The Messenger Series
The beer you know as “The Messenger” is an amalgamation of two collectives; Brewing Change Collaborative (BCC) and Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative (BCBC)
Our organic union came about through the sheer desire to not only speak on the dissonance of America’s penchant for white privilege/preservation and it’s dearth of Black existence, but to ascend and become agents of change.
As the hours fall off the clock and time inevitably marches on we, BCC and BCBC will seek to voraciously create waves of change. From a point of beer into a barrel to a tsunami from the ocean washing across this entire industry, BCC and BCBC will create the iridescent reality we wish to live in.
Volume 3 - Indigenous Heroes
Wilma Pearl ‘Mankiller’
Wilma Pearl Mankiller came from a storied past but also created a great story for herself. Her ancestors were forced to relocate to the Indian Territory over the Trail of Tears and her parents lived on their allotment known as Mankiller. In Oklahoma, her family struggled to make ends meet and they eventually moved to San Francisco where they continued to struggle.
She was forever changed by the occupation of Alcatraz and inspired by the women’s movement she got more involved in activism for women and Native Americans. While in San Francisco she served as the director of Oakland’s Native American Youth center, she believed in restoring pride in Native Heritage. She also advocated for tribal sovereignty and treaty rights.
She brought this knowledge and experience when she moved back to Oklahoma. Here she did volunteer work for the Cherokee Nation. She continued to improve her education by taking college courses and working on community development programs.
Her community involvement eventually led her to be selected as a Deputy Chief. Women traditionally didn’t hold title positions in the Cherokee government, and she ended up experiencing sexism in her position. She was eventually appointed Principal Chief which brought her large national attention. With this, she used the attention to help repaint Native Americans in a more positive light.
During her time as Principal Chief, she is credited with dramatically growing the Cherokee Nation’s tribal enrollment and employment, and revolutionizing the tribe’s programs for health, children, and housing
Wilma Pearl Mankiller not only had a storied life of advocating and impacting the Cherokee Nation, she also led a life that fought for women’s rights She remains an inspiration to many Cherokees and strong women everywhere.
Written by: Charles Meyer
Sacheen Littefeather is an American actress, model, and Native American activist. She is a trailblazer. She was the first woman of color, and the first indigenous woman, to use the Academy Awards platform to make a political statement.
Her path through life has been a journey. Before she was born her father, a mix of Apacahe and Yaqui, and her white mother left Arizona due to mixed race couples being illegal at that time. From a young age, she was raised by her maternal parents. In a world where “make Indian people white” she was sent to a catholic school where she experienced racism from her classmates
Like many Native Americans in the 60’s and 70’s Littlfeather at age 17 started to reclaim her identity and assert her rights. She started visiting reservations, attending pow-wows and campouts, learning traditions and dances, and even visited Alcatraz when it was occupied by Native American activists. By her early 20’s she was the head of a local affirmative action committee where she worked as a public service director, successfully campaigned for Stanford University to remove their offensive “Indian” sports team symbol, and even studied representation in film, television, and sports.
During her time in San Francisco, she learned that Marlon Brando had spoken about Native American rights. She eventually got his address from one of her neighbors, Francis Ford Coppola. Eventually, Marlon and Sacheen became friends, bonding over their common involvement in the American Indian Movement.
As a favorite to win the Best Actor award Brando asked Sacheen Littlefeather as a spokesperson to the stereotype of Native Americans in film and television and to bring awareness to the ongoing siege at Wounded Knee. When Brando was declared the winner Littlefeather walked on stage, raised her hand to decline the Oscar and said the following
“Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I’m Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening, and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech which I cannot share with you presently, because of time, but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry – excuse me… [boos and cheers] and on television in movie re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee. I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening, and that we will in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando”
This speech might have blacklisted her from acting but it brought awareness to Wound Knee and the portrayal of Natives in the film and television industry. Despite being blacklisted she continued to advocate for Native Americans by co-founding the National American Indian Performing Arts Registry. Due to a collapsed lung, she earned a degree in health and Native American medicine. She campaigned against obesity, alcoholism, and diabetes, and specifically assisted Native Americans with AIDs.
Not only will Sacheen Littlefeather’s speech go down in history as a historical moment for Native Americans but her advocacy for Native Americans will forever impact future Native American generations.
Written by: Charles Meyer
Ira Hayes was no stranger to the American flag. Ira’s father, a World War 1 vet, would proudly hang the flag on a wall in their home. Ira was an Akimel O’odham Native American, also known as the Pima, that grew up as a member of the Gila River Indian Community near Phoenix, Arizona.
