During the early 1820s, the great Shaka was King of the Zulu Nation, who was in conflict against other factions of the Zulu who broke away to begin their own kingdoms. The battles were fierce and many of Shaka’s male family members were competing to become king of the Zulu. Mpande was the half-brother of Shaka and the father of Cetshwayo. At the time, Mpande was a Zulu warrior and soon-to-be king following the deaths of Shaka and Dingane. Cetshwayo was born in 1826 in Eshowe, Zululand but raised in Engakavini after Mpande fled Eshowe to preserve his life. In 1828, Shaka was assassinated by his brother Dingaan who then took the power of the Zulu Kingdom. Mpande and Dingaan would battle in 1840 with the Mpandes army being victorious making Mpande the King of the Zulu. After becoming the sole ruler of the Zulu Kingdom Mpande declared Cetshwayo the heir to the throne. Cetshwayo was described as a physically intimidating person, standing between 6’6 and 6’8, weighing around 350 pounds. Even though, Cetshwayo was the heir to the throne his brothers and other family members were now rivaling for his position.
Mbuyazi, Cetshwayo’s brother was favored by their father while the Zulu lands were experiencing a severe drought. Cetshwayo was promised to be the successor of his father but Mbuyazi was being favored by Mpande at this time. Mbuyazi was given a large portion of the land and Mpande was not communicating with Cetshwayo about his succession. A civil war was already happening among the many factions of the Zulu kingdom. As Mbuyazi and his followers moved into the lands granted to them by Mpande, they were removing a number of Cetshwayo’s supporters. So a conflict between the brothers was inevitable. Cetshwayo and Mbuyazi engaged in the battle of Ndondakusuka, with Mbuyazi being backed by Mpande and others against Cetshwayo. The final outcome of the battle was Cetshwayo being the victor and was now a threat to take the throne from his father who supported Mbuyazi. Mpande was able to appeal to Theophilus Shepstone, the British Secretary for Native Affairs for help. Shepstone was able to get Cetshwayo and his father to agree to terms for the rulership of Zululand. Mpande would remain the king of Zululand while Cetshwayo would have control over Zululand. As time passed Cetshwayo would yield more power and influence than his father. Cetshwayo was adamant about eliminating any threat to his throne.
Mpande died in 1872, giving Cetshwayo the full rulership of Zululand. In 1875, Cetshwayo and his army were prepared to defend their lands when the Boers began claiming parts of southern Zululand. Cetshwayo and his army caused the Boers to retreat and rethink their plans of battle. There was another problem and threat to Cetshwayo’s power, this threat was the British Empire. The British annexed the South African Republic in 1877 but were threatened by Cetshwayo’s growing Army. The British wanted to colonize Zululands without resistance. In 1878, the British gave the Zulu a choice to either give up their lands and sovereignty or be wiped out. Cetshwayo chose war and this was the beginning of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. The Zulu were a formidable opponent for the British. Actually, the British became cocky and underestimated the Zulu, despite the Zulu’s reputation for being fierce and victorious warriors. The Zulu were able to gain victories over the British, but they lost a decisive battle, the battle of Ondini. Cetshwayo was able to escape from the battlegrounds but he was eventually captured by British soldiers and imprisoned. Around 1882, Cetshwayo traveled to London and met the Queen of England, who granted him permission to return to his own land and rule a portion of the land. Cetshwayo began a rivalry with Zibhebhu, who was placed in charge of the northern Zulu lands by the British. Cetshwayo did challenge Zibhebhu’s army but was defeated and could not regain control of the lands that were now being controlled by the British. Cetshwayo died in 1888. Many believe he was poisoned by one of his rivals. We are not clear about how Cetshwayo died, but we do know that he is considered the last great Zulu king. To Cestchwayo and the mighty Zulu Kingdom, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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By the 1700s the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade transported a great number of African people to the western world. Many African people were successful in resisting enslavement and in regaining their freedom. This is a little-known story of African people escaping their enslavement to live their lives as free human beings. The setting was the Little George slave ship sailing from the coast of Guinea West Africa. Six days prior, 96 Africans were kidnapped and forced upon the Little George en route to the United States to be sold in Rhode Island. The Little Gorge sailed from the coast of Guinea on June 1, 1730, five days later while still at sea on June 6, 1730, the enslaved Africans began their revolt against the ship's crew.
