February is the black history month and Aero Turbine Inc. is honored to recognize US Army Major Martin Robison Delany, an African American abolitionist, journalist, physician, soldier, and writer, and arguably the first proponent of black nationalism. Delany is credited with the Pan-African slogan of “Africa for Africans”.
Born in Charles Town, West Virginia, he trained as a physician’s assistant and fought the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854 in Pittsburgh, Delany treated patients, despite people not knowing how the disease was transmitted. Delany was one of the first three black men admitted to Harvard Medical School but being dismissed after a few weeks because of widespread protests by white students. He worked alongside Frederick Douglass in Rochester, New York to publish the North Star.
Delany dreamed of establishing a settlement in West Africa. He visited Liberia, a United States colony founded by the American Colonization Society, and lived in Canada for several years, but when the American Civil War began, he returned to the United States. Following an audience with Abraham Lincoln his proposal of a corps of black men led by black officers to help win over Southern blacks to the Union side was accepted. Lincoln was impressed by Delany and described him as “a most extraordinary and intelligent man”. Delany became the first African American field grade officer in the United States Army after his commission as a Major.
After the Civil War, Delany settled in South Carolina working for the Freedmen’s Bureau and became politically active, including in the Colored Conventions Movement. Delany ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor as an Independent Republican. He worked for the campaign of Democrat Wade Hampton III for governor in a season marked by violent suppression of black Republican voters by Red Shirts and fraud in balloting.
Delaney married and had eleven children and succumbed to tuberculosis. He left a legacy that shines a light on “black lives matter” and the resolve that his “pride in his color and ancestry and his insistence that Negro Americans control their destiny”.
Major Delany defines strength, drive and commitment to his ideals and race, setting and achieve lofty and aspirational goals. He epitomizes the pioneering spirit we applaud at ATI.