Faces of Our History: Bayard Rustin


Bayard Rustin was born on March 17, 1912 in West Chester, Pennsylvania to Florence Rustin and Archie Hopkins. Bayard was raised by his mother’s parents Julia & Janifer Rustin. His grandmother Julia was a member of the NAACP, Rustin grew up seeing the widely recognized people who were leaders in the NAACP in his home. This is what spark is interesting in racial discrimination.

In September of 1932, Rustin enter a historically black college named Wilberforce University. There he was active in various campus organizations but was expelled 4 years later for organizing a strike.

Shorty after moving to Harlem in 1937, he was involved in the Scottsboro Boys case. Where 9 young black men in Alabama were accused of raping 2 white women on a train in 1931.

In 1947, Bayard and George Houser organized the Journey of Reconciliation. It was the first of the more commonly known “Freedom Rides”. The were fighting again the Supreme Court ruling Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia that banned racial discrimination in interstate travels. Rustin was jailed for 22 day for violating the states Jim Crow laws.

In 1956 Rustin went to aid Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he started the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He wanted to show Dr. King the tactics he learned while training on nonviolent resistance in India.

Dr. King and Rustin organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Rustin’s time was cut short when he resigned after members had learned about his sexual orientation by a fellow member of SCLC. He found himself being shunned by Civil Rights leaders.

Rustin later on went on to fight for gay rights. In the 1980s he became a public advocate for gay and lesbian rights. In 1986, he cane a speech on behalf of the New York State’s Gay Rights Bill, he speech named “The New Ni**gers Are Gay”.

In the new times where getting married for LGBT community is acceptable, back then Bayard has to find a creative way to make their union legal. He adopted his then partner Walter Naegle.

Bayard Rustin died on August 24, 1987 due to a perforated appendix.

He will be remembered for his silent contributions to the Civil Rights movement. His fight for equality for black people and those in the LGBT community.

Here is a clip of him debating Malcolm X.



Faces of Our History: Dr. Mae Jemison

Dr. Mae Jemison (NASA Astronaut)

Dr. Mae Jemison was born on October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. Her mother Dorothy Green was an elementary school teacher, while her father was a maintenance supervisor for local charitable organization.

When Jemison was three her family moved to Chicago, Illinois. She was always dream and thought she would get to go into space. She was quoted saying, “rather than waiting around in a cornfield, waiting for E.T. to pick me up or something.” She decided to apply to be a shuttle astronaut.

Jemison was extremely interested in science, and her family supported her. She loved everything that had to do with space. She remember when the airing of the Apollo, what stood out more that and bothered her that there was no women astronauts.

Jemison admire Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She took his “I have a dream” speech as a call to action and wanted to make her dreams come true. “The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.”

In 1983 Jemison felt that this was her chance to pursue the career she has been dreaming about, so she applied. Despite some delays after the Challenger disaster,  and also having to reapply, she finally got the call she had been waiting for in 1987. Mission Specialist, Jemison flew her only 8 day space mission starting on Sept. 12 through Sept. 20, 1992.

In March of 1993, Jemison resigned for NASA. She wanted to focus more on science and technology. She founded the Jemison Group, the Dorothy Jemison Foundation and BioSentient Corp.

Want to find out more about Dr. Mae Jemison, click here


Celebrate Black History Month



It’s our month… and if you tuned in last year you know how this is gonna go. For those newbie, we share great quotes, facts and different faces that have made history! We hope you enjoy and learn something from this. Or maybe you can teach us something. So if you have suggestions on unsung heroes that have made history email us: gftradioshow@gmail.com and we will highlight them here!!


Faces of Our History: Charles Hamilton Houston

618ps0227917-01pmCharles H. Houston was born in Washington, D.C., on September 3, 1895. After high school, Charles went on to attend Amherst College in 1911. There he was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He was picked to be valedictorian for graduation in 1915. Charles took a job at Howard University as a teacher which took him back to his hometown. After 2 years of teaching Charles joined the racially segregated U.S Army and became a 1st Lieutenant in Fort Meade, Maryland.

In 1919, Charles attended Harvard Law School where he earned a Bachelor of Law and Doctor of Law. He also became the 1st African American to hold the title as editor of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated cum laude and was also a member of the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter established for African-Americans.

In 1924, Charles was admitted to District of Columbia bar, and he joined forces with his father practicing law. During the 1930s Charles was the first to serves as the 1st special counsel to the NAACP. He serves on a lot of the civil rights cases during that time and continuing forward.

Charles felt that unequal educations was the “Achilles heel of the Jim Crow”. He believed that states failure to try and live up to the 1896 rule of the “separate but equal”. He was seeking to overturn the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling because it gave birth to that phrase.

As pointed out in the movie “The Great Debaters” during and off campus debate, that the ideal of “separate by equal” was not being lived up to. States were spending way more for the education of white students than black students. Black schools were using leftover supplies and built with cheaper materials. Houston designed a strategy for attacking the segregation in law schools. His goal was to have to either integrate schools or have black law schools that were parallel to white law schools.

Charles arguments were used in Brown v. The Board of Education which broke down the barriers that were once held. Sadly, Charles was not able to see this come to light for the Brown v. Board of Education case do to his untimely death on 1950. The Brown v. Board of Education was in 1954. Charles was known as Thurgood Marshall’s mentor.

Charles died on April 22, 1950, at the age of 54 due to a heart attack. He was posthumously awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal in 1950. The main building in Howard University Law was dedicated as Charles Hamilton Houston Hall in 1958. The Charles Houston Bar Association and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School (opened in 2005) were named after him.

The Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit is awarded by the Washington Bar Association yearly for an individual who has advanced the case of Houstonian jurisprudence.

