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Today in Black History, 10/3/2012

• October 3, 1829 James Theodore Holly, missionary and the first African American Bishop in the Episcopal Church, was born in Washington, D.C. Holly joined the Protestant Episcopal Church and became a deacon in 1855 and a priest in 1856. He believed that African Americans had no future in the United States and the only answer was emigration. He was a delegate to the first Emigration Convention in 1854 and the next year represented the National Emigration Board as commissioner. Holly promoted emigration to Haiti and delivered a series of lectures that were published in 1857 as “Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self Governance and Civilized Progress.” In 1861, Holly led 110 African Americans to Haiti and the next year became a Haitian citizen. In 1874, he was consecrated Missionary Bishop of Haiti and in 1878 was recognized as Bishop of the Orthodox Apostolic Church of Haiti. Holly died March 13, 1911.

• October 3, 1856 Timothy Thomas Fortune, journalist, editor and civil rights leader, was born enslaved in Marianna, Florida. He was freed after slavery was abolished in 1865. Although mostly self-taught, in 1875 Fortune enrolled at Howard University to first study law and then journalism. In 1876, he dropped out to begin work at the People’s Advocate, a Washington, D.C. newspaper. In 1881, Fortune moved to New York City and founded a newspaper that four years later would become The New York Age, the Afro-American journal of news and opinion. The New York Age became the most widely read of all black newspapers. He sold the newspaper in 1907. Fortune was the leading advocate for using Afro-American to identify his people, reasoning that “they are African in origin and American in birth.” In 1890, Fortune co-founded the National Afro-American League to right wrongs against African Americans authorized by law and sanctioned or tolerated by public opinion. The league fell apart after four years but was resurrected in 1898 as the National Afro-American Council with Fortune as president. In 1923, Fortune became the editor for Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association’s Negro World. At its height, the Negro World had a circulation of over 200,000 and was distributed around the world. Fortune published several books, including “Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South” (1884), “The Kind of Education the Afro-American Most Needs” (1898), and “The New York Negro in Journalism” (1915). Fortune died June 2, 1928 and his home in Red Bank, New Jersey was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. His biography, “T. Thomas Fortune: Militant Journalist,” was published in 1972.

• October 3, 1872 William H. Thompson, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Paterson, New Jersey. By June 30, 1898, Thompson was serving as a private in Troop G of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, an all-black unit of the United States Army, during the Spanish-American War. On that day, American forces aboard the USS Florida near Tayacoba, Cuba dispatched a small landing party to provide reconnaissance on Spanish outposts in the area. The party was discovered and came under heavy fire, sinking their boats and leaving them stranded on shore. The men aboard the Florida launched four rescue attempts but were forced to retreat under heavy fire each time. The fifth attempt, manned by Thompson and three other privates, found and rescued the surviving members of the landing party. On June 23, 1899, Thompson and the three other rescuers were awarded the medal, America’s highest military decoration. Not much else is known of Thompson’s life except that he died September 24, 1916.

• October 3, 1926 Marques Haynes, hall of fame basketball player, was born in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Haynes played college basketball for Langston University from 1942 to 1946. After graduating, he played for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1947 to 1953. In 1953, Haynes turned down an offer from the Philadelphia Warriors which would have made him the second highest paid player in the NBA in order to form his own barnstorming team, the Harlem Magicians. Many people consider Haynes to be best ballhandler to ever play the game and his game influenced many players, including Bob Cousy, Pete Maravich, and Fred “Curly” Neal. Haynes retired in 1992 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

• October 3, 1941 Chubby Checker, singer and songwriter, was born Ernest Evans in Spring Gulley, South Carolina but raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By the time Checker entered high school, he had learned to play the piano and perform vocal impressions of popular entertainers. In 1959, Checker released his first single, “The Class.” Checker introduced his version of “The Twist” in 1960 and it went on to become the only single to top the Billboard Hot 100 twice, in two separate chart runs. In 2008, “The Twist” was named the biggest chart hit of all time by Billboard Magazine. Checker followed that up with a number of other hits, including “Pony Time” (1961), “Let’s Twist Again” (1961), which won the Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Solo Vocal Performance, “Limbo Rock” (1962), and “Birdland” (1963). Checker is the only recording artist to place five albums in the Top 12 all at once. Checker continues to perform and in 2008 his “Knock Down the Walls” was number one on Billboard’s dance chart.

• October 3, 1949 WERD, the first radio station owned and operated by African Americans, began broadcasting from Atlanta, Georgia. The station was bought by Jesse B. Blayton, Sr., an accountant and businessman, in the late 1940s and operated until he sold it in 1968.

• October 3, 1950 Gerald Michael Boyd, the first African American metropolitan editor and managing editor at the New York Times, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Boyd won a scholarship to the University of Missouri-Columbia. After graduating in 1973, he joined the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where he worked as a reporter and White House correspondent until 1983. In 1983, Boyd joined the New York Times as a national political reporter. He rose through the ranks to managing editor in 2001, the first African American in the newspaper’s history to hold such a senior position. As managing editor, he oversaw 1,200 reporters and editors. Under his leadership, the newspaper won three Pulitzer Prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for the 2000 series “How Race is Lived in America” which he supervised. Boyd resigned from the newspaper in 2003 and worked as a consultant until his death on November 23, 2006. His biography, “My Times in Black and White: Race and Power at the New York Times,” was published in 2010.

