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Black History Month - Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was one of the most famous nineteenth-century black American women. She was an uneducated former slave who actively opposed slavery. Though she never learned to read or write, she became a moving speaker for black freedom and women’s rights. While many of her fellow black abolitionists spoke only to blacks, Truth spoke primarily to whites. While they spoke of violent uprisings, she spoke of reason and religious understanding.

Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree around 1797 on an estate owned by Dutch settlers in upstate New York. She was the second youngest in a slave family of the ten or twelve children of James Baumfree and his wife Elizabeth. When her owner died in 1806, Isabella was put up for auction. Over the next few years, she had several owners who treated her poorly. John Dumont purchased her when she was thirteen, and she worked for him for the next seventeen years.

In 1817 the state of New York passed a law granting freedom to slaves born before July 4, 1799. However, this law declared that those slaves could not be freed until July 4, 1827. While waiting ten years for her freedom, Isabella married a fellow slave named Thomas, with whom she had five children. As the date of her release approached, she realized that Dumont was plotting to keep her enslaved. In 1826 she ran away, leaving her husband and her children behind.

Important events took place in Isabella’s life over the next two years. She found refuge with Maria and Isaac Van Wagenen, who had bought her from Dumont and gave her freedom. She then underwent a religious experience, claiming from that point on she could talk directly to God. Lastly, she sued to retrieve her son Peter, who had been sold illegally to a plantation owner in Alabama. In 1828, with the help of a lawyer, Isabella became the first black woman to take a white man to court and win.

Soon thereafter, Isabella moved with Peter to New York City and began following Elijah Pierson, who claimed to be a prophet. He was soon joined by another religious figure known as Matthias, who claimed to be the Messiah. They formed a cult known as the “Kingdom” and moved to Sing Sing in southeast New York in 1833. Isabella grew apart from them and stayed away from their activities. But when Matthias was arrested for murdering Pierson, she was accused of being an accomplice. A white couple in the cult, the Folgers, also claimed that Isabella had tried to poison them. For the second time, she went to court. She was found innocent in the Matthias case, and decided to file a slander suit against the Folgers. In 1835 she won, becoming the first black person to win such a suit against a white person.

For the next eight years, Isabella worked as a household servant in New York City. In 1843, deciding her mission was to preach the word of God, Isabella changed her name to Sojourner Truth and left the city. Truth traveled throughout New England, attending and holding prayer sessions. She supported herself with odd jobs and often slept outside. At the end of the year, she joined the Northampton Association, a Massachusetts community founded on the ideas of freedom and equality. It is through the Northampton group that Truth met other social reformers and abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass, who introduced her to their movement.

During the 1850s, the issue of slavery heated up in the United States. In 1850 Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, which allowed runaway slaves to be arrested and jailed without a jury trial. In 1857 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Dred Scott that slaves had no rights as citizens and that the government could not outlaw slavery in new territories.

The results of the Scott case and the unsettling times did not deter Truth away from her mission. Her life story, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, cowritten with Olive Gilbert, was published in 1850. She then headed west and made stops in town after town to speak about her experiences as a slave and her eventual freedom. Her colorful and down-to-earth style often soothed the hostile crowds she faced. While on her travels, Truth noted that while women could be leaders in the abolitionist movement, they could neither vote nor hold public office. Realizing she was discriminated against on two fronts, Truth became an outspoken supporter of women’s rights.

By the mid-1850s, Truth had earned enough money from sales of her popular autobiography to buy land and a house in Battle Creek, Michigan. She continued her lectures, traveling throughout the Midwest. When the Civil War began in 1861, she visited black troops stationed near Detroit, Michigan, offering them encouragement. Shortly after meeting U.S. president Abraham Lincoln in October 1864, she decided to stay in the Washington area to work at a hospital and counsel freed slaves.

Following the end of the Civil War, Truth continued to work with freed slaves. After her arm had been dislocated by a streetcar conductor who had refused to let her ride, she fought for and won the right for blacks to share Washington streetcars with whites. For several years she led a campaign to have land in the West set aside for freed blacks, many of whom were poor and homeless after the war. She carried on her lectures for the rights of blacks and women throughout the 1870s. Failing health, however, soon forced Truth to return to her Battle Creek home. She died there on November 26, 1883.

Her most famous speech, given extemporaneously was entitled “Ain’t I a Woman” and while it was not recorded it was a powerful message of human rights.

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

In 2014, Truth was included in Smithsonian magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time”.

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Black History Month - BB Stringfield

Bessie B. Stringfield, a.k.a. “BB,” was the first black woman to make eight long-distance solo tours across the U.S. on a motorcycle. In the 1930s, BB Stringfield rode her hot rod through areas known for racial violence and prejudice. She earned the nickname “The Negro Motorcycle Queen.”

On her tours, Bessie Stringfield traveled through Brazil, Haiti and parts of Europe. Her next destination was determined by tossing a penny on a map. As she rode through Jim Crow country, BB would sometimes sleep on her motorcycle with a blanket if there were no safe places for her to stay during her trip.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, BB Stringfield came to America as a child and was given up for adoption. At age 16, she was given a motorcycle by her Irish adoptive mother, whose name she was not allowed to repeat. After she was gifted her first 1928 Indian Scout bike, BB Stringfield would later purchase another 27 motorcycles throughout her life.

