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Today in Black History, 8/9/2012

• August 9, 1883 Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin, suffragette and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C. After moving to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lampkin joined the New Negro Women’s Equal Franchise Federation which was later renamed the Lucy Stone League. In 1915, she became president of the league, a position she held until 1955. She also served as national board chairwoman of the National Association of Colored Women and assisted Mary McLeod Bethune in founding the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. In 1930, Lampkin was recruited by the NAACP as the first field secretary for the organization and in 1935 she was promoted to national field secretary. During 1947, her last year in that position, she raised more than $1 million for the organization. Lampkin was the NAACP Woman of the Year in 1945 and in 1964 was the first recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt - Mary McLeod Bethune World Citizenship Award. Lampkin died March 10, 1965 and her home in Pittsburgh was designated a historical landmark in 1983, the first time the state of Pennsylvania awarded a plaque to honor an African American in the city.

• August 9, 1893 Richard Benjamin Moore, lecturer, political activist, and author, was born in Christ Church, Barbados. Moore moved with his family to the United States in 1909 and settled in Harlem, New York. In Harlem, Moore was introduced to the realities of European colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean as well as the injustices of Jim Crow in the South. In 1915, he joined the 21st Assembly District Socialist Club in Harlem and by 1918 he was well known through his speeches on Black Nationalism and Marxism. In 1920, Moore co-founded “The Emancipator,” a magazine devoted to Marxism as the liberating ideology for African Americans. In 1921, Moore became one of the first African Americans to join the American Communist Party. He remained a member until 1942 when he was expelled for promoting a Black Nationalist agenda. In 1942, Moore opened the Frederick Douglass Book Center which became well known for carrying rare texts on black people. In 1960, Moore wrote “The Name Negro: Its Origin and Evil Use” which argued against the terms “Negro” and “colored” in referring to people of African descent and promoted the use of “Afro-American.” Moore died August 18, 1978. Moore’s biography, “Richard B. Moore: Caribbean Militant in Harlem,” was published in 1988.

• August 9, 1898 Robert Nelson Cornelius Nix, Sr., the first African American to represent Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives, was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Nix earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Lincoln University in 1921 and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1924. After entering private practice, Nix became active in the Democratic Party and served as a delegate to the 1956 Democratic National Convention. In 1958, Nix was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served until 1978. While in the House, Nix backed a national civil rights agenda and served on the Foreign Affairs and Post Office and Civil Service Committees. Nix died June 22, 1987. The Robert N. C. Nix Federal Building in Philadelphia is named in his honor.

• August 9, 1911 Eddie Futch, hall of fame boxing trainer, was born in Hillsboro, Mississippi, but raised in Detroit, Michigan. In 1932, Futch won the Detroit Athletic Association Lightweight Boxing Championship and in 1933 he won the Detroit Golden Gloves Championship. A heart murmur prevented him from turning professional, therefore he began training fighters. Over his career, Futch trained 21 boxing champions, including Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Alexis Arguello, Michael Spinks, and Riddick Bowe. Futch was named Trainer of the Year in 1991 and 1992 by the Boxing Writers Association of America. Futch retired in 1998 and is widely considered one of the top three trainers who ever lived. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994 and died October 10, 2001.

• August 9, 1912 Anne Wiggins Brown, soprano and the first African American vocalist admitted to the Julliard School, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Brown studied at Morgan State College and applied to the Peabody Institute, but was rejected because of her race. In 1928, she was admitted to the Julliard School and in 1932 won the Margaret McGill scholarship as the finest female singer at the school. That same year, she received her diploma in voice and in 1934 received her artist’s diploma. In 1935, Brown created the role of Bess in the original production of “Porgy and Bess” which ran on Broadway for 124 productions. Following the shows’ run on Broadway, it toured the United States. When it reached Washington, D.C. it was scheduled for the National Theater which was a segregated theater. When Brown became aware of this, she responded “if black people cannot hear me sing, then count me out.” Eventually management gave in, resulting in the first integrated audience for a performance of any show at the National Theater. Brown returned to Broadway in the 1937 musical revue “Pins and Needles” and the 1939 play “Mamba’s Daughter.” In 1942, Brown left the United States because of continued racial prejudice and toured Europe until 1948 when she settled in Oslo, Norway and became a Norwegian citizen. Due to health problems, Brown quit singing professionally in 1953. Brown published her memoir, “Songs from a Frozen Branch,” in 1979. In 1998, she received the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America from the Peabody Institute, the institution that had denied her admittance earlier. In 2004, Brown was the subject of a documentary entitled “Gershwin, Norway, and The Artists’ Libido: A dialogue with Anne Brown.” Brown died March 13, 2009.

• August 9, 1928 Harold Johnson, hall of fame boxer, was born in Manayunk, Pennsylvania. Johnson started boxing at the age of eight and turned professional in 1946. He won his first 24 professional fights and in 1961 won the World Light Heavyweight Boxing Championship. He held the title until 1963 and retired from boxing in 1971 with a record of 76 wins and 10 losses. Johnson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.