At 4:00 A.M. on June 6, 1730, the Africans were heavenly chained to the ship but a few of them escaped their chains, broke through the covering of the hull of the ship, and attacked the ships, watchmen before they could notify any other crew members. The enslaved Africans were captured from different tribes but worked together to free themselves. Out of the Africans who initially freed themselves and attacked the ship's crew, they split in half, one half freeing the remaining Africans, and the other half continued to attack and subdue the ship's crew. The Africans were overwhelming the crew and managed to kill a great number of crew members as more Africans were freed from their chains.
The ship was originally captained by George Scott, but Scott and a few crew members were captured and locked in the captain's cabin. A few of the Africans made and detonated a bomb on the ship, killing crew members, and almost damaging the ship. Shortly after the bomb detonated, the remaining crew members surrendered to the Africans and were locked away on the ship. The Africans took full control of the ship, rerouted their course, and reached the Sierra Leone River which lead them to the shores of Sierra Leone. The Africans departed from the ship leaving it on the shores and returned to their homelands. Captain Scott and other crew members were able to survive the revolt but the Africans were able to continue to live as free humans. This is the story of the Little George Ship Revolt. To the Africans who gained their freedom by revolting, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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This woman was the daughter of a pioneer and expert bacteriologist and pathologist who helped find a treatment for syphilis. She followed in her father's footsteps to help develop treatments for gonorrhea. On May 1, 1919, Ada Hawes gave birth to a baby girl named Jane Hinton in the state of Massachusetts. William Augustus Hinton was Jane’s father. William Hinton was the son of a formerly enslaved person who became the first black person to be a professor at Harvard, he was also the first black person to write and publish a textbook. He became an expert bacteriologist and pathologist because he was not allowed to gain an internship in medicine while living in Boston. William used his expertise to help develop testing, a diagnosis, and treatment for syphilis. Jane Hinton’s mother, Ada Hawes was a school teacher and social worker in Boston, Massachusetts. When Jane Hinton was a young girl, William Hinton moved his family to Europe seeking a better living, free of racist barriers. Jane Hinton was exposed to many activities and organizations as a young grade school student in Europe. She became involved in activities such as student government, orchestra, glee clubs, theater, and basketball. Jane Hinton returned to the United States in 1939 to attend Simms College in Boston, Massachusetts, where she received her bachelor's degree at the age of 20.
William Hinton was instrumental in helping his daughter achieve her career goals. In 1931, William created a Medical Laboratory Techniques course for the students at Harvard. What was pioneering about this course is, that it included women. This was the first time women were included in such a course. Jane Hinton would become a research assistant at Harvard University, assisting the bacteriologist John Howard Mueller. Mueller became known for discovering the amino acid methionine in 1921. Both Dr. Jane Hinton and Howard Mueller co-developed the Mueller-Hinton Agar. The Mueller-Hinton Agar was developed to isolate the bacteria that caused gonorrhea and meningococcal meningitis. They learned that starch will help the bacteria grow, but it also prevented the toxins from the bacteria to impede the testing of antibiotics. The Muller-Hinton Agar became the standard medium for culturing the Neisseria bacteria. Moving into the 1960s, the Muller-Hinton Agar was also being used to determine if certain bacteria were receptive to antibiotics. Because of the Mueller-Hinton Agar, the Kirby-Bauer technique was adopted by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute as the new test for antibiotics.
