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A Proud New Tradition as 30th Annual African World Festival Moves to The Wright Museum

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A Proud New Tradition as 30th Anniversary African World Festival

moves to the grounds of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Friday, August 17 – Sunday, August 19


DETROIT, June 26, 2012 – Detroit’s largest ethnic festival, presented for the 30th year by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, establishes a proud new tradition by being held on the museum grounds, surrounding streets and connecting green spaces. The City of Detroit will close adjacent streets to accommodate one of the most widely anticipated events of the summer. Hours for the free festival are Friday, August 17 through Sunday, August 19, from noon - 11:30 p.m. each day.


The museum building will be open for special and ticketed events. The outdoor festival grounds will feature four outdoor stages, more than 100 marketplace vendors, a crowd-pleasing variety of ethnic foods, visual arts, master crafts exhibitions and live demonstrations. Vendor applications are available on www.AWFDetroit.com. Institutions in the cultural center, including Wayne State University, Midtown Detroit Inc. and the Scarab Club, are cooperating in welcoming the event to the area.

 

Mayor Dave Bing, members of the Detroit City Council and other dignitaries are being invited to open the festival on Friday at noon, on the festival main stage, behind the museum on Farnsworth Street. On Saturday, the festival’s annual “Parade of Nations” featuring the International Caribbean Festival Parade will kick off from WSU at 11 a.m., moving east on Warren and arriving at noon for the day’s opening.

 

The Wright Museum is proud to continue its 30-year legacy of hosting the city’s largest celebration of African culture, made possible by the commitment and perseverance of many civic, business and community leaders championing the significance of such an affirming and uplifting celebration. These partners include Councilwoman JoAnn Watson; Heritage Works Director Rhonda Greene; Detroit Wholistic Center CEO Jesse R. Brown; Detroit Black Community Food Security Network; the Caribbean Cultural & Carnival Organization; the United African Community Organization; as well as the Michigan Chronicle; Michigan Citizen; and the official AWF radio partner, Clear Channel, through their stations WMXD Mix 92.3 and FM 98 WJLB.


This 30th anniversary event will celebrate the best of the festival’s past with two exhibitions – an outdoor photo display that creates a timeline and an indoor display of AWF memorabilia and video recordings. The Heritage Works African Folklife Village will present a weekend of traditional crafts demonstrations, African drum and dance performances and audience interactions. Detroit Rocks the Runway features a high-energy showing of fashions by talented designers competing to the theme: “Hip Hop Gets Cultured.” The mastery of Detroit jazz icons Faruq Z. Bey and Alma Smith, and R&B vocalist Belita Woods, will be remembered in tribute jam sessions each night on the Nile River Jazz & Blues stage. The historic Scarab Club will host an evening of local poets, visual artists and performance artists on Sunday. There will also be informational sessions on issues ranging from community economic development to health, and a full range of entertainment and cultural activities for festival goers of all ages.

                 

Again this year, summer school and youth groups are invited to field-trip to the “Watoto Celebration!” – Festival of Fun for our Youth, Friday from noon – 4 p.m. The Watoto (Children’s) Village, in Peck Park at Brush and Frederick Douglass Streets, includes stage performances, games, prizes and “make & take” fun for children and families.

 

For more information the public is asked to visit the Festival website, www.AWFDetroit.com, call the Festival office at 313 / 494.5824 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For media inquiries only, please contact Alicia Nails at 313 / 613.8369 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Today in Black History, 6/26/2012

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• June 26, 1879 Clinton Greaves received the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, for his actions during the Indian Wars. Greaves was born enslaved on August 12, 1855 in Madison County, Virginia. He joined the United States Army in 1872 and by January 24, 1877 was serving as a corporal in Company C of the 9th Cavalry Regiment. On that day, his actions earned him the medal. His citation reads, “While part of a small detachment to persuade a band of renegade Apache Indians to surrender, his group was surrounded. Cpl. Greaves in the center of the savage hand-to-hand fighting, managed to shoot and bash a gap through the swarming Apaches, permitting his companions to break free.” Greaves rose to the rank of sergeant before leaving the army after 20 years of service. Greaves died August 18, 1906. Camp Greaves, a U.S. Army installation in the Republic of South Korea which was closed in 2004, was named in his honor.

