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Today in Black History, 5/9/2014

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• May 9, 1919 James Reese Europe, ragtime and jazz bandleader, arranger and composer, died. Europe was born February 22, 1881 in Mobile, Alabama and moved to New York City in 1904. In 1910, Europe organized the Clef Club, a society for African Americans in the music industry. In 1912, they made history as the first band to play proto-jazz at Carnegie Hall when they played a concert for the benefit of the Colored Music Settlement School. The band played music written solely by Black composers. In 1913 and 1914, Europe made a series of recordings that are some of the best examples of the pre-jazz ragtime style of the 1910s. During World War I, Europe saw combat as a lieutenant with the Harlem Hellfighters and went on to direct the regimental band to great acclaim. After his return to the United States in 1919, he stated “I have come from France more firmly convinced than ever that Negros should write Negro music. We have our own racial feelings and if we try to copy Whites we will make bad copies.” At the time of his death, Europe was the best known African American bandleader in the U. S. and was granted the first ever public funeral for an African American in New York City. His biography, “A Lifetime in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe,” was published in 1995.

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Today in Black History, 5/8/2014

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• May 8, 1753 Phillis Wheatley, the first African American woman to have her work published, was born in Senegal, West Africa. Wheatley was enslaved at seven. She was tutored by her owners and learned to read and write. In 1773, her book “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” was published in London, England and immediately brought her fame. As a result of her fame, she was emancipated by her owners and went on to publish other poems. Wheatley died December 5, 1784. Today there is a building named in her honor at the University of Massachusetts and a statue of her is one of three included in the Boston Women’s Memorial unveiled October 25, 2003. Her biography, “Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley, a Native African and Slave,” was published in 1834. In 2012, Robert Morris University named their School of Communications and Information Systems building in her honor. Wheatley’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Today in Black History, 5/7/2014

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• May 7, 1845 Mary Eliza Mahoney, hall of fame nurse and the first African American registered nurse in the United States, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Mahoney worked at the New England Hospital for Women and Children for fifteen years before being accepted into its nursing school. On August 1, 1879, Mahoney earned her nursing degree. In 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses and from 1911 to 1912 served as director of the Howard Orphan Asylum for Black Children. Mahoney was also a strong advocate for women’s equality and women’s suffrage. In 1920, she was one of the first women in Boston, Massachusetts to register to vote. Mahoney died January 4, 1926. She was posthumously inducted into the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 1976 and the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. The Mary Mahoney Award is bestowed biennially by the ANA in recognition of significant contributions in advancing equal opportunity in nursing for minority groups. The Mary Eliza Mahoney Dialysis Center in Boston and the Mary Mahoney Lecture Series at Indiana University are named in her honor.

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Today in Black History, 5/6/2014

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• May 6, 1812 Martin Robinson Delany, abolitionist and the first African American field officer in the United States Army, was born in Charles Town, West Virginia. Because it was illegal to teach Black people to read or write, he and his siblings taught themselves. In 1835, Delany became more actively involved in political matters and attended his first Negro Conference. In 1843, he began publishing “The Mystery,” a Black controlled newspaper, and on December 3, 1847, together with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, began publishing the “North Star” newspaper. In the 1850s, Delany became convinced that White people would not allow deserving persons of color to become leaders in society and in his book, “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered” (1852), argued that Black people had no future in the United States and should leave and found a new nation elsewhere. In 1863, Delany began recruiting Black men for the Union Army to fight in the Civil War, raising thousands of enlistees, and in 1865 was commissioned as a major, the first Black field officer in the U. S. Army. Following the war and the demise of the Reconstruction Period, Delany helped form the Liberia Exodus Joint Stock Steamship Company with the intent to immigrate to Africa. However, he had to withdraw from the project due to family obligations. Delany died January 24, 1885. His biography, “Martin R. Delany: The Beginnings of Black Nationalism,” was published in 1971.

