Our Weekly top cover stories of 2011
Our Weekly cover stories continue to garner numerous accolades from our readers. As we celebrate our 7th anniversary, we offer a condensed version of some of our best cover stories from this past year. - OW.
The Dream: coming to America
Los Angeles’ African immigrants discuss their journey and aspirations
By Jasmyne A. Cannick
They say America is a big melting pot and Los Angeles is a microcosm of that great American ideal. The city has always been a dream for many African immigrants. However, there are only about 881,300 Africans in the nation, and about 26,000 immigrant Africans in Los Angeles, representing almost 3 percent of the Black population.
The African nations most heavily represented in Los Angeles County include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. And with the influx comes diverse cultures.
Some immigrants confess that their political privileges have indeed been boosted since coming to the States. Others comment that African Americans are a bit spoiled.
“In Africa, nothing was given to us,” explains Nigerian native and business owner Kehinde Ololade, 46. “I had to walk to school. My parents had to pay for our tuition and for us to have a desk, a chair, textbooks, and uniforms. Education was not free. Our classrooms had no air conditioning. Too many American children take education for granted. I stress the importance of a good education every day with my children.”
Cecil Williams, a 28-year-old Sierra Leonean fled to Los Angeles during the civil war in Sierra Leone that lasted 11 years. Like other immigrants, he and his family came to escape oppression, war, and to build a new life. He completed secondary education in nearby Gambia and then applied for college in America.
“I didn’t wait for an American college to find me,” he remembers. “I went and found an American college, and it wasn’t an easy process. Technology in Africa is not the same as it is in America. Even finding a computer with reliable Internet access can be a daunting process, but I was determined, as were my parents.”
Foster care: OK but improvements needed
Blacks comprise nearly one-third of children in care
By Lisa Fitch
Without a doubt, foster care is an institution that has saved thousands of children, kept families together, and given the abandoned something to look forward to. But by the same token, families have been torn apart, children abused, and many kids have been passed from one home to another. Few would argue that many foster children have issues they take along with them like packed luggage.
Foster mother of five, Annie Hall, has grown to understand her role as a parent.
“I consider myself a professional mother,” said Hall. “I enjoyed raising my kids, and I’m enjoying it again.”
Hall and her husband, Elisha, a retired Marine, nurtured three of their own children, who now are 28, 30 and 33. She used to visit with her sister in Palmdale, and helped her with the five children she adopted out of the foster care system.
“I never expected to have five foster children of my own,” Hall said. “It just worked out that way.”
“They have issues and need love,” Hall added. “Love can turn around just about anything.”
She explained that they not only deal with developmental delays, but also recurring medical issues like seizures and emotional problems.
Since becoming a foster parent, Hall has nurtured 11 other children, all of which reunited with their biological families.
Of the estimated 276,266 children who exited foster care during 2009, 51 percent were reunited with parents or primary caretakers.
The effort is all a part of a bill Congresswoman Karen Bass authored for the California Assembly.
A true ‘ghost’ story
One family’s boarder came and stayed too long
By William Covington
Robert Jackson [name changed to protect identity], a Los Angeles resident tells the story of boarder who haunted the premises of his rental property, owned by Jackson’s in-laws.
Before the home was his to live in, the house was a men’s boardinghouse in the ’80s.
In 1983, one of the residents passed away. Oddly enough, no one but Jackson remembered or even spoke of the deceased man, who got around in a wheelchair and dressed sharply. But he was also a bother for some. He wanted to be included in conversations and often butted in people’s conversations without an invitation.
After his death and when the boardinghouse became a family home, people began to notice some strange happenings.
Around the holiday season in 1984, the family turned the home into a private residence, and on any given weekend you could usually find most of the family gathered there—the elderly parents, their children and their grandchildren.
But, according to Jackson, there were always strange goings-on in the house. And there was a standing joke among the younger family members about an unofficial houseguest that was believed to reside in the front bedroom. But the owners, both sweet senior citizens , refused to accept such an idea.
Over the years, family members, particularly sickly people and children, confessed to seeing apparitions, typically on weekends. They often told stories of objects being moved or thrown in the house, hearing a voice, and seeing the person in the shadows of the house.
Constant occurrences prompted Jackson and his family members to begin questioning the paranormal.
