Today in Black History, 06/03/2015 | Jospehine Baker - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 06/03/2015 | Jospehine Baker

  • June 3, 1871 Miles Vandahurst Lynk, pioneering physician, was born in Brownsville, Tennessee. Lynk took a job teaching in Black rural schools in 1888 to earn money to further his education. He earned a medical degree from Meharry Medical College in 1891 and founded The Medical and Surgical Observer in 1892, the first national medical journal for Black physicians. The monthly journal was published until 1894, focusing on Black medical issues and offering the latest information available on treatments and professional ethics. Lynk was one of the twelve founders of the National Association of Colored Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists, predecessor to the National Medical Association, in 1895. Lynk founded the University of West Tennessee in 1900, a Black university that taught medicine, dentistry, and law that operated until 1924. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Medical Association in 1952. Lynk died December 29, 1957. The Tennessee Historical Commission erected a historical marker near his home in Brownsville to commemorate his life.
  • June 3, 1887 Roland W. Hayes, lyric tenor and the first African American male concert artist to receive international acclaim, was born in Curryville, Georgia. Hayes began publicly performing with the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1911. From 1916 to 1919, he toured throughout the United States, arranging his own recitals. Hayes made his London, England debut in 1920 and soon was performing throughout Europe. When he returned to the U.S., he was famous and reportedly was making $100,000 a year by 1923. Critics lauded his abilities and linguistic skills with songs in French, German, and Italian. He was awarded the 1924 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. Hayes published a collection of spirituals, “My Songs; Aframerican Religious Folk Songs Arranged and Interpreted,” in 1948. Hayes died January 1, 1977. The University of Tennessee opened the Roland W. Hayes Concert Hall in 1982 and there are Roland Hayes Schools of Music in New York City and Boston, Massachusetts. Hayes published his autobiography, “Angel Mo’ and Her Son, Roland Hayes,” in 1942 and the documentary film “The Musical Legacy of Roland Hayes” was televised on PBS in 1990.
  • June 3, 1897 Memphis Minnie, hall of fame blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, was born Lizzie Douglas in Algiers, Louisiana. Minnie learned to play the guitar and banjo as a child. She ran away from home at 13 and traveled to Memphis, Tennessee where she played guitar in nightclubs and on the streets. She made her recording debut in 1929 with “Bumble Bee” which became a hit. Minnie moved to Chicago, Illinois in the 1930s and recorded such hits as “Hustlin’ Woman Blues” (1935), “In My Girlish Days” (1941), “Looking the World Over” (1941), and “Broken Heart” (1952). Minnie was the biggest female blues singer from the early depression years through World War II. She retired from performing and recording in the mid-1950s. Minnie died August 6, 1973. She was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and a biography, “Woman With Guitar: Memphis Minnie’s Blues,” was published in 1992.
  • June 3, 1904 Charles Richard Drew, physician and medical researcher, was born in Washington, D.C. Drew earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College in 1926 and his Master of Surgery and Doctor of Medicine degrees from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1933, finishing second in his class of 127 graduates. He returned to the United States in 1935 as an instructor at Howard University. Drew researched in the field of blood transfusions, developing improved techniques for blood storage and large scale blood banks which saved thousands of lives during World War II. He became the first Black surgeon to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery in 1943 and was awarded the 1944 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal. Drew died April 1, 1950 from injuries suffered in a car accident. There are a number of schools and medical centers named in Drew’s honor, including the Charles R. Drew Junior High School in Detroit, Michigan. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1981. Biographies of Drew include “Charles Richard Drew: Pioneer of Blood Research” (1967), “Pioneer in Blood Plasma: Dr. Charles Richard Drew” (1968), and “Charles Drew” (1970). Drew’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
  • June 3, 1911 Will Robinson, the first African American head basketball coach at a Division I college, was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina. As a high school student, Robinson finished second in the state golf tournament despite not being allowed on the course with the White players. Robinson 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. After coaching YMCA teams, 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, he 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 of the Black colleges in the South. Robinson discovered future 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. He retired from Illinois State in 1975 and accepted a position as a scout for the Detroit Pistons basketball team. In that capacity, he discovered future hall of famers Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman. Robinson retired from the Pistons in 2003. He 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. Robinson died April 28, 2008.
