African- American Day Festival
by Cate Murway
“Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.” - H. Jackson Brown, Jr., author best known for his inspirational Life's Little Instruction Book, a NY Times bestseller.
Black people have made some pretty incredible contributions to society.
February shouldn’t be the only time in the year to acknowledge the accomplishments of African-Americans, especially when we use some of the things that were invented by black people every day.
The BCAAFFE is hosting the 23rd Annual African-American Day Festival on Saturday, August 19th, a celebration of the rich heritage and those with a long history of entrepreneurship who have made a difference in the past.
Enjoy a day of entertainment, fellowship, family fun, crafts, art, music, food, exhibitors and more!
Did you know…..?
*Alfred L. Cralle [1866–1920] invented a mechanical device now known as the ice cream scoop and was the first black man to receive a patent [U.S. Patent #576395] in Pittsburgh.
* Ruane S. Jeter was the inventor of the toaster, and along with the help of Sheila Lynn Jeter, they created many items of stationery, including sheathed scissors, the stapler, and staple remover.
*Garrett A. Morgan, born to freed slaves, with only a 6th grade level of education, patented the mechanical traffic light in 1923 and sold it to General Electric.
* Alice H. Parker designed a gas heating furnace, leading to the modern version of central heating.
* George “Speck” Crum [1824-1914], a chef, invented the potato chip, originally called “Saratoga Chips”.
*Daniel H. Williams [1856-1931] didn’t invent the open-heart procedure, but he was the first surgeon to do it successfully. He also opened the first hospital with an interracial staff, Provident Hospital in 1893.
* Hattie McDaniel [1895-1952], an actress and radio personality born to former slaves, was the first Black woman to win an Oscar in 1940 for her “Mammy” role in ‘Gone with the Wind’.
* Thomas Edison may have invented the light bulb, but Lewis H. Latimer [1848-1928] perfected it. Latimer was an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the first practical telephone, before joining Edison’s research team called “Edison’s Pioneers”.
Let them further inspire you to think outside of the box and to find a window when it may seem like all the doors are closed.
Barbara A. Allen and Dorothy Virginia “Dot” Armond are the veteran members/ finance treasurers of the Bucks County African American for Future Education program of which they have been members for 20+ years. Dot always steps up to help the children. She shared, “They are about the future. I have to help and guide them and inspire them. My grandmother, Chelcy Clark, was a good role model for me.”
Dot also works with “No Longer Bound Prevention and Training Services” on 1230 Norton Avenue in Bristol through the Norton Avenue Baptist Church. “We have an emergency food cupboard and a clothing program and any donations are truly appreciated.”
Barbara explained, “The BCAAFFE program hosts their signature event, the African- American Day Festival at the river every year and it is just one of our events to raise scholarship funds.”
Students are requested to submit an essay to their guidance counselor. “This year 3 recipients, one Bristol High School student and two from Harry S. Truman, have been chosen and will be awarded with monies to further their education in a four-year college or Technical School.”
Barbara’s daughter Stefani Allen, Truman H.S. ‘99 was a scholarship recipient when she enrolled as a student in Manhattan College ’03 for marketing. “Now she wants to give back.”
Stef has joined the team along with Darryl Curtis, Ray Osbourne and Mussezt: the Poet. They plan the African American Festival and other fund raisers, such as bowling parties, coin tosses and this year’s inaugural “Dine and Poetry” event with hors d'oeuvres, “spoken word poetry”, a comedian and additional entertainment to be held at GBH Beauty Salon on Mill Street on Friday, August 11th from 9:00PM-11:00PM. Charitable donation is $10.00.
Dot and Barbara will “make sure everything is working” at the African American Festival.
There will be a sensory overload of vendors, a wealth of happenings and plenty of food to enjoy!
Soul food and music along with unity will be the focus.
“I like the variety of food and the water ice and funnel cake!” commented Dot.
The Festival commands the entire Lion’s Park.
Deal Wright, the President and Principal Officer of the African American Historical and Cultural Society of Bucks County will dispense information about the AAHCS by the 6-foot tall Harriet “Hat” [Ross] Tubman [1820-1913] monument in Lions’ Waterfront Park. Morrisville sculptor James Gafgen created the statue and William H. Smith designed the original drawings for the memorial. Sydney L. Taylor, BHS ’53, the late president of the AAHCS was the visionary gentleman who led the effort to make the statue a reality.
The primary objective of this society incorporated in 1995 has been to research, document and share historical information that reflects African American participation not only in respective Bucks County communities, but also internationally.
One of the hallmarks of their organization was the completion of that Tubman statue dedicated in 2005, meant to honor her and at the same take notice of African-Americans' contribution to society.
AAHCS Secretary/Treasurer [Marie] Louise Davis, MFA from Tyler School of Art, often portrays Harriet to share details about her important life and to shed light on slavery, which Tubman herself once said was "the next thing to hell." During her time as a slave, she endured permanent brain damage and physical health complications from the relentless beatings she suffered at the hands of her masters.