‘If it looks too good to be true, it is’
By Gregg Reese
Have you ever gotten one of those emails that request you to send money to some foreign bank you’ve never heard of? They typically read something like:
I work with the Hang Seng Bank Hong Kong. I have a business proposition for you involving the sum of $24,500,000.00 in my bank which I know we will be of mutual benefit to both of us. If interested mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, that was most likely a scam email, many of which come from people in foreign countries.
Due to Nigeria’s economic history, which includes war, oil industry collapse, and other impoverishing incidents, some Nigerians have become involved in trafficking bogus credit card information. Many of these financial predators lure their prey with attractive promises of emotional or material satisfaction in exchange for cash up front. Some even pretend to be correspondents from traveling or dead loved ones.
Over time, this hustle has become known as the “419” scam, a reference to article 419 of the Nigerian Penal Code, which prohibits fraud.
The scamming has become one of the most popular exports of the country and has been hard to trace.
However, law enforcement in the United States has upped the ante on protecting and educating the public.
Black theology and the rise of the Civil Rights Movement
Understanding how the church became a focal point
By Gregg Reese
Christianity is an ironic foundational pillar in the Black experience, being that it was the religion that was forced upon African people. But in turn, it was (and for many still is) the religion that carried many Black people through the rough patches of American history.
Deep, meaningful Negro spirituals, or “slave songs” are testaments to the beautiful push and pull of the relationship between living under oppression and the ancestral traditions of enslaved Black people.
Like its musical counterpart, Black preaching was nurtured by the roots of tribal belief systems, especially African oral traditions, such as call-and-response.
Contemporary African American parishioners still expect a good sermon to incorporate a healthy dose of drama, variations in pitch and rhythm and, above all an emotional connection between audience and speaker to fulfill the requirement of a satisfying religious experience.
After the abolition of slavery, the Christian church continued to be the cornerstone of Black society, becoming a safe haven, a political soapbox, an educational institution, a counseling center, a financial advisory, and a place of spiritual cultivation. Black theology reflected real life, struggle, and revolution.
The church practically raised many of society’s classic and contemporary leaders, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the father of dynamic singer Aretha Franklin, the Rev. C.L. Franklin.
But preachers like these not only spoke to the promises of heaven, but also to bearing the cross of the struggle to freedom in the present day.
Frederick Price High stands alone academically, athletically
Part of Crenshaw Christian Center, it may be one of the best-kept secrets
By Stanley O. Williford
At first glance, academic prosperity did not seem part of the future for one 11th-grader. He was on the road to failure and ran the risk of flunking out of high school. Despite troubles in school and at home, the young man still hoped to eventually attend a four-year institution. A castoff from other schools, he eventually pursued an education at Frederick K.C. Price III School (FKCP) in Los Angeles.
“I interviewed him,” said Madeline Butler, who heads academic and counseling services at Crenshaw Christian Center’s Price High, “and looking at the courses he had taken I knew it would be a difficult task to get him into a four-year school, but I went ahead and accepted him as a student.”
Despite his lack of academic progress, Butler explained that the institution is about believing in a student’s potential and helping him or her become successful academically and otherwise.
While at FKCP, the 11th-grader (whose name is not used to protect his privacy) was mentored by several older instructors, joined the football team and enrolled in college prep courses. By the end of his 12th-grade year, he not only graduated, but he also was accepted into several four-year institutions.
“FKCP is a true college preparatory school,” said Butler. “We’re here to educate the whole student. We have true college-prep courses and a step-by-step hands-on curriculum. College preparation means you’re getting prepared to be accepted at a four-year institution, not just (taking) AP courses and honors courses.”
Black buying power: watch where you spend your money
Most big advertisers don’t respect the African American consumer
By David Alexander
It may be shocking, but less than 1 percent of corporate businesses advertise to African American consumers, who are arguably the biggest consumers in America.
Of the $263.7 billion spent annually on advertising within the nation, less that 1 percent is used to target African American consumers, despite the fact that Black buying power is estimated at around $857 billion, according to the 2010 census.
In general, advertisers seem to underestimate African American dollars and assume that since African Americans are English-speaking U.S. citizens, there is no reason to venture out of the mainstream market to bring in Black consumers.
The problem with this approach is it is generally known that African Americans distrust the mainstream media.
