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Newly Colorized Photographs Show African-Americans Who Lived Alongside Immigrants in Jim Crow-era Nebraska

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Mamie Griffin sits tall in her chair, her posture almost perfect, her head leaned slightly to the side. Her right arm is crossed over her left hand, holding up a copy of the book The Wife of Monte Cristo, her confident gaze looks straight through the image from 1914. In color, she comes even more to life in her green dress with crochet lace detailing, her book more obvious in bright hues.

This photo of Mamie Griffin, an African American cook in Lincoln, Nebraska, is one of a series of images that have been colorized by members of the Facebook group ‘Teach me to color’, where members help each other with colorizing old black and white photos. The original images in this series are black and white glass negatives that focus on African Americans in Lincoln from 1910-1925, during what was known as the New Negro Movement.

That movement, which gave African Americans the chance to speak for themselves, was happening across the US despite segregation and Jim Crow laws. The New Negro Movement was often focused on large cities, with portraits being taken in professional studios, but in Lincoln, African American photographer John Johnson was taking his photographs on people’s porches and inside their homes.

After the Civil War ended in 1865, many African Americans moved out of the South and a small population came to Lincoln. By 1900, the Nebraska town had a population of 40,000, which included a small community of about 1,000 African Americans as well as a significant immigrant community, primarily made up of Russian-German immigrants.

Jim Crow laws and segregation were prevalent in the Midwestern state, despite being far from the South. Lincoln had a significant KKK presence, interracial marriage was illegal and African Americans were given limited housing and job opportunities. Despite those restrictions, Johnson took hundreds of photographs of everyday people from those communities, giving them dignity and respect at a time when they received little of either from the rest of society.


Doug Keister, 69, discovered a set of 280 of Johnson’s glass negatives when he was 17. Today, with the help of Nebraska historians who have also discovered sets of Johnson’s negatives and photographs, Keister is trying to identify the people in the pictures. Historians working on the project know of at least 500 photographs and negatives, though they expect there could be more.

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SOURCE: ANN SCHMIDT
Daily Mail

Culture

Jaden Smith’s JUST Water company brings mobile water filtration system to Flint

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FLINT, Mich. (WXYZ) — Jaden Smith is helping the residents of Flint through a new initiative. The rapper, actor and co-founder of the eco-friendly company JUST Water has partnered with a local Flint church to deploy a mobile water treatment system.

The system is called “The Water Box” and it filters out lead and additional contaminants in water, according to a press release.

Flint’s water crisis began in April 2014 after the city’s water source was switched from the Detroit River to the Flint River, which resulted in city-wide lead contamination of public drinking water. First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Flint has been on the front line of the battle to restore drinkable water in the city. The church has also given out over 5 million bottles of water to local residents.

In 2018, the free bottled water program set up by the state was ended under former Gov. Rick Snyder. However, a recent announcement by newly appointed Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer states that the program will be reinstated . Bottle donations for the city have declined and accessing clean water continues to be an issue, which is why JUST Water stepped in to assist, according to a release.

“This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally,” Smith said.


“Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and design(ing) 
something to help them has been a journey I will never forget. We are planning to deploy more water boxes in 
Flint and other communities facing similar challenges.”

The Water Box will produce up to 10 gallons of clean drinking water per minute. The water is tested each day with use, as well as every few weeks by an independent and certified laboratory.

Residents will be able to fill any container of their choice with the clean water. The filtration device will be available through the church with set distribution times.

“We are committed to serving the community in which we worship in.” said Ezra Tillman, pastor of First Trinity Baptist church.

Jaden Smith and his partner Drew FitzGerald are the co-founders of JUST goods and of 501CTHREE.org. The Water Box initiative is also in partnership with The Last Kilometer, Rethink H20 with help from Black Millennials For Flint.

WXYZ Detroit 

 

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Landscaping business owner helps fatherless kids through non-profit in Ennis, Waxahachie

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WAXAHACHIE

Justin Chappell grew up without a father. Much later in life, he did find his heavenly father and now helps other fatherless children to do the same.

Chappell is an Ennis resident who runs two businesses in Ellis County – Bama Landscaping in Ennis and Chappell’s Copieshop in Waxahachie. Chappell said he works tirelessly throughout the week for both of his businesses, but he runs the two to fund his real passion: Bloodz For Christ, a non-profit he founded in 2009 to support and minister inner-city youth in low-income communities.

He said the goal was to help the next generation through one-on-one mentorships and relationships some of them might not have had at home.

“I donate probably about 85 percent of whatever profit we make to my nonprofit to keep these kids off the streets,” Chappell said. “My business is pretty much the only thing funding my nonprofit.” ″


But years before he even thought of starting BOC, Chappell had a bleak past that was filled with drugs, gangs and jail bars. He said he was able to overcome it with God’s help, and he hopes to help show others how to do the same.

FROM ALABAMA TO TEXAS

Chappell was born Jan. 23, 1984 in Birmingham, AL. Chappell said he didn’t have a father, and he got into it with some of the wrong people, which included a few gangs.

“Alabama is real bad,” Chapell recalled. “My buddy got kidnapped. They killed him. I was honestly scared.”

Chappell got away from Alabama and moved to Corsicana, where he received a scholarship to play basketball at Navarro College. He later transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington before suffering a career-ending injury.

Chappell said he got depressed. So, he attempted to fill the void through unconventional means.

“In Texas, drugs are cheap,” Chappell said. “So I started trafficking, living that lifestyle. Not having any other avenue as a black man, the easiest thing for us to do is to sell drugs. It’s right there. We can all do it, and you got people to train you.”