• August 9, 1942 Jack DeJohnette, jazz drummer, pianist, and composer, was born in Chicago, Illinois. DeJohnette studied classical piano until he began to play drums in his high school band. In 1962, he moved to New York City and from 1968 to 1972 played with Miles Davis. Since the early 1970s, DeJohnette has led several groups, recording such albums as “Cosmic Chicken” (1975), “Inflation Blues” (1982), and “Music for the Fifth World” (1992). In 2009, he won the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for “Peace Time.” DeJohnette received an Honorary Doctorate of Music degree from Berkley College of Music in 1991 and was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2012, he was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

• August 9, 1943 Kenneth Howard Norton, Sr., hall of fame boxer, was born in Jacksonville, Illinois. Norton started boxing in the United States Marine Corps where he served from 1963 to 1967, compiling 24 wins and 2 losses en route to three All-Marine Heavyweight Boxing Championships. He turned professional in 1967 and in 1973 won the WBC Heavyweight Boxing Championship. Norton only held the title for a short time and retired from boxing in 1981 with a record of 42 wins, 7 losses and 1 tie. After retiring, Norton appeared in approximately 20 movies and worked as a television and radio commentator. He suffered a near fatal car accident in 1986 which left him with slurred speech. Norton was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992. Norton has published two autobiographies, “Going the Distance” in 2000 and “Believe: Journey from Jacksonville” in 2009.

• August 9, 1963 Whitney Elizabeth Houston, recording artist, actress, and former model, was born in Newark, New Jersey. Houston began singing at the age of 11 as a member of her church’s junior gospel choir. After she began performing with her mother, Cissy Houston, in New York City nightclubs she was discovered. Houston released her debut album “Whitney Houston” in 1985 and it became the best selling debut album by a female artist. Her second album “Whitney” released in 1987 became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. Other albums by Houston include “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (1990), “Just Whitney” (2002), and “I Look to You” (2009). Houston was one of the world’s best-selling music artists, selling more than 200 million albums and singles worldwide. She was nominated for 23 Grammy Awards and won six. Houston also appeared in several feature films, including “The Bodyguard” (1992), “Waiting to Exhale” (1995) and “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996). The soundtrack for “The Bodyguard” won the 1993 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and the soundtrack for “The Preacher’s Wife” is the best selling gospel album of all-time. Houston died February 11, 2012, shortly after completing the film “Sparkle.” Several biographies have been published of Houston, including “Good Girl, Bad Girl: An Insider’s Biography of Whitney Houston” (1996) and “Whitney Houston: The Biography” (2003).

• August 9, 1967 Deion Luwynn Sanders, hall of fame football player, was born in Fort Myers, Florida. In high school, Sanders was All-State in football, basketball, and baseball. He played college football at Florida State University where he also played baseball and ran track. As a football player he was a two-time All-American and in 1988 won the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the nation. Florida State retired Sanders’ jersey number 2 in 1995. Sanders was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1989 NFL Draft and, over his 14-season professional career, was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time NFC Defensive Player of the Year. Sanders also played professional baseball part-time for nine years. He is the only man to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series. After retiring, he worked as a pre-game commentator for “The NFL Today” television show until 2004 and is currently an analyst for NFL Networks. In 2011, Sanders was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He published his autobiography, “Power, Money & Sex: How Success Almost Ruined My Life.”

• August 9, 1977 Chamique Shaunta Holdsclaw, four-time women’s college basketball All-American and author, was born in Queens, New York. Holdsclaw led her high school basketball team to four straight New York State Basketball Championships. She then went to the University of Tennessee and led them to NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998. At Tennessee, she was a four-time All-American and the Naismith Player of the Year in 1998 and 1999. Also in 1999, she won the John E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. In 1999, she graduated from Tennessee as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the school’s history. Holdsclaw was selected by the Washington Mystics in the 1999 WNBA Draft and that year was named Rookie of the Year. Over here eleven season professional career, she was a six-time All-Star. As a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team, Holdsclaw won a Gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Holdsclaw published “Chamique: On Family, Focus, and Basketball” in 2000 and her autobiography, “Breaking Through: Beating the Odds Shot After Shot,” in 2012.

• August 9, 2003 Gregory Oliver Hines, dancer, choreographer and actor, died. Hines was born February 14, 1946 in New York City. He started dancing at an early age and together with his brother and father eventually became known as Hines, Hines and Dad. Hines made his Broadway debut with his brother in “The Girl in Pink Tights” in 1954 and earned Tony Award nominations for “Eubie!” (1979), “Comin’ Uptown” (1980), and “Sophisticated Ladies” (1981). In 1992, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for “Jelly’s Last Jam.” Hines made his movie debut in “History of the World, Part 1” (1981) and subsequently appeared in “White Nights” (1985), “Tap” (1989), and “Waiting to Exhale” (1995). Hines also received several Emmy Award nominations, the last one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries in 2001 for “Bojangles.” Hines was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2004.

• August 9, 2008 Bernard Jeffrey “Bernie Mac” McCullough, comedian and actor, died. Mac was born October 5, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. He started out as a stand-up comedian around Chicago and in 1989 won the Miller Lite Comedy Search. His first major acting role was in the 1995 film “Friday.” That was followed by other roles in films primarily directed at black audiences. In 2001, he was able to break from the traditional “black comedy” genre with his role in “Ocean’s Eleven.” Also in 2001, his semi-autobiographical situation comedy “The Bernie Mac Show” debuted on Fox Television. That show won a 2001 Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting and the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing. In 2002 and 2003, Mac was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. In 2004, Mac had his first starring role in the film “Mr. 3000.” Just prior to his death, Mac completed work on the film “Soul Man,” which was released in 2008.

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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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