What they did not teach us – Black History

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Aloha and Welcome to TheSassiNess.com. If you are new around here, my name is Janessa-Michelle and I’ve been blogging for about 3 years now. I’ve always loved writing and expressing my thoughts but I was hesitant in creating such a public place for my thoughts that it took some convincing but it brought me here. I was born and raised in Hawai’i. But now reside in Utah. I am slowly pursuing my Bachelors degree in Political Science. I say slowly because college is not cheap but hey! you do what you can. I hope you continue on this journey with me.

For this weeks blog, I want to continue to shed light on Black History. With the weeks of protest and the constant of sharing information. I felt the need to do my duty to help educate others. With that being said I will share some events and information that is a key event in Black History. Some of these events or stories you may have heard about in the last couple of weeks and some you may not have heard about it. That’s the blessing of being a blogger I can contribute to the work by using my platform. Lets go ahead and begin!


Juneteenth is today. What it means, why it matters, how to ...
Juneteenth. Image from CNET.com

You’ve probably heard about this important day within the last week or so because it was just this past Friday.

June 19th is celebrated as Freedom within the Black community. In 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African Americans that were free and have been for the last 2 years. The official Emancipation Proclamation is dated as January 1, 1863 under President Abraham Lincoln. There are many different stories of why there was a two year delay in relying the messages but none have been proven to be true. So Juneteenth is the day that the last of the enslaved people were free.

The Tulsa Race Massacre

What the Tulsa Massacre, the Watchmen, Reveal about Impeaching ...
Aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Image from rollingstone.com

May 30th, 1921 was the match that lit the fire known as the Tulsa Race Massacre. It started that morning with Dick Rowland, a young black man, entering an elevator with Sarah Page a white woman. Page came out of the elevator and said she was raped by Rowland. He was arrested on May 31st, and with an article published about the alleged incident tempers flared. A confrontation ensued between the Black and white people of Tulsa at the courthouse.

Shots were fired at Rowland and those of the Black community who were there to protect him. The shots scattered the crowds with many fleeing back to the Greenwood District. Which was known as The Black Wall Street because of the wealth the Black community had built for themselves. On June 1st, the real damage was done. Rioting and looting began on the Greenwood district. Businesses and houses owned by Black people were looted and burned down to the ground.

For 24 hours the violence continued. Governor Robertson declared martial law. Dynamite was dropped, machines guns were used and white vigilante’s were allowed to descend on the community wrecking havoc. Many Black Tulsans were taken to be detained. Others who weren’t captured flee’d the chaos. It is estimated about 40 blocks were burned and all that was left were charred remains. It is not known for sure how many people died but historians believe the number to be around 300 people.

In the aftermath, the government did not take the steps to prosecute the responsible parties but did take about blaming Black Tulsans. Rowland left Tulsa after he charges against him were dropped. The Tulsa Race massacre is known as one of the deadliest riots in US History. Residents of the Greenwood district struggled with rebuilding because funds for rebuilding were denied. Segregation soon increased to in all time high.

In many accounts it’s been said that no one Black or White would speak on the Massacre. In fact the events were basically wiped from media outlets. A big cover up job was done and it is the major reason the Tulsa Race Massacre has been mentioned in history books.

Rosewood Massacre

25 years ago, Florida compensated survivors of Rosewood racial ...
White Aggressor Mob. Image from orlandosentinel.com

The Rosewood Massacre has been another event in US/Black History that has been mostly forgotten. Again, escalated by many and large groups of white aggressors who attacked a African American dominated town in Florida.

Fannie Taylor was heard screaming by a neighbor on January 23, 1923. She was found with bruises and claimed a Black man had broke into the house and assaulted her. Taylor’s husband, James Taylor took it upon himself to gather an angry mob. He sent for help from surrounding counties that included 500 members of the Ku Klux Klan. A witch hunt for any Black man began.

Refuge was taken in the home of Sarah Carrier, most were children. January 4, Carrier’s house was surrounded by white men as they believed, an escaped inmate who was thought to be responsible for the assault on Taylor, was hiding in the house. Shots were fired, Sarah Carrier being one of those who were shot. As she was shot in the head she died. The standoff lasted overnight and eventually the door was broken down by the white attackers.

As newspapers started falsely reporting events of armed black citizens on “a rampage” more and more white men stormed the town believing a race war had started. Churches were one of the first buildings to be burned down. Houses were set on fire and as people fled the fire they were shot. Surviving Rosewood citizens fled to the swamps to hide out there.

Just like The Tulsa Race Massacre, with a special grand jury and a specially appointed prosecutor no one was prosecuted. There was “not enough evidence for prosecution.” Probably due to the fact that most witnesses that did testify were mostly white. Fearful of another horrific attack most Rosewood citizens did not return.

1985 Philadelphia Bombing

HISTORY: Lest We Forget: Today is the 30th anniversary of the ...
6221 Osage Avenue. Image from kalamu.com

The Philadelphia bombing was a rare event in history where an attack on domestic soil was carried out by bombing American civilians. Besides that of The Tulsa Race Massacre.

On May 13th, 1985, Frank Powell who was instructed to drop a bomb made of c-4 explosives. The target he was instructed to hit was a row of house with 13 American citizens inside. These citizens were members of a group called Move. A group that combined the Black liberation struggle with the back to nature environmentalism.