While growing up Ira Hayes was known as a quiet but precious child and this behavior would follow him into his time with the United States Marine Corps. In August 1942 he enlisted and after training, he volunteered to join the new and elite paratrooper division. Later that year he earned his silver wings and was given the code name “Chief Falling Cloud.”
After serving nearly a year in the Pacific the parachute units disbanded and he was transferred to the 5th Marine Corps. Eventually, in January 1945 he left for Iwo Jima along with 70,000 other marines.
At Iwo Jima, Ira Hayes’s name and the image would be forever solidified into history with an iconic photograph. On February 23, 1945, Ira and 5 other sailors raised the American flag atop Mount Suribachi. The raising of the flag was a symbol of the American victory in World War II.
Ira was one of the two survivors of the flag raisers after leaving Iwo Jima and was considered a national hero. Ira never felt at ease in the spotlight and felt that he shouldn’t be placed above his fallen soldiers.
Ira eventually turned to acholic to help deal with PTSD and ease the pain of survivor’s guilt. In 1954 a bronze replica of the photograph was revealed. This was more of a curse for Ira than a blessing. 10 weeks later he was found dead near his home due to alcohol poisoning and exposure to cold freezing temperatures. He was just 32 years old.
Despite his tragic death, Ira Hayes is a hero to many but himself.
“Gather ’round me people,
There’s a story I would tell,
‘Bout a brave young Indian,
You should remember well.
From the land of the Pima Indian,
A proud and noble band,
Who farmed the Pheonix Valley,
In Arizona land.
Down the ditches a thousand years,
The waters grew Ira’s peoples’ crops,
‘Til the white man stole their water rights,
And the sparkling water stopped.
Now, Ira’s folks were hungry,
And their land grew crops of weeds,
When war came, Ira volunteered,
And forgot the white man’s greed.” – The Ballad of Ira Hayes by Johnny Cash
Written by: Charles Meyer
Dr. Susan Picotte
At a young age, Susan La Flesche Picotte learned a painful lesson. At eight years old she watched an elderly woman slowly die despite a doctor being summoned four times. “It was only an Indian and it [did] not matter” was painfully clear as the night progressed with the absence of the doctor.
This tragic event along with encouragement from her father Chief Iron Eye to learn Euro-American Society for their own survival she “saw the need of my people for a good physician.” These influences led her to be the first woman Native American doctor.
In 1886 Susan attended the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. Not only did she graduate a year early but graduated top of her class of 36. After receiving her medical degree Susan La Flesche Picotte returned to the Omaha Reservation at the age of 24.
So many insisted on Dr. Susan that her white counterpart suddenly quit, making her the only doctor on a reservation over 1300 square miles. She would work nearly 20 hour days, making house calls on foot, walking through wind and snow. She was known to treat anyone regardless of race and ethnicity.
Dr Susan advocated for her community, leading temperance campaigns and the use of screen doors to keep out disease-caring flies, and proper hygiene. Before she passed away in September 1915 she solicited enough donations to build the first hospital on the reservation that wasn’t government-funded.
“On September 18, 1915, Susan La Flesche Picotte passed away from chronic health issues after a life of dedicated service. She worked hard to build a bridge between two worlds as her father had advised, and it was evident at her funeral. Three priests eulogized her, but it was a member of the Omaha tribe who delivered the final words in the Omaha language.” – NPS
Written by: Charles Meyer
Volume 2 - The Women of the movement
Eager to encourage greater equality for African Americans and women, Mary Eliza Mahoney pursued a nursing career which supported these aims. She is noted for becoming the first African American licensed nurse.
Mary Eliza Mahoney was born in the spring of 1845 in Boston, Massachusetts. The exact date of her birth is unknown. Born to freed slaves who had moved to Boston from North Carolina, Mahoney learned from an early age the importance of racial equality. She was educated at Phillips School in Boston, which after 1855, became one of the first integrated schools in the country.
When she was in her teens, Mahoney knew that she wanted to become a nurse, so she began working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. The hospital was dedicated to providing healthcare only to women and their children. It was also exceptional because it had an all-women staff of physicians. Here Mahoney worked for 15 years in a variety of roles. She acted as janitor, cook, and washer women. She also had the opportunity to work as a nurse’s aide, enabling her to learn a great deal about the nursing profession.