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Today in Black History, 6/25/2012

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• June 25, 1792 Thomas Peters, a “Founding Father” of Sierra Leone, died. Peters was born in 1738 in Nigeria. At the age of 22, Peters was captured by slave traders and after being sold several times ended up in Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1776, at the start of the American Revolution, he escaped and joined the Black Pioneers, a black unit made up of formerly enslaved African Americans fighting for the British. The British had promised freedom in exchange for fighting for them. Peters rose to the rank of sergeant and was wounded in battle twice. After the war, Peters and the other loyalists were taken by the British to Nova Scotia, Canada where they stayed from 1783 to 1791. In 1791, Peters traveled to London, England to protest the broken promises of land by the British government. While there, he convinced the government to allow them to settle a new colony in Sierra Leone that was to become Freetown. In 1792, Peters and about 1,100 other blacks arrived at St. George Bay Harbor in Sierra Leone. Peters died that same year and is considered by some to be the “George Washington of Freetown.” A street in Freetown is named in his honor.

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Today in Black History, 6/24/2012

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• June 24, 1933 Samuel Jones, hall of fame basketball player, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. Jones graduated from North Carolina Central University where he was a three-time All-Conference selection. He was selected by the Boston Celtics in the 1957 NBA Draft and spent his entire 12 season professional career with the team. Over his career, Jones was a five-time NBA All-Star and ten-time NBA champion, second only to Bill Russell in NBA history. His peers called him “Mr. Clutch.” After retiring in 1969, Jones coached at Federal City College, North Carolina Central University, and served as an assistant for the NBA New Orleans Jazz. In 1984, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and in 1996 was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Jones was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Today in Black History, 6/23/2012

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• June 23, 1895 Thomas Shaw, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died. Shaw was born in Covington, Kentucky and served in the United States Army as a Buffalo Soldier during the Indian Wars. By August 12, 1881, he was serving as a sergeant in Company K of the 9th Cavalry Regiment. On that day, he participated in an engagement at Carrizo Canyon in New Mexico. His citation reads, “Forced the enemy back after stubbornly holding his ground in an extremely exposed position and prevented the enemy’s superior numbers from surrounding his command.” For his actions, Shaw received the medal, America’s highest military decoration, on December 7, 1890. Shaw was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Today in Black History, 6/22/2012

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• June 22, 1865 Aaron Anderson was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration. While serving as a landsman on board the U.S.S. Wyandank on a mission to attack Confederate forces in Mattox Creek in Virginia, his actions earned him the medal. His citation partially reads, “carried out his duties courageously in the face of devastating fire which cut away half the oars, pierced the launch in many places and cut the barrel off a musket being fired at the enemy.” Anderson was born in 1811 in Plymouth, North Carolina and enlisted in the Union Navy at the age of 52. He left the navy after his term of service expired and little is known of his post-war life except that he died January 9, 1886.

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Today in Black History, 6/21/2012

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• June 21, 1832 Joseph Hayne Rainey, the first African American to be directly elected to Congress, was born enslaved in Georgetown, South Carolina. Shortly after Rainey’s birth, his father bought their family’s freedom. In 1861, Rainey was drafted into the Confederate Army to work on fortifications. After a year, he and his wife were able to escape to Bermuda. In 1866, after the Civil War’s end, Rainey returned to South Carolina and joined the executive committee of the state Republican Party. In 1868, he was a delegate to the convention that wrote the state’s new constitution and in 1870 he was elected to the State Senate. Later that year, Rainey was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served until 1879. During his terms in Congress, Rainey focused on supporting legislation to protect the civil rights of southern blacks. He also served on the Committee on Indian Affairs and opposed legislation to limit the number of Asian immigrants to the U.S. In April, 1874, he took the chair from the Speaker of the House and became the first African American to preside over the House of Representatives. After leaving Congress, he was appointed internal revenue agent of South Carolina, a position he held for two years. Rainey engaged in banking and the brokerage business in Washington, D.C. before retiring in 1886. He died August 1, 1887. “Detour – Bermuda, Destination – U.S. House of Representatives: The Life of Joseph Hayne Rainey” was published in 1977.

