Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary, was the first African-American
woman to work as a mail carrier in the United States. She was also the
second American woman to work for the United States Postal Service. She
was a woman with a very imposing stature, for she stood 6 feet tall and
weighed 200 lbs. She also liked to smoke cigars, drink whiskey and she ...carried
a pistol for protection.
Born into slavery and emancipated when slavery
was outlawed Fields worked as a worker at a Native American mission.
There she worked the fields, did laundry, tended to animals, etc. She
also owned and managed a restaurant where she fed those with money and
without. Mary answered to no one and defended herself with her mouth,
fists and pistol.
At the age of 60 years old, Fields was hired as a mail
carrier and to work for the USPS. She drove the route with horses and a
mule named Moses. She never missed a day, and her reliability in any
weather or circumstance earned her the nickname "Stagecoach." In the
1996 TV movie The Cherokee Kid, Fields was played by Dawn Lewis, and in
the 2012 TV movie Hannah's Law she was played by Kimberly Elise.
Once nearly the richest Black man in Chicago ( by some accounts he was) Jesse Binga was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1865. He moved to Chicago to start a bank in 1908.
The bank was made primarily for African-Americans, since during that time many banks would not allow African-Americans in. The Great Migration came, and Binga State Bank grew more popular.
Jesse Binga grew to be a rich man and eventually he and his wife bought a house at 5922 South Park Avenue, which is now known as King Drive, which was a strictly white neighborhood. His house was bombed five different times by racist neighbors.
In 1929 the Great Depression hit, and Binga Bank was forced to close. Then bank examiners said that Binga State Bank was run illegally and Jesse Binga was sent to jail on a ten year sentence. After a few years Binga was released thanks to many protests and petitions. Binga was given a $15 a week job as a janitor at St. Anselm's Church. He died at age 85.
Jesse Binga was once one of the richest men of his time, but when the depression hit he lost everything and died as a poor man in June 1950.
Binga was an honorary member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas 1746-1818
Absalom Jones was born into slavery in Sussex
County, Delaware, on November 6, 1746. He taught himself to read and knew the
New Testament thoroughly at an early age. When he was 16, Absalom's owner took
him to Philadelphia, Pa., where he served as a clerk and handyman in a retail
THE REV. ABSALOM
He was allowed to work for
himself in the evenings and keep his earning. He was married in 1770. By the
time Jones was 38 years old, he had purchased his wife's freedom, and his own,
and had bought a house. Later he built two more houses and used them for rental
During this period he met
Richard Allen, and they became lay preachers in St. George's Methodist Episcopal
Church and lifelong friends. Their efforts met with great success, and the
congregation multiplied tenfold.
Jones and Allen, in 1787,
organized the Free African Society. The Society was both religious and
benevolent, helping widows and orphans and assisting in sick, relief and burial
expenses, and the assimilation of newly freedmen into urban life. Because of
racial tensions and an altercation with church officials, they left St. George's
In 1792, under the leadership of Absalom Jones, "The
African Church" was organized as a direct outgrowth of the Free African Society.
In 1793, the two men organized the Black community to serve as nurses and
attendants during Philadelphia's severe Yellow Fever epidemic.
"The African Church" building was completed and dedicated on July 17th of that
year. Absalom Jones led his African Church in applying to Bishop William White
for membership in the Episcopal Church. On Sunday, September 14, 1794, the
congregation was received into the fellowship and communion of he diocese of
Pennsylvania. The following year the Diocesan Convention approved the
affiliation with the stipulation that the Church could not participate in the
Diocesan Convention this was not resolved until 1864. So "The African Church"
became The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, and Absalom Jones was
ordained Deacon. Some nine years later he was ordained Priest, becoming the
first priest in America of African descent.
In 1797, when the first
African Masonic Lodge of Philadelphia was warranted, Absalom Jones was installed
as First Worshipful Master and in 1815 he was elected the First Grand Master of
the First African Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
During his ministry,
Absalom Jones never lost his deep conviction that religious and social action go
hand in hand. He founded schools for his people, helped them in distress, and
supported them in their protest against slavery and oppression. He helped to
found an insurance company, and a society which fought vice and immorality.
Absalom Jones died at his home, 32 Powell Street, Philadelphia, Pa., on February
13, 1818. In 1973, the 64th General Convention of the Episcopal Church added his
name to the Church calendar as an optional feast to be celebrated.
Ella Fitzgerald & Marilyn Monroe listening to jazz at Hollywood’s Tiffany Club (1955)
“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt. It was because of her that I
played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally
called the owner of the Mocambo [ed. note: who had refused to
book Fitzgerald because she was black], and told him she wanted me
booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table
She told him - and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status -
that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there,
front table, every night. The press went overboard… After that, I never
had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman - a
little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”
Alice, known variously as Black Alice, Old Alice, and Alice of Dunk’s Ferry, was a native of Philadelphia and a slave, born to parents who were brought from Barbados. She is said to have been 116 at the time of her death in 1802. She was celebrated in her time as a local historian, having seen Philadelphia develop from an early river settlement to the capital of a new nation, and she was an active member of the historic Christ Church. She likely sat for a portrait due to her respected position in the local community; in this way, the portrait itself is an indication of the heights to which an elderly, illiterate, enslaved woman could ascend. Alice’s portrait appears in the second volume of Eccentric Biography (Worcester, 1804), written by Isaiah Thomas, founder of the American Antiquarian Society. He mentions the following notable traits regarding Alice: her piety, skill as a historian and story teller, capability as a toll worker at a Delaware River ferry crossing, and, most significantly, her longevity. Thomas devotes much of Alice’s entry to tales of her extraordinary vitality, recalling events such as Alice riding horseback at the age of ninety-five and losing and regaining her eyesight as a centenarian.
Eccentric Biography is a dual volume set featuring noteworthy men and women in history. The men included in the first volume were selected for having “sufficiently striking” peculiarities, whereas their female counterparts were “remarkable for some extraordinary deviation from the generality of the sex.” This distinction demonstrates how being a woman was, in and of itself, a deviation from the norm. Furthermore, though both volumes include entries on people distinguished for their physical attributes, only the women’s volume contains a direct reference to such people on its title page.
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