The New England Hospital for Women and Children operated one of the first nursing schools in the United States. In 1878, at the age of 33, Mahoney was admitted to the hospital’s professional graduate school for nursing. The program, which ran for 16 months, was intensive. Students attended lectures and gained first-hand experience in the hospital. Many students were not able to complete the program because of its many requirements. Of the 42 students that entered the program in 1878, only four completed it in 1879. Mahoney was one of the women who finished the program, making her the first African American in the US to earn a professional nursing license.
After she finished her training, Mahoney decided not to follow a career in public nursing due to the overwhelming discrimination often encountered there. Instead, she pursued a career as a private nurse to focus on the care needs of individual clients. Her patients were mostly from wealthy white families, who lived up and down the east coast. She was known for her efficiency, patience, and caring bedside manner.
Mahoney was an active participant in the nursing profession. In 1896, she joined the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUSC), which later became known as the American Nurses Association (ANA). The NAAUSC consisted mainly of white members, which were not always welcoming to black nurses. Mahoney felt that a group was needed which advocated for the equality of African American nurses. In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). In the following year, at the NACGN’s first national convention, she gave the opening speech. At the convention, the organization’s members elected Mahoney to be the national chaplain and gave her a life membership.
After decades as a private nurse, Mahoney became the director of the Howard Orphanage Asylum for black children in Kings Park, Long Island in New York City. She served as the director from 1911 until 1912.
She finally retired from nursing after 40 years in the profession. However, she continued to champion women’s rights. After the 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920, Mahoney was among the first women who registered to vote in Boston.
Mahoney lived until she was 80. After three years of battling breast cancer, she died on January 4, 1926. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, Massachusetts.
Mahoney’s pioneering spirit has been recognized with numerous awards and memorials. In 1936, the National Association for Colored Graduate Nurses founded the Mary Mahoney Award in honor of her achievements. This award is given to nurses or groups of nurses who promote integration within their field. The award continues to be awarded today by the American Nurses Association. The AHA further honored Mahoney in 1976 by inducting her into their Hall of Fame. Mahoney joined another esteemed group of women in 1993, when she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
Mahoney’s grave in Everett, Massachusetts has also become a memorial site. In 1973, Helen S. Miller, winner of the Mahoney Award in 1968, led a fundraising drive to erect a monument to Mahoney at the gravesite. Her efforts were supported by the national sorority for professional and student nurses, Chi Eta Phi, and the ANA. The memorial was completed in 1973, and stands as a testament to Mahoney’s legacy.
MLA – Spring, Kelly. “Mary Mahoney.” National Women’s History Museum. National Women’s History Museum, 2017. Date accessed.
Chicago – Spring, Kelly. “Mary Mahoney.” National Women’s History Museum. 2017.
The moon is full, the crowd is a hip vibrant nucleus of brown individuals. Soft hues of blue, deep purples and warm reds drench the gathered faces. A blend of marijuana and cigarette smoke permeates the air. The artfully plucked strings of a cello send aggressive, yet plush sound waves bouncing through the cavernous chests of each person in the belly of the Everglades club.
The tickling of the ivory keys married with the sharp echo of the brass trumpets, and thumping cello. The Cigajuana smoke slowly rises upward, past the stage. On the platform, standing above the debonair crowd is Baby Esther. – A young Jazz musician who’s high, yet jazzy voice begins to scat: “boo-bo ba boo do-do da doo”.
A harmonious synchronization takes place. Her shoulders become weightless as she began to twist, move, bend and shake. Just below her iconic finger waves was a contorted silly face accompanied by zany yet precise eye rolls. Esther exudes an aura of performance expertise, it’s plain to see. Since Esther was 4 years old, she has been sharpening her valuable skill set from the legendary clubs of Chicago and New York, to the bustling Parisian venues in Europe.
Baby Esther also known as Lil’ Esther, ascended to greatness, and very quickly became the highest paid child artist of her time. Her work schedule was so dense that Lou Bolton, her manager, and Esther’s parents were all summoned to court and fined for permitting a minor to perform and improper guardianship. Despite her workload Esther would leave ethereal droplets of inspiration on the stage for individuals to soak up with their pocket rags in desperate hopes to create something half as great for themselves.
Enter Helen Kane a performer herself who was lurking among that crowd looking up watching Baby Esther do what she did best in 1928 at the Everglades club. Helen took notice to Esther’s superior ability to scat. While Esther took inspiration from her hero Florence Mills, she fused them with her graceful dancing and acrobatics to create something all her own. Helen on the other hand simply plagiarized Esther’s scats by lazily switching a few words around and used it in the Broadway premier of “Good Boy” during the song “Wanna be loved by you.”
