Today in Black History, February 5, 2016 | Hank Aaron - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, February 5, 2016 | Hank Aaron

February 5, 1934 Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron, hall of fame baseball player, was born in Mobile, Alabama. Aaron started his professional baseball career with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League in 1951. He signed a contract with the Boston (now Atlanta) Braves in 1952 and made his major league debut in 1954. Over his 21 season major league career, Aaron performed at a consistently high level for an extended period of time and is generally considered one of the greatest players of all time. He was a 21-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove Award winner, and the 1957 National League Most Valuable Player. Aaron hit his 715th career home run April 8, 1974, breaking one of the most hallowed records in baseball which had stood for 39 years. His uniform number 44 was retired by both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. He holds the major league records for most total bases, most runs batted in, most extra base hits, and most consecutive seasons with 150 or more hits. Aaron retired after the 1976 season and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. He received the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 1975 Spingarn Medal. Aaron has remained active with baseball, serving in several upper-level positions in the Atlanta Braves organization. He published his autobiography, "I Had a Hammer" in 1990. Major League Baseball announced the Hank Aaron Award in 1999 to honor the best overall offensive performer in both leagues. Aaron was presented the Presidential Citizens Medal by President William J. Clinton in 2001 and was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President George W. Bush July 9, 2002. Hank Aaron Baseball Stadium in Mobile is named in his honor. It also includes the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum.

February 5, 1813 Jermain Wesley Loguen, Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and abolitionist, was born Jarm Logue enslaved in Davidson County, Tennessee. Loguen escaped bondage to Canada in 1834. He learned to read in Canada before moving to Rochester, New York in 1837 and studying at the Oneida Institute. He moved to Syracuse, New York in 1841 and worked as a school teacher and opened schools for Black children. His house was one of the most openly operated stations on the Underground Railroad. It is estimated that more than 1,500 previously enslaved people passed through his house. Loguen became an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and held various church posts before being appointed a bishop in 1868. He published his autobiography, "The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman, A Narrative of Real Life," in 1859. Loguen died September 30, 1872.

February 5, 1858 Henry Beard Delany, the second African American bishop elected in the United States, was born enslaved in Saint Mary's, Georgia. Delany graduated in theology from Saint Augustine's School (now college) in 1885. He joined the faculty of the school where he taught until 1908. Delany joined Ambrose Episcopal Church and steadily rose in the Episcopal Church hierarchy, becoming a deacon in 1889, a priest in 1892, an archdeacon in 1908, and a bishop in 1918, the first African American bishop elected in North Carolina. He was also active in promoting education among North Carolina's African American community, helping to organize schools for Black people throughout the state. Although not formally trained as an architect, Delany designed Saint Augustine's chapel in 1895, the only surviving 19th century building on campus. Shaw University awarded Delany an honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree in 1911. Delany died April 14, 1928. He was the father of Sadie and Bessie Delany who published their joint autobiography "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years" in 1993.

February 5, 1888 Lucinda Toomer, quilter, was born in Stewart County, Georgia. Toomer learned to quilt from her mother as a young girl. She married at 18 and farmed most of her life but continued to quilt, making about 20 quilts a year. Her quilts were characterized by innovation and improvisation. She received the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, in 1983. Toomer died later that year. Her quilts are part of the traveling exhibition "African American Quiltmakers."

February 5, 1916 Alfred Masters, the first African American to serve in the United States Marines, was born in Palestine, Texas. Masters was sworn into the marines June 1, 1942. After his swearing in, he trained at Montford Point, North Carolina where other African Americans were later trained (now known as the Montford Point Marines). Masters eventually rose to the rank of technical sergeant. Not much else is known of Masters' life except that he died June 16, 1975.

February 5, 1933 James Herman Banning, the first licensed Black male pilot and the first Black pilot to fly coast to coast, was killed in a plane crash during an air show. Banning was born November 5, 1899 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 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.

February 5, 1984 Charles Henry "Chuck" Cooper, the first Black player to be drafted by a National Basketball Association team, died. Cooper was born September 29, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He served in the United States Navy from 1945 to 1946. Cooper played college basketball at Duquesne University where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1950. He was selected by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Draft April 25, 1950. Cooper played six seasons in the NBA before retiring from basketball in 1957. He worked in various non-profit programs before being named director of Pittsburgh's parks and recreation department, the city's first Black department head. He also earned his master's degree in social work from the University of Minnesota in 1961. Cooper served as an urban affairs officer at Pittsburgh National Bank from 1971 to his death.

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Comments 1

Guest - Leta on Friday, 05 February 2016 14:08

Enjoyed reading about Chuck Cooper. I'm from Pittsburgh. Great post!

Enjoyed reading about Chuck Cooper. I'm from Pittsburgh. Great post!
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