Tag Archives: female

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

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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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‘Hillary Effect’ Cited for Increase in Female Ambassadors to U.S.

Posted by: Audiegrl

Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton

Washington Post/Mary Jordan~~In the gated Oman Embassy off Massachusetts Avenue, Washington’s first female ambassador from an Arab country, Hunaina Sultan Al-Mughairy, sat at her desk looking over a speech aimed at erasing misconceptions about her Muslim nation.

A few blocks away inside a stately Dupont Circle mansion, India’s first female ambassador in more than 50 years, Meera Shankar, huddled with top aides after her prime minister’s state visit with President Obama.

Nearby, in a century-old residence with its own ballroom, Latin America’s only female ambassador in Washington, Colombia’s Carolina Barco, dashed back from talking up free trade on Capitol Hill to showcase her country’s culture and food.

There are 25 female ambassadors posted in Washington — the highest number ever, according to the State Department.

This is breaking precedent,” said Selma “Lucky” Roosevelt, a former U.S. chief of protocol.

Women remain a distinct minority — there are 182 accredited ambassadors in Washington — but their rise from a cadre of five in the late 1990s to five times that is opening up what had been an elite’s men club for more than a century.

A key reason is the increase in the number of top U.S. diplomats who are women, what some call the “Hillary effect.”

Hillary Clinton is so visible” as secretary of state, said Amelia Matos Sumbana, who just arrived as ambassador from Mozambique. “She makes it easier for presidents to pick a woman for Washington.”

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Filed under Barack Obama, Cabinet, Culture, Government, Hillary Rodham Clinton (Sec of State), History, Media and Entertainment, Obama Administration, Politics, Pop Culture, Presidents, United Nations, United States, Washington, DC, Women's Issues

**Breaking—Seattle police kill suspect in officer slayings

Police plan to arrest more people who helped Clemmons

SEATTLE (AP) – The man suspected of gunning down four police officers in a suburban coffee shop was shot and killed by a lone Seattle patrol officer investigating a stolen car early Tuesday, a sheriff’s spokesman said. Four other people were arrested for allegedly helping the suspect elude authorities during a massive two-day manhunt. A Seattle police officer came across the stolen car in a working-class south Seattle neighborhood about 2:45 a.m., Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said. The officer approached the car, then detected movement behind him, recognized the suspect Maurice Clemmons and ordered him to show his hands and stop.
“He wouldn’t stop,” Pugel said. “The officer fired several rounds, took the person into custody.”

Police planned to arrest more people who helped Clemmons. “We expect to have maybe six or seven people in custody by the day’s end,” said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County sheriff. “Some are friends, some are acquaintances, some are partners in crime, some are relatives. Now they’re all partners in crime.”
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Filed under Arkansas, Crime, Forensics, Guns, Law, News, Police, True Crime, United States, Violence, Washington

GOP Activist Resigns Over “Debbie Wasserman Schultz” Target Practice

Posted by Audiegrl

Congresswoman’s initials on target at gun range prompts Republican activist’s resignation

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Sun Sentinel/Anthony Man—Republican activist Ed Napolitano has apologized to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, and resigned from all his Republican Party positions, over the actions of a Wasserman Schultz political opponent at an event sponsored by the club Napolitano used to lead.

Napolitano’s resignation and apology were prompted by what happened at the Southeast Republican Club on Oct. 6. Instead of the usual community center meeting room, the Napolitano-led club met at a gun range.

Among the approximately 40 people at the event was Robert Lowry, a Republican seeking his party’s nomination to run against Wasserman Schultz next year.

Lowry shot at a target bearing the letters “DWS” next to the silhouette head.

Lowry said he didn’t know who wrote Wasserman Schultz’ initials on his target, but said he knew they were there before he started shooting. He initially described it as a “joke,” but after answering several questions he said it “was a mistake” to use a target labeled “DWS.”

After the event was reported on in the Oct. 9 Sun Sentinel, it was picked up, reported, and commented on by national news outlets, generated a fury in the blogosphere, and drew critical reactions from Democrats.

Napolitano said he wasn’t aware of the target with Wasserman Schultz’ initials on the night of the event.

But in a letter to the congresswoman dated Oct. 12, he apologized.

I would like to sincerely apologize to you and your family for an incident that occurred at a function we sponsored recently…. Let me say that this action was wrong and should never have happened. It was stupid and irresponsible to do such a thing.”

Read the letter here.

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Halle, Whoopi, Grier In New ‘Divas On Screen‘ Book

Posted by Audiegrl

Grier, Dandridge and Oprah also featured in examination of ‘Black Women in American Film’

Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film by Mia Mask

Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film by Mia Mask

Oscar pioneers Dorothy Dandridge and Halle Berry join Pam Grier, Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey as subjects of the new book “Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film.”

Author Mia Mask, who teaches film and drama at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said she was inspired to write the book after noticing the huge amount of attention given to black male stars, while their female counterparts were often looked over.

These women have pushed the racial boundaries for audiences, setting new standards for beauty and body type,” Mask told the Associated Press.

Dorothy Dandridge

Dorothy Dandridge

Dandridge received an Academy Award nomination for her lead role in the 1954 classic “Carmen Jones,” alongside Harry Belafonte. Berry won an Oscar in 2000 for playing the wife of an executed murderer in “Monster’s Ball.” She also had portrayed Dandridge as a stunning femme fatale in a 1999 HBO film about Dandridge’s life.

When Dandridge became a star, “she was working in an environment in which there were almost no women of color (in leading roles),” said Mask, and Dandridge “had to fit into the mold of shapely and svelte.”

Grier was chosen for her ability in the early 70s to break that mold with her forceful but hip physical presence as an action heroine. As for Winfrey, Mask said she chose her because the talk-show host’s television presence catapulted her film appearances to the level of global stardom, transcending any category.

In spite of vast changes, Mask said, sore points persist in casting black women for star roles: a paucity of quality parts, and a new trend of pairing black lead actors with female leads who are not.

Studio heads don’t think two black characters will appeal to general audiences,” said Mask.

Oscar winner, Halle Berry

Oscar winner, Halle Berry

She chose Dandridge and Berry “as bookends” for the time span that transformed black women in commercial films.

We’ve gone from the trope of the tragic (mulatto) to biracial beauty,” said Mask, who is taping a five-part series for National Public Radio to air in late October — each on one of the women in the book.

Introducing Dorothy Dandridge starring Halle Berry

'Introducing Dorothy Dandridge' movie poster

'Introducing Dorothy Dandridge' movie poster

This bio-pic of Dorothy Dandridge follows her career through early days on the club circuit with her sister to her turn in movies, including becoming the first black actress to win a Best Actress Nomination in 1954 for “Carmen Jones“, to her final demise to prescription drugs, which was debated whether it was suicide or accidental. Brent Spiner plays her faithful manager who stood beside her through all of the roller coaster of her career. The film also examines her love affair with director Otto Preminger, which is shown to have probably initially helped her career, but later probably led her to some wrong decisions.~~John Sacksteder

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Filed under Culture, Hollywood, Movies, Uncategorized, Women's Issues