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Today in Black History, 2/9/2015

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• February 9, 1902 Gabriel Leon M’ba, the first Prime Minister and first President of the Gabonese Republic, was born in Libreville, Gabon. After studying at a seminary, M’ba held a number of jobs before becoming a custom agent for the colonial administration. As a result of his political activism in favor of Black people, in 1931 M’ba was sentenced to three years in prison and ten years in exile. He returned to Gabon in 1946 and began his political ascent which culminated in his appointment as prime minister. When Gabon gained independence from France August 17, 1960, M’ba became president. He was re-elected in 1967 but died November 27, 1967. The Leon M’ba International Airport in Libreville is named in his honor.

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Today in Black History, 2/8/2015

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• February 8, 1831 Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler, the first African American woman to become a physician in the United Sthttp://o.quizlet.com/i/qe7gLbTM3r4A2OU4tpsrjw_m.jpgates, was born in Delaware. Crumpler moved to Charleston, Massachusetts in 1852 and worked as a nurse for eight years. She earned a medical degree from the New England Female Medical College in 1864, the first African American woman in the United States to earn that degree and the only African American to graduate from that college. After the end of the Civil War in 1865, Crumpler moved to Richmond, Virginia where she joined other Black physicians caring for formerly enslaved people who otherwise had no access to medical care. She authored “A Book of Medical Discourses” in 1883. Crumpler died March 9, 1895.

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Today in Black History, 2/7/2015

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• February 7, 1887 James Herbert “Eubie” Blake, hall of fame composer, lyricist and pianist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Blake began taking music lessons at 7 and at 15 was playing piano in a bordello. He began playing in vaudeville in 1912 and shortly after World War I joined forces with Noble Sissle as the Dixie Duo. After vaudeville, the pair created “Shuffle Along” which premiered on Broadway May 23, 1921 and became the first hit Broadway musical written by and about African Americans. It also introduced the hit songs “I’m Just Wild About Harry” and “Love Will Find a Way.” By 1975, Blake had been awarded honorary doctorate degrees by a number of institutions, including Rutgers University, University of Maryland, Howard University, and Dartmouth College. The 1978 Broadway musical “Eubie” featured the works of Blake. On October 9, 1981, Blake received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Ronald W. Reagan and he was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1983. Blake died February 12, 1983. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1995. Also that year, Blake was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. The James Hubert Blake High School opened in Silver Springs, Maryland in 1998. The album “The Eighty – Six Years of Eubie Blake” (1969) was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2006 as a recording of “cultural, historical, or aesthetical significance.” The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center in Baltimore is named in his honor. Blake’s biography, “Eubie Blake,” was published in 1979. “Reminiscing With Sissle and Blake” (2000) recounts the lives and music of Blake and Sissle.

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Today in Black History, 2/6/2015

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

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Today in Black History, 2/5/2015

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• February 5, 1813 Jermain Wesley Loguen, Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and abolitionist, was born Jarm Logue enslaved in Davidson County, Tennessee. Loguen escaped bondage to Canada in 1834. He learned to read in Canada before moving to Rochester, New York in 1837 and studying at the Oneida Institute. He moved to Syracuse, New York in 1841 and worked as a school teacher and opened schools for Black children. His house was one of the most openly operated stations on the Underground Railroad. It is estimated that more than 1,500 previously enslaved people passed through his house. Loguen became an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and held various church posts before being appointed a bishop in 1868. He published his autobiography, “The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman, A Narrative of Real Life,” in 1859. Loguen died September 30, 1872.

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Today in Black History, 2/4/2015

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• February 4, 1900 John Percial Parker, inventor, Underground Railroad conductor and businessman, died. Parker was born February 2, 1827 in Norfolk, Virginia. At eight, he was sold into slavery. By 1845, he had earned enough money to buy his freedom for $1,800. As a free man, Parker became involved in abolitionist activities and aided in the freeing of over a thousand enslaved people. Parker established the Ripley Foundry and Machine Company in 1854. His foundry employed more than 25 workers and remained in operation until 1918. During the Civil War, Parker served as a recruiter for the Union Army and supplied castings for the war effort. Parker received patent number 304,552 September 2, 1886 for the Follower-Screw for Tobacco Presses. On May 19, 1885, he received patent number 318,285 for the Portable Screw Press, popularly known as the Parker Pulverizer. His home in Ripley, Ohio was designated a National Historic Landmark February 18, 1997. Parker’s autobiography, “His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad,” was published in 1996.

