This WEEK in Black History | April 3 - April 10, 2016 - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

This WEEK in Black History | April 3 - April 10, 2016


April 3, 1968

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


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

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

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

Video Source: YouTube


April 4, 1913

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

April 5, 1856

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

Photo Source: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. via http://www.britannica.com/

April 6, 1712

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

Photo Source: ​Public domain ​via blackpast.org

April 7, 2010

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

Photo Source: nhl.com

April 8, 1960

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

Photo Source: Tumblr/  @fuckyeahmarxismleninism

April 9, 1939

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

Photo Source:  Betsy Graves Reyneau, 1888-1964, Artist (NARA record: 4772241)- U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
This WEEK in Black History | March 27 - April 2, 2...
This WEEK in Black History | April 10 - 16, 2016

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