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Voices of the Civil War Episode 5 "A White Man's War"

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JUNE 2012: The Voices of the Civil War is a five-year film series dedicated to celebrating and commemorating the Civil War over the course of the sesquicentennial.  Each month, new episodes cover pertinent topics that follow the monthly events and issues as they unfolded for African Americans during the Civil War.  Within these episodes there are various primary sources – letters and diaries, newspaper reports, and more - to recount various experiences of blacks during this period. We encourage your feedback and commentary through our Voices of the Civil War web blog.

Click on the links below to view prior episodes:

• Episode 1 Part 1 click here

• Episode 1 Part 2 click here

• Episode 2 click here

• Episode 3 click here

• Episode 4 click here

Many northerners were determined to keep their conflict with the South a ‘white man’s war.’  Whenever recruiting offices were opened, black men offered themselves and were rejected.  Nonetheless, they were confident that the opportunity to serve the Union was a matter of time.[1]  The Lincoln administration, Republican press and even some anti-slavery newspapers stated that the goal of the war was the restoration of the Union, and that the issues of slavery and blacks had nothing to do with the conflict.  Such actions dampened the rising enthusiasm of African Americans for the Union cause. In episode 5 we learn about the first African American men who were prepared to fight in the Civil War.

[1] William Wells Brown, The Negro in the American Rebellion: His Heroism and His Fidelity, (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2003), 30.

Credits

Shots 1 - 5 Library of Congress
Shot 6 Courtesy of the South Carolina Senate
Shot 7 John Baptiste LePaon, Lafayette at Yorktown, Easton, Pennsylvania. Lafayette College, Art Collection
Shot 8 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Shots 9 -10 Library of Congress
Shot 11 Architect of the Capitol
Shot 12 The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
Shot 13 Library of Congress
Shots 14 -16 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Shots 17 -18 Library of Congress

 

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Today in Black History, 6/20/2012

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• June 20, 1858 Charles Waddell Chesnutt, author and political activist, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. By the age of 13, Chesnutt was a pupil/teacher at the Howard School in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He eventually became assistant principal at the normal school now known as Fayetteville State University. In 1887, Chesnutt passed the Ohio bar exam and established a successful legal stenography business in Cleveland. His first short story, “The Goophered Grapevine,” was published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1887 and his first book, “The Conjure Woman,” was published in 1899. Other novels by Chesnutt include “The House Behind the Cedars” (1900) and “The Marrow of Tradition” (1901). In 1906, his play “Mrs. Darcy’s Daughter” was produced. Chesnutt served on the general committee of the NAACP and was one of the early 20th century’s most prominent activists and commentators. In 1917, he protested and successfully shutdown showings in Ohio of the film “Birth of a Nation.” In 1928, Chesnutt was awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal. More than 50 years before Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Chesnutt concluded one of his speeches, “Looking down the vista of time I see an epoch in our nation’s history, not in my time or yours, but in not the distant future, when there shall be in the United States but one people, molded by the same culture, swayed by the same patriotic ideals, holding their citizenship in such high esteem that for another to share it is of itself to entitle him to fraternal regard; when men will be esteemed and honored for their character and talents.” Chesnutt died November 15, 1932. In 2002, the Library of America added a major collection of Chesnutt’s works to its important American authors series and in 2008 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in Chesnutt’s honor.

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A Historic Date : June 19, 1865

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Leah Johnson shares her thoughts on what Juneteenth means to her.

 

Happy Juneteenth!

 

 June 19th, 1865 is the date associated with the ending of slavery in the United States.

 

This was another significant date that I did not know about until my college studies of African American history.

 

Needless to say, Juneteenth definitely prompts reflection.

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Today in Black History, 6/19/2012

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• June 19, 1845 Bruce Anderson, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Mexico, New York. Anderson was a farmer prior to enlisting in the Union Army in 1864 during the Civil War. On January 15, 1865, he was serving as a private in Company K of the 142nd New York Infantry when he participated in an attack on Fort Fisher in North Carolina. He and twelve other men volunteered to advance ahead of the main attack and cut down the palisade which blocked their path. Despite intense fire from the Confederate defenders, they were successful in destroying the obstacle. Anderson and the others were recommended for the medal, but the recommendation was lost. In 1914, Anderson hired a lawyer to petition for the medal and on December 28, 1914 was awarded the medal, America’s highest military decoration. Not much is known of Anderson’s later life other than he died August 22, 1922.

