The battle was first waged over the right of the Negro to be classed as a human being with a soul; later, as to whether he had sufficient intellect to master even the rudiments of learning; and today it is being fought out over his social recognition [...] You are young, gifted, and Black. We must begin to tell our young, “There’s a world waiting for you.” Yours is the quest that’s just begun.
-James Weldon Johnson, an American author, lawyer, and politician, first African-American secretary of the NAACP, who was born today in Florida in 1871. An active member of the public sector, Johnson worked as an educator, political adviser, ambassador, lawyer, and Harlem Renaissance poet before joining and finally leading the NAACP. He crusaded for equal rights through peaceful protest and inspired generations to come with his calm refusal to accept social injustice. Happy Birthday, Mr. Johnson!
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
- Julia Ward Howe, American writer, activist, suffragist, pacifist and abolitionist, was born this day in New York City, 1819, 194 years ago. In addition to penning to words to the famous Civil War anthem “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Howe dedicated her life after the Civil War to the causes of abolition, equality, and pacifism. She was one of the originators of the concept of Mother’s Day, which in her mind would be a day of congress across all nations for all women who have suffered from the fighting of their husbands and sons, advocating for a stop to violence. Howe’s truth is still marching on.
Wishing a happy birthday to our first President — and a good Presidents Day to you all! Just for a small technicality, George Washington’s actual date of birth is tomorrow and he would have been 279 years old.
Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.
– Farewell Address, 1796