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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 On December 27, 1819, the Fire Department reported that the fire buckets were rapidly being superseded by the use of hose, so the era of fire buckets ended.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

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Host the Annual Governors Ball At the White House

Post by: Audiegrl

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks next to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (C) and first lady Michelle Obama (L) at the 2010 Governors Ball at the White House in Washington February 21, 2010.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks next to Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (C) and first lady Michelle Obama (L) at the 2010 Governors Ball at the White House in Washington February 21, 2010.

The nation’s governors and their spouses gathered at the White House on Sunday night for the Governors’ Ball hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle. The ball is a annual black-tie event held in the State Dining Room. President Obama in the evenings first toast, praised the nation’s state leaders for “helping to right the ship” during the economic crisis in the United States the past couple of years. President Obama began his toast by joked “This is not too stiff of an affair, because last year, Ed Rendell led a conga line. We still have photographs that we may use.” He also added, “to our spouses and families who make extraordinary sacrifices…Michelle is starting to clink already,” as he glanced and smiled playfully at his wife.

Each of you in your own respective states saw how brutal it was on so many families — hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs every month, home foreclosures, small businesses having to shut down unable to make payroll and people not sure about the future,” President Obama said. “It is worth this organization taking some extraordinary credit for helping to right the ship.”

He attributed the success of a portion of the recovery efforts to the governors and their willingness to work across state and party lines for the good of the people.

The annual Governors’ Ball is seen as an opportunity for the leaders of each of the 50 states to get together in a non-working environment, allowing them to get to know one another on a personal level.

Gov. Douglas (R-Vermont) also delivered a toast, despite the president prematurely ushering the ceremony to the first course, only to renege on the announcement, “Dinner is served.”


For all the foodie details out there, please check out the excellent behind the scenes coverage of the ball from our friends at Obama Foodorama, they’ve got ‘all the juice‘ on the dinner menu, wines, place settings, linens, and flower arrangements. Check them out here

The seating arrangement according to the pool report:

“Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota was seated to the right of FLOTUS. Neither he nor any other guest was seen measuring drapes, though of course the pool can only attest to the 10 minutes it was in the room.

In the back row: Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida – well beyond hugging range – at Table 3 with Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mike Beebe of Arkansas, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of Calif. sat beside Wisconsin Gov Jim Doyle, with Interior Sect. Salazar two seats to Arnold’s right, and the two governors clicked glasses at the toasts.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who got a shoutout from Obama during his pre-toast remarks, was in a striking emerald jacket at Table 12 with FLOTUS and Pawlenty.

Also spotted, at separate tables: Gov. David Paterson of NY, Gov. Bill Richardson of NM. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood were seated together.

Vice President Biden was at the table in the middle, with a head-on view of the lectern.

Apologies to the many other VIPs. Presumably, all the governors in town for the NGA were at the dinner, but no attendance list was available. I can report that Texas’ chief executive, Rick Perry, nine days from the primary and never a fan of the NGA anyway, was home campaigning today.”

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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