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Unveiling of landmark sculpture by Charles McGee kicks off yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion


July 14, 2016


Nikia Washington

The Wright Museum

(313) 494-5866

Unveiling of landmark sculpture by Charles McGee kicks off yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion 

Detroit, Mich. – "United We Stand," a sculpture by Kresge Eminent Artist Charles McGee will be unveiled at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History during a Metro-Detroit 'community reunion' – re:Unite at The Wright – at 3:30 p.m., July 23, 2016 in Detroit.

The 20-foot by 20-foot installation located at the museum's Farnsworth entrance was made possible by a $50,000 grant from The Joyce Foundation to McGee and The Wright Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion. McGee, 91, calls this his "most ambitious work to date."

"We are incredibly thankful to The Joyce Foundation, and donors such as Tyrone Davenport, The Kresge Foundation, the museum's board of trustees and many others, for recognizing and supporting the vision of Charles McGee," said Juanita Moore, president and CEO of The Wright. "It's an honor to install this magnificent work by one of Detroit's most celebrated artists on the grounds of this institution, where it can be enjoyed by visitors from across metropolitan Detroit and the world."

McGee has several works installed around Detroit, including "Noah's Ark: Genesis" (1984) at the Detroit Institute of Art, "The Blue Nile" (1987) in the Broadway Station of the Detroit People Mover, and "Freedom Bound" (1996) in The Wright Museum's Ford Freedom Rotunda.

"The basic thesis behind all the work I do has to do with togetherness," said McGee."I don't think one is better than the other. I think that [we] all come together, [we] synthesize, into one energy."

The re:Unite at The Wright Detroit community reunion celebration follows the sculpture's unveiling and welcomes past and present Detroiters and metropolitan neighbors to celebrate the region's unity while commemorating the 50th anniversary of the five-day 'Detroit Rebellion.' The fateful event began in the early morning of July 23, 1967 on 12th Street and Clairmont when police raided a local bar hosting a celebration for two soldiers who had returned from Vietnam; the resulting rebellion erupted partially as a response to longstanding injustices including segregation and police brutality. As a fitting symbol of unity, demonstration of Detroit's progress since the Rebellion, and representation of a city committed to working together, Police Chief James Craig and the Detroit Police Department will stand in unison with the community as participants in the day's events; their recent viral video "Running Man Challenge" team will kick off the evening's "United We Stand" dance party.

This festival-style event will feature family activities, food trucks, and performances by artists including: Detroit Poet Laureate Naomi Long Madgett; Mosaic Youth Theater; acclaimed hip hop and spoken word performers Mike Ellison and jessica Care moore; InsideOut's Terry Blackhawk; The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers' Satori Shakoor; artist and organizer Michael Reyes; educator and author Najwa Zebian, and many others. World-renowned line dance master DJ Maestro will also debut an original "United We Stand" hustle dance.

Both the unveiling ceremony and re:Unite celebration are free and open to the public. Limited lawn seating will be available. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

Learn more about "United We Stand" and re:Unite at The Wright here.


QUICK FACTS about United We Stand and re:Unite at The Wright:

• "United We Stand" is Charles McGee's most ambitious work to-date, made possible by $50,000 grant from The Joyce Foundation and a host of donors who gave matching funds. The sculpture is installed at the museum's Farnsworth entrance.

• The ceremony will be held July 23 along with a summer community event – re:Unite at The Wright – a metropolitan Detroit community reunion; featuring entertainment, activities, food trucks, festivities & intercultural performances!

• Organizers calling on all local leaders and the metropolitan Detroit community to "reunite" in commemoration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion, which began in the early morning hours of July 23, 1967.

About Charles McGee: McGee, 91, has built a lifelong legacy of mentorship, community service, and arts advocacy, while maintaining a cutting-edge practice that continues to change and transform. On any given day, he can be found at his computer, experimenting and designing works of art. Togetherness, unity and balance are major themes of McGee's lifetime of work, and "United We Stand" was born from those deeply ingrained principles.

About the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: Founded in 1965 and located in Midtown Detroit's Cultural Center, The Wright Museum is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information, please visit

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This Week in Black History | May 8 - 14, 2016

May 13, 1914

Detroit's Brown Bomber

Joe Louis, hall of fame boxer known as "the Brown Bomber", was born Joseph Louis Barrow in La Fayette, Alabama but raised in Detroit, Michigan. Louis made his amateur boxing debut in 1932 and at the end of his amateur career in 1934 had a record of 50 wins and 4 losses. Louis turned professional in 1934 and won the Associated Press' 1935 Athlete of the Year Award. He won the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in 1937 and thousands of African Americans across the country stayed up all night celebrating. Louis held the championship for 140 consecutive months and had 25 successful title defenses, both records for the heavyweight division. His defeat of the German Max Schmeling and his service during World War II made him the first African American to achieve the status of national hero in the United States. He was awarded the Legion of Merit medal in 1945 for "incalculable contribution to the general morale". Louis initially retired from boxing in 1949 but had to return due to financial problems. Louis received about $800,000 of the more than $4.5 million earned during his boxing career and was generous with that. He retired for good in 1951 with a record of 65 wins and 3 losses. Louis died April 12, 1981. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1982. A monument to Louis was dedicated in Detroit October 16, 1986 and he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. Joe Louis Arena in Detroit is named in his honor. He became the first boxer to be honored with a commemorative postage stamp by the United States Postal Service in 1993 and an 8 foot bronze statue of him was unveiled in La Fayette February 27, 2010. Louis was named the greatest heavyweight of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization. He published his autobiography, "Joe Louis: My Life", in 1978. Other biographies include "Joe Louis, Brown Bomber" (1980) and "Joe Louis: The Great Black Hope" (1998). His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

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May 8, 1888

The Predecessor to the Tricycle

Matthew A. Cherry of Washington, D. C. received patent number 382,351 for new and useful improvements in velocipede. His invention consisted of a metal frame with two or three wheels attached. It was capable of carrying three or more people and was propelled by someone sitting on the seat and moving their feet along the ground in a fast walking or running motion. His invention has evolved into what we now call bicycles and tricycles. Cherry received patent number 531,908 for a streetcar fender January 1, 1895. The fender, which was a piece of metal attached to the front of the streetcar, acted as a shock absorber in the event of an accident. This reduced the potential damage to the streetcar and added safety for the passengers and employees. Nothing else is known of Cherry's life.

May 9, 1897

Harlem Renaissance Author

Rudolph John Chauncey Fisher, physician and author, was born in Washington, D. C. but raised in Providence, Rhode Island. Fisher earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and biology in 1919 and his Master of Arts degree in 1920 from Brown University. He won several public speaking contests during his time at Brown, including first place at an intercollegiate contest at Harvard University in 1917. He also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Fisher earned his medical degree from Howard University Medical School, with highest honors, in 1924. He moved to New York City in 1925 and established a private medical practice. Fisher published his first short story, "City of Refuge", that same year. He went on to write two acclaimed novels, "The Walls of Jericho" (1928) and "The Conjure-Man Dies" (1932) which was the first published detective novel with a Black detective. He is considered one of the major literary figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Fisher died December 26, 1934. An anthology of his short stories, "City of Refuge: The Collected Stories of Rudolph Fisher", was published in 1991.

