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Today in Black History, 8/25/2012

• August 25, 1746 Native Americans attacked two white families in Deerfield, Massachusetts in an area called “The Bars.” Lucy Terry, an enslaved black woman, composed a ballad about the attack titled “Bars Fight” which is considered the oldest known work of literature by an African American. Her poem was preserved orally until it was published in 1855. Terry was born around 1830 and stolen from Africa and sold into slavery as an infant. A successful black man purchased her freedom and married her in 1756. A persuasive orator, Terry won a case against false land claims before the Supreme Court of Vermont in the 1790s. She also delivered a three hour address to the Board of Trustees of Williams College to support the admittance of her son to the college. Although unsuccessful, the speech was remembered for its eloquence and skill. Terry died July 11, 1821.

• August 25, 1868 Archibald Carey, Sr., political activist, writer and religious leader, was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Carey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Atlanta University in 1888 and became a licensed preacher. In 1898, Carey moved to Chicago, Illinois to pastor Quinn Chapel AME, the oldest black church in the city. He built a strong reputation as a powerful and talented preacher and maintained political connections with the Republican Party. In 1915, he was appointed to head Illinois’ celebration of the 50th anniversary of emancipation. Carey also served as chaplain of the all-black Illinois 8th Regiment during World War I. Carey later served as the Chief Examiner of Claims for the City of Chicago and on the Chicago Civil Service Commission where he used his influence to promote the hiring of African American police officers. Carey died March 23, 1931.

• August 25, 1908 Martha Minerva founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses with the mission of promoting the standards and welfare of black nurses and breaking down racial discrimination in the profession, including winning integration of black RN’s into nursing schools, nursing jobs, and nursing organizations. In 1934, Estelle Massey Riddle Osborne who three years earlier had become the first black person to obtain a master’s degree in nursing was elected president. Between 1934 and 1949, the NACGN grew from 175 to 947 members. One of their greatest achievements was the integration of the Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II. In 1951, the NACGN declared victory and voted itself out of business by merging with the American Nurses Association.

• August 25, 1919 William Patrick Foster, hall of fame bandmaster and creator of the Florida A&M University “Marching 100,” was born in Kansas City, Kansas. Foster earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Kansas in 1941, his Master of Arts degree in music from Wayne State University in 1950, and his Doctor of Education degree in music from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1955. When Foster became director of the band in 1946, the school was known as the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. He introduced over 30 new techniques to the band which have become standard procedures for high school and college bands nationwide. In 1989, France chose the Florida A&M band as America’s official representative in the Bastille Day Parade celebrating the bicentennial of the French Revolution. In 1992, Sports Illustrated magazine declared the Florida A&M band the best marching band in the country. Foster retired in 1998 and was the first recipient of the United States Achievement Academy Hall of Fame Award. Also in 1998, he was elected to the National Band Association Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors, the most prestigious honor a bandmaster can receive. Foster authored “Band Pageantry: A Guide for the Marching Band” and “The Man Behind the Baton.” He died August 28, 2010.

• August 25, 1925 Five Hundred Pullmans Porters met in Harlem, New York to form The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and elect A. Phillip Randolph as its first president. The union struggled for twelve years before winning its first collective bargaining agreement with the Pullman Company. In 1935, it became the first labor organization led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor. At its peak in the 1940s, the BSCP had 15,000 members. In addition to their labor activities, many BSCP members played significant roles in the civil rights movement of the 1940s and 1950s. Notable Pullman Porters included Benjamin Mays, Oscar Micheaux, Gordon Parks, and Malcolm X. In 1978, BSCP merged with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks, now known as the Transportation Communications International Union. The A. Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum was established in Chicago, Illinois in 1995.

• August 25, 1927 Althea Gibson, hall of fame tennis player and the first black woman to win the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, was born in Silver, South Carolina but raised in Harlem, New York. As a teenager, Gibson won table tennis tournaments sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. In 1947, she won the first of 10 consecutive national championships run by the American Tennis Association, the governing body for black tennis tournaments. In 1953, Gibson earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida A&M University and began work as an athletic instructor at Lincoln University. In 1955, the color barrier was broken in tennis and Gibson won the 1955 Italian Championships. The following year, she won her first Grand Slam title, capturing the French Open Championship in singles and doubles. Over the course of her career, Gibson won five singles and six doubles Grand Slam championships. She was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1957 and 1958. In 1964, Gibson became the first African American to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association. In 1971, Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and in 1975 appointed New Jersey State Commissioner of Athletics. She also authored two books, “I Always Wanted to Be Somebody” in 1958 and “So Much to Live For” in 1968. Gibson died September 28, 2003. On the opening night of the 2007 U.S. Open, she was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Open Court of Champions. Her biography, “Althea Gibson,” was published in 1989.

• August 25, 1933 Wayne Shorter, hall of fame jazz saxophonist and composer, was born in Newark, New Jersey. Shorter took up the saxophone as a teenager and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in music education in 1956 from New York University. After spending two years in the United States Army, in 1959 Shorter joined Art Blakey’s group where he played for five years and eventually became the group’s musical director. From 1964 to 1970, he played with Miles Davis, composing “ESP,” “Footprints,” “Nefertiti,” and many other recordings. In 1971, Shorter co-founded the group Weather Report which recorded until 1985. After leaving Weather Report, Shorter continued to record and lead groups. Shorter has won nine Grammy Awards, including three for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group for “A Tribute to Miles” (1994), “Alegria” (2003), and “Beyond the Sound Barrier” (2005). In 1998, Shorter was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2003 he was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. Shorter’s biography, “Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter,” was published in 2005.

• August 25, 1946 Charles Alvin Sanders, hall of fame football player, was born in Richlands, North Carolina. Sanders played college football at the University of Minnesota and was selected by the Detroit Lions in the 1968 NFL Draft. Over his 10 season professional career, Sanders was a seven-time All-Pro selection. Sanders retired after the 1977 season and from 1983 to 1988 served as a color analyst on the Lions’ radio broadcasts. He is currently their assistant director of pro personnel. In 2007, Sanders was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2005, he co-authored “Charlie Sanders’ Tales from the Detroit Lions.”

• August 25, 2001 Aaliyah Dana Houghton, recording artist, actress, and model, died in an airplane crash in the Bahamas. Houghton was born January 16, 1979 in Brooklyn, New York but raised in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of nine, Houghton appeared on the television show “Star Search” and at the age of eleven performed in concert with Gladys Knight. Her debut album, “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” was released in 1994 and sold more than two million copies. Both of her next two albums, “One in a Million” (1996) and “Aaliyah” (2001), also sold more than two million copies and were certified double platinum. She appeared in her first major film, “Romeo Must Die,” in 2000 and a track from the film, “Try Again,” earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocalist. Houghton sold more than 32 million records worldwide and in 2002 was posthumously awarded the American Music Awards’ Favorite Female R&B Artist and Favorite R&B/Soul Album.

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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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