Today in Black History, 05/10/2015 | Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 05/10/2015 | Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback


  • May 10, 1815 Henry Walton Bibb, author and abolitionist, was born enslaved in Shelby County, Kentucky. Bibb escaped to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1837 but was captured when he returned to free his wife. He escaped again in 1842 to Detroit, Michigan. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required Northerners to cooperate in the capture of previously enslaved people, Bibb moved to Windsor, Canada. He established the first Black newspaper in Canada, “The Voice of the Fugitive”, in 1851. The paper promoted the abolitionist movement and provided information to parties on the Underground Railroad. Bibb and his wife also helped establish the Refugee Home Society which created settlements and assisted previously enslaved Black people who escaped to Canada. Bibb published his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave”, in 1848. Bibb died August 1, 1854.
  • May 10, 1911 Lewis Winter, businessman, died. Winter was born in 1839 in Lebanon, Tennessee. He was separated from his mother and enslaved at six. Winter was freed in 1865 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he started a produce business. Over the next three decades, he built the business into an enterprise with a four-story building and 12 employees. His business was the largest of its kind in the South, shipping 65 boxcar loads of poultry and produce to New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a six-month period. He was among the six men who signed for the construction of St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1873. Winter was a co-founder in 1899 and served as president of the House Building and Loan Association. He was a co-founder of One Cent Savings Bank in 1904 which became Citizens Savings Bank & Trust in 1920 and still operates today. He also served as a trustee for Wilberforce University. Winter was described as “the richest Negro in Tennessee”.
  • May 10, 1943 Judith Anna Jamison, dancer and choreographer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jamison began studying dance at 10 and made her New York City debut in the ballet “The Four Marys” at the American Ballet Theater in 1964. She joined the Alvin Ailey Company in 1965 and soon became a principal dancer for the company. Among her notable roles were “The Prodigal Prince” (1967), “Masekela Language” (1969), and “Cry” (1971). Jamison left the company in 1980 to star in the Broadway musical “Sophisticated Ladies”. She began to choreograph her own works during the 1980s. Jamison was named artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1989, a position she held until her retirement in 2011. Jamison’s numerous awards include Kennedy Center Honors in 1999 and the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, presented by President George W. Bush April 22, 2002. She won the 1999 Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography and the American Choreography Award for Outstanding Choreography for the PBS special, “A Hymn for Alvin Ailey”. She was included on Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Jamison published her autobiography, “Dancing Spirit”, in 1993.
  • May 10, 1957 Annie Minerva Turnbo Malone, inventor, businesswoman and philanthropist, died. Malone was born August 9, 1869 in Metropolis, Illinois but raised in Peoria, Illinois. Based on her interest in chemistry and hair care, Malone developed a chemical to straighten hair without causing damage to the hair or scalp which she named Wonderful Hair Grower. Malone moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1902 and opened her first shop in 1904. She also launched an advertising campaign in the Black press, toured the South, and recruited women trained to sell her products. One of the selling agents she trained was Sarah Breedlove better known as Madam C. J. Walker. Malone was worth more than a million dollars by 1914 and built a five-story multipurpose facility named Poro College. Poro College employed more than 200 people. Malone donated thousands of dollars to the local Black Young Men’s Christian Association, Howard University College of Medicine, and the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home where she served as president from 1919 to 1943. The home, which continues to operate, was renamed the Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center in 1946. Malone moved her business to Chicago, Illinois in 1927 and bought an entire city block.
  • May 10, 1960 Merlene Joyce Ottey, track and field athlete, was born in Hanover, Jamaica. Ottey ran track for, and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984 from, the University of Nebraska. Ottey won the Bronze medal in the 200 meter race at the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games, the first female English speaking Caribbean athlete to win an Olympic medal. In total, Ottey has competed at seven Olympic Games and won nine medals, the most by any woman in track and field history. She also won 14 World Championship medals between 1983 and 1997, more than any other male or female athlete, and has been named Jamaican Sportswoman of the Year 15 times. Ottey continues to compete. She received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Technology in 2013. Merlene Ottey High School in Hanover, Jamaica is named in her honor.
  • May 10, 1991 Savannah State University dedicated a memorial to Donnie L. Cochran, the first African American to command the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels), on the university’s campus. Cochran was born July 6, 1954 near Pelham, Georgia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Savannah State in 1976 and was a member of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corp program. After completing flight school, he earned his navy wings in 1978. Cochran became the first African American to become a member of the Blue Angels precision flying team in 1985 and became the commanding officer of the team in 1994. Cochran resigned that position in 1996 and retired from the navy in 2000. While in the navy, he graduated from the Air War College and earned a master’s degree in human resource management from Troy State University. Cochran is currently manager of aviation programs for The Coca Cola Company.
  • May 10, 2005 Helen Jackson Claytor, the first Black president of the Young Women’s Christian Association national board, died. Claytor was born April 12, 1907 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She earned her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in education from the University of Minnesota in 1928. She was also valedictorian of her class and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Despite her credentials, Claytor found that jobs for Black teachers were nonexistent in the North. She therefore took a job with the YWCA. Claytor accepted the position of national secretary of interracial education in the 1940s. She became part of a team that traveled to other YWCAs to study interracial practices. Claytor moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1943 and became president of the local YWCA board in 1949, the first Black YWCA president in the country. She was elected president of the national YWCA board in 1967, the first Black person to hold that position. In 1970, during the first YWCA national convention over which she presided, the justice and equality imperative was adopted and became a tenet of all YWCAs. This called for “the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary”. Claytor resigned from the national board in 1974 and went on to serve on the National Women’s Advisory Committee for Civil Rights and the National Office of Equal Opportunity. She received honorary doctorate degrees from Eastern Michigan University in 1968 and Western Michigan University in 1972. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1984.
  • May 10, 2012 Eddie Perkins, hall of fame boxer, died. Perkins was born March 3, 1937 in Clarksdale, Mississippi but raised in Chicago, Illinois. He started boxing professionally in 1956 and was willing to fight anyone anywhere. Over his professional career, he fought in 23 countries and Puerto Rico. Perkins won the World Lightweight Boxing Championship in 1962, lost it later that year, and regained the title in 1963. He successfully defended the title twice before losing it for a final time in 1965. Perkins retired from boxing in 1975 with a record of 74 wins, 20 losses, and 2 draws. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.
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