Photo Source: Wordpress / tashqueedagg

May 10, 1837

First Black U.S. State Governor

Benton Stewart Pinchback, the first African American to become governor of a state in the United States, was born in Macon, Georgia. He made his way to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1862 and raised several companies of the Corps d'Afrique for the Union Army during the Civil War and was one of the few officers of African ancestry. Pinchback resigned his commission because of racial prejudice against Black officers. He was elected to the Louisiana State Senate in 1868 and became the acting Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana in 1871. The incumbent governor was removed from office and Pinchback became governor December 9, 1872 and served until January 13, 1873. He received vicious hate mail from around the country as well as threats on his life during that 35 day period. Pinchback was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1874 and the U. S. Senate in 1876. Pinchback also served on the Louisiana State Board of Education and was instrumental in establishing Southern University and served on their board of trustees. President Chester A. Arthur appointed Pinchback surveyor of customs in New Orleans in 1882. Pinchback later moved to Washington, D. C. where he practiced law until his death December 21, 1921. His biography, "Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback", was published in 1973.

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May 11, 1986

The NFL's First Black Head Coach

Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard, hall of fame football coach and the first African American head coach in the National Football League, died. Pollard was born January 27, 1894 in Chicago, Illinois. He played college football at Brown University from 1915 to 1918. Pollard played professional football with the Akron Pros and led them to the NFL championship in 1920. He became co-head coach of the team in 1921. Pollard and the other Black players in the NFL were banned from playing at the end of the 1926 season. He continued to coach all-Black barnstorming teams until 1937. Pollard was also involved in a number of business enterprises, including an investment firm, a newspaper, and a booking agency. Pollard was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Fritz Pollard Award is annually presented to a college or professional coach chosen by the Black Coaches Association. The Fritz Pollard Alliance is an organization "promoting diversity and equality of job opportunity in the coaching, front office and scouting staffs of National Football League teams". Pollard's biography, "Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement", was published in 1999.

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May 12, 1874

"The Real McCoy" Strikes Again

Elijah J. McCoy of Ypsilanti, Michigan received patent number 150,876 for Improvements in Ironing-Tables. His invention provided additional stability for the ironing board and still allowed it to be folded and stored when not in use. McCoy was a prolific inventor and received 57 patents, mostly related to lubrication. McCoy was born May 2, 1843 in Colchester, Ontario, Canada. His parents had escaped enslavement to Canada. McCoy studied engineering in Edinburgh, Scotland and found work with the Michigan Central Railroad after moving to Ypsilanti, Michigan. He moved to Detroit, Michigan around 1880 and formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company in 1920. McCoy died October 10, 1929. A Michigan historical marker was placed at the site of his Detroit home in 1975 and Elijah McCoy Drive in Detroit is named in his honor. He was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2001 and the 2006 play "The Real McCoy" chronicled his life and inventions. His biography, also titled "The Real McCoy", was published in 2007. His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

Photo Source: / Every Day Is Special

May 14, 1970

Relentless American Hero

Charles Calvin Rogers received the Congressional Medal of Honor, America's highest military decoration from President Richard M. Nixon for his actions during the Vietnam War. Rogers was born September 6, 1929 in Claremont, West Virginia. He joined the United States Army and was serving as a lieutenant colonel in command of 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Infantry Division by 1968. His battalion was manning a fire support base near the Cambodian border November 1, 1968 when it came under heavy attack. His actions during the attack earned him the medal. His citation partially reads, "In the early morning hours, the fire support base was subjected to a concentrated bombardment of heavy mortar, rocket and rocket propelled grenade fire. Simultaneously the position was struck by a human wave ground assault, led by sappers who breached the defensive barriers with bangalore torpedoes and penetrated the defensive perimeter. Lt. Col. Rogers with complete disregard for his safety moved through the hail of fragments from bursting enemy rounds to the embattled area. He aggressively rallied the dazed artillery crewmen to man their howitzers and he directed their fire on the assaulting enemy. Although knocked to the ground and wounded by an exploding round, Lt. Col. Rogers sprang to his feet and led a small counterattack force against an enemy element that had penetrated the howitzer positions. Although painfully wounded a second time during the assault, Lt. Col. Rogers pressed the attack killing several of the enemy and driving the remainder from the positions. Refusing medical treatment, Lt. Col. Rogers reestablished and reinforced the defensive positions. As a second human wave attack was launched against another sector of the perimeter, Lt. Col. Rogers directed artillery fire on the assaulting enemy and led a second counterattack against the enemy forces. His valorous example rallied the beleaguered defenders to repulse and defeat the enemy onslaught. Lt. Col. Rogers moved from position to position through the heavy enemy fire, giving encouragement and direction to his men. At dawn the determined enemy launched a third assault against the fire base in an attempt to overrun the position. Lt. Col. Rogers moved to the threatened area and directed lethal fire on the enemy forces. Seeing a howitzer inoperative due to casualties, Lt. Col Rogers joined the surviving members of the crew to return the howitzer to action. While directing the position defense, Lt. Col. Rogers was seriously wounded by fragments from a heavy mortar round which exploded on the parapet of the gun position. Although too severely wounded to physically lead the defenders, Lt. Col. Rogers continued to give encouragement and direction to his men in the defeating and repelling of the enemy attack." Rogers rose to the rank of major general before leaving the army. He later became a Baptist minister serving U. S. troops in Germany where he died September 21, 1990.

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This WEEK in Black History | 8 Prince Facts You May Not Know (with graphics)

On April 21, 2016 the world lost a fascinating performer, entertainer, musician, creator and human being. Prince inspired uniqueness, thinking outside of the box and the courage take pride in your individuality - like that one time when he changed his name to a symbol:

"I follow what God tells me to do," Prince explained. "It said, 'Change your name,' and I changed my name to a symbol ready for Internet use before I knew anything about the Internet." In May 2000, he went back to being Prince. Although his motivations may sometimes seem mysterious, Prince is never uninteresting and always capable one more hit record or a return to stardom. ​VIA: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

Here's 8 more Prince facts you may not know:

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​In fact, the star often credited James Brown as his musical idol. Check out this throwback JET article where he praises Brown.

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Listen to this interview from June 7, 1986 where Prince surprises Charles Johnson (AKA: The Electrifying Mojo) with a surprise phone call to WHYT Detroit.

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Prince performing on stage - Purple Rain tour Photograph: Ebet Roberts/Redferns
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This WEEK in Black History | April 10 - 16, 2016

April 10, 1975

Robert Lee Elder became the first African American to play in the Masters Golf Tournament. Elder was born July 14, 1934 in Dallas, Texas. He dropped out of high school and worked as a caddy where he developed his game by watching his clients. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1959 and served until 1961. After his discharge, he joined the United Golf Association Tour for Black golfers where he won 18 of 22 tournaments. Elder gained his Professional Golf Association tour card in 1968 and won his first PGA tournament in 1974. That came at the Monsanto Open in Pensacola, Florida where Elder and other Black players had to change their clothes in the parking lot because the club members would not allow non-White people into the clubhouse. The win gained him entry into the 1975 Masters Tournament. Elder received a substantial amount of hate mail and threats leading up to the tournament. Elder became the first African American to qualify to play in the Ryder Cup in 1979 and joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1984. Elder has won four PGA tournaments and eight senior tournaments. He established the Lee Elder Scholarship Fund in 1974 to offer financial aid to low-income men and women seeking college assistance. He has actively promoted summer youth golf development programs and raised​.