Dr. Hinton worked as a lab technician in Arizona during World War II before transitioning into veterinary medicine after the war. She attended the University of Pennsylvania where she earned her doctorate degree in Veterinary Science in 1949. Dr. Hinton became one of the only two black women to receive a Doctorate in Veterinary Science in 1949. She was the fifth black woman at the time to receive her Doctorate in Veterinary Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Hinton along with Dr. Alfreda Webb became the first two black women to become members of the Women's Veterinary Medicine Association. As a veterinarian, Dr. Hinton operated a veterinarian practice in Canton, Massachusetts, and she also became an inspector for the federal government. In 1984, Dr. Jane Hinton was honored by the University of Pennsylvania for becoming the fifth black woman to earn a doctorate degree in veterinary science. She would die in 2003, as a pioneer and legend in the field of biology. She used the information she had to develop the technology we need to help fight sexually transmitted diseases. And let’s not forget the achievements of her father William Hinton, who set a great foundation for his daughter to become a legend. To Dr. Jane Hinton, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
On February 17, 1914, Julia Constanza Burgos García was born on a farm near the town of Carolina, Puerto Rico, to a working-class family. Francisco Burgos Hans was her father and Paula García de Burgos was her mother. Francisco was a farm owner and member of the Puerto Rico National Guard. Paula was a homemaker who sold the produce she harvested. Francisco and Paula produced thirteen children, Julia was their eldest child. Unfortunately, six of their thirteen children died before reaching adulthood because of malnutrition. In 1928, the Burgos family moved to the district of Rio Piedras, following Julia’s graduation from the Muñoz Rivera Primary School. She attended the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras Campus at the age of sixteen, she graduated in 1931 at the age of nineteen earning her teaching degree. After graduating college, Julia began teaching in the city of Naranjito, Puerto Rico at Feijoo Elementary School. In addition to teaching, Jilua worked a side job as a writer for a children’s radio show on Puerto Rican public radio. The messages coming from the radio program Julia wrote for were considered politically incorrect at the time. As a result, Julia was fired from Feijoo Elementary School. This was the beginning of the end of Julia’s teaching career.
Julia married a man named Ruben Rodriguez Beauchamp in 1934. After the couple was married, Julia would never teach again. She was active in Puerto Rican politics and became a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in 1936. The Daughters of Freedom was the women’s offshoot of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, she was elected as the secretary general for The Daughters of Freedom. Writing was a skill and outlet Julia often used to express her feelings about her life experiences. She was a published writer during her time as a teacher and working with the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. She published several poems and writings in Puerto Rican newspapers and magazines. She eventually published her books, Songs of the Simple Truth, and I Was My Own Path. She was able to capture the essence of what it is to be a Puerto Rican who was oppressed and discriminated against by their government. She was also able to capture the voices of the women of Puerto Rico fighting for their equality. Being a black Puerto Rican woman who experienced poverty, death, oppression, love, and having the experience of fighting for a better way of life, had a great influence on her poetry. It allowed her to say what the average oppressed Puerto Rican was feeling and experiencing during that time.
During the late 1930s, Julia traveled to Havana, Cuba to attend the University of Cuba before leaving school to work as a journalist for the Pueblos Hispanos newspaper. She would also work several odd jobs to make a living. She married Armondo Martin in 1943, but the couple divorced in 1947. It is said that after this divorce and other failed relationships, she suffered from depression which led to alcoholism. In 1953, Julia was hospitalized because of health complications. During this time, she wrote her last poem "Farewell in Welfare Island." It is believed that she predicted her death within this poem. Julia died on July 6, 1953, in Manhattan, New York. Tragically, at the time of her death, no family or friends knew of her death and were not present to identify her body. Eventually, she was identified by a relative and was given a proper burial. Her poetry was rediscovered by later generations and she inspired readers because her poetry was so relevant to the reader. Julia’s legacy was able to continue living because of the life that Julia injected into her poetry and other writings. A total of ten of her literary works were published, two biopics were made about her life, her poems inspired musical compositions, and received over 17 honors, including being inducted into the New York Writers Hall of Fame in 2011. To Julia De Burgos, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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