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Posts Tagged ‘Tuskegee Alabama’

Tuskegee, Alabama (Revisited)

Posted by graywacke on September 21, 2017

A Landing A Day blog post number 800.

Dan –  As you no doubt remember well, I landed near Tuskegee Alabama several landings ago.  I featured Booker T. Washington (founder of the Tuskegee Institute) and the Tuskegee Airmen (much revered and honored World War II black pilots).

Well, I stumbled on a few additional Tuskegee topics to discuss. 

As you know, I went to Lafayette College.  I won’t say exactly when, but it was not long after they played their 100th football game against Lehigh; they’ll be playing their 153rd game this year in this, the far-and-away most-played college football rivalry.

So anyway, I was checking on Lafayette’s football team this year (they’re pretty bad – 0-3, having been outscored 36-128), when I happened on a Wiki article discussing the history of Lafayette football.  I’d never looked at this, so I did a little skimming.

Now you may well be wondering why I’m talking about Lafayette football in a Tuskegee, Alabama post.  Well, bear with me. 

It turns out Lafayette was actually a national power back in the day (way, way before my time).  From Wiki:

National college football power (1919–1948)

Between 1921 and 1948, Lafayette was considered one of the premiere college football programs in the nation. The team earned two national championships, had four undefeated seasons, featured several All-Americans, played in major games, and was involved in several national bowl games. During nearly every season of the era, the team was led by a coach that would later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

That sets the stage. Back to Wiki:

“The Greatest Game They Never Played”—the 1949 Sun Bowl incident

Following a 7–2 record (that included a 23–13 win against Lehigh before 21,000 fans at Fisher Field), Lafayette received an invitation to play UTEP (then the Texas College of Mines) in the 1949 Sun Bowl.

Lafayette accepted the bid contingent upon being able to bring David Showell, an African-American halfback and former Tuskegee Airman.

[The Tuskegee angle!]

Texas law at the time prohibited African-Americans from playing on the same field as Caucasian players in a state supported stadium. Showell’s team members refused to accept the bid unless Showell could accompany the team to El-Paso.

The Chairman of the Sun Bowl, C.D. Belding, rejected the provision and Lafayette declined the bid. The Lafayette Athletic Department did not issue a reason for the rejection, prompting a protest of 1,500 students and a bonfire.

The students marched on the President’s house, demanding an explanation. President Ralph Cooper Hutchison explained the situation and along with student leaders, phoned the Sun Bowl Committee chairman to reconsider.

Upon a prompt rejection by Belding, the student protest marched into downtown Easton PA and received an audience at the local radio station. The station and the students sent a telegram to President Truman condemning racial intolerance and segregation with a terse, “Denied Sun Bowl bid with Negro on team. Is that Democracy?”

The protest and received national media attention in the New York Times and AP wires. The situation was nationally significant in that it drew attention to segregation and discrimination against African-American players in bowl games and college football in general.

Oh my!  What a story!  And I never heard a whisper about this.  By the way, Ralph Cooper Hutchison was Lafayette’s President until 1966, only two years before my freshman year (and the 104th Lafayette-Lehigh game).  Ooops – I said that I wasn’t going to say exactly when I went to Lafayette.  Oh, well. . .

Post-script:  Showell graduated from Lafayette with a business degree, and was a student at the University of Wisconsin Law School when he was killed in an automobile accident at age 31.

There’s more on the Tuskegee front. I was listening to NPR a few days ago, and they had a food program (the Sporkful Food podcast) that featured a pancake recipe found on the back of an envelope, hand-written by Rosa Parks – the woman who, in 1955 Montgomery, refused to give up her seat to a white person when the white section of the bus was full and who became an internationally-known civil rights icon.

The recipe interestingly includes peanut butter, even though the recipe was entitled “Featherlite Pancakes.”

 As I was listening, I heard that Rosa Parks was born and raised in Tuskegee.  This was mentioned because of Tuskegee’s connection with Booker T. Washington, whose work on peanuts while at Tuskegee was instrumental in bringing peanuts into the mainstream of American cooking, but especially for Southern Blacks.

According to the podcast, the pancakes are excellent!  Note:  it is likely that “milk” was actually “buttermilk.”

I was shocked that I had missed the Rosa Parks connection in my Tuskegee post.  When I got home, I fired up my computer and went to the Tuskegee Alabama Wiki entry.  And there, under “Notable People,” was, of course, Rosa Parks. 

Here’s a Wiki shot of Rosa in 1955, with Martin Luther King in the background:

I always (OK, almost always) check out the Wiki Notable People list for any titular towns, but inexplicably, didn’t in this case. 

In addition to Rosa Parks was another familiar name:  Lionel Richie.

I’ll admit that I was never a big Commodores fan (he was their front man in the 1970s), or a big fan of his mostly-80s solo career.  But I love “All Night Long.”  Until now, I had never seen the 1983 MTV video.

This is so 80s, but the song is so upbeat and celebratory (and musically and culturally historic) as to be worth your time.  Note that you’ll be joining the 32,000,000 other viewers of this video . . .

 

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2017 A Landing A Day

 

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Tuskegee, Alabama

Posted by graywacke on August 30, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2363; A Landing A Day blog post number 795.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (32o25.651’N, 85o 32.549’W) puts me in Cen-SE Alabama:

How about that?  Two Alabamas in a row.  This was my 63rd double (not many, considering that this was my 2363rd landing), although only the second for Alabama.

Anyway, here’s my local landing map:

My local streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Chewacla Creek; on to the Uphapee Creek (as opposed to the Downsad); on to the Tallapoosa R (as opposed to the Shortapoosa – 6th hit); on to the Alabama R (14th hit):

Zooming back, you can see that the Alabama joins up with the Tombigbee (not labeled) to become the Mobile (23rd hit):

It’s time to call on good ol’ Google Earth (GE), and hop on board the yellow push pin.  Click HERE to do so.