April 11, 1881

Spelman College, the oldest historically Black college for females, was founded as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary by two teachers from Massachusetts with 11 students and $100. The school relocated to a nine acre site in 1883 and John D. Rockefeller provided funding to retire the debt on the property in 1884. The name of the school was changed to Spelman Seminary in honor of Rockefeller's wife. Sophia B. Packard was appointed the first president in 1888. The school became Spelman College in 1924, it became part of the Atlanta University Center in 1929, and it was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1932. The campus consists of 26 buildings on 39 acres with 2,200 students and 180 faculty members today. Notable alumnae include Pearl Cleage, Marian Wright Edelman, Bernice Johnson Regon, and Alice Walker.


April 12, 1968

A Michigan Historical Marker commemorating the First Michigan Colored Infantry was installed in Detroit, Michigan. The First Michigan Colored Infantry was formed February 17, 1863. It was organized on a farm with 845 Black men from Detroit, southern Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. Many of the volunteers had escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad and others were fighting to free family members still enslaved. The unit was re-designated the 102nd Regiment United States Colored Troops May 23, 1864. The 102nd fought throughout South Carolina, eastern Georgia, and Florida during the Civil War. They served occupation duty after the war until they were disbanded October 17, 1865.

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April 13, 1964

Sidney Poitier became the first Black man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the movie "Lilies of the Field". Poitier was born February 20, 1927 in Miami, Florida. He moved to New York City at 17 and joined the American Negro Theater. He made his film debut in "No Way Out" (1950) but his breakout role was in "Blackboard Jungle" (1955). Poitier acted in the first production of "A Raisin in the Sun" on Broadway in 1959 and starred in the film version in 1961. Other films in which he has appeared include "The Defiant Ones" (1958), "A Patch of Blue" (1965), "In the Heat of the Night" (1967), and "The Jackal" (1997). He has also directed a number of films, including "Buck and the Preacher" (1972), "Stir Crazy" (1980), and "Ghost Dad" (1990). He has also written three autobiographies, "This Life" (1980), "The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography" (2000), and "Life Beyond Measure – Letters to My Great-Granddaughter" (2008). Poitier was appointed ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan in 1997. He received an honorary award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences "in recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being" in 2002. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, by President Barack H. Obama August 12, 2009 and the 2016 BAFTA Fellowship, the highest honor bestowed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts "in recognition of outstanding achievement in the art forms of the moving image". The documentary "Sidney Poitier: an Outsider in Hollywood" was released in 2008. Poitier published a novel, "Montaro Caine", in 2013.

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April 14, 1943

Joseph Charles Jenkins became the first officially recognized African American commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard. Jenkins was born in 1914 in Detroit, Michigan. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan and his Master of Business Administration degree from Wayne State University. Jenkins helped organize what would become the 1279th Combat Engineer Battalion of the Michigan National Guard in the late 1930s. He enlisted in the coast guard in 1942 as a boatswain's mate first class and was quickly promoted to chief. After completing officer training, Jenkins was commissioned as an ensign on this date. Jenkins completed active duty with the coast guard in 1945 and returned to the Michigan National Guard in the African American Engineering Unit where he rose to the rank of captain. He resigned from the guard in 1947 and went to work for the Michigan State Highway Department where he was the assistant director of the Metropolitan Detroit area when he died July 28, 1959.

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April 15, 1894

Bessie Smith, hall of fame blues singer, was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Smith was hired as a dancer with the Moses Stokes troupe, which included Ma Rainey, in 1912. She had starred with Sidney Bechet in "How Come?," a musical that made its way to Broadway, and had become the biggest headliner and highest paid entertainer on the Black Theater Owners Association circuit by the early 1920s. Smith was signed by Columbia Records as part of their "race records" series in 1923 and she scored a hit with her first recording, "Downhearted Blues," which sold 780,000 records in the first six months after release. The recording was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" in 2002. It is also listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of "lasting qualitative or historical significance" in 2006. Smith made 160 recordings for Columbia. She made her last recordings in 1933 and they included "Take Me For A Buggy Ride" and "Gimme a Pigfoot," both of which remain among her most popular recordings. Her single "Empty Bed Blues" (1928) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1983. Smith died September 26, 1937. She was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980. She was posthumously honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 1994. Her life is the subject of the play "The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith." Her biography, "Bessie", was published in 1972 and a television movie of the same title covering her life from 1913 to 1927 was released in 2015.

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April 16, 1928

Richard "Dick Night Train" Lane, hall of fame football player, was born in Austin, Texas. Lane made his professional football debut with the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League as a defensive back in 1952. He set the NFL single season record for interceptions with 14 in 12 games in his rookie season, a record that stands to this day even though the season has been expanded to 16 games. Lane played with the Detroit Lions from 1960 to 1965 and was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection during his 14 season NFL career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974 and was ranked 19th on Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999. Lane died January 29, 2002. He published his autobiography, "Night Train Lane: The Life of NFL Hall of Famer Richard "Night Train" Lane," in 2001.
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This WEEK in Black History | April 3 - April 10, 2016

April 3, 1968

"Like anybody, I would like to live a long life ... But I'm not concerned about that now ... I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!​"

- King, 1968
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, the day before he was assassinated.​ On April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr., clergyman, activist and leader of the Civil Rights Movement, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.​ A memorial to King at the National Mall in Washington, D. C. opened October 16, 2011.​ His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

Transcript to above video:
Excerpt One: Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

Excerpt Two: Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.And I don't mind.Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!​ And so I'm happy, tonight.I'm not worried about anything.I'm not fearing any man!Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Video Source: YouTube

April 4, 1913

Muddy Waters, hall of fame blues musician and "the Father of Chicago Blues," was born McKinley Morganfield in Issaquena County, Mississippi. Waters started out playing the harmonica but was playing the guitar at parties by 17. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1943 and drove a truck and worked in a factory by day and performed at night. Waters had his first big hits with "I Can't Be Satisfied" and "I Feel Like Going Home" in 1948. Other hits followed, including "Rollin' Stone" (1950), "Hoochie Coochie Man" (1954), "Mannish Boy" (1955), and "Got My Mojo Working" (1956), all of which have been listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as among the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. Waters won Grammy Awards for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1978, and 1979. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980. Waters died April 30, 1983. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1994. Several of his recordings are in the Grammy Hall of Fame as recordings of "lasting qualitative or historical significance," including "Hoochie Coochie Man" inducted in 1998, "Got My Mojo Working" inducted in 1999, "Rollin' Stone" inducted in 2000, and "I Fell Like Going Home" inducted in 2010. His biography, "Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters," was published in 2002.