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Today in Black History, 2/3/2015

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• February 3, 1867 Charles Henry Turner, behavior scientist, zoologist and educator, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Turner earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1891 and Master of Science degree in 1892 in biology from the University of Cincinnati. He taught at Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) from 1893 to 1905. Turner earned his Ph. D. in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1907. Despite his advanced degrees, he taught science at a high school in St. Louis, Missouri from 1908 to his retirement in 1922. He also did significant insect research and published more than 70 papers. One of his more important findings was that insects could modify their behavior based on experience. He also discovered that ants find their way back to their nest in a circular pattern. Turner was also a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in St. Louis, arguing that only through education could the behavior of both White and Black racists be changed. Turner died February 15, 1923. Turner Middle School in St. Louis is named in his honor.

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Today in Black History, 2/2/2015

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• February 2, 1827 John Percial Parker, inventor, Underground Railroad conductor and businessman, was born in Norfolk, Virginia. At eight, Parker was sold into slavery. By 1845, he had earned enough money to buy his freedom for $1,800. As a free man, he became involved in abolitionist activities and aided in the freeing of over a thousand enslaved people. Parker established the Ripley Foundry and Machine Company in 1854. His foundry employed more than 25 workers and remained in operation until 1918. During the Civil War, Parker served as a recruiter for the Union Army and supplied castings for the war effort. Parker received patent number 304,552 September 2, 1884 for the Follower-Screw for Tobacco Presses. On May 19, 1885, he received patent number 318,285 for the Portable Screw Press, popularly known as the Parker Pulverizer. Parker died February 4, 1900. His home in Ripley, Ohio was designated a National Historic Landmark February 18, 1997. His autobiography, “His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad,” was published in 1996.

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Today in Black History, 2/1/2015

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• February 1, 1810 Charles Lenox Redmond, orator, abolitionist and military organizer, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. Redmond began his activism against slavery as an orator while in his twenties. The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society chose him as one of its agents in 1838 and he went to the 1840 World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England. Redmond had a reputation as an eloquent lecturer and is reported to have been the first Black public speaker on abolition. During the Civil War, Redmond recruited Black soldiers in Massachusetts for the Union Army. After the war, he worked in the Boston Customs House and as a street lamp inspector. Redmond died December 22, 1873.

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Today in Black History, 1/31/2015

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• January 31, 1904 Henry Johnson, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died. Johnson was born June 11, 1850 in Boydton, Virginia. On October 5, 1879, Johnson was serving as a sergeant in Company D of the 9th Cavalry Regiment at Milk River, Colorado during the Indian Wars when his actions earned him the medal. His citation reads,” Voluntarily left fortified shelter and under heavy fire at close range made the rounds of pits to instruct the guards, and fought his way to the creek and back to bring water to the wounded.” In recognition of his heroic actions, Johnson was awarded the medal, America’s highest military decoration, September 22, 1890. Not much else is known of Johnson’s later life except that he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Today in Black History, 1/30/2015

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• January 30, 1844 Richard Theodore Greener, the first African American to graduate from Harvard College, was born in Philhttp://image2.findagrave.com/photos250/photos/2007/195/20477831_118461091079.jpgadelphia, Pennsylvania. After three years at Oberlin College, Greener transferred to Harvard and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, in 1870. After teaching for two years at the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney University) and serving as principal of the Preparatory School for Colored Children (now Dunbar High School), he accepted a professorship at the University of South Carolina. From 1878 to 1880, Greener served as dean of the Howard University School of Law. He served as secretary of the Grant Monument Association from 1885 to 1892 and as a civil service examiner in New York City from 1885 to 1890. Greener was appointed the United States Commercial Agent in Russia in 1898, a position he held until 1905. He received honorary Doctorate of Laws degrees from Monrovia College in Liberia in 1882 and Howard University in 1907. Greener died May 2, 1922. Phillips Academy annually awards the Robert T. Greener 1865 Endowed Scholarship.