A 2008 study by Radio One entitled “Understanding Black America” revealed that only 13 percent of African Americans trust the mainstream media, and out of 29 million Blacks, only 2 million can be reached through mainstream publications.
Despite these statistics, corporations and mainstream businesses still only use ethnic publications for free press exposure and choose not to invest their dollars via advertising.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) asserted that Toyota is one such corporation guilty of ignoring Black consumers despite African Americans support of Toyota to the tune of $2.2 billion. However, only $20 million of the company’s 2011 $1.6 billion advertising budget, was spent in Black media.
Families finding life support
Programs available to aid babies, mothers, fathers
By Lisa Fitch
The meaning of family has evolved so much over the years, with different faces defining what it means to be a family. From single mothers, single fathers, foster parents to grandparents, gay couples, mixed race parents, most do their best to raise the future of the community.
Sometimes there’s struggle, but good ol’ fashioned family support, government assistance and grassroots community organizations step in to help.
Back in the day, circa the 21st century, life was different. Family sizes were large to accommodate the land; family worked together to keep the family intact.
Sometimes, due to extreme poverty, there were at least three generations living under one roof.
“My family took in Bentley as their own,” single parent Elyse Mitchell said. “It made me breathe a little easier. Those first two months of sleepless nights were kinda tough.”
A student at Pasadena City College, Mitchell currently lives with her parents and recently enjoyed introducing Bentley, her 9-month-old son, to her larger, extended family during their Fourth of July reunion picnic.
“The dad is not a part of his life, so I’m letting him know he has other people,” Mitchell said. “My mom and dad are really helping, and Bentley knows people are there for him. They help anyway they can—money, clothes, baby-sitting.
“Being a single mother, it takes encouragement, faith and family to help me,” she added. “For nine months my dad and brother have given a father’s love to him.”
Thus, Mitchell and her family began to fit into the new model of the modern-day family, but reinforcing the idea that family is always there for support.
The war on women in the military
Female deaths in Iraq raise suspicions about who the real enemy is
By William Covington and Gregg Reese
The American military is now a place where both men and women can honorably serve their country with little discrimination. At least that is prevailing thought. But in the last few years, the military has been littered with sexual scandal and assaults on women.
The Navy Tail-Hook scandal of 1991, the sexual assaults on women at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1996 and at the Air Force Academy in 2003 brought to light the truth about the sexual discrimination women face while serving.
As a result of these incidents, extensive programs preventing sexual harassment have been instituted, along with the implementation of rape hot lines. However, these small steps seem almost useless in some cases. Servicewomen still make reports of their male counterparts mistreating them, especially during the Iraq War.
In the aftershock of the now infamous Abu Ghraib prisoner-of-war abuses, former commander Gen. Janis Karpinski revealed that female soldiers under her command had died from dehydration in the Iraq heat because they refrained from consuming liquids late in the day, fearing they would be raped by male soldiers at night while en route to poorly lit latrines [toilets], according to a Truthout.org report in January 2006 by Marjorie Cohn, titled “Military hides cause of women soldiers’ death.”
Controversy surrounding the death of several women, particularly Black women has surfaced since the report made headlines, including the death of Pvt. LaVena Johnson.
According to Army reports, she committed suicide, allegedly as a result of depression following her contracting a sexually transmitted disease from a boyfriend who has yet to be identified.
Genetically (and biologically) modified man
By Brittney M. Walker
OW Staff Writer
Science is moving faster than most people can keep up. With a consistently evolving industry and a greater need for better health practices and, of course, the consumer’s desire for convenience, science is beginning to redefine the very essence of life and living.
Researchers are working in way that they believe will enable people to live as long as they please.
Technology is giving humanity the opportunity to probe the concept of extending life to the point of possibly compromising values and morality.
Depending on the perspective of the individual, science has challenged scholars, common folk, medically disabled, and even the religious and spiritual communities, with the question of whether or not mankind is stepping too far out of bounds.
From genetically modified foods to cloning, every aspect of societal norms is being transformed from its foundational makeup to a progressively accepted copy, or what others believe is a preservation of the original.
But even more than just the physical, humanity is progressively transforming itself in a metaphysical manner, where spirituality and science blend in a more evolutionary way.
