Today in Black History, 04/28/2015 | Sojourner Truth - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 04/28/2015 | Sojourner Truth

  • April 28, 1891 George Toliver of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received patent number 451,086 for his invention of a new propeller for vessels. His invention was simple, durable, and efficient in providing motive power to force vessels through water and thereby gaining speed and economizing power. Not much else is known of Toliver’s life.
  • April 28, 1901 Needham Roberts, one of the first Americans to receive the French Croix de Guerre medal, was born in Trenton, New Jersey. Roberts enlisted in the United States Army in 1917 and was assigned to the New York Fifteenth Infantry which later became the 369th Infantry Harlem Hellfighters. They were sent to France during World War I and put under the command of the French Army. On May 14, 1918, Roberts and fellow African American Henry Johnson were on watch in the Argonne Forest when they were attacked by about 20 German soldiers. Despite being wounded several times, they fought off the attack and defended the French line. For their actions, both Roberts and Johnson were awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal, the first Americans to receive that honor. However, when they returned home neither received any recognition from the United States government. Roberts died April 18, 1949 and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1996 by the U. S. government.
  • April 28, 1922 Jewel Stradford Lafontant-Mankarious, the first female Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Lafontant-Mankarious earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Oberlin College in 1943 and became the first African American woman to earn her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1946. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in 1955. In 1960, she gave the seconding speech for Richard M. Nixon’s nomination to be the Republican Party candidate for president. Lafontant-Mankarious became the first Black woman to argue a case before the U. S. Supreme Court in 1963. President Nixon appointed her vice chairperson of the U. S. Advisory Commission on International, Educational and Cultural Affairs in 1969, representative to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1972, and the first female deputy solicitor general in 1973. Lafontant-Mankarious left the Nixon administration in 1975 and practiced law until 1989. She served as ambassador-at-large and U. S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs in the administration of President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1993. Lafontant-Mankarious was a founding member of the Congress of Racial Equality, an officer in the Chicago chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union. She also served on several corporate boards, including Mobil Corporation, Revlon, Inc., and the Hanes Corporation. Lafontant-Mankarious died May 31, 1997.
  • April 28, 1924 Kenneth David Kaunda, the first President of the Republic of Zambia, was born in Chinsali, Northern Providence of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Kaunda started his career as a teacher during the 1940s and taught until 1951 when he became organizing secretary of the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress. He took the post of secretary general of the ANC in 1953 and was imprisoned for two months of hard labor for distributing “subversive” literature in 1955. Kaunda formed the Zambian National Congress (ZANC) in 1958 and it was banned by the Rhodesian government in 1959 and Kaunda was again imprisoned, this time for nine months. After being released from prison, Kaunda was elected president of the United National Independence Party, the successor organization to the ZANC. After the elections of 1962, Kaunda became minister of Local Government and Social Welfare and became the first president of independent Zambia in 1964. Kaunda served in that capacity until 1991 when he voluntarily stepped down and called for multi-party elections. After retiring, Kaunda became involved in various charitable causes, most notably working against the spread of HIV/AIDS. He was African President in Residence at Boston University from 2002 to 2004. Kaunda received the Ubuntu Award from the National Heritage Council of South Africa in 2007 for his “contributions to humankind beyond boundaries.” Kaunda published his autobiography, “Zambia Shall Be Free,” in 1962. A biography, “Kaunda: Founder of Zambia,” was published in 1964.
  • April 28, 1934 Charley Patton, hall of fame blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, died. Patton was born around 1891 in Hinds County, Mississippi. Patton was an accomplished performer and songwriter by 19 and was playing scheduled engagements at plantations and taverns. His first recordings were done in 1929 and over the next five years he recorded approximately 60 tracks, including “Pony Blues,” “Elder Greene Blues,” and “Love My Stuff.” He was the best-selling blues singer of his time. He also was a significant influence on other blues performers, including John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf. Patton is considered by many to be the “Father of the Delta Blues.” Patton was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and his song “Pony Blues” was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2006. A boxed set of his work, “Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton” won the 2003 Grammy Awards for Best Historical Album, Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, and Best Album Notes.
  • April 28, 1938 Madge Dorita Walters Sinclair, actress, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Sinclair was a teacher in Jamaica until 1968 when she moved to New York City to pursue an acting career. She appeared in the 1977 television mini-series “Roots,” a role which earned her an Emmy nomination for Best Actress in a Drama. She appeared in the series “Trapper John, M. D.” from 1979 to 1986 and earned three Emmy nominations for her work on that show. She appeared in the 1988 film “Coming to America” and was a regular on the television series “Gabriel’s Fire,” which won her the 1991 Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series. A businesswoman also, Sinclair was an art dealer, chairwoman of clothing manufacturer Madge Walters Sinclair, Inc., and the owner of an income tax service. Sinclair died December 20, 1995.
  • April 28, 1964 Milton Augustus Striery Margai, physician and political leader, died. Margai was born December 7, 1895 in Gbangbatoke, Sierra Leone. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Forah Bay College in Freetown and several additional degrees from King’s College Medical School, University of Durbin. He entered government service in 1928 and was a senior medical officer by 1950. Margai’s political activity began in 1930 and he co-founded the Sierra Leone People’s Party in 1951. Margai oversaw the drafting of a new constitution in 1951 which triggered the process of decolonization and when Sierra Leone gained independence April 27, 1961, he was named the country’s first prime minister, a position he held until his death. The Sir Milton Margai School for the Blind and the Milton Margai College of Education are named in his honor.