  • June 3, 1924 Jimmy Rogers, hall of fame blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player, was born James A. Lane in Ruleville, Mississippi. Rogers learned to play the harmonica as a child and by the time he was a teenager was playing guitar professionally in East St. Louis, Illinois. Rogers played with Muddy Waters’ band from 1947 to 1954 and they shaped the sound of the Chicago Blues style. Rogers had several successful solo record releases in the mid-1950s, including “Walking By Myself” (1956). He continued touring and recording until his death December 19, 1997. Rogers was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1995.
  • June 3, 1941 Andrew Lewis Cooper, hall of fame Negro Baseball League pitcher and manager, died. Cooper was born April 24, 1898 in Waco, Texas. He pitched for the Detroit Stars from 1920 to 1927 when he was traded to the Kansas City Monarchs where he pitched for another ten seasons. Cooper holds the Negro league record for saves with 29 and is considered the second best left-handed pitcher in Negro league history. He also managed the Monarchs to four consecutive pennants. Cooper was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • June 3, 1942 Curtis Lee Mayfield, hall of fame singer, songwriter and record producer, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Mayfield dropped out of school in 1956 and joined The Roosters who two years later became The Impressions. When Jerry Butler left the group, Mayfield became the lead singer. The Impressions were successful with a string of Mayfield compositions, including “Gypsy Woman” (1961), “Keep On Pushing” (1964), “People Get Ready” (1965), and “Check Out Your Mind” (1970). Mayfield also wrote and produced scores of hits for other artists, including Jerry Butler’s “He Will Break Your Heart” (1960), Gene Chandler’s “Bless Our Love” (1964), The Staple Singers’ “Let’s Do It Again” (1975), and Aretha Franklin’s “Something He Can Feel” (1976). Mayfield left The Impressions in 1970 to begin a solo career and to found an independent record label. He released the album “Super Fly” in 1972 and it was the soundtrack for the film of the same title and one of the most influential albums in history. It is listed at 69 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time. This led to other movie soundtracks, including “Claudine” (1974), “Sparkle” (1976), and “A Piece of the Action” (1977). Mayfield was paralyzed after stage lighting fell on him at an outdoor concert in 1990. Mayfield received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1990, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Mayfield died December 26, 1999. He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000 and as a member of The Impressions was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.
  • June 3, 1943 Emmitt Earl Thomas, hall of fame football player, was born in Angleton, Texas. Thomas played college football at Bishop College where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1965. He joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 1966 as an undrafted free agent. Over his 13 season professional career, Thomas was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and led the National Football League in interceptions in 1969 and 1974. Thomas retired after the 1978 season with a Kansas City Chief record 58 career interceptions. He has served as an NFL assistant coach for six teams and is currently the defensive backs coach for the Chiefs. Thomas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
  • June 3, 1944 Edith Marie McGuire, hall of fame track and field athlete, was born in Atlanta, Georgia. McGuire ran track for Tennessee State University and became the only woman to hold three Amateur Athletic Union titles at different times in 1964, the 100 and 200 meter events and the long jump. That same year at the Tokyo Olympic Games, she won the Gold medal in the 200 meter race and Silver medals in the 100 meter race and 4 by 100 meter relay race. The Mayor of Atlanta declared January 29, 1965 Edith McGuire Day. McGuire earned her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Tennessee State in 1966 and taught for nine years. She was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1979. She received the National Collegiate Athletic Association Silver Anniversary Award which recognizes former student athletes who have gone on to distinguished careers 25 years after completing their college athletic careers in 1991. McGuire and her husband currently own several fast food restaurants in Oakland, California and she is also involved in helping underprivileged children.
  • June 3, 1949 Wesley Anthony Brown became the first African American to graduate from the United States Naval Academy. Brown was born April 3, 1927 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was appointed to the academy in 1945 and after graduating entered the Civil Engineering Corps, rising to lieutenant commander before retiring in 1969. During those 20 years, he served in the Republic of the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After retiring, he served as a physical facilities analyst at Howard University. Brown died May 22, 2012. The Wesley Brown Field House on the campus of the U. S. Naval Academy is named in his honor. “Breaking the Color Barrier: The US Naval Academy’s First Black Midshipman and the Struggle for Racial Equality” (2005) documents Brown’s experiences at the academy.
