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Little-Known Black History Fact: Mary Alexander & Coca-Cola

Posted by BuellBoy

Mary Alexander in Coco-Cola in 1955

Mary Alexander in Coco-Cola ad in 1955

The year 1955 was like a dream come true for Mary Alexander of Ocala, Florida. She was a junior at Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia concentrating on her studies when her dorm mother insisted that she go to a local audition for a Coca-Cola promotion on campus. Little did Alexander know that she would become the first Black woman to be featured in a Coca-Cola ad – the first non-athlete, that is.

Coming to the city of Atlanta from her meager farmhouse beginnings in Ball Play, Alabama, Alexander never thought she could compete against the candidates from Spelman and Morris Brown College.

Alexander’s first ad was published in Ebony magazine that same year, along with several black newspapers. She would continue working with the company, shooting another 15 ads. Overall, Alexander would earn about $1,500 modeling for Coke, even though no one knew her name. By the way, she finally gained her father’s approval when she brought a check home for $600.

It was only because a family friend who saw the ad in her home took a copy back to Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta that Coke found their black beauty. After all these years, a name would be put to the face.

Coca-Cola recognized Alexander for being a pioneer in the company’s efforts to reach more African-Americans. Several of the ads she appeared in are on display in the new World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta. They also held a reception in her honor.

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Filed under African-Americans, Black History Month, Civil Rights Movement, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Fashion, Georgia, HBCU, History, Holidays, Magazines, Media and Entertainment, News, Photography, Pop Culture, Students, Uncategorized, US, Women's Issues

Little-Known Black History Fact: Molly Williams

Posted by BuellBoy

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through snow storm

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through a snow storm in 1818

A slave named Molly Williams was the first known female firefighter in the United States. Little is known about her life, but female firefighters know her heroic story.

Owned by a New York merchant named Benjamin Aymar, Williams became part of the Oceanus Engine Company firehouse in 1815 and would be known as Volunteer Number 11. The members of the house credited her for being as tough as the male firefighters. She would fight amongst them in a calico dress and checked apron.

Besides the bucket brigades, Molly pulled the pumper to fires through the deep snowdrifts of the blizzard of 1818 to save towns. On December 27, 1819, the Fire Department reported that the fire buckets were rapidly being superseded by the use of hose, so the era of fire buckets ended.

Even as a slave, Williams had gained the respect of her fellow firefighters. Her story and strength paved the way for other women, including one the first paid Black female firefighters and the most tenured in the country – Toni McIntosh of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who served for over 11 years.

Today there are many African-American women working as career firefighters and officers in the United States, along with a number of counterparts in the volunteer ranks. The African American Fire Fighter Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, conserving and sharing the heritage of African American firefighters.

The Museum is housed at old Fire Station 30. This station, which was one of two segregated fire stations in Los Angeles, between 1924 and 1955, was established in 1913, to serve the Central Ave community.

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Filed under African-Americans, Civil Rights Movement, Culture, History, Holidays, Uncategorized, US

Shoshana Johnson Pens Her Story In “I’m Still Standing”

Posted by guest contributor: Shanti

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010

Shoshana Johnson poses for a picture in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“In March of 2003, when Operation Iraqi Freedom was only days old, world headlines were made when a U.S. army convoy was attacked in the city of An-Nasiriyah en route to Baghdad. Several soldiers were killed and others were taken prisoner.

Jessica Lynch became the face and name associated with this tragedy, but another female soldier, Shoshana Johnson, was also wounded and captured in the ambush. A video of Shoshana being interrogated by her captors was soon broadcast on Spanish-language television and then picked up by American media. Shoshana had become the first black female prisoner of war in United States history. She was held for twenty-two days.

When Shoshana returned to the United States, she received numerous awards for her valor, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Prisoner of War medals. She appeared on news networks and national television shows such as Oprah, Ellen, The Tonight Show, and Larry King Live, but she was bound by a military gag order. She was unable to discuss what really happened in Iraq — until now.

Shoshana holds nothing back in this harrowing account of an ordinary woman caught in an extraordinary circumstance. She reveals decisions made by higher-ups that may have led to the capture, describes the pain of post-traumatic stress disorder, and shares the surprising story of how a specialist in a maintenance company ended up on the front lines of war.

Divulging personal emotions and frustrations while raising fresh political issues, I’m Still Standing is the never-before-told and much anticipated story of the headline-making ambush, capture, and rescue described with the exceptional bravery and candor of a single mom and soldier who became an American hero. Source

CNN’s Larry King Live ~ Transcript of Interview with Shoshana Johnson aired February 2, 2010

KING: We welcome Shoshana Johnson back to LARRY KING LIVE. She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She and other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were taken captive March 23, 2003. She was held prisoner 22 days. Author of a terrific new book I’m Still Standing; From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home.”

Before we get into this, what do you make of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell controversy?

SHOSHANA JOHNSON, FORMER POW: Silly. If men and women want to serve in our military, I really don’t care who they want to sleep with. It’s all about serving your country.