April 5, 1856

Booker Taliaferro Washington, educator, author and political leader, was born enslaved on the Burroughs Plantation in Virginia. His family gained their freedom at the end of the Civil War and Washington was educated at Hampton Institute and Wayland Seminary. In 1881, Washington was appointed the first leader of Tuskegee Institute (now University) in 1881 and headed it for the rest of his life. Washington was the dominant leader of the African American community from 1890 to his death November 14, 1915. This was particularly true after his Atlanta Exposition speech delivered September 18, 1895 where he appealed to White people to give Black people a chance to work and develop separately and implied that he would not demand the vote. Washington associated with the richest and most powerful businessmen of the era and became a conduit for their funding of African American educational programs. As a result, numerous schools for Black students were established through his efforts. At the invitation of President Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Washington became the first African American to visit the White House for a formal dinner October 16, 1901. Washington authored four books, including his best- selling autobiography "Up From Slavery" (1901). He was the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp when the U. S. Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1940. The Liberty Ship Booker T. Washington was launched in his honor September 29, 1942, the first major ocean going vessel to be named after an African American. Washington was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Great Americans in 1945 and numerous schools around the country are named in his honor. Biographies of Washington include "Booker T. Washington: Educator and Interracial Interpreter" (1948) and "Booker T. Washington and the Negro's Place in American Life" (1955). His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo Source: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. via

April 6, 1712

 The New York City Slave Revolt started when 23 enslaved Africans killed nine White people and injured six. As a result, 70 Black people were arrested and jailed, 27 were put on trial and 21 were convicted and executed. Also, laws governing the lives of Black people in New York were made more restrictive. Africans were not permitted to gather in groups of more than three, crimes such as property damage, rape, and conspiracy were made punishable by death, and free black people were not allowed to own land.

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April 7, 2010

Willie O'Ree, the first Black player in the National Hockey League, received the Order of Canada, the highest civilian award for a Canadian citizen. O'Ree was born October 15, 1935 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. He started his minor league hockey career in 1957 and made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins January 18, 1958. He played in only two games that year and was sent back to the minor leagues until 1961 when he played in 43 games. He scored 10 goals and had 10 assists in his 45 game NHL career, all in 1961. O"Ree noted that "racist remarks were much worse in the United States than in Canada" during his NHL career. O'Ree played in the minor leagues from 1961 to his retirement in 1978, winning two scoring titles. O'Ree was appointed Director of Youth Development for the NHL/USA Hockey Diversity Task Force, which encourages minority youth to learn and play hockey, in 1998. The City of Fredericton named a new sports complex in his honor in 2008. O'Ree published his autobiography, "The Autobiography of Willie O'Ree: Hockey's Black Pioneer," in 2000.

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April 8, 1960

 The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the principal organizations of the Civil Rights Movement, was founded after a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Future leaders attending those meetings included Stokely Carmichael, Julian Bond, Diane Nash, John Lewis, James Bevel, and Marion Barry who served as the first chairman of SNCC. SNCC was primarily focused on voter registration in the South and conducted the Freedom Ballot in Mississippi in 1963. They conducted the Mississippi Summer Project to organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to win seats at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. SNCC also established Freedom Schools to teach children to read and to educate them to stand up for their rights. SNCC ceased operations in the 1970s. Books about SNCC include "In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s" (1981), "The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee" (1989), and "A Circle of Trust: Remembering SNCC" (1998).

Photo Source: Tumblr/  @fuckyeahmarxismleninism

April 9, 1939

Marian Anderson performed her critically acclaimed concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience of millions. She performed there, with the aid of President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, because the Daughters of the American Revolution refused permission for her to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. Anderson was born February 27, 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She began singing at local functions for small change at six and got her first break in 1925 when she won a singing contest sponsored by the New York Philharmonic. Anderson became the first Black person to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955 and sang at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. She also sang for President Dwight D. Eisenhower's inauguration in 1957 and President John F. Kennedy's in 1961. She published her autobiography, "My Lord, What a Morning", in 1956. Anderson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President Lyndon B. Johnson December 6, 1963. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, she received the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 1939 Spingarn Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal in 1977, Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, from President Ronald W. Reagan July 14, 1986, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991. Anderson died April 8, 1993 and the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor later that year. The 1939 documentary film "Marian Anderson: The Lincoln Memorial Concert" was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2001 as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". A number of biographies about Anderson have been published, including "Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey" (2002) and "The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights" (2004). Her name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo Source:  Betsy Graves Reyneau, 1888-1964, Artist (NARA record: 4772241)- U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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This WEEK in Black History | March 27 - April 2, 2016

March 27, 1970

Mariah Carey, singer, songwriter and actress, was born in Long Island, New York. Carey began singing at three and was working as a demo singer for local recording studios by high school. She co-wrote the tracks on her 1990 debut album, "Mariah Carey," which won her the Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single "Vision of Love." Carey was the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the Billboard chart. Subsequent albums by Carey include "Music Box" (1993), "Butterfly" (1997), "The Emancipation of Mimi" (2005), "E=MC2" (2008), and "Me. I Am Mariah……The Elusive Chanteuse" (2014). She has sold more than 200 million albums, singles and videos worldwide and earned five Grammy Awards. She received Billboard's Artist of the Decade Award and the World Music Award for Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium in 2000. VH1 ranked her second on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music in 2012. Carey made her movie acting debut in "The Bachelor" (1999). Her first starring role was in the much maligned "Glitter" (2001), however she returned in "Precious" (2009) and won the Breakthrough Actress Performance Award at the International Film Festival. She directed and starred in the television movie "A Christmas Melody" in 2015. Time magazine listed her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2008. Carey is a philanthropist who has donated time and money to many youth oriented organizations, including Camp Mariah which enables youth to embrace the arts and introduces them to career opportunities.

Photo Source: Mariah Carey at the premiere of Tennessee at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival by David Shankbone via Wikipedia

March 28, 1958

William Christopher "W. C." Handy, hall of fame blues composer and musician, died. Handy was born November 16, 1873 in Florence, Alabama. Handy received a teaching degree from Huntsville Teachers Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1892. He became bandmaster of Mahara's Colored Minstrels at 23 and toured throughout the United States and Cuba over the next three years. He taught music at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes (now Alabama A&M University) from 1900 to 1902. He returned to leading bands in 1903 and touring with the Knights of Pythias which he led for the next six years. The 1912 publication of his "Memphis Blues" sheet music was credited as the inspiration for the foxtrot dance step and many consider it the first blues song. Handy had also published "Beale Street Blues" and "St. Louis Blues" by 1917. Bessie Smith's recording of "St. Louis Blues" with Louis Armstrong is considered one of the finest recordings of the 1920s. Handy authored "Blues: An Anthology – Complete Words and Music of 53 Great Songs," which was the first work to record, analyze, and describe the blues as an integral part of the history of the United States, in 1926. Handy wrote four other books, including his autobiography, "Father of the Blues: An Autobiography." A movie about his life titled "St. Louis Blues" was released in 1958. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1969. He was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983, awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010. Streets in New York, Tennessee, and Alabama are named in his honor and the W. C. Handy Music Festival is held annually in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

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March 29, 1918

Pearl Mae Bailey, jazz vocalist and actress, was born in Southampton County, Virginia. Bailey made her stage debut at 15 when she won an amateur contest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During World War II, she toured the country with the United Service Organizations, singing and dancing for American troops. She made her Broadway debut in "St. Louis Woman" in 1946 and received a Special Tony Award for the title role in the all-Black production of "Hello Dolly!" in 1968. Bailey also appeared in numerous feature films, including "Carmen Jones" (1954), "Porgy and Bess" (1959), and "Norman, Is That You" (1976). She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University in 1985. She won the 1986 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming for her performance in "Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale." She published her autobiography, "The Raw Pearl," in 1968. She also published "Talking to Myself" in 1971 and "Between You and Me" in 1989. Bailey was named special adviser to the United States Mission of the United Nations General Assembly in 1975. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President Ronald W. Reagan October 17, 1988. Bailey died August 17, 1990.