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Today in Black History, 5/5/2014

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• May 5, 1883 Josiah Henson, author, abolitionist and minister, died. Henson was born enslaved June 15, 1789 in Charles County, Maryland. In 1830, after trying to buy his freedom and being cheated out of his money, Henson escaped with his wife and children to Canada. After arriving in Ontario, he founded The Dawn Settlement and a laborer’s school for other previously enslaved fugitives. The settlement prospered, reaching a population of 500 and exporting lumber to the United States and Britain. Henson also became a Methodist preacher, abolitionist, and served in the Canadian army as an officer. Henson had three autobiographies published, “The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as narrated by Him” (1849), “Truth Stranger Than Fiction, Father Henson’s Story of His Own Life” (1858), and “Uncle Tom’s Story of His Life: An Autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson” (1876). Henson was the first Black man to be featured on a Canadian stamp and also was recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1999 as a National Historic Person. A federal plaque honoring him is located at the Henson family cemetery. Henson’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Today in Black History, 5/4/2014

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• May 4, 1891 Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, the first Black owned and operated hospital in the United States, was established by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. At that time, Black physicians had limited or no hospital privileges and nursing schools in Chicago did not admit Black students. The original building housed 12 beds. By 1897, the hospital was moved to a larger building, had 189 patients, and an outpatient clinic that treated 6,000 patients. In the early 1930s, Provident purchased a seven-story building, built a four-story outpatient clinic, and purchased two apartment buildings to house student nurses. Provident was forced to close in 1987 due to financial difficulties but reopened in 1997 as part of Cook County’s Bureau of Health Services.

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Today in Black History, 5/3/2014

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• May 3, 1898 Septima Poinsette Clark, “grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement,” was born in Charleston, South Carolina. As an African American, Clark was barred from teaching in the Charleston public school system, therefore she began teaching on John’s Island. In 1919, she returned to Charleston to teach at Avery Normal Institute, a private academy for Black children, and became active with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. From 1929 to 1947, Clark taught in the Columbia, South Carolina public school system. During that time, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Benedict College in 1942 and her Master of Arts degree from Hampton Institute in 1946. In 1956, Clark became vice president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP. That same year, the South Carolina legislature passed a law banning city or state employees from being involved with civil rights organizations. Clark refused to leave the NAACP and was fired from her teaching position. Beginning in 1954, Clark was active with the Highlander Folk School where she ran an adult literacy program. One of the participants in her workshops was Rosa Parks. In response to Southern states which required literacy and knowledge of the United States constitution in order to register to vote, Clark established “Citizenship Schools” throughout the Deep South. The program became so large that it was transferred to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Clark became SCLC’s director of education and training. Clark retired from the SCLC in 1970 and from 1974 to 1982 served on the Charleston County School Board, the first Black female member. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter presented Clark a Living Legend Award. Her autobiography, “Ready From Within: Septima Clark and the Civil Rights Movement,” was published in 1986. Clark died December 15, 1987.

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Today in Black History, 5/2/2014

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• May 2, 1843 Elijah J. McCoy, hall of fame engineer and inventor, was born in Colchester, Ontario, Canada. His parents had escaped enslavement to Canada. McCoy studied engineering in Edinburgh, Scotland and after returning to Canada found work with the Michigan Central Railroad. On July 12, 1872, he received patent number 129,843 for “Improvements in Lubricators for Steam-Engines.” This was a boon for railroads because it allowed trains to run faster and more profitably with less need to stop for lubrication and maintenance. McCoy continued to invent until late in his life, receiving 57 patents mostly related to lubrication but also including a folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. In 1920, he formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company. McCoy died October 10, 1929. In 1975, a Michigan historical marker was placed at the site of his Detroit, Michigan home and Elijah McCoy Drive in Detroit was named in his honor. In 2001, he was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and in 2006 the play “The Real McCoy” was written which chronicled his life and inventions. His biography, also titled “The Real McCoy,” was published in 2007. McCoy’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Today in Black History, 5/1/2014

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• May 1, 1866 The Memphis Riots of 1866 began after a shooting altercation between White policemen and Black Soldiers recently mustered out of the Union Army in Memphis, Tennessee. For three days, mobs of White civilians and policemen rampaged through Black neighborhoods. A report by a joint Congressional Committee detailed 46 Black people and 2 White people killed, 75 persons injured, over 100 persons robbed, 5 women raped, and 91 homes, 4 churches, and 8 schools burned. No criminal charges were ever brought against any of the perpetrators of atrocities committed during the riots. The riots did result in major changes toward modernization of the city’s police force.