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Today in Black History, 6/18/2012

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• June 18, 1877 The first settlers arrived in Nicodemus, Kansas, the only remaining western community established by African Americans. The town was named for an individual that came to America on a slave ship and later purchased his freedom. Formerly enslaved people in the south were encouraged to settle in Nicodemus. The town was portrayed as a place for African Americans to establish black self-governance. By 1880, Nicodemus had a population of almost 500, a bank, two hotels, three churches, a newspaper, a drug store, and three general stores. However in 1888, the Union Pacific Railroad bypassed Nicodemus and established an extension six miles away and across the river. Businesses moved to the new extension and Nicodemus began to experience a long gradual decline. The decline was accelerated by the 1929 depression and the severe droughts from 1932 to 1934. By 1935, the town was reduced to a population of 76 people. Today, approximately 20 people live in Nicodemus and the only remaining business is the Nicodemus Historical Society Museum. On November 12, 1996 Nicodemus was designated a National Historical Site and annually, on the last weekend of July, Emancipation Day is celebrated in Nicodemus.

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Today in Black History, 6/17/2012

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• June 17, 1851 John Brown Russwurm, abolitionist and newspaper editor, died. Russwurm was born enslaved on October 1, 1799 in Port Antonio, Jamaica. In 1807, he was sent by his white father to Quebec to go to school and in 1812 he moved with his father to Portland, Maine. Russwurm graduated from Hebron Academy in his early twenties and taught at an African American school in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1826, Russwurm earned his bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, becoming the first African American to graduate from Bowdoin. In 1827, Russwurm moved to New York City and along with his co-editor, Samuel Cornish, published the first edition of Freedom’s Journal, an abolitionist newspaper dedicated to opposing slavery. Freedom’s Journal was the first newspaper in the United States to be owned and operated by African Americans. In 1829, Russwurm immigrated to Liberia where he served as the colonial secretary for the American Colonization Society until 1834. He also worked as editor of the Liberia Herald and served as the superintendent of education. In 1836, he became the first black Governor of the Maryland section of Liberia, a post he held until his death. There is a statue of Russwurm at this burial site in Liberia and his biography, “John Brown Russwurm,” was published in 1970.

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Today in Black History, 6/16/2012

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• June 16, 1837 John Lawson, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On August 5, 1864, while serving as a member of the USS Hartford’s berth deck ammunition party during the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama during the Civil War, Lawson’s actions earned him the medal, America’s highest military decoration. His citation partially reads, “Wounded in the leg and thrown violently against the side of the ship when an enemy shell killed or wounded the 6-man crew as the shell whipped on the berth deck, Lawson, upon regaining his composure, promptly returned to his station and, although urged to go below for treatment, steadfastly continued his duties throughout the remainder of the action.” Lawson was awarded the medal on December 31, 1864 and died May 3, 1919. Over time, the tombstone that marked his grave was destroyed and on April 24, 2004 a new tombstone was dedicated in his honor.

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Today in Black History, 6/15/2012

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• June 15, 1755 John Marrant, one of the first African American preachers and missionaries, was born in New York City, but raised in Charleston, South Carolina. During the Revolutionary War, the British forced him into the navy where he served for seven years. In 1782, Marrant began training as a Methodist minister and was ordained in 1785. That year, he was sent to Nova Scotia to minister to several thousand African Americans who had fled north during the Revolutionary War. In 1788, Marrant became the chaplain of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1790, Marrant traveled to London, England where he died on April 15, 1791. He published his memoir, “A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black,” in 1785. His memoir was so popular that it was reprinted more than 17 times. A sermon he delivered in 1789 and his journal from 1785 to 1790 were also published.

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"Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney" Opens at The Wright Museum; Exhibit Features Works by Celebrated Artist and Children’s Book Illustrator

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Opening today, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History presents the exhibition, Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney, organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The exhibit features over 140 works by the popular and critically acclaimed artist, who has illustrated over one hundred children’s books that have been translated into sixteen languages and published in fourteen countries.

 

This exhibition, celebrating an artistic journey that has continued for 50 years, offers memorable perspectives on life’s small but extraordinary moments and on significant historical events that are brought into focus through his art. The power of classic literature and the meaning of visual storytelling in our lives are made clear in the work of Jerry Pinkney, who became “the voice that others may not have had.”

