On May 17, 1912, Mary Beatrice Davidson was born in Monroe, North Carolina, 30 minutes South of Charlotte, North Carolina. Her father was an inventor named Sidney Nathaniel Davidson, he patented the clothing press for a suitcase, a window washer for trains, and a stretcher with wheels for ambulances to better transport injured people. I do not have any information about Mary Kenner’s mother. Her paternal grandfather invented the pants presser, her maternal grandfather is said to be the original inventor of the light signal for trains. The genius to invent items to improve our everyday lives must run in the Davidson bloodline, because Mary Kenner’s sister, Mildred Davidson Austin Smith, invented board games, trademarked her games, and sold her games for a profit.
At the age of six, Kenner came up with the idea of the self-oiling door hinge, but the invention was never created. She was very young but wise and thoughtful enough to observe her surroundings and think of how she could improve people’s everyday lives. She would create more ideas for inventions as a child, such as the sponge tip to soak up the water running off of an umbrella, and a portable ashtray that attached to a cigarette carton. In 1924, Kenner’s family moved to Washington D.C. She would spend much of her time in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office learning about the system, how to patent inventions, and looking to see if someone else patented her inventions. Kenner graduated from Dunbar Highschool in 1931, her next step was enrolling at Howard University. She studied at Howard for three or four semesters before dropping out due to financial issues.
To support herself and her family, Kenner began working various jobs such as babysitting and working as an elevator operator. She worked where ever she could to earn money. In 1941, Kenner began working for the Census Bureau and General Accounting Office. This job allowed her to make more money, better support her family, and in her spare time create new inventions. Even though the bulk of her time was spent working to help her family, she never lost her passion to invent. In 1950, Kenner saved up enough money to quit her job and open up a florist shop. She had also become a professional florist. Her florist shop was successful and lasted for 20 years. In 1945, Kenner married a man who was a soldier in the U.S. Army, the couple divorced in 1950. Also In 1951, she married the famous boxer and founder of the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs of Washington, James “Jabbo” Kenner. The couple produced two sons Antonio and Woodrow.
In 1957, Kenner filed and acquired her first patent for her invention the sanitary belt. She originally created the belt as a teen but didn't have the money to file for the patent. The sanitary belt was designed to hold a woman’s sanitary pad in place preventing her menstrual fluids from escaping the pad. This is an invention she would make improvements to overtime. Kenner’s invention was becoming a very useful and popular tool for women at the time. Her invention was so popular that The Sonn-Nap-Pack Company was contacting her to make a business deal. The deal was revoked by The Soon-Nap-Pack Company because they discovered Kenner was a black woman. The use of the sanitary belt declined as the design for menstrual pads was improved upon and tampon was being used. But Kenner was not deterred.
In 1976, Kenner patented a walker attachment that included a tray to sit items on and pockets for carrying extra items. In 1982, Kenner and her sister collaborated to patent a toilet paper holder, and in 1987, Kenner patented a mounted back washer and massager; which was her last patent. On January 13, 2006, Mary Beatrice Kenner died at the age of 93. She was a very intelligent and driven woman. She was a visionary who used her imagination and ingenuity to bring her ideas to fruition. This story is a reminder of why it is important to cultivate the interest, skills, discipline, and imagination of your children because they could literally change the world. Mrs. Mary Beatrice Kenner, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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“Live Free or Die.” Were the last words of a pregnant woman fighting for her freedom against the French on the island of Guadeloupe.
Solitude was born in 1772, on the Island of Guadeloupe. Her mother was an enslaved African woman and her father was a French sailor who impregnated her mother by force. Solitude’s mother escaped enslavement but left Solitude on the plantation. Years passed, and Solitude grew into a very beautiful young lady. She was said to have beautiful brown skin and exquisite eyes, each was a different color. Men often fought each other for her affection. Solitude worked as a domestic slave cleaning and keeping her master's house tidy. It is believed that she was given domestic duties because of her beauty and skin complexion. She was called the Female Mulatto' because she was of mixed race.