Members of Move had been involved with an ongoing battle against Philadelphia authorities for years. That May arrest warrants that included offenses such as “terroristic threats”, “riot” and “disorderly conduct” As a result of being served with warrants it ended in a standoff which ultimately ended with the bombing.

These Osage Avenue house was under attack before the bomb drop that killed Six adults and five children. The house was under attack with “water canons, teargas and the front of the house was blown off with explosives.” The parties involved with the assault were never prosecuted. Powell is convinced he did nothing wrong and only his job. He believes that the fire that killed 11 people was caused by the Move members setting it themselves.

“To this day this represents one of the most heinous acts done by a city government against its own people-not just in Philadelphia, but in the entire country.’ – Jamie Gauthier

The Tuskegee Experiment- The Syphilis Study

Tuskegee Study - Timeline - CDC - NCHHSTP
The Tuskegee Experiment. Image from cdc.gov

Beginning in 1932, The Tuskegee experiment enrolled 600 men under the guise of free medical care. The men participating were of African American ancestry. They were told they were being treated for “bad blood” by Doctors fro the US Public Health Service. 399 men had syphilis and 201 who did not were under this study for about 40 years.

Researchers claimed that in order to fully track the progression no aid or effective care were given to men. “Some died, went bling or insane or experienced other severe health problems due to their untreated syphilis.”

Peter Buxton, a PHS venereal disease investigator discovered the study and shared his concerns with his superiors. In a committee to review the study formed by PHS officials chose to continue the study. Their plan and “goal was to continue tracking the participants until all had died, autopsies were performed…” Because of this response Buxton leaked the story to a reporter friend who passed it on to another reporter.

In July 1972, Jean Heller broke the story that enraged the public which forced the study to shut down.

By that time, 28 participants had perished from syphilis, 100 more had passed away from related complications, at least 40 spouses had been diagnosed with it and the disease had been passed to 19 children at birth.

These 600 participants were denied the knowledge of their diagnosis and refused treatment for the disease. The lives of these men were ruined, many died from complications of syphilis and sadly several of their wives and children contracted the disease. With this medical exploitation of Black people it has lasting effects. As previously mentioned, there is a sense of distrust between the Black community and Health Services.

Henrietta Lacks. Image from rsphealth.org/henrietta-lacks

HeLa Cells

Henrietta Lacks was an African American 31 year old. She was a mother of five and she died of cancer in 1951. Her name lives long after she is gone all credit to her cancerous cells.

Known as the “immortal cells” miraculously her cancer cells have achieved something thought impossible. Typically cancer cells will divide and then die off. Lacks cells however continued to divide as they were fed enough to grow. Her cells were removed from her womb without her knowledge or her consent. They were then given to George Otto Gey, a physician and cancer researcher.

HeLa derives from the first two letters of Henrietta’s first and last name. HeLa cells are known for the wide use of biological research and have been key in breakthroughs in the biomedical field. About 70,000 studies have used the HeLa cells have been published and constantly used in the immunology field.

The cells taken from Lack were essential to the development of the Polio Vaccine. Her cells have been used for “cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization.” Without them research in biological tissue would not be as advanced are today. HeLa cells were the first human biological materials to ever be bought and sold. They helped launch a multi-billion-dollar industry. Unfortunately while money was made off of Henrietta’s cells. Her family had no idea that Lack’s cells were being sold and they received none of the money.

Black History is U.S History.

U.S History has a tendency to be watered down or down played. Actual events are glossed over or altogether ignored. I wanted to share these events because most of them I did not learn in school. I learned them as an adult on social media and through research. It is imperative for me to share this because Black History IS U.S History.

The aftermath of Tulsa Race Massacre established the 1921 Race Riot Reconciliation Act, which helped reparations for the descendants of those who died during the massacre and acknowledge the wrongs that were done. House Bill 591 compensates the families of the Rosewood victims. The Tuskegee Health Benefit Program was created in 1974 to provide services such as lifetime medical benefits and burial services to all living participants. In 1975 wives, widows and children were added to the program and in 1995 it was extended to include health benefits as well. The story of Henrietta Lacks was a center point in policy change. Urging the need for knowledge and consent.

It is our responsibility to learn from the past and to continue to share the legacy of these events that have played a role, not just in Black History but U.S history.

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Juneteenth: https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm

The Tulsa Race Massacre: https://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties/tulsa-race-massacre

Rosewood Massacre: https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/rosewood-massacre

The 1985 Philadelphia Bombing: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/10/move-1985-bombing-reconciliation-philadelphia

The Tuskegee Exeperiement: https://www.history.com/news/the-infamous-40-year-tuskegee-study

HeLa Cells: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/henrietta-lacks-immortal-cells-6421299/

24 year old blogger. Just trying to find my way through this thing called life. Born and raised in Hawai'i.


  • Robyn Jones

    As a black person, it saddens me to read about all of the destruction that my people have suffered through at the hands of another. Thank you so much for doing your part to bring these events to light. It is my hope that from it, others will learn about the long term impact on black people and also do their part in ending racial inequality and in ensuring our safety from those who mean us harm.

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