Throughout her travels, BB performed motorcycle stunts for local carnivals. The press loved her balancing stunt while her Harley was in motion.

Bessie used her motorcycle talent to work as the only female civilian motorcycle dispatch rider in World War II. She quickly carried documents between military bases and sharpened her riding skills by riding over makeshift bridges. Once her tour was complete, she moved to Miami and founded the Iron Horse Motorcycle Club. In Miami, Stringfield secretly entered riding contests as a man, and after winning, removed her helmet to reveal her gender. As a result, she was often denied the prize money.

In her personal life, BB Stringlfied married and divorced six times. She lost three children over the years. Her final husband, Arthur Stringfield, asked that Bessie keep his last name because it made him famous.

Bessie Stringfield, the Negro Motorcycle Queen, died in 1993 at age 82 from an enlarged heart. Her memory was left with the remainder of her six ex-husbands. In 2002 she was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

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Swipe Your E-mail Care Away

If your inbox is anything like mine you understand the frustrations in keeping it clutter free. I actually have multiple e-mail accounts that I use or monitor, further adding to some of my frustrations. There are all kinds of apps, techniques and advice on how to better manage the many messages that flood your inbox every day. Honestly, dealing with too much e-mail is a lot like dieting. Almost any approach will work, at least for a while. The hard part is finding what fits best with your work style or just staying committed to whatever practice you’ve decided to embrace. Built into the Apple operating systems or iOS are a fairly large set of techniques and features to help you organize your inbox.

In the last several months I feel like I’ve rediscovered just how useful and invaluable even my iPhone is with its mail features. When I’m out of the office or visiting some of our retail locations I almost exclusively use my iPhone and between the organizations features of Mail and iCloud drive there’s very little I can’t do. Swiping is a critical action on the iPhone (or iPad) to uncover all kinds of features within mail and now with El Capitan and Sierra many of these swipe features also work on your Mac with a magic trackpad or mouse.

Most users know if you swipe your finger to the left or right you can quickly manage your messages in mail and quickly archive or delete your message. A quick swipe in either direction will by default archive or delete your message immediately our of your inbox. But there is more to the swipe than just a simple delete.

In iOS, when you swipe a short distance to the right and an unread message (from left to right), Mail displays a read button. You can either tap it or keep swiping to the right to mark the message as read. If the message has already been read, that button changes to unread. This swipe is great for those who like marking message as unread to keep them around for later processing.

Swipe left (from right to left) a short distance, and you get three buttons. Archive, Flag, and more. Tap archive to store the message in an archive mailbox which is good for getting it our of your inbox without deleting it. Flag will mark the message with a flag so you can find it quickly in your mail’s flagged box. I love this feature! I probably utilize the flag features in my mailboxes several times a day and would be lost without it! You can swipe all the way to the left to archive the message with one motions. Some mailboxes will display delete when you swipe rather than archive. Not to worry though, it’s just going to your trash rather than an archive folder and you still can access the e-mail if you delete it by accident. I recommend going into your mail preferences and make sure you have delay in how soon your trash really dumps your mail permanently. For my work e-mails I have my settings set to never actually empty my trash. You never know when you’ll need an e-mail from 10 years ago and for me, it’s happened!

If you tap more, you get a bunch of additional options, depending on the message, that can include: reply, reply all, forward, show related messages, mark (so you can flag), file and more. File is probably my favorite feature and I think it’s better than the file feature in Mac mail. I file almost all my e-mails in folders based on their content rather than deleting them. Staff write what we call weekly reports each week and daily I get cash out reports from the retail stores. When I pull these kinds of e-mails up on my phone and use the folder option, iOS automatically suggests what folder it thinks it should go into and most times it correctly defaults to the folder I want. It makes handling bulk yet standard daily e-mails a breeze to file with iOS. So far I haven’t see this feature work on Mac mail.

If you try these features on your Mac (make sure your using the magic track pad or magic mouse) you will see many of these options I’ve talked about available, but know that not all of them may be there. In my opinion the features are better in iOS (who would have thought I’d be saying this!) When iOS first came out and then a few years later when it hit the first iPad we all had a laundry list of things we wish these mobile devices could do.

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Frederick Douglass

We are celebrating Black History Month all of February and today we will honor the memory of Frederick Douglass, a former slave that devoted his life to the abolition of slavery.

Born into slavery, Frederick Douglass became one of the most respected orators and intellectuals of the time, advising Presidents on abolishing slavery, women’s rights and other topics.

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland, around 1818.

Frederick Douglass was given to Lucretia Auld, the wife of Thomas Auld, following the death of his master. Lucretia sent Frederick to serve her brother-in-law, Hugh Auld, at his Baltimore home. It was at the Auld home that Frederick Douglass first acquired the skills that would vault him to national celebrity. Defying a ban on teaching slaves to read and write, Hugh Auld’s wife Sophia taught Douglass the alphabet when he was around 12. When Hugh Auld forbade his wife’s lessons, Douglass continued to learn from white children and others in the neighborhood.

