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Today in Black History, 11/05/2015 | The One-Cent Savings Bank and Trust

November 5, 1903 The One-Cent Savings Bank and Trust Company was organized in Nashville, Tennessee with the mission to "encourage frugality and systematic savings among our people, to secure the safekeeping and proper investment of such savings, and to set in motion business enterprises," The bank opened January 16, 1904 with deposits of almost $6,500. The bank changed its name to Citizens Savings Bank and Trust Company in 1920 and today has total assets of approximately $100 million. 

November 5, 1889 Willis Richardson, playwright, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina but raised in Washington, D. C. Richardson staged his first play, "The Deacon's Awakening", in 1921. He was the first African American playwright to have a non-musical production on Broadway in 1923 with "The Chip Woman's Fortune," This was followed by "Mortgaged" (1923), "The Broken Banjo" (1925), and "Bootblack Lover" (1926). The last two plays were awarded the Amy Spingarn Prize for Art and Literature. Richardson edited the anthology "Plays and Pageants from the Life of the Negro" in 1930 and co-edited "Negro History in Thirteen Plays" in 1935. Richardson died November 7, 1977. He was posthumously awarded the Audience Development Committee (AUDELCO) prize for his contribution to American theater. 

November 5, 1896 William H. Brown, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died. Brown was born in 1836 in Baltimore, Maryland. He joined the Union Navy in 1864 and was assigned as a landsman to the USS Brooklyn. On August 5, 1864, 18 Union ships, including the Brooklyn, engaged in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Brown's actions during the battle earned him the medal, America's highest military decoration, December 31, 1864. His citation partially reads, "Stationed in the immediate vicinity of the shell whips which were twice cleared of men by bursting shells, Brown remained steadfast at his post and performed his duties in the powder division throughout the furious action which resulted in the surrender of the prize rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan," After his death, Brown was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Not much else is known of Brown's life. 

November 5, 1899 James Herman Banning, the first licensed Black male pilot and the first Black pilot to fly coast to coast, was born in Blaine County, Oklahoma. He studied electrical engineering at Iowa State College for a year. Wanting to fly since his youth, Banning was repeatedly rejected by flight schools because of his race. He eventually was privately taught by an army aviator. He operated the J. H. Banning Auto Repair Shop from 1922 to 1928. He moved to Los Angeles, California in 1929 and was a demonstration pilot and the chief pilot for the Bessie Coleman Aero Club. Banning and another Black pilot, using a plane put together from junkyard parts, flew coast to coast from Los Angeles to Long Island, New York in 1932. They made the 3,300 mile trip in 41 hours and 27 minutes in the air. The trip actually took 21 days because they had to raise money for the next leg of the trip each time they stopped. Banning was killed in a plane crash during an air show February 5, 1933. 

November 5, 1905 Theodore M. Berry, the first African American Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, was born in Maysville, Kentucky but raised in Cincinnati. Berry graduated from Woodward High School in 1924 as the first African American class valedictorian in Cincinnati. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1928 and his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1931 from the University of Cincinnati. Berry was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1932 and was appointed the first Black assistant prosecuting attorney for Hamilton County in 1938. He also served as president of the Cincinnati branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1932 to 1946. During World War II, Berry worked in the Office of War Information as a morale officer. He served on the NAACP Ohio Committee for Civil Rights Legislation from 1947 to 1961. He was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1949 and was elected vice mayor in 1955. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to head the Office of Economic Opportunity's Community Action Programs in 1965, a position he held until 1969. He returned to Cincinnati and was elected mayor in 1972. Berry served as mayor for four years. He received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Cincinnati in 1968 and Northern Kentucky University in 1998. Berry died October 15, 2000. The Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park and the Theodore M. Berry Children and Family Learning Center in Cincinnati are named in his honor. 

November 5, 1917 The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a Louisville, Kentucky ordinance requiring residential segregation based on race violated the Fourteenth Amendment. In Buchanan v. Warley the court held that the motive for the ordinance was racial and that was an insufficient purpose to make the law constitutional. 

November 5, 1931 Ike Wister Turner, hall of fame bandleader and record producer, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Turner's music career began in the late 1940s when he formed a group called The Kings of Rhythm. The band recorded "Rocket 88", which many historians recognize as the first rock and roll record, in 1951. While playing with The Kings of Rhythm, Turner also played guitar as a sideman for blues acts such as Howlin' Wolf and Otis Rush. He met a teenage singer named Anna Mae Bullock in 1956 and changed her name to Tina Turner and the name of the band became the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. They recorded "A Fool in Love" in early 1960 which became a national hit, reaching number 2 on the R&B Charts. From then until 1976, they were one of the most explosive duos in rock and soul music recording singles such as "It's Gonna Work Out Fine" (1961), "Proud Mary" (1971), and "Nutbush City Limits" (1973). After Tina left in 1976, Ike struggled as a solo act until 2001 when he released the Grammy Award nominated "Here & Now" album. He won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for "Risin' With the Blues," He published his autobiography, "Takin' Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner", in 1999. "Ike Turner: King of Rhythm" was published in 2003. Turner died December 12, 2007. He and Tina were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2005. His recording with Tina of "River Deep, Mountain High" (1966) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of "lasting qualitative or historical significance" in 1999 and "Proud Mary was inducted in 2003. 

November 5, 1956 Arthur "Art" Tatum, Jr., hall of fame jazz pianist, died. Tatum was born October 13, 1909 in Toledo, Ohio. He suffered from cataracts as an infant which left him blind in one eye and very limited vision in the other. A child prodigy, he learned to play the piano by ear at three. He moved to the Columbus School for the Blind in 1925 and studied music and learned Braille. Tatum recorded commercially from 1932 until near his death and was widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianist of all time. His recordings include "Makin' Whoopee" (1954), "Piano Starts Here" (1987), and "On The Sunny Side" (1997). Tatum was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1964. His album "The Genius of Art Tatum Vols. 1 – 13" (1954 – 55) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of "lasting qualitative or historical significance" in 1978 and his single "Tea for Two" (1939) was inducted in 1986. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989 and his biography, "Too Marvelous for Words: The Life and Genius of Art Tatum", was published in 1994. The Toledo Jazz Society annually presents the Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival. 

November 5, 1956 "The Nat King Cole Show" premiered on NBC Television as a 15 minute weekly variety show, making Cole the first major Black performer to host a network variety show. The first show aired without a commercial sponsor. NBC paid for the program with the hope that advertisers would soon be attracted to the show. This did not occur. Advertisers were fearful that White southern audiences would boycott their products as a result of their sponsorship. The show was on air for 64 weeks and many performers who could command significant fees, including Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Tony Bennett, appeared on the show for the union minimum wage. Ratings improved but no sponsors were interested in a permanent relationship with the show. As a result, Cole stated "Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark," 

November 5, 1957 Kellen Boswell Winslow, Sr., hall of fame football player, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Winslow played college football at the University of Missouri and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in counseling psychology. He was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the 1979 National Football League Draft and over his nine-season professional career was a five-time Pro Bowl selection. Winslow led the NFL in receptions in 1980 and 1981, the first tight end to lead the league in receptions two consecutive years. He also set a single season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 1981. Winslow retired from professional football in 1987 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Winslow earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1993. 

November 5, 1961 Channing Heggie Tobias, civil rights activist, died. Tobias was born February 1, 1882 in Augusta, Georgia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Paine College in 1902 and his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Drew Theological Seminary in 1905. He taught bible literature at Paine College for the next six years. Tobias joined the Young Men's Christian Association in 1911 and held various positions in the organization's Colored Work Department. After leaving the YMCA in 1946, he became the first Black director of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, a foundation devoted to the improvement of educational opportunities for African Americans. He retired from that position in 1953. Tobias also served on the national board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, serving as chairman in 1953. Tobias also served as an alternate representative to the United Nations for the United States in 1953. Additionally, he served on the boards of Hampton Institute, Palmer Memorial Institute, and the American Bible Society. Tobias was the recipient of the 1948 NAACP Spingarn Medal. 

November 5, 1962 Benjamin Alvin Drew, Jr., National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut, was born in Washington, D. C. Drew earned a dual Bachelor of Science degree in physics and astronautical engineering from the United States Air Force Academy in 1984 and his Master of Science degree in aerospace science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He earned another master's degree in political science from the Air War College in 2006. Drew received his commission as a second lieutenant from the U. S. Air Force Academy in 1984 and flew 60 combat missions over Panama, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq. He has over 3,500 hours of flying time. He retired from the air force in 2010. He was selected by NASA as a mission specialist in 2000 and has been on two space flights, STS-118 in 2007 and STS-133 in 2011, logging 612 hours in space. Drew served as director of U. S. operations at Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center in Russia in 2009. 

November 5, 1967 Robert Nighthawk, hall of fame blues singer and guitarist, died. Nighthawk was born Robert Lee McCollum in Helena, Arkansas November 30, 1909. He left home at an early age to play the harmonica on the streets. Nighthawk learned to play the slide guitar in the late 1920s and moved to St. Louis, Missouri in the mid-1930s. He recorded 25 sides that were not commercially successful between 1937 and 1940. Nighthawk was rediscovered playing on the streets of Chicago, Illinois in 1963. This led to him again recording, including the album 'Live on Maxwell Street" (1964). Nighthawk was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Mississippi Blues Commission erected a historical marker in his honor in Friars Point, Mississippi. 

November 5, 1971 Samuel "Toothpick Sam" Jones, the first African American to pitch a baseball no-hitter in the major leagues, died. Jones was born December 14, 1925 in Stewartsville, Ohio. He began his professional baseball career in the Negro Baseball League in 1947. He began his major league career with the Cleveland Indians in 1951. During his major league career, he pitched for a number of different teams and was a two-time National League All-Star, led the National League in strikeouts three times, and was named the 1959 National League Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. While pitching for the Chicago Cubs, Jones pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates May 12, 1955. Jones last year in the major leagues was 1964 and he retired from baseball in 1967 with a major league record of 102 wins and 101 losses. 

November 5, 1996 Eddie Harris, jazz musician, died. Harris was born October 20, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois. He studied music at DuSable High School and Roosevelt University before he was drafted into the United States Army where he played in the 7th Army Band. His first album, "Exodus to Jazz" (1961), included his jazz arrangement of the theme from the movie "Exodus" which became the first jazz record ever to be certified gold. His album "The Electrifying Eddie Harris" reached number 2 on the R&B charts in 1967 and he performed with Les McCann's group on the 1969 recording "Swiss Movement" which became one of the best-selling jazz albums ever. Harris was responsible for most of the music for "The Bill Cosby Show" television series. 

November 5, 1998 Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, from President William J. Clinton. Domino was born February 26, 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He first attracted national attention with the 1949 release of "Fat Man" which is widely regarded to be the first rock and roll record to sell more than a million copies. Over his career, Domino has recorded 37 top 40 singles, including "Ain't That a Shame" (1955), "Blue Monday" (1956), and "Blueberry Hill" (1956), his biggest hit which was number 1 on the R&B charts for 11 weeks and sold more than 5 million copies. "Blueberry Hill" was voted the 18th most popular song of the 20th century in a National Endowment for the Arts poll in 2001. Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, and received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1995. "Ain't That a Shame" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of "lasting qualitative or historical significance" in 1984 and "Blueberry Hill" was inducted in 1987 and "Walking to New Orleans" (1960) in 2011. He released an album, "Alive and Kickin'", in 2006 to support New Orleans musicians effected by Hurricane Katrina. Domino has sold more than 110 million records in his career. His biography, "Blue Monday-Fats Domino and the Last Dawn of Rock and Roll", was published in 2006. 

November 5, 1998 Henry Louis "Skip" Gates received the National Humanities Medal from President William J. Clinton for work that has "deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizen's engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans' access to important resources in the humanities," Gates was born September 16, 1950 in Keyser, West Virginia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in history from Yale University in 1973 and became the first African American awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He earned his Master of Arts degree and Ph. D. in English from Clare College at the University of Cambridge in 1979, the first African American to earn a Ph. D. from the college. Gates taught at Yale from 1976 to 1984 and Cornell University from 1985 to 1989. He joined Harvard University in 1991 and is now the Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. University professor and director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American research. Gates has written a number of books, including "Figures in Black: Word, Signs, and the "Racial" Self" (1987), "Colored People: A Memoir" (1994), "The African American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Century" (2000), "Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora" (2010), and "Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008" (2011). He was host and co-producer of the documentaries "African American Lives" (2006) and "African American Lives 2" (2008). He hosted the four-part PBS series "Faces of America" in 2010. He received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur "Genius" Award in 1981 and was listed as one of Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans in 1997. He was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to deliver the 2002 Jefferson Lecture, the United States government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Gates has received more than 50 honorary doctorate degrees. 

November 5, 2002 Vinnette Justine Carroll, actress, playwright, and the first African American woman to direct on Broadway, died. Carroll was born March 11, 1922 in New York City but raised in Jamaica. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Long Island University in 1944 and her Master of Arts degree from New York University in 1946. She later completed coursework for her Ph. D. in psychology and worked as a clinical psychologist. Carroll made her professional stage debut in 1948 and her Broadway debut in 1957. She won an Off-Broadway Theater (OBIE) Award for her role in "Moon on a Rainbow Shawl" in 1962 and an Emmy Award for the television production of "Beyond the Blues" in 1964. Carroll founded the Urban Arts Corps in 1967 to foster participation by minority groups in all aspects of the theatrical arts. She started directing plays in 1961 and became the first African American woman to direct on Broadway in 1972 with "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope," That musical was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Direction of a Musical for Carroll. She directed "Your Arms Too Short to Box with God" in 1976 and it garnered three Tony nominations, including Carroll again being nominated for direction. She is the only African American woman to receive a nomination for direction. Carroll moved to Florida in 1985 and established the Vinnette Carroll Repertory Company. 

November 5, 2007 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, from President George W. Bush. Johnson Sirleaf was born October 29, 1938 in Monrovia, Liberia. She earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1971. She served as assistant minister of finance from 1972 to 1973 and as minister of finance for Liberia from 1979 to 1980. As a result of disagreements with the government in power, Johnson Sirleaf spent much of the 1980s and 1990s in exile. She returned to Liberia in 1996 and was elected President of Liberia in 2005, the first female head of state in Africa. Johnson Sirleaf was included on Time magazine's 2006 list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. She has received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from several universities, including Indiana University and Yale University. Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize December 10, 2011 "for securing peace in Liberia, promoting economic and social development, and strengthening the position of women," She published her autobiography, "This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President", in 2009. Johnson Sirleaf was elected to a second five year term in 2011. She received the coveted 2012 Indira Gandhi Peace Prize from the Republic of India. Forbes magazine listed her number 70 on their 2014 list of The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World and number 96 on its 2015 list. 

November 5, 2007 Benjamin Lawson Hooks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President George W. Bush. Hooks was born January 31, 1925 in Memphis, Tennessee. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in 1944, he joined the United States Army where he found that the prisoners he was responsible for guarding could eat in restaurants from which he was barred. Hooks earned his Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University College of Law in 1948 and set up his own law practice. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1956 and joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He became the first Black criminal court judge in Tennessee history in 1965. He served on the Federal Communications Commission from 1973 to 1978 and focused on the lack of minority ownership of television and radio stations and the image of Black people in the mass media. Hooks served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1976 to 1992. He was awarded the 1986 NAACP Spingarn Medal and the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change was established at the University of Memphis in 1996. He was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in 2008. Hooks died April 15, 2010. The NAACP presents the Benjamin L. Hooks Distinguished Service Award to persons for efforts in implementing policies and programs which promote equal opportunity. 

November 5, 2010 Shirley Verrett, operatic mezzo-soprano and soprano, died. Verrett was born May 31, 1931 in New Orleans, Louisiana but raised in Los Angeles, California. She made her operatic debut in "The Rape of Lucretia" in 1957. She made her New York City debut in "Lost in the Story" in 1958 and debuted in Europe in "Rasputins Tod" in 1959. Verrett enjoyed great fame from the late 1960s through the 1990s. She made her Broadway debut in "Carousel" in 1994. Verrett joined the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance as a professor of voice in 1996 and published her memoir, "I Never Walked Alone", in 2003. 

November 5, 2012 Charles Vernon Bush, the first African American to graduate from the United States Air Force Academy, died. Bush was born December 17, 1939 in Washington, D. C. He became the first African American to serve as a page of the U. S. Supreme Court in 1954. Bush earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the USAFA in 1963 and his Master of Arts degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 1964. Following his commissioning in 1963, Bush served as an intelligence officer, including a year in Vietnam where he was responsible for the operations of six intelligence teams. Bush resigned from the air force in 1970 and earned his Master of Business Administration degree in finance from Harvard University in 1972. He then served as an executive officer for several corporations and directed a number of entrepreneurial efforts. He also served on the board of Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Buchanan V. Warley

​Supreme Court ruling that found residential segregation based unconstitutional in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Today in Black History, 11/04/2015 | Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun

November 4, 1992 Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun became the first, and currently only, African American woman elected to the United States Senate. Moseley Braun was born August 16, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1969 and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago in 1972. She served as a prosecutor in the U. S. Attorney's office from 1973 to 1977. She was elected to the Illinois House of Representative in 1978 and served for nine years. Moseley Braun was elected Cook County Recorder of Deeds in 1987, a position she held for four years. After serving one term in the senate, she served as U. S. Ambassador to New Zealand from 1999 to 2001. Moseley Braun was briefly a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004 and lost the election for Mayor of Chicago in 2011. She currently runs a private law practice and has launched a line of organic food products. Carol Moseley Braun Elementary School in Calumet City, Illinois is named in her honor.  

November 4, 1865 Wendell Phillips Dabney, newspaper editor and author, was born in Richmond, Virginia. In his senior year of high school, Dabney led a protest of the separation of Black and White students for graduation. The successful protest resulted in the first integrated graduation at the school. He spent 1883 at Oberlin College where he was first violinist at the Oberlin Opera House and a member of the Cademian Literary Club. Dabney taught at a Virginia elementary school from 1884 to 1890. He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1894 and became Cincinnati's first African American license clerk in 1895. He served as assistant, and then head paymaster in the Cincinnati Department of Treasury from 1898 to 1923. Dabney founded The Union newspaper in 1907 with the motto "For no people can become great without being united, for in union there is strength." Dabney edited the paper from its founding until his death June 5, 1952. The paper was influential in shaping the political and social opinions of Cincinnati's African American citizens. Dabney also served as the first president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Cincinnati chapter when it was established in 1915. He compiled and published "Cincinnati's Colored Citizens" in 1926 and wrote "Maggie L. Walker: The Woman and Her Work" in 1927. The National Convention of Negro Publishers honored Dabney as a pioneer and leader in African American journalism in 1950. 

November 4, 1882 Robert L. "Bob" Douglas, the "Father of Black Professional Basketball," was born in Saint Kitts, British West Indies. Douglas grew up in Harlem, New York and played amateur basketball. He organized his own team in 1923 and named them the Renaissance Big Five. The Rens barnstormed throughout the United States and played any team that would play them, Black or White. The Rens won the World Professional Basketball Tournament in 1939, lost to the eventual champion Harlem Globetrotters in 1940, and finished second to the National Basketball League champion Minneapolis Lakers in 1948. Douglas owned and coached the team until 1949, compiling a record of 2,318 wins and 381 losses. The Renaissance Big Five was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1963, one of four teams inducted as a unit. Douglas was inducted into the hall in 1972 as a contributor, the first African American inducted. Douglas died July 16, 1979. The New York Rens are enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. 

November 4, 1931 Charles Joseph "Buddy" Bolden, cornetist and a key figure in the development of ragtime music, died. Bolden was born September 6, 1877 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Not much is known of his early life but by the mid-1890s he had formed a series of bands and created a looser, more improvised version of ragtime and added blues to it. Bolden's band was the hottest group in New Orleans between 1900 and 1906. He began to show signs of mental instability in 1906 and was confined to the State Insane Asylum in 1907 where he lived the remainder of his life. There are no known surviving recordings of his performances but he is associated with several songs, including "Careless Love," "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It," and "Funky Butt." Many other New Orleans jazz musicians, including Joe "King" Oliver, were inspired by Bolden's playing. Jelly Roll Morton described Bolden as "the blowingest man since Gabriel" and several jazz historians have referred to him as "the father of jazz." Several books have been written about Bolden, including "The Loudest Trumpet: Buddy Bolden and the Early History of Jazz" (2000) and "In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz" (2005). 

November 4, 1933 Mildred Louise McDaniel, hall of fame track and field athlete, was born in Atlanta, Georgia. McDaniel was an outstanding high school athlete, winning state titles in basketball, the 80 yard hurdles, the high jump, and the long jump. She enrolled at Tuskegee Institute in 1952 and won the Amateur Athletic Union outdoor high jump titles in 1953, 1955, and 1956 as well as indoor high jump titles in 1955 and 1956. At the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympic Games, McDaniel won the Gold medal in the women's high jump and set a world record. McDaniel retired from competition after the Olympics and earned her bachelor's degree in physical education in 1957. She moved to California in 1958 and taught physical education and coached until her retirement in 1993. She was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1983. McDaniel died September 30, 2004. 

November 4, 1942 Patricia Era Bath, hall of fame ophthalmologist and inventor, was born in Harlem, New York. Bath earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College in 1964 and her Doctor of Medicine degree, with honors, from Howard University School of Medicine in 1968. She was the first female ophthalmologist at the prestigious Jules Stein Eye Institute and the first African American female surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center. Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in 1977 "to protect, preserve, and restore the sense of sight." Bath received patent number 4,744,360 for an apparatus for ablating and removing cataract lenses May 17, 1988, the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. Today the device is used worldwide. Bath retired from the UCLA Medical Center in 1993. She received patent number 5,843,071 for a method and apparatus for ablating and removing cataract lenses December 1, 1998, patent number 5,919,186 for a laser apparatus for surgery of cataractous lenses July 6, 1999, and patent number 6,544,254 for a method she devised for using ultrasound technology to treat cataracts April 8, 2003. She has lectured internationally and authored over 100 papers. Bath was inducted into the International Women in Medicine Hall of Fame in 2001. 

November 4, 1952 Cora Mae Brown was elected to the Michigan State Senate, the first African American woman elected to that body. Brown was born April 16, 1914 in Bessemer, Alabama but raised in Detroit, Michigan. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Fisk University in 1935. While at Fisk, she participated in demonstrations after the 1933 lynching of a young African American accused of attempted rape. It was the beginning of her life long campaign against injustice and inhumanity. After graduation, Brown returned to Detroit where she worked as a social worker and as a policewoman from 1941 to 1946. Brown earned her Bachelor of Laws degree from Wayne State University School of Law in 1948. After two unsuccessful attempts, Brown was elected to the Michigan State Senate where she served two terms, leaving office in 1957. While in the Senate, Brown co-sponsored a bill that would revoke or suspend all state and local licenses held by businesses that discriminated on the basis of race. The bill passed in 1956, the same year that she was selected as the Outstanding Woman Legislator. Brown was appointed special associate general counsel of the United States Postal Service in 1957, the first Black woman on the post office's legal staff. She was appointed to the Michigan Employment Security Commission in 1970, the first Black woman referee in 35 years. Brown died December 17, 1972. She was posthumously inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1992. 

November 4, 1969 Sean John "Diddy" Combs, rapper, record producer, fashion designer, actor and entrepreneur, was born in Harlem, New York. Combs attended Howard University but dropped out after becoming a top executive at Uptown Records. He established Bad Boy Records in 1993 and signed and produced The Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, Mariah Carey, and many others. Three albums produced by Combs, The Notorius B. I. G.'s "Ready to Die" (1994) and "Life After Death" (1997) and Mary J. Blige's "My Life" (1994), are on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Combs recorded his first commercial song in 1997. The single "Can't Hold Me Down" spent six weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and his debut album, "No Way Out," won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Combs also won Grammy Awards for "I'll Be Missing You" (1998) and "Shake Ya Tailfeather" (2004). Combs started the Sean John clothing line in 1998 and it won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2004. He appeared in the hit movie "Monster's Ball" in 2001 and starred in the Broadway revival of "A Raisin in the Sun" in 2004. Combs was included on Time magazine's 2006 list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. Combs was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2008. That same year, he co-produced the VH1 television show "I Want to Work for Diddy" which ran for two seasons. His last album was "Last Train to Paris" (2010) and last film was "Draft Day" (2014). Forbes magazine estimates Combs' net worth at $735 million, making him the richest person in hip hop. Combs founded Daddy's House Social Programs, an organization to help inner city youth, in 1995. 

November 4, 1982 Rayford Whittingham Logan, historian and Pan-African activist, died. Logan was born January 7, 1897 in Washington, D. C. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College in 1917 and enlisted in the United States Army. He requested, and was granted, a discharge because of his dissatisfaction with the treatment of African Americans in 1919. For the next five years, he lived and worked in Europe. Logan returned to the U. S. in the mid-1920s and earned his Master of Arts degree in history from Williams College in 1929. He went on to earn another Master of Arts degree in 1932 and his Ph. D. in 1936 from Harvard University. Logan was best known for his study of the post-Reconstruction period of the United States. He was appointed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Black Cabinet in 1932 and drafted the executive order prohibiting the exclusion of Black people from the military in World War II. He was the chief advisor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on international affairs in the late 1940s and served as the director of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History from 1950 to 1951. He was also a long-standing scholar and professor at Howard University. Logan was awarded the 1980 NAACP Spingarn Medal. His biography, "Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African American Intellectual," was published in 1993. 

