmer. IS
in a strange coincidence, the model is a 6 sign. It is the same name as the shot
Wasp atomic bomb design.
But this is where the
the similarities end. The bomb was his nightmare. Music, his dream and his
outlet to work through the trauma of what lived in Nevada
“It’s like the blood inside
my veins. It takes away all my other thoughts, “he says
Bolden is finally
he receives compensation from the government and is now using it to help make his dream come true.
He returned to school, studying jazz performances at Hartt University of Hartford
“They are like the relic
here with all these kids, you know, “he chuckles.
Professor Javon Jackson
says that the 82-year-old is leaving a unique mark on the prestigious program.
“He has a lot of emotion,” says Jackson. “He is a very bluesy, very full of feeling, a natural player. His life, wisdom and the things he has acquired allow him to play the way it sounds.”
The vast majority of
Today, the American atomic veterans of the atmospheric test era are gone. About
400,000 veterans were present during these tests, according to the veterans
Administration. Survivors’ numbers vary, from around 10,000 to 80,000
Bolden believes he is one of only two surviving African American atomic veterans who are recognized and receive compensation from the government. He is on a mission to reach as many survivors as possible and help them request the long-awaited recognition and compensation.
And he’s sharing his story, he says, to make sure the plight of American atomic veterans is no longer ignored.
“When people like me pass by, this won’t be part of the story unless someone makes sure it’s kept alive.”
Thim importance of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) has never been bigger. And now, in 2020, this notion is experienced in real time thanks to the overwhelming number of HBCU graduates who have made Black history through their tireless work that is literally helping to change the world.
From the arenas of politics to entertainment to corporate America and beyond, some of the most successful blacks are – and have long been – the proud products of the HBCUs.
So in honor of Month of black history, scroll down to find out who made our list of 20 HBCU graduates who are changing the world.
1. Stacey Abrams, Spelman College
Source: iOne Digital / creative class
Stacey Abrams’s name rings the bells like Sundays at 12 o’clock. Former Georgia state representative. who was tricked into becoming the nation’s first black woman governor, worked hard to make sure the voter crackdown she faced as a candidate never happens again. The leader of the Fair Fight organization is a popular choice for a potential vice president nomination and is a rising star within the Democratic Party that should have a major impact on the 2020 election, regardless of whether he is running or not.
2. Rev. William Barber II, N.C. Central University
The good reverend was not only committed to waging war against the criminalization of poverty, but also at the forefront of the presidential campaigns by offering prudent advice to the candidates and to the American political system as a whole. Former North Carolina NAACP leader, who rose to prominence behind the Moral Mondays movement, also helped revive the poor campaign of Dr. Martin LUther King Jr.
Pictured: Barber speaks during the Democratic Presidential Committee summer meeting, August 23, 2019, in San Francisco.
3. Kenya Barris, Clark Atlanta University
This media officer responsible for writing and / or producing the likes of “Black-Ish”, “Grown-ish” and “Mixed-ish” has laid a solid foundation for continuing to create successful TV shows that are responsible for diversification of images of Black people on television.
In the picture: Barris speaks on stage at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles presents the MoMA Contenders 2019 Projections and questions and answers of “Dolemite Is My Name” at the Hammer Museum on December 02, 2019, in Los Angeles.
4. Rosalind G. Brewer, Spelman College
The first African American woman to be president and chief operating officer of Starbucks held several leadership roles at Walmart and is a former CEO of Sam’s Club. Forbes magazine in 2016 ranked her as the 57th most powerful woman in the world. Brewer has also been known to have talked about diversity and faced repercussions for fiercely supporting women in the workplace.
Pictured: Rosalind Brewer, then executive vice president and president of Walmart East, speaks during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dream Gala at the Hilton Hotel on October 15, 2011, in Washington, DC.
5. Ruth Carter, University of Hampton
The Oscar-winning costume designer for the hit film “Black Panther” and recently debuted her clothing collection which she designed in red, black and green for the H&M retailer.
Pictured: Carter posing with his Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards in 2019.
6. Raashaun “DJ Envy” Casey, University of Hampton
From your humble beginnings as a protege of the famous DJ Clue? To become even more famous than his mentor as the third of the “The Club Club” radio show, DJ Envy recently made a name for himself as a successful real estate developer.
Pictured: DJ Envy shoots at Harlem’s The Prelude Fashion Row at Sony Hall on February 5, 2020, in New York City.
7. Louis Farrakhan, Sr., Winston-Salem State University
The controversial Nation of Islam minister has been a tireless supporter of black lives, whether you agree with his philosophy or not. He has maintained a loyal following throughout his career in public life and in particular has asked for racial segregation after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016.