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

It was through reading that Douglass’ ideological opposition to slavery began to take shape. He read newspapers avidly, and sought out political writing and literature as much as possible. Hired out to William Freeland, he taught other slaves on the plantation to read the New Testament at a weekly church service. Interest was so great that in any week, more than 40 slaves would attend lessons. Although Freeland did not interfere with the lessons, other local slave owners were less understanding. Armed with clubs and stones, they dispersed the congregation permanently.

In 1833, Thomas Auld took Douglass back from his son Hugh following a dispute. Thomas Auld sent Douglass to work for Edward Covey, who had a reputation as a “slave-breaker.” Covey’s constant abuse did nearly break the 16-year-old Douglass psychologically. Eventually, however, Douglass fought back, in a scene rendered powerfully in his first autobiography. After losing a physical confrontation with Douglass, Covey never beat him again.

Frederick Douglass tried to escape from slavery twice before he succeeded. He was assisted in his final attempt by Anna Murray, a free black woman in Baltimore with whom Douglass had fallen in love. On September 3, 1838, Douglass boarded a train to Havre de Grace, Maryland.

Eventually Douglass was asked to tell his story at abolitionist meetings, after which he became a regular anti-slavery lecturer. William Lloyd Garrison was impressed with Douglass’ strength and rhetorical skill, and wrote of him in The Liberator. Several days after the story ran, Douglass delivered his first speech at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society’s annual convention in Nantucket. Crowds were not always hospitable to Douglass. While participating in an 1843 lecture tour through the Midwest, Douglass was chased and beaten by an angry mob before being rescued by a local Quaker family.

In addition to abolition, Douglass became an outspoken supporter of women’s rights. In 1848, he was the only African American to attend the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York.

No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton asked the assembly to pass a resolution stating the goal of women’s suffrage. Many attendees opposed the idea. Douglass stood and spoke eloquently in favor, arguing that he could not accept the right to vote as a black man if women could not also claim that right.

By the time of the Civil War, Douglass was one of the most famous black men in the country. He used his status to influence the role of African Americans in the war and their status in the country. In 1863, Douglass conferred with President Abraham Lincoln regarding the treatment of black soldiers, and with President Andrew Johnson on the subject of black suffrage.

Frederick Douglass was appointed to several political positions following the war. He served as president of the Freedman’s Savings Bank and as chargé d’affaires for the Dominican Republic. After two years, he resigned from his ambassadorship over objections to the particulars of U.S. government policy. He was later appointed minister-resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti, a post he held between 1889 and 1891.

Douglass became the first African American nominated for vice president of the United States, as Victoria Woodhull’s running mate on the Equal Rights Party ticket in 1872. Nominated without his knowledge or consent, Douglass never campaigned. Nonetheless, his nomination marked the first time that an African American appeared on a presidential ballot.

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Apple Re-Paves The Street

After several quarters of top-line revenue stagnation, Apple rebounded in the holiday quarter by returning to growth and posting their best financial results ever. That is a statement in and of itself. Apple has posted some pretty spectacular numbers but this was the best. Apple reported revenue of $78.4 billion and net quarterly profit of $17.9 billion, or $3.36 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $75.9 billion and net quarterly profit of $18.4 billion, or $3.28 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Both revenue and earnings per share were company records.

The so-called expert analysts were calling for sales of $77.4 billion and $3.23 per share profit so Apple handily crushed the street.

To put this is some context, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes calculated that Apple sold 798,877 iPhones a day during the 98 days of the quarter. That is 33,286 each hour or 554 per minute or 9 iPhones each second. All at an average sales price of $695. He also calculated that amounts to about 39,000 metric tons of iPhones. At 100 metric tons per FedEx flight that’s about 400 flights.

That’s just iPhone. Apple Services, Mac and Watch businesses all posted all-time record sales. The App store saw $3 Billion in sales in December, alone! Apple Pay users tripled and Apple saw hundreds of millions of Apple Pay transactions in December.

Mac sales also were very strong with 5.4 million Macs sold this holiday quarter and $7.2 billion in revenue, despite widespread shortages of the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar models. The only negative part of their results was a continued decline in iPad sales at 13.1 million units. I think the iPad is a bit different in terms of the upgrade cycle than an iPhone, hence the softness. I know I don’t trade my iPad often but always want the latest iPhone.

Apple’s cash stash was $246.09 billion which if that was its own public company would be the 13th largest in the world. With the new administration in Washington, repatriating that cash might be a reality this year.

“We’re thrilled to report that our holiday quarter results generated Apple’s highest quarterly revenue ever, and broke multiple records along the way. We sold more iPhones than ever before and set all-time revenue records for iPhone, Services, Mac and Apple Watch,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Revenue from Services grew strongly over last year, led by record customer activity on the App Store, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline.”

The greatest story in business history continues with these phenomenal results. Congratulations to Tim Cook and the entire Apple team.

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