Photo Source: From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, 12 February 1961

March 30, 1948

Naomi Ruth Sims, the first African American supermodel, was born in Oxford, Mississippi but raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sims' early attempts to get modeling work through established agencies were frustrated by racial prejudice, with some telling her that her skin was too dark. Her first break came in August, 1967 when she was photographed for the cover of the New York Times' fashion supplement. Her next breakthrough was when she was selected for a national television campaign for AT&T. She went on to achieve worldwide recognition after that, appearing as the first Black model on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal in 1968 and on the cover of Life Magazine in 1969. Sims retired from modeling in 1973 and started her own business which expanded into a multi-million dollar beauty empire. She also authored several books on modeling, health and beauty, including "All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman" (1976), "How to Be a Top Model" (1979), and "All About Success for the Black Woman" (1982). Sims died August 1, 2009.

Photo Source: Vogue

March 31, 1870

Thomas Mundy Peterson of Perth Amboy, New Jersey cast the first vote by an African American after the passage of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Peterson cast his vote in a local election to revise the town's charter. After that was approved, Peterson was appointed to the committee to revise the charter. Peterson was born October 6, 1824 in Metuchen, New Jersey. By this date, he was serving as a school custodian and general handyman in Perth Amboy. He later became the town's first African American to hold elected office and also the first to serve on a jury. Peterson died February 4, 1904. Decades later, the school where he worked was renamed in his honor. In New Jersey, March 31 is annually celebrated as Thomas Mundy Peterson Day in recognition of his historic vote.

Photo Source: Tumblr, @gregorygalloway

April 1, 1880

Southern University and A&M College was chartered by the Louisiana General Assembly "for the education of persons of color." Southern opened its doors in New Orleans with 12 students in 1881. Southern University Law Center was established in 1947 because Louisiana State University Law School would not admit African Americans. The Southern University System was established in 1974 consisting of Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, Southern University, New Orleans, Southern University Law Center, Southern University Agricultural Center, and Southern University, Shreveport. The system has approximately 6,300 students and offers associates degrees in 2 areas, bachelor's in 42, master's in 19, and doctorates in 5. Notable alumni include Mel Blount, Avery Johnson, Randy Jackson, Branford Marsalis, Cleo Fields, and Jesse N. Stone.Photo Source: Southern University Systems.

April 2, 1984

John Robert Thompson, Jr. became the first African American head coach to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Championship when Georgetown University defeated the University of Houston in the NCAA basketball tournament finals. Thompson was born September 2, 1941 in Washington, D. C. He played college basketball at Providence College where he led them to the 1963 National Invitational Tournament Championship and was a 1964 All-American. He was Providence's all-time leading scorer when he earned his bachelor's degree in economics in 1964. He later earned his master's degree in guidance and counseling from the University of the District of Columbia. Thompson played two years in the National Basketball Association for the Boston Celtics, retiring in 1966. Thompson coached high school basketball from 1966 to 1971. He was hired to coach Georgetown in 1972 and over the next 27 years led them to 596 wins and 239 losses, including three NCAA Tournament Final Four appearances. Thompson resigned the position in 1999 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame that same year. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. The athletic center at Georgetown is named in his honor. Thompson currently serves as a commentator for professional and college basketball games and is on the board of Nike.

Photo Source: The Washington Post

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This WEEK in Black History | March 20 - 26, 2016

March 20, 1948 James Baskett became the first male performer of African descent to receive an Oscar when he received an honorary Academy Award for his performance as Uncle Remus in "Song of the South". Instead of being nominated for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor, he was recognized for his "able and heartwarming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and storyteller to the children of the world". Although Baskett had a lead role in the film, he was unable to attend the premier in Atlanta, Georgia because of the city's racial segregation laws. Baskett was born February 16, 1904 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

He appeared on Broadway in the all-Black musical revue "Hot Chocolate" in 1929. He also appeared in a number of all-Black films, including "Harlem is Heaven" (1932) and "Straight to Heaven" (1939). Baskett was part of the cast of the "Amos 'n' Andy" radio show from 1944 to his death July 9, 1948.

Photo Source:!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_1200/james-baskett-honorary-oscar-1948.jpg

March 21, 1960 The Sharpville Massacre occurred when South African police opened fire on 5,000 to 7,000 Black protesters, killing 69 and injuring more than 180. The Black South Africans were organized by the Pan Africanist Congress to protest the pass laws which restricted the movement of Black people. When they converged on a local police station, the police opened fire killing and wounding most of the people in the back. Sharpeville marked a turning point, South Africa was increasingly isolated in the international community and the massacre was one of the catalysts for a shift from passive resistance to armed resistance by the PAC and the African National Congress. March 21 is annually commemorated as Human Rights Day in South Africa and the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognizes the date as the annual International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

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March 22, 1957 Stephanie Dorthea Mills, singer and Broadway star, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Mills appeared in her first play at nine and won Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater a record six times two years later. She made her Broadway debut in the 1968 musical "Maggie Flynn" and recorded her first single, "I Knew It Was Love", in 1973. Mills career took off in 1974 when she portrayed Dorothy in "The Wiz", for which she was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress – Musical. Mills also released her debut album, "Movin' In the Right Direction" in 1974. Mills had her first gold album with "What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin" in 1979 and that was followed by "Sweet Sensation" (1980). That album featured "Never Knew Love Like This Before" which earned Mills the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance – Female. These albums were followed by "Stephanie" (1981) and "Merciless" (1983), both of which were nominated for Grammy Awards for Best R&B Vocal Performance – Female. Other albums include "If I Were Your Woman" (1987) and "Home" (1989), both of which reached platinum status. Mills took a break from recording to care for her son in 1992. She returned in 2000 and released "Born For This" in 2004 and "Breathless" in 2010. Mills most recently appeared in the 2015 live television production of "The Wiz".

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March 23, 2006 The Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association unveiled a bronze statue of Karl Anthony Malone in front of their stadium and retired his jersey number 32. Malone was born July 24, 1963 in Summerfield, Louisiana. He played college basketball at Louisiana Tech University where he earned the nickname "The Mailman" because he always delivered. Malone was selected by the Jazz in the 1985 NBA Draft. Over his 19 season professional career, Malone was a 13-time All-Star and the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1997 and 1999. He was a member of the Gold medal winning men's basketball team at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. Malone retired from basketball in 2004. He was voted one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1996 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Malone is director of basketball promotions at Louisiana Tech. The Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award, annually presented to the most talented college power forward, was inaugurated in 2015.

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March 24, 1912 Dorothy Irene Height, hall of fame educator and social activist, was born in Richmond, Virginia. Height was awarded a scholarship to Barnard College but when she enrolled she was denied admittance because at that time Barnard only admitted two African Americans per academic year and they had already admitted two. Height then pursued studies at New York University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1932 and Master of Arts degree in psychology in 1933. She started working as a case worker with the New York City Welfare Department and joined the national staff of the Young Women's Christian Association in 1944. She also served as the national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority from 1946 to 1957. Height was named president of the National Council of Negro Women in 1957, a position she held until 1997. Height served on numerous presidential committees, including the President's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped and the President's Committee on the Status of Women. Height was named to the National Council for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research in 1974, established in response to the "Tuskegee Syphillis Study". Height also served as chair of the executive committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. She received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1989, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 1993 Spingarn Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President William J. Clinton August 8, 1994. Height was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993 and received the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush in 2004. Height died April 20, 2010. She published her autobiography, "Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir", in 2005.