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Today in Black History, 4/30/2014

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• April 30, 1872 Turner Byrd, Jr. of Williamsville, Michigan received patent number 126,181 for an improved neck-yoke for wagons. Byrd also received patent numbers 123,328 February 6, 1872 for an improved harness rein holder, 124,790 March 19, 1872 for an improved apparatus for detaching horses from carriages, and 157,370 December 1, 1874 for an improvement in railcar couplings. Not much else is known of Byrd’s life.

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Today in Black History, 4/29/2014

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• April 29, 1854 Lincoln University, the first degree granting historically Black college, was established as Ashmun Institute in Chester County, Pennsylvania “to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent.” In 1866, the institution was renamed Lincoln University. The first African American president was named in 1945 and in 1952 the institution began admitting women. Between 1854 and 1954, Lincoln produced 20 percent of the Black doctors and 10 percent of the Black lawyers in the United States. Today, the institution offers 37 undergraduate majors and 5 pre-professional programs to approximately 2,500 students. Notable alumni include Roscoe Lee Browne, Cab Calloway, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, and Kwame Nkrumah.

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Today in Black History, 4/28/2014

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• April 28, 1891 George Toliver of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received patent number 451,086 for his invention of a new propeller for vessels. His invention was simple, durable, and efficient in providing motive power to force vessels through water and thereby gaining speed and economizing power. Not much else is known of Toliver’s life.

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Today in Black History, 4/27/2014

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• April 27, 1882 Jessie Redmon Fauset, editor, author and educator, was born in Fredericksville, New Jersey. Fauset earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University in 1905 and is believed to be the second Black woman elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her Master of Arts degree in French from the University of Pennsylvania in 1919. Fauset began working at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s The Crisis magazine in 1912 and from 1919 to 1926 served as literary editor. She wrote four novels, “There is Confusion” (1924), “Plum Bun” (1928), “The Chinaberry Tree: A Novel of American Life” (1931), and “Comedy, American Style” (1933) and several poems and short stories. Fauset also worked as a schoolteacher from 1905 to 1919 and again from 1927 to her retirement in 1949. Fauset died April 30, 1961 and her biography, “Jessie Redmon Fauset: Black American Writer,” was published in 1981.

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Today in Black History, 4/26/2014

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• April 26, 1886 Ma Rainey, hall of fame vocalist and the “Mother of the Blues,” was born Gertrude Malissa Nix in Columbus, Georgia. Rainey first appeared on stage at 14 and in 1904 began performing with her husband as Rainey & Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. She made her first recording in 1923 and between that year and 1928 recorded more than 100 songs, including “Moonshine Blues” (1923), “C. C. Rider” (1924), and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (1927). She earned enough money that she was able to retire from performing in 1933 and run two theaters that she owned until her death December 22, 1939. Rainey was posthumously inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1994, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor. In 2004, her recording of “C. C. Rider” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of “qualitative or historical significance” and included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Books about Rainey include “Ma Rainey and the Classic Blues Singers” (1970) and “Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey” (1981). Rainey’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Today in Black History, 4/25/2014

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• April 25, 1882 William B. Purvis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received patent number 256,856 for a bag fastener. His invention used gum or paste to seal paper bags, thus eliminating the need for a cord. Over his lifetime, Purvis received ten additional patents. He is also believed to have invented, but did not patent, several other devices. Little else is known of Purvis’ life.

