" Black History Series Focusing on Two Historic Anniversaries"
The 36th consecutive Black History Month series, authored by former Rockdale teacher Susie Sansom Piper, is
under way in The Reporter.
Theme for 2013 Black History Month is “At the Cross-roads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation
Proclamation and the March on Washington.”
Previously Mrs. Piper authored “Ebony Etchings,” sketches of local African-Americans,” for 27 years.
Prior to that, she wrote a Black History Month series entitled “Just Folks” and “Way Back When.”
Mrs. Piper was a longtime teacher before her retirement and was the last principal of Aycock High School,
Rockdale’s school for African-Americans, which closed in the mid-1960s.
A resident of Austin, she is a member of St. James Baptist Church, edits the church newsletter, is a musician
for the church’s senior choir, has written four Black History Month plays and numerous essays and poems.
Here is Mrs. Piper’s first installment of the 2013 series:
One-hundred-fifty years ago or more, there existed a vast difference of opinion between the Union, which
represented the North and Eastern United States, and the Confederacy, which represented the deep South.
The South encouraged the maintaining status of slavery, while the North encouraged freedom. On Jan. 1, 1863,
President Abraham Lincoln issued a wartime measure known as the Emancipation Proclamation.
In 1963, or 100 years later, the elements of slavery still existed in the deep South, in forms of ‘separate
everything,’ restrooms, schools, eateries, park facilities, neighborhoods, religious institutions, colleges,
universities, and as a result, restlessness, turmoils of many descriptions, lynchings, beatings and false
Marchings, speeches, sit-ins invaded the land. America, once again stood at the crossroads.
Although nine years earlier, the Supreme Court had outlawed racial segregation of public schools, but
equality of citizenship and segregation in other forms still existed. The late John F. Kennedy began his
campaign for civil rights, although he was often ignored for his opinions, and was later assassinated.
On Aug. 28, 1963, hundreds of Americans of all races, religious concerns, and believers of civil rights
marched to the memorial of Abraham Lincoln, and it was here that Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I
Have A Dream” speech.
Black History Month, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality,” marks the sesquicentennial of the
Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington.
African American Contributors Had Great Moments, Big and Small
Rockdale Reporter - January 31, 2013
This week The Reporter begins publishing the 36th consecutive Black History Month series written by former
Rockdale resident Susie Sansom Piper.
The 2013 observance is an extra-special one. It’s a double anniversary of two supremely important events.
On Jan. 1, 1863, 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the
first legal renunciation of slavery by the U. S. government.
On Aug. 27, 1963, 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave what has gone down in
history as the “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D. C.
History is made up of great moments like those. But it’s also made up thousands of
smaller, but still important, moments and contributions. Like these, every one of which
was by an African American:
• In 1821—yes, 1821—the U. S. Patent Office granted its first patent to an African-
American. Thomas Jennings invented a new and better dry-cleaning process. He used the
profits to fight slavery and rescue his family.
• Lewis Latimer helped perfect the electric light. His carbon filaments burned much
longer than Edison’s.
• Alexander Miles made the elevator much safer by inventing sliding electric doors that
cover up the open shaft when the elevator is on a different floor.
• Dr. Charles Drew opened the first large-scale blood bank, assuring more adequate
supplies of blood.
• George Carruthers invented the far ultraviolet camera used in the later Apollo moon
missions. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
• Otis Boykin developed the control units used on guided missiles and a device which
controls heart pacemakers.
• Mark Dean was one of the inventors of a microcomputer bus device which led to the
development of USB connections and peripherals.
• James West held 47 U.S. and over 200 foreign patents, mostly in the field of electric
• This may be the most amazing. Though he could neither read nor write, and slavery
would not end for three more decades, Henry Blair, in 1834 and 1836, invented automatic
planters for corn and cotton seeds.
Salute, Mr Blair! It’s Black History Month.