  • April 28, 1964 Barry Louis Larkin, hall of fame baseball player, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Larkin played three years of college baseball at the University of Michigan and joined the Cincinnati Reds in 1986. Over his 19 season major league career, he was a twelve-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove Award winner, nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and 1995 National League Most Valuable Player. Larkin received the 1993 Roberto Clemente Award which is given annually to the Major League Baseball player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” He received the 1994 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award which is given to the player who “best exemplify his character and integrity both on and off the field.” Larkin retired as a player after the 2004 season and was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. Also that year, the Reds retired his number 11 uniform number. He currently serves as an analyst for “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN.
  • April 28, 1991 Floyd Bixler McKissick, lawyer and civil rights leader, died. McKissick was born March 9, 1922 in Asheville, North Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University of Raleigh) and became the first African American to earn his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Law School in 1951. After serving in Europe during World War II from 1941 to 1944, McKissick became the national director of the Congress of Racial Equality in 1966. He served in that capacity until 1968 when he founded Soul City in Warren County, North Carolina. His vision was an integrated community with enough industry to support a population of 55,000. That plan never materialized and he was appointed a state district court judge in 1990, a position he held until his death.
  • April 28, 1997 Ann Petry, the first African American woman writer to have a book sell more than a million copies, died. Petry was born October 12, 1908 in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. She earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Connecticut College of Pharmacy in 1931 and worked in the family pharmacy business for several years. She moved to New York City in 1938 and published her first story, “Marie of the Cabin Club,” in 1939. By 1944, she was working for the New York Foundation on a sociological study of the effect of segregation on children living in the ghetto. Petry also wrote articles for newspapers, including the Amsterdam News and The People’s Voice, and published short stories in The Crisis magazine. She published “The Street” in 1946. That novel sold 1.5 million copies, was published in several paperback editions, and was translated into French, Spanish, Japanese, and Portuguese. Petry later published “Country Place” (1947), “The Narrows” (1953), and “Harriet Tubman: Conductor On The Underground Railroad” (1955). She was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994.
  • April 28, 2005 Percy Heath, jazz bassist, died. Heath was born April 30, 1923 in Wilmington, North Carolina but raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Heath was drafted into the United States Army in 1944 and became a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. After World War II ended, he enrolled in the Granoff School of Music and began playing the bass. After moving to New York City in the late 1940s, Heath played in bands led by Dizzy Gillespie. He joined the Milt Jackson Quartet in 1951 and they became the Modern Jazz Quartet the next year. For the next four decades, he played with the group. Heath was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2002. He released his first and only album as a leader, “A Love Song,” in 2003.
  • April 28, 2008 Will Robinson, the first African American head basketball coach at a Division I college, died. Robinson was born June 3, 1911 in Wadesboro, North Carolina. He lettered in four sports at West Virginia State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1937. Because of racial segregation in West Virginia, Robinson attended the University of Michigan where he earned his Master of Arts degree in physical education. Robinson was selected for the head coaching position at Miller High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1943. Over his 25 year high school coaching career, Robinson enabled more than 300 students to attend college. During that time, he also served as a scout for the Detroit Lions football team, responsible for covering all the Black colleges in the South. Robinson discovered future NFL Hall of Famers Charlie Sanders and Lem Barney. Robinson was hired as the head coach at Illinois State University February 27, 1970, the first Black head coach in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I basketball. Robinson retired from Illinois State in 1975 and accepted a position as a scout for the Detroit Piston basketball team. In that capacity, he discovered future hall of famers Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman. Robinson retired from the Pistons in 2003. Robinson was presented the 1992 John W. Bund Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually “to an individual who has contributed significantly to the sport of basketball,” by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • April 28, 2012 A life-size bronze statue of Frank Robinson was unveiled in the Garden of the Greats at the baseball stadium of the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson was born August 31, 1935 in Beaumont, Texas. He broke into the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds and that year tied the record of 38 home runs by a rookie and was named National League Rookie of the Year. Robinson played with Cincinnati until 1965 and the Orioles from 1966 to 1971. He retired as a player in 1976. Over his 21 season major league career, he was a 14-time All-Star and 1958 Golden Glove Award winner. He was named 1961 National League Most Valuable Player and 1966 American League Most Valuable Player, the only player in history to win the award in both leagues. He was awarded the 1966 Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year. The Cleveland Indians named Robinson manager of their team in 1975, the first Black manager in the major leagues. Robinson also managed the San Francisco Giants, the Montreal Expos, and the Orioles where he won the 1989 American League Manager of the Year Award. Robinson’s uniform number 20 was retired by the Orioles in 1972 and the Reds in 1998. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. A bronze statue of Robinson was unveiled by the Reds at their stadium September 26, 2003. Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President George W. Bush November 9, 2005. Robinson’s autobiography, “My Life in Baseball,” was published in 1968. He also co-wrote “Frank: The First Year” in 1976 and “Extra Innings” in 1988. Robinson currently serves as executive vice president of baseball development for Major League Baseball.
Today In Black History, 04/27/2015 | Hubert Henry ...
Today in Black History, 04/29/2015 | Lincoln Unive...
Powered by EasyBlog for Joomla!