Tuesday Tea Talk

Unsung African American Women

March is Women’s History Month which highlights women’s contributions and achievements to events in history and contemporary society. The event traces its beginnings to the first International Women’s Day in 1911. March was selected as a time to honor American women in 1978, when a Women’s History Week was initiated; the time-period was expanded to a month in 1987. African American women are great people who have made remarkable contributions to the history of mankind. Yet many are unsung heroes. The following are a few of those unsung African American women contributions and achievement to America.

Sarah Goode – In 1885 was the first African American woman to receive a patent for a bed that folded up into a cabinet. Goode who owned a furniture store in Chicago, intended for the bed to be used in apartments.

Mary Jane Patterson – was the first African American graduate of Oberlin College earning a B.A. degree. Oberlin College was the first college in the U.S. to admit women and one of the first to admit African Americans.
Resources: Black Women in American – An Historical Encyclopedia- by D.C. Hine 1993

Charlotte Makhoma Manye (1872-1930?) Born in Basutoland, Africa, of pure African descent, was the first native African woman graduate of an American University. Born to John Manye, an extensive cattleman and a deeply Christian mother, Charlotte returned to South Africa after graduation. Once there, she pioneered in the fields of education, social work, religion and was also active in women’s affairs among South African Blacks.This honor of graduating the first native African woman belongs to Wilberforce University in Ohio. It was founded under the auspices of the A.M.E. Church in 1861, by Bishops D.A. Payne; James A. Shorter and Dr. J. G. Mitchell as an institution for the education of colored youth. It is a significant and prophetic fact that a Negro institution should have the honor, unique in itself, of graduating the first native African woman from a regular collegiate course at that time. Charlotte’s education in America occurred from 1892-1901.
Resources: T. Bolden Stewart, B.Sc
Cincinnati Commercial Tribune Sunday- 7/28/1901

Selma Burke, born 1900 in Mooresville, NC, was one of ten children. She received her training as a sculptor at Columbia University in New York. In 1970 she injured her back and was hospitalized. It was during her hospitalization that she heard of the national competition sponsored by the Fine Arts Commission in Washington, DC, to create a profile portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Burke entered the competition and was awarded the commission in 1943. Burke was given an appointment for February 22, 1944 to make the sketches of him. This sculpture rendering of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was minted on the American dime. Take a minute and look at you dime to see her work.

Resources: Black Women in American – An Historical Encyclopedia- by D.C. Hine 1993

These are just a few African American women who merit being remembered during Women’s History Month. There are thousands of “yester-year and today” African American Women that have many numerous contributions and achievements that have helped to make this a better place to live.

We must continue to tell and share our history. To learn how you can help keep our history alive, visit Vii’s Services, Inc. web site at: www.viiservices.com or call 803-754-5620

March Tidbits

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