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BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: CATHAY WILLIAMS-THE BLACK AMERICAN JOAN OF ARC β€πŸ’›πŸ’š

By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

EARLY LIFE

Cathay Williams was ironically born in Independence, Missouri, sometime around September 1844. She was the daughter of a Black freedman and an enslaved Black woman, therefore making her a slave. Williams worked as a house slave on the Johnson plantation, which was located on the edges of Jefferson City, Missouri, until the early phases of the civil war, when Union troops occupied Jefferson City in 1861 and captured enslaved Black people, who were then labeled as “contraband” and forced to serve as soldiers or military support staff.

Soldier’s Life

Some people claim that Cathay Willaims may have served in the Battle of Pea Ridge and the Red River campaign. Women weren’t allowed to participate in combat service, so historians believe she may have enlisted as a man under the name of Finis Cathay. As Finis Cathay she would of enlisted in the 32nd Missouri infantry in 1862 and would have particpated in many vital campaigns, including: The Siege of Vicksburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea, before fighting to force Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army surrender in North Carolina. On November 15, 1866 Williams would again sign-up for military service. This time under the name of William Cathay (since women were still prohibited from combat military service). Williams would be assigned to the 38th United States Infantry regiment (Buffalo Soldiers). Unfortunately, soon after her enlistment (or better yet re-enlistment), Williams would contract smallpox. After she recovered, she rejoined her unit, but would have to be repeatedly hospitalized, possibly due to the effects caused by small pox, combined with the extreme heat of the New Mexico desert, where her team was posted. Eventually, the post surgeon would discover her “feminine secret”, and informed her post commander. This led to her being discharged by the United States Army, by her commanding officer, Captain Charles E. Clarke, on October 14, 1868.

Post Military Life

In Fort Union, New Mexico, Williams would be employed as a cook. Williams would eventually move to Pueblo, Colorado and would get married. The marriage wouldn’t last long, her untrustworthy husband would steal her money and several of her horses. She would have him arrested and then moved to Trinidad, Colorado, where she worked as seamstress, and may have even owned a boarding house. Sometime around late 1889 or early 1890, Williams would enter a hospital, there she would attempt to physically recover from her bad heath issues she was suffering from at the time (her exact illness is unknown). In June of 1891, Williams would apply for disability pension because of her past military service. At the time there was a precedent for granting a military pension to a woman soldier. By 1816 Anna Maria Lane, Mary Hayes McCauley (better-known-As Molly Pitcher) and Deborah Sampson all received pensions for their service in the American Revolutionary War of Independence. Despite her military service, and the fact that she suffered from neuralgia,diabetes and had toes amputated and had to walk with a crutch; despite her injuries and health issues, Williams would be denied disability payments. It is believed that Williams died sometime around 1893 (shortly after being denied a military pension for her service). Her exact resting place is unknown.

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BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: GASPAR YANGAβ€πŸ–€πŸ’š

by:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

Early Life

Yanga also known as Nyanga is believed to have been born in the year of 1545, on the 14th of May.Some researchers say he came from the Bran people of the coastal central African nation of Gabon, and was a member of its royal family. He was eventually captured and sold into slavery in Mexico (then called New Spain, which had the 5th largest slave population in the Americas at the time). There he would be given the name “Gaspar” Yanga.

Rebel

In 1570, Yanga led a slave exodus into the highlands of Mexico, near the state of Veracruz. There, Yanga and his fugitive slave followers would build a maroon colony. Due to its isolation and mountainous location, the colony was well-protected for about 30 years. They survived by living off the land and by raiding caravans, and taking their goods.

A Form Of Freedom

In 1609 the colonial Spanish government, who were angry about the continued conflict with the Maroons decided to go to war with the fugitive slave colony,and to regain control of the territory. The Spanish would send over 500 troops to invade the disputed area, the Maroons had about 500 fighters, armed with various weapons including guns, stones, machetes, and bows and arrows. Because Yanga was an elderly man at this time in history, the Maroon army was led by a man named, Francisco de la Matosa, who was of Angolan descent. Yanga did however, assist his troops by sharing his experience and knowledge of the incredibly harsh terrain. Their objective was to frustrate the Spaniards and force them to negotiate. Once the Spanish army arrived in the Maroon colony, Yanga sent a captured Spaniard to speak with the Spanish troops with his terms of peace. The terms included an area of self-rule, like the colonial Spanish government had previously made with Native Mexican tribes. Part of the treaty would require the Maroons to pay them tribute, and to support the Spanish in any armed conflicts. The last neccessary concession required the Maroons to return any future runaways to the Spanish colonists. The Spanish inevitably would decide to refuse to sign the treaty with the Maroons, and instead decided to go to war against the Black freedom fighters. The Spanish with their superior weapons eventually advanced into the Maroon colony and burnt it to the ground. The Maroons would flee into the surrounding territory, which they knew extremely well, denying the the Spanish troops a final victory. The two sides would go on to battle each other for years, resulting in various stalemates.