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March 25, 2009 John Hope Franklin, historian and author, died. Franklin was born January 2, 1915 in Rentiesville, Oklahoma. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University in 1935 and his Master of Arts degree in 1936 and Ph. D. in history in 1941 from Harvard University. He served on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund team that developed the sociological case for Brown v. Board of Education. Franklin's teaching career began at Fisk. He taught at Howard University from 1947 to 1956 and served as chair of the history department at Brooklyn College from 1956 to 1964, the first person of color to head a major history department. Franklin was a professor of history at the University of Chicago from 1964 to 1968 and chair of the department from 1967 to 1970. He was appointed the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University in 1983. Franklin published his autobiography, "Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin", in 2005. In it he said "my challenge was to weave into the fabric of American history enough of the presence of Blacks so that the story of the United States could be told adequately and fairly". Franklin authored numerous other books, including "The Free Negro of North Carolina, 1790 – 1860" (1943) and "Racial Equality in America" (1976). The National Endowment for the Humanities selected Franklin for the 1976 Jefferson Lecture, the federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Franklin was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President William J. Clinton September 29, 1995. Other honors and awards include the 1993 Charles Frankel Prize, the 1995 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal, and the 2006 John W. Kluge Prize for lifetime achievement in the study of humanity.

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March 26, 1984 Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President Ronald W. Reagan. Robinson was born January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles, where he was a star athlete, from 1939 to 1941 and served in the United States Army as a first lieutenant from 1942 to 1945. He broke the major league baseball color barrier when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers April 15, 1947. Over his ten season professional career, he won the Rookie of the Year Award, the 1949 National League Most Valuable Player Award, and was selected to six consecutive All-Star teams. Robinson retired in 1956 and was awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal that same year. He helped to establish Freedom National Bank an African American owned and operated financial institution in New York City, in the 1960s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame July 23, 1962, the first African American to be inducted, and the Hall of Fame of Great Americans in 1970. Robinson died October 24, 1972. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1982. Major League Baseball renamed the Rookie of the Year Award the Jackie Robinson Award in 1987 and permanently retired his uniform number 42 in 1997. Robinson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush in 2005. He was posthumously inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. Major League Baseball has recognized April 15 as Jackie Robinson Day at all of their ballparks since 2004. Robinson published his autobiography, "I Never Had It Made", in 1972. There are numerous other books about Robinson, including "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy" (1983) and "Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America" (2004). The Jackie Robinson Foundation was founded in 1973 and has provided college scholarships worth more than $22 million to more than 1,400 students. Robinson's name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Hi Celeta:We have transferred to 1 post per week for the time being. Please stay tuned, and thank you for always supporting your m... Read More
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Today in Black History, March 1, 2016 | Harry Belafonte

March 1, 1927 Harold George "Harry" Belafonte, Jr., musician, actor and social activist, was born in New York City. Belafonte served in the United States Navy during World War II and after his discharge began his music career singing in clubs to pay for acting classes. He recorded his first single, "Matilda," in 1953 but his breakthrough recording was the album "Calypso" (1956) which was number 1 on Billboard's Top 100 Albums for 31 weeks and on the charts for 99 weeks. One of the songs on that album is his famous "Banana Boat Song." "Banana Boat Song" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009 and "Calypso" was inducted in 2015 as recordings of "lasting qualitative or historical significance." His album "Belafonte at Carnegie Hall" was inducted in 1999. Belafonte won the Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording for "Swing Dat Hammer" (1960) and the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording for "An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba" (1965), a collaboration with Mariam Makeba that dealt with the political plight of Black South Africans under apartheid. Belafonte has starred in several films, including "Carmen Jones" (1954), "Island in the Sun" (1957), "Uptown Saturday Night" (1974), "White Man's Burden" (1995), and "Kansas City" (1996), for which he won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor. Belafonte won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role in the 1953 Broadway revue "John Murray Anderson's Almanac" and the Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series, the first Black man to win an Emmy, for his 1959 television special "Tonight with Belafonte." Belafonte was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, financially supporting Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s family and raising thousands of dollars to bail out imprisoned protesters. He bankrolled the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee during Freedom Summer in 1964 and was one of the organizers of "We Are the World" to raise funds for Africa in 1985. Belafonte received Kennedy Center Honors in 1989, the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, presented by President William J. Clinton October 13, 1994, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, and the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award from Africare in 2002. Belafonte was the recipient of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 2013 Spingarn Medal and received the 2014 Jean Horsholt Humanitarian Award. He also received an honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music in 2014. "Belafonte: An Unauthorized Biography" was published in 1960 and Belafonte published his autobiography, "My Song," in 2011. "Becoming Belafonte: Black Artist, Public Radical" was published in 2014.
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Today in Black History, February 29, 2016 | Hattie McDaniel

February 29, 1940 Hattie McDaniel became the first Black performer to recieve an Academy Award when she won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in "Gone With the Wind." McDaniel was born June 10, 1895 in Wichita, Kansas. She was a professional singer/songwriter, comedienne, stage and film actress, and radio performer. Over the course of her career, she appeared in more than 300 films, often portraying a maid. In response to criticism from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she said "I'd rather play a maid and make $700 a week then be one for $7." During World War II, she served as chair of the Negro Division of the Hollywood Victory Committee, providing entertainment for soldiers at military bases. McDaniel died October 26, 1952. Before her death, she expressed that she wanted to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery with other movie stars, however the owners of the cemetery would not allow it because of her race. McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for her contributions to radio and one for motion pictures. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 2006. "Her biography, "Hattie: The Life of Hattie McDaniel," was published in 1990.
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There is so much of our history that is not learned that should be. I would look forward to a Encyclopedia of people of color espe... Read More
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Today in Black History, February 23, 2016 | Louis Stokes

February 23, 1925 Louis Stokes, the first African American to represent Ohio in the United States Congress, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Stokes served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946, earned his bachelor's degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1948, and his Juris Doctor degree from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1953. He was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1968 and served until 1998. He chaired several important committees during his time in Congress, including the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Ethics Committee, and the House Intelligence Committee. His work in the area of health led to his appointment to the Pepper Commission on Comprehensive Health Care. After leaving Congress, he was a partner in a global law firm until his retirement in 2012. Stokes died August 18, 2015. Many buildings around the country are named in his honor, including Howard University's library, the Cleveland Public Library's main building extension, and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center. The Louis Stokes Museum opened in Cleveland in 2007 and the Louis Stokes Leadership Symposium on Social Issues and the Community is sponsored at Case Western.