Chappell said his mother kept discouraging him from drug trafficking and kept pressing him to go to church. He didn’t listen, and he paid the price much later when he was arrested for drug possession.

He said his bail was set at $150,000. His mother didn’t have the money.

“It was my rock-bottom,” he recalled. “I remember praying to God, and it was like ‘God, if you get me out of here, I will go to that church my momma has been telling me about. I promise.’ I just kept begging him.”

That same week, his stepfather won a lawsuit he had been fighting for about a decade. Chappell’s freedom was bought and paid for. He was 22.

Chappell said he messed up big time, but God was watching him and leading him on the right path.

“It was like a reality check,” Chappell said. “I cried, and I thanked him for giving me the opportunity. He could have sent me to prison.”

LIFE OUT FROM BEHIND BARS

Chappell started going to church, just like he promised. He said as he went, his whole outlook on life began to change.

“I started seeing a lot different,” Chappell said. “I changed my whole philosophy. God had a purpose for me, and I had to serve it.”

But life was difficult to adjust to after Chappell left the county jail. He said he was on probation, and people didn’t want to hire him given his criminal record.

He said he couldn’t find a job because of his circumstances.

Around that time, he explained, a close friend had just been released from prison after being locked up for the better part of 10 years.

When they were discussing what they could do, he asked his friend what he was good at. He said, “cutting grass.”

That was when Chappell had the idea of starting a small landscaping company, ultimately deciding to call it “Bama’s Landscaping” after his sweet home Alabama.

“I was doing this broke, making $500 every two weeks, a single father with a one-year-old and a three-year-old,” Chappell said. “It’s sad, but it’s motivation. I was still doing this.”

One thing Chappell realized quickly was how difficult it was for many former prisoners to find employment after release. To help others and his business, he offered jobs to former inmates once they served their sentence.

Chappell has since purchased six trucks and partners with the Ellis and Navarro County probation departments to find new workers.

“I open it up,” he said. “Guys that normally can’t find jobs, I’ll hook them up with a job and give them a truck. Then they’ll pretty much create their own business.”

“The business kind of took off on me,” he chuckled.

BLOODZ OF CHRIST

Whenever he was working, Chappell said he felt like he needed to do more for his community. He said he saw many kids in the same dangerous situations as he once was.

So in 2009, he founded BOC to instill the values in the next generation that he never learned himself. The organization partners up with the Boys and Girls Club in Ennis and supports more than 100 boys from Waxahachie, Ennis, Desoto and Dallas.

“Black males with no father, it’s like a cycle,” he expressed. “And I know the only way to break the cycle because I’m supposed to be a statistic. You mold them. You teach them. You show them how to make it.”

Chappell said he started the program with six kids. Three of them are now preachers. The other three, he said, have all been to prison, but he plans to help them whenever they get out by saving a job for them at Bama’s.

“I go to poverty-stricken areas, and I lay my smack-down,” he stated. “I gather as many kids as I can get, and they just come to me like a magnet. I’m like a celebrity when it comes to kids.”

Chappell said the BOC has several activities that the kids can participate in. He said the kids could be part of a Mime Club and join in dance-offs, can compete in a chess club and make their own music from Chappell’s recording equipment.

Plus, Chappell trains their youth basketball team on Sundays at the Boys and Girls Club in Ennis.

But the extraordinary moments for Chappell involve the BOC’s outreach efforts to the community. He recalled one memory when a woman was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago, and the BOC went to the hospital to pray with her. Two weeks later, she visited one of the BOC’s dance-offs at their church and expressed her gratitude to them, saying that her own grandkids don’t see her as much as the BOC kids did.

She died two weeks later. Chappell said he was grateful that she got to spend some of her final moments with the BOC.

“They get to see this stuff,” Chappell said. “I get to teach them real-life lessons that school is not going to teach you – that not having a man in your life is not going to teach you. To see them to grow up and become ministers to the world. We fund that.”

Recently, Bama’s Landscaping won a customer video contest with Mulligan Funding, a privately owned family business in California that issues loans to small and medium-sized companies. The prize was a 60-second professional video animation produced by Mulligan Funding to be used for promotional purposes at the business’ discretion.

However, instead of the promotion, Chappell asked Mulligan if they would instead donate the money to the BOC. Chappell said Mulligan complied and gave $1,500 to the BOC, which Chappell said would last the non-profit about three months.

Chappell said he’s happy and grateful for the opportunities he’s been given to help guide these kids toward their futures.

“I’m doing something positive and feeling blessed from it,” he expressed. “We’re saving lives, man.”

If you would like to donate or learn more about the BOC, call 214-554-8358 or email bloodzofchrist@yahoo.com.

By David Dunn | ddunn@waxahachietx.com

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Deep Ellum Photo Changing Perception of Men of Color Now Going Viral

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A photo taken in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood is getting exposure far beyond North Texas.

The photo shows about 100 men of color, dressed in suits, surrounding 6-year old Harper Anthony, of Chicago. The boy also wore a suit, and without direction, put his fist in the air.

“It’s a great capture,” said NeAndre Broussard, of Black Menswear. “It shows that while you’re up next, we’re all behind you and pushing you where you need to go.”

Broussard started the Dallas-based Black Menswear social media campaign in an effort to change perceptions and narratives of men of color.

“It’s always like, go find the worst picture they can find,” Broussard said about media images of black men that often show them in T-shirts and hoodies. “So I started Black Menswear as a way to push out positive imagery, which for me, came through the suit.”


“This is gonna go viral,” is what photo coordinator and photographer Santos Paris first thought at the Deep Ellum photo-shoot. “People thrive off drama, but we want people to thrive off of positivity.”

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