Transhumanism is loosely defined is the advancement of science and humanity to a place where disease and death are no longer a factor.
Psychology of Black unemployment
Impact felt deep in the African American psyche
By Cynthia E. Griffin
OW Managing Editor
When President Barack Obama laid out his jobs plan earlier this year, many were hopeful and encouraged that maybe something would help bring the nation out of what seems like a depression.
“It seems like for the past 12 years, (the government) is always for corporations and big fat cats,” said Madelyn Broadus, one of the 14 million unemployed people that the president was speaking about during his speech. “I really feel like he said it right for how we can begin again, the hard-working American people.”
And like millions of others around the country, Broadus has not collected a paycheck for years, actually since November 2009. It isn’t that she isn’t looking for a job. It’s just that her industry went flat.
The unemployed woman is a sheet metal specialist who completed a five-year apprentice program. Upon finishing her studies, there were not jobs available to her. Her situation isn’t unique.
Floods of African Americans fall into her same category: qualified but unemployed.
In fact, a look at employment numbers as far back as when the United States Department of Labor (DOL) first began segmenting statistics by race (1972), yields data that show the Black unemployment rate has consistently been at least double the national average. In 1982 and 1983, for example, Black unemployment ranged from 17 to 21 percent, while the national rate for that same period ranged from 8.6 to 10.8 percent.
Passion for Fashion
Three designers show how they made it
By Kiana Shann
Fashion has been transformed from a mono-cultural industry to a healthy array of color exploitation, embracing women and men from various backgrounds. Now African American designers are beginning to make headway as notable artists in the fashion world, defying the odds of historically induced barriers.
Some like Tracey Reese have made such an impact as to influence the way the industry moves forward.
A graduate of Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, Detroit native Reese has created one of the best-known contemporary feminine chic women’s wear lines, Plenty. Combining classic cuts with floral and girly patterns, this brand has reigned supreme since its debut.
She stunned the world when she introduced fashionistas to her vibrant colors and classy chic girly look.
Alexis Phifer, also a warrior of design, seems to have been born to be in fashion. Growing up, she always wanted to make her own clothing. As a result, she went on to pursue her dream as a fashion designer and attended school at the Fashion Institute of Merchandise and Design in Los Angeles.
Years after graduating, she launched the flirty brand Ghita.
Ghita, a Middle-Eastern name that means “special jewel,” began as a dress line and has now come full circle as a lifestyle brand.
Crystal Streets is also one of those women with a passion for fashion. The designer graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a goal in mind and a mission on hand. She took her knack for glitz and glamour straight to the top as a wardrobe stylist for Essence magazine, Rap kingpins Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupree, and singers Usher and Mariah Carey.
Invisible heroes of 9/11
Absence of African American stories prolongs sense of being ignored
By Cynthia E. Griffin
It’s been more than a decade since the World Trade Center towers collapsed and the American spirit was shaken. Since the events of 9/11, security has not been the same: religious persecution is at its height, and politics focuses heavily on terrorism. But each year, the nation pauses to remember those who were sacrificed in the buildings and planes, those who risked their lives to save others, and those who never emerged from under the rubble.
However, Black faces seem to have disappeared under the guise of American liberty and unity when the events are recalled.
For Atlanta-based psychotherapist Joyce Morely, Ed.D., it was something that is painful and that happens all too frequently.
“I was watching the television special ‘Children of 9/11,’ and, ironically, I was seeing that the majority of the focus was on White families and White children,” said Morely, who remembers many of her African American clients coming to her office unable to even think beyond what had happened in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. “There was only one African American male profiled, and it was from the perspective of how much trouble he had gotten into over time, before he finally pulled himself together last year.”
How was Black America affected? Who dared to cover the Black stories?
Morely explained that the lack of coverage could be lethal to the Black psyche as African Americans have so “internalized” being ignored and have not dealt with the neglect, which in turn has the potential to result in negative behaviors.
King monument a reflection of an era
An uncompromising stance from conception to construction
By Merdies Hayes
When it came to the conception of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument, many wondered what pose the artist would decide to use. Being a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement, King has been criticized as having been passive compared to other leaders. However, the consensus has been he was a powerful man with a progressive message. Instead of a more passive, calming face satisfied with mere “dreams” and “hope,” the King statue assesses the American landscape with vigilance and newly reclaimed status as first-class citizen. The memorial represents not only the life’s work of the Nobel laureate clergyman and civil rights leader, but also certifies an indomitable and unwavering character of an American generation who met, marched, sermonized and sanctified the precept of the United States Constitution: “We the people ….”