Freedom β€πŸ’šπŸ’›

In 1618 a treaty was eventually signed, Yanga and his family would be granted the right of rule in the Maroon colony.

Legacy ✊🏿

Decades after the Independence of Mexico, Gaspar Yanga was designated a national hero of Mexico and  El Primer Libertador de las Americas.

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BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT:KING OSEI TUTU I: THE FATHER OF THE ASANTE EMPIRE

By:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

Young King

Osei Tutu I was born in what is modern-day Ghana in 1660. When Osei Tutu I inherited the title of Kumasihene (king of Kumasi). Tutu would use this new influence to get the other Akan city-states to unite against the regional African hegemonic power,who were also an Akan people known as the Denkyira.

GOLDEN STOOL

Osei Tutu I and his traditional African priest Okomfo Anokye motivated many Akan city-states to unite because of a traditional African belief that the Golden Stool came from heaven and held the soul of the new Asante kingdom.

Once unified of what was the newly formed Asante kingdom, of which Osei Tutu I was now the new the Asantehene (Asante king), Tutu and his new forces would go on to defeat the the Denkyira, and then they would use the pincer formation to turn the new kingdom into a West African Empire. This was achieved by welcoming small African kingdoms who were willing to join the Asante confederation and by conquering other West African city-states who refused to submit to the power of the Asante empire. By 1701 the European powers on the coast of Ghana began take notice of the military brillance and growing power of the Asante.

Death OF THE KING

In 1717, Osei Tutu I would be killed in a war of conquest against the Akyem. He was allegedly shot by a sharpshooter who was hiding in the forest. He died crossing the River Pra.

LEGACY

Osei Kofi Tutu I with his loyal priest and advisor, Okomfo Anokye, united several Akan city-states to form the Asante kingdom, which later became the Asante empire.Osei Tutu II, currently sits on the thrown of Asante (Golden Stool), and even though like the Queen of England, his role is more ceremonial than political, the Asantehene is still one of the most powerful, respected and influntial people in Ghana today. The Asante kingdom is alive and well today in the Asante region of Ghana, even thougn it has shrunk in size since the birth of modern-day Ghana, the territory of Asante is still slightly larger than the nation of Israel and it’s influence is felt all over the nation of Ghana and is respected all over the world, especially within the African diaspora.

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BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: TARIQ IBN ZIYAD-THE MOOR WHO CONQUERED SPAIN

By:Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

EARLY LIFE


Tariq Ibn-Ziyad was a Berber general from where is now Morocco in North West Africa. He was a mawla (which translate to lord or guardian) of Musa Ibn Nusayr, who was the Umayyad governor of Ifriqiya (which consisted of parts of Tunisia,Libya and Algeria) . After Tangier was conquered between 710-711, Musa Ibn Nasayr put Ibn-Ziyad in control of the Tangier area.


The Conquerer


later in 711, Ibn-Ziyad and his army (which consisted of Berbers and new coverts to the Islamic Faith), landed on the Iberian Peninsula (the region of Spain and Portugal). Ibn-Ziyad and his army disembarked at a base of a mountain that would later be known as the Rock of Gibraltar (Gibraltar translates to mountain of Tariq). Tariq Ibn-Ziyad’s army included about 7000 Berber horsemen, additional men sent by Musa Ibn Nusayr, and some locals, who were rivals of the Spanish ruler, Roderic, the Visigothic king in Hispania. On July 19, King Roderic and his men would finally be defeated at the Battle of Guadalete. After the defeat of the visigoth king, Ibn-Ziyad divided his army and they would continue to conquer cities like Cordoba, Granada, Toledo, and Guadalajara, among others. Eventually culminating with Ibn-Ziyad controlling Spain, and making him its de facto ruler, for about a year before Musa Ibn Nasayr arrived.


Later In Life


In 714 Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid the ruler of the Umayyad Caliphate (Islamic state which controlled much of North Africa and the Middle East) ordered Tariq Ibn-Ziyad and Musa Ibn Nasayr to Damascus, Syria, where they would spend the rest of their lives, some say this was because of jealousy and fear of the power that Ibn-Ziyad and Ibn Nasayr had displayed when Ibn-Ziyad conquered Spain with the assistance of Ibn Nasayr.
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BLACK HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: HANNIBAL BARCA-THE AFRICAN GENERAL WHO PUT THE ROMAN EMPIRE ON THE BRINK OF DESTRUCTION!🌍✊🏿

By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

Early Life

Hannibal Barca was born in Carthage, (modern-day Tunisia, North Africa) in 247 BC. He was the son of Hamilcar Barca, who was a highly respected Carthaginian general, and one of the leaders in the first Punic War with the Roman Republic. His brothers Hasdrubal and Mago Barca and his brother-in-law Hasdrubal The Fair, were all commanders in the Carthaginian Military.

