Today in Black History 07/07/2015 | Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History 07/07/2015 | Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige


  • July 7, 1851 Charles Albert Tindley, hall of fame gospel music composer, was born in Berlin, Maryland. At birth, Tindley’s father was enslaved but his mother was free, therefore Tindley was considered free. Tindley was primarily self-educated but did attend night courses and took correspondence courses at the Boston University School of Theology, eventually earning a doctorate while working as a janitor at Calvery Methodist Episcopal Church. Tindley became the pastor of that church which under his leadership grew from 130 to a multiracial congregation of 12,500. After serving the congregation for over 30 years, the church was renamed Tindley Temple United Methodist Church in 1924. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places April 15, 2011. Tindley was also a noted songwriter and composer of gospel hymns and his composition “I’ll Overcome Someday” (1901) is considered by many to be the basis for the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome”. Tindley composed more than 60 other hymns, including “Stand by Me” (1905), “Nothing Between” (1905), “Some Day” (1906), and “Leave It There” (1916). He was the first hymn writer to have a hymn copyrighted and he published a collection of hymns titled “New Songs of Paradise” in 1916. Tindley died July 26, 1933. He was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 1993. The Charles Albert Tindley Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is named in his honor.
  • July 7, 1913 Joseph William “Pinetop” Perkins, hall of fame blues musician, was born in Belzoni, Mississippi. Perkins began touring with Earl Hooker in the 1950s. He then relocated to Illinois and left music until Hooker convinced him to record again in 1968. Perkins joined the Muddy Waters band in 1969 and played with them for more than a decade. After leaving Waters’ band, Perkins played with various other musicians through the 1980s. His first recording as leader, “After Hours”, was released in 1988. Perkins was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000 and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2003. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for “Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas”. He also won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for “Joined At The Hip: Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith”, the oldest recipient of a Grammy Award. Perkins died March 21, 2011.
  • July 7, 1915 Margaret Abigail Walker, poet and writer, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Walker earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University in 1935 and began working with the Federal Writers’ Project. She earned her Master of Arts degree in creative writing in 1940 and her Ph. D. from the University of Iowa in 1965. She published her most popular poem, “For My People”, in 1942 and it won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. Walker served as a literature professor at what is now Jackson State University from 1949 to 1979. Her novel “Jubilee” was published to critical acclaim in 1966. Walker founded the Institute for the Study of History, Life, and Culture of Black People at Jackson State in 1968 and it was renamed the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center in her honor. Walker died November