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Today in Black History, 1/29/2015

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• January 29, 1850 Sarah Loguen Fraser, physician, was born in Syracuse, New York. At a young age, Fraser gained experience by helping to treat the illnesses and injuries of formerly enslaved Black people who passed through her parent’s house which was a stop on the Underground Railroad. She earned her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1876 from Syracuse University College of Medicine (now Upstate Medical University of the State University of New York), the first woman to gain that degree from the school. She went on to intern in pediatrics and obstetrics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Boston, Massachusetts before opening her own practice in Washington, D. C. Fraser moved with her husband to the Dominican Republic in 1882 and became the country’s first female doctor and pediatric specialist. By law, she could only treat women and children. Because she also provided free treatment to the poor, Fraser became a revered figure in the nation. After her husband died, she returned to the United States and practiced pediatrics and mentored midwives from her home in Syracuse. She later moved back to D. C. where she joined the Order of Malachites, an African American professional services organization, and provided medical services to patients at a women’s clinic. Fraser died April 9, 1933. After her death, the Dominican Republic declared a nine-day period of national mourning with flags flown at half-mast. The Sarah Loguen Park in Syracuse and the child care center at Upstate Medical University are named in her honor.

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Today in Black History, 1/28/2015

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• January 28, 1896 Malvin Gray Johnson, painter, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. Johnson started painting as a child and won top awards in local fairs and exhibitions as a teenager. He moved to New York City where he studied at the National Academy of Design. Johnson was one of the most versatile artist of his time and one of the first African American artist to paint in the cubist style. He won first prize at a Harmon Foundation exhibition in 1928 and won the Otto H. Kahn prize for painting in 1929. Johnson died October 4, 1934. In 2002, the North Carolina Central University Art Museum hosted the first retrospective exhibition devoted to his work. In 2010, Swann Galleries auctioned his work “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (1928) for $228,000. His works “The Brothers” (1934) and “Self-Portrait” (1934) are in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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Today in Black History, 1/27/2015

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• January 27, 1869 Will Marion Cook, violinist and composer, was born in Washington, D. C. Cook’s musical talents were apparent at an early age and at 15 he was sent to the Oberlin Conservatory to study violin. Cook studied at the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik in Germany from 1887 to 1889 and made his professional debut in 1889. He became director of a chamber orchestra in 1890 and composed “Scenes from the Opera of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” His composition “Clorindy: or, The Origin of the Cakewalk” became the first all-Black show to play in a prestigious Broadway house July 4, 1898. Cook produced many successful musicals, including “Uncle Eph’s Christmas” (1901), “The Southerners” (1904), and “Swing Along” (1929). Cook died July 19, 1944. The Will Marion Cook House in New York City was declared a National Historic Landmark May 11, 1976. His biography, “Swing Along: The Musical Life of Will Marion Cook,” was published in 2008.

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Today in Black History, 1/26/2015

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• January 26, 1892 Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman, hall of fame civil aviator, was born in Atlanta, Texas. In her early 20’s, Coleman became interested in flying but could not gain admittance to American flight schools because she was Blhttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/95/Bessie_Coleman_and_her_plane_(1922).jpgack and a woman. Therefore, she traveled to Paris, France where she learned to fly and became the first African American woman to earn an international aviation license June 15, 1921. After completing an advanced training course, Coleman became a barnstorming stunt flier known as Queen Bess. On April 30, 1926, while flying to an air show, her plane crashed and she died instantly. In 1990, a road at O’Hara Airport was renamed Bessie Coleman Drive. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor and she was posthumously inducted into the Women in Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995. Biographies of Coleman include “Bessie Coleman: The Brownskin Lady Bird” (1994) and “She Dared to Fly: Bessie Coleman” (1997). Coleman’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, 1/25/2015

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• January 25, 1890 The National Afro-American League was formed by Timothy Thomas Fortune. The organization was dedicated to racial solidarity and self-help. The league also sought equal opportunities in voting, civil rights, education, public accommodations and an end to lynchings in the South. It became defunct in 1893 due to lack of support and funding. It was reformed as the National Afro-American Council in 1898 and existed until 1908. Many of the supporters of the league and council later became supporters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Broken Brotherhood: The Rise and Fall of the National Afro-American Council” was published in 2008.