November 4, 1999 Daisy Lee Gatson Bates, journalist and civil rights leader, died. Bates was born November 11, 1914 in Huttig, Arkansas. Bates and her husband started a local Black newspaper, The Arkansas State Press, in 1941 which was an avid voice for civil rights. She was elected president of the Arkansas State Conference of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branches in 1952. Bates guided and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, when they attempted to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Her involvement in that resulted in the loss of most advertising revenue for their newspaper and it was forced to close in 1959. Bates and the Little Rock Nine were recipients of the 1958 NAACP Spingarn Medal. Bates moved to New York City in 1960 and wrote her memoir, "The Long Shadow of Little Rock," which won a 1988 National Book Award. The Daisy Bates Elementary School in Little Rock is named in her honor and the 3rd Monday of February is designated Daisy Gatson Bates Day, an official Arkansas state holiday. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 2009.  

November 4, 2005 Reginald A. Gammon, Jr., artist, printmaker and educator, died. Gammon was born March 31, 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He served in the United States Navy with an all-Black unit stationed in Guam from 1944 to 1946. He moved to New York City in 1948 and worked odd jobs during the day and devoted his evenings and weekends to painting. Gammon and Benny Andrews formed the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition in 1969 to protest the exclusion of Black artists and curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art. Gammon taught at Western Michigan University from 1970 to 1991 and retired as Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts and Humanities. After retiring, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he was artist-in-residence at the Harwood Art Center from 1992 to his death. Gammon's works depict the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the dignity of unsung heroes, jazz and blues musicians, and observations of everyday life. His works are in the collections of a number of museums, including the Albuquerque Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Museum of Art. 

November 4, 2008 Barack Hussein Obama was elected the first African American President of the United States. Obama defeated John McCain 52.9% to 45.7% in the popular vote and 365 to 173 in the electoral-college vote. Following the announcement of Obama's victory, spontaneous celebrations broke out in cities across the United States and around the world. Obama was born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a specialty in international relations from Columbia University in 1983. He worked as a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project from 1985 to 1988. Obama earned his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1991 and was elected the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 and served there until 2004 when he was elected to the U. S. Senate. He served in the senate until he was elected president. Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people." Obama was re-elected president in 2012. Major accomplishments during his presidency include the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, and ending the war in Iraq. He was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2005 and each year from 2007 to 2015. Obama has authored several books, including "Dreams From My Father" (1995), and "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" (2006). 

November 4, 2009 Lyman S. Park, Sr., the first African American Mayor of Grand Rapids, Michigan, died. Parks was born in 1917 in southern Indiana. He graduated from Wilberforce University and Payne Theological Seminary in 1944. Park served as pastor to several congregations in the Midwest before moving to Grand Rapids in 1966 as pastor of First Community AME Church. He was elected the first African American member of the Grand Rapids City Commission in 1968. He was selected by his fellow commissioners to fill a mayoral vacancy in 1971 and elected mayor in 1973. He lost his re-election bid in 1976 and returned to ministerial duties until his retirement in 1999. A seven and one-half foot statue of Park was unveiled in front of Grand Rapids City Hall July 17, 2013.

November 4, 2014 Mia Love became the first Haitian American and the first Black female Republican elected to Congress when she was elected to the United States House of Representatives. Love was born Ludmya Bourdeau December 6, 1975 in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts from the University of Hartford in 1998. After graduating, she moved to Utah and was elected to the Saratoga Springs, Utah City Council in 2003. Love served two terms on the council before being elected Mayor of Saratoga Springs in 2009. During her tenure, she reduced expenses and Saratoga Springs gained the highest bond rating possible for a city of its size. Love ran for Congress in 2012 but lost. She became a member of the Republican National Committee's National Advisory Council on African American outreach in 2014. Love serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

​The first African American man elected as president of the United States.

​The first African American woman elected to the Michigan Senate.

The first African American mayor for the city of Grand Rapids, MI.

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Today in Black History, 10/31/2015 | Earl Francis "Big Cat" Lloyd

October 31, 1950 Earl Francis "Big Cat" Lloyd became the first African American to play in a National Basketball Association game. Lloyd was born April 3, 1928 in Alexandria, Virginia. He played college basketball at West Virginia State College where he was a two-time All-American and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education in 1950. He was selected by the Washington Capitols in the 1950 NBA Draft and played professionally for nine seasons, retiring in 1960. He coached the Detroit Pistons from 1972 to 1973 and then served as a scout with the team for five seasons. Lloyd was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2003 and the basketball court at T. C. Williams High School in his hometown is named in his honor. His autobiography, "Moonfixer: The Basketball Journey of Earl Lloyd," was published in 2009. Lloyd died February 26, 2015.

October 31, 1896 Ethel Waters, hall of fame gospel, blues and jazz vocalist and actress, was born in Chester, Pennsylvania. Waters began singing professionally in 1913 and for several years toured on the Black vaudeville circuit. She recorded "The New York Glide" and "At the New Jump Steady Ball" in 1921. Waters starred in the 1933 all-Black film "Rufus Jones for President." That same year, she took a role in the Broadway musical revue "As Thousands Cheer" where she was the first Black woman in an otherwise White show. Waters was nominated for the 1949 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the film "Pinky" and won the 1950 New York Drama Critics Award for her performance in the play "The Member of the Wedding." Also in 1950, she starred in the television series "Beulah" but quit after complaining that the scripts portrayal of African Americans was degrading. Waters was nominated for the 1962 Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for an appearance on the television show "Route 66." Waters died September 1, 1977. She was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 1984. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 1994. Waters' has several recordings in the Grammy Hall of Fame as recordings of "lasting qualitative or historical significance," "Dinah" (1928) inducted in 1998, "Stormy Weather" (1933) inducted in 2003, and "Am I Blue" (1929) inducted in 2007. "Stormy Weather" was listed on the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" in 2004. Waters authored two autobiographies, "His Eye is on the Sparrow: An Autobiography" (1951) and "To Me, It's Wonderful" (1972). A biography, "Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters," was published in 2011. 

October 31, 1899 William F. Burr of Agawam, Massachusetts received patent number 636,197 for inventing improvements in switching devices for railways. His invention provided a novel switching device for street railways which was simple to construct and automatically switched the railcar. Not much else is known of Burr's life. 

October 31, 1918 Ruben Rivers, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Tecumseh, Oklahoma. When the United States entered World War II, Rivers enlisted and was assigned to the 761st Tank Battalion, 26th Infantry Division. In November, 1944, he was serving as a staff sergeant in northeastern France and his actions during that time earned him the medal, America's highest military decoration. On November 8, Rivers and his company encountered a roadblock set-up by the Germans. "With utter disregard for his personal safety, Staff Sergeant Rivers courageously dismounted from his tank in the face of directed enemy small arms fire, attached a cable to the roadblock and moved it off the road, thus permitting the combat team to proceed. His prompt action thus prevented a serious delay in the offensive action and was instrumental in the successful assault and capture of the town." On November 16, Rivers was again leading an assault on a German position when his tank hit a mine, disabling it and seriously wounding Rivers. By the morning of November 19, Rivers' condition had deteriorated. After refusing to be evacuated, Rivers took another tank and led the attack against the German anti-tank unit. The Germans landed two direct hits with high explosive shells that killed Rivers instantly. Although his commanding officer recommended him for the Congressional Medal of Honor November 20, 1944, Rivers was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, America's second highest military decoration. A study commissioned by the U. S. Army in 1993 described systematic racial discrimination in the criteria for awarding medals during World War II. No Congressional Medal of Honor had been awarded to Black soldiers who served in the war. After a review of files, the study recommended that seven Black Distinguished Service Cross recipients have their awards upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal was presented to Rivers' family by President William J. Clinton January 13, 1997. 

October 31, 1920 Dedan Kimathi Waciuri, Kenyan freedom fighter, was born in the Nyeri District of Kenya. Kimathi enlisted in the army in 1941 to fight on the side of the British during World War II. He became a member of the Kenya African Union, a political organization formed to articulate Kenyan grievances against the British colonial administration, in 1946. Kimathi had become more radical by 1950 and joined the Forty Group, the militant wing of the Kikuyu Central Association, in 1951. Kimathi formed the Kenya Defence Council in 1953 to coordinate all fighters against the British. He was arrested by the colonial government in 1956 and executed February 18, 1957. Kimathi is viewed by most Kenyans as a national hero and many towns have buildings or streets named in his honor. A bronze statue of Kimathi was unveiled in Nairobi city centre February 18, 2007. "The Hunt for Kimathi" was published in 1958. 

October 31, 1922 Jean-Baptiste Illinois Jacquet, jazz tenor saxophonist and composer, was born in Broussard, Louisiana but raised in Houston, Texas. Jacquet was tap dancing in his father's band at three and was a featured player in local bands by 15. After moving to Los Angeles, California, he joined the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and soloed on their recording of "Flying Home" in 1942. The record was a hit and was played by every saxophone player that followed Jacquet in the orchestra. Jacquet joined the Cab Calloway Orchestra in 1943 and the Count Basie Orchestra in 1946. He was part of a traveling group of all-stars known as Jazz at the Philharmonic during the late 1940s and 1950s. Jacquet became the first jazz musician to be artist-in-residence at Harvard University in 1983. He led the Illinois Jacquet Big Band from 1981 to his death July 22, 2004. Jacquet composed more than 300 tunes, including "Black Velvet," "Robbins' Nest," and "Port of Rico." The documentary "Texas Tenor: The Illinois Jacquet Story" was released in 1992 and he received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1995. The Illinois Jacquet Scholarship in Jazz is awarded annually at The Julliard School. 

October 31, 1928 Jose de la Caridad Mendez, hall of fame Negro Baseball League pitcher and manager, died. Mendez was born March 19, 1887 in Cardenas, Matanzas, Cuba. He made his Negro league debut in 1908 and established himself when he pitched 25 consecutive scoreless innings in three appearances against the major league's Cincinnati Reds. In a March, 1913 article in Baseball magazine, a major league player wrote "he is a remarkable pitcher, and if he were a White man would command a good position on any major league club." Mendez was known as El Diamante Negro (The Black Diamond) in Cuba. Mendez joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1920 as manager and occasional pitcher and led them to pennants in 1923, 1924, and 1925. He pitched his last game in 1927. He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. 

October 31, 1939 Ali Ibrahim "Farka" Toure, guitarist, singer and one of Africa's most internationally renowned musicians, was born in Timbuktu, Mali. Toure was the first African bluesman to achieve widespread popularity in Africa and was often called "the African John Lee Hooker." He appeared in the 2003 documentary "Feel Like Going Home" which traced the roots of the blues back to its genesis in West Africa. He won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album for "Talking Timbuktu" and the 2005 award for "In the Heart of the Moon." Toure became mayor of the 53 villages of the Niafunke region of Mali in 2004 and used his own money to grade the roads, put in sewer canals, and provide the fuel for the generator that provided electricity. Toure was considered a national hero in Mali and when he died March 7, 2006 the government radio stations suspended regular programming to play his music. His last album, "Savane," was released posthumously and was chosen 2006 Album of the Year by a panel of experts from the World Music Chart Europe. Toure was ranked number 76 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time. 

October 31, 1961 Alonzo C. Babers, Olympic Gold medalist, was born in Montgomery, Alabama. Babers earned his bachelor's degree from the United States Air Force Academy with a major in aerospace engineering in 1983. At the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games, he won Gold medals in the 400 meter race and the 4 by 400 meter relay. One month after the Olympics, Baber reported for flight training school and served as an active duty officer in the U. S. Air Force until 1991. He is currently a member of the Air Force Reserves and a pilot for United Airlines. 

October 31, 1967 Riley Leroy Pitts, the first African American commissioned officer to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, was killed in action. Pitts was born October 15, 1937 in Fallis, Oklahoma. He graduated from Wichita State University with a degree in journalism in 1960. After being commissioned as an officer in the United States Army, he was sent to Vietnam in December, 1966. Pitts served as an information officer until he was transferred to a combat unit. On this date, one month before he was to be rotated home, his unit was called upon to reinforce another company engaged against a strong enemy force. Captain Pitts led an assault that overran the enemy positions and then was ordered to move north to reinforce another company. During that battle, Pitts seized a grenade from a captured Viet Cong and threw it toward an enemy bunker. The grenade hit some foliage and rebounded toward Pitts' position. Without hesitation, Pitts threw himself on top of the grenade which fortunately did not explode. Without regard for his own safety, Pitts continued to fire, pinpointing the enemy's positions, while at the same time directing his men forward until he was mortally wounded. President Lyndon B. Johnson presented the medal to Pitts' widow, son, and daughter December 10, 1968. The Riley Leroy Pitts post of the American Legion in Mannheim, Germany and the Riley Leroy Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma are named in his honor. 

October 31, 2000 Samuel Riley Pierce, Jr., former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, died. Pierce was born September 8, 1922 in Glen Cove, New York. He served in the U. S. Army's Criminal Investigations Division during World War II. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, from Cornell University in 1947, Juris Doctor degree from Cornell Law School in 1949, and Master of Laws degree in taxation from New York University School of Law in 1952. Pierce was assistant U. S. attorney in New York from 1953 to 1955, assistant to the undersecretary of labor from 1955 to 1959, and a judge in New York City from 1959 to 1960. He became the first African American partner in a major New York law firm in 1961. He practiced with that firm until 1981 when he was appointed Secretary of HUD by President Ronald W. Reagan. Pierce held that post until 1989. During his tenure, HUD funding for low-income housing was cut by half and funding for new low-income housing was virtually ended.

​Malian Musician.

Kenyan Freedom Fighter.

Former United State Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

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The NEW blog will take some getting use to. Are you not doing daily facts anymore? I noticed it stops at October 31st. Also, some ... Read More
Tuesday, 03 November 2015 10:07
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Today in Black History, 10/30/2015 | Dr. Ossian Sweet

October 30, 1895 Ossian Haven Sweet, physician, was born in Orlando, Florida. Sweet witnessed the lynching and burning of a neighbor who had been accused of raping a White girl at six. That memory would haunt Sweet throughout his life. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Wilberforce University in 1917 and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Howard University in 1921. Sweet then moved to Detroit, Michigan where he could not find work at a hospital due to his race. He was able to establish an office in "Black Bottom" where overpopulation and an influx of migrants who lacked medical care caused diseases and created threats to life. Recognizing the need for further medical training, Sweet moved to Vienna and Paris to study in 1923. In Paris, he was able to experience life without prejudice and for the first time was treated as an equal to White people. Sweet returned to Detroit in 1924 and started work at Dunbar Hospital, Detroit's first Black hospital. He bought a house in an all-White neighborhood of Detroit in 1925. The second day after the Sweets had moved in, a crowd of 300 to 400 White people gathered and began to throw stones at the house. Several of Sweet's friends and relatives were in the house and armed. Shots were fired from the house and one White man was killed. All eleven African Americans in the house were arrested. After two trials, Sweet and the others were acquitted of murder charges by an all-White jury. After the acquittal, Sweet's life went downhill due to the death of his daughter and wife and financial difficulties. Sweet committed suicide March 20, 1960. The Ossian H. Sweet House in Detroit was listed on the National Register of Historic Places April 4, 1985. "Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age" (2004) tells the story of Sweet and his battle for equality. His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. 

October 30, 1916 Leon Day, hall of fame Negro Baseball League player, was born in Alexandria, Virginia. Day made his professional baseball debut in 1934 and was one of the top pitchers in the Negro leagues from the mid-1930s through the 1940s. He appeared in a record seven East – West All-Star games between 1935 and 1942 and set a Negro league record by striking out 18 batters in a single game in 1942. Day served in the United States Army during World War II from 1944 to 1946. He retired from baseball in 1955 and later worked as a bartender, security guard, and janitor. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995. Day died March 13, 1995. Leon Day Park in Baltimore, Maryland is named in his honor. 

October 30, 1922 Marie Van Britton Brown, inventor, was born in Jamaica Queens, New York. Brown received patent number 3,482,037 for a closed circuit television security system December 2, 1969. The system used a motorized camera that slid up and down looking through four peepholes. Anything the camera picked up was shown on a monitor viewed by the occupant of the home. An electrical switch allowed the occupant to unlock the door by remote control. Brown died February 2, 1999. Not much else is known of her life. 

October 30, 1930 Clifford Brown, hall of fame jazz trumpeter, was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Brown started playing professionally after briefly attending college. He performed with Lionel Hampton and Art Blakey, among others, before forming his own group with Max Roach. Brown won the Down Beat critic's poll for New Star of the Year in 1954. Albums by Brown include "Clifford Brown: Jazz Immortal" (1954), "Study in Brown" (1955), and "Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street" (1956) which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame 1999 as a recording of "lasting qualitative or historical significance." Brown was killed in an automobile accident June 26, 1956. Despite leaving behind only four years of recordings, Brown had considerable influence on later jazz trumpeters, including Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Wynton Marsalis. Brown was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1972 and each year Wilmington hosts the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. Brown's biography, "Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter," was published in 2001. 

October 30, 1930 Samuel Lee Kountz, Jr., the first person to successfully transplant a kidney between people who were not identical twins, was born in Lexa, Arkansas. Kountz earned his Bachelor of Science degree, third in his class, in chemistry from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) in 1952, his Master of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Arkansas in 1956, and his Medical Degree from the University of Arkansas Medical Center's School of Medicine (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) in 1958. While a resident at the Stanford University School of Medicine, he successfully transplanted a kidney from a donor to a recipient who were not identical twins in 1961. Over his career, Kountz performed more than 500 kidney transplant, the most performed by any physician in the world at that time. He performed a kidney transplant live on "The Today Show" in 1976 that resulted in 20,000 viewers offering their kidneys to patients who needed them. He also made the discovery that high doses of a steroid hormone, methylprednisolone, arrested the rejection of transplanted kidneys. This led directly to the current drug regimens that make organ transplants from unrelated donors routine. Kountz had a number of academic and clinical appointments with leading institutions around the country. He wrote 76 professional papers and served as president of the Society of University Surgeons in 1974. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by the University of California in 1970 and honorary Doctor of Laws degrees by University of Arkansas in 1973 and Howard University in 1975. Kountz died December 23, 1981. The World's First International Symposium on Renal Failure in Blacks was dedicated in his honor in 1985 and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People give an annual award in his honor to an outstanding Black student in the sciences. 

October 30, 1933 Warith Deen Mohammed, Muslim leader and author, was born Wallace Delaney Muhammad in Hamtramck, Michigan. Mohammed served as a minister under his father, Elijah Muhammed, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the late 1950s and early 1960s before being excommunicated for denying the divinity of Wallace Ford Muhammad. He was sent to federal prison in 1961 for 14 months for refusing induction into the United States military. Mohammed was accepted by the Nation of Islam as its leader after his father's death in 1975. He introduced many reforms intended to bring the organization closer to traditional Islam and renamed it the American Society of Muslims. Mohammed was instrumental in establishing interfaith cooperation with other religious communities, especially Christians and Jews. He led the largest delegation of Muslim Americans on a pilgrimage to the Sacred House in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1977. Mohammed was cited for exemplary work in the religion of Islam by Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and given The Gold Medal of Recognition, Egypt's highest and most distinguished religious honor, in 1992. Mohammed authored a number of books, including "The Man and Woman in Islam" (1976), "Religion on the Line" (1983), and "Life the Final Battlefield" (2008). Mohammed died September 9, 2008. 

October 30, 1989 Frank L. Mingo, hall of fame advertising executive, died. Mingo was born December 13, 1939 in McComb, Mississippi. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Roosevelt University and his Master of Science degree in advertising from Northwestern University. After graduating, Mingo went to work for J. Walter Thompson where he became their first Black account executive with clients that included Oscar Meyer and Sears Roebuck. Mingo next moved to McCann-Erickson as a vice president and account supervisor. In that capacity, he helped Miller Brewing Company introduce their Miller Lite to the market. Mingo co-founded Mingo-Jones Advertising in 1977 with clients that included Walt Disney Productions and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Jones left the firm and it was renamed The Mingo Group in 1986. Mingo also worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League to expose minorities to careers in advertising. Mingo was posthumously inducted into the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Fame in 1996. 

October 30, 2007 John Youie Woodruff, hall of fame track and field athlete, died. Woodruff was born July 5, 1915 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. As a 21 year old college freshman, Woodruff won the 800 meter Gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1939 and a master's degree in the same field from New York University in 1947. He served in the United States military from 1941 to 1945, rising to the rank of captain. He reentered military service during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in 1957 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Woodruff was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1978 and annually a 5 kilometer race is held in Connellsville to honor him.


​Track and Field Hall of Famer

​Muslim leader and Author

​Invented a closed circuit television security system.

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Today in Black History, 11/01/2015 | Ebony Magazine

November 1, 1945 John H. Johnson published the first issue of Ebony magazine. The monthly magazine has published continuously since then with a current total circulation of more than 1.2 million. Ebony has always striven to address African American issues, personalities, and interests in a positive and self-affirming manner. 

November 1, 1848 Caroline Still Wiley Anderson, educator and physician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Anderson graduated from Oberlin College in 1868, the only Black woman in her class, and returned to Philadelphia to teach. She later taught music, drawing, and elocution at Howard University. Anderson then decided to become a medical doctor and graduated from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1878, the state's first Black female doctor. In addition to her private practice, Anderson ran the Berean Dispensary and the Berean Cottage which served poor women and children. She also helped found the Berean Manual Training and Industrial School and acted as assistant principal and taught elocution, physiology, and hygiene. Anderson helped to establish Philadelphia's first Black Young Women's Christian Association in the early 1900s. She was also treasurer for the Women's Medical College Alumnae Association, president of the Berean Women's Christian Temperance Union, and on the board of the Home for Aged and Infirm Colored People of Philadelphia. Anderson died June 1, 1919. 

November 1, 1869 The 24th Infantry Regiment (the deuce four), an all-Black United States military unit, was organized. The unit was deployed to Cuba in 1898 as part of the U. S. Expeditionary Force in the Spanish-American War, deployed to the Philippine Islands in 1899 to help suppress a guerilla movement in the Philippine-American War, and guarded the U. S. – Mexican border in 1916 to keep the Mexican Revolution from spilling on to U. S. soil. Approximately 150 soldiers from the unit marched on Houston, Texas August 23, 1917 to protest racial discrimination in the city. They were met by local policemen and armed residents. In the ensuing riot, 4 soldiers and 15 civilians were killed. The soldiers were tried at court-martial and 14 were executed and 41 were given life sentences. This event is chronicled in "A Night of Violence: The Houston Riot of 1917" (1976). The 24th Infantry fought in the South Pacific Theater during World War II and occupied Okinawa, Japan from the end of the war until 1947. The 24th deployed to Korea in June, 1950 and fought throughout the Korean peninsula. The regiment received the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for their actions and two members of the regiment, Cornelius H. Charleton and William Thompson, posthumously received Congressional Medals of Honor for their actions in Korea. The experience of the 24th in Korea is told in "Black Soldier, White Army: The 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea" (1997). The 24th Infantry was deactivated October 1, 1951. 

November 1, 1898 Sippie Wallace, hall of fame singer and songwriter, was born Beulah Thomas in Houston, Texas. Wallace was singing in tent shows and developing a following as a blues singer by her mid-teens. She moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1923 and landed a recording contract. She recorded over 40 songs, many written by her, between 1923 and 1927. Her accompanist included Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Johnny Dodds, and Sidney Bechet. Wallace left show business in the 1930s and moved to Detroit, Michigan to become a church organist and choir director. For the next 30 years, she did not record secular music. Wallace launched a comeback with the 1966 album "Woman Be Wise." This was followed by "Sings the Blues" (1966), "Sippie Wallace and Victoria Spivey" (1970) and "Sippie" (1982) which was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. Wallace died November 1, 1986. That same year, the documentary "Sippie Wallace: Blues Singer and Song Writer" was released. She was posthumously inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2003. Her name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. 

November 1, 1898 Charles Wm. Allen of Option, Pennsylvania received patent number 613,436 for the invention of a self-leveling table. The table was designed to preserve the perfect equilibrium of the table-top without respect to the base of the table. The invention was particularly adaptable for use on vessels where the rocking of the vessel made it difficult to maintain equilibrium. Not much else is known of Allen's life. 

November 1, 1910 The Crisis magazine was started by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The magazine was edited by W. E. B. Du Bois and the first issue had 16 pages and cost 10 cents a copy. The first editorial stated that the magazine would "be first and foremost a newspaper and secondly it would serve as a review of opinion and literature." It further stated that it would "stand for the rights of men, irrespective of color or race, for the highest ideals of American democracy, and for reasonable but earnest and persistent attempts to gain these rights and realize these ideals." Circulation for the magazine was 50,000 by 1917 and it peaked at 100,000 in 1919. Today, The Crisis "is a quarterly journal of civil rights, history, politics, and culture and seeks to educate and challenge its readers about issues that continue to plague African Americans and other communities of color." 

