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Issue No. 7
February 5, 2014
Two Sides
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Rodney Reynolds Publisher

The writer Ralph Ellison wrote that "it is well that we keep in mind the fact that not all American history is recorded" and that "we possess two basic versions of American history: one which is written and as neatly stylized as ancient myth, and the other unwritten and as chaotic and full of contradictions, changes of pace and surprises as life itself. In other words, there are two sides to our history, hence the name of our newsletter. Here we will attempt to leave that second, obscure history unwritten no longer.

Saving Thomas Fortune

Recently I received an email with a request that I could not ignore. It was from a group of "educators, writers, attorneys, and performance artists" who have come together to preserve the legacy of T. Thomas Fortune and the home in which he lived located in Red Bank, New Jersey. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in 1979, Fortune's home is one of 57 National Historic Landmarks in the state. Armed with the history of this great man, they have launched the T. Thomas Fortune House Preservation Project.


Timothy Thomas Fortune was a nationally known critic of the rise of Jim Crow, the co-founder in 1890 of the National Afro American League, a longtime adviser to Booker T. Washington and publisher of three African-American newspapers with a national circulation. As a co-founder of the National Afro-American League, considered to be the precursor to the NAACP, he organized its first convention. For nearly 50 years he led the fight for racial equality.


The T. Thomas Fortune House Preservation Project says its goal is to "establish a highly interactive embodiment of Fortune's legacy, which engages local schools as well as the community in appreciating his life's work, and inspires all people in the spirit of his dedication to progress."
If you'd like to assist the T. Thomas Fortune House Preservation Project in saving this historic home, and preserve the legacy of this great man for generations to come, please contact the organization at  thomasfortunehouse@gmail.com. I know they will appreciate your support. And we are certainly glad to provide this information to you for consideration. 




History Keepers

The New Negro


Art school at Rutgers was just 45 minutes away from New York City by train, and it was the 1980s with a cast of artists showing at museums and galleries and populating art magazines that still consisted mostly of white men, with some white women artists, such as Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, and Jenny Holzer, and a scant few men of color-graffiti artists like...

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The (Back) Story 


On July 2, 1839, Sengbe Pieh, better known as Joseph Cinqué, and some 50 or more fellow Africans killed the captain and three of the crew of the Spanish schooner La Amistad. The plan was to turn the vessel around and go back to Africa, from where they had been kidnapped and enslaved. The Africans entrusted the Spanish navigator, Don Pedro Montez, whose life they spared, with steering the ship. Instead of Africa, Montez pointed the ship toward the North American coast, and anchored off Montauk Point on Long Island. The Africans-Mende from Sierre Leone-surrendered the ship to the ... 



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From The Archives
Founder/Publisher Rodney J. Reynolds on board American Legacy's Mobile Truck Exhibit with Melvin Garrison, School District of Philadelphia, February 2012.

Back(Story) Extra
In May 2000, The Freedom Schooner Amistad, a replica of the original vessel, was launched on its maiden voyage. The mission of Amistad America, the organization behind the schooner is to make relevant today the lessons embedded in the Amistad incident of 1839. As stated in Amistad America's mission statement:

"In shedding light on the facts of our collective history and the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade, Amistad America provides a peaceful means by which individuals and communities can learn together and address the issues of racism and intolerance with a positive goal of building bridges of mutual respect and understanding." 

The schooner is an "educational ambassador," teaching lessons of history, cooperation, and leadership at its many ports of call. In 2007 the Amistad made a symbolic voyage to retrace the infamous route of the triangular Atlantic slave trade, visiting Sierra Leone and commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade.

For more information visit Amistad America's website. http://www.amistadvoyages.org/whatwedo.html


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In This Issue

Black History Fact
Vonetta Flowers was the first African-American and first person of African descent from any country to win a gold medal in the US Winter Olympics 2002 for the bobsledding team. For more information  Click Here

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"The preservation of African-American history is our responsibility.
 We must strive everyday to hold our history in trust for the unborn."
Rodney J. Reynolds
Founder & Publisher
American Legacy Magazine

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