Pictured: Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks from behind a bulletproof shield on the western front of the United States Capitol building for “Justice or Else”, a demonstration called to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Million Man on October 10, 2015. , in Washington DC
8. Andrew Gillum, Florida A&M University
The former mayor of Tallahassee made a national name for himself by losing a government election scam to a racist candidate in Florida in 2018, but was still able to fit into the conversation of the 2020 vice president candidates as his political star shines brighter and brighter.
9. Al Green representative, Howard University, Texas Southern University, Tuskegee University
The Texan deputy is credited with being among the first to ask for the impeachment of Donald Trump, something that eventually became reality through his tireless campaign.
Pictured: Green speaks during an anti-Trump press conference on the United States Capitol in Washington, DC on May 9, 2019.
10. Kamala Harris, Howard University
The California senator made history with her presidential campaign last year, but she was also a prominent voice during Trump’s impeachment process. In all of this, Harris was also judged to be a possible vice president choice for Joe Biden and emerged as a popular choice to be the next U.S. attorney general in case the candidate Democratic candidate were to win on election day.
Pictured: Harris walks out of the Senate chamber during a pause in the impeachment process against President Donald Trump on the United States Capitol on January 24, 2020, in Washington, DC.
11. Jesse Jackson, North Carolina A&T University
The reputation of the civil rights icon precedes itself, but remains resolute in the struggle for black lives. Jackson recently released a new book called “Keeping Hope Alive: Sermons and Speeches of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr.”, a riff of his famous slogan.
Pictured: Jackson speaks on stage during the CORE Gala: a gala dinner for the benefit of CORE and 10 years of rescue work across Haiti and around the world at the Wiltern Theater on January 15, 2020, in Los Angeles.
12. Samuel L. Jackson, Morehouse College
This omnipresent and prolific actor plays every single role he accepts as if it were his last, a true testament to his devotion to his art that gives life to his characters who always seem to resonate with the spectators, no matter how big or small the parts are .
Pictured: Jackson participates in the Atlanta screening of “The Last Full Measure” at the SCADshow on January 20, 2020, in Atlanta.
13. Letitia James, Howard University
The first black woman, New York State attorney general, was on a mission to bring justice where it is not, including and especially the White House. James sued the Trump administration for his so-called Muslim ban and promised to investigate the president’s finances.
Pictured: James announces a lawsuit against the e-cigarette giant Juul on November 19, 2019, in New York City.
14. Kweisi Mfume, Morgan State University
The former 7th district Maryland representative, whose resignation from Congress created the vacancy that was eventually filled by Elijah Cummings in 1996 until his death on October 17th, who now pursues that post again. Mfume, former NAACP national president, recently won the primary as a Democratic candidate in the upcoming special elections.
Pictured: Mfume gives his victory speech at his first election party at the Baltimore Forum on February 4, 2020.
15. Marilyn Mosby, University of Tuskegee
The Baltimore state attorney is the youngest chief prosecutor in any major American city and has been a leading advocate for other black women serving in the same position across the country. Mosby first attracted national attention in 2015 when his Baltimore prosecutor’s office indicted six police officers for Freddie Gray’s death.
Pictured: Marilyn Mosby speaks on stage at the 2018 Urban One Honors at The Anthem on December 9, 2018, in Washington, DC.
16. Bakari Sellers, Morehouse College
Source: iOne Digital
The former state representative of South Carolina, who made history, has become one of the most sought after political experts on both cable TV and the conference circuit, spreading poetics on everything from law to current events, from HBCU to politics , obviously. But he also got an impressive role for himself as an equally effective social media influencer, repeatedly publishing his opinion on topics that many times provide a voice for the voiceless.
17. Ruth Simmons, Dillard University
Prairie View The president of A&M University, who is also the first African American president of an Ivy League (Brown University) school, is a highly regarded educator who has retired from retirement to lead HBCU in Texas. Simmons’ personal journey, from the son of a sharecropper and a maid to the heights of academia, is inspirational.
Pictured: Simmons, then president of Brown University, photographed on March 28, 2010 in New Delhi, India.
18. Stephen A. Smith, Winston-Salem State University
The analyst and useful sports news reports have been explicit on almost every topic under the sun, making sure his name resonates for better or for worse. His aggressive and direct way of speaking has inspired countless imitators.
Pictured: Smith looks ahead of the 2020 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on February 14, 2020, in Chicago.
19. Wanda Sykes, University of Hampton
The actress, writer and comedian was never one of those who kept her tongue and emerged as a prominent vice in the defense of Black Hollywood. Specifically, Sykes stopped working on the TV show “Roseanne” after star Roseanne Barr compared a former senior black government official to a monkey.
Pictured: Sykes attends Tiffany Haddish Black Mitzvah at the SLS Hotel on December 3, 2019, in Beverly Hills.
20. Oprah Winfrey, Tennessee State University
This is Oprah. Nothing more needs to be said.
Pictured: Winfrey speaks during Oprah’s Vision: Your Life in Focus 2020 tour presented by WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) at the Chase Center on February 22, 2020, in San Francisco.