 

“This new exhibition examines how this talented artist managed to overcome obstacles and create powerful stories that have literally become the country’s collective memory,” says Norman Rockwell Museum Deputy Director Stephanie Plunkett, who co-curated the exhibition. “Jerry Pinkney is the master of the American picture book,” says Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies curator Dr. Joyce K. Schiller. “He has managed to bring historical events to life through the magic of his beautiful and sometimes fanciful imagery.”

 

Jerry Pinkney’s work has been displayed internationally in countries including Japan, Russia, Italy, and Taiwan, and his clients include former First Lady Laura Bush, who commissioned him to illustrate and design the White House Christmas program, as well as the US Postal Service and the NASA Art Collection of the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Mr. Pinkney was recently presented with the prestigious Caldecott Medal, awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children that year. The recipient of five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards, and a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Illustrators in New York, the artist has also served on the Board of the National Endowment for the Arts, and on the National Postal Service’s Citizen Stamp Advisory Council.

 

Accompanying the exhibit is a 96-page catalog tracing illustrator Jerry Pinkney's 50-year career producing some of the most highly acclaimed children's books of our time. The catalog is filled with wonderful color illustrations and essays written by Jerry Pinkney, Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, Dr. Gerald L. Early, Steven Heller, Leonard S. Marcus, and Dr. Joyce K. Schiller. Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney has been organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.


The Wright Museum, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am until 5 pm, and on Sundays from 1 until 5 pm. Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney is on display through September 9, 2012, and is free with museum admission, which is $8 for adults (ages 13-61), and $5 for seniors (62+) and youth (3-12). Admission is free for Museum members and children under 3.

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Today in Black History, 6/14/2012

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• June 14, 1854 Nat Love, one of the most famous cowboys of the Old West, was born enslaved in Davidson County, Tennessee. Although he had no formal education, Love learned to read and write on his own. After the end of the Civil War, Love and his family were freed and Love headed west. Over the next few years, he worked as a ranch hand for several different ranches. In 1876, he entered a 4th of July competition in Deadwood, South Dakota involving roping, bridling, saddling, and shooting. Love won every competition and was nicknamed Deadwood Dick. Love continued to work as a cowboy until 1889 when he married and took a job as a Pullman porter. He published his autobiography, “Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in Cattle Country as Deadwood Dick,” in 1907. Love died in 1921.

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Today in Black History, 6/13/2012

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• June 13, 1828 St. Francis Academy, the oldest continuously operated school for Black Catholic children in the United States, opened in Baltimore, Maryland under the name Baltimore School for Colored Girls. The founding mission was to teach children of color to read the Bible. In 1870, the school moved to its current location where its main building has served as a convent, an orphanage, a dormitory, and a school for young women. By the turn of the 20th century, the school had been renamed St. Francis Academy. In 2002, the campus was expanded with a facility housing additional classrooms, new computer labs, a health suite, meeting rooms, and a gymnasium. Over the last 15 years, enrollment has more than doubled to 325. Since its inception, the academy has addressed the societal forces disrupting the potential of children and their families.

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Today in Black History, 6/12/2012

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• June 12, 1868 King Solomon White, hall of fame Negro League baseball player, manager, executive and author, was born in Bellaire, Ohio. White joined the Pittsburgh Keystones of the National Colored Baseball League in 1887, starting a playing career that lasted until 1912. He made a name for himself in the predominantly white minor leagues before blacks were excluded from playing. White was instrumental in the 1902 formation of the Philadelphia Giants and the later development and operation of various leagues. In 1907, his book “Sol White’s History of Colored Baseball” was published, the first definitive history of black baseball. White spent most of his remaining years as a journalist for African American newspapers. White died August 26, 1955 and was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Today in Black History, 6/11/2012

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• June 11, 1850 Henry Johnson, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Boydton, Virginia. On October 5, 1879, Johnson was serving as a sergeant in Company D of the 9th Cavalry Regiment at Milk River, Colorado during the Indian Wars when his actions earned him the medal. His citation reads, “Voluntarily left fortified shelter and under heavy fire at close range made the rounds of pits to instruct the guards and fought his way to the creek and back to bring water to the wounded.” In recognition of his heroic actions, on September 22, 1890 Johnson was awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration. Not much is known of Johnson’s later life except that he died January 31, 1904 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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