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Today in Black History, February 22, 2016 | James Reese Europe

February 22, 1881 James Reese Europe, ragtime and jazz bandleader, arranger and composer, was born in Mobile, Alabama. Europe moved to New York City in 1904 and organized the Clef Club, a society for African Americans in the music industry, in 1910. They made history in 1912 as the first band to play proto-jazz at Carnegie Hall when they played a concert for the benefit of the Colored Music Settlement School. The band played music solely written by Black composers. Europe made a series of recordings in 1913 and 1914 that are some of the best examples of the pre-jazz ragtime style of the 1910s. Europe saw combat as a lieutenant with the Harlem Hellfighters during World War I and went on to direct the regimental band to great acclaim. After returning to the United States in 1919, he stated "I have come from France more firmly convinced than ever that Negroes should play Negro music. We have our own racial feelings and if we try to copy Whites we will make bad copies." Europe was stabbed to death by one of his musicians May 9, 1919. He was the best known African American bandleader in the U. S. and was granted the first ever public funeral for an African American in New York City. His biography, "A Lifetime in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe", was published in 1995.
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Today in Black History, February 21, 2016 | Assassination of Malcolm X

February 21, 1965 El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz aka Malcolm X, Muslim minister and human rights leader, was assassinated. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska but raised in Lansing, Michigan. He was sentenced to prison in 1946 and while in prison became a member of the Nation of Islam. He became one of the Nation's leaders and chief spokesman after his parole in 1952. He was named assistant minister of Temple Number One in Detroit, Michigan in 1953 and had established Boston, Massachusetts' Temple Number Eleven and expanded Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Temple Number Twelve by 1954. Malcolm X was the public face of the Nation of Islam until his departure from the organization in March, 1964. He became a Sunni Muslim, changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy at his funeral and described Malcolm X as "our shining Black prince". His autobiography, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X", was published shortly after his death and the film "Malcolm X" was released in 1992. Many streets and schools around the country are named in his honor, including the El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Academy in Lansing. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1999 and Columbia University opened the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in 2005. The Malcolm X House Site in North Omaha, Nebraska was listed on the National Register of Historic Places March 1, 1984 "because of the importance of Malcolm X to American history and national culture". A biography, "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention", was published in 2011. His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
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Today in Black History, February 20, 2016 | Frederick Douglass

February 20, 1895 Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, women's suffragist, editor, author and statesman, died. Douglass was born enslaved February 14, 1818 in Tuckahoe, Maryland and named Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. He taught himself to read and write and escaped from slavery in 1838. Douglass delivered his first abolitionist speech at the 1841 Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's annual convention. He published his autobiography, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave", in 1845 and within three years it had been reprinted nine times and there were 11,000 copies in circulation. Douglass lectured throughout the United Kingdom to enthusiastic crowds from 1845 to 1847. During that time, he became officially free when his freedom was purchased by British supporters. After returning to the United States, he began producing The North Star and other newspapers. He attended the first women's rights convention in 1848 and declared that he could not accept the right to vote himself as a Black man if women could not also claim that right. During the Civil War, Douglass helped the Union Army as a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and after the war served as president of the Freedman's Savings Bank, marshal of the District of Columbia, minister-resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti, and charge d'affaires for the Dominican Republic. In 1877, Douglass bought Cedar Hill in Washington, D. C. which was designated the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site February 12, 1988. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1965 and numerous streets, schools, and other buildings are named in his honor. The many biographies of Douglass include "Slave and Citizen: The Life of Frederick Douglass" (1980) and "Frederick Douglass, Autobiography" (1994). Douglass' name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
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Today in Black History, February 19, 2016 | William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr.,

February 19, 1940 William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr., hall of fame singer, songwriter and record producer, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Robinson co-founded a vocal group called The Five Chimes in 1955 which was later renamed The Miracles. They were one of the first groups to sign with the newly formed Motown Records in 1959. Robinson was appointed vice-president of the company in 1961, a title that he held until Motown was sold in 1988. The Miracles' "Shop Around" (1960) was Motown's first number one hit on the R&B charts and their first million selling single. Other hits by the group include "Baby, Baby Don't Cry" (1969) and "Tears of a Clown" (1970). The group received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1997. Robinson started a successful solo career in 1972 with hits that include "Quiet Storm" (1976), "Cruisin'" (1979), "Being With You" (1981), and "Tell Me Tomorrow" (1982). He won the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Just to See Her".He also published his autobiography, "Smokey", and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that year. Robinson also wrote and produced for other artists, including "My Guy" for Mary Wells, "Since I Lost My Baby" for The Temptations, "Don't Mess With Bill" for The Marvelettes, and "First I Look at the Purse" for The Contours. Robinson has more than 4,000 songs to his credit. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, Kennedy Center Honors in 2006, and was presented the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, by President George W. Bush March 6, 2002. Robinson received an honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music in 2009. His most recent album, "Smokey & Friends", was released in 2014.
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Today in Black History, February 18, 2016 | Paul Revere Williams

February 18, 1894 Paul Revere Williams, architect, was born in Los Angeles, California. A high school teacher advised Williams against pursuing a career in architecture because he would have difficulty attracting clients in the majority White community and the Black community could not provide enough work. Williams studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design and at the Los Angeles branch of the New York Beaux-Arts Institute of Design Atelier. Williams became the first certified African American architect west of the Mississippi River in 1921 and opened his own office in 1922. He was the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects and won the AIA Award of Merit in 1939 for his design of the MCA Building in Los Angeles. He became the first African American to be voted an AIA Fellow in 1957. Williams designed more than 2,000 private homes and his client list included Frank Sinatra, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lon Chaney, Lucille Ball, Tyrone Power, Barbara Stanwyck, and Danny Thomas. Williams received the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 1953 Spingarn Medal and he received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, Lincoln University, and Tuskegee Institute. Williams died January 23, 1980. Biographies of Williams include "Paul R. Williams, Architect: A Legacy of Style" (1993) and "The Will and the Way: Paul R. Williams, Architect" (1994). His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Today in Black History, February 17, 2016 | Isaiah Edward Robinson, Jr.

February 17, 1924 Isaiah Edward Robinson, Jr., the first African American president of the New York City Board of Education, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Robinson graduated from the Tuskegee Institute Flight School in 1944 and was commissioned a pilot in the United States Army Air Force. He resigned from military service in 1946. Robinson graduated from the Art Center School in 1949 and worked as the art director for a printing company from 1958 to 1969. He was an active participant in the efforts to integrate New York City schools in the early 1960s. Robinson was appointed to the New York City Board of Education in 1969 and chaired the Decentralization Committee from 1969 to 1970. He served as president of the board from 1971 to 1972 and 1975 to 1976. After leaving the board in 1978, he served as chairman of the New York City Commission on Human Rights from 1978 to 1984. Robinson worked for the Community Trust's Office of University and Corporate Affairs from 1984 to 1986. He became chairman of Freedom National Bank in 1988 but could not prevent the failure of the bank in 1990. Robinson died April 14, 2011.

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Today in Black History, February 16, 2016 | Lavar Burton

February 16, 1957 Levardis Robert Martyn "LeVar" Burton, Jr., actor, director and author, was born in Landstuhl, West Germany. Burton graduated from the University of Southern California School of Theater. While still in school, he came to prominence portraying Kunta Kinte in the 1977 television miniseries "Roots." Burton originated the role of La Forge in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series in 1986. He subsequently reprised that role in the series of films beginning with "Star Trek Generations" (1994) through "Star Trek Nemesis" (2002). Burton also directed the Disney Channel television movie "Smart House" (1999) and the films "Blizzard" (2003) and "Reach for Me" (2008). He has won a number of awards, including the 1992 Peabody Award as executive producer of an episode of "Reading Rainbow," 2000 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.," and 2001 and 2002 Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performance in a Children's Series. Burton is the host and executive producer of a documentary titled "The Science of Peace," which investigates the science and technology aimed at enabling world peace, and on the board of the AIDS Research Alliance. For the 2016 HISTORY® remake of "ROOTS", Burton served as Co-Executive Producer, along with Korin D. Huggins; Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal and Barry Jossen served as executive producers.

ROOTS will air Memorial Day weekend, 2016 - see trailer below. 

