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Today in Black History, 11/14/2012

• November 14, 1856 John Edward Bush, co-founder of the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), was born enslaved in Moscow, Tennessee. Bush and his family were freed after the Civil War and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Bush graduated with honors from Capitol Hill City School in 1876 and served as its principal for two years immediately following graduation. In 1883, he co-founded MTA, an African American fraternal organization which by 1930 had grown to international scope, spanning 26 states and 6 foreign countries. It was one of the largest and most successful black-owned business enterprises in the world and Bush was acknowledged as one of the wealthiest black men in Arkansas. In 1898, President William McKinley appointed Bush the receiver of the United States Land Office in Little Rock and he was subsequently reappointed four additional terms by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Bush died December 11, 1916.

• November 14, 1915 Booker Taliaferro Washington, educator, author, and political leader, died. Washington was born enslaved April 5, 1856 on the Burroughs Plantation in Virginia. His family gained their freedom at the end of the Civil War and Washington was educated at Hampton Institute and Wayland Seminary. In 1881, Washington was appointed the first leader of Tuskegee Institute which he headed for the rest of his life. Washington was the dominant leader of the African American community from 1890 until his death. This was particularly true after his Atlanta Exposition speech of 1895 where he appealed to whites to give blacks a chance to work and develop separately and implied that he would not demand the vote. Washington associated with the richest and most powerful businessmen of the era and became a conduit for their funding of African American educational programs. As a result, numerous schools for blacks were established through his efforts. In 1901, as the result of an invitation from President Theodore Roosevelt, Washington became the first African American to visit the White House as the guest of the president. Washington authored four books, including his bestselling autobiography “Up from Slavery” (1901). In 1940, Washington became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp. On September 29, 1942, the Liberty Ship Booker T. Washington was launched in his honor, the first major ocean going vessel to be named after an African American. Numerous schools around the country are named in his honor. Biographies of Washington include “Booker T. Washington: Educator and Interracial Interpreter” (1948) and “Booker T. Washington and the Negro’s Place in American Life” (1955). Washington’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

• November 14, 1916 Mabel Fairbanks, hall of fame figure skater and coach, was born in New York City. Fairbanks fell in love with figure skating in the 1930s. Despite her ability, she was not allowed to join skating clubs because of her race. She was often told, “We don’t have Negroes in ice shows.” She eventually left the United States and joined the Rhapsody on Ice Show where she wowed international audiences. When she returned to the U.S., Fairbanks found that the situation had not changed. After retiring from skating, Fairbanks started a skating club and coached many future champions, including Scott Hamilton, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Tiffany Chin. In 1997, Fairbanks became the first African American to be inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Fairbanks died September 29, 2001.

• November 14, 1936 Cornelius E. Gunter, hall of fame rhythm and blues singer, was born in Coffeyville, Kansas. Gunter began recording in 1953 singing backup on Big Jay McNeely’s “Nervous Man Nervous.” In 1957, he sang the title song for the movie “The Green Eyed Blonde.” From 1958 to 1961, Gunter performed as a member of The Coasters and they recorded “Yakety Yak” (1958), their only number one hit, “Charlie Brown” (1959), and “Poison Ivy” (1959). After leaving The Coasters, Gunter recorded several solo singles. In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the other members of The Coasters. On February 26, 1990, Gunter was shot dead in his car in Las Vegas, Nevada.

• November 14, 1950 Lydia M. Holmes of St. Augustine, Florida received patent number 2,529, 692 for her Knockdown Wheeled Toys. This consisted of several easily assembled wooden pull toys including a bird, truck and dog. The toys were used to encourage concentration in young children. Not much else is known of Holmes’ life.

• November 14, 1954 Condoleezza Rice, professor, diplomat, and national security expert, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Rice earned her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in political science from the University of Denver in 1974, her Master of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975, and her Ph.D. in political science from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in 1981. Rice served as a professor at Stanford University from 1981 to 1987 and from 1991 to 1992 before she was named provost of the university, the first female, first minority, and the youngest provost in Stanford history. On December 17, 2000, Rice was named National Security Advisor, the first female to hold that position, and on January 26, 2005 she was confirmed as Secretary of State, the first African American female to hold that position. In 2004 and 2005, she was ranked the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine and number two in 2006. After her tenure as Secretary of State, Rice returned to Stanford as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institute. In 2010, she became a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy. Also that year, Rice published a family history, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family” and in 2011 she published “No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington.” On August 20, 2012, Rice became one of the first two women to be admitted as members of Augusta National Golf Club.

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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.