Discover more from One Mic History
One Mic Black History Newsletter
Today we tell the stories of the Birthdays of W.E.B Du Bois, John Lewis, Nina Simone and the assassination of Malcolm X
Good Day, Fam, Welcome Back to One Mic History Newsletter. Thank you for joining us today. I appreciate you. If you enjoy stories like this you can find more stories like this on One Mic History.
Let’s get started
Thanks for reading One Mic History ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Her music was powerful, her story was powerful. Now, let's take a look at the life of voice of the civil rights movement, Nina Simone
The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina. But by age 21, she was going by a Nina Simone at her nightly Atlantic City gig: . She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.
She took to music at a young age and started playing the piano by ear at age 3 but she was also budding activist. at the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” in response to the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing “Four Women," which chronicling the complex history of African American female figures with each character representing an African-American stereotype and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs and Mississippi goddamn was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But we know it was about the subject matter.
In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that about how she addressed her songs to the world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause."
But Nina pressed on but As the 1960s drew to a close, Simone tired of the American music scene and the country's deeply divided racial politics. So she moved around before eventually settling down in the South of France.
In her final years, she battled with breast cancer and died in 2003 at the age of 70, she requested her ashes be scattered over several African countries.
In 1969 documentary about Nina Simone entitled, “Nina: An Historical Perspective,” Simone explains what it means to be free.
“I’ve had a couple times on stage when I really felt free and that’s something else. That’s really something else,” “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear. I mean really, no fear."
Happy Birthday, John Lewis
John Robert Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama. He was the son of sharecroppers, and went to segregated schools Lewis was inspired by the boldness of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
he joined his first protest and helped to arrange sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Nashville in 1960. He was arrested during these sit-in demonstrations, By his own count, Lewis was arrested more than 40 times during his days of civil rights activism.
In 1961, he was one of the original 13 Freedom Rider, which aimed to end segregation in interstate bus terminals and In 1963, he was named the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was the youngest speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington the same year where MLK gave his famous I have a dream speech. He was forced censer his speech because it was deemed to be too radical, in it he denounced Kennedys civil rights legislation stating that it because it did not protect African Americans against police brutality or assist in providing them with the right to vote and quoted "We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own scorched earth policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground nonviolently"
On March 7, 1965, John Lewis, led 600 peaceful protestors on a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in support of voting rights. As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met with a large force of state troopers authorized by Governor George Wallace to use “whatever means necessary” to prevent the march. The demonstrators were doused by tear gas and beaten with weapons such as bullwhips and billy clubs. The event, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,”
at the March 6, 2020 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, John Lewis would urge the crowd to “Speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
From a humble beginning in rural Massachusetts to becoming a renowned scholar, join us as we explore the extraordinary life of W.E.B. Du Bois!
Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W.E.B. Du Bois was the son of Mary Burghardt and Alfred Du Bois, one of the few black families in town to own land. Though he hadn't yet experienced racism in Massachusetts, his time at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, opened his eyes to the full force of Jim Crow racism, including the suppression of black voting rights and frequent lynchings. This experience had a deep and lasting impact on his life.
In 1895, he earned his PhD in sociology from Harvard University, becoming the first black American to earn a PhD from Harvard and established himself as a leading thinker on race and the plight of Black Americans. He challenged the position by Booker T. Washington, the most influential black leader at the time, Washington believed that in exchange for education and financial freedom, Southern Blacks should sacrifice their right to equal treatment. He also spoke out against the notion popularized by abolitionist Frederick Douglass that Black Americans should integrate with white society. In an essay published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1897, "Strivings of the Negro People," Du Bois wrote that Black Americans should instead embrace their African heritage even as they worked and lived in the United States.
Du Bois published his magnum opus The Souls of Black Folk in 1903. In this collection of essays, In it, Du Bois describes the predicament of Black Americans as one of "double consciousness": "One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, who dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."
In 1910 Du Bois became the first editor of the NAACP monthly magazine, The Crisis, Under Du Bois's leadership, the journal gained a wide readership, with circulation reaching 100,000 by 1920, and attracted many new supporters to the NAACP. As a result, the NAACP became established as one of the leading civil rights organizations and Du bios became the voice of Black America. He held this position until 1934 when disagreements over his stance on segregation caused him to resign from the NAACP's board, Du Bois felt that segregation could be acceptable if it was "separate but equal." He is quoted as stating "The thinking colored people of the United States must stop being stampeded by the word segregation."
W.E.B. Du Bois, was a self confessed socialist and thought capitalism was responsible for racism and poverty. this made him a target of the FBI, who were aggressively hunting people with communist sympathies. In 1950, following World War Two, Du Bois became the chairman of the Peace Information Centre (PIC), an organization campaigning to ban nuclear weapons. The PIC was asked to register as agents working for a foreign state, to which Du Bois refused. In 1951, he was brought to trial and Albert Einstein even offered to give a character witness. Eventually, Du Bois was acquitted.
Throughout his life, Du Bois was active in the Pan-Africanism movement, organizing a series of Pan-African Congresses from 1919 to 1927, bringing together African and African-descendent thinkers from across the globe. At the end of his life, he moved to Ghana in 1961 and was determined to create a comprehensive encyclopedia of the African diaspora. he was never able to complete his work before passed away in Ghana on Aug. 27, 1963.
In the souls of black folks - Dubois wrote, “The South believed an educated Negro to be a dangerous Negro. And the South was not wholly wrong; for education among all kinds of men always has had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of dissatisfaction and discontent. Nevertheless, men strive to know.”
February 21, 1965 Black Activist, Malcolm X was assassinated while on stage at the Audubon Ballroom in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.
On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was tragically assassinated while on stage at the Audubon Ballroom. Three members of the Nation of Islam Mujahid Abdul Halim, Muhammad A. Aziz, and Khalil Islam were charged with first-degree murder shortly thereafter. During the 1966 trial, Halim confessed to the crime, yet all three men were found guilty and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
In 2021, a new investigation of the case uncovered key FBI documents that were not given to the defense or prosecution during the original trial. These documents could have likely led to the men's acquittal. As a result, Aziz was exonerated in 2021, at the age of 83. Sadly, Islam passed away in 2009, before he could be exonerated.
Thank you so much for joining us today, I hope you have a wonderful day, If you like stories like this you can find more stories like this at One Mic History.
Thank you and I appreciate your support.
Thanks for reading One Mic History ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.