But once the monument’s plans were unveiled, some snarled at the colossal scale and King’s expression, saying it is too confrontational.
Isaac Newton Farris Jr., Dr. King’s nephew and director of the King Center in Atlanta, Ga., responded that he hoped that critics, particularly the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, had a sufficient understanding of Dr. King’s mission: “They’re saying it looks too confrontational. I’m saying, what do you think he was doing?”
Now that the monument has been revealed, African Americans and civil rights supporters hailed the work of Chinese artist Lei Yixin for a job well done.
Letter from Berkeley co-ed
Mock bake sale seen as an insult to minorities, women
By Sunny Dae Earle
Editor’s Note: We thought it interesting and appropriate to run the following email from Sunny Dae Earle, a local resident who is now a second-year student at UC Berkeley. It seems the views on the campus are hardening over Senate Bill 185, which would allow state colleges and universities to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions. We don’t know if the attitudes chronicled here are typical of what the school has now become. If so, it’s back to the ’60s.
Hello Family and Friends,
I am emailing you all because there is a lot of media attention surrounding a controversy at my school, and I thought I would shed some insight on the issue from my point of view.
As many of you may have read or seen, a student group, Berkeley College Republicans, conducted a “diversity” bake sale on campus Tuesday (Sept. 26). The purpose of this bake sale was to make a satirical statement and cause people to think about affirmative action and how it is unfair. It seemed that it did not matter to the group that their “humorous” idea of a bake sale might be both coarse and insulting to other groups.
The Berkeley College Republicans made their point by selling baked goods at different prices based on race and gender. For example, for Whites the price of the baked goods were $2, for Latinos $1, African Americans $0.75, Native Americans $0.25 and all women get $0.25 off their purchases. The idea was that all were purchasing the same item but some were purchasing at a lower price, which is unfair to Whites.
NAACP: The best and brightest
Welcoming the oldest civil rights organization
By Stanley O. Williford
This year Los Angeles hosted the oldest working civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for its 102nd annual convention.
Founded on the principles of justice and equality for all, the NAACP is no stranger to Southern California. The first West Coast convention was held in 1928 in June, bringing in high rates of business and enriching the Black culture of L.A.
The event was held at the Somerville Hotel, which was named for Dr. John Somerville, a Jamaica-born dentist and his wife Vada, also a dentist.
According to records, the Somerville was the first hotel built by African Americans west of the Mississippi, standing tall as a symbol of Black entrepreneurship and success.
The Somerville Hotel was not only a source of great pride for Black Angelenos, but its famous Club Alabam played host to the crème de la crème of Black entertainers—Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Bill “BoJangles” Robinson, Jimmie Lunceford, Billie Holiday, and a list of others that is too long to include.
Somerville was the first Black to graduate from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, and he did so with “the highest honors.”
Handguns and havoc on L.A. campuses
School districts continue to search for answers
By William Covington
Gun violence on school campuses, while more common today, was quite new in the early ’70s.
Back on Sept. 16, 1971, high school gunplay got a big boost when a shooting broke out between gang members.
The day at Jefferson High School seemingly began as usual, until a small group of gang members began running around campus, grabbing other guys’ Ace-Deuce brand stingy-brim hats under the pretext that only members of their gang could wear them.
But one of the hats belonged to a member of one of five rival gangs known to be active on the campus. Angry over the loss of his hat, the rival gang member and his crew found the car that belonged to the hat thieves and let the air out of the tires.
Then they returned and chased the rivals to the disabled car.
That’s when the chasers opened fire on the rival group, striking the leader several times before fleeing the scene.
Although guns were seen on campuses in the past, this was the first time such a weapon was fired, and it seemed to set the precedent for campus shootings in Los Angeles. The shooting may be the pivot point in which education turned its focus on campus safety and conflict resolution.
Carver Junior High, a feeder school to “Jeff,” mirrored Jeff with a second on-campus shooting weeks later. Donald Anderson, a former LAUSD security agent, remembers that a Carver student was shot in the arm with a zip gun (a home-made device) outside the boy’s locker room in 1971.
