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Graham's rich look at Black history

The obituary of Lawrence Otis Graham started my interest, maybe for you too. His works explored Black elite society in the mid-1980s and before. Those who are shouting about Black Lives Matter (I agree) do you really know your history or just about slavery?

Reginald Lewis, a Harvard Law alumnus, was the richest Black man in America, 1980s. He was worth over $2.5 billion. Evelyn Reid Syphax, also Black, came from a prominent family that owned the land where the Arlington National Cemetery now sits.

A college education was made available for some Black Americans around the Civil War. Howard, Fiske, and Atlanta University, plus Spellman for girls, were just the start.

In 1870, Hiram Revels of Mississippi was the first Black man elected to Congress. Senator Blanche Bruce, elected in 1874, had been born a slave. At this time nearly two dozen Black men were congressmen, mostly from southern states.

The Black elite had mansions and their own clubs, one called Jack & Jill, where many a young man met his future wife of similar social  status. In the late 1800s Madam CJ Walker was said to be the first Black self-made woman millionaire!

This is just a small amount to be learned in Graham's book, "Our Kind of people: Inside America's Black Upper Class."

Jo-Ann Arcara Craddoc




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