Small Business Development Center
at the Urban League of Greater Cleveland
|Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation,
and the March on Washington, 1963
Opens December 14, 2012
NMAAHC Gallery at American History, second floor east
On August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. began his speech by declaring, "Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity ... In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check."
In 2013 the country will commemorate two events that changed the course of the nation — the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. Standing as milestone moments in the grand sweep of American history, these achievements were the culmination of decades of struggles by individuals — both famous and unknown — who believed in the American promise that this nation was dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal." Separated by 100 years, they are linked together in a larger story of freedom and the American experience.
To commemorate these two pivotal achievements, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in collaboration with the National Museum of American History (NMAH) will present an exhibition, featuring historic photographs, paintings, new film footage and objects, that explores the historical context of these two crucial events, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed.
The exhibition will be on view from Dec. 14, 2012 through Sept. 15, 2013 in NMAAHC’s temporary gallery on level two at American History, 14th St NW and Constitution Ave NW. Metro: Smithsonian or Federal Triangle.
For more information, visit www.nmaahc.si.edu.
|Claiming Tax Refunds, Protecting Tax Cuts|
Good communication is important, and poor communication can be costly. Unfortunately, miscommunication between Washington and Ohio could cost families in Wilmington and Orville up to $3,700 next year.
As the New Year quickly approaches, it’s critical that Ohio families are aware of the unclaimed tax refunds that may be owed to them by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Often times, inaccurate addresses have caused these funds to be returned by the U.S. Postal Service. And in fact, last year, more than 2,000 Ohioans were eligible to claim tax refunds. In 2011, undelivered refund checks were worth more than $1,500 on average.
Ohioans have always worked hard and played by the rules. But every year, millions of Americans don’t receive their tax returns because of postal errors. Taxpayers deserve to easily receive the money that the government owes them, and shouldn’t lose money just because their checks got lost in the mail.
Fortunately, claiming a tax refund is an easy process if you are eligible. According to the IRS, if a refund check is returned to the IRS as undelivered, taxpayers can generally update their addresses with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov. The Tool also enables taxpayers to check the status of their refunds. A taxpayer must submit his or her Social Security number, filing status, and amount of refund shown on their 2011 return. The tool will provide the status of their refund and, in some cases, instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.
Ohio taxpayers checking on a refund over the phone will receive instructions on how to update their addresses. Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954. They can also go to the Where’s My Refund? online tool to check the status of their refund by clicking here.
Ohioans can also take two simple steps to avoid the risk that their refund could get lost in the mail. They can start by signing up to have their tax returns directly deposited to their bank accounts, eliminating the potential for postal errors. Next, they can file their taxes electronically. In addition to reducing the potential for miscommunication, e-filing reduces errors on tax returns and speeds up the refund process.
But while ensuring Ohio families receive the refunds they are owed is important, it’s also crucial that we fight to guarantee middle class families across the country don’t see their taxes rise altogether.
Right now, taxes will automatically rise for all Americans on January 1 unless Congress acts.
Both the President and I campaigned on maintaining tax rates for 99 percent of Ohio families, and on November 6th, you strongly supported this position. But, more than a month later, some conservative politicians in Washington still haven’t gotten the message. They are still protecting the wealthiest one percent, at the expense of the middle class.
In July, the Senate passed the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which would prevent 99 percent of Ohio families – and all Americans making less than $250,000 per year – from paying higher taxes. Under the bill, the median income Ohio households would save an average of $2,200 on their taxes next year. Leaders in the House of Representatives have failed to schedule a vote on the bill – in part, because it asks the wealthiest two percent of American households to pay the same tax rates they paid during the Clinton years, when our economy added 22 million jobs. It’s time for the House of Representatives to stop holding hostage middle class tax cuts and pass the bill.
It’s our duty to ensure that taxes will not go up for the millions of Ohioans who wake up early, send their children off to school, keep our assembly lines productive, tend to our vast agricultural areas, and stand up behind a counter serving customers for eight hours or more each day.
Let’s move forward with our economic recovery and ensure that Ohioans have the resources they need to support their families. By accessing unclaimed tax credits, and providing tax cuts that bolster middle class families, we can continue to make our country stronger.
An Email from Lonnie Bunch:
Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.
A Page From Our American Story
Freddie Stowers, the grandson of a South Carolina slave, holds a unique spot in America's pantheon of war heroes — as the only African American awarded the Medal of Honor for service in World War I. Stowers' story, however, must be told in two parts. The first part of the story is his act of heroism in 1918; the second part is that it took more than 72 years before Stowers finally received the recognition he was due.
The United States was the last major combatant to enter World War I, the “war to end all wars.” The conflict began in Europe in 1914, but in the U.S., isolationist sentiments were strong resulting in a foreign policy of non-intervention.
However, on May 7, 1915, a German U-boat sank the British ship Lusitania, killing 128 Americans on board, sparking anti-Germany sentiment in the United States.
In the next two years, a series of events added to American anger with Germany. On April 2, 1917 President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. By the end of June 1917, American troops were in France.
Corporal Freddie Stowers came to France as part of the all-black Company C, 371st Regiment, 93rd Division that deployed in September, 1918. His service in France was short but courageous and memorable.
More than 50 years after the Civil War, America's military was still segregated. The French, however, had no such rules, and Stowers and Company C were sent to the front lines to serve alongside French troops.
On September 28, just days after arriving in France, Stowers' company was in the midst of an attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, when enemy forces appeared to be giving up.
According to the War Department, German soldiers emerged from their trenches waving a white flag, arms in the air — military actions that signal surrender. It was a ruse, however. As Americans, including Cpl. Stowers, went to capture the “surrendering” Germans, another wave of the enemy arose and opened fire.
Very quickly, Company C's lieutenant and non-commissioned officers were killed in the fight. This left the 21-year-old Stowers in command. Without hesitation, he implored his men to advance on the Germans.
Stowers would be mortally shot during the exchange. Wounded and dying, Stowers continued to fight on, inspiring his men to push the enemy back. With Stowers leading the counter-attack, Americans took out an enemy machine gun position and went on to capture Hill 188.
Following the battle, Stowers' commanding officer nominated him for the Medal of Honor, but the nomination was never processed. The Pentagon said the paperwork was misplaced. Some raise the possibility that the nomination wasn't misplaced at all, but deliberately lost. They point to the fact that American troops were segregated and suggest that racial bias in the military might be the reason for Stowers' missing paperwork.
The final part of Freddie Stowers' story begins in 1990. As the Department of Defense began to modernize its data systems, it ordered a review of all battlefield medal nominations. When Stowers' recommendation was found, the Pentagon quickly took action to give the corporal the long overdue recognition and honor he deserved.
On April 24, 1991, more than 72 years after Stowers made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation, his sisters Georgiana Palmer and Mary Bowens, 88- and 77-years-old at the time, were presented his Medal of Honor by President George H. W. Bush.
Long before Stowers was honored by his nation, he, along with other members of Company C, received recognition from the French government: “For extraordinary heroism under fire.” Stowers and his unit received the Croix de Guerre – the French War Cross — the highest military medal France awards to allied soldiers.
Prior to World War I, 49 African Americans had been awarded the Medal of Honor, including 25 men who fought for the Union in the Civil War. There were 119 Medals of Honor recipients in World War I, with Stowers being the only African American. His long overdue recognition in 1991 is a small but important sign of the progress we as a nation have made.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest member of the Smithsonian Institution's family of extraordinary museums.
The museum will be far more than a collection of objects. The Museum will be a powerful, positive force in the national discussion about race and the important role African Americans have played in the American story — a museum that will make all Americans proud.