November 1, 1915 James Milton Turner, politician and Consul to Liberia, died. Turner was born enslaved May 16, 1840 in St. Louis, Missouri. He and his parents were freed when he was young but he still had limited educational opportunities because Missouri laws restricted Black people from learning to read. Despite the legal obstacles, Turner learned to read and briefly attended Oberlin College. After the Civil War, Turner became a prominent politician known for his speaking ability. He worked for the Missouri Department of Education, establishing over 30 new schools in the state for African Americans, and providing support for Lincoln Institute (now University). President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Turner United States Minister to Liberia in 1871, the first African American to hold that position. After returning from Liberia in 1878, Turner organized the Colored Emigration Aid Association to provide assistance to Black people migrating from the South. He also fought to secure equal tribal rights for Black people formerly enslaved by the Cherokee Indians. His biography, "James Milton Turner and the Promise of America: The Public Life of a Post-Civil War Leader," was published in 1991. 

November 1, 1917 Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs, poet, artist and educator, was born in St. Rose, Louisiana but raised in Chicago, Illinois. Burroughs earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Chicago Teacher's College in 1946 and her Master of Arts degree in education from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1948. She taught in the Chicago Public School System from 1940 to 1968 and worked as a professor of humanities at Kennedy-King College from 1969 to 1979. Burroughs founded the DuSable Museum of African-American History in 1961 and served as director of the museum until 1985. That year, she was appointed a commissioner of the Chicago Park District. As a poet, Burroughs published "What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?" in 1968 and "Africa, My Africa" in 1970. Burroughs died November 21, 2010. 

November 1, 1923 Hannah Diggs Atkins, librarian and the first African American woman elected to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives, was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Atkins earned her Bachelor of Science degree from St. Augustine College in 1943 and her Bachelor of Library Science degree from the University of Chicago in 1949. She moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1953 and worked for the Oklahoma City Public Library from 1953 to 1956 and the Oklahoma State Library from 1962 to 1968. Atkins was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1968 and served until 1980. During her tenure, she authored bills in the areas of health care, child welfare, mental health reform, and women's and civil rights. Atkins was appointed an ambassador to the United Nations by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. She served as assistant director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services from 1983 to 1987 and served in the dual roles of Secretary for Social Services and Secretary of State from 1987 to her retirement in 1991, the highest ranking woman in Oklahoma state government. Atkins earned her Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1989. Oklahoma State University established the Hannah Atkins Endowed Chair in Public Service in 1990. She received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Oklahoma in 1998 and Oklahoma State University in 2000. Atkins died June 17, 2010. 

November 1, 1926 Lou Donaldson, jazz alto saxophonist, was born in Badin, North Carolina. Donaldson attended North Carolina A&T University where he played in the marching band and earned his Bachelor of Science degree. He was drafted into the United States Navy in 1945 where he played in the Great Lakes Navy Band. Donaldson moved to New York City in 1950 and made his first jazz recordings with the Charlie Singleton Orchestra. He has recorded a number of albums as leader, including "Wailing with Lou" (1957), "Alligator Bogaloo" (1967), "Sweet Poppa Lou" (1981), and "Relaxing at Sea: Live on the QE2" (2000). Many jazz musicians, including Clifford Brown, Donald Byrd, and Horace Silver, made their first recordings as sidemen in his bands. Donaldson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by North Carolina A&T and a scholarship in his name is awarded annually to the most gifted jazz musician at the school. He was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2012. 

November 1, 1927 Florence Mills, cabaret singer, dancer and comedian, died. Mills was born Florence Winfrey in Washington, D. C. January 25, 1896. She began performing at four and made her vaudeville debut with her two sisters as The Mills Trio. Mills made her stage musical debut in "Shuffle Along" in 1921. She then appeared in "Plantation Revue" (1922), "Greenwich Village Follies" (1923), and "Dixie to Broadway" (1924). She became an international superstar after starring in "Lew Leslie's Blackbirds" in 1926. Mills was considered the preeminent jazz dancer of the Harlem Renaissance. Her biography, "Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen," was published in 2005. 

November 1, 1946 Nancy Alene Hicks Maynard, the first African American reporter for the New York Times, was born in Harlem, New York. Maynard earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Long Island University in 1966. She was hired by the Times in 1968 and in less than a year was promoted to full-time reporter. She left the paper in 1977 and with her husband founded the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Oakland, California with her as president. The Institute has been credited with training hundreds of minority students for careers in journalism. Maynard and her husband purchased the Oakland Tribune in 1983, the only major metropolitan daily newspaper owned by African Americans. After her husband died in 1993, she sold the paper. Maynard died September 21, 2008. 

November 1, 1956 Tommy Johnson, hall of fame blues guitarist and singer, died. Johnson was born in 1896 near Terry, Mississippi but moved to Chrystal Springs, Mississippi around 1910. He learned to play the guitar and was playing at local parties with his brothers by 1914. He had become an itinerant musician by 1920 playing around the South. Johnson only recorded in 1928 and 1929. His recordings include "Cool Drink Of Water Blues," "Canned Heat Blues," "Lonesome Home Blues," and "I Want Someone To Love Me." Those recordings established him as the premier Delta blues vocalist of his day. Johnson continued to perform around Mississippi through the 1930s and 1940s. His style influenced later blues singers such as Robert Nighthawk and Howlin' Wolf. Johnson was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1986. The Tommy Johnson Blues Festival is held annually in Chrystal Springs. 

November 1, 1989 Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first African American woman to receive a Ph. D. in the United States, died. Alexander was born January 2, 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1918, her Master of Science degree in economics in 1919, and her Ph. D. in economics in 1921 from the University of Pennsylvania. Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and be admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1927. From 1919 to 1923, Alexander served as the first national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She served as assistant city solicitor for the City of Philadelphia from 1928 to 1930 and 1934 to 1938. She was appointed to President Harry S. Truman's Committee on Human Rights in 1947 and served on the Commission on Human Relations of the City of Philadelphia from 1952 to 1968. Alexander retired in 1982. The Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School, is named in her honor. 

November 1, 1989 The Mayfair Mansions in Washington, D. C. were added to the National Register of Historic Places. The apartments were built between 1942 and 1946 and were among the first federally subsidized housing projects for African Americans in the United States. Construction of the project was spearheaded by African American radio and television evangelist Lightfoot Solomon Michaux and the project was designed by Albert I. Cassell, one of the first professionally trained African American architects. The 411-unit complex was rehabilitated in 2009. 

November 1, 1999 Walter Payton, hall of fame football player, died. Payton was born July 25, 1954 in Columbia, Mississippi. He played college football at Jackson State University where he was an All-American in 1973 and 1974 and Black College Player of the Year in 1974. Payton earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in communications in 1975. He was selected by the Chicago Bears in the 1975 National Football League Draft. Over his 13 season professional career, Payton was a nine-time All-Pro and the 1977 NFL Most Valuable Player. Payton held the league's records for most career rushing yards, touchdown carries, and many other categories when he retired in 1987. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996. Payton posthumously received the 2006 Doak Walker Legends Award which "recognizes a running back whose extraordinary college football career has been bolstered by an exemplary record of leadership in the community." The Walter & Connie Payton Foundation was established to "help abused, neglected, and underprivileged children in the state of Illinois." The Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center is located on the campus of Jackson State. Payton's autobiography, "Sweetness," was published in 1978. 

November 1, 2001 Theodore Martin Alexander, Sr., founder of the first Black-owned multi-line insurance company, died. Alexander was born March 7, 1909 in Montgomery, Alabama. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration, with honors, from Morehouse College in 1931. That same year, he founded his own insurance agency, T. M. Alexander & Company. Alexander established the Southeastern Fidelity Fire and Casualty Company in 1951, the first Black-owned multi-line insurance company, and served as executive vice president and managing officer until the company was sold in 1967. He also served as an adjunct professor of insurance at Howard University. Alexander served on the boards of Morehouse College and the Atlanta University Center. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Morehouse College in 1970. 

November 1, 2013 A statue of William Felton "Bill" Russell was unveiled at City Hall Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts. The statue is surrounded by ten granite blocks for a total of eleven elements, representing the number of National Basketball Association championships won by Russell. Each block features a word and corresponding quotation that highlights his accomplishments on and off the court. Russell was born February 12, 1934 in West Monroe, Louisiana but raised in Oakland, California. He led the University of San Francisco to National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championships in 1955 and 1956 and also earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956. That same year, he won a Gold medal at the Melbourne Summer Olympic Games as captain of the United States men's basketball team. Russell was selected by the St. Louis Hawks in the 1956 NBA Draft but traded to the Boston Celtics in what was later called "one of the most important trades in the history of North American sports." Over his 14 season professional career, Russell was a 12-time All-Star and 5-time Most Valuable Player. His team's 11 championships are the most by any athlete in a North American sports league. He was the first African American player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. He also served as player/coach of the Celtics from 1966 to 1969, the first African American NBA coach. Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974, was an inaugural inductee into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, and was inducted into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame in 2007. The NBA established the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his honor in 2009 and he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Barack H. Obama February 15, 2011. Russell has authored four books, "Go Up for Glory" (1966), "Second Wind" (1979), "Russell Rules" (2001), and "Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend" (2009).

​Publication of the NAACP

​The first African American NBA coach.

The first federally subsidized 

housing for African Americans.

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Today in Black History, 10/29/2015 | Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education

• October 29, 1969 The United States Supreme Court decided in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education that "The obligation of every school district is to terminate dual school systems at once and to operate now and hereafter only unitary schools." In 1954's Brown v. Board of Education II, the Supreme Court had ordered that desegregation occur with "all deliberate speed." As a result, schools in the South were desegregating slowly if at all. The Alexander ruling stated that "all deliberate speed" was no longer permissible. 

• October 29, 1866 James Pierson Beckwourth, mountain man, fur trader and explorer, died. Beckwourth was born enslaved April 6, 1798 in Frederick County, Virginia. His owner emancipated him in 1824 and Beckwourth joined a fur trapping company on an expedition to explore the Rocky Mountains. He was captured by the Crow Indians in 1826 and for the next 8 or 9 years lived with them, rising in their society from warrior to chief. During the Mexican American War, Beckwourth served as a courier for the United States Army. He was credited for discovering what came to be called the Beckwourth Pass, a passage through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in 1850. Beckwourth began ranching in the Sierra in the mid-1850s and his ranch, trading post, and hotel were the starting settlement of what became Beckwourth, California. In recognition of his contribution to the city's development, the City of Marysville, California officially renamed the city's largest park Beckwourth Riverfront Park in 1996. Beckwourth published his autobiography, "The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth: Mountaineer, Scout and Pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians," in 1856. 

• October 29, 1870 Martha Minerva Franklin, hall of fame nurse and founder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, was born in New Milford, Connecticut. Franklin graduated from the Women's Hospital Training School in 1897, the only Black graduate in her class, and moved to New Haven, Connecticut in the early 1900s. After two years of investigating the nursing field, she determined that although Black nurses could join the American Nurses Association they were restricted from addressing the issues of segregation and discrimination. As a result, Franklin hosted a meeting of 52 Black nurses that resulted in the founding of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses August 25, 1908 with Franklin as president. The NACGN grew to an organization of 12,000 members from almost every state in the nation. Most of the groups aspirations had been met by 1951 and they merged with the American Nurses Association. Franklin continued with her education and became a registered nurse with the New York public school system. Franklin died September 26, 1968. She was posthumously inducted into the American Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 1976 as one of the pioneers of the nursing field. 

• October 29, 1889 John Standard of Newark, New Jersey received patent number 413,689 for an improved oil stove that was used in places where space was limited. His invention provided attachments which enabled the cooking of a variety of foods at one time and could be used for buffet style meals on trains. Standard also received patent number 455,891 for an improved refrigerator design July 14, 1891. His refrigerator used a manually filled ice chamber for chilling. Not much else is known of Standard's life.

• October 29, 1916 Hadda Brooks, pianist, vocalist and television show host, was born Hattie L. Hapgood in Los Angeles, California. Brooks studied classical piano as a child. She began to play the piano professionally in the early 1940s and made her first recording, "Swingin' the Boogie," in 1945. Brooks appeared in a number of films during the late 1940s and early 1950s, usually as a lounge piano player and singer, including "Out of the Blue" (1947), "In a Lonely Place" (1950), and "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952). She hosted "The Hadda Brooks Show" for 26 half-hour episodes in Los Angeles in 1957. Brooks was based in Australia where she hosted her own television show for most of the 1960s. She resumed her recording career in 1994 with the album "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere." This was followed by "Time Was When" (1996) and "I've Got News for You" (1999). She received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1993. Brooks died November 21, 2002. A documentary, "Queen of the Boogie," was released in 2007. 

• October 29, 1938 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, was born in Monrovia, Liberia. Johnson Sirleaf earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1971. She served as assistant minister of finance from 1972 to 1973 and minister of finance for Liberia from 1979 to 1980. As a result of disagreements with the government in power, Johnson Sirleaf spent much of the 1980s and 1990s in exile. She returned to Liberia in 1996 and was elected President of Liberia in 2005, the first female head of state in Africa. She was included on Time magazine's 2006 list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. Johnson Sirleaf was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, by President George W. Bush November 5, 2007. She has also received honorary Doctor of Law degrees from several universities, including Indiana University and Yale University. Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize December 10, 2011 "for securing peace in Liberia, promoting economic and social development, and strengthening the position of women." She published her autobiography, "This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President," in 2009. Johnson Sirleaf was elected to a second five year term in 2011. She received the coveted 2012 Indira Gandhi Peace Prize from the Republic of India. Forbes magazine listed her number 70 on their 2014 list of The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World and number 96 on their 2015 list. 

• October 29, 1942 James Edward Orange, minister and civil rights activist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. A year after graduating from high school, he was arrested for picketing a local store in 1962. This was the first of more than 100 arrests for picketing or other acts of civil disobedience. Orange was ordained a Baptist minister in 1967. He served as a project coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1965 to 1970. He later became a regional coordinator for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. While at the AFL-CIO, Orange worked on more than 300 labor organizing campaigns, including working with Cesar Chavez to organize the United Farm Workers. He also played a central role in South African voter registration and education prior to their 1994 election of President Nelson Mandela. Orange founded and served as general coordinator of the Martin Luther King, Jr. March Committee-Africa/African American Renaissance Committee in 1995 to coordinate commemorative events honoring King and promoted commercial ties between Atlanta, Georgia and other cities in the United States and South Africa. He helped organize the Immigrant Freedom Ride in 2003 in support of legal status for illegal immigrants. Orange died February 16, 2008. 

• October 29, 1945 Melba Moore, R&B singer and actress, was born Beatrice Melba Smith in New York City. Moore earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Montclair State Teacher's College and taught music for a year in the Newark public school system. She began her performing career in 1967 in the cast of "Hair." Moore won the 1970 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in "Purlie." She followed that performance with two successful albums, "I Got Love" (1970) and "Look What You're Doing to the Man" (1971). Other hits by Moore include "This Is It" (1976), "Love's Comin' At Ya" (1982), "Livin' For Your Love" (1984), and "Falling" (1986). Moore debuted her long-running one-woman show "Still Standing: The Melba Moore Story" in 1996. She appeared in the 2003 film "The Fighting Temptations." Her most recent album, "Forever Moore," was released in 2014. In addition to the Tony Award, Moore has been nominated for four Grammy Awards. 

• October 29, 1973 Vonetta Flowers, the first Black person to win a Gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Flowers went to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on a track and field scholarship and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in physical education in 1995. She aspired to make the United States Summer Olympic team but after several failed attempts turned to making the Winter Olympic team as a bobsledder. At the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, she won a Gold medal in the two-woman bobsledding event. Flowers also competed at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games, finishing sixth in the event. She retired from competition after the games. Flowers published her autobiography, "Running On Ice: The Overcoming Faith of Vonetta Flowers," in 2005. 

• October 29, 1986 Eva Beatrice Dykes, the first Black female to fulfill the requirements for a doctorial degree, died. Dykes was born August 13, 1893 in Washington, D. C. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Howard University in 1914. She then attended Radcliffe College where she earned her second Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in 1917 and her Master of Arts degree in 1918. She also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Dykes completed the requirements for her doctorial degree in 1921 but because Radcliffe held its graduation later than some other universities, she was the third Black woman to actually receive her Ph. D. Dykes taught English at Howard University from 1929 to 1942 and was chair of the English Department at Oakwood College from 1944 to her retirement in 1975. Dykes co-authored "Readings from Negro Authors for Schools and Colleges" in 1931 and authored "The Negro in English Romantic Thought: Or a Study in Sympathy for the Oppressed" in 1942. The Oakwood College library was named in her honor in 1973. 

• October 29, 1994 Pearl Primus, dancer, choreographer and anthropologist, died. Primus was born November 29, 1919 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College in 1940. Early in her career, Primus saw the need to promote African dance as an art form worthy of study and performance. She presented her first composition, "African Ceremonial," in 1943. She was the first dancer to present the African American experience within the framework of social protest in dances such as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (1944), "Strange Fruit" (1945), and "Hard Time Blues" (1945). Primus earned her Master of Arts degree in education in 1959 and her Ph. D. in dance education in 1978 from New York University. She created "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" about the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama church bombing in 1979. Primus served as professor of ethnic studies at the Five Colleges Consortium in Massachusetts from 1984 to 1990 and became the first chair of the Five Colleges Dance Consortium in 1990. President George H. W. Bush presented Primus with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, July 9, 1991. Primus' biography, "The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus," was published in 2011. 

• October 29, 2011 The USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13) was launched by the United States Navy. The ship is a Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship and is still in active service. The ship was named for Medgar Wiley Evers, army veteran and civil rights activist. Evers was born July 2, 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi. He was inducted into the United States Army in 1943 and fought in France during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1945 as a sergeant. Evers earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University) in 1952. Soon after, he moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi and became involved with the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. Evers was appointed Mississippi's first field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1954. He was involved in a boycott campaign against White merchants and was instrumental in desegregating the University of Mississippi. A couple of weeks before his death, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the carport of his home and five days before his death he was nearly rundown by a car as he emerged from the Jackson, Mississippi NAACP office. Evers was assassinated June 12, 1963. Mourned nationally, Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. He was posthumously awarded the 1963 NAACP Spingarn Medal. Byron De La Beckwith was arrested in 1964 and twice tried for Evers' murder. In both trials, all-White juries deadlocked on his guilt. Finally, De La Beckwith was convicted of the murder in 1994. Medgar Evers College was established as part of the City University of New York in 1969. A made-for-television movie, "For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story," was aired on PBS in 1983. The City of Jackson erected a statue in honor of Evers in 1992 and they changed the name of their airport to Jackson- Evers International Airport in 2004. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 2009. Another statue of Evers was unveiled at Alcorn June 13, 2013. "The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero's Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches" was published in 2005.


Dr. Eva Beatrice Dykes​


First Black female to fulfill the requirements for a doctoral degree

Minister and Civil Rights Activist 

​Anthropologist, Choreographer, and Dancer

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Today in Black History, 10/28/2015 | Lenny Wilkins

October 28, 1937 Leonard Randolph "Lenny" Wilkins, hall of fame basketball player and coach, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Wilkins was a two time All-American at Providence College and when he graduated with a degree in economics in 1960, was second highest scorer in the college's history. Providence retired his jersey number in 1996, the first alumnus to receive that honor. Wilkins was selected by the St. Louis Hawks in the 1960 National Basketball Association Draft and over his 15 season professional career was a nine-time NBA All-Star and at the time of his retirement in 1975 had the second most career assists in NBA history. After retiring as a player, Wilkins coached in the NBA for 35 years. He was named Coach of the Year in 1994 and retired with the most wins and losses as a coach in NBA history. He also coached the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games Gold medal winning men's basketball team. Wilkins served as vice president of the NBA Players Association and president of the NBA Coaches Association. He is one of three individuals to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. He was inducted into the hall as a player in 1989 and as a coach in 1998. The NBA named Wilkins one of the 50 Greatest Players and 10 Greatest Coaches in league history in 1996, the only person named to both lists. Wilkins was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He won the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually to a coach for his "standard of integrity, competitive excellence and tireless promotion of the game," in 2011. Wilkins founded the Lenny Wilkins Foundation in 1970 "to fund organizations that deliver healthcare and education services to young people while honoring their dignity and sense of self-respect." He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Providence College, Seattle University, and St. Francis College. Wilkins published his autobiography, "Unguarded: My Forty Years Surviving in the NBA," in 2001. He currently serves as a college basketball analyst.

October 28, 1918 Edward Alexander Bouchet, educator and the first African American to earn a Ph. D. from an American university, died. Bouchet was born September 15, 1852 in New Haven, Connecticut. He earned his bachelor's degree from Yale College in 1874 and based on his academic performance was the first Black person nominated to Phi Beta Kappa but was the second elected in 1884. Bouchet returned to Yale and in 1876 earned his Ph. D. in physics. Unable to find a university teaching position due to racism, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he taught physics and chemistry at the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney University) for the next 26 years. Bouchet resigned in 1902 and was director of academics at St. Paul's Normal and Industrial School (now St. Paul's College) from 1905 to 1908. He served as principal and teacher at a high school in Ohio from 1908 to 1913 before joining the faculty of Bishop College in 1913. Illness forced him to retire in 1916. The American Physical Society presents the Edward A. Bouchet Award to outstanding physicists for their contributions to physics and Yale and Howard universities founded the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in 2005. The Edward Bouchet Abdue Salam Institute in South Africa is named in his honor.

October 28, 1951 Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., economist and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund, was born in Washington, D. C. Ferguson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in economics in 1973, his Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, in 1979, and his Ph. D. in 1981 from Harvard University. He served as an attorney in a private law firm from 1981 to 1984 and was a partner at McKinsey & Company from 1984 to 1997. Ferguson was appointed a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 1997 and served as vice chair of the board from 1999 to 2006. He resigned from the board in 2006 and was named president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, the leading retirement provider for people who work in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields, in 2008. Ferguson serves on the boards of a number of institutions, including International Flavors and Fragrances, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Business Higher Education Forum. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and the President's Commission on Jobs and Competitiveness. Ferguson has received a number of honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities, including Michigan State University, Georgetown University, and Washington and Jefferson College.

October 28, 1992 The Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial at the Concord Naval Weapons Station near Concord, California was authorized. It was dedicated in 1994 to the 320 men, including 202 African Americans, who lost their lives July 17, 1944 when an ammunition depot at Port Chicago exploded. This was the largest domestic loss of life during World War II. This led to the largest naval mutiny in history when 258 African American men refused to return to the dangerous work. 208 of the men were convicted of disobeying orders, reassigned to menial tasks, and given bad conduct discharges which meant the loss of all veteran's benefits. The remaining 50 were formally charged, convicted of disobeying orders and making a mutiny, and sentenced to time in jail. President William J. Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, one of the few "Port Chicago 50" still alive, in 1999. "The Port Chicago Mutiny: The Story of the Largest Mass Military Trial in U. S. Naval History" was published in 1993.

October 28, 2003 Marie Maynard Daly, the first African American woman to earn a Ph. D. in chemistry, died. Daly was born April 16, 1921 in Queens, New York. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, in 1942 and Master of Science degree in 1943 from Queens College. She earned her Ph. D. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1947. Daly taught physical science at Howard University for two years before joining the Rockefeller Institute in 1948 to research cell nucleus. She returned to Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1955 to teach biochemistry. She also became a pioneer in studying the impact of cigarette smoking on the lungs. Daly moved to Yershiva University at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1960 and taught and did research in biochemistry until her retirement in 1986. Daly established a scholarship at Queens College for African American chemistry and physics majors in 1988.

October 28, 2005 Richard Ishmael McKinney, philosopher and educator, died. McKinney was born August 8, 1906 in Live Oak, Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and religion from Morehouse College in 1931, Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1934 and Masters of Sacred Theology degree in 1937 from Newton Theological Seminary, and his Ph. D. from Yale University in 1942. McKinney was assistant professor and director of religious activities at Virginia Union University from 1935 to 1944. He became the first African American president of Storer College in 1944. He left Storer in 1950 for Morgan State University where he served as chair of the Department of Philosophy and the Division of the Humanities until his retirement in 1978. After officially retiring, he continued to teach philosophy at Morgan State well into his 90s. He published "Mordecai, the Man and His Message: The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson" in 1998.


First African American woman to earn a Ph. D. in chemistry

Educator and the first African American to earn a Ph. D. from an American university.

Economist and President & Chief Executive Officer of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund

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Today in Black History, 10/27/2015 | Tulsa Race Riots Memorial

Today in Black History, 10/27/2015 | Tulsa Race Riots Memorial

October 27, 2010 A memorial to those that died in the Tulsa Race Riots was dedicated in John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The memorial consists of a 25 foot tall bronze tower encircled by 12 large bronze memorial plaques that tell the story of the riots. The riots occurred May 31, 1921 in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa and resulted in 39 people killed, 35 city blocks of residences destroyed, and 10,000 predominantly Black people left homeless. The Greenwood section of Tulsa was predominantly Black and had a commercial district that was so prosperous that it was often referred to as "the Negro Wall Street." On Monday, May 30, a teenage Black man was accused and jailed for assaulting a young White woman. By the next day, thousands of armed White men had gathered to seek revenge and a smaller group of armed Black men gathered to provide protection. A confrontation occurred, resulting in large-scale civil disorder. The Oklahoma state legislature passed the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Reconciliation Act in 2001 which provided for more than 300 college scholarships for descendants of Greenwood residents, the creation of the memorial, and called for efforts to promote economic development in Greenwood. Books about the riot include "Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921" (1982) and "Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 – Race, Reparations, Reconciliation" (2002).

