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Today in Black History, 9/18/2012

• September 18, 1895 Booker T. Washington delivered his famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. Considered the definitive statement of Washington’s accommodationist strategy, it is regarded as one of the most significant speeches in American history. In the speech, Washington responded to the “Negro problem,” what to do about the abysmal social and economic conditions of blacks. Washington promised the audience that he would encourage blacks to become proficient in agriculture, mechanics, commerce, and domestic services, and to encourage them to “dignify and glorify common labor.” Washington also eased many white’s fears about social integration by stating that both races “could be as separate at the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” The entire speech can be easily found on the internet.

• September 18, 1905 Edmund Lincoln “Rochester” Anderson, hall of fame radio, television and film actor, was born in Oakland, California. Anderson began his show business career at the age of 14 in a song and dance act called Three Black Aces. He was best known for playing Rochester van Jones, the valet for Jack Benny on radio and television. Anderson first appeared on the show in March, 1937 and remained with the show until 1955. Anderson also appeared in more than 60 films, including “What Price Hollywood?” (1932), “Jezebel” (1938), “Gone with the Wind” (1939), and the all-black musical film “Cabin in the Sky” (1943). His last film appearance was in the 1963 comedy “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Anderson was one of the highest paid performers of his time and he invested wisely and became very wealthy. He died February 28, 1977 and his home in Los Angeles was opened in 1989 as Rochester House and is dedicated to helping troubled men transition into society. In 2001, Anderson was posthumously inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

• September 18, 1939 Bobby Jones, hall of fame gospel singer, television host and executive producer, was born in Henry, Tennessee. Jones earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Tennessee State University in 1959. He continued his education with a master’s degree from Tennessee State and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. While pursuing his master’s, he taught elementary school in Missouri and Tennessee. Since 1980, Jones has produced and hosted “Bobby Jones Gospel” for Black Entertainment Network. That show has provided initial exposure to many gospel soloist and groups, including Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, and Smokie Norful. In 1984, Jones won the Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group for “I’m So Glad I’m Standing Here Today.” Jones has also authored two books, “Touched By God” (1999), a collection of inspirational stories by gospel artists about how God has changed their lives, and his memoir, “Make a Joyful Noise” (2000). In 2008, Jones was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.

• September 18, 1951 Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr., acclaimed pediatric neurosurgeon, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Carson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Yale University in 1973 and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1977. At the age of 33, he became director of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital, the youngest major division director at the hospital. In 1987, Carson became the first surgeon in the world to successfully separate Siamese twins conjoined at the back of the head. Other surgical innovations by Carson include the first intrauterine procedure to relieve pressure on the brain of a hydrocephalic fetal twin and a hemispherectomy to remove half of the brain of a young girl suffering from uncontrollable seizures. Carson continues to operate on more than 300 children a year. In 1994, he co-founded the Carson Scholarship Fund to recognize young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. Carson was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP in 2006 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award, by President George W. Bush in 2008. He published his autobiography, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” in 1990. Other books by Carson are “Think Big” (1996), “The Big Picture” (2000), and “Take the Risk” (2008). He has received more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees and serves on the board of directors of Kellogg Company and Costco Wholesale Corporation.

• September 18, 1954 Dennis Wayne Johnson, hall of fame basketball player, was born in Los Angeles, California. Johnson played college basketball at Los Angeles Harbor College and Pepperdine University. He was selected by the Seattle Supersonics in the 1976 NBA Draft and over his 15 season professional career was a five-time All-Star and nine-time All Defensive Team member. Johnson won NBA championships in 1979 with the Supersonics and in 1984 and 1986 with the Boston Celtics. Johnson retired in 1990 and in 1991 the Celtics retired his jersey number 3. After retiring, he served as an assistant coach with various teams. Johnson died February 22, 2007 and was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

• September 18, 1970 James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix, hall of fame guitarist, singer and songwriter, died. Hendrix was born November 27, 1942 in Seattle, Washington. He acquired his first guitar at the age of 15. A self-taught musician, Hendrix moved to New York City in 1964 and played with several backing bands for soul, R&B, and blues musicians. In 1966, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed and the band enjoyed immediate success in Europe, but did not achieve fame in the United States until their 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Most of Hendrix’s albums were released posthumously, including “The Cry of Love” (1971), “Crash Landing” (1975), and “Valley of Neptune” (2010). Hendrix is widely considered to be the greatest guitarist in the history of rock music and one of the most influential musicians of his era. He has been posthumously honored with many awards, including induction into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1970, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994, in 2006 his debut album, “Are You Experienced” (1967), was added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” and in 2010 he was inducted into the Fender Hall of Fame. Many books have been written about Hendrix, including “Jimi Hendrix – Electric Gypsy” (1991) and “Jimi Hendrix, Musician” (2003).

• September 18, 1971 Jada Koren Pinkett-Smith, film and television actress, producer, director and business woman, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Pinkett-Smith began her career in 1990, but her real success came in 1991 when she starred in the television series “A Different World.” She has appeared in more than 20 films, including “Menace II Society” (1993), “Set It Off” (1996), “Ali” (2001), and “The Women” (2007). In addition she has created a production company, 100% Woman Productions, her own clothing line, Maja, and in 2004 authored a children’s book, “Girls Hold Up This World.” In 1997, she married Will Smith and they founded the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation which focuses on urban inner city youth and family support. In 2006, Pinkett-Smith donated $1 million to the Baltimore School for the Arts in memory of fellow alumnus Tupac Shakur. Pinkett-Smith starred in and served as executive producer of the television series “Hawthorne” from 2009 to 2011.

• September 18, 2001 Joseph “Sandy” Saddler, hall of fame boxer, died. Saddler was born June 23, 1926 in Boston, Massachusetts, but raised in Harlem, New York. He had 50 amateur fights before turning professional in 1944. In 1948, he won the World Featherweight Boxing Championship, lost it in 1949, and regained the title in 1950. In 1949, Saddler also won the World Junior Lightweight Boxing Championship. He held both titles when he retired in 1956 due to an eye injury suffered in a traffic accident. Saddler retired with a record of 144 wins, 16 losses, and 2 draws. After retiring, Saddler trained other boxers, including George Forman in the 1970s. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2003, Ring magazine ranked Saddler number five on its list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

• September 18, 2002 Robert Lee “Bullet Bob” Hayes, hall of fame track and field athlete and football player, died. Hayes was born December 20, 1942 in Jacksonville, Florida. While a student at Florida A&M University, Hayes was the AAU 100 yard dash champion from 1962 to 1964 and in 1964 was the NCAA champion in the 200 meter race. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, he won Gold medals and set world records in the 100 meter race and the 4 by 100 meter relay. At that time, he was considered the world’s fastest man. Hayes was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1964 NFL Draft. Over his 11 season professional football career, he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was instrumental in the Cowboys’ 1972 Super Bowl victory. Also in 1972, he was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame. Hayes is the only man to win an Olympic Gold medal and a Super Bowl ring. He was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

• September 18, 2011 Norma Holloway Johnson, the first African American woman to serve as a United States District Court Chief Judge, died. Johnson was born Normalie Loyce Holloway on July 28, 1932 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the District of Columbia Teachers College and was valedictorian of her class in 1955. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree in 1962 from Georgetown University Law Center. From 1963 to 1967, she served as a civil trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and from 1967 to 1970 worked in the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia, becoming the chief of the Juvenile Division. Johnson was appointed associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1970 and served until 1980. That year, she was appointed to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. She became chief judge in 1997 and held that position until 2001 when she took senior status. Johnson retired from the bench in 2003.

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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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