This was this performance that would make Helen an overnight success. Helen gave no credit, or recognition to Esther. It would later show in court after a display of irrefutable evidence and a testimony from ex-manager Lou Bolton that Helen was not the originator. Still, Esther was not properly compensated.
Helen’s larceny would continue with her claiming to be the inspiration for Betty Boop. Her zeal led to a lawsuit against paramount studios for $250,000 – claiming that they used her likeness to create the cartoon, Betty Boop. The creator Max Fleischer would openly cite Esther Jones as the true inspiration for Betty Boop. Once again Helen Kane’s kleptomania was thwarted, and Esther left with improper compensation.
Esther continued to tour, this time in Europe. It was on this overseas run that she would be catapulted into stardom and become an international success. When she returned to America, Esther would tour the Vaudeville circuit, under the stage name Little Esther the Sepia dancing doll. She even performed with the likes of Cab Callaway.
Esther Jones’ stage presence caused inception in some While pushing others to imitate her. Mrs. Jones’ truth as a successful Black Woman who operated at the highest level deserves to be brightly illuminated with deep reverence. Betty boop’s skin may be fair but Baby Esther is her grandmother.
Ida B. Wells
In the late 19th century, publications such as the New York Times, prided themselves for being a paper of record, that was objective and dispassionate. However, they failed to recognize and expose the truth behind lynching. Instead of aligning themselves with the type of work that reflects their “values”, they decided to attack Ida B. Wells, the person. For her courage, and her willingness to question lies and myths perpetrated about Black Men, in an editorial in 1894, the New York Times called her: “a nasty-minded mulatress.”
In the podcast Backstory, Episode 185: Advocacy Journalism in America, historian and host Joanne Freeman asks her co-host and historian, Nathan Connelly: “… How much did Wells’ work actually change the myths that were circulating about lynching?” In his response, Nathan points out that it took the big newspapers of that period decades to recognize Ida B. Wells’ work, “Black Americans”, he continues, “… recognized immediately that what Wells’ was doing was digging up the truth.”
There are striking similarities between the late 19th century and our modern times, in terms of our propensity to let popular stereotypes guide our behaviors, our beliefs, and our decision-making, without questioning or attempting to understand their origins or facts presented. Below are two recent examples of a couple of commonly held stereotypes against Black Women :
The Pre-Pandemic (March 2020) Bureau of Labor Statistics & Labor report shows that Women of Color have a higher unemployment rate than the national average (9.7% for Black Women vs 5.5% in national average). One prevailing, and false stereotype argues that’s because, Black Women in particular, and Women of Color in general are lazy; a sentiment expressed by Oklahoma State Legislator Sally Kern, who is white, echoed this stereotype in 2011: “I taught school for 20 years and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t want to work as hard — they wanted it given to them […] women usually don’t want to work as hard as a man” because “women tend to think a little more about their family.”
Black Women aren’t asking for handouts.
A Black Women decides to push back, to lead, to voice her opinion and advocate for herself and/or for others. She is called angry, threatening, and loud. This stereotype stems from 19th century minstrel shows.
In 2018, Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes of our time was fined for breaking her racket and calling the umpire a “thief”. The behavior was no different than most elite athletes who play at her level. The difference is this: in other white and/or male athletes’ cases, they are called “passionate, competitive”, whereas, in Serena Williams’ case, she is called an “angry Black Woman”.
The fact that we are willing to trust news reports, publications, or the Internet, blindly at times, without going beyond the headlines, highlights the importance of Ida B. Wells’ pioneering work in investigative journalism. This has become even more important now that we tend to settle into our preferred corners and bubbles, defined by the news sources we frequent or our political leanings, which often only serve to confirm or reaffirm our biases.
Ida B. Wells’ willingness to question popular opinion, invest time and resources to collect actual facts, and persevere despite being a minority and a lone voice, is an inspiration. Ida B. Wells believed that if she could present reliable facts, the truth would prevail. She was right.
Ida B. Wells was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in May 2020, for her outstanding and courageous reporting.
Let’s honor Ida B. Wells, a forgotten Black Woman, by cultivating habits that she pioneered throughout her life:
(1) – Digging deeper than the surface, (2) – Allow our decisions to be guided by reliable fact, and (3) – Advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves.
