July 11 July 24, 2013

ivan brown realty

The Unheralded Black Presence at the Battle of Gettysburg


brian farm house - blacks at the battle of gettysburgFor the past two weeks, thousands of Americans have celebrated the 150th anniversary of America's greatest Civil War battle: Gettysburg. An avalanche of words and images has laid bare indisputable acts of courage but also an appalling catalogue of slaughter over those three days in early July 1863: 165,000 soldiers fought each other; 51,000 of them wound up dead, wounded, captured or missing; seven million bullets were fired and 1,200 horses and mules were killed.

But, as still often happens when America recalls "its" history, the presence and contributions of African Americans receives scant, if any, attention. One supposed excuse is that since no Black regiments took part in the combat, Blacks did nothing or were not there. Gettysburg's hidden Black history, however, tells a different story.

James and Sarah Warfield owned a 13-acre farm on the infamous and bloody Seminary Ridge, where he also had a blacksmith shop. The Confederate general Longstreet may have used his house as a temporary headquarters. The assaults there literally tore Warfield's property apart. He was never compensated. In 1871, he moved a few miles west of Gettysburg to Cashtown, PA and died there in 1875. Elsewhere on the ridge, which itself was 40 feet high and about two miles long, were the farms of John Fisher and Abraham Brian (or Bryan). Fisher, who died not long after the battle, made sure his log cabin and land passed into the hands of another African American from Gettysburg named Basil Biggs. He had tenant-farmed on what became the battlefield and was a veterinarian. He was also quite active in the local Underground Railroad (UGRR).

By 1860, Brian had a farmhouse and barn on the battleground and another house near the Emmitsburg Road that he rented to Meg Palm, an African American woman who had attained quite a reputation for her daring on the UGRR. Brian returned after the battle to find his farmhouse and barn pockmarked with bullet holes, windows shot out, crops and orchards trampled, furniture smashed or tossed about and fences missing or knocked down. He filed a claim for $1,028 in damages. He received $15. He and Biggs took jobs burying fallen Union soldiers at the rate of a dollar a body. Ten years later he died and was buried in Lincoln Cemetery, Gettysburg's African American burial ground. Brian's farmhouse and barn still stand on the battleground today.

African Americans took part in an engagement that was a significant prelude to Gettysburg. On June 28, 1863, 53 Black men were part of a force of 175 that fought rebel forces and burned the Wrightsville-Columbia Bridge thereby preventing a Confederate invasion of Lancaster and Dauphin Counties and perhaps saving Harrisburg and Philadelphia as well.

Not only were there scores of Black teamsters, hostlers and other noncombatants on the Union side at Gettysburg, but there were also hundreds of similar noncombatants on the Confederate side at the battle. And there were local Black women like Lydia Smith who cared for the wounded regardless of the color of their uniforms.

The most shameful aspect of the battle was the wholesale "slave-hunting" engaged by advance units of rebel cavalry. Many Blacks, whether free-born or formerly enslaved, were forcibly carried south against their will, without any legal recourse on spurious claims that they were all escaped slaves. Lucky Blacks hid or hurriedly left town and those who resisted were frequently killed.

Finally, fast forward to the 1930s and credit an all-Black Civilian Conservation Corps unit for the landscaping work that provides the battlefield’s current appearance that thousands of Americans are celebrating today.

Photo: Abraham Brian (or Bryan) farmhouse at Gettysburg.

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New York Mayoral Race
Looking Like America

 bill thompson of nyc

Michael Bloomberg, the Independent mayor of one of the nation’s most Democratic cities, is term limited and chances are that his replacement will also reflect America's and the city’s diversity. Running in the September 10 Democratic primary is Bloomberg’s preferred choice, City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who would become the city’s first female and lesbian mayor. 

Also in the race is the Big Apple’s Comptroller John Liu, who would become the city’s first Asian-American mayor.  Former congressmen Anthony Weiner, who resigned as congressman after tweeting a photo of his penis, is also running.  Weiner is Jewish and his wife, Huma Mahmood Abedin, is Muslim. 

Running for a second time is city comptroller Bill Thompson (pictured), who is African American.  He narrowly lost to Bloomberg in 2009 and his grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from St. Kitts, The Caribbean.  Italian-American Bill DeBlasio, who was married to an African-American writer who previously identified as a lesbian, hopes to defeat them all. 

Obama Holds Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall

 obama south africa town hall

At the University of Johannesburg - Soweto, President Obama discussed youth empowerment and leadership with young African leaders in a town hall meeting.  The meeting included teleconference connections with students in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.

The Town Hall was part of The Young African Leaders Initiative launched in 2010 by President Obama that supports leadership development, promotes entrepreneurship and connects the next generation of African leaders with one another and the United States. Town hall participants included over 600 young leaders, ages 18-35, who are involved in public, private and civic organizations.