And yes, the road just to the south of my landing has GE Street View coverage:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I moved him just a little east to find Chewacla Creek:

And here ‘tis:

So.  When I saw that I landed near Tuskegee, I immediately thought about Tuskegee University and the Tuskegee Airman.  I knew that Tuskegee was a historic black university and that the Tuskegee Airman were a decorated group of WW II black pilots.  But that’s it. 

From Wiki:

In 1881, the young Booker T. Washington was hired to develop the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers on the grounds of a former plantation. It was founded to train teachers for the segregated school system. Eventually it expanded in scope and became known as Tuskegee Institute.  It became known for stressing a practical education with work experience by students, to prepare them for the work available in the small towns and rural areas to which most would return.

Washington led the school for decades, building a wide national network of white industrialist donors. At the same time, Washington secretly provided funding to the NAACP for its legal defense of some highly visible civil rights cases, including supporting challenges to southern states’ discriminatory constitutions and practices that disenfranchised African Americans.

Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. They were newly oppressed in the South by disenfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

[Jim Crow?  I certainly have heard of it – including in the news recently –  but I’ll provide a little more background in a bit.]

Booker T. Washington mastered the nuances of the political arena in the late 19th century, which enabled him to manipulate the media, raise money, develop strategy, network, push, reward friends, and distribute funds, while punishing those who opposed his plans for uplifting blacks. His long-term goal was to end the disenfranchisement of the vast majority of African Americans, who then still lived in the South.

After 1909, Washington was criticized by the leaders of the new NAACP, especially W. E. B. Du Bois, who demanded a stronger tone of protest in order to advance the civil rights agenda. Washington replied that confrontation would lead to disaster for the outnumbered blacks in society, and that cooperation with supportive whites was the only way to overcome pervasive racism in the long run.

One of the most famous teachers at Tuskegee was George Washington Carver, whose name is synonymous with innovative research into Southern farming methods and the development of hundreds of commercial products derived from regional crops, including peanuts and sweet potatoes.

During World War II, Tuskegee and Tuskegee Institute were also home to the famed Tuskegee Airmen. This was the first squadron of African-American pilots trained in the U.S. Military.

All black military pilots who trained in the United States trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, and were educated at the Tuskegee Institute.

The U.S. Army Air Corps had established the Psychological Research Unit 1 for aviation cadet training, which included the identification, selection, education, and training of pilots, navigators, and bombardiers. Psychologists employed in these research studies and training programs used some of the first standardized tests to quantify IQ, dexterity and leadership qualities to select and train the best-suited personnel for the roles of bombardier, navigator, and pilot.

The Air Corps determined that the existing programs would be used for all units, including all-black units. At Tuskegee, this effort continued with the selection and training of the Tuskegee Airmen.

The budding flight program at Tuskegee received a publicity boost when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt inspected it in March 1941, and flew with African-American chief civilian instructor C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson. Anderson, who had been flying since 1929, and was responsible for training thousands of rookie pilots, took his prestigious passenger on a half-hour flight in a Piper J-3 Cub.  After landing, she cheerfully announced, “Well, you can fly all right.”

I’ll include a couple of videos.  Here’s a WW II-era film narrated by Ronald Reagon, entitled “Wings for this Man.”

 

And here’s a much more modern short film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, entitled “Red Tails:”

 

Before I leave Tuskegee, I’m sure there’s a reader or two who wonders where the name “Tuskegee” came from.  Wiki:

The name “Tuskegee” comes from Spanish “Tasquiqui”, which came from the Muskogee word “Taskeke”, a name of a Creek settlement and meaning “warriors.”

Since “Tasquiqui” is simply a Spanish phonetic version of “Taskeke,” it seems like an unnecessary detour.  But “warriors” is a great name for the airmen . . .

So, I mentioned “Jim Crow,” a while back, admitting that I wasn’t exactly sure where the phrase comes from and what it means.  It just so happens that Jim Crow has been in the news, with talking heads saying things like “80% of the Confederate statues were put in place during the Jim Crow era.”

Here’s what Wiki has to say about the Jim Crow era (when Booker T. Washington was the leading black spokesman):

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. Enacted by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures in the late 19th century after the Reconstruction period, these laws continued to be enforced until 1965. They mandated racial segregation in all public facilities (including schools) in the states of the former Confederate States of America, starting in 1896 with a “separate but equal” status for African Americans in railroad cars.

Facilities for African Americans were consistently inferior and underfunded compared to those which were then available to European Americans; sometimes they did not exist at all. This body of law institutionalized a number of economic, educational, and social disadvantages. “Jim Crow” was a pejorative expression meaning “Negro”.

The phrase “Jim Crow Law” can be found as early as 1892 in the title of a New York Times article about Louisiana requiring segregated railroad cars.  The origin of the phrase “Jim Crow” has often been attributed to a song-and-dance entitled “Jump Jim Crow”, performed by white actor Thomas D. Rice in blackface.  It was first performed in 1832 and was used to satirize Andrew Jackson’s populist policies.

As a result of Rice’s fame, “Jim Crow” by 1838 had become a pejorative expression meaning “Negro”. When southern legislatures passed laws of racial segregation directed against blacks at the end of the 19th century, these statutes became known as Jim Crow laws.

Here’s a Jim Crow poster featuring Thomas D. Rice (from Wiki):

I’ll close with a GE Panoramio shot by Izzies98 of Chewacla Creek about 9 miles NE of my landing (in Chewacla State Park):

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2017 A Landing A Day

 

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