KING: So you would repeal it?

JOHNSON: Yes, definitely.

KING: It’s been seven years since you were a POW. Do you think about it a lot?

I'm Still Standing by Shoshana JohnsonJOHNSON: Still. Very much so. The conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq is still in the media, so it’s hard to forget.

KING: How were you caught?

JOHNSON: During an ambush, vehicles were disabled. Basically, it seemed like the whole city of Nazariyah came out and participated in the ambush. I was shot and — shot and caught, basically.

Read the entire transcript here
Read a sample chapter

Shoshana Johnson tells her side of the story to Matt Lauer of The Today Show

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Shoshana Johnson actually said she wanted to tell her story, because there were a lot of distortions and half truths about the details of her capture. She wanted to set the record straight. I appreciate Shoshana’s resolve and passion for not only surviving the trauma of being a POW, but her courage and drive to THRIVE.~Shanti

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Filed under African-Americans, Army, Books, CNN, Culture, Entertainment, History, Iraq, Larry King, Larry King Live!, Marines, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, NBC, News, Politics, Television, Terrorism, The Today Show, TV Shows, Uncategorized, United States, Veterans, Video/YouTube, War, Women's Issues

Dems Rip Insurance Industry, GOP Over News About CNN’s Alex Castellanos

Posted by Audiegrl

Alex Castellanos cnnThe Plum Line/Greg Sargent—As expected, Democrats are jumping on the news today that an on-air CNN commentator doubled as the insurance industry’s ad buyer, broadening the attack on the industry and linking it to the GOP, which also enlisted the help of that same commentator to craft anti-reform talking points.

DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan points out that the CNN commentator, GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, who placed a huge AHIP ad buy, also wrote a memo for the Republican National Committee advising Republicans to paint reform as a menacing government takeover that would destroy Medicare.

Dems argue that Castellanos’ work for AHIP and the GOP shows that they share the goal of killing reform — and that they are united in their determination to stop at nothing to make that happen.

AHIP-logoThe news that Mr. Castellanos is a highly paid consultant for the Insurance Lobby sheds piercing light on the motivations of the Republican party in wholeheartedly adopting a strategy he authored to intentionally delay insurance reform in order to kill it,” Sevugan emailed me.

Whether it’s paying for a supposedly independent report that was purposefully skewed to kill reform or paying hired hands to attack reform on tv while passing themselves off independent commentators, the insurance lobby and their agents in the GOP, have proven that they are willing to say and do anything — including misleading the American people — to protect their record profits,” Sevugan added. “They have zero credibility.”

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CNN’s Frank Donatelli Problem: On-Air Contributor Revealed To Be Paid By GOP, Insurance Industry

Frank Donatelli

Frank Donatelli

A network spokeswoman has confirmed that CNN will soon clarify the conflict of interest Castellanos has in regards to AHIP. However, CNN should note that he has been paid by the RNC, and if he is to continue opining on the health debate, disclosure should be made during every segment in which he appears. Indeed, the policy of full disclosure should extend to other CNN pundits, including Frank Donatelli, a GOP lobbyist who represents Blue Cross Blue Shield.“–Think Progress

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PBS’ Frontline To Premiere ‘Obama’s War’ About Afghanistan War

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Filed under Al-Qaeda, Democrats, Guns, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, Politics, Republicans, TV Shows, Uncategorized, War

Keith Olbermann To Deliver Hour-Long “Special Comment” On Health Care

KEITH OLBERMANN-SPECIAL-COMMENT HP—Keith Olbermann will deliver an hour-long “Special Comment” on health care Wednesday night, MSNBC announced Tuesday.

Wednesday’s “Countdown” will be devoted entirely to “Health Care Reform: The Fight Against Death.” According to a network release, it will focus on “the need for and meaning of health care reform in the United States” and Olbermann will “propose group action by patients, and how patients can reclaim the debate over health care reform.”

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Bold Progressives for Change would like you to make the following pledge to watch the show.

“I pledge to watch Keith Olbermann’s hour-long Special Comment on health care reform this Wednesday — and to tell 5 of my friends to take this pledge.”

Click here to make the pledge

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Dawn Smith, Brain Tumor Victim: How Her Story Became Rallying Cry For Health Care Reform Supporters

Posted by HershelWallingtonIV

Dawn Smith

Dawn Smith

Four years ago, Dawn was diagnosed with a rare, but treatable brain tumor. CIGNA denied her treatment for more than two years, but now that the spotlight’s on them, they’re changing their tune.

Unfortunately, they didn’t offer any explanation for all the previous denials or a guarantee that they’ll approve the next step in Dawn’s treatment. Can you sign this statement of support to shine a light on Big Insurance’s abusive tactics, get Dawn the care she needs and make sure they don’t do this to anyone again?—MoveOn.org

Read more about how Dawn and MoveOn.org forced CIGNA to do the right thing at Huffington Post

Stand with Dawn and MoveOn, you can make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

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