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Election 2014

anthony brown 
Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown at the Catonsville, MD 4th of July parade.

Ohio Sate Senator  Nina Turner announced her bid to become the state’s Secretary of State or elections chief at an event in Cleveland.

Lt.  Anthony Brown hopes to become Maryland’s first Black governor.

National Institutes of Health Seeking Africans for Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is recruiting healthy Black African men and women for a study to better understand diabetes and heart disease risk in Africans. Candidates must have been born in Africa and 18-65 years old. Participation requires 3 visits and compensation is provided. Refer to study # 99-DK-0002. For more information, call (301) 402-7119. 
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amar group

Things to Do

 millee spears

Washington DC
One Life:  Martin Luther King, Jr.
National Portrait Gallery
8th and F St, NW
Through Sun  Jun 1, 2014, free

Changing America:
The Emancipation Proclamation
1863 and the March on Washington, 1963

National Museum of African American
History and Culture @
National Museum of American History
1400 Constitution Ave., NW
Through Sun Sep 7, 2014, free

Wearable & Handcrafted Art Show & Sale
Featuring nine craftspeople
1524 U Street NW
Green/Yellow Metro Line
(U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo)
Major Credit Cards Accepted
Sun, Jul 14, 2p-7p

libaya baba

Ethiopian Heritage Festival
Georgtown University
Harbin University
3611 Canal Rd NW
Fri Jul 26- Sun Jul 28, free

Poets in the Park
Gwynn Oak Park
Sun, Jul 14, 1p-8p, free

Baltimore Artscape 2013
Mount Royal Avenue & Cathedral Street, Charles Street, Bolton Hill, and Station North Arts
Fri, Jul 19-Sun Jul 21
Fri 11a-9p; Sat 11a-9p; Sun 11a-8p

DuSable Museum’s 39th Annual Arts
& Crafts Festiva
Washington Park
Sat Jul 13 - Sun Jul 14, all day, free

RAP Inc Gets New Building

 rap inc buidling

Regional Addiction Prevention (RAP), Inc., is building a new center at 1959 4th Street, NE in Washington, DC.  POH cover model Genell Anderson and AMAR Group principal is the lead designer of the new Calvin W. Rolark expansion center.

amar groupAnderson (pictured left, center) designed the new center with a green roof, solar panels  and low VOC  (volatile organic compounds) paint.  “The VOC paint is less than $5 per gallon more than many other paints,” says Anderson.  The new center also has “two wind turbines on the roof,” she continued.  The roof mounted turbines start rotating at a wind speed of .5 mph.  The wind energy is then converted to electricity and flows to the electrical panel box and RAP will use the energy as needed.

To also keep their long-term energy bills at a minimum, Anderson says they designed the complex with “a 100 gallon solar water tank on the roof, with a gas water tank as a backup." She is also using cotton insulation made from recycled jeans.

Author of The Call of the Ancestors, a book on the influence of African architecture on American architecture, Anderson says the building has a zig-zag brick pattern on the front of the building to represent the pattern of African movement and sound.  In parts of the building and at its top is the adinkra symbol “odo nnyew fie kwan,“ which means "love never loses its way home." 

Anderson, who teamed up with TV’s  This Old House for the  show's first-ever renovation in the nation's capital, says  the  two existing historic houses, adjacent to the center, are also owned by RAP and will be part of the redevelopment. The fronts of the houses will remain unchanged due to historic preservation guidelines.

RAP Inc. started in June 1970 by providing outpatient counseling to 15 young people.   The new center will provide 34 additional beds for substance abuse treatment.   Current RAP Chairperson John Mercer has a 30-year relationship with the organization, dating back to his days in law school. He said simply, “RAP, Inc., saved many young kids from prison, but we (still) have a lot to do."

The DC Housing Authority will handle the construction management. Conys is the General Contractor.

Image: The drawing is by Juan Garzon of AMAR Group, LLC

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Hands that Picked Cotton
Will Pick Presidents

 michelle obama and laura bush

Two of the six living US First Ladies chat with some African first ladies in Tanzania.

barack obama and george bush

Two of the five living US Presidents on foreign soil side by side (well, the current President gets to step ahead.) Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George Bush.

The Two-Term Limit

George Washington, the nation's first president and slave owner, declined to run for a third term in 1797, suggesting that two terms of four years were enough for anybody. His voluntary two-term limit became the unwritten rule until 1940. After Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term, Congress passed in 1947 and the states ratified in 1951, the Twenty-Second Amendment that limits an elected president to two terms in office. However, if an individual becomes president through the order of succession, then they are allowed to serve an additional two years.

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on the Website for July to Date 
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