Lena O. Smith
Have you ever walked into a professional networking group wondering if someone would look like you in the room? Or encounter individuals at work who do not think you even belong in the room with them? These questions are just some of the questions that faced Lena O. Smith during her career as a lawyer.
She moved to Minneapolis in 1906 with her mother and sisters from Lawrence, Kansas after losing their father. Lena was an entrepreneur who owned a beauty salon with a white woman. Following the salon she became a real estate agent, a profession that was widely known for its racial prejudice. Through her experiences as a businesswoman, especially as a realtor, she became motivated to change policies & behaviors from within the system.
Lena O. Smith became the 1st African American woman licensed to practice law in the state of Minnesota in 1921 and remained the only one do so until 1945. This was in our state’s history when only a dozen white women were also licensed to practice law in Minnesota. She did not cower if she was the only one who looked like her in the room. It motivated her to change public habits so that every room would be diverse with individuals and opinions.
Lena took on civil rights cases with a militant drive to provide equal access to public accommodations for all people. She argued cases against White Castle & Nicollet in this endeavor. She helped bring change to the Pantages Hotel Theater when she and couple African American men were denied seating on the main level.
But perhaps she is more known for her work on behalf of Arthur A. Lee and his family when they purchased a home in a previously all-white neighborhood in South Minneapolis. While the Lee family was advised by a white attorney to sell their home to the neighborhood committee Lena fought for them. She ultimately fought for and protected their right to stay in their home.
Lena O. Smith continued her work in Minnesota as she helped form The Urban League in Minneapolis in 1925. In 1930 she became the 1st woman president of Minneapolis’ NAACP.
We learn many lessons from Lena’s work in the 1st half of the 20th Century. She teaches us to learn our history so that we can step back from our own settings and become aware of our own preconceptions. If we only see from one perspective we can never learn another’s experience. It is in our diversity that we become stronger as a society.
Second Lena reminds us the importance of living in and working with community. Public interest is best attained when people live in the community they are advocating. Lena’s home was just a couple of blocks from Arthur A. Lee and family. She understood the daily the harassment the Lee family faced and the beauty of the neighborhood. Lena’s suit pant cuffs were dirty from the same dirt.
Lena fought legal cases not to change the law but to change the public’s mindset. She understood the long-term work that was required to acquire justice. It is a lifetime commitment that continues today with each one of us. We continue Lena’s work and honor her legacy to push the government to be more responsive to those without power or money. We live in community with one another getting our own pant cuffs dirty striving to make our community stronger.
We raise a glass to Lena O. Smith thanking her and honoring her by doing the right thing.
Volume 1 - The Pullman Porters
A. Phillip Randolph was a writer, a Pullman porter, a Black man in America, and a ravenous trailblazer. Through Randolph’s detailed accounts of his own and his fellow brethren’s life as Pullman porters, he was able to place a stark illumination on the odious labor circumstances each Pullman had to endure on a daily basis. With the average wage being around $810 a year and the untenable expectation to work 400 hours or travel a globe trotting 11,000 miles a month before any reprieve was allowed. They were seen merely as a device to mollycoddle the white passengers whims. On the train their names meaningless, instead they went by the nomenclature of ” George” the same name of the man who owned the sleeping train cars “George Pullman”. This among many other discrepancies pushed Randolph to seek refined treatment in the workplace, thus a union needed to be formed.
However the porters couldn’t go about manifesting this so desired union in the open and had to organize underground. From this a brotherhood was created and an operation set in place to thwart nefarious tactics like propaganda, spies and flagrant acts of intimidation.
These obstacles put in place by the union busters were no match for the combined efforts of Helena Wilson, future organizer and matriarch of the “Colored Women’s Economic Council”, and the wives and families of Pullman Porters across the country. It was their creative means of currency acquisition and education of union organization that made them into the binding grip that allowed the brotherhood to stay unified.
While the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was formed in 1925, it wasn’t until 1937 that the union became officially recognized by a major American corporation. Better working hours, increased sleeping time and the elimination of rates by mileage were just a few of the many improvements to the Pullmans workplace. It was through these ameliorated work conditions that the civil rights movement arose.
E.D. Nixon was a Pullman porter and after paying for Rosa parks bail placed a blossoming Martin Luther King at the head of the Montgomery bus boycott.
The community that was the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, who were once former slaves, rose to become the harbinger of the civil rights movement and later after copious amounts of contention the civil rights act. Their legacy permeates every facet of existence in America today and shows us struggle garners creativity, and creativity precedes change.