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Today in Black History, 1/22/2013

• January 22, 1822 Barney Launcelot Ford, businessman and civic leader, was born enslaved in Virginia. In 1840, Ford escaped slavery and went to Chicago, Illinois. In 1848, while sailing to California, he landed in Nicaragua where he saw many business opportunities. In 1851, he opened the United States Hotel and Restaurant 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 and 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. In 1973, a new Denver elementary school was named in his honor. Biographies of Ford include “Adventures of Barney Ford, a Runaway Slave” (1969) and “Barney Ford: Black Baron” (1973).

• January 22, 1906 Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell, hall of fame aviator, was born in Glasgow, Kentucky. Chappell earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana Teachers College in 1927. She started taking flying lessons in 1934 and earned her pilot’s license in 1937, making her the first African American woman licensed to fly in the United States. Also that year, she earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Northwestern University and co-founded the National Airmen’s Association of America with a mission to get African Americans into the United States Air Force. In 1939, she earned her commercial pilot’s license and the next year co-founded the Coffey School of Aeronautics where approximately 200 pilots were trained over the next seven years. Many of these pilots later became Tuskegee Airmen. In 1941, Chappell became the first African American officer in the Civil Air Patrol and in 1942 became a training coordinator for the Civil Aeronautics Administration. In 1943, Chappell earned her mechanic’s license, making her the first woman in the U.S. to have both a mechanic’s and a commercial pilot’s license. In 1972, she was appointed to the Federal Aviation Administration Women’s Advisory Board in recognition of her contributions to aviation as a pilot, instructor, and activist. Chappell died July 18, 1992 and was posthumously inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 2003.

• January 22, 1915 Clarence LaVaughn “C.L.” Franklin, minister and civil rights activist, was born in Sunflower County, Mississippi. At the age of 16, Franklin became a preacher working the black preaching circuit before settling at churches in Memphis, Tennessee and Buffalo, New York. In 1946, he became pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Franklin’s fame grew as he broadcast sermons via radio and preached throughout the country. He was also one of the first ministers to record his sermons. In the 1950s, Franklin became involved in the Civil Rights Movement, working to end discriminatory practices against black United Auto Workers and organizing the June 23, 1963 March for Civil Rights in Detroit. In 1979, Franklin was shot during an attempted robbery and remained in a coma for five years before his death July 27, 1984. The recording of his sermon “The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest” was added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2011 as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” “Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America” was published in 2005.

• January 22, 1920 William Caesar Warfield, concert bass-baritone singer and actor, was born in West Helena, Arkansas. Warfield earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and had his recital debut in 1950. In 1952, he performed in “Porgy and Bess” during a tour of Europe sponsored by the United States State Department. This was the first of six tours he did for the department, more than any other solo artist. Warfield was also an accomplished actor, appearing in the television production of “Green Pastures” (1957 and 1959) and the film “Show Boat” (1951). Warfield was active with the National Association of Negro Musicians, serving as president for two terms. In 1975, Warfield was appointed professor of music at the University of Illinois. He later became chairman of the Voice Department before moving to Northwestern University’s School of Music where he served until his death August 26, 2002. In 1984, he won the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording for his narration of “Lincoln Portrait.” Warfield published his autobiography, “William Warfield: My Music and My Life,” in 1991.

• January 22, 1924 James Louis “J. J.” Johnson, hall of fame jazz trombonist, composer, and arranger, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. At the age of nine, he started studying the piano, but decided to play the trombone at 14. In 1941, Johnson started his professional career. He played in Benny Carter’s orchestra from 1942 to 1945, recording his first solo in 1943. In 1945, he joined the Count Basie Band, touring and recording with him until 1946. In 1947, Johnson began recording as the leader of small groups and in 1954 joined with Kai Winding to set up the Jay and Kai Quintet which was musically and commercially successful. Starting in the early 1960s, Johnson dedicated more time to composing, writing a number of large scale works which incorporated elements of classical and jazz music. In 1970, he began to compose for film and television, scoring movies such as “Across 110th Street” (1972), “Cleopatra Jones” (1973), and “Willie Dynamite” (1974), as well as television series such as “Starsky & Hutch” and “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Johnson was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995 and designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1996. Johnson died February 4, 2001 and his autobiography, “The Musical World of J.J. Johnson,” was published in 2000.

• January 22, 1927 Fletcher Joseph “Joe the Jet” Perry, hall of fame football player, was born in Stephens, Arkansas. After military service in World War II, Perry attended Compton Junior College where he won national championships in 1946 and 1947. Perry joined the San Francisco 49ers in 1948 and over his 16 season professional career was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1954 NFL Most Valuable Player. He also was the first NFL runner to have consecutive 1,000 yard rushing seasons in 1953 and 1954. Perry retired in 1963 as the NFL career rushing leader. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969 and died April 25, 2011.