Louise is related to the famous abolitionist - a third cousin, to be exact, since her great-grandfather, William Henry Harrison Ross, was the brother of Tubman's father, Benjamin Ross.
Deal and his wife, Pamela [Reaves] Wright’s researched a home for orphan children of black Civil War soldiers and they will share this information. The structure was known as Whitehall.
This research followed the lives of some of the students through their graduations from Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, now known as Hampton University.
Bristol College was an Episcopal college founded in 1833 by the Episcopal Education Society and chartered in 1834, based on the "manual labor system", combining education with agricultural work.
White Hall, the last remaining structure of Bristol College was later used as an orphanage, and a Civil War Hospital. The college closed in 1837. “A number of the people in the area are unaware of this orphanage,” explained Deal.
After the war it was reopened as a school for orphans of colored soldiers [children from 5 -16], known as Bridgewater School for Coloreds [1868-1880s]. Some of the students continued their education at Hampton University where Booker T. Washington [1856-1915] is the most notable alumna, American educator, author, orator, and advisor to USA presidents. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community.
Deal’s sister, Glenda Wright will provide information regarding ancestry research and just how one can tap into their family tree to access information online.
Selma, AL born Josephine Kent Adams designed the quilt that will be displayed near the Harriet Tubman statue. “My parents, Samuel Levan and Odie Mae [Gunter] Kent were my role models. Best parents in the whole world! If I did bad, I danced to the tune of the hickory stick.”
Her parents owned a “Mom & Pop” grocery store, “Kent’s Grocery Store” in Selma, AL on Mechanics Street. They were very concerned about black achievement and wanted all to know the background and their contributions.
Josephine was their 7th child and she had 3 brothers and 3 sisters. She never worked at their store.
“I had to stay home and cook, sometimes fried chicken or pork chops. I didn’t like to cook, I had to.”
Her late Army veteran husband was stationed in Fort Dix and she slowly made her way toward Bristol. Josephine is the coordinator of the Black History Society in the Wesley African Methodist Episcopal [A.M.E.] Zion Church and she taught Social Studies including Black History and Ancient History in the Franklin D. Roosevelt [FDR] Middle School for 34 years.
She had worked for the Government overseas in Japan, Germany and Middle East and applied for a teaching job in Bristol when she moved in with her sister.
A project with her students involving Black History began with an idea about a quilt focusing on famous black people and their inventions. Each student selected a person from a book, did a report and found pictures and colored them. Josephine purchased the material for them and the students drew or traced the pictures on the quilt.
“It’s important that younger generations know their culture, know where they actually came from, embrace their culture,” confirmed Josephine.
She is a graduate of Alabama Lutheran Academy, Agriculture & Technical [A&T] College and she earned her M.Ed. from Trenton State College.
After reading an article in the Bristol newspaper, she contacted Louise Davis and they became friends.
The AAHCS is currently working on establishing a library/museum/diversity center, geared toward encouraging the pursuit of knowledge through the acquisition and preservation of volumes, articles, artifacts and other means of communication which open the window to view the many dimensional trajectory of a complicated and creative joint effort to release many from slavery to freedom.
Enter Tiera Rose Outlaw, Neshaminy HS/ Lincoln College, Lincoln, IL/ BCCC history degree/ junior at Temple University, majoring in African American History / Anthropology. Tiera will earn her Historic Preservation certification next May. Her internship revolves around creating a collection management policy for the AAHCS museum project as she catalogues their pieces and develops the collection.
“This is great for me, a catapult for my career.”
Their far range goal is a regional library/museum/meeting place in Lower Bucks with all the pieces on exhibit. “I think Bucks County is ready for this. All of their materials are equally interesting and will bring awareness of the Black communities in Bucks County.”
As a child, Tiera always questioned “where are we from”? Her grandmother Rose Bryant, a vibrant advocate for social service programs, is her role model. “She was too young when her parents died, so she had no clue of her roots. This is a lifelong destiny, not a career for me. This is a journey.”
Tiera is busy editing the AAHCS collection policy.
“It is exciting in being in the beginning, starting stages.”
The family-friendly Annual African-American Day Festival on Saturday, August 19th [Rain Date: Sunday, August 20] is an excellent meeting place to exchange cultural and artistic experiences and create a more diversified, tolerant and respectful attitude toward one another while celebrating pivotal figures who have changed the world, shaping the one we live in today.
Proceeds from this event will help the host with its annual scholarship fund.
The Bucks County African-Americans for Future Education’s mission is to empower and further educate youths. Donations made payable to BCAAFFE for the scholarship fund can be sent to:
P.O. Box 24
Bristol, PA 19007
African American Historical and Cultural Society of Bucks County
P.O. Box 1532
Bristol, PA 19007
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