October 27, 1909 Henry "Mule" Townsend, blues guitarist and singer, was born in Shelby, Mississippi. Townsend ran away from home at nine and hoboed his way to St. Louis, Missouri where he learned to play the guitar in his early teens. He made his debut recording in 1929 and continued to record until 2006. He accompanied most of the blues stars of the era and in 1935 alone appeared on 35 recordings. Albums by Townsend include "Henry T. Music Man" (1973), "Mule" (1980), "The 88 Blues" (1998, and "My Story" (2004). He received a National Heritage Fellowship, the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1985. Townsend died September 24, 2006. He posthumously received the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for "Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas." A memorial plaque for Townsend was added to the Mississippi Blues Trail in 2009. His autobiography, "A Blues Life: As Told to Bill Greensmith," was published in 1999.

October 27, 1917 Oliver Reginald Tambo, co-founder of the African National Congress Youth League, was born in Pondoland, South Africa. Tambo won a scholarship to Fort Hare, the only college that Black people could attend, but was expelled in 1939 for participating in a student strike. He later studied law by correspondence and qualified as an attorney in 1952. He, along with Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, founded the ANC Youth League in 1943 with Tambo as national secretary. Tambo became secretary general of the ANC in 1955 and deputy president in 1958. Tambo was banned by the South African government in 1959 and the ANC sent him to England to mobilize opposition to apartheid. He returned to South Africa in 1990 and was elected national chair of the ANC in 1991. Tambo died April 24, 1993. The airport in Johannesburg was renamed Tambo International Airport in 2006.

October 27, 1924 Ruby Dee, actress, playwright, poet and activist, was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio but grew up in Harlem, New York. Dee earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College in 1945. She made several appearances on Broadway before gaining national recognition for her role in the 1950 film "The Jackie Robinson Story." Dee was nominated for eight Emmy Awards, winning for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special for her role in the 1990 television film "Decoration Day." She was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "American Gangster." She and her husband, Ossie Davis, won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for "With Ossie and Ruby." Other films in which she appeared include "A Raisin in the Sun" (1961), "Do The Right Thing" (1989), "Jungle Fever" (1991), and "A Thousand Words" (2012). Dee was a long time civil rights activist, belonging to the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was personal friends with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She and Davis received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on individual artist by the United States, from President William J. Clinton October 5, 1995. They received Kennedy Center Honors in 2004 and the Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in 2005. Dee received the 2008 Spingarn Medal from the NAACP and an honorary doctorate degree from Princeton University in 2009. She and Davis published their autobiography, "With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together," in 1998. Dee died June 11, 2014.

October 27, 1933 Elijah Jerry "Pumpsie" Green, the first Black baseball player to play for the Boston Red Sox, was born in Boley, Oklahoma. Green entered the baseball game July 21, 1959 as a pinch-runner for the Red Sox, the last major league team to integrate. He played with the Red Sox until 1962 when he was traded to the New York Mets. Green retired from baseball after the 1963 season and for the next 20 years taught math and coached baseball at a California high school. Green was honored by the Red Sox April 17, 2009 in a first-pitch ceremony in recognition of 50 years since his breaking of the Red Sox color barrier.

October 27, 1941 Ernest Everett Just, pioneering biologist and one of the founders of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, died. Just was born August 14, 1883 in Charleston, South Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College in zoology in 1907. After graduating and encountering the reality that it was almost impossible for an African American to join the faculty of a White college or university, Just accepted a position at Howard University. Just served as the academic adviser to three Howard students in establishing Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. November 17, 1911. He was appointed head of the Department of Zoology at Howard in 1912, a position he held until his death. Just was the first recipient of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal in 1915 and the next year earned his Ph. D. in zoology from the University of Chicago. In 1930, he was the first American invited to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, Germany where several Nobel Prize winners conducted research. He wrote the important textbook, "Biology of the Cell Surface" in 1939. Just's biography, "Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest E. Just," was published in 1983. The book received the Pfizer Award and was a finalist for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1996. The Medical University of South Carolina has hosted the annual Ernest E. Just Symposium to encourage non-White students to pursue careers in biomedical sciences and health professions since 2000.

October 27, 1946 Nathan Francis Mossell, the first African American graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, died. Mossell was born July 27, 1856 in Hamilton, Canada but raised in Lockport, New York. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in natural science from Lincoln University in 1879 and his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1882. He did postgraduate training at hospitals in Philadelphia and London, England. He was the first Black physician elected a member of the Philadelphia County Medical Society in 1888. Mossell led the founding of Frederick Douglass Memorial Hospital and Training School in Philadelphia in 1895 and served as chief-of-staff and medical director until his retirement in 1933. After retiring from the hospital, Mossell worked in private practice until his death.

October 27, 1956 Charles Spurgeon Johnson, the first Black president of Fisk University, died. Johnson was born July 24, 1893 in Bristol, Virginia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Union University in 1916 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1919. After the 1919 Chicago race riot, Johnson did much of the research which showed how the riot had deep roots in denial of economic and social opportunity to African Americans. His subsequent book, "The Negro in Chicago" (1922), became the classic model for comprehensive commission reports. Johnson moved to New York City in the 1920s to become research director for the National Urban League. He returned to the South in 1927 as head of sociology at Fisk University. Johnson was elected the first Black trustee of the Julius Rosenwald Fund in 1934 and became the first African American elected vice president of the American Sociological Society in 1937. Johnson became president of Fisk in 1946, a position he held until his death. Over his career, Johnson wrote 17 books, including "Shadow of the Plantation" (1934) and "Growing Up in the Black Belt: Negro Youth in the Rural South" (1940).

October 27, 1987 John Oliver Killens, novelist and educator, died. Killens was born January 14, 1916 in Macon, Georgia. He attended a number of institutions of higher learning, including Morris Brown College, Howard University, and Columbia University but never earned a degree. After serving in the military in the South Pacific from 1942 to 1945, Killens moved to New York City in 1948 to focus on establishing a literary career. Around 1950, he co-founded a writer's group that became the Harlem Writers Guild. Killens' first novel, "Youngblood," was published in 1954. Two of his novels, "And Then We Heard the Thunder" (1962) and "The Cotillion or One Good Bull is Half the Herd" (1971), were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Killens founded the National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College where he taught English in 1986. "Liberation Memories: The Rhetoric and Poetics of John Oliver Killens" and "The Development of the Black Psyche in the Writings of John Oliver Killens 1916-1987" were published in 2003.

October 27, 2003 Walter Edward Washington, the first home-rule Mayor of Washington, D. C., died. Washington was born April 15, 1915 in Dawson, Georgia but raised in Jamestown, New York. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in 1938 and his Bachelor of Laws degree from Howard University School of Law in 1948. Washington was a supervisor for D. C.'s Alley Dwelling Authority from 1948 to 1961. He was appointed executive director of the National Capital Housing Authority in 1961. He was appointed Mayor-Commissioner of Washington, D. C. in 1967. When home-rule was granted to D. C. in 1973, Washington was elected Mayor of D. C. in 1974. After being defeated for re-election in 1978, he became a partner in a private law firm until 1999. The Walter E. Washington Estates housing development and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D. C. are named in his honor.

October 27, 2008 Es'kia Mphahlele, author, educator and activist, died. Mphahlele was born December 17, 1919 in Pretoria, South Africa. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949 and Master of Arts degree in 1956 from the University of South Africa. Mphahlele taught high school from 1945 to 1952 and published his first book of short stories, "Man Must Live," in 1947. Banned from teaching by the apartheid government after publicly agitating against the Bantu Education Act, he left South Africa in 1957 and spent the next twenty years in exile. During that time, he earned his Ph. D. from the University of Denver in 1968 and taught at the University of Pennsylvania. Mphahlele returned to South Africa in 1977 and joined the faculty of the University of Witwatersrand. He authored a number of other books, including "The African Image" (1962), "The Wanderers" (1969), and "Father Come Home" (1984). He also authored two autobiographies, "Down Second Avenue" (1959) and "Afrika My Music: An Autobiography 1957-1983" (1984). The Es'kia Institute was founded in 2002 in Rivonia, South Africa to "nurture, support and develop community initiatives in Arts, Culture, Education and Literature in an effort to advance and preserve Afrikan Heritage."

October 27, 2009 Roy Rudolph DeCarava, photographer, died. DeCarava was born December 9, 1919 in Harlem, New York. He determined early that he wanted to be an artist and initially worked as a painter and commercial illustrator. Eventually he was drawn to photography and opened A Photographer's Gallery, pioneering an effort to win recognition for photography as a fine art, in 1955. Also that year, he collaborated with Langston Hughes on a book about life in Harlem, "The Sweet Flypaper of Life." DeCarava served as professor of photography at Cooper Union Institute from 1968 to 1975 and Hunter College from 1975 to his death. A collection of his photographs, "Roy DeCarava, Photographs," was published in 1981. He was presented the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, by President George W. Bush November 9, 2006.


Actress, Playwright, Poet and Activist

First Black president of Fisk University

Pioneering Biologist and one of the Founders of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity

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Today in Black History, 10/23/2015 The National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes

• October 23, 1911 The National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes was formed as the result of the merger of The Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, The Committee for the Improvement of Industrial Conditions Among Negroes in New York, and The National League for the Protection of Colored Women. The organization was renamed The National Urban League in 1920. Today, there are over 100 local affiliates located in 35 states and the District of Columbia with the mission "to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights." 

• October 23, 1810 William Alexander Leidesdorff, one of the earliest Black settlers in California and often called the first Black millionaire, was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Leidesdorff left St. Croix when he was 15 for schooling in Denmark and after that went to New Orleans, Louisiana where he worked as a ship captain from 1834 to 1840. He moved to California in 1841 and launched the first steamboat to operate on San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River. He also built the first hotel and the first shipping warehouse. Leidesdorff became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1844 and received a land grant of 35,521 acres. He went on to establish extensive commercial relations throughout Hawaii, Alaska, and Mexican California. When the United States took over California, Leidesdorff was one of three members on the first San Francisco school board and was later elected city treasurer. He also donated the land for the first public school. President James K. Polk appointed him United States Vice Consul to Mexico in 1845. Leidesdorff died May 18, 1848. He was one of the wealthiest men in California and on the day of his burial, flags were flown at half-mast, business was suspended, and the schools were closed. When his estate was auctioned in 1856, it was valued at more than $1,445,000. Leidesdorff streets in San Francisco and Folsom, California are named in his honor. His biography, "William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer," was published in 2005. 

• October 23, 1885 Clara Brown, pioneer and philanthropist, died. Brown was born enslaved January 1, 1800 near Fredericksburg, Virginia. She married at 18 and had four children. Her owner died in 1835 and she and her family were sold separately to settle his estate. She was sold to a Kentucky plantation owner. Brown was granted her freedom in 1856 but had to leave the state according to Kentucky law. She was able to barter her service as a cook and maid to join families moving westward during the gold rush. Brown ended up in the Denver, Colorado area where she set up the first laundry in Gilpin County. She also worked as a mid-wife, cook, and maid. Brown invested her earnings and within several years was reported to own several lots and houses and $10,000 in savings. She gave generously to the construction of the first Protestant church in the Rocky Mountains and her home was a hospital and general refuge for those who were sick or in poverty. Brown was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 1989.

• October 23, 1940 Pele, hall of fame soccer player, was born Edison Arantes de Nascimento in Tres Coracoes, Brazil. Pele began playing for the Brazilian national soccer team at 16 and won his first World Cup, the international championship of soccer, at 17. Pele's technique and athleticism has been universally praised and during his playing years he was renowned for his excellent dribbling and passing, powerful shot, and prolific goal scoring. He is the all-time leading scorer of the Brazil national team and the only player to be part of three World Cup winning teams. Since his retirement in 1977, Pele has been a worldwide ambassador for soccer and a vocal supporter of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor. He was appointed a United Nations ambassador for ecology and environment in 1992. The International Olympic Committee has proclaimed Pele "Athlete of the Century" and Time magazine named him one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century in 1999. Pele was inducted into the American National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1993 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Laureus Academy in 2000. Pele was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh in 2012 for "significant contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes, as well as his sporting achievements." Pele is considered a national hero in Brazil. He published his autobiography, "My Life and the Beautiful Game: The Autobiography of Pele," in 1977. 

• October 23, 1957 Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, was born in Ruhango, Rwanda. Kagame began his military career in 1979 when he joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) and spent years fighting as a guerrilla against the government of Uganda. Kagame co-founded the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) political party in 1985. He became the head of military intelligence for the NRA in 1986. Kagame received military training from the United States Army at Fort Leavenworth in 1990 and that same year became military commander of the RFP. Kagame became President of Rwanda in 2000 and won the first national election since 1994 in 2003. He was re-elected in 2010. Under his leadership, Rwanda has been called Africa's biggest success story. As a result, Kagame has received many honors, including the 2003 Global Leadership Award in recognition of his "commitment and tireless work to address crises, foster understanding, unity, and peace to benefit all people" and the 2009 Clinton Global Citizen Award in recognition of his "leadership in public service that has improved the lives of the people of Rwanda." He was included on Time magazine's 2009 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Kagame has received honorary degrees from the American University of the Pacific, Oklahoma Christian University, and the University of Glasgow. His biography, "Paul Kagame and Rwanda: Power, Genocide and the Rwandan Patriotic Front," was published in 2004. 

• October 23, 1958 Michael Eric Dyson, academic, author and minister, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Dyson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Carson-Newman College in 1982 and his Master of Arts degree in 1991 and Ph.D in 1993 from Princeton University. Dyson is a longtime professor, lecturer and author who address' issues of race and culture. He has authored a number of books, including "Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X" (1995), "I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr." (2000), and "Can You Hear Me Now? The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson" (2009). His book "Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster" (2006) won an American Book Award. Dyson has been University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University since 2007, teaching courses in theology, English and African American studies, and a political analyst for MSNBC television since 2011.


Brazilian, Soccer Hall of Famer

Philantropist

Author and Scholar

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Today in Black History, 10/22/2015 | Julie Dash

• October 22, 1952 Julie Dash, filmmaker and author, was born in Queens, New York. Dash earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts at City College of New York in 1974. She later earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in film and television production from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her first film to gain widespread attention and success was "Illusions" (1982). Dash released "Daughters of the Dust," the first full-length film by an African American woman to have a general theatrical release, in 1992. For that film, she was the producer, screenwriter, and director. "Daughters of the Dust" was added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress as a film of "cultural, historical, or aesthetical significance" in 2004. Since then, she has directed music videos and films for television, including "Funny Valentines" (1999) and "The Rosa Parks Story" (2002). She also wrote "Daughters of the Dust: A Novel" in 1997 as a sequel to the film set 20 years later.

• October 22, 1854 James Alan Bland, hall of fame songwriter and musician, was born in Flushing, New York but raised in Washington, D. C. Bland began performing professionally at 14. He earned his bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1873. Bland toured the United States and Europe, spending 20 years in London, England. While in Europe, he performed for Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. Bland wrote more than 700 songs, including "In the Evening by the Moonlight," "O Dem Golden Slippers," and "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" which in a slightly modified form was made the official state song of Virginia in 1940. Although Bland made as much as $10,000 per year, he died penniless May 5, 1911 and was buried in an unmarked grave without a funeral. His grave was found by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers who landscaped it and erected a monument in 1939. Bland was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Housing projects in Flushing and Alexandria, Virginia are named in his honor. 

• October 22, 1870 James W. C. Pennington, abolitionist, educator, historian and minister, died. Pennington was born enslaved on Maryland's eastern shore and named James Pembroke in January, 1807. He escaped from slavery in 1827 and changed his name to Pennington. Illiterate when he escaped, Pennington taught himself to read and write and was proficient in Greek and Latin by the early 1830s. He was elected a delegate to the first annual Free Colored Convention in 1831. He moved to New Haven, Connecticut in the mid-1830s to pursue theological studies. Because he was Black, Yale's School of Divinity refused to enroll him as a regular student. They did allow him to attend lectures but he could not participate in classes or borrow books from the library. Pennington successfully completed his training and received his ordination in 1838. He published "A Text Book of the Origin and History of the Colored People" in 1841 in which he argued against European claims to superiority and established the African origins of western European civilization. He also advocated African American emigration to Jamaica. Pennington was a delegate to the 1843 World Peace Society in London, England where he called for a boycott of all enslaver produced American goods. The University of Heidelberg in Germany awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1849, the first African American to be awarded an honorary degree by a European university, and the next year he published his autobiography, "The Fugitive Blacksmith; or Events in the History of James W. C. Pennington, Pastor of a Presbyterian Church in New York, Formerly a Slave in the State of Maryland, United States." Pennington had become a leading figure in the United States by 1853 and that year was elected president of the National Free Colored People's Convention. Pennington advocated for Black support and enlistment in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, he broke from the Presbyterians because of their reluctance to get involved with uplift efforts for the freed Blacks. A biography, "American to the Backbone: The Life of James W. C. Pennington, the Fugitive Slave Who Became One of the First Black Abolitionist," was published in 2011. 

• October 22, 1936 Robert George "Bobby" Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense and author, was born in Dallas, Texas. After dropping out of high school, Seale joined the United States Air Force where he served for three years before being dishonorably discharged for disobeying orders. He and Huey P. Newton founded the Black Panther Party October 15, 1966 with Seale as chairman. Seale led a group of 30 armed Black Panthers into the California State Assembly May 2, 1967 to protest proposed gun control legislation aimed at the party. Seale served two years in prison for his participation in demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He has authored several books, including "Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton" (1970), "A Lonely Rage: The Autobiography of Bobby Seale" (1978), and a cookbook titled "Barbequing with Bobby" (1987). He became involved with Reach!, an organization focused on youth education programs, in 2002. He also taught Black studies at Temple University.

• October 22, 1939 Joaquim Alberto Chissano, the second President of Mozambique, was born in Gaza Province, Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique). After leaving secondary school, Chissano went to Portugal to study medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon. However, because of his political activities he had to end his studies and flee to Tanzania. Chissano represented the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) in Paris during the 1960s. He went on to fight in the Mozambican War of Independence and by June 25, 1975, when Mozambique achieved independence from Portugal, he had risen to the rank of major-general. After independence, Chissano was appointed foreign minister, a position he held for eleven years. Chissano became president in 1986 when Samora Machel was killed in an aircraft accident. He was reelected in 1994 and 1999. Chissano chose not to run for another term and stepped down from the presidency in 2006. Chissano was awarded the inaugural $5 million Prize for Achievement in African Leadership by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in 2007 in recognition of his good governance. Chissano currently chairs the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government. 

• October 22, 1963 Walter Davis, hall of fame blues pianist and singer, died. Davis was born March 1, 1911 in Grenada, Mississippi. He ran away from home at 13 and ended up in St. Louis, Missouri. Davis recorded his first single, "M&O Blues," in 1930. He released "Sunnyland Blues" in 1931 and it was a nationwide hit. Davis recorded prolifically, recording around 150 singles between 1930 and 1952, including "Ashes In My Whiskey," "Blue Blues," "Why Should I Be Worried?," and Come Back Baby." Davis suffered a stroke in 1952 and quit performing and became a preacher. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2005. 

• October 22, 1965, Milton Lee Olive, III, the first African American Congressional Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War, was killed in action. Olive was born November 7, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois. He enlisted in the United States Army at 17 and was serving as a private first class in Vietnam by 1965. On this date, his actions earned him the medal, America's highest military decoration. His citation partially reads, "Pfc. Olive was a member of the 3rd Platoon of Company B, as it moved through the jungle to find the Viet Cong operating in the area. Although the platoon was subjected to a heavy volume of enemy gunfire and pinned down temporarily, it retaliated by assaulting the Viet Cong positions, causing the enemy to flee. As the platoon pursued the insurgents, Pfc. Olive and four other soldiers were moving through the jungle together when a grenade was thrown into their midst. Pfc. Olive saw the grenade, and then saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at the sacrifice of his own by grabbing the grenade in his hand and falling on it to absorb the blast with his body. Through his bravery, unhesitating actions, and complete disregard for his safety, he prevented additional loss of life or injury to the members of his platoon." President Lyndon B. Johnson presented the medal to Olive's father April 21, 1966. The City of Chicago recognized him by naming Olive Park on Lake Michigan in his honor in 1979. The Milton L. Olive Middle School in Long Island, New York is also named in his honor. 

• October 22, 1969 Tommy Edwards, singer, songwriter and the first African American individual performer to top the Billboard Hot 100, died. Edwards was born February 17, 1922 in Richmond, Virginia. He began his professional music career in 1931 and wrote "That Chick's Too Young to Fry" in 1946 which was a hit for Louis Jordan. Edwards began recording in 1949. He re-recorded "It's All in the Game," which he had originally recorded in 1951, in 1958 with a different arrangement and it became number one on Billboard, R&B, and the United Kingdom singles charts. It sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide. Edwards followed that with other successful singles, including "Love Is All We Need," "Please Mr. Sun," and "The Morning Side of the Mountain." Edwards received a State of Virginia highway marker in 2008. • October 22, 1988 Henry Armstrong, hall of fame boxer and the first to hold world titles in three weight classes at the same time, died. Armstrong was born Henry Jackson, Jr. December 2, 1912 in Columbus, Mississippi. He assumed the surname of his mentor and trainer, Harry Armstrong, in 1931. Because the fight purses were small, Armstrong usually fought at least twelve times a year. He won the World Featherweight Boxing Championship October 29, 1937, the World Welterweight Boxing Championship May 31, 1938, and the World Lightweight Boxing Championship August 17, 1938. Ring Magazine named him 1938 Boxer of the Year. Armstrong produced and starred in an autobiographical movie, "Keep Punching" in 1939. After losing his titles, Armstrong retired from boxing with a professional record of 145 wins and 29 losses. Armstrong was ordained a Baptist minister in 1951 and created the Henry Armstrong Youth Foundation which he funded with the profits from the two books he had written, "Twenty Years of Poem, Moods, and Mediations" (1954) and his autobiography "Gloves, Glory, and God" (1956). Armstrong was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. 

• October 22, 1992 Cleavon Jake Little, film and stage actor, died. Little was born June 1, 1939 in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in dramatic arts from San Diego State University and received a full scholarship to graduate school at Juilliard. After completing Juilliard, he trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Little made his professional debut in the Off- Broadway production of "MacBird" in 1967. The following year, He made his first film and television appearances. Little made his Broadway debut in "Jimmy Shine" in 1969 and won the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in "Purlie" in 1971. Other Broadway appearances include "All Over Town" (1975), "The Poison Tree" (1976), and "I'm Not Rappaport" (1988). Film roles include "Vanishing Point" (1971), "Blazing Saddles" (1974), "Once Bitten" (1985), and "Fletch Lives" (1989). Little won the 1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor for a role in an episode of "Dear John." He appeared in the television docu-drama, "Separate But Equal" in 1991. 

• October 22, 2004 Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr., the first African American commissioned an officer in the United States Navy, died. Gravely was born June 4, 1922 in Richmond, Virginia. He enlisted in the Naval Reserves in 1942 and successfully completed midshipman training December 14, 1944, the first African American commissioned an officer from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. His first assignment was to Camp Robert Smalls, a part of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station set aside for training African American enlisted men. Gravely was released from active duty in 1946 and returned to Richmond to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Virginia Union University in 1948. Gravely was recalled to active duty in 1949 and went on to be the first African American to serve aboard a fighting ship as an officer, the first to command a navy ship, the first fleet commander, and the first to become an admiral. Gravely retired from the navy in 1980 with several decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal. The USS Gravely, a U. S. Navy guided missile destroyer, was launched March 30, 2009. The Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. Elementary School in Haymarket, Virginia was posthumously named in his honor.


Second President of Mozambique

Co-founder of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense

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Today in Black History 10/21/2015 The First African American Naval Aviator in the US Navy

Today in Black History 10/21/2015 The First African American Naval Aviator in the US Navy
• October 21, 1948 Jesse LeRoy Brown became the first African American naval aviator in the United States Navy. Brown was born October 13, 1926 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1946. After attending navy pre-flight school and flight training and despite "racist resistance to an African American studying aeronautics and aviation," he was designated a naval aviator. He received his commission as ensign April 15, 1949. Brown died December 4, 1950 when his plane was hit by enemy fire and crashed during the Korean War. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his combat service. On March 18, 1972, the USS Jesse L. Brown was launched in his honor. Also, the County Tax Services Building in Hattiesburg is named in his honor. Brown's biography, "The Flight of Jesse LeRoy Brown," was published in 1998. 

