Black History: Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten

Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten (January 5, 1893 — June 29, 1987) was an American blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter. A self-taught left-handed guitarist, Cotten developed her own original style. Her approach involved using a right-handed guitar (usually in standard tuning), not re-strung for left-handed playing, essentially, holding a right-handed guitar upside down. This position required her to play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her signature alternating bass style has become known as “Cotten picking”.

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The Proclamation 

In 1991, we cannot tolerate this type of dismissal of any one Black woman’s experience or this attack upon our collective character without protest, outrage, and resistance. As women of African descent, we express our vehement opposition to the policies represented by the placement of Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.

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We All Bound Up Together

We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul. You tried that in the case of the Negro. You pressed him down for two centuries; and in so doing you crippled the moral strength and paralyzed the spiritual energies of the white men of the country. When the hands of the black were fettered, white men were deprived of the liberty of speech and the freedom of the press. Society cannot afford to neglect the enlightenment of any class of its members.

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THE AMERICAN NEGRO. HIS ASPIRATIONS AND GRIEVANCES.

From a 1896 interview: “Miss Brown, who has herself been a witness of the atrocities of a lynching mob, drew a scathing picture of the attitude the United States Government in this matter. When negroes were cruelly murdered, not in isolated cases, but by threes and fours at a time, the Executive would not meddle with the liberties of particular States. But when property was in danger, as in the case of the Chicago riots, the Executive was ready enough to send in soldiers and militiamen.” Sounds like today, 2021.

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