Grateful American Book Prize

History Matters
February 1 to 15, 2022
Black History Month Special

Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future
By John Grimaldi and David Bruce Smith

Araminta Ross was born into Maryland slavery in 1820 or 1821, became an active abolitionist, and died a hero in 1913, at ninety-three.

Better known as Harriet Tubman, she tangoed with the tough task of escorting slaves through free, Northern zones; between 1850 and 1861, she rescued more than seventy serfs from Maryland, and approximately fifty traveling to Canada, according to historians.

After her last mission in 1862, Tubman pivoted to nursing and espionage.

On February 1, 1978, she became the first African American woman to appear on a U.S. Postage stamp–to honor her bravery and grit.

For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry.

Baseball star “Leroy Paige” might have been nicknamed “Satchel” during his days as a railroad station porter, but Joe DiMaggio called him “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.”

On February 9, 1971, Satchel became the first baseball player in the Negro League to be nominated by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

According to History.com, Paige was “a pitching legend known for his fastball, showmanship, and the longevity of his playing career, which spanned five decades … he pitched an estimated 2,500 games, had three hundred shut-outs and fifty-five no-hitters. In one month in 1935, he reportedly pitched twenty-nine consecutive games.”

Though he retired in 1953, Paige made a come-back at fifty-nine in 1965 for the Kansas City A’s, making him the oldest person to play in the Major Leagues. As he put it, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow by James Sturm.

After thirty years of slavery, Shadrach Minkins fled the south for Boston, an abolitionist city known as a secure destination for runaway slaves. According to Ebony Magazine, “When Minkins arrived, there were approximately 2,500 African-Americans living in Boston. It was a haven where the escaped slaves could live in the open without fear of being recaptured. He worked odd jobs before becoming a waiter at Taft’s Cornhill Coffee House.”

Suddenly, everything changed in 1850 when Congress passed legislation – the Fugitive Slave Acts – which permitted the arrest and return of runaway slaves; Minkins was apprehended–then released –on February 15, 1851, by the Black abolitionists from the Boston Vigilance Committee, supervised by Lewis Hayden.

Ebony reported that “Hayden housed Minkins and helped him find his way to the Underground Railroad, which he used to travel to Canada with a group of other African-Americans. They settled in Montreal and are credited with creating the first Black community in that city.”

For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.