• October 21, 1864 Alfred B. Hilton, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, died of wounds received at the Battle of Chaffin's Farm during the Civil War. Hilton was born in Harford County, Maryland in 1842. On September 29, 1864, Hilton was serving as a sergeant in the 4th Regiment Colored Infantry when his unit participated in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia. During the battle, Hilton carried the American flag as part of the unit's color guard. As he charged the enemy fortifications, he grabbed the regimental colors from a wounded comrade. When he was seriously wounded, he called out "Boys, save the colors." Two of his fellow soldiers grabbed the flags before they could touch the ground. Hilton was posthumously awarded the medal, America's highest military decoration, April 6, 1865 for his actions during the battle. Sergeant Major Christian Fleetwood and Private Charles Veale, both African Americans, also received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions during the battle. 

• October 21, 1865 Matthew Wesley Clair, Sr., one of the first African Americans elected bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in Union, West Virginia. Clair earned his bachelor's degree from Morgan College in 1889 and was licensed to preach. He earned his Ph. D. from Bennett College in 1901. Clair was presiding elder of the Washington District of the Methodist Episcopal Church from 1897 to 1902 and was pastor of Asbury Church in Washington, D. C. from 1902 to 1919 where he spearheaded the construction of a 1,800-seat sanctuary. He also edited the conference paper, "The Banner." Clair was elected bishop in 1920 and assigned to a mission in Monrovia, Liberia where he served until 1928. While in Liberia, he was a member of the Board of Education of the Republic of Liberia and the American Advisory Commission on the Booker Washington Agricultural and Industrial Institute of Liberia. He was assigned to the Covington, Kentucky Episcopal Area in 1928 and served the Black conferences in the Midwest until his retirement in 1936. Clair died June 28, 1943. 

• October 21, 1917 John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, hall of fame jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer, was born in Cheraw, South Carolina. Gillespie had taught himself to play the piano, trombone, and trumpet by 12 and he took his first professional job at 18. Together with Charlie Parker, Gillespie was a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz and was also influential in the development of Afro-Cuban jazz. Gillespie was a major influence on many musicians, including Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, and Arturo Sandoval. He organized a band to go on a State Department tour of the Middle East in 1956 and earned the nickname "the Ambassador of Jazz." Gillespie was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1960 and was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982. Gillespie received the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France's most prestigious cultural award, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. He received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, from President George H. W. Bush November 17, 1989 and received Kennedy Center Honors in 1990. He published his autobiography "To Be or Not to Bop," in 1979. Gillespie died January 6, 1993. His recording "Groovin' High" (1945) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of "lasting qualitative or historical significance" in 2000 and "A Night in Tunisia" (1946) was inducted in 2004. 

• October 21, 1937 Lucy Diggs Stowe, educator, administrator and one of the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, died. Stowe was born July 4, 1885 in Berryville, Virginia but raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1908 and was class valedictorian. While at Howard, she co-founded the sorority January 15, 1908. She helped draft the sorority's constitution and served as the first president. After graduation, Stowe returned to Baltimore to teach high school English. She also attended Columbia University where she earned her Master of Arts degree in 1915. Stowe won the national title at the first tournament of the American Tennis Association in 1917. She returned to Washington, D. C. in 1919 to establish the first junior high school in D. C. and served as principal until 1922. That year, she was appointed the first dean of women at Howard, a position she held until her death. Stowe also founded the National Association of College Women, and served as the first president for several years, and the Association of Advisors to Women in Colored Schools. Lucy Diggs Stowe Hall at Howard opened in 1943 and Lucy Diggs Stowe Elementary School in D. C. is named in her honor. Stowe was posthumously inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame in 2011. Her biography, "Faithful to the Task at Hand: The Life of Lucy Diggs Stowe," was published in 2012. 

• October 21, 1950 Ronald Ervin McNair, physicist and NASA astronaut, was born in Lake City, South Carolina. McNair earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in physics from North Carolina A&T State University in 1971 and his Ph. D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. McNair was chosen for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration program in 1978 and flew aboard the Challenger in February, 1984 as a mission specialist. McNair died, along with six other crew members, during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger January 28, 1986. A number of public places have been renamed in honor of McNair, including schools throughout the country. The United States Department of Education offers the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program for low income, first generation, and/or underrepresented students. 

• October 21, 1980 Valerie Thomas received patent number 4,229,761 for her invention of the Illusion Transmitter which allowed the user to render three dimensional illusions in real-time. Thomas was born in May, 1943 and graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in physics. She went to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration program in 1964 and remained there until her retirement in 1995. In addition to her invention, Thomas designed programs to research Halley's Comet and ozone holes. During her time at NASA, she received many awards including the NASA Equal Opportunity Medal. She is currently an associate at the UMBC Center for Multicore Hybrid Productivity Research and serves as a mentor for the Science Mathematics Aerospace Research and Technology and National Technical Association. 

• October 21, 1994 Charles Edward Anderson, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, died. Anderson was born August 13, 1919 in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Lincoln University in 1941. After graduating, Anderson enlisted in the United States Air Force and was sent to the University of Chicago where he earned his meteorological certification in 1943 and began serving as weather officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Anderson earned his Master of Science degree from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1948 and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960. He remained a weather officer in the U. S. Army Air Corps until 1960. Anderson was a professor from 1966 until his death, first at the University of Wisconsin and then at North Carolina State University. Today the American Meteorology Society honor Anderson's legacy with the Charles Anderson Award given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to the promotion of diversity in the atmospheric sciences. 

• October 21, 1996 The United States Navy launched the USNS Henson, a Pathfinder class oceanographic survey ship. The ship is named for Matthew Alexander Henson, the first person to reach the North Pole, and is still in service. Henson was born August 8, 1866 in Charles County, Maryland. He went to sea as a cabin boy at 12 and sailed around the world over the next several years. He met Commander Robert Peary who recruited him as a colleague in 1887 and they made many expeditions, including their 1909 expedition to the North Pole. Although Peary received many honors, Henson was largely ignored and spent most of the next 30 years working as a clerk in New York City. Congress belatedly awarded him a duplicate of the Silver medal awarded to Peary in 1944. Henson authored "A Negro Explorer at the North Pole" about his arctic exploration in 1912 and an autobiography, "Dark Companion," in 1947. Henson died March 9, 1955. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1986. The National Geographic Society posthumously awarded its most prestigious medal, the Hubbard Medal, to Henson in 2000. The Matthew Henson Earth Conservation Center in Washington, D. C. is named in his honor as well as several schools in the state of Maryland. Henson's story was told in the 1988 made-for-television movie "Glory & Honor."

Received patent for the Illusion Transmitter

​Physicist and NASA Astronaut

Hall of Fame Jazz Trumpeter

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Today in Black History 10/20/2015 | The Black Revolutionary War Patriots Commemorative Silver Dollar

Today in Black History 10/20/2015 | The Black Revolutionary War Patriots Commemorative Silver Dollar

October 20, 1996 The Black Revolutionary War Patriots Commemorative Silver Dollar was authorized by Public Law 104-329 to honor the Black Revolutionary War patriots and the 275th anniversary of the birth of the first Black Revolutionary War patriot, Crispus Attucks. Attucks was the first person killed by the British in the Boston Massacre of 1770. More than 5,000 African Americans fought in the Revolutionary War. The coin was available for purchase from the United States Mint from February 13, 1998 through December 31, 1998. The Black Revolutionary Patriots Foundation was founded in 1985 "to present an accurate history of the vital role African Americans played during the American Revolution and the founding of our nation."

October 20, 1849 William Washington Browne, educator, minister and businessman, was born enslaved in Habersham County, Georgia. Browne ran away at 15 and joined the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, he attended school in Wisconsin and then returned to the South in 1869 to teach in Georgia and Alabama. After becoming a Methodist minister in 1876, he urged the formation of groups to pool money and buy land. He organized the True Reformers Savings Bank in Richmond, Virginia in 1889, the first Black bank in the United States to receive a charter. It took in more than $1 million in deposits at its peak in 1907. Browne was one of only eight men, including Booker T. Washington, selected to represent African Americans at the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895. Browne died December 21, 1897 and his funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Richmond's Black community.

October 20, 1859 Sherrard Lewis Leary, one of five Black men that participated in John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, died. Leary was born March 17, 1835 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Frustrated with southern racism, he moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1856. There, he joined the Oberlin Anti-Slavery Society and participated in the Oberlin-Wellington Slave Rescue September 13, 1858. He was arrested and indicted but the charges were later dropped. Leary joined John Brown October 15, 1859 to prepare for the raid on Harpers Ferry. During the raid, he was severely wounded and died shortly afterwards. Two months after the raid, the citizens of Oberlin held a memorial service for the three residents, including Leary, killed in the raid.

October 20, 1893 Jomo Kenyatta, first Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Kenya, was born in the village of Ngende, Gatundu, in British East Africa (now Kenya). Kenyatta moved to Europe in 1929 for education and work. He returned to Kenya in 1946 and was elected president of the Kenya African Union in 1947. The Mau Mau rebellion began in 1951 and the British declared a state of emergency. Kenyatta was convicted and sentenced to seven years of hard labor for managing and being a member of the Mau Mau Society. He was released in 1961 and elected Prime Minister of the Kenyan government in 1963. Kenya became an independent republic June 1, 1964 with Kenyatta as president. He remained president until his death August 22, 1978. Kenyatta authored a number of books, including "Facing Mount Kenya" (1938), "Kenya: The Land of Conflict" (1971), and his autobiography, "Suffering Without Bitterness" (1968). A number of streets, schools, hospitals, and other institutions in Kenya bear his name, including Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Kenya observes a public holiday every October 20 in his honor.

October 20, 1895 Rex Ingram, stage, film and television actor, was born on a riverboat near Cairo, Illinois. Ingram attended Northwestern University where he was the first African American to receive a Phi Beta Kappa key from the university and earned his Doctor of Medicine degree. He moved to California where he was talked into acting and cast as a native in "Tarzan of the Apes" (1918). After acting in a number of stereotypical parts, he began to receive more substantive roles and appeared in a number of films, including "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1939), "God's Little Acre" (1958), "Elmer Gantry" (1960), and "Journey to Shiloh" (1968). Ingram appeared on Broadway in productions including "Haiti" (1938), "Cabin in the Sky" (1940), "St. Louis Woman" (1946), and "Kwamina" (1961). He became the first African American actor hired for a contract role on a soap opera in 1962 when he appeared on "The Brighter Day." He also guest starred on television episodes of "Gunsmoke," "I Spy," and "The Bill Cosby Show." Ingram died September 19, 1969.

October 20, 1898 North Carolina Mutual and Provident Insurance Company, the first African American owned insurance company, was founded in Durham, North Carolina. The company formulated the concept of the "double duty dollar" which was based on the premise that income from insurance sales should be channeled back into the community. Throughout its history, the company has had programs to build strong families and communities through jobs, investments, loans, and contributions and support of social programs. Today, North Carolina Mutual Life is the oldest and largest African American life insurance company in the nation, operating in 24 states and the District of Columbia with more than $150 million in assets.

October 20, 1901 Adelaide Hall, jazz singer and actress, was born in Brooklyn, New York. The daughter of a music teacher, Hall attended the Pratt Institute. She began her stage career in 1921 as a chorus girl in the Broadway musical "Shuffle Along." This was followed by appearances in a number of Black musicals, including "Chocolate Kiddies" (1925) and "Desires of 1927" (1927). Hall did several recordings with Duke Ellington in 1927 that were worldwide hits. She followed that with starring roles on Broadway in "Blackbirds of 1928" (1928) and "Brown Buddies" (1930). She embarked on a tour of the United States and Europe in 1931 and performed for an estimated one million people. Hall lived and performed in Paris, France from 1935 to 1938. She went to London, England in 1938 to star in "The Sun Never Sets" and remained there until her death November 7, 1993. Hall was the first Black artist to have a long-term contract with the British Broadcasting Company and was one of the highest paid entertainers in the country. Her biography, "Underneath a Harlem Moon: The Harlem to Paris Years of Adelaide Hall," was published in 2003.

October 20, 1904 Enolia Pettigen McMillan, the first female national president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was born in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. McMillan earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Howard University in 1926 and began teaching in Maryland. She earned her Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1933. During her 40 year teaching career, she served as president of the Maryland State Colored Teachers' Association and was credited with bringing better quality books to Black students and better pay for Black teachers. After retiring from teaching, she served as president of the Baltimore, Maryland NAACP in the 1970s and 1980s and became president of the national organization in 1984 and served until 1990. She was instrumental in moving the organization's headquarters from New York City to Baltimore. McMillan died October 24, 2006.

October 20, 1914 Fayard Antonio Nicholas, half of the hall of fame Nicholas Brothers dance team, was born in Mobile, Alabama but grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He nor his younger brother had any formal dance training but were the featured act at the Cotton Club in New York City by 1932. They made their Hollywood film debut in 1934 in "Kid Millions" and made their Broadway debut in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. Over the next four decades, they alternated between movies, Broadway, television, nightclubs, and tours of Latin America, Africa, and Europe. One of their signature moves was to dance down a flight of stairs, leapfrogging over each other and landing in a split on each step. They performed the move in the movie "Stormy Weather" (1943) and Fred Astaire declared that it was the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen. Gregory Hines declared that if their biography was ever filmed, their dance moves would have to be computer generated because no one could duplicate them. Mikhail Baryshnikov called them the most amazing dancers he had ever seen. The brothers also taught tap dance at Harvard University. The brothers received numerous awards, including honorary doctorate degrees from Harvard University, Kennedy Center Honors in 1991, and induction into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame in 2001. Fayard received an honorary Doctor of Performing Arts in American Dance degree from Oklahoma City University in 2002. Fayard Nicholas died January 24, 2006. The brother's home movies were included in the National Film Registry in 2011 as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films." "Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers" was published in 2000.

October 20, 1932 Roosevelt "Rosey" Brown, Jr., hall of fame football player, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. Brown played college football for Morgan State University where he was a Black College All-American in 1951 and 1952. He was selected by the New York Giants in the 1953 National Football League Draft. Over his 13 season professional career, Brown was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and helped the Giants win the 1956 NFL Championship. Brown retired after the 1965 season and became the assistant offensive line coach for the Giants in 1966 and was promoted to offensive line coach in 1969. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975. Brown died June 9, 2004. A historical marker honoring Brown was unveiled in 2009 at the intersection of Roosevelt Brown Boulevard and Main Street in Charlottesville.

October 20, 1934 Eddie Harris, jazz musician, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Harris studied music at DuSable High School and Roosevelt University before he was drafted into the United States Army where he played in the 7th Army Band. His first Album, "Exodus to Jazz" (1961), included his jazz arrangement of the theme from the movie "Exodus" which became the first jazz record ever to be certified gold. His album "The Electrifying Eddie Harris" reached number 2 on the R&B charts in 1967 and he performed with Les McCann's group on the 1969 recording "Swiss Movement" which became one of the best-selling jazz albums ever. He was responsible for most of the music for "The Bill Cosby Show" television series. Harris died November 5, 1996.

October 20, 1937 Juan Antonio Marichal, hall of fame baseball player, was born in Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic. Marichal entered the major leagues in 1960 with the San Francisco Giants and during the decade of the 1960s won more games than any other major league pitcher. Over his 15 season professional career, he was a nine-time All-Star and retired in 1975 with a strikeout to walk ratio of 3.25 to 1 which ranks among the top 20 pitchers of all time. His career record was 243 wins and 142 losses. The Giants retired Marichal's uniform number 27 in 1975. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 and was honored with a statue outside the Giant's baseball stadium May 21, 2005. Marichal published his autobiography, "Juan Marichal: My Journey from the Dominican Republic to Cooperstown," in 2011.

October 20, 1951 The Johnny Bright Incident occurred when African American football player Johnny Bright was violently assaulted by White football player Wilbanks Smith during a college football game between Drake University and Oklahoma State University. Bright was a pre-season Heisman Trophy candidate in 1951 and had led the nation in total offense in 1949 and 1950. The game marked the first time that an African American athlete with a national profile had played against Oklahoma State. During the first seven minutes of the game, Bright was knocked unconscious three times by blows from Smith. The final blow broke Bright's jaw and he was eventually forced to leave the game. A six sequence photograph of the incident was captured by the Des Moines Register newspaper and it showed that the final blow was delivered well after Bright had handed the football off. That photographic sequence won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Photography and later made the cover of Life Magazine. After the game, Oklahoma State and the conference officials refused to take any disciplinary action against Smith. Bright went on to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in education from Drake in 1952 and a 13 season professional career in the Canadian Football League, retiring in 1964 as the CFL's all-time leading rusher. After football, Bright worked as a teacher, coach, and school administrator until his death December 14, 1983. Bright was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1970 and posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984. Oklahoma State University formally apologized to Drake University for the incident in 2005. The Johnny Bright School opened in Edmonton, Canada in 2010.

October 20, 1954 Lee Roy Selmon, hall of fame football player, was born in Eufaula, Oklahoma. Selmon played college football at the University of Oklahoma where he was an All-American in 1974 and 1975. He won the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy as the best college football lineman in the country in 1975. Selmon was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1976 National Football League Draft. Over his nine season professional career, he was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and was named the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Selmon retired after the 1984 season and the Buccaneers retired his uniform number 63 in 1986. Selmon served as assistant athletic director at the University of South Florida from 1993 to 2001 before being promoted to athletic director at the college. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995. He was named 1996 Walter Camp Alumnus of the Year, an award given to an individual "who has distinguished himself in the pursuit of excellence as an athlete, in his personal career and in doing good works for others."The Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway in Hillsborough County, Florida was named in his honor in 1999. Selmon died September 4, 2011.

October 20, 1955 Aaron Pryor, hall of fame boxer, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pryor had an amateur boxing record of 204 wins and 16 losses and won the 1972 National Amateur Athletic Union championship at 132 pounds. He turned professional in 1976 and won the World Junior Welterweight Boxing Championship in 1980. Pryor defeated Alexis Arguello in 1982 in a match that was named Fight of the Year and Fight of the Decade by Ring Magazine. He retired from boxing in 1990 due to eye problems with a record of 39 wins and 1 loss. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996 and was voted by the Associated Press the number one junior welterweight of the 20th century in 1999. He currently works as a boxing trainer and lectures against the use of drugs.

October 20, 1964 Kamala Devi Harris, the first woman and first African American Attorney General of California, was born in Oakland, California. Harris earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University in 1986 and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California Hasting College of Law in 1989. She served as deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California from 1990 to 1998. She was elected district attorney of San Francisco in 2003, the first female to hold that position, and was re-elected in 2007. Harris was elected Attorney General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. She is currently running for the United States Senate from California. Harris published "Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer" in 2009.

October 20, 1969 Lightfoot Solomon Michaux, radio and television evangelist and businessman, died. Michaux was born November 7, 1885 in Buckroe Beach, Virginia but was raised in Newport News, Virginia. During World War I, he won contracts to supply food to the defense department. He was ordained a preacher in the Church of Christ in 1918 and established the first Black Church of God in Hopewell, Virginia. Michaux was arrested for holding racially integrated baptisms in 1922 but was able to successfully defend himself and was acquitted. He began to broadcast over the radio in 1929 and had an audience of 25 million by 1932. He had established a network of seven churches and was publishing a monthly newspaper with a circulation of 8,000 by 1945. Michaux had an activist ministry that assisted the poor, provided food and shelter to the homeless, and assisted in finding employment for the unemployed. The church also built one of the largest privately owned housing developments for African Americans, the 594-unit Mayfair Mansions in Washington, D. C. The development was listed on the National Register of Historic Places November 1, 1989. Michaux's biography, "About My Father's Business: the life of Elder Michaux," was published in 1981.

October 20, 2005 Shirley Horn, jazz singer and pianist, died. Horn was born May 1, 1934 in Washington D. C. She began playing the piano at an early age and had thoughts of becoming a classical artist. She first achieved fame in 1960 and over her career was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning in 1999 for Best Jazz Vocal Album for "I Remember Miles." Horn was recognized by the United States Congress for "her many achievements and contributions to the world of jazz and American culture" and performed at the White House for several U. S. presidents. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by Berklee College of Music in 2002. Horn was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005. 

First Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Kenya

Jazz musician born in Chicago, Illinois

Jazz singer and pianist.


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Today in Black History, 08/14/2015 | Molefi Kete Asante

August 14, 1942 Molefi Kete Asante, educator, historian and author, was born Arthur Lee Smith, Jr. in Valdosta, Georgia. Asante earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Oklahoma Christian College in 1964, his Master of Arts degree from Pepperdine University in 1965, and his Ph. D. from the University of California Los Angeles in communications studies in 1968. He was appointed professor and chair of the Department of Communication at the State University of New York Buffalo in 1973. Asante was elected president of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research in 1976. He joined Temple University as chair of African American Studies in 1984 and established the first Ph. D. program in African American Studies in 1986. Asante is a prolific writer and has authored more than 70 books, including “Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change” (1980), “The Afrocentric Idea” (1987), “An Afrocentric Manifesto: Toward an African Renaissance” (2007), and “As I Run Toward Africa: A Memoir” (2011). He has also written more than 400 articles and is the founding editor of the Journal of Black Studies. 

 


  • August 14, 1874 Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs, minister, educator, politician and the first African American Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction of Florida, died. Gibbs was born September 28, 1821 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He became the third African American to graduate from Dartmouth College and the second Black man to deliver a commencement address at a college in 1852. Gibbs attended Princeton Theological Seminary from 1853 to 1854 but had to drop out due to financial constraints. He was ordained a minister in 1856 and became active in the abolitionist movement. Gibbs moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 1864 to do missionary work and open a school for recently freed Black people. He moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1867 and opened an academy for young people and became involved in politics. He was elected to the 1868 State Constitutional Convention and that same year was appointed Secretary of State, a position he held until 1872. Gibbs was elected to the Tallahassee, Florida City Council in 1872 and appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1873. Gibbs High School and Gibbs Junior College (now part of St. Petersburg College) in St. Petersburg, Florida are named in his honor.
     
  • August 14, 1876 Prairie View A&M University, the second oldest state sponsored institution of higher learning in Texas, was founded. The Texas legislature authorized an “Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Benefit of Colored Youth” in 1876. Today, Prairie View has an enrollment of more than 8,000 students with more than 400 faculty members and offers baccalaureate degrees in 50 academic majors, 37 master’s degrees, and 4 doctorate degree programs. Some notable alumni include Rev. Emanuel Cleaver II, United States House of Representatives, Frederick D. Patterson, founder of the United Negro College Fund, and Otis Taylor, Hall of Fame professional football player.
     
  • August 14, 1883 Ernest Everett Just, pioneering biologist and one of the founders of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. Just earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College in zoology in 1907. He was also class valedictorian. After graduating and encountering the reality that it was almost impossible for an African American to join the faculty of a White college or university, Just accepted a position at Howard University. Just served as the academic advisor to three Howard students in establishing Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. November 17, 1911. He was appointed head of the Department of Zoology at Howard in 1912, a position he held until his death October 27, 1941. Just was the first recipient of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Springarn Medal in 1915 and the next year earned his Ph. D. in zoology from the University of Chicago. In 1930, he became the first American invited to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, Germany where several Nobel Prize winners conducted research. He wrote the important textbook “Biology of the Cell Surface” in 1939. Just’s biography, “Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just,” was published in 1983. The book received the 1983 Pfizer Award and was a finalist for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1996. The Medical University of South Carolina has hosted the annual Ernest E. Just Symposium to encourage non-White students to pursue careers in biomedical sciences and health professions since 2000. The Ernest Everett Just Middle School in Mitchellville, Maryland is named in his honor.
     
  • August 14, 1911 Ethel Lois Payne, journalist and the “First Lady of the Black Press,” was born in Chicago, Illinois. Payne briefly attended Crane Junior College. She took a job as a hostess at an army club in Japan in 1949 and while there maintained a diary of the treatment of African Americans in the military. Her diary was published in the Chicago Defender and when she returned to Chicago in 1951 she was hired by the paper. Payne was appointed to the paper’s Washington, D. C. bureau in 1954 and from there covered many of the events of the Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the desegregation of the University of Alabama, and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She was the first African American woman to focus on international news, covering the Vietnam War and the Nigerian civil war. Payne became the first African American female commentator on a national television network when she was hired by CBS in 1972. She remained with the network until 1982. Payne died May 28, 1991. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 2002 and the National Association of Black Journalist award Ethel Payne Fellowships to journalists interested in obtaining international reporting experience in Africa. Her biography, “Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press,” was published in 2015.
     
  • August 14, 1914 Herman Russell Branson, physicist and president of two colleges, was born in Pocahontas, Virginia. Branson earned his Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, from Virginia State College (now University) in 1936 and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cincinnati in 1939. He joined Howard University in 1941 and remained there for 27 years, eventually becoming the head of the Physics Department, director of a program in experimental science and mathematics, and working on the Office of Naval Research and Atomic Energy Commission Projects in Physics. Branson served as president of Central State University from 1968 to 1970 and Lincoln University from 1970 until his retirement in 1985. He was active in increasing federal funding for higher education and helped found the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in 1969. Branson died June 7, 1995.
     