In 1794, the French Empire abolished slavery, because the Haitian Revolution was successful, and they wanted to avoid further revolutions throughout the colonies. Solitude and many other enslaved Africans left their plantations to live in Maroon colonies in Guadeloupe and live on other Caribbean Islands. The Africans living within the French colonies were free of French enslavement and able to live their lives as free men and women, so they thought. In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte became the de facto leader of the French Republic, and in 1802 Napolean reinstated slavery with the passing of the Law of 20 May 1802, which revoked the abolition of slavery in 1794.
Solitude and a large number of African people revolted against the reinstatement of slavery. Louis Delgrès was the leader of the revolt against Napoleon, and Solitude stood bravely by his side ready to defend her freedom. Solitude joined the fight even though she was pregnant. Before fighting the French, Delgrès released a message to his people; “To the whole universe, the last cry of innocence and despair”. The battles began in May of 1802. Pregnancy did not stop Solitude from excelling on the battlefield. She gained a reputation as a fierce fighter because she was able to help lead her troops deep into the French territory. She was a major contributor to many victories over the French troops.
Later in May of 1802, French General Richepance attacked a fort where Delgrès and other Maroons were occupied. The Maroons and the French battled for over 18 days at the Fort. Finally, on the 18th day, the Fort was bombed, Solitude survived the bombing but was injured, she was also captured by the French and jailed. Delgrès and several others died in the bombing. Solitude was jailed until she gave birth to her baby; which became the property of the French because she was no longer a free woman. A day after giving birth, Solitude was executed for her role in the revolt. One thing I learned about Solitude, she did not allow anything to stop her from achieving her goals. Neither pregnancy, the threat of enslavement, nor death, could stop Solitude from fighting for her freedom and the freedom of her people. “Live free or die,” are the last words Solitude spoke before she was executed. To the brave and beautiful Solitude of Guadeloupe, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
J. A. Ward
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During the 1730s, a young slave girl named Marie-Joseph Angelique would start a rebellion history would never forget. Angelique was the property of François Poulin of Montreal, Canada. Not much is known about the history of slavery in Canada. She was a slave girl who was being prepared to become a mating partner with a fellow slave. Angelique was a woman of sound mind and was resistant to the demands of her master. She was also engaged in a relationship with a white indentured servant named Claude Thibault from France.
On April 10, 1734, Angelique set fire to the home of her slave master. The fire quickly spread to other houses and businesses. The total damage was 46 buildings burned. One of the buildings was the famous L'Hôtel Dieu hospital. She was captured and brought to trial for the fire. The trial took two months, within that time Angelique was interrogated and tortured until she confessed to the fire. On June 21, 1734, Angelique was set to be executed by the authorities of Montreal. She was paraded through the streets by a rope, one end tied to her neck, and the other tied to a wagon.
They placed signs upon her back that read arsonist. She was forced to beg for mercy in front of the on-looking crowd, then one of her hands was cut off. She was hung in front of the crowd by a slave named Mathieu, then her body was burned and spread her ashes throughout the land. Slavery in Canada is greatly overlooked and understudied. It is a place where the Church frowned upon slavery, but in the case of Angelique, the Church conveniently turned a blind eye. She was killed because she stood up for her rights as a human being. Freedom was her goal and she gave her life to gain it. Marie-Joseph Angelique; we stand on your shoulders.
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http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/marie_joseph_angelique_2E.html http://www.blackhistorypages.net/pages/mjangelique.php http://www.canadianmysteries.ca/sites/angelique/accueil/indexen.html
Nefertiti was an Egyptian woman born around 1390 BCE, who became the Queen of Pharaoh Akhenaten of the 18th Dynasty. The name Nefertiti means "a beautiful woman has come," which was fitting because she was well known for her beauty. The identity of her parents is unknown and little is known about her early life. She became the wife of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV who would change his name to Akhenaten because they were followers of Aten. Nefertiti would take on a name change as well, she was known as “Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti” which means “Beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a beautiful woman has come.” Akhenaten made a radical change in converting his kingdom to the following of Aten.