Slightly less than a year later, in November 1972, five teenagers were shot near a homecoming float on Jeff’s campus. This second shooting was believed to be part of “a continuing feud between two rival gangs,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Maybe we’re crazy … possibly
The search for treatment among African Americans
By Xavier Higgs
Mental illness in the African American community is one of those things that continues to hamper progress and growth, but lack of trust and other deep-seated pain prevents a resolution.
Black people have been used as guinea pigs for experimentation, and in turn are labeled mentally ill.
Just as people of African descent distrust and fear some of the services provided by the mental health community, medical staffs are often wary of the Black community and fearful of Black people in general, and in particular young Black men. But the mistrust is fueled by historical and persistent prejudice, racism, misunderstanding, and false impression.
In 1840, a scientific report deliberately falsified the Black insanity rates from the United States Census to show that the further north people of African descent lived, the higher their rates of mental illness. This was to illustrate and support the contention that freedom drove Blacks crazy, thus justifying slavery.
Also during enslavement, doctors diagnosed runaways with an imaginary mental disease, “drapetomania.” This “mental illness” described enslaved Africans who attempted to escape. The Samuel Cartwright theory has since been dismissed as pseudoscience.
At any rate, mental illness is still an issue not widely addressed in the African American community.
Among those diagnosed with depression, the rate was highest in Black groups—56.5 percent in African Americans and 56 percent in Caribbean Blacks, compared with 38.6 percent in Whites.
The National Survey of American Life pointed out a striking difference in treatment among people of African descent with manic depressive disorder—fewer than half of African Americans with the disorder (45 percent) obtain treatment and only about one-quarter (24.3 percent) of Caribbean people who emigrated to the U.S. received treatment.
West Coast Expo makes debut
Vendors, performers, and shows
By OW Staff
OurWeekly introduced the first ever West Coast Expo to the world and established a platform to support emerging entrepreneurs, artists, and even health professionals.
AT&T got on board with event organizers, a key sponsor to help advance the multifaceted experience that included a job fair, fashion show, musical performances, hundreds of vendors, presenters, and demonstrators.
Dom Kennedy, a top-ranking independent rapper from Leimert Park, was one of the highlights of the weekend’s events. His album, “From Westside With Love 2,” reached No. 2 on iTunes. The young entertainer even appeared as a featured artist on BET’s Hip Hop Awards Cypher. While blowing up, he’s keeping a level head.
Other highlights from the three-day expo included a high-fashion runway show that was hosted by Chris Schauble and Wendy Burch of KTLA. Featured designers included Sterling Capricio and Dena Burton, Cookie Johnson, Enrich, and several other independent artists.
Guests were certainly delighted to see some familiar faces strut their stuff on stage. Celebrity models and guests included Christine Devine, Michaela Pereira, Candice Parker, Darren Henson, Courtney Jones, Abraham McDonald and Carol Rodriguez.
The event could not have ended on a better note than with a bit of spiritual enlightenment. The Gospel Connexion topped it all off with a string of soul-stirring musical performances from Verizon’s “How Sweet the Sound” 2011 choir winners—Voices of Destiny, as well as singer Michael Stampley, the COGIC Mass Choir, and several others.
Heroes one and all
However, many stories of African American valor are interred in the dust
By Stanley O. Williford
For the most part, the pre-1950s history of the nation’s treatment of Black soldiers is a long record of neglect and shame. Although most records of African American heroism lie buried in the dust, still a fine record of heroism remains.
From the American Revolution, where Crispus Attucks became the first man to die in the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770, until today, Blacks have excelled as part of America’s fighting force. In 1774, Lemuel Haynes, the abandoned child of an African father and White mother, after a period of indentured servitude, enlisted as a Minuteman. He then volunteered in the Continental Army during the Revolution and fought at the siege of Boston.
An estimated 5,000 enslaved and freed Blacks fought with the Continental Army. New England regiments recruited enslaved Africans by making empty promises of freedom. Contributions to the American military continued through the Civil War and the late 19th century, World War II, and through today.
Haynes joins such heroes as Martin R. Delaney, Henry O. Flipper, Vernon J. Baker, Staff Sgt. Edward A. Carter, the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen and others in the annals of history.