• January 22, 1931 Samuel Cooke, hall of fame singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Cooke began his career singing gospel. In 1950, he became the lead singer for The Soul Stirrers who recorded several hits, including “Peace in the Valley” (1951) and “One More River” (1955). In 1957, Cooke left The Soul Stirrers and recorded “You Send Me” which spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard pop chart. In 1960, he released “Chain Gang” which reached number two on the pop chart. In all, Cooke released 29 top 40 hits, including “Bring it on Home to Me” (1961) and “Another Saturday Night” (1963). Cooke was also one of the first black performers to attend to the business side of his career. In 1961, he started his own record label and later created a publishing imprint and management firm. On December 11, 1964, Cooke was shot dead. After his death, several others of his recordings were released, including “A Change is Gonna Come” (1964) which is generally considered his greatest composition. In 1986, Cooke was an inaugural inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 1999 was posthumously honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Several biographies have been published about Cooke, including “You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke” (1995) and “Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke” (2005).

• January 22, 1942 Louis Santop, hall of fame Negro League baseball player, died. Santop was born January 17, 1890 in Tyler, Texas. He made his professional baseball debut in 1909. Over his 15 season professional career, he had a .406 batting average, hitting .470 in 1911 and .455 in 1914. After World War I, he was the league’s biggest draw. After retiring from baseball, Santop became a broadcaster and in 2006 was posthumously inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

• January 22, 1947 James Anderson, Jr., the first African American United States Marine recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was born in Los Angeles, California. Anderson enlisted in the marines in 1966. He was promoted to private first class after graduating from recruit training and sent to Vietnam as a rifleman, 2nd Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. On February 28, 1967, his actions earned him the medal, America’s highest military decoration. His citation partially reads, “Company F was advancing in dense jungle northwest of Cam Lo in an effort to extract a heavily besieged reconnaissance patrol. Private First Class Anderson’s platoon was the lead element and had advance only about 200 meters when they were brought under extremely intense enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. The platoon reacted swiftly, getting on line as best they could in the thick terrain, and begun returning fire. Private First Class Anderson found himself tightly bunched together with the other members of the platoon only 20 meters from the enemy positions. As the fire fight continued several of the men were wounded by the deadly enemy assault. Suddenly, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the Marines and rolled alongside Private First Class Anderson’s head. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, he reached out, grasped the grenade, pulled it to his chest and curled around it as it went off. Although several Marines received shrapnel from the grenade, his body absorbed the major force of the explosion. In this singularly heroic act, Private First Class Anderson saved his comrades from serious injury and possible death.” In recognition, the Congressional Medal of Honor was posthumously presented to Anderson’s family by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 21, 1968. The United States Navy preposition ship, PFC. James Anderson, Jr., and the James Anderson, Jr. Memorial Park in Carson, California are named in his honor.

• January 22, 1989 Willie James Wells, hall of fame Negro League baseball player, died. Wells was born August 10, 1905 in Austin, Texas. He made his professional baseball debut in 1923. Over his 18 season playing career, he had a batting average of .328 and was considered the best black shortstop of his day. After his playing days, Wells continued with the sport as manager of various Negro league and Canadian teams. In 1997, Wells was posthumously inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. His biography, “Willie Wells: “El Diablo” of the Negro Leagues,” was published in 2007.

• January 22, 2002 Henry “Hank” Cosby, hall of fame songwriter, saxophonist, and record producer, died. Cosby was born May 12, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan. After serving in the United States Army during the Korean War where he played in the military band, Cosby became a mainstay on the Detroit jazz circuit. In 1959, he joined Motown Records as a member of the Funk Brothers, the studio band. Cosby is best known for co-writing or producing many of Stevie Wonder’s hits, including “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” (1966), “I Was Made to Love Her” (1967), and “My Cherie Amour” (1969). He also co-wrote “Tears of a Clown” (1967) for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Cosby was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.

• January 22, 2009 Susan Elizabeth Rice was confirmed as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, the first African American female to hold that position. Rice was born November 17, 1964 in Washington, D.C. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in history Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University in 1986. She was awarded a Rhodes scholarship and attended New College, Oxford where she earned her Master of Philosophy degree in 1988 and her Ph.D. in international relations in 1990. Her dissertation, “Commonwealth Initiative in Zimbabwe, 1979-1980: Implication for International Peacekeeping,” was chosen as the United Kingdom’s most distinguished in international relations. Rice served in various capacities at the National Security Council in the administration of President William Clinton from 1993 to 1997. In 1997, she was appointed assistant secretary of state for African affairs, a position she held until 2001. In 2002, she joined the Brookings Institute as senior fellow in the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development program. Rice serves on the boards of a number of organizations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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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.