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Today in Black History, February 15, 2016 | USS Ralph Johnson coming August 2016

Today in Black History, February 15, 2016 | USS Ralph Johnson coming August 2016

February 15, 2012 The United States Navy announced that the USS Ralph Johnson would be built. The ship will be an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and is scheduled to be delivered August, 2016. The ship is named for Ralph Henry Johnson who was born January 11, 1949 in Charleston, South Carolina. Johnson enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corp in July, 1967. On March 5, 1968, he was serving as a private first class with Company A, First Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam. His actions that day earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor, America's highest military decoration. His citation partially reads, "during Operation Rock, Private First Class Johnson was a member of a fifteen-man reconnaissance patrol manning an observation post on Hill 146 overlooking the Quan Duc Valley deep in enemy controlled territory. They were attacked by a platoon-sized hostile force employing automatic weapons, satchel charges and hand grenades. Suddenly a hand grenade landed in the three-man fighting hole occupied by Private First Class Johnson and two fellow Marines. Realizing the inherent danger to his comrades, he shouted a warning and unhesitatingly hurled himself on the explosive device. When the grenade exploded, Private First Class Johnson absorbed the tremendous impact of the blast and was killed instantly. His prompt and heroic act saved the life of one Marine at the cost of his own and undoubtedly prevented the enemy from penetrating the sector of the patrol's perimeter." The medal was posthumously awarded to Johnson's family by President Richard M. Nixon. The Charleston VA Medical Center was renamed the Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center September 5, 1991.

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Today in Black History, February 14, 2016 | National Negro Congress

February 14, 1936 The inaugural meeting of the National Negro Congress was convened at the Eighth Regiment Armory in Chicago, Illinois. The purpose was to build a national constituency to pressure government for labor and civil rights. Over 800 people, representing 500 organizations attended and the event was described as "the most ambitious effort for bringing together members of the Race on any single issue." The NNC disbanded in 1947 because of Cold War suppression.

February 14, 1760 Richard Allen, minister, educator and founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was born enslaved in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Allen taught himself to read and write and bought his freedom and that of his brother in 1777. He joined the Methodist Society at an early age and was qualified as a preacher in 1784. He began to preach at St. George's United Methodist Church in 1786. He and Absalom Jones led the Black members out of the church due to the church's segregationist policies in 1787 to form the Free African Society, a non-denominational mutual aid society. Allen purchased a lot that year that became the site of Bethel AME Church which was dedicated July 29, 1794. That lot is now the site of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and is the oldest parcel of real estate in the United States continuously owned by Black people. Allen founded the independent denomination of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816, the first fully independent Black denomination in the United States, and was elected its first bishop. Allen operated a station on the Underground Railroad for individuals escaping slavery from 1797 to his death March 26, 1831. He published his autobiography, "The Life Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen: To Which Is Annexed the Rise and Progress of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States," in 1800. "Richard Allen: Apostle of Freedom" was published in 1935. His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

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Guest — Leta
Negro Opera Company now has a historical marker on Apple Street
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 16:04
Guest — Leta
Negro Opera Company now has a historical marker on Apple Street in Pittsburgh PA
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 16:05
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Nikia Washington

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Aboriginal Australian art featured in exhibit and upcoming gallery talk with collector Dennis Scholl

February 2, 2016 | Detroit - The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is currently featuring the national traveling exhibition, No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting, which is on display through May 15, 2016. As a special introduction to the exhibit, Dennis Scholl, former V.P. of Arts and Miami Program Director at the Knight Foundation, will give a free gallery talk Wednesday, February 17, 2016, at which he will discuss his collection of Aboriginal works from which the exhibition is drawn.

The Wright Museum is the fourth of six stops on the exhibit's tour, which began at the Nevada Art Museum in February of 2015; No Boundaries was on exhibition at the Pérez Art Museum during Miami's 2015 Art Basel.

"[The Wright Museum] is a particularly special venue for us for this show. It is traveling to six different museums around the country, but this one is near and dear to our heart for a lot of reasons," said Dennis Scholl. "It allows us to put together three things that I care about deeply: aboriginal art, Detroit, and this institution."

Over the past year, the exhibition has received accolades from The New York Times, Miami Herald, and Huffington Post.

"It is an extreme honor to host the beautiful, awe-inspiring collection of Debra and Dennis as they share their treasure with Detroit," said Juanita Moore, president & CEO of The Wright Museum. "We look forward to all of the faces, new and old, that will experience this exhibition and how they will be moved."

The public is invited to an intimate gallery talk Wednesday, February 17 at 6 PM with Dennis Scholl who, along with his wife Debra, have built one of the most extensive collections of Aboriginal art in the world. Dennis served as Knight Foundation vice president for arts for six years and introduced the Knight Arts Challenge before he stepped down in May of last year. The gallery talk takes place at The Wright Museum and is free and open to the public. RSVP to

Exhibition access during normal museum hours is included with museum admission: $8 for adults (ages 13-61), $5 for seniors (62+) and youth ages (3-12), and free for museum members and children less than 3. The exhibit is accompanied by a 175-page No Boundaries catalogue available for purchase in the Museum gift shop. The exhibit will remain on display through May 15, 2016.

About No Boundaries: Aboriginal Australian Contemporary Abstract Painting

No Boundaries is comprised of the work of nine Aboriginal trailblazing artists who were inspired by their ancient cultural traditions to forge one of the most dynamic painting movements of recent times. The paintings on display were created between 1992 and 2012. These nine men were at the forefront of the extraordinary experimentation and innovation in the Australian Aboriginal contemporary art movement.

One of the artists included in the exhibition is Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri (born circa 1958), whose work was included in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany in 2012. This was a highpoint in Tjapaltjarri's career, which began in 1986, only a few short years after making international headlines as a member of the "Pintupi Nine:" one of the last groups of nomadic Aboriginal tribes to emerge from Australia's Western Desert. Tjapaltjarri's work will be shown alongside the renowned artists Paddy Bedford (c.1922–2007), Jananggoo Butcher Cherel (c.1918–2009), Tommy Mitchell (c.1943-2013), Ngarra (c.1920-2008), Prince of Wales (Midpul)(c.1938-2002), Billy Joongoora Thomas (c.1920-2012), Boxer Milner Tjampitjin (c.1935-2009) and Tjumpo Tjapanangka (c.1929-2007).

No Boundaries originated at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada and was organized by William Fox, Director, Center for Art and Environment, and scholar Henry Skerritt.

About the Collectors: Debra and Dennis Scholl

The works are drawn from the collection of Debra and Dennis Scholl, Miami-based collectors and philanthropists. After four decades of collecting cutting-edge contemporary art, Debra and Dennis Scholl changed their focus to Aboriginal contemporary art after encountering the extraordinary wealth of talent emerging from Northern Australia during several trips to that country. "The artists all have a common thread," said Dennis Scholl, "each had reached senior status in their communities and had become abstract painters who transcended the expectations of both the community and the art world."

Debra is an attorney in Miami, Florida. Dennis, in addition to his decades of involvement with the arts, is also a three-time regional Emmy nominee; he wrote and co-produced a short film "Sunday's Best" that recently won the Emmy Award, and was accepted by the Aspen Shortfest and the Miami International Film Festival. The couple has had a long involvement in philanthropy in the visual arts. They currently reside in Miami Beach, Florida.

About the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History

Founded in 1965 and located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit's Cultural Center, The Wright Museum is the world's largest institution dedicated to the African American experience. For more information, please visit


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