Today in Black History - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 01/03/2016 | Edward William Brooke III

January 3, 2015 Edward William Brooke III, the first African American elected to the United States Senate by popular vote, died. Brooke was born October 26, 1919 in Washington, D. C. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University in 1941 and his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1948 and Master of Laws degree in 1949 from Boston UniversityLaw School. Brooke was elected Attorney General of Massachusetts in 1962 and served two terms before being elected to the U. S. Senate in 1966. One of his major accomplishments in his two terms in the senate was co-authoring the 1968 Fair Housing Act which was signed into law April 11, 1968. Brooke was awarded the 1967 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. He was defeated in his run for a third term in 1978. The Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts was dedicated in 2000 and Edward W. Brooke Charter School in Boston opened in 2002. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President George W. Bush June 23, 2004 and received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009. Brooke published

January 3, 1624 William Tucker, the first recorded African American born in the American colonies, was born in Jamestown, Virginia. Tucker was the child of enslaved Africans and was sold to an English sea captain named William Tucker. Nothing else is known of Tucker's life.

January 3, 1921 William Calvin Chase, newspaper editor and lawyer, died. Chase was born February 2, 1854 in Washington, D. C. He became editor of the Washington Bee in 1882 and turned the paper into one of the most influential African American newspapers in the country. He editorialized against lynching and the Atlanta Compromise position taken by Booker T. Washington. Chase remained editor of the newspaper until his death. He also attended Howard University Law School but did not get a degree. He studied privately and was admitted to the bar in Virginia and Washington, D. C. in 1889. Chase was also a District of Columbia delegate to the Republican national convention in 1900 and 1912. His biography, "Honey for Friends, Stings for Enemies," was published in 1973.

January 3, 1955 William "Willy" Theodore Ribbs, Jr., the first African American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, was born in San Jose, California. Following his graduation from high school, Ribbs moved to Europe to compete in the Formula Ford Series. He won the Dunlop Championship in his first year of competition and was named International Driver of the Year, Europe in 1977. Ribbs returned to the United States in 1978. Ribbs won five races in the Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am Series in 1983 and was named Pro Rookie of the Year. He became the first Black person to drive a Formula One car in 1986. Ribbs joined the Championship Auto Racing Team circuit in 1990 in a car partially funded by Bill Cosby. He had two top-ten finishes that season and the next year qualified for the Indianapolis 500. Ribbs retired from racing in 1999. He announced the formation of Willy T. Ribbs Racing in 2011 with the intent to become the first Black owner of a motor sports team.

January 3, 1962 Cheryl D. Miller, hall of fame basketball player, was born in Riverside, California. Miller was the first high school basketball player, male or female, to be named an All-American by Parade Magazine four times, was awarded the 1981 Dial Award as the national high school scholar/athlete of the year, and was the 1981 and 1982 National High School Player of the Year. She continued her outstanding play at the University of Southern California where she was a four-time All-American and three-time Naismith College Player of the Year. She still holds USC records for most points, most rebounds, most field goals made, most free throws made, most games played, and most steals. USC retired her jersey number 31 in 1986, the first basketball jersey, male or female, retired by the school. Miller also led the United States women's basketball team to the Gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from USC in 1985. Miller suffered knee injuries in the late 1980s that prevented her from continuing her basketball playing career. She was an assistant coach at USC from 1986 to 1991 and the head coach from 1993 to 1995. She coached the Phoenix Mercury in the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 to 2000 and has been a reporter for the National Basketball Association on the TNT television station since then. She also serves as head coach of the Langston University women's basketball team. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999, and was inducted into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame in 2010.

January 3, 1966 Samuel Leamon Younge, Jr. was shot to death after he tried to use the "Whites only" restroom at a gas station in Macon County, Alabama, the first Black college student killed as a result of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Younge was born November 17, 1944 in Tuskegee, Alabama. After receiving a medical discharge from the United States Navy, Younge enrolled at Tuskegee Institute in 1965. He became involved in civil rights activities in his first semester. He was involved in the Tuskegee Institute Advancement League, a campus group organized by students to work on desegregating public facilities and lead voter registration drives. After the shooting, the gas station attendant was not indicted until November, 1966 and was acquitted by an all-White jury the next month. Younge's story is told in "Sammy Younge, Jr.: The First Black College Student to Die in the Black Liberation Movement" (1968).

January 3, 1980 Joseph Amos Milburn, Jr., hall of fame R&B singer and pianist, died. Milburn was born April 1, 1927 in Houston, Texas. Milburn was playing the piano by five. He joined the United States Navy at 15 and earned 13 battle stars in the Philippines. Milburn recorded his debut single, "Amos Blues," in 1946 but became most popular with his upbeat songs about booze and partying. These included "Bad, Bad Whiskey" (1950), "Thinkin' and Drinkin'" (1952), and "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer" (1953). Albums by Milburn include "Let's Have A Party" (1957), "A Million Sellers" (1962), and "The Return Of The Blues Boss" (1963). Milburn was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010.

January 3, 1989 "The Arsenio Hall Show" debuted as the first regularly scheduled nightly talk show to star an African American. The show ran until May 27, 1994 and during that time was nominated for six Emmy Awards and won two.

January 3, 2012 Robert Lee Carter, civil rights activist and judge, died. Carter was born March 11, 1917 in Careyville, Florida but raised in Newark, New Jersey. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Lincoln University in 1937, his Bachelor of Laws degree from Howard University School of Law in 1940, and his Master of Laws degree from Columbia Law School in 1941. After completing his wartime service in the United States Army Air Corps, Carter went to work as a legal assistant to Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1944. He became assistant special counsel at the LDF in 1945 and general counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1956, a position he held until 1968. Carter won 21 of the 22 cases he argued or co-argued before the United States Supreme Court during his tenure. Carter was appointed Judge of the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1972. He was awarded the NAACP 2004 Spingarn Medal and published his autobiography, "A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Struggle in the Cause of Equal Rights," in 2005.


Joseph Amos Milburn, Jr

Hall of fame R&B singer and pianist

Civil rights activist and judge

Hall of fame basketball player

Today in Black History, 12/26/2015 | Jackie Ormes
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