  • August 14, 1916 Jeni LeGon, hall of fame tap dancer and actress, was born Jennie Bell in Chicago, Illinois. LeGon got her first professional job as a chorus line dancer for the Count Basie Orchestra at 13. She later toured with a vaudeville dance troupe and ended up in Los Angeles, California. She made her film debut in “Hooray for Love” in 1935. After that performance, MGM signed her to a long-term contract, the first African American female to receive one, but she could not eat in the company dining room because of her race. LeGon danced, sang, and acted in 20 films, including “Arabian Nights” (1942), “Easter Parade” (1948), and “Somebody Loves Me” (1952).  LeGon moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1969 and established a dance school. The National Film Board of Canada produced a documentary film about her life, “Jeni LeGon: Living in a Great Big Way,” in 1999. She was part of the inaugural class inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame in 2002 and that same year received an honorary Doctor of Performing Arts in American Dance degree from Oklahoma City University. LeGon died December 7, 2012.
     
  • August 14, 1922 Rebecca Cole, the second African American woman to become a doctor in the United States, died. Cole was born March 16, 1846 In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney University) in 1863 and earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1867. She practiced medicine for more than fifty years. Cole opened a Women’s Directory Center in 1873 to provide medical and legal services to destitute women and children and was appointed superintendent of a home run by the Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D. C. in 1899. Cole fought for the medical rights of African Americans, women, children, and the poor until her death.
     
  • August 14, 1929 Dick Tiger, hall of fame boxer, was born Richard Ihetu in Amaigbo, Nigeria. Tiger started boxing professionally in 1952 and won the World Middleweight Boxing Championship in 1962. After losing that title, he moved up in weight and won the World Light Heavyweight Boxing Championship in 1966. Tiger was named Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year in 1962 and 1965. He retired from boxing in 1970 with a record of 60 wins, 18 losses, and 3 draws. Tiger died December 14, 1971. He was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991. His biography, “Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal” was published in 2005.
     
  • August 14, 1959 Earvin “Magic” Johnson, hall of fame basketball player, was born in Lansing, Michigan. Johnson led his high school team, Lansing Everett, to the Michigan State High School Championship in 1977 and his college team, Michigan State University, to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament Championship in 1979. He was selected in the 1979 National Basketball Association Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Over his 17 season professional career, he led them to five NBA championships. Johnson also won three NBA Most Valuable Player awards, appeared in 12 All-Star games, and led the league in assists four times. He was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. Johnson was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention as well as a businessman, philanthropist, and motivational speaker. Johnson became part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers major league baseball team in 2012 and the Los Angeles Sparks Women’s National Basketball Association team in 2014. His autobiography, “Magic Johnson: My Life,” was published in 1992. He also authored “Magic’s Touch: From Fundamentals to Fast Break With One of Basketball’s All-Time Greats” (1992) and “What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS” (1996).
     
  • August 14, 1966 Frederick Wayman “Duke” Slater, college hall of fame football player and judge, died. Slater was born December 9, 1898 in Normal, Illinois but raised in Clinton, Iowa. He played college football for the University of Iowa from 1918 to 1921 and was a first-team All-American in 1921, the first Black All-American at Iowa. After graduating, Slater played ten years of professional football, including playing in the National Football League from 1926 to 1931. He was the NFL’s first African American lineman. The NFL began to exclude Black players from the league in 1927 and Slater was the only African American playing in 1929. By the time of his retirement in 1931, he had been named All-Pro six times. While playing professional football, Slater returned to Iowa to earn his law degree in 1928. After retiring, he moved to Chicago, Illinois and became an assistant district attorney. Slater was elected to Chicago’s Municipal Court in 1948, the second African American elected a judge in Chicago. He became the first Black member of the Chicago Superior Court in 1960 and moved to the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1964. Slater was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951. Slater Hall at the University of Iowa is named in his honor. His biography, “Duke Slater: Pioneering Black NFL Player and Judge,” was published in 2012.
     
  • August 14, 1968 Maria Halle Berry, Academy Award winning actress, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to becoming an actress, Berry won Miss Teen All-American in 1985, Miss Ohio USA in 1986, and was first runner-up in Miss USA 1986. That same year, she became the first African American entrant in the Miss World contest, finishing sixth. Berry’s breakthrough feature film role was in “Jungle Fever” (1989). Other films that she has appeared in include “Losing Isaiah” (1995), “Bulworth” (1998), and the “X-Men” trilogy. Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in “Monster’s Ball” March 24, 2002, the first and only African American to win that award. In accepting the award Berry said, “This moment is so much bigger than me. This is for every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance tonight because this door has been opened.” She won the 2000 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or Movie for her performance in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” and was nominated in that same category in 2005 for her performance in “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Berry starred in “Frankie and Alice” and was nominated for the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama.  Berry’s most recent films were “The Call” (2013) and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014). She currently stars in the television series “Extant.”
     
  • August 14, 1994 Alice Childress, actress, playwright and author, died. Childress was born October 12, 1916 in Charleston, South Carolina but raised in Harlem, New York. She dropped out of high school and became involved in the theater. Childress studied drama at the American Negro Theater in 1939 and performed there for elven years, appearing in such productions as “On Strivers Row” (1940), “Natural Man” (1941), and “Anna Lucasta” (1944). She produced her first play, “Florence,” in 1949. Other plays that she produced include “Gold Through the Trees” (1952), “Mojo: A Black Love Story” (1970), and “Moms: A Praise Play for a Black Comedienne” (1987). Childress also wrote several novels, including “Like One of the Family” (1956), “A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich” (1973), which was made into a film of the same title in 1978, and “Those Other People” (1989).
     
  • August 14, 2010 Abbey Lincoln, jazz vocalist, songwriter and actress, died. Lincoln was born Anna Marie Wooldridge August 6, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois but raised in a rural part of Michigan. She moved to California in 1951 to perform in nightclubs. She began her recording career with “Abbey Lincoln’s Affair: A Story of a Girl in Love” in 1956. Other recordings by Lincoln include “Abbey is Blue” (1959), “People in Me” (1973), “Devils Got Your Tongue” (1992), and “Abbey Sings Abbey” (2007). Lincoln sang on the landmark jazz civil rights recording “We Insist! – Freedom Now Suite” by Max Roach in 1960. Lincoln appeared in several films, including “The Girl Can’t Help It” (1956), “Nothing But a Man” (1964), “For Love of Ivy” (1968), for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990). Lincoln was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003. The Public Broadcasting System aired a documentary of Lincoln’s life, “You Gotta Pay the Band: The Words, the Music, and the Life of Abbey Lincoln,” in 1992.
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Today in Black History, 08/13/2015 | Minnie Joycelyn Elders

August 13, 1933 Minnie Joycelyn Elders, the first African American United States Surgeon General, was born in Schaal, Arkansas. Elders earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Philander Smith College in 1952. After serving three years in the U. S. Army, she earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Arkansas Medical School in 1960. She also earned her Master of Science degree in biochemistry from the school in 1967. That same year, she began teaching at the medical center as an assistant professor, eventually becoming a full professor in 1976. Elders became the first person in Arkansas to be board certified as a pediatric endocrinologist in 1978. She was appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Health in 1987 and increased by tenfold the number of early childhood screenings annually and doubled the immunization rate for two year olds. She was elected president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers in 1992. Elders was confirmed as U. S. Surgeon General September 7, 1993. However, because of her views on several controversial issues, her tenure was short and she was fired in December, 1994. She returned to the University of Arkansas Medical School where she is now professor emeriti. Elders earned a Doctor of Science degree from Bates College in 2002. Elders published her autobiography, “Joycelyn Elders, M. D.: From Sharecropper’s Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America,” in 1997.  

 


  • August 13, 1893 Eva Beatrice Dykes, the first Black female to fulfill the requirements for a doctorial degree, was born in Washington, D. C. Dykes earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Howard University in 1914. She then attended Radcliffe College where she earned her second Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in 1917 and her Master of Arts degree in 1918. She also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Dykes completed the requirements for her doctorial degree in 1921 but because Radcliff held its graduation later than some other universities, she was the third Black female to actually receive her Ph. D. Dykes taught English at Howard University from 1929 to 1944 and was chair of the English department at Oakwood College from 1944 to her retirement in 1975. Dykes co-authored “Readings from Negro Authors for Schools and Colleges” in 1931 and authored “The Negro in English Romantic Thought: Or a Study in Sympathy for the Oppressed” in 1942. The Oakwood College library was named in her honor in 1973. Dykes died October 29, 1986.
     
  • August 13, 1906 The Brownsville Affair started when a White bartender was killed and a White police officer was wounded in Brownsville, Texas. The citizens of Brownsville immediately accused the Black soldiers of the 25th Regiment at Fort Brown of the shootings. Despite the facts that the White commanders at Fort Brown confirmed that all of the soldiers were in their barracks at the time of the shooting and evidence that bullet cartridges from army rifles had been planted, Brownsville’s mayor and citizens continued to blame the soldiers. When the soldiers were pressured to name who fired the shots, they insisted that they had no idea. As a result, United States President Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. ordered 167 of the Black soldiers dishonorably discharged because of their “conspiracy of silence.” They were not given any type of hearing, trial, or the opportunity to confront their accusers. The dishonorable discharge prevented these men from receiving their pensions and ever working in a military or civil service capacity. “The Brownsville Raid,” the report of the in depth investigation into the incident which found the accused men to be innocent, was published in 1970. As a result, the U. S. Army conducted another investigation and found the accused members innocent and reversed President Roosevelt’s order in 1972. The administration of President Richard M. Nixon overturned the dishonorable discharges of the soldiers but refused to grant their families the back pension pay. Books about the incident include “The Brownsville Affair: National Crisis and Black Reaction” (1971) and “The Brownsville Raid” (1992).
     
  • August 13, 1911 James Benton Parsons, the first African American appointed to a lifetime federal judgeship in the United States, was born in Kansas City, Missouri but raised in Decatur, Illinois. Parsons earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Millikin University in 1934 and his Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of Chicago in 1946. Parsons served in the U. S. Navy from 1942 to 1945 and earned his Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1949. From that time to 1961, he was in private practice as well as serving in several public capacities in Illinois. Parsons was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to a federal judgeship on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois August 30, 1961. He served on that court until his retirement in 1992. Parsons died June 19, 1993. Parsons Elementary School in Decatur and the ceremonial courtroom in the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois are named in his honor.
     
  • August 13, 1919 Charles Edward Anderson, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Anderson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1941 from Lincoln University. After graduating, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Force and was sent to the University of Chicago where he earned his meteorological certification in 1943 and began serving as weather officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Anderson earned his Master of Science degree from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1948 and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960. He remained a weather officer in the U. S. Army Air Corps until 1960. Anderson was a professor from 1966 until his death October 21, 1994, first at the University of Wisconsin and then at North Carolina State University. The American Meteorological Society annually awards a Charles E. Anderson Award to recognize outstanding contributions to the promotion of diversity in the atmospheric sciences.
     
  • August 13, 1921 Jimmy McCracklin, hall of fame songwriter, pianist and vocalist, was born James David Walker in Helena, Arkansas but raised in St. Louis, Missouri. McCracklin joined the United States Navy in 1938 and served for three years. After completing his military service, he moved to Richmond, California where he played in a local club. McCracklin recorded his debut single, “Miss Mattie Left Me,” in 1945. He went on to record more than 20 albums, including “Just Got to Know” (1963), “Think” (1965), and “A Taste of the Blues” (1994). His 1957 single “The Walk,” which he wrote, went to number seven on the Billboard Pop Chart. McCracklin claimed to have written almost a thousand songs and recorded hundreds of them. He received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1991 and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2008. McCracklin died December 20, 2012.
     
  • August 13, 1931 John W. Porter, the first Black state school superintendent in the United States since reconstruction, was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Porter earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Albion College in 1953 and his Master of Arts degree in counseling and guidance in 1957 and his Ph. D. in higher education in 1962 from Michigan State University. Porter worked as a teacher before becoming the first Black professional employee of the Michigan Department of Education. Porter was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1969, the youngest and first Black chief state school officer in the nation. He served in this capacity until 1979 when he was appointed president of Eastern Michigan University. Porter retired from EMU in 1989 and for two years served as interim superintendent of the Detroit Public School System. During his tenure, he executed a plan that eliminated a $160 million deficit and significantly reduced spending. Porter died June 27, 2012. The John W. Porter College of Education Building and the John W. Porter Distinguished Chair in Urban Education at Eastern Michigan University are named in his honor.
     
  • August 13, 1942 Frank “Son” Seals, hall of fame blues guitarist and singer, was born in Osceola, Arkansas. Seals began performing professionally at 13 and formed his own band, Son Seals and the Upsetters, at 19. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1971 and recorded his debut album, “The Son Seals Blues Band” in 1973. Other albums by Seals include “Midnight Sun” (1976), “Chicago Fire” (1980), and “Nothing But The Truth” (1994). He received the W. C. Handy Award for Best Blues Recording in 1985, 1987, and 2001. Seals died December 20, 2004. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2009.
     
  • August 13, 1947 George Godfrey, hall of fame boxer died. Godfrey was born Feab Smith Williams January 25, 1897 in Mobile, Alabama. He began boxing while serving in the military during World War I. He made his professional debut in 1919 and during his 18 year career compiled a record of 97 wins, 20 losses, and 3 draws. Godfrey never had a chance to fight for the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship because of his race. He did however win the Mexican and International Boxing Union Heavyweight Boxing Championships. Godfrey was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2007.
     
  • August 13, 1948 Kathleen Deanne Battle, operatic soprano, was born in Portsmouth, Ohio. Battle earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970 and Master of Arts degree in 1971 from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music in music education. She made her professional debut in 1975 with the Michigan Opera Theater. From there, she has performed in recitals, choral works, and operas, including singing for Pope John Paul II in 1985 and singing “The Lord’s Prayer” for Pope Benedict XVI at the White House in 2008. Although she no longer appears in operas, Battle remains active in concert and recital performances. Battle won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocalist Soloist Performance in 1986, 1987, and 1992 and the Grammy Award for Opera Recording in 1987 and 1993. She also won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement – Classical Music/Dance Programming – Performance in 1992 and is the recipient of seven honorary doctorate degrees from American universities, including the University of Cincinnati, Ohio University, and Seton Hall University.
     
  • August 13, 1950 Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, educator, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Hrabowski was jailed for five days for participating in civil rights protests at 12. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, with high honors in mathematics, from Hampton Institute (now University) in 1969 and his Master of Arts degree in 1971 and Ph. D. in 1975 from the University of Illinois. Hrabowski joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1987 as vice provost became president in 1992, his current position. During his tenure, he has turned UMBC from a struggling commuter college to what U. S. News & World Report described in 2011 as “the number one up and coming university in the nation” and the number four “Best Undergraduate Teaching” university. Hrabowski has co-authored two books, “Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males” (1998) and “Overcoming the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Young Women” (2001). Time magazine named him one of the Top Ten College Presidents in 2009 and named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2011. Also that year, he received the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Academic Leadership Award. President Barack H. Obama named Hrabowski chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans in 2012. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Hrabowski has received more than 20 honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the country, including Harvard University, Princeton University, Duke University, and the University of Michigan.   
     
  • August 13, 1960 The Central African Republic gained its independence from France. The Central African Republic is located in central Africa and is bordered by Chad to the Northwest, the Sudan to the Northeast, and Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo to the south. Bangui is the capital and largest city. The country is approximately 240,500 square miles in size and has a population of a little over 5 million people. Approximately 35% of the population practice indigenous beliefs, 25% are Protestant, 25% Catholic, and 15% Muslim. The official languages are Sango and French.
     
  • August 13, 1971 Marcellus Joseph “Mark” Johnson, hall of fame boxer and the first African American to win a World Flyweight Boxing Championship, was born in Washington, D. C. Johnson had a stellar amateur career and was the 1989 United States Amateur Light Flyweight Champion. He began boxing professionally in 1990 and won the International Boxing Federation Flyweight Championship in 1996. He successfully defended that title seven times before moving up in weight to win the IBF Super Flyweight Championship in 1999. He successfully defended that title twice before again moving up in weight to bantamweight. Johnson could not win the bantamweight title but did win the World Boxing Organization Super Flyweight Championship in 2003. Johnson lost that title in 2004 and retired in 2006 with a record of 44 wins, 5 losses, and 1 no contest. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012. He currently works with at risk young people in the D. C. area.  
     
  • August 13, 1971 King Curtis, hall of fame saxophonist, band leader and record producer, died. Curtis was born Curtis Ousley February 7, 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas. He started playing the saxophone at 12 and joined the Lionel Hampton Band in 1950. He moved to New York City in 1952 and worked as a session player until the mid-1960s. Curtis recorded his most successful singles, “Memphis Soul Stew” and “Ode to Billie Joe” in 1967. Other recordings by Curtis include “Sweet Soul” (1968), “Instant Groove” (1969), and “Get Ready” (1970). He won the 1970 Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance for “Games People Play.” Curtis was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
     
  • August 13, 1982 Shani Davis, speed skater and the first Black athlete to win a Gold medal in an individual Winter Olympic Games sport, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Davis learned to roller skate at two and was enrolled at the Evanston Speed Skating Club at six. Davis was invited to Lake Placid, New York at 16 to participate in a development program for young speed skaters and after a year he moved to Marquette, Michigan to further his training. Davis made history in 2000 by becoming the first United States skater to make the long and short track teams at the Junior World Teams, a feat he accomplished again in 2001 and 2002. At the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games, Davis won the Gold medal at 1000 meters and the Silver medal at 1500 meters. He repeated that performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Davis competed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games but did not medal.  He has won more World Cup races than any American speed skater and is one of only three male skaters to accumulate more than 10,000 points in their World Cup career. Davis has set eight world records and currently holds three.
     
  • August 13, 1986 Caterina Jarboro, the first Black opera singer to sing on an opera stage in the United States, died. Jarboro was born Katherine Lee Yarborough July 24, 1908 in Wilmington, North Carolina. She was sent to Brooklyn, New York at 13 to study music. Jarboro also studied in Paris, France and made her grand opera debut in Milan, Italy in “Aida” in 1929. She continued to sing in France and Italy until 1933 when she joined the Chicago Opera Company and became the first Black singer to sing on an opera stage in the U. S. After her final engagement with the Chicago Opera in 1935, Jarboro sang for four seasons in Europe. She returned to the U. S. in 1941 and retired as a singer in 1955.
     
  • August 13, 2007 Asa Grant Hilliard, III, educator, historian and psychologist, died. Hilliard was born August 22, 1933 in Galveston, Texas. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Denver in 1955 and served in the United States Army as a first lieutenant from 1955 to 1957. Hilliard earned his Master of Arts degree in counseling in 1961 and his Doctor of Education degree in educational psychology in 1963 from the University of Denver. Hilliard taught at San Francisco State University for 18 years, serving as department chair and dean of education. He was also a consultant to the Peace Corp and superintendent of schools in Liberia. Hilliard was the Fuller E. Calloway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University from 1980 until his death. He served as lead expert witness in several landmark federal cases involving test validity and bias. He was also a founding member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations and the National Black Child Development Institute. His publications include “The Maroon Within Us: Selected Essays on African American Community Socialization” (1995), “The Reawakening of the African Mind” (1997), and “African Power: Affirming African Indigenous Socialization in the Face of the Cultural Wars” (2002).
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Today in Black History, 08/12/2015 | Emma Ophelia DeVore

August 12, 1922 Emma Ophelia DeVore, the first prominent African American model in the United States, was born in Edgefield, South Carolina. DeVore began modeling at 16 and as a fair skinned African American gained contracts throughout Europe. Determined to create a market for non-White women in the U. S., DeVore established the Grace Del Marco Agency in 1946. The agency was a stepping stone for countless household names, including Diahann Carroll, Richard Roundtree, Cicely Tyson, and others. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Allen University in 1974. DeVore was featured in “I Dream a World,” a collection of portraits and biographies of Black women who helped change America, in 1989. She was honored by the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Fashion Arts Xchange, Inc. in 2004 for her contributions to fashion and entertainment. She was also the chief executive officer and publisher of The Columbus Times newspaper in Columbus, Georgia. DeVore died February 28, 2014.

 

  • August 12, 1825 Orindatus Simon Bolvar Wall, the first Black man commissioned a captain in the United States Army, was born enslaved in Richmond County, North Carolina. Wall was freed in 1837 when his father sent him to the Harveyburg Black School in what is now Ohio. He attended Oberlin College before establishing a successful boot and shoemaking business. At the start of the Civil War, he raised recruits for the 104th Colored Infantry Volunteers and was commissioned a captain in the army in March, 1865. Wall moved to Washington, D. C. in 1867 and graduated from the Howard University Law School. He established a law practice and served as a police magistrate and justice of the peace. For many newly freed African Americans in the district, he was the law. Wall was also elected to two terms in the district legislature, representing a majority White district. Wall died April 26, 1891. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
     
  • August 12, 1855 Clinton Greaves, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was born enslaved in Madison County, Virginia. Greaves 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 during the Indian Wars. On that day, his actions earned him the medal, America’s highest military decoration. 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 received the medal June 26, 1879. He 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.
     
  • August 12, 1891 Lillian Evanti, one of the first African American women to become an internationally prominent opera performer, was born Lillian Evans in Washington, D. C. A gifted student and performer, she could speak and sing in five different languages and earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Howard University in 1917. Evans, a lyric soprano, began singing professionally in 1918 under the stage name Evanti. She moved to France in 1925 where she became the first African American woman to sing with a European opera company. She gave a special command performance for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. She and Mary Caldwell Dawson created The National Negro Opera Company in 1941 to provide a venue for African American performers. Over her career, Evanti performed in 24 operas. Evanti died December 6, 1967. Her home in Washington, D. C. was listed on the National Register of Historic Places September 8, 1987.
     
  • August 12, 1920 Percy Mayfield, hall of fame blues singer and songwriter and the “Poet Laureate of the Blues,” was born in Minden, Louisiana. Mayfield began his performing career in Texas and moved to Los Angeles, California in 1942. He recorded his song “Two Years of Torture” in 1947 and it was a minor hit. He recorded his biggest hit, “Please Send Me Someone to Love,” in 1950 and it was a number one R&B hit. Mayfield was involved in a car accident in 1952 which disfigured his face and caused him to limit performing but he continued to write and record. Other recordings by him include “I Dare You Baby” (1953), “Loose Lips” (1954), and “The Voice Within” (1955). Mayfield was signed by Ray Charles in 1961 and he wrote “Hit the Road Jack” which was recorded by Charles and was number one on the Billboard Pop Chart for two weeks. Mayfield slipped into relative obscurity and poverty after the early 1970s and died August 11, 1984.He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1987.
     
  • August 12, 1937 Walter Dean Myers, author of young adult literature, was born Walter Milton Myers in Martinsburg, West Virginia but raised in Harlem, New York. Myers dropped out of school and joined the United States Army at 17. After completing his military service, he worked at various jobs and began to write. His first published book, “Where Does the Day Go?,” won a Council on Interracial Books for Children Award. Myers published more than 100 books, including “The Scorpion” and “Somewhere in the Darkness,” which were runner-up in 1989 and 1993 for the Newbery Medal which recognizes the previous year’s “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children,” and “Monster” which was the inaugural winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature in 2000. Myers received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement in writing for young adults in 1994 and was the inaugural recipient of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010. Also that year, he was the United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. He was named the Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in 2012. Myers died July 1, 2014.  
     
  • August 12, 1957 Albert Chalky Wright, hall of fame boxer, died. Wright was born February 10, 1912 in Wilcox, Arizona. He began boxing professionally in 1928, two weeks after turning 16. He fought for many years before winning the World Featherweight Boxing Championship in 1941. He successfully defended the title once before losing it in 1942. Wright retired in 1948 with a record of 160 wins, 43 losses, and 18 draws. After retiring, Wright served as a chauffeur and bodyguard for Mae West. Wright was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.
     
  • August 12, 1959 Lynette Woodard, hall of fame basketball player, was born in Wichita, Kansas. Woodard played college basketball at the University of Kansas where she was a four-time All-American, two-time Academic All-American, and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communications and human relations in 1986. Woodard was the 1981 recipient of the Wade Trophy as college women’s basketball national player of the year. She holds the major college women’s basketball record for most points scored during a career. Woodard was a member of the United States’ women’s basketball team that won the Gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. She became the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters in 1985. Woodard played basketball overseas from 1990 to 1997 and retired in 1999. That year, she was named one of Sports Illustrated magazine’s 100 Greatest Female Athletes. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005. She serves on the advisory board of the Women’s Sports Foundation and works as a financial consultant. The Lynette Woodard Recreation Center in Wichita is named in her honor.
     
  • August 12, 1988 Jean-Michel Basquiat, the first painter of African descent to become an international art star, died. Basquiat was born December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. He was fluent in French and Spanish at 11. Basquiat dropped out of high school and started as a graffiti artist. He had become part of the neo-expressionist movement by 1982 and was showing his work regularly. He appeared on the cover of The New York Times magazine in 1985 in a feature entitled “New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist.” Examples of Basquiat’s representation of his heritage in his work include “Irony of Negro Policeman” (1981) and “Untitled (History of the Black People)” (1983). Several major museum retrospective exhibitions of his work have been held since his death, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum. His works sell for millions of dollars. His painting “Dustheads” sold for $48.8 million in 2013. A film biography titled “Basquiat” was released in 1996 and a documentary film, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child,” was released in 2009.
     