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Today in Black History, 1/24/2015

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• January 24, 1874 Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, historian, writer and activist, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. While in grade school, one of his teachers claimed that Black people had no history, heroes, or accomplishments. This inspired Schomburg to prove the teacher wrong. Schomburg was educated at St. Thomas College in the Virgin Islands where he studied Negro literature. He immigrated to New York City in 1891 and began teaching Spanish in 1896. Schomburg co-founded the Negro Society for Historical Research in 1911 and later became president of the American Negro Academy. In 1925, Schomburg published his widely read and influential essay “The Negro Digs Up His Past” in 1925. In 1928, the New York Public Library system purchased his collection of literature, art, and other materials and appointed him curator of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and Art (later renamed the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). Schomburg died June 8, 1938. His biography, “Arthur Alfonso Schomburg: Black Bibliophile & Collector,” was published in 1989. Schomburg’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, 1/23/2015

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• January 23, 1837 Amanda Berry Smith, evangelist, was born enslaved in Long Green, Maryland. As a child, Smith’s father worked for years to save enough money to buy his family’s freedom and when she was 13 she moved to Pennsylvania to work. Smith became well known for her beautiful voice and evangelized throughout the South and West. She was invited to speak and sing in England in 1876 and ended up staying for a year and a half conducting religious services. After her return to the United States, she founded the Amanda Smith Orphans’ Home for African American children in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. She continued to evangelize and became known as “God’s image carved in ebony.” Her autobiography, “The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, the Colored Evangelist,” was published in 1893. Smith retired to Florida in 1912 where she lived until her death February 24, 1915.

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Today in Black History, 1/22/2015

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• January 22, 1822 Barney Launcelot Ford, businessman and civic leader, was born enslaved in Virginia. Ford escaped via the Underground Railroad in 1840 and went to Chicago, Illinois. While sailing to California in 1848, he landed in Nicaragua where he saw many business opportunities. He opened the United States Hotel and Restaurant in 1851 which became very successful and provided him $5,000 in savings. Ford returned to Denver, Colorado where he eventually owned two hotels, a restaurant, and a barbershop and by the 1870s was worth over $250,000. With his wealth, Ford gave money, food, and jobs to newly freed African Americans and opened a school for Black children. In 1882, he and his wife were the first African Americans to be invited to a Colorado Association of Pioneers dinner. Ford died December 22, 1902. His portrait, in the form of a stained glass window, is in the rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol Building. The Barney Ford House Museum is located in Breckenridge, Colorado and the Barney L. Ford Building is in Denver. A new Denver elementary school was named in his honor in 1973. Biographies of Ford include “Adventures of Barney Ford, a Runaway Slave” (1969) and “Barney Ford: Black Baron” (1973).

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Today in Black History, 1/21/2015

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• January 21, 1913 Fannie Jackson Coppin, educator and journalist, died. Coppin was born enslaved October 15, 1837 in Washington, D.C. She gained her freedom at 12 when her aunt, who worked for $6 per month and saved $125, was able to purchase Coppin’s freedom. Coppin enrolled at Oberlin College in 1860 and was the first African American student to be appointed in the college’s preparatory department. While attending Oberlin, she established an evening school for previously enslaved Black people. Coppin earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1865 and began to teach at the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney University). Coppin became principal of the institute in 1869, the first African American woman to receive that title. She served in that position until 1906. In addition to teaching, Coppin founded homes for working and poor women and wrote an influential column in the local newspapers that defended the rights of women and Black people. Coppin and her husband went to South Africa in 1902 and founded the Bethel Institute, a missionary school that emphasized self-help programs. Her book “Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching” was published shortly after her death. In 1926, a teacher training school was named the Fannie Jackson Coppin Normal School in her honor. That school is now Coppin State University. Coppin’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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