Nefertiti was very instrumental in the ruling of Egypt alongside her husband. Akhenaten did not reject her opinions, he respected Nefertiti and her views. Nefertiti was often depicted with the crown of the Pharaoh upon her head, she can also be seen in battle with her husband. She was respected enough to become a member of the priesthood which gave offerings to Aten. It is stated that the Queen gave birth to six children as the wife of the Pharaoh. Unfortunately, not much is known about the Queen because historical records of her are minimal after 1360 BCE. It is said that internal strife existed within Akhenaten’s kingdom because of his change from the following of Amen-Ra to the following of Aten. I do not have any information about the death of Nefertiti because her death or disappearance is a myth. Many theories exist about the disappearance of Nefertiti, no one is quite certain as to what happened to the Queen. What we do know is she was depicted as a majestic, brilliant, beautiful ruler and wife. Queen Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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The 18th Dynasty is said to be one of Egypt’s greatest dynasties ruled by popular pharaohs such as Hatshepsut, Amenhotep I, Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, and our focus for this feature, Amenhotep III. Amenhotep III was born between 1401 BCE - 1388 BCE and was the son of Thutmose IV and Mutemwiya. Mutemwiya was said to be one of the lesser wives of Thutmose IV. At the age of 12, Amenhotep III succeeded his father and became the Pharaoh of Egypt, which at the time was a very large and prosperous empire. Also during this time, Amenhotep III married Queen Tiye, who is one of the 18th Dynasty’s greatest and most popular figures. Queen Tiye was held in such high regard that she is often depicted as an equal to Amenhotep III.
Amenhotep III contributed greatly to the building and expansion of Egypt during his reign; arts and architecture were some of his greatest passions. One of his greatest assets as a ruler was his political acumen and diplomacy. He was very charismatic and built peaceful relationships with rulers of other nations, helping to increase the wealth of Egypt. Maintaining relationships and the quality of roads that traders used to travel also helped increase Egypt’s wealth. Amenhotep III was a very skilled hunter that is said to have killed over 110 lions during his first 10 years as pharaoh. There is also proof of him successfully leading his army into a battle. Amenhotep III completed the construction of a palace for himself at Malkata during the 39th year of his reign. This palace was the largest and most lavish palace in Egypt at the time.
Amenhotep III forbade the marrying of Egyptian women to foreign rulers to keep his dynasty strong. This tradition was also implemented by his father Thutmose IV. As mentioned earlier, the arts and architecture were passions of Amenhotep III. That passion led to the construction of over 250 temples and buildings. He also constructed hundreds of statues depicting himself, Queen Tiye, the God Aten, and various other Gods. Around 600 statues were said to be dedicated to the Goddess Sekhmet. Because Amenhotep III was busy with the building of Egypt, Queen Tiye was in charge of maintaining Egypt’s political affairs. Two of Amenhotep’s largest and most popular statues are called the Colossi of Memnon, which were located in his palace. Egypt’s greatest political and economic threat at the time was the cult of Amun, led by priests who dedicated themselves to the worship of the god Amun. The cult owned a large portion of the land and held an immense amount of wealth, making them a worthy threat, if respectable political relations were not maintained.
To help prevent any vulnerability to the cult of Amun, Aten became the personal deity of Amenhotep III. Many believe the presence of the cult of Amun is what led Pharaoh Akhenaten, Amenhotep III’s successor, to implement state-mandated monotheism in the worship of Aten. For 39 years, Amenhotep III reigned as the pharaoh of Egypt with the beautiful Queen Tiye by his side. He died in 1353 BCE and was survived by Queen Tiye, his sons Thutmose, Akhenaten, and many other sons and daughters. Before his death, Amenhotep III was succeeded by his son Thutmose, but Thutmose died before Amenhotep III’s death, so Akhenaten became Pharaoh after the death of Amenhotep III. Egypt literally flourished under the rule of Amenhotep III. The people were treated fairly by the ruling class, the empire expanded and increased its wealth, and relations with other nations and kingdoms prospered. The splendor of Egypt was on full display. Architectural campaigns led by Amenhotep III helped Egypt become the most opulent empire of the ancient world. Pharaoh Amenhotep III, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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