  • June 3, 1950 Deniece Williams, singer, songwriter and record producer, was born June Deniece Chandler in Gary, Indiana. While a student at Morgan State University, Williams began to perform. She was a backup vocalist for Stevie Wonder from 1970 to 1975. Williams released her debut album, “This Is Niecy,” in 1976 and it contained the hit singles “Free” and “Cause You Love Me Baby.” She shared a number one hit with Johnny Mathis, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” in 1978. Other hits by Williams include “Silly” (1981), “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle” (1982), and “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” (1984). Williams has been nominated for 12 Grammy Awards and won four, including Best Female Gospel Performance in 1987 for “I Surrender All” and 1988 for “I Believe in You” and Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album for “This Is My Song” in 1999. After a decade of gospel music, Williams returned to R&B in 2007 with the release of “Love, Niecy Style.”
  • June 3, 1953 Florence Beatrice Price, the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra, died. Price was born April 9, 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas. She played her first piano recital at four and her first work was published at eleven. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory in 1906 and was professor of music at Shorter College from 1906 to 1910 and Clark University from 1910 to 1912. Price’s first major composition was “Fantasie Negre” (1929) and she won the top prize for symphonic composition at the prestigious Wanamaker Competition in 1932. Her composition “Symphony in E Minor” was performed at the Chicago World’s Fair by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra June 15, 1933, the first time a symphony written by a Black woman had been performed by a major symphony orchestra. Price went on to study composition and orchestration at the American Conservatory and the Chicago Musical College. Over her career, Price composed over 300 works and her songs and arrangements were performed by some of the most admired voices of her day, including Marian Anderson. Price’s papers, including correspondences and musical scores are at the University of Arkansas.
  • June 3, 2009 Koko Taylor, hall of fame blues singer popularly known as the “Queen of the Blues,” died. Taylor was born Cora Walton September 28, 1928 in Shelby County, Tennessee. She moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1952 and began singing in Chicago blues clubs during the late 1950s. Taylor recorded “Wang Dang Doodle” in 1966 and it became a hit selling over a million copies. During the late 1970s and the 1980s, Taylor dominated the female blues singer ranks with albums such as “The Earthshaker” (1978), “From The Heart Of A Woman” (1981), and “Queen of the Blues” (1985) and winning 25 W. C. Handy Awards, more than any other artist. She was also a significant influence on Bonnie Raitt, Shemekia Copeland, and Janis Joplin. Taylor won the 1985 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for “Blues Explosion” and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 2004. She was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1997, received the Blues Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, and received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 2003.

  • June 3, 2011 John Henry Johnson, hall of fame football player, died. Johnson was born November 24, 1929 in Waterproof, Louisiana. He played college football at Saint Mary’s College of California and then at Arizona State University. He was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1953 National Football League Draft. Over his 13 season professional career, Johnson was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and became the first NFL player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season in 1962. Johnson retired in 1966 and at that time was the fourth leading career rusher in NFL history. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. John Henry Johnson Park in Pittsburg, California is named in his honor.
  • June 3, 2013 David D. “Deacon” Jones, hall of fame football player, died. Jones was born December 9, 1938 in Eatonville, Florida. He played one year of college football at South Carolina State University in 1957 but his scholarship was revoked because of his participation in civil rights activity. He played at Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State University) in 1960 where he and his Black teammates often had to sleep on cots in the opposing team’s gym because motels would not accept them. Jones was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1961 National Football League Draft and became a part of their “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line. Nicknamed the “Secretary of Defense” over his 13 season professional career, Jones was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1967 and 1968 Defensive Player of the Year. After retiring in 1974, Jones appeared in numerous television programs during the 1970s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and Sports Illustrated magazine named him Defensive End of the Century in 1999. His uniform number 75 was retired by the St. Louis Rams in 2009. Jones founded, and served as president and CEO, the Deacon Jones Foundation in 1997 to assist young people and the communities they live in with a comprehensive program that includes education, mentoring, corporate internships, and community service. He won the 2001 NFL Alumni Spirit Award for community service.  
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