So today’s the first day of Black History Month and it’s already off to a great start. I’m still riding off of the high from the Grammy’s on Sunday, and then when the images of the ‘Black Panther’ premiere flooded the internet today.
I had an extreme case of FOMO as I scrolled through all of those pictures! The who carpet screamed Black Excellence! Those outfits. The models they had in costume on the REGAL purple carpet. ALL OF THAT MELANIN! Oh to be a fly on the wall at that screening. And based on the clips I saw of people talking about it afterwards, it lives up to the hype. I said it before and I’ll say it again: representation matters. This powerful cast telling this story is what’s needed for the culture!
Now I know that I usually drop some Black History Month facts on y’all, and this year is no different. I plan sharing more facts about people you might not have heard about in your history classes coming up, because they’re names I definitely don’t remember learning in school.
First up is Maggie Lena Walker. Not only was she the first Black woman to charter and serve as president of a bank in the US, but she was the first woman to do that in the US period. Come through Black Girl Magic! She was able to help turn the financial problems of St. Luke into a positive thing for the community and opened up the Saint Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond in 1903. The bank took in more than $9,000 in deposits in the first day! I know that might not sound like much now, but back in those days that number was huge! Especially for Black people. They took banking Black to another level and were able to help hundreds of people achieve life goals like purchasing a home. The bank even survived the Great Depression and was the oldest African-American operated bank in the US until it was acquired by Premier Bank in 2009.
Next up we have Christiana Carteaux Bannister. I know you guys have heard of Madame CJ Walker, well Bannister was in the hair game long before her. She was born in the 1820’s and by 1840 she had a successful business as a “hair doctress” and wig maker! Her love for Black women didn’t stop there, in 1890 she founded the Home for Aged and Colored Women. In fact, the nursing home is still open today and goes by the name Bannister Nursing Care Center.
Last on today’s list, but certainly not least, is John H. Johnson. He made waves for Black people in the publishing industry. After seeing the success of Readers Digest he secured a small loan (his mother trusted his vision so much that she even let him use her furniture as collateral) and created ‘Negro Digest’ in 1942. It took off and within a year they were distributing 50,000 copies monthly! That might not be a publication you recognize, but I’m sure you’ve heard of ‘Ebony’ and ‘Jet’. Yeah, he started those too! And if you’re like me and you grew up with a Black mother then there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Fashion Fair. Guess what? He’s behind that make-up line too! He and his wife Eunice started it when no other cosmetics company would cater to darker hued women. And you know what’s sad? That cosmetics line was created in 1973 and we’re still facing similar issues in 2018. Does the latest Tarte scandal and the inclusiveness of Fenty Beauty ring a bell?
Had y’all heard of any of these people before today’s post? I great up around Fashion Fair and never knew that it was created by the same person who started ‘Ebony’ and ‘Jet’. I think I’m going to keep my tradition and share a few not-so well known Black History facts with y’all weekly, so be sure to look out for the next set next week!