Charles Hamilton Houston will always be known as “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow”.







Faces of Our History: Claudette Colvin

untitledClaudette Colvin was born on September 5, 1939. Mary Anne & C.P. Colvin adopted Claudette. Mary Anne was a maid and C.P. Colvin moved lawns for a living. Claudette learned a young against that her world was different. She was raised in a poor black neighborhood and saw first hand the struggle of segregation.

Claudette’s friend was put to death after a flirtation with a white girl. Seeing things like that made Claudette aspire to be a lawyer and fight for civil rights.

On March 2, 1955, after boarding a Montgomery Bus her life was set to change. On her way home from school, 15-year-old Claudette refused to give up her seat, and was dragged off the bus and charged with violating segregation laws, misconduct, and resisting arrest.

She was sitting the designated section for color people but due to the bus being crowded she was asked to move. So before you think of Rose Parks, know that Claudette was the first person arrested for disobeying bus segregation.

Claudette was looked at to be the face of the boycott movement, but due to her becoming pregnant it was not offered. Rosa Parks soon became the face of the boycott movement. Claudette did become apart of a lawsuit Browder v. Gayle. She was one of five plaintiffs.

After her case was over and the bus segregation ended, Claudette gave birth to her son Raymond on March 29, 1956. She had a hard time finding jobs so she life Montgomery for New York. After landing in New York, she found a job as a nurse’s aid and worked for 35 years. She has another son, who grew up to be an Accountant in Atlanta.

Claudette spoke of her bus incident to the Montgomery Advertiser, she had this to say:

“I feel very, very proud of what I did. I do feel like what I did was a spark and it caught on.” I’m not disappointed,” Colvin said. “Let the people know Rosa Parks was the right person for the boycott. But also let them know that the attorneys took four other women to the Supreme Court to challenge the law that led to the end of segregation.” via Wiki

She felt disappointed that she never got the recognition she deserved.

Faces of Our History: Charles R. Drew

dr-charles-richard-drew2Charles Richard Drew was born on June 3, 1904 in Washington D.C. He grew up in a middle class family, his father was a carpet layer and his mother was a teacher. Charles was a great athlete, and won scholarship to attended Amherst College in Boston, Massachusetts. College life was difficult as he was one of only 13 African-Americans out of 600 students that made up the student body. Racial tension was at a high, he was subjected to hostility from other teams. Even his own team wouldn’t make him captain in his senior year, although he proved worthy of the title.

Charles’s biology professor piqued his interest in medicine, despite the field being segregated. He attended medical school at McGill University in Canada. In 1933, he received his MD and CM all while graduating 2nd in his class. Soon after he went to Columbia University where he earned his Doctor of Medical Science degree. He was the first African-American to do so.

Charles was recruited by John Scudder to help set up and manage an early prototype program for blood storage and preservation after he earned his doctorate. His job was to collect, test and transport big amounts of blood plasma for distribution in the U.K. He ended up creating a central location for the blood collections, which then kicked off the American Red Cross Blood Bank.

Surprisingly so, the Red Cross excluded African-Americans from donating blood. So Charles was unable to participate in a program he established. Later on, the decision was made to allow African-Americans to donate blood but that was segregated between the races. That meant African-American blood would only go to African-Americans that needed it.

In 1941, Charles went back to Howard University serving as the Head of the Department of surgery and Chief of Surgery at Freedmen’s Hospital. There he trained other African-Americans who had to meet certain requirements that met with any surgical specialty.

Charles died tragically in a car accident on April 1, 1950. He fell asleep at the wheel while driving to a conference.

He will be forever be known as the “Father of the Blood Bank”.

Faces of Our History: Benjamin ‘Pap’ Singleton

Benjamin "Pap" Singleton
Benjamin “Pap” Singleton

Benjamin Singleton was born in 1809 in Davidson County, close to Nashville, Tennessee. The exact of his birthday or parents are unclear. His father was white and his mother was an enslaved black women.

Around age 37, after several failed attempts to escape to freedom in 1946 he was successful. He followed the Underground Rail road, and ended up in Windsor, Ontario. Singleton decided to head to Detroit, Michigan where he used the resources he had to help other slaves who escape get to freedom in Canada.

In 1862 Singleton resided in Nashville, Tennessee. Being free he still faces racial violence and injustice. He joined up with Columbus M. Johnson who was a black minister in Sumner County. Together they looked for ways to establish economic independence for black americans.

Johnson and Singleton founded the Edgefield Real Estate Association in 1874, it would helped African-Americans own land in Nashville. The faces many issue due to wile landowners setting the land price too high for would be black landowner buy land. The following year Singleton thought outside the box and aimed for black colonies in the American West. He then changed the name from Edgefield Real Estate Association to Edgefield Real Estate and Homestead Association. The pair looked for land in Cherokee County.

Due to Cherokee County not being a great area, due to land prices they set their sights on former Kaw Indian Reservation not to far from Dunlap, Kansas. In 1879, the Great Exodus happened. 50,000 freedmen known as Exodusters migrated to Kansas and a few other places to escape the same thing Singleton left. They also wanted better working conditions and peace. The U.S Senate, called Singleton to appear before them to testify on the cause of the Great Exodus to Kansas. He explained why the freedmen left the South.

At age, 72 Singleton used his status to bring blacks together and started the C.U.L (Colored United Link). The purpose of CUL was to gain financial resources for all black people to start black owned businesses, trade schools and factories.

After trying hard trying to help blacks become successful and failing. He was convinced that it would never happen in the U.S. In 1885, he began to start the Pan-Africanism, he wanted all blacks to relocate to Africa. A few years later that fell through as well.

Benjamin Singleton died on February 17, 1900 in Kansas City, Missouri.