  • August 12, 1997 Luther Allison, hall of fame blues guitarist, died. Allison was born August 17, 1939 in Widener, Arkansas but raised in Chicago, Illinois. He taught himself to play the guitar. During the 1950s and early 1960s, he worked the Chicago club circuit. He released his debut album, “Love Me Mama,” in 1968. Allison was signed by Motown records in 1972, the first and one of the few blues artists to sign with the company. He began touring Europe by the mid-1970s and moved to France in 1977. Allison returned to the United States in 1994 and released the album “Soul Fixin’ Man” which won four W. C. Handy Awards. He also released the album “Reckless” just before his death. Allison was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1998.
     
  • August 12, 2009 Joseph Ecols Lowery received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack H. Obama. Lowery was born October 6, 1921 in Huntsville, Alabama. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Paine College in 1943 and Bachelor of Divinity degree from Paine Theological Seminary in 1950. He later completed a doctorate of divinity degree at the Chicago Ecumenical Institute. He helped lead the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Lowery served as president of SCLC from 1977 to 1997. He also co-founded and was president of the Black Leadership Forum, a consortium of advocacy groups that protested apartheid in South Africa. He is now retired from the ministry but remains active in the Civil Rights Movement. Lowery has received a number of awards, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 and the National Urban League’s Whitney M. Young, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard in Atlanta, Georgia and the Joseph E. Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights at Clark Atlanta University are named in his honor. He published “Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land” in 2011.
     
  • August 12, 2009 Desmond Mpilo Tutu received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, from President Barack H. Obama. Tutu was born October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa. Although Tutu wanted to become a physician, his family could not afford the training. Therefore, he studied education and began to teach in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1953. Tutu was ordained an Anglican priest in 1960 and traveled to London, England in 1962 to study at King’s College where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1965 and master’s degree in theology in 1966. He returned to South Africa and became chaplain at the University of Fort Hare in 1967 and lectured at the National University of Lesotho from 1970 to 1972.  Tutu returned to England in 1972 to serve as vice director of the Theological Education Fund of the World Council of Churches. He returned to South Africa in 1975 as Anglican dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral, the first Black person to hold that position. Tutu’s opposition to apartheid was vigorous and unequivocal and he was outspoken at home and abroad. He became the first Black person to lead the Anglican Church in South Africa when he became Archbishop of Cape Town September 7, 1986. He served as president of the All Africa Conference of Churches from 1987 to 1997. After the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since his retirement, Tutu has worked as a global activist on issues pertaining to democracy, freedom, and human rights. Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize December 10, 1984 for “his role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa.” He has also received numerous honorary doctorate degrees and fellowships from distinguished universities around the world. Tutu is the author of several collections of sermons and other writings, including “Crying in the Wilderness” (1982), “The Rainbow People of God: The Making of a Peaceful Revolution” (1994), “No Future Without Forgiveness” (1999), and “God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time” (2004). The Desmond Tutu Peace Center is committed to creating a society that nurtures tolerance and understanding amongst all people. In 2013, Tutu received the Templeton Prize for “affirming life’s spiritual dimension.”
     
  • August 12, 2009 Sidney Poitier received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack H. Obama. 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) and his breakout role was in “Blackboard Jungle” (1955). Poitier was in the first production of “A Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway in 1959 and starred in the film version in 1961. He became the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor April 13, 1964 for his role in “Lilies of the Field.” 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). Poitier has also directed a number of films, including “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), “Stir Crazy” (1980), and “Ghost Dad” (1990). He also has 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 and served on the board of The Walt Disney Company from 1998 to 2003. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 1995 and an honorary award from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 2002 “in recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and human being.” The documentary “Sidney Poitier: an Outsider in Hollywood” was released in 2008. Poitier published a novel, “Montaro Caine,” in 2013.
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Today in Black History, 08/08/2015 | Matthew Alexander Henson

August 8, 1866 Matthew Alexander Henson, the first person to reach the North Pole, was born in Charles County, Maryland. Henson went to sea as a cabin boy at 12 and sailed around the world over the next several years. He met Commander Robert Peary who recruited him as a colleague in 1887 and they made many expeditions, including their 1909 expedition to the North Pole. Although Peary received many honors, Henson was largely ignored and spent most of the next 30 years working as a clerk in New York City. In 1944, Congress belatedly awarded him a duplicate of the Silver medal awarded to Peary. Henson authored “A Negro Explorer at the North Pole” about his arctic exploration in 1912 and an autobiography, “Dark Companion,” in 1947. Henson died March 9, 1955. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1986. The United States Navy launched the USNS Henson, an oceanographic survey ship, in his honor October 21, 1996 and the National Geographic Society posthumously awarded its most prestigious medal, the Hubbard Medal, to Henson in 2000. The Matthew Henson Earth Conservation Center in Washington D. C. is named in his honor as well as several schools in the state of Maryland. Henson’s story was told in the 1998 made-for-television movie “Glory & Honor.”

 

  • August 8, 1796 The African Society was formed in Boston, Massachusetts with 44 African American members. Their purpose was to provide a form of health insurance and funeral benefits, as well as spiritual brotherhood, to the members. They created a pamphlet titled “Laws of the African Society” that specified requirements for membership, dues and procedures for paying benefits to the families of sick or deceased members. That pamphlet is on display at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
     
  • August 8, 1906 Richard Ishmael McKinney, philosopher and educator, was born in Live Oak, Florida. McKinney earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and religion from Morehouse College in 1931, Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1934 and Masters of Sacred Theology degree in 1937 from Newton Theological Seminary, and Ph. D. from Yale University in 1942. McKinney was assistant professor and director of religious activities at Virginia Union University from 1935 to 1944. He became the first African American president of Storer College in 1944. He left Storer in 1950 for Morgan State University where he served as chair of the Department of Philosophy and the Division of the Humanities until his retirement in 1978. After officially retiring, he continued to teach philosophy at Morgan State well into his 90s. He published “Mordecai, the Man and His Message: The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson” in 1998. McKinney died October 28, 2005.
     
  • August 8, 1907 Bennett Lester “Benny” Carter, hall of fame jazz musician, composer, arranger and bandleader, was born in Harlem, New York. Largely self-taught, Carter was sitting in with some of New York’s top bands by 15. He formed his first big band in 1929 and led the McKinney’s Cotton Pickers from 1931 to 1932. During the 1930s, he was also noted for his arrangements, including “Keep a Song in Your Soul” (1930), “Lonesome Nights” (1933), and “Symphony in Riffs” (1933). Carter moved to Europe in 1935 and became staff arranger for the British Broadcasting Corporation dance orchestra. He returned to the United States in 1938 and beginning with “Stormy Weather” in 1943 began to arrange for feature films. Carter was one of the first African Americans to compose music for films. He won the 1963 Grammy Award for Best Background Arrangement for “Busted” by Ray Charles. Carter was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1977 and was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on jazz artists, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1986. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 and won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for “Prelude to a Kiss.” Carter received Kennedy Center Honors in 1996 and President William J. Clinton presented him with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor the nation bestows on an individual artist, December 20, 2000. He received honorary doctorate degrees from Princeton, Rutgers, and Harvard Universities and the New England Conservatory. Carter died July 12, 2003. His biography, “Benny Carter: A Life in Music,” was published in 1982.
     
  • August 8, 1911 Rosetta LeNoire, stage and television actress and theater producer, was born Rosetta Olive Burton in New York City. LeNoire joined the Time Steppers, the chorus line for Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, at 15 and began touring with Black musical companies. She made her acting debut in the 1939 production of “The Hot Mikado.” She later appeared in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cabin in the Sky,” “Anna Lucasta,” and “The Sunshine Boys.” LeNoire is probably best known for her performance in the television series “Family Matters” which ran from 1989 to 1997. LeNoire founded the AMAS Repertory Theater Company in 1968 as an interracial theater dedicated to multi-ethnic productions. AMAS has produced over 60 original musicals, including “Bubbling Brown Sugar.” The Actors Equity Association established the Rosetta LeNoire Award in 1988 to recognize outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in American theater. LeNoire was the first recipient of the award. She was presented the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor the nation bestows on an individual artist,, by President William J. Clinton September 29, 1999. LeNoire died March 17, 2002.
     
  • August 8, 1920 James “Jimmy” Witherspoon, hall of fame blues singer, was born in Gurdon, Arkansas. Witherspoon sang in the church choir as a child. He made his debut recording with the Jay McShann band in 1945 and had his first hit, “Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Pts. 1&2,” in 1949. That was followed by “In The Evening,” “No Rollin’ Blues,” and “Big Fine Girl” which were also hits. Witherspoon’s popularity decreased in the mid-1950s but he continued to record with albums such as “Evenin’ Blues” (1963), “Spoon’s Life” (1980), and “Taste of Swing Time” (1995). Witherspoon died September 18, 1997. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2008.
     
  • August 8, 1934 Julian Carey Dixon, politician, was born in Washington, D. C. Dixon served in the United States Army from 1957 to 1960 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from California State University in 1962. He earned his Bachelor of Laws degree from Southwestern University School of Law in 1967. Dixon was elected to the California State Assembly in 1972 and served three terms before he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1978. As a freshman member of the House, Dixon won an assignment to the coveted Appropriations Committee where he remained for the rest of his House career. He also chaired the Rules Committee at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. Dixon died in office December 8, 2000. The 7th Street/Metro Center transfer station in downtown Los Angeles is named in Dixon’s honor and Southwestern University School of Law opened the Julian C. Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center in 2004.
     
  • August 8, 1940 Johnny Dodds, hall of fame jazz clarinetist, died. Dodds was born April 12, 1892 in Waveland, Mississippi but raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He received his first clarinet in his early teens and was largely self-taught. He played with Kid Ory’s band from 1912 to 1919. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1919 to join King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, with which he recorded in 1923. He also recorded with Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5 and Hot 7 and Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. Due to ill health, Dodds did not record for most of the 1930s. His biography, “Johnny Dodds,” was published in 1961 and he was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1987.
     
  • August 8, 1950 Richard Bowie Spikes of Stockton, California received patent number 2,517,936 for a horizontally swinging barber’s chair. His invention provided a seat which was revolvable and allowed the barber to select a convenient position. Little is known of Spikes’ life except that he was born December 4, 1884 and was an incredible inventor. He also received patent number 1,362,197 for a trolley pole arrester December 14, 1920, patent number 1,441,383 for a brake testing machine January 9, 1923, patent number 1,889,814 for an improved gear shift December 6, 1932, patent number 1,936,996 for improvements in transmission and shifting means November 28, 1933, and patent number 3,015,522 for an automatic safety brake system January 2, 1962. While working on the automatic safety brake system, Spikes lost his vision. As a result, he designed a drafting machine for blind people. Spikes died in 1962.
     
  • August 8, 1959 William Augustus Hinton, bacteriologist, pathologist and educator, died. Hinton was born December 15, 1883 in Chicago, Illinois. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Harvard University in 1905 and his Doctor of Medicine degree, with honors, from Harvard Medical School in 1912. Hinton returned to Harvard in 1918 as the first Black professor in the history of the university. He began teaching bacteriology and immunology in 1921 and taught the subjects until his retirement in 1950. Hinton became internationally known as an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of syphilis and published the first medical textbook by an African American, “Syphilis and Its Treatment,” in 1936. In recognition of his contributions as a serologist and public health bacteriologist, Hinton was elected a life member of the American Social Science Association in 1948. The William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts and the William Augustus Hinton Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois are named in his honor.
     
  • August 8, 1975 Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley, hall of fame jazz alto saxophonist and band leader, died. Adderley was born September 15, 1928 in Tampa, Florida. He and his brother, Nat, played with Ray Charles during the early 1940s. Adderley moved to New York City in 1955, joined the Miles Davis sextet in 1957, and played on Davis’ recordings of “Milestones” (1958) and “Kind of Blue” (1959). The Cannonball Adderley Quintet/Sextet, which included his brother Nat, recorded a number of albums, including “Autumn Leaves” (1963), “Money in the Pocket” (1966), “Accent on Africa” (1968), and “Lovers” (1975). They won the 1967 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, Small Group or Soloist With Small Group for their recording “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at the Club.” Adderley was posthumously inducted into the Downbeat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1975.
     
  • August 8, 1988 Kid Chocolate, hall of fame boxer, died. Kid Chocolate was born Eligio Sardinas Montalvo January 6, 1910 in Havana, Cuba. He never lost a fight as an amateur and turned professional in 1927. His first twelve fights were in Cuba before he moved to New York City in 1928. Montalvo became Cuba’s first world boxing champion when he won the World Junior Lightweight Boxing Championship in 1931. Montalvo lost the title in 1933 and retired in 1938 with a record of 136 wins, 10 losses, and 6 draws. After retiring, he returned to Cuba where his accomplishments were not recognized by the government until the late 1970s. Montalvo was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991. That same year, the Kid Chocolate Boxing Hall was opened in Havana.
     
  • August 8, 1994 Barbara Charline Jordan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President William J. Clinton. Jordan was born February 21, 1936 in Houston, Texas. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Texas Southern University in 1956 and her Juris Doctor degree from Boston University in 1959. Jordan was the first Black woman elected to the Texas State Senate in 1966 and served until 1972. That year, she was elected to the United States House of Representatives, the first African American woman to serve in the house from a southern state. During her time in Congress, she supported the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 that required financial institutions to lend and make services available to underserved poor and minority communities and the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Jordan became the first African American woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention July 12, 1976 and that speech is considered by many historians to be the best convention keynote speech in modern history. Jordan retired from politics in 1979 and became adjunct professor at the University of Texas. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990 and was awarded the 1992 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. She received the United States Military Academy’s Sylvanus Thayer Award in 1995, the second female recipient. Jordan died January 17, 1996. She was the first Black woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. A statue of Jordan was unveiled at the University of Texas in Austin April 24, 2009. Several schools in Texas are named in her honor as is the main terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor in 2011. Her biography, “Barbara Jordan” American Hero,” was published in 2000 and a collection of her speeches, “Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder,” was published in 2007. Her name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
     
  • August 8, 1994 Dorothy Irene Height received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President William J. Clinton. Height was born March 24, 1912 in Richmond, Virginia. While in high school, 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. Height 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 1993 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal, and the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush in 2004. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. Height died April 20, 2010. She published her autobiography, “Open Wide the Freedom Gates: A Memoir,” in 2005.
     
  • August 8, 2005 John Harold Johnson, hall of fame publisher and businessman, died. Johnson was born January 19, 1918 in Arkansas City, Arkansas. He moved to Chicago, Illinois with his family in 1933. After graduating from high school, Johnson took a job as an office boy at Supreme Life Insurance Company and within two years had moved up to assistant to the president. He used a $500 loan, secured by his mother’s furniture, in 1942 to publish the first edition of Negro Digest which covered African American history, literature, arts, and cultural issues. Within six months, circulation had reached 50,000. Johnson launched Ebony magazine in 1945 which emphasized the achievements of successful African Americans and it had a circulation of 2.3 million by 1985. He launched Tan magazine in 1950 and Jet magazine in 1951. In addition, Johnson developed a line of cosmetics, purchased three radio stations, and started book publishing and television production companies. He became the first African American to appear on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans in 1982. Johnson received the 1966 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Spingarn Medal. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President William J. Clinton September 9, 1996 and was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame in 1997. Johnson was awarded honorary doctorate degrees by several universities, including Harvard University, the University of Southern California, and Wayne State University. The Johnson College Prep Charter School was opened in Chicago in 2010. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 2012. Johnson published his autobiography, “Succeeding Against the Odds: The Autobiography of a Great American Businessman,” in 1989. 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, 08/07/2015 | Ralph Johnson Bunche

August 7, 1904 Ralph Johnson Bunche, political scientist and diplomat, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Bunche earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from the University of California and was valedictorian of the class of 1927. He earned his Master of Arts degree in political science in 1928 and his Ph. D. in 1934 from Harvard University, the first African American to earn a doctorate in political science from an American university. Bunche chaired the Department of Political Science at Howard University from 1928 to 1950. At the close of World War II, Bunche was active in preliminary planning for the United Nations where he, along with Eleanor Roosevelt, was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights. Bunche became involved with the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1947 and as a result of achieving the 1949 Armistice Agreements received the Nobel Peace Prize December 10, 1950, the first Black person to receive the prize. Bunche also received the 1949 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Lyndon B. Johnson December 6, 1963. Bunche died December 9, 1971. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1982. Also, there is a bust of Bunche at the entrance of Bunche Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles, the Ralph J. Bunche Library at the United States Department of State, Ralph Bunche Park in New York City, and numerous schools around the country named in his honor. Several biographies have been published about Bunche, including “Ralph Bunche: The Man and His Times” (1990), “Ralph Bunche: An American Life” (1993), and “Ralph Bunche: Model Negro or American Other?” (1999). His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

 

  • August 7, 1866 Elisabeth “Lisette” Denison Forth, landowner and philanthropist, died. Forth was born enslaved in 1786 near Detroit, Michigan. She moved to Canada around 1807 to establish residency and gain her freedom. Forth returned to Detroit around 1815 and worked as a domestic servant. She invested the pay she received in four lots in Pontiac, Michigan in 1825, becoming the first Black property owner in the city. Over the years, she bought stock in a steamboat and bank and bought a lot in Detroit in 1837. In her will, Forth left $3,000 for the construction of a church. This provided the majority of the money for the construction of St. James Episcopal Church in Grosse Ile, Michigan which was completed in 1868. The churches doors are dedicated to the memory and benevolence of Forth. State of Michigan historical markers are located at the four lots Forth purchased in Pontiac, the house she owned in Detroit, and at the church. Her biography, “Looking for Lisette: in quest of an American Original,” was published in 2001.
     
  • August 7, 1867 Ira Frederick Aldridge, hall of fame stage actor, died. Aldridge was born July 24, 1807 in New York City. He was educated at the New York African Free School where he developed an interest in the theater. Aldridge immigrated to England in 1826 because of the persistent disparagement and harassment that Black actors had to endure in the United States. In England and on tours throughout Europe, Aldridge established himself in many roles, including several written as White characters. He received awards from many European heads of state, including the Prussian Gold Medal for Arts and Sciences, the Golden Cross of Leopold, and the Maltese Cross. He never returned to the U. S. and died in Poland where his grave is tended by the Society of Polish Artists of Film and Theater. Also, Aldridge is the only actor of African descent among the 33 actors of the English stage with bronze plaques at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. He was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1979. His biography, “Ira Aldridge: The Negro Tragedian,” was published in 1968. “Ira Aldridge: The African Roscius,” a collection of essays that examine his extraordinary achievements against all odds, was published in 2007.
     
  • August 7, 1886 Moses Aaron Hopkins, clergyman and educator, died. Hopkins was born enslaved December 25, 1846 in Montgomery County, Virginia. During the Civil War, he worked as a cook in Union Army camps. He learned to read at 20, graduated from Lincoln University, and enrolled at Auburn Theological Seminary. Hopkins earned his degree in theology in 1877, the first African American graduate of the seminary, and was ordained by the Presbyterian Church that same year. Hopkins eventually settled in Franklinton, North Carolina where he founded Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church and Albion Academy. President S. Grover Cleveland appointed him United States Minister (ambassador) to Liberia in 1885 where he served until his death. A North Carolina State Historical Marker in his honor was unveiled in Franklinton in 1959.
     
  • August 7, 1894 Joseph Lee of Auburndale, Massachusetts received patent number 524,042 for an improved dough-kneading machine for use in hotels. His machine replaced the process of mixing and kneading by hand which resulted in a considerable saving of time and labor and produced a superior quality and fineness of dough. He also received patent number 540,553 June 4, 1895 for a machine that made bread crumbs. Lee sold the rights for that machine to the Royal Worchester Bread Crumb Company and the machine was soon in major restaurants around the world. Lee was born July 19, 1849 in Boston, Massachusetts and began working in a bakery as a boy. He soon began preparing and serving food, eventually opening two successful restaurants. Beginning in the late 1890s, he owned the Woodland Park Hotel in Newton, Massachusetts for 17 years. He opened the Lee Catering Company in 1902 and it served the wealthy population of Boston. At the same time, he also operated the Squantum Inn, a summer resort that specialized in seafood. Lee died in 1905. 
     
  • August 7, 1900 William B. Purvis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received patent number 655,455 for an improvement in the construction of an Electric Railway System. His invention prevented the accumulation of moisture within the conduit. Purvis had previously received patent number 419,065 January 7, 1890 for the fountain pen. That invention made the use of the ink bottle obsolete by storing ink in a reservoir within the pen which was then fed to the tip of the pen. Over his lifetime, Purvis received nine additional patents. He is also believed to have invented, but did not patent, several other devices. Not much else is known of Purvis’ life.
     
  • August 7, 1922 Ernest C. Withers, photojournalist, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Withers worked as a photographer in the United States Army during World War II and opened a studio in Memphis when he returned. He also worked for three years as one of the first African American police officers in Memphis. Withers documented the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1960s. He also photographed such baseball icons as Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays and the early performances of Elvis Presley, B. B. King, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin. His photographs appeared in Time and Newsweek magazines, the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers, and the PBS documentary “Eyes on the Prize.” Many of them are collected in four books, “Let Us March On” (1992), “Pictures Tell the Story: Ernest C. Withers Reflections in History” (2000), “The Memphis Blues Again: Six Decades of Memphis Music Photographs” (2001), and “Negro League Baseball” (2005). Withers died October 15, 2007.
     
  • August 7, 1924 John Edward Bruce, journalist, orator and Pan-African nationalist, died. Bruce was born enslaved February 22, 1856 in Piscataway, Maryland. He and his mother escaped to Washington, D. C. when he was three and he received his formal education and attended Howard University. Bruce was an assistant at the New York Times at 18. He founded a number of newspapers, including The Argus Weekly (1879), The Sunday Item (1880), and The Republican (1882). At the same time that he was starting these papers, Bruce was serving as associate editor and business manager for the Commonwealth newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland and writing columns for other papers. Bruce was also prominent on the lecture circuit, speaking against lynching and the condition of southern Black people. He was also an advocate for armed self-defense against racist attacks, supporting “organized resistance to organized resistance.” He was president of the Afro-American Council in 1898. Bruce was the American correspondent for the African Times and Orient Review in London, England in 1910. He co-founded the Negro Society for Historical Research in 1911 and it became the foundation for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Bruce joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association around 1919 and wrote columns for the organization’s Negro World and Daily Negro Times newspapers. His biography, “John Edward Bruce: Politician, Journalist, and Self-Trained Historian of the African Diaspora,” was published in 2004.  
     
  • August 7, 1930 Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were lynched in Marion, Indiana. Shipp and Smith had been arrested and charged with robbing and murdering a White factory worker and raping his girlfriend. A mob of townspeople broke into the jail, beat the two men and hanged them. Police officers cooperated in the lynching. A picture of the lynching was widely circulated and included in the exhibition “Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America” which was on exhibit at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan in 2004. The picture also inspired the poem “Strange Fruit” (1936) by Abel Meeropol. The poem later became the lyrics for the song of the same name popularized by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.  A third African American man, James Cameron, had also been arrested and narrowly escaped being lynched. Cameron went on to found America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1988 which is dedicated to the history of lynching. Cameron died June 11, 2006.
     
  • August 7, 1932 Maurice Farnandis Rabb, Jr., ophthalmologist who did pioneering work in cornea and retinal vascular diseases, was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Rabb earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Louisville in 1954 and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1958. He studied ophthalmology at New York University and became the first African American resident of the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary. Rabb served as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Mercy Hospital from 1971 to 2005. He was the medical director of the Illinois Eye Bank and Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois from 1972 to 1987, the first African American to be a medical director of an eye bank in the United States. Rabb founded the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center in 1972. There, he led research that helped prevent retinal detachment and blindness in sickle cell patients. Rabb died June 6, 2005. The National Medical Association annually awards the Rabb Venable Ophthalmology Award for Outstanding Research to students and residents.
     
  • August 7, 1932 Abebe Bikila, two-time Olympic marathon champion, was born in Jato, Ethiopia. Bikila won the marathon in world record time at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympic Games, the first Black African to win an Olympic Gold medal. He again won the marathon in world record time at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, the first athlete in history to win the Olympic marathon twice. Bikila was involved in a car accident in 1969 which left him a paraplegic. Bikila died October 25, 1973 and Emperor Haile Selassie I proclaimed a national day of mourning. A stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is named in his honor. Since 1978, the New York Road Runners have annually presented the Abebe Bikila Award to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport.
     
  • August 7, 1935 Rahsaan Roland Kirk, hall of fame jazz multi-instrumentalist, was born Ronald Theodore Kirk in Columbus, Ohio. Kirk went blind at an early age due to poor medical treatment. He added “Rahsaan” to his name in 1970 after hearing it in a dream. Kirk played various saxophones, clarinets, and flutes, often modifying them to accommodate his playing technique. Preferring to lead his own bands, Kirk rarely performed as a sideman. His many recordings include “Triple Threat” (1956), “The Inflated Tear” (1967), and “Kirkatron” (1977). He was also very political, using the stage to talk on black history, civil rights, and other issues. Kirk died December 5, 1977. He was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1978. His biography, “Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk,” was published in 2000.
     