• October 3, 1951 David Mark Winfield, hall of fame baseball player, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1969, Winfield went to the University of Minnesota on a full baseball scholarship, where he starred in baseball and basketball. In 1973 he was named All-American and voted Most Valuable Player of the College World Series. After college, Winfield was drafted by four professional teams in three different sports. The San Diego Padres selected him in the Major League Baseball draft, the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and Utah Stars (ABA) drafted him in the professional basketball drafts, and the Minnesota Vikings drafted him the National Football League draft. Winfield chose baseball and over his 22 season professional career, was a 12-time All-Star and 7-time Gold Glove winner. Winfield was well known for his philanthropic work from the beginning of his professional career. In 1977, he established the David M. Winfield Foundation for Underprivileged Youth, the first active athlete to do so. His efforts were recognized with the 1992 Branch Rickey Award for exceptional community service and the 1994 Roberto Clemente Award which is given to the player that “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Winfield retired in 1996 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2006, he was part of the inaugural class inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Winfield is currently Executive Vice President/Senior Advisor for the San Diego Padres and a studio analyst for “ESPN SportsCenter.” He published his autobiography, “Dave Winfield: A Player’s Life,” in 1989.

• October 3, 1954 Alfred Charles “Al” Sharpton, Jr., minister, civil rights activist, and radio talk show host, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Sharpton preached his first sermon at the age of four and toured with Mahalia Jackson. While still in high school, he started promoting concerts and was hired by soul singer James Brown as a bodyguard. Also while in high school, Sharpton was appointed by Jesse Jackson as youth director for Operation Breadbasket in 1969 and in 1971 he founded the National Youth Movement to raise resources for impoverished youth. During the 1970s and 1980s, Sharpton led a number of protests in the New York metropolitan area and rose to national prominence. In 1991, he founded the National Action Network, an organization to increase voter education, provide services to those in poverty, and support small community businesses. Sharpton has made several unsuccessful efforts for elective offices and he continues to be a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. In 2011, he was named host of MSNBC Television’s “Politics Nation,” a nightly talk show. Sharpton has authored two books, his autobiography “Go Tell Pharaoh” (1996) and “Al on America” (2002).

• October 3, 1975 India. Arie, singer, songwriter, and record producer, was born India Arie Simpson in Denver, Colorado. Arie’s mother moved the family to Atlanta, Georgia when she was 13. She attended Savannah College of Arts and Design to study jewelry making and while there gained an interest in the guitar. Arie eventually formed an independent record label, Groovement/Earthseed, and released a compilation album of songs by several artists, including one of her own. Arie released her debut album, “Acoustic Soul” in 2001 and within months it was certified double platinum, selling more than three million worldwide. This was followed the next year by “Voyage to India” which sold more than 1.4 million copies and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album and contained the single “Little Things” which won the Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance. Arie’s two most recent albums are “Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationships” (2006) and “Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics” (2009), both of which were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.

• October 3, 1979 Charles White, graphic artist and educator, died. White was born April 2, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois. He became interested in art by the age of 7 and at 14 was working as a sign painter. White earned a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated in 1937. After graduation, he joined the Works Project Administration and in 1940 was commissioned to create a mural on the history of the Negro press. In 1947, White had his first one-man show. His works explored the universal conflicts that plague all humankind. Despite his success, White could not escape racism. His work was included in an exhibition of black artists at the University of Alabama, but the artists were not allowed to attend and the Delgado Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana purchased one of his paintings, but he was denied admission to the museum. Europe was different. On a 1951 trip, he found his work widely known and his skin color was not a concern. In 1965, White began teaching at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, a position he held until his death. White’s images of the black experience are held in the collections of the Whitney Museum, the Library of Congress, the Joseph H. Hirschhorn Collection, and several universities.

• October 3, 1993 Felrath Hines, curator and artist, died. Hines was born November 9, 1913 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He began his formal art training at the age of 31 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later moved to New York City to study at the Pratt Institute. Trained to be an art conservator, he launched a very successful private practice that included clients such as the Yale University Art Gallery and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1972, Hines joined the Smithsonian Institute as chief conservator of the National Portrait Gallery and from 1980 to his retirement in 1984 served in the same capacity at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Hines was active in the Civil Rights Movement, including participating in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and joining the Spiral Group, a group of African American artists formed by Romare Bearden in 1963. While not opposed to participating in exhibitions of African American artists, Hines wanted his images to remain universal and not to be seen as having relevance exclusively to African Americans. As a result, in 1971 he refused to participate in the Whitney Museum of Art’s exhibition “Contemporary Black Artists in America.” Hines’ works are in the collections of several museums, including the National Museum of American Art, the Indiana University Art Museum, and Baltimore Museum of Art.

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Founded in 1965 and located in the heart of Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. The Museum provides learning opportunities, exhibitions, programs and events based on collections and research that explore the diverse history and culture of African Americans and their African origins.

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