Today in Black History 05/04/2015 | First Black owned and operated hospital in the United States - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History 05/04/2015 | First Black owned and operated hospital in the United States

  • May 4, 1848 John Quincy Adams, newspaper publisher and civil rights activist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Adams graduated from Oberlin College and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1870 to teach school. He also served as engrossing clerk in the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works from 1870 to 1876. Adams returned to Louisville in 1876 and he and his brother began publishing the weekly Louisville Bulletin. Adams convened the first Colored National Press Convention in 1880 and was elected the organization’s first president. He sold the Louisville Bulletin in 1886 and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota where he eventually became owner of The Western Appeal. Adams transformed the newspaper into a national publication and used it to advocate for civil rights. He also initiated legal challenges to racial discrimination in Minnesota and advocated for legislation guaranteeing civil rights. Adams published the paper until his death September 4, 1922.
  • May 4, 1897 Joseph H. Smith of Washington, D. C. received patent number 581,785 for new and useful improvements to lawn sprinklers. His device was both simpler and less expensive to manufacture and more durable than previous devices. Not much else is known of Smith’s life.
  • May 4, 1937 Ron Carter, hall of fame jazz double-bassist, was born in Ferndale, Michigan. Carter started to play the cello at 10 and later moved to the bass. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music in 1959 and his master’s degree in double bass performance from the Manhattan School of Music in 1961. Carter made his recording debut in 1960 and played with the Miles Davis quintet from 1963 to 1968, appearing on the albums “Seven Steps to Heaven” (1963) and “E.S.P.” (1965) which featured three Carter compositions. He also performed With Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, and other jazz luminaries. Carter was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet during the 1970s. He has also led on many recordings, including “Out Front” (1966), “Peg Leg” (1978), “So What” (1998), “Dear Miles” (2007), and “Ron Carter’s Great Big Band” (2011). Carter has appeared on more than 2,500 albums, one of the most recorded bassists in jazz history. 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 1998. Carter taught at the City College of New York for 20 years and was Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Music Department. He has also worked with The Jazz Foundation of America since its inception to save the homes and the lives of elderly jazz and blues musicians, including those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Carter was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 2012. His biography, “Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes”, was published in 2008.
  • May 4, 1937 Melvin Eugene Edwards, Jr., sculptor and educator, was born in Houston, Texas. Edwards earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California in 1965. He moved to New York City in 1967 and solo shows of his work followed at such institutions as the Walker Art Center in 1968, the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1970, the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1978, and the Neuberger Museum of Art in 1993. “Lynch Fragments” is his most momentous collection of pieces. Began in 1963, there are now more than 200 pieces in the series. The primary subjects of Edwards’ works are politics, violence against African Americans, and the cultural legacy of Africa. His work is in the collections of numerous institutions, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, and New Jersey State Museum. Edwards taught at Rutgers University from 1972 to his retirement in 2002. He received an honorary Doctor of Fines Arts degree from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2014.
  • May 4, 1942 Nickolas Ashford, hall of fame songwriter and recording artist, was born in Fairfield, South Carolina. Ashford met Valerie Simpson in New York City in 1963 and they began to perform and compose together. Songs that they wrote during that time include “Cry Like A Baby” for Aretha Franklin and “Let’s Go Get Stoned” for Ray Charles. They joined Motown Records in 1966 and wrote and/or produced a number of hits, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” for Diana Ross, and “Who’s Gonna Take the Blame” for Smoky Robinson & The Miracles. They also had hits with Teddy Pendergrass with “Is It Still Good to You” and Chaka Khan with “I’m Every Woman.” Ashford and Simpson left Motown in 1973 and resumed their recording career. They had several hits, including “Don’t Cost You Nothin’” (1977), “Is It Still Good to Ya” (1978), and “Solid” (1984). The duo continued to record and tour until Ashford’s death August 22, 2011. They received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1999 and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
  • May 4, 1943 Norman Blann Rice, the first and only African American Mayor of Seattle, Washington, was born in Denver, Colorado. Rice earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in communications in 1972 and Master of Arts degree in public administration in 1974 from the University of Washington. Before entering city government, he worked as a reporter, assistant director of the Seattle Urban League, and director of government services for the Puget Sound Council of Governments. Rice was elected to the Seattle City Council in 1978 and served for eleven years. He was elected mayor in 1989 and re-elected in 1993. During his tenure, he led the rejuvenation of downtown Seattle and served as president of the United States Council of Mayors. After leaving the mayor’s office, Rice served as president of the Federal Home Loan Bank from 1998 to 2004. He served as president and chief executive officer of The Seattle Foundation from 2009 to his retirement in 2014. He also has served on the White House Council for Community Solutions. Rice has received honorary doctorate degrees from Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle University, the University of Puget Sound, and Whitman College.
  • May 4, 1946 Renee Powell, the second African American woman to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, was born in East Canton, Ohio. Powell started playing golf at three and entered her first amateur tournament at twelve. She played college golf at Ohio University and Ohio State University, serving as captain of the women’s teams at each institution. Powell joined the LPGA in 1967 and played on the tour until 1980. After retiring from the LPGA, she taught golf in Africa and Europe. She is currently head professional at her family’s Clearview Golf Club. Powell was presented the 2003 First Lady of Golf Award, which is annually presented by the Professional Golf Association to a woman who has made significant contributions to the promotion of the game of golf, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of St. Andrews in 2008. Powell was one of the first seven women to be made honorary members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in 2015.
  • May 4, 1953 The United States Supreme Court in Terry v. Adams decided that the Jaybird Democratic Association in Texas was in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution by excluding Black people from participation. Beginning in 1889, the Jaybird Democratic Association held unofficial primary elections to select candidates for county offices. These candidates entered the official Democratic primary and were nominated and then elected in the general election. White voters were automatically members of the Jaybird Democratic Association and Black voters were excluded. This decision marked the end of the southern White primaries.
  • May 4, 1970 Charles Edward Gordone became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play “No Place to be Somebody.” Gordone wrote and produced the play which was also the first off-Broadway play to win the prize. Gordone was born Charles Fleming October 12, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio but raised in Elkhart, Indiana. After serving in the United States Air Force, he earned a bachelor’s degree in drama from California State University in 1952. After graduating, he moved to New York City where he won an Off-Broadway Theater (OBIE) Award for his performance in the 1953 all-Black production of “Of Mice and Men.” During the 1950s and 1960s, Gordone continued acting, started directing, and co-founded the Committee for the Employment of Negro Performers and the Vantage Theater. He performed in “The Blacks” from 1961 to 1966. Other plays by Gordone include “A Little More Light Around the Place” (1964), “Under the Boardwalk” (1976), “The Last Chord” (1977), and “Anabiosis” (1983). Gordone accepted a position as distinguished lecturer at Texas A&M University in 1987 and taught English and theater until his death November 16, 1995. The Texas A&M Creative Writing Program established the Charles Gordone Awards to annually offer cash prizes in poetry and prose to undergraduate and graduate students. 
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