  • August 7, 1945 Alan Cedric Page, hall of fame football player and judge, was born in Canton, Ohio. Page played college football at the University of Notre Dame and led them to the national championship in 1966. That same year he was named All-American. Page earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1967 and was selected by Minnesota Vikings in the National Football League Draft. Over his 15 season professional career, he was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, 1970 and 1971 Defensive Player of the Year, and the 1971 Most Valuable Player, the first defensive player to be named MVP. Page retired in 1981 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Page earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1978. He was appointed Assistant Attorney General for the State of Minnesota in 1985 and was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992, the first African American to serve on that court. Page continues to serve as an associate justice on that court. He founded the Page Education Foundation in 1988 to provide financial and mentoring assistance to minority college students. To date, the foundation has awarded grants to 4,500 students. Page was named to the Academic All-American Hall of Fame in 2001 and was awarded the National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award in 2005. Page has received numerous honorary doctorate degrees from institutions such as the University of Notre Dame (1993), St. John’s University (1994), and Duke University (2011). His biography, “All Rise: The Remarkable Journey of Alan Page,” was published in 2010.
     
  • August 7, 1960 The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) gained independence from France. The Ivory Coast is located in West Africa and is bordered by Liberia and Guinea to the west, Mali and Burkina Faso to the north, Ghana to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. The country is approximately 200,000 square miles in size with a population of approximately 20.6 million people. The capital city is Yamoussoukro and largest city is Abidjan. Islam and Christianity are the major religions practiced by most of the population. The official language is French but an estimated 65 languages are spoken in the country.
     
  • August 7, 1966 Samuel Jesse Battle, the first Black police officer in New York City, died. Battle was born January 16, 1883 in New Bern, North Carolina. After attending segregated schools in North Carolina, Battle moved to New York City where he worked as a train porter and began studying for the police department civil service examination. He was appointed to the police department June 28, 1911 and assigned to San Juan Hill, one of the major African American neighborhoods in Manhattan. As the African American population in Harlem grew, he was reassigned there. Battle later became the first African American sergeant and lieutenant on the force and became the first African American parole commissioner in 1941. In that capacity, he worked with delinquent youth in Harlem, overseeing summer camps and sports activities. Battle retired in 1951 but remained active in the Harlem community until his death. His biography, “One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York,” was published in 2015.
     
  • August 7, 1984 Esther Mae Jones Phillips, R&B vocalist, died. Phillips was born December 23, 1935 in Galveston, Texas. She won an amateur talent contest in 1949 and began touring as Little Esther Phillips. She recorded her first hit record, “Double Crossing Blues,” in 1950 and that was followed by other hits such as “Mistrusting Blues,” “Misery,” and “Wedding Boogie.” Few female artists had ever enjoyed such success in their debut year of recording. But just as quickly as the hits started, the hits stopped. Phillips launched a comeback in 1962 with the release of “Release Me” which went to number one on the R&B charts. She released the album “From a Whisper to a Scream” in 1972 and it was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance – Female, with the lead track “Home is Where the Hatred Is.” Phillips scored her biggest hit single in 1975 with “What a Difference a Day Makes,” which was nominated for the 1975 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance - Female.
     
  • August 7, 1989 George Thomas “Mickey” Leland, former congressman, died along with 14 others in a plane crash during a mission to Gambela, Ethiopia. Leland was born November 27, 1944 in Lubbock, Texas. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Southern University in 1970.  Leland was elected to the Texas State Legislature in 1972 and the United States House of Representatives in 1979, where he served until his death. Although considered by some as controversial, Leland was an effective advocate on hunger and public health issues. A Federal building and the international terminal at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas are named in his honor. The United States Agency for International Development Leland Initiative to improve internet connectivity in Africa is also named in his honor. The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s humanitarian award was renamed in his memory in 1989.
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Today in Black History, 08/06/2015 | The National Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • August 6, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the National Voting Rights Act of 1965 which outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the United States. Specifically the Act prohibited states from imposing any “voting qualifications or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure……..to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Congress has amended and extended the Act several times since its original passage, the most recent being the 25-year extension signed by President George W. Bush in 2006. The U. S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the section of the act requiring preclearance of voting changes by certain jurisdictions was unconstitutional based on an outdated formula for application. 
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Today in Black History, 08/05/2015 | William Alexander Scott, II

August 5, 1928 William Alexander Scott, II founded the Atlanta Daily World, the first African American daily newspaper in the United States. In the first issue, Scott stated that, “The publishers of the Atlanta World have felt the need of a Southern Negro newspaper, published by Southern Negros, to be read by Southern Negros.” On February 8, 1944 the Atlanta Daily World became the first African American paper to assign a correspondent to the White House and Harry S. McAlpin became the first African American reporter to cover the White House. Many prominent journalists began their careers at the Atlanta Daily World, including Lerone Bennett. The paper now publishes daily online and weekly in print.

 

  • August 5, 1763 Bill Richmond, hall of fame boxer, was born enslaved in Staten Island, New York. Richmond was taken to England in 1777 to apprentice as a cabinet maker but he took up boxing. Known as “The Black Terror,” he was one of the most accomplished and respected fighters of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Richmond retired from boxing in 1818 and established a boxing academy. Richmond died December 28, 1829. He was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.
     
  • August 5, 1895 Theodore “Tiger” Flowers, hall of fame boxer and the first African American middleweight boxing champion, was born in Camilla, Georgia. Flowers began boxing professionally in 1918 and won the World Middleweight Boxing Championship in 1926. Later that year, he lost the title in a controversial decision. Flowers died November 16, 1927 from complications from surgery to remove scar tissue from around his eyes. His career boxing record was 136 wins, 15 losses, 8 draws, and 2 no contests. His funeral in Atlanta, Georgia drew tens of thousands of mourners. Flowers was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993. “The Pussycat of Prizefighting: Tiger Flowers and the Politics of Black Celebrity” was published in 2007.
     
  • August 5, 1900 James Augustine Healy, the first African American Roman Catholic priest and the first African American bishop in the United States, died. Healy was born enslaved April 6, 1830 near Macon, Georgia. Although he was three-quarters or more of European ancestry, he was considered Black. Because Georgia prohibited the education of slaves, Healy’s Irish-American father arranged for his children to move north where they could obtain an education and have better opportunities. Healy earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, and was valedictorian of his class, from the College of Holy Cross in 1849. Following graduation, he wanted to enter the priesthood but could not study at the Jesuit novitiate in Maryland as it was a slave state. Therefore, he entered Sulpician Seminary in Montreal, Canada where he earned his Master of Arts degree in 1851. He was ordained a priest June 10, 1854 at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Healy became pastor of St. James Church, the largest Catholic congregation in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1866 and was officially ordained as Bishop of Portland, Maine June 2, 1875. For the next 25 years, he governed his diocese, overseeing the establishment of 60 new churches, 68 missions, 18 convents, and 18 schools. Today, the Archdiocese of Boston, Office for Black Catholics awards the Bishop James Augustine Healy Award to dedicated Black parishioners. Healy’s biography, “Bishop Healy: Beloved Outcast,” was published in 1954. “Passing for White: Race, Religion, and the Healy Family, 1820-1920” was published in 2003.
     
  • August 5, 1938 James Hal Cone, an advocate of Black liberation theology, was born in Fordyce, Arkansas. Cone earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Philander Smith College in 1958, his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1961, and his Master of Arts degree in 1963 and Ph. D. in 1965 from Northwestern University. His 1969 book “Black Theology and Black Power” provided a new way to articulate the distinctiveness of theology in the Black church. Other books by Cone include “A Black Theology of Liberation” (1970), “God of the Oppressed” (1975), “Speaking the Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation, and Black Theology” (1999), and “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” (2011). He has received eight honorary doctorate degrees and was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003. Cone taught theology and religion at Philander Smith College and Adrian College and is currently the Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. His biography, “James H. Cone and Black Liberation Theology,” was published in 2001.
     
  • August 5, 1946 Shirley Ann Jackson, physicist and the first female and African American president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was born in Washington, D. C. Jackson earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1968 and Ph. D. in 1973 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate degree from MIT. After earning her Ph. D., she studied and conducted research at a number of physics laboratories in the United States and Europe. Jackson worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1976 to 1991 and her research helped in the development of a number of products, including touch tone telephones, portable faxes, caller ID, and call waiting. She served as professor of physics at Rutgers University from 1991 to 1995. President William J. Clinton appointed Jackson chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1995, the first female and the first African American to hold that position. She was appointed president of Rensselaer July 1, 1999. Jackson has received many honors, including being elected a member of the American Physical Society and the American Philosophical Society, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998, receiving the Richtmyer Memorial Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers in 2001, and the Vannevar Bush Award for “a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy.” She was named one of the 50 Most Important Women in Science by Discover magazine in 2002. President Barack H. Obama appointed Jackson to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2009. Jackson serves on the board of directors of many organizations, including IBM Corporation, FedEx Corporation, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Brookings Institution. She has received 53 honorary doctorate degrees and was inducted into the U. S. News STEM Leadership Hall of Fame in 2014.  
     
  • August 5, 1960 Upper Volta, now known as Burkina Faso, gained independence from France. The country was renamed in 1984 to mean “the land of upright people” in their native language. Burkina Faso is located in Western Africa and is bordered by Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and the Ivory Coast to the southwest. The country is approximately 106,000 square miles in size with a population of approximately 13,200,000. The capital and largest city is Ouagadougou. Approximately 60% of the population practices Islam, 24% maintain traditional indigenous beliefs and 17% practice Roman Catholicism. The official language is French.
     
  • August 5, 1962 Patrick Aloysius Ewing, hall of fame basketball player, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Ewing played college basketball at Georgetown University and led them to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament Championship game three out of his four years, winning the championship in 1984. He was awarded the 1985 Adolph F. Rupp Trophy as the top player in men’s Division I NCAA Basketball. Ewing also earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts that year.  He was selected first overall by the New York Knicks in the 1985 National Basketball Association Draft. Over his 18 season professional career, Ewing was the 1986 NBA Rookie of the Year and an 11-time All-Star. He also won Gold medals as a member of the men’s basketball team at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games and the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympic Games. ESPN named Ewing the 16th greatest college basketball player of all time and the NBA named him one of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players of All Time in 1996. Ewing was also the chairman of the New York Knicks’ “Stay in School” program in 1991 and 1992 and served as president of the NBA Players Association in 1997. The Knicks retired his jersey number 33 in 2003 and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. Ewing was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. He is currently the associate head coach with the NBA Charlotte Hornets.
     
  • August 5, 1967 Emlen Lewis Tunnell became the first African American inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tunnell was born March 29, 1925 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. After serving two years in the United States Coast Guard during World War II, he played college football for the University of Iowa. He played quarterback, halfback, and on defense and led the team in passing in the 1946 season and receiving in the 1947 season. He began his professional football career with the New York Giants in 1948, the first African American to play for the team. Tunnell played in the National Football League for 14 seasons and was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. When he retired in 1961, he held the record for career interceptions with 79. After retiring, Tunnell served as a scout and assistant coach with the Giants. Tunnell died July 22, 1975. His autobiography, “Footsteps of a Giant,” was published in 1966.
     
  • August 5, 1976 James Cleveland “Jessie” Owens was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Gerald R. Ford. Owens was born September 12, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama but raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He first came to national attention when he equaled the world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100 yard dash and long jumped 24 feet 9 ½ inches at the 1933 National High School Championships. Owens attended Ohio State University where he won a record eight individual National Collegiate Athletic Association championships. Despite that success, he had to live off campus and was never offered a scholarship to the university. At the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games, Owens won the Gold medal in the 100 and 200 meter races, the 4 by 100 meter relay, and the long jump. While in Germany, Owens was allowed to travel with and stay in the same hotels as White people, a right that was denied him in the United States. After a New York City ticker-tape parade in his honor, Owens had to ride the freight elevator to attend his own reception at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Owens was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1974. USA Track & Field created the Jessie Owens Award, given annually to the country’s top track and field athlete, in 1981. Owens died March 31, 1980. The Congressional Gold Medal was presented to his widow by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. The United States Postal Service issued commemorative postage stamps in his honor in 1990 and 1998. A statue of Owens in Huntington Park in Cleveland was unveiled in 1982 and Ohio State dedicated the Jessie Owens Memorial in 2001. The Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum in Oakville was dedicated June 29, 1996. Owens published his autobiography, “Blackthink: My Life as a Black Man and White Man.” His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
     
  • August 5, 1989 John Robert Edward Kinard, pastor, museum director and social activist, died. Kinard was born November 22, 1936 in Washington, D. C. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Livingstone College in 1960 and his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Hood Theological Seminary in 1963. After graduating, Kinard worked as coordinator of eastern Africa projects for Operation Crossroads. He returned to D. C. in 1964 and was appointed assistant pastor of a church in 1966. Kinard was named the first director of the Anacostia Community Museum in 1967, a position he held until his death. His vision for the museum was that it could not be divorced from the problems of the neighborhood around it. Kinard was a co-founder of the African American Museum Association in 1978 and served as treasurer from 1982 to 1983 and president from 1987 to 1988. Livingstone College has established the John R. Kinard Scholarship for Leadership and Academic Excellence in his honor.
     
  • August 5, 1998 The former R. R. Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia was designated a National Historic Site and now houses the Robert Russa Moton Museum. Moton was born August 26, 1867 in Amelia County, Virginia. He graduated from Hampton Institute in 1890. Moton served as an administrator at Hampton from 1891 to 1915. After the death of Booker T. Washington, he was named principal of Tuskegee Institute in 1915, a position he held until his retirement in 1935. Moton was awarded the 1932 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. He published two books, “Finding a Way Out” in 1920 and “What the Negro Thinks” in 1929. Moton died May 31, 1940. Moton Field, the initial training base for the Tuskegee Airmen, and Robert Russa Moton Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana are named in his honor.
     
  • August 5, 2000 Dudley Randall, founder of Broadside Press, died. Randall was born January 14, 1914 in Washington, D. C. but raised in Detroit, Michigan. At 13, his first published poem was printed in the Detroit Free Press newspaper. After serving in the military during World War II, Randall earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wayne State University in 1949 and his Master of Arts degree in library science from the University of Michigan in 1951. Randall founded Broadside Press in 1965 and over the years published many leading African American writers, including Sonia Sanchez, Gwendolyn Brooks, Haki Madhubuti, and Sterling Brown. Poems written by Randall include “Ballad of Birmingham,” “Booker T. and W.E.B.,” “Roses and Revolutions,” and “The Profile on the Pillow.” Randall was named Poet Laureate of the City of Detroit in 1981. Two months after his death, the University of Detroit Mercy established the Dudley Randall Center for Print Culture.
     
  • August 5, 2007 Oliver White Hill, Sr., civil rights attorney, died. Hill was born May 1, 1907 in Richmond, Virginia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in 1931 and his Juris Doctor degree from Howard’s School of Law in 1933. Hill won his first civil rights case in 1940 in Alston v. School Board of Norfolk, Virginia which gained pay equity for Black teachers. He joined the United States Army in 1943 and served in Europe until the end of World War II. He became the first African American to serve on the Richmond City Council since the late 19th century in 1949. Hill led the case of Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County in 1951 which became one of the five cases decided under Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. He retired in 1998. Hill earned many awards during his life, including the 1959 Lawyer of the Year from the National Bar Association, the 1993 American Bar Association Justice Thurgood Marshall Award, and the 2005 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. Hill was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President William J. Clinton August 11, 1999. The Oliver Hill Courts Building in Richmond is named in his honor and the Oliver W. Hill Building in Virginia’s Capitol Square is the first state owned building to be named for an African American. Hill’s autobiography, “The Big Bang: Brown v. Board of Education, The Autobiography of Oliver W. Hill, Sr.,” was published in 2000.
     
  • August 5, 2011 Hazel Winifred Johnson-Brown, nurse, educator and the first Black female brigadier general in the United States Army, died. Johnson-Brown was born October 10, 1927 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She decided to become a nurse as a teenager however her application to the West Chester School of Nursing was rejected because of her race. As a result, she moved to New York City and graduated from the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing. She joined the army in 1955 and served as a staff nurse in Japan and chief nurse in Korea. While in the army, she continued her formal education, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Villanova University in 1959, her Master of Science degree in nursing education from Columbia University in 1963, and her Ph. D. in education administration from Catholic University of America in 1978. Johnson-Brown served as assistant dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing from 1976 to 1978. She became the first Black female brigadier general in the army in 1979 and commanded 7,000 nurses in the Army National Guard and Reserves. She was also the director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing. After retiring from the army in 1997, Johnson-Brown headed the American Nursing Association’s government relations unit and directed George Mason University’s Center for Health Policy.
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Today in Black History, 08/04/2015 | President Barack Hussein Obama II

 August 4, 1961 Barack Hussein Obama II, the first African American President of the United States, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Obama earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a specialty in international relations from Columbia University in 1983. He worked as a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project from 1985 to 1988. He earned his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1991 and was elected the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 and served until 2004. That year, he was elected to the United States Senate where he served until elected President of the United States November 4, 2008. He was re-elected in 2012. Major accomplishments during his presidency include the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, and ending the war in Iraq. He was listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2005 and each year from 2007 to 2015. Obama has authored several books, including “Dreams From My Father” (1995) and “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” (2006). He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people” December 10, 2009.   

 

  • August 4, 1810 Robert Purvis, abolitionist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. Although Purvis and his brothers were three-quarters European by ancestry and inherited considerable wealth from their native English father, they chose to identify with the Black community and use their education and wealth to support the abolition of slavery and educational projects for the advancement of African Americans. Purvis helped abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison establish the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833 and served as president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society from 1845 to 1850. By his account, Purvis estimated that from 1831 to 1861 he helped one enslaved person per day escape to the North. He co-edited “The History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania” in 1883. Purvis died April 15, 1898. His biography, “But One Race: The Life of Robert Purvis,” was published in 2007.
     
  • August 4, 1816 Macon Bolling Allen, the first African American to practice law in the United States and the first Black Justice of the Peace, was born Allen Macon Bolling in Indiana. Allen grew up a free man and learned to read and write on his own. He moved to Portland, Maine in the early 1840s. After passing the State of Maine bar exam and earning his recommendation, he was given his license to practice law July 3, 1844. However, because White people were unwilling to have a Black man represent them in court, Allen moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1845. He passed the Massachusetts bar exam that year and he and Robert Morris, Jr. opened the first Black law office in the U. S. Allen passed another exam in 1848 to become Justice of the Peace for Middlesex County. After the Civil War, Allen moved to Charleston, South Carolina and was appointed Judge in the Inferior Court of Charleston in 1873. The next year, he was elected Judge Probate for Charleston County. Later, Allen moved to Washington, D. C. where he worked as an attorney for the Land and Improvement Association. Allen practiced law until his death June 11, 1894.
     
  • August 4, 1901 Louis Daniel “Satchmo” “Pops” Armstrong, hall of fame jazz trumpeter and singer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a teenager, Armstrong played with and was mentored by Joe “King” Oliver and moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1922 to join Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. Armstrong came to prominence in the mid-1920s as an innovative cornet and trumpet player, shifting jazz’s focus from collective improvisation to solo performers. With his distinctive voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer and his influence extended beyond jazz to popular music in general by the 1960s. Armstrong had many hit records, including “Hello Dolly,” which won the 1965 Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Armstrong the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, and “What A Wonderful World” (1968) which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 as a recording of “qualitative or historical significance.” In addition to those two recordings, Armstrong has nine other recordings in the Grammy Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1952.  Armstrong died July 6, 1971. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1972 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1995. The house where Armstrong lived for almost 28 years in Queens, New York was declared a National Historic Landmark May 11, 1976 and is now the Louis Armstrong House Museum. The Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport is named in his honor. Armstrong published his autobiography, “Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans”, in 1954. Other biographies include “The Louis Armstrong Story, 1900 – 1971” (1971) and “Louis Armstrong: An American Genius” (1985).
     
  • August 4, 1913 Robert Hayden, the first African American Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress, was born Asa Bundy Sheffey in Detroit, Michigan. Hayden earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Detroit City College (now Wayne State University) in 1936 and his Master of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1944. He published his first book of poetry, “Heart-Shape in the Dust”, in 1940. Other books of poetry include “A Ballad of Remembrance” (1962), which won the grand prize for poetry at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in Senegal in 1966, “Words in the Mourning Time” (1970), and “Angle of Ascent: New and Selected Poems” (1975). His work often addressed the plight of African Americans and was sometimes political, including a series of poems on the Vietnam War. He was appointed Consultant in Poetry (later renamed Poet Laureate) to the Library of Congress in 1976. Hayden taught at Michigan from 1944 to 1946, Fisk University from 1946 to 1969, and returned to Michigan from 1969 to his death February 25, 1980. Hayden received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Brown University in 1976 and Fisk University in 1978. His biography, “From the Auroral Darkness: The Life and Poetry of Robert Hayden,” was published in 1984. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 2012.  
     
  • August 4, 1931 Daniel Hale Williams, the first African American cardiologist in the United States, died. Williams was born January 18, 1856 in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical College (now Northwestern University Medical School) in 1883. He founded Provident Hospital, the first integrated hospital in the United States, and training school for nurses in Chicago, Illinois, May 4, 1891. Williams performed an operation on a man that had been stabbed in the chest July 9, 1893. The operation required that he open the man’s chest, and close the wound around the heart. This is often noted as the first successful surgery on the heart. He co-founded the National Medical Association for Black doctors in 1895. He became a charter member, and the only Black member, in the American College of Surgeons in 1913. Williams received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University and Wilberforce University. Biographies of Williams include “Daniel Hale Williams: Negro Surgeon” (1968) and “Daniel Hale Williams: Open Heart Doctor” (1970). The Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine in Chicago is named in his honor.
     
  • August 4, 1938 Hayes Wendell Jones, hall of fame track and field athlete, was born in Starkville, Mississippi but raised in Pontiac, Michigan. He ran track for Eastern Michigan University where he won the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships in the 110 meter and 220 meter hurdles. Jones also earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from EMU in 1961. He also won the Amateur Athletic Union 110 meter hurdle championships in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, and 1964. Jones won the 110 meter Bronze medal at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympic Games and the 110 meter Gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. He was also part of a 100 meter relay team that set a world record in 1961. After retiring from competition, Jones became a successful businessman and an active participant in community affairs. He served as director of the Oakland County, Michigan Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs from 2005 to 2006 and was general manager of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, the public transit operator serving suburban Detroit, Michigan, from 2007 to 2010. Jones has also served on the boards of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Pontiac School District. He was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1976 and the Hayes Jones Community Center in Pontiac is named in his honor.
     
  • August 4, 1958 Gregory Foster, hall of fame track and field athlete, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Foster ran track for the University of California, Los Angeles where he was the National Collegiate Athletic Association outdoor champion in the 110 meter hurdles in 1978 and 1980 and the NCAA champion in the 200 meter race in 1979. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1981. Foster won ten United States national titles, four outdoors in the 110 meter hurdles and six indoors at shorter hurdle events. He broke the world indoor record for the 50 meter hurdles in 1985 and tied that mark in 1987. Foster won the Silver medal in the 110 meter hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. He was ranked among the top ten 110 meter hurdlers in the world 15 times, a record for a running event, and he was number one five times. Foster retired from competition in 1993 and was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1998. Foster is currently a sports agent representing track and field athletes.
     
  • August 4, 1996 Josiah Thugwane became the first Black South African to win an Olympic Gold medal when he won the marathon at the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. Thugwane was born April 15, 1971 in Bethal, South Africa. He ran his first marathon in 1991 and won the 1995 Honolulu Marathon. Five months prior to the Atlanta Olympic Games, he was carjacked, shot, and injured his back when he jumped from the moving car. He recovered and won the Atlanta Marathon. Thugwane was named 1997 South African Sportsman of the Year. He also competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games but did not medal. Thugwane received the Order of the Ikhamanga (silver) for excellent achievement from President Jacob Zuma in 2011.
     
  • August 4, 1996 Willard Jesse Brown, hall of fame Negro Baseball League player, died. Brown was born June 26, 1915 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He began his professional baseball career in 1934. He joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1936 and played with them until 1944 when he joined the United States Army during World War II. During that time, he established himself as a powerful hitter, hitting more home runs than Josh Gibson. In fact, Gibson nicknamed him “Home Run Brown.” Brown also regularly had a batting average over .350. He briefly played in the major leagues with the St. Louis Browns in 1947 and was the first Black player to hit a home run in the American League. Brown retired from baseball in 1956 and moved to Houston, Texas. He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
     
  • August 4, 2005 Little Milton, hall of fame blues singer, guitarist and record producer, died. Milton was born James Milton Campbell, Jr. September 7, 1934 in Inverness, Mississippi. By 12, he had learned to play the guitar and was a street musician performing in clubs across the Mississippi Delta. He signed a contract in 1952 and recorded a number of singles that were not successful. Milton established Bobbin Records in 1958 and produced records for Albert King and Fontella Bass. He had his own first hit single in 1962 with “So Mean to Me.” This was followed by such hits as “We’re Gonna Make It” (1965), “Who’s Cheating Who” (1965), “Grits Ain’t Groceries” (1969), and “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number” (1983). Milton was the W. C. Handy Blues Entertainer of the Year and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1988. He received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1997.
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