The Warrior

Even though Carthage loss the the first Punic War, the Carthaginians and Hannibal were not a submissive people and what they may have loss in the first Punic War, they started to win back in the punic peace, when they started to reclaim their loss territory. The second Punic war started in 218 BC, when Hannibal and his army attacked Saguntum (modern-day Spain), which was an ally of Rome. Hannibal then brought the war to Rome’s Italy territory, when he marched his army and African war elephants out of Africa and into Southern Europe, by crossing the Alps. Hannibal used his brilliant military mind to out strategize his opponents and exploit their weaknesses. For the first several years of his military campaign against the Romans, he achieved many victories, including the battle of Trebia, The Battle of Cannae and the Battle of Lake Trasimene. Hannibal and his forces would eventually take control of most of Southern Italy, and would hold on to it for about a decade and a half. Unfortunately, for Hannibal, he was unable to put the final nail in the Roman Republic’s coffin because for the most part the Roman military, which was led by Fabius Maximus, refused to have a head-to-head battle with their African rivals. Instead they used what is now called the “Fabian Strategy”, which is war of attrition. While Hannibal and his men were busy occupying Southern Italy, Roman general Scipio Africanus, saw that as an opportunity to invade Northern Africa. Once Hannibal discovered their new strategy, he immediately returned to Carthage and would eventually be defeated by Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama.

Post War Life

After the Second Punic War with the Romans, Hannibal decided to run for political office and was elected “Sufet”, which in modern-day terms would be the equivalent of a chief magistrate. Hannibal would use his political power to enact financial reforms to raise money to pay war reparations to the Romans. The reforms were so unpopular with the wealthy aristocrats in Carthage and Roman, that Hannibal decided to go into self-imposed exile. One of the places he lived while in exile was the Seleucid Empire, there he became a military advisor to Antiochus III The Great, during his military campaign against Rome. When Antiochus was defeated at the battle of Magnesia, Hannibal once more was forced to go into exile. Hannibal would eventually travel to the Kingdom of Armenia, where he sought sanctuary, there he would be betrayed to the Romans. Instead of allowing himself to be a prisoner of the Romans, he committed Suicide by poisoning.

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PHARAOH PIYE: THE BLACK KING WHO RULED BOTH ANCIENT KUSH/NUBIA AND EGYPT

Pharaoh Piye: The Black King Who Ruled Both Ancient Kush/Nubia and Egypt

By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare

Early Life

Piye, also known as Piankhi, was the king of the kingdom of Kush, also known as Nubia (modern-day Sudan). He ruled from about 750 BCE to around 719 BCE.

The Holy Conqueror

During his reign as ruler of the people of Nubia, (a people who shared a cultural-connection to the people of Egypt), Piye knew of and took advantage of the inner-conflict of Egypt at the time.

He expanded Nubia’s territory beyond Thebes, in Southern Egypt, and eventually he moved his army north and achieved military victories in Memphis and Hermopolis , just to name a few.

Hear what I have done in exceeding the ancestors. I am the king, the representation of god, the living image of Atum, who issued from the womb marked as ruler, who is feared by those greater than he, [whose father] knew and whose mother perceived even in the egg that he would be ruler, the good god, beloved of the gods, the Son of Re, who acts with his two arms, Piye, beloved of Amon ....— Victory Stele of Piye

“Hear what I have done in exceeding the ancestors. I am the king, the representation of god, the living image of Atum, who issued from the womb marked as ruler, who is feared by those greater than he, [whose father] knew and whose mother perceived even in the egg that he would be ruler, the good god, beloved of the gods, the Son of Re, who acts with his two arms, Piye, beloved of Amon ….”

— Victory Stele of Piye

Egypt at the time was very chaotic and instead of being one unified kingdom, it consisted of several fragmented smaller states, all of which never stood a chance against the mighty and unified kingdom of Nubia, which was at it’s peak at the time. Several kings of the Delta region, including Iuput (also spelled Auput II)of Leontopolis, Nimlot of Hermopolis, and Usermaatre Osorkon IV of Tanis, all eventually submitted to the throne of Piye. Pharaoh Piye viewed his conquest of Egypt as not only a military one, but a religious one. In fact, he believed that Egypt had lost much of its shared cultural and religious identity with Kush due to the fact that Egypt had been invaded by various peoples by this time, who inevitably mixed their cultural, religious and racial identities into the fabric of Egypt. As Pharaoh, Piye wasn’t only responsible for ruling over the people of the Kingdom (soon to be empire) of Kush, but he was also responsible for commanding its military and as Pharaoh he was considered divine and an intermediary between the gods and the people. Making Pharoah Piye the most important religious figure in the nation. Which is why he commanded that his soldiers ritually cleanse themselves (similarly to what a modern-day Muslim does before prayer) before they went into battle. Piye, himself offered sacrifices to the god of Amun. His uniting the two Kingdoms would be seen as an African renaissance.

His Reign

His exact time on the throne is unknown, some reseachers suggest he ruled as Pharaoh for 24 years, others suggest it could of been upwards of 31 years.

NUBIAN PYRAMIDS

PHARAOH’S Tomb

The Tomb of Piye was located in El-Kurru, which was one of the cemeteries of the Nubian/Kush royal family. The tomb site is located in Northern State, Sudan.

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