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Today in Black History, 4/24/2014

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• April 24, 1886 Augustine John Tolton was ordained to the priesthood in Rome, Italy and directed to return to the United States to serve the Black community, the first Black Roman Catholic priest in the U. S. Tolton was born enslaved April 1, 1854 in Ralls County, Missouri. During the Civil War, the Tolton family escaped to Quincy, Illinois. There Tolton was tutored by several priests. No American seminary would admit a Black student, therefore he attended the Urban College of the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide in Rome. After being ordained and returned to the U. S., he organized St. Joseph Catholic Church and School in Quincy. He was later reassigned to Chicago, Illinois where he led the development and administration of the “Negro national parish” of St. Monica’s Catholic Church which he grew to 600 parishioners. This earned him national attention. Tolton was known for his eloquent sermons, beautiful singing voice, and his talent for playing the accordion. Tolton died July 9, 1897. His biography, “From Slave to Priest: A Biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolton (1854-1897),” was published in 1973. The Father Augustine Tolton Regional Catholic High School in Columbus, Missouri is named in his honor. In 2011, the Roman Catholic Church officially began the formal introduction of the cause for sainthood of Tolton. He is now designated Servant of God – Fr. Augustus Tolton.

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Today in Black History, 4/23/2014

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• April 23, 1856 Granville T. Woods, hall of fame inventor often called the “Black Edison,” was born in Columbus, Ohio. In 1884, he and his brother formed the Woods Railway Telegraph Company to manufacture and sell telephone and telegraph equipment. On December 2, 1884, Woods was granted patent number 308,876 for a telephone transmitter, an apparatus that conducted sound over an electrical current. His instrument improved on models then in use by carrying a louder and more distinct sound over a longer distance. On November 29, 1887, he received patent number 373,915 for the synchronous multiplex railway telegraph which allowed communication between stations from moving trains. Although Woods was granted approximately 60 patents, he died virtually penniless January 30, 1910. The Granville T. Woods Math and Science Community Academy in Chicago, Illinois is named in his honor. Woods was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Today in Black History, 4/22/2014

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• April 22, 1921 Candido de Guerra Camero, jazz percussionist, was born in Havana, Cuba. Prior to moving to the United States, Candido recorded with various Cuban bandleaders, played in the house band of a Cuban radio station, and performed in the band of a popular Cuban nightclub. He moved to New York City in 1952 and started recording with Dizzy Gillespie. Candido subsequently recorded with Billy Taylor, Stan Kenton, and Erroll Garner. From the late 1950s through the 1970s, Candido was the most active Latin American percussionist in jazz and pop. He has appeared on more than a thousand albums, making him the most recorded conga drummer in history. As a leader, his recordings include “Candido” (1956), “Beautiful” (1970), and “Dancin’ and Prancin’” (1979). In 2008, Candido was designated a NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist.

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Today in Black History, 4/21/2014

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• April 21, 1896 Thomas Boyne, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died. Boyne was born in 1849 in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In 1879, he was serving as a sergeant in Company C of the 9th Cavalry Regiment in New Mexico during the Indian Wars. Boyne was cited for “bravery in action” at the Mimbres Mountains May 29, 1879 and at the Cuchillo Negro River September 27, 1879. For his actions, Boyne was awarded the medal, America’s highest military decoration, January 6, 1882. He was discharged from the army in 1889 because of a disability and admitted to the U. S. Soldiers Home in 1890, where he lived until his death.

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Today in Black History, 4/20/2014

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• April 20, 1906 Everett Frederick Morrow, businessman and the first African American to hold an executive position at the White House, was born in Hackensack, New Jersey. Morrow graduated from Bowdoin College in 1930 and was employed by the National Urban League and the NAACP as field secretary before entering the United States Army in 1942. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1943 and was discharged in 1946 as a major of artillery. In 1948, he earned his Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers University. In 1955, he joined President Dwight Eisenhower’s staff as administrative officer for special projects where he served until 1961. In 1963, Morrow published his account of the experience in his autobiography “Black Man in the White House.” In 1964, he became the first Black corporate executive at Bank of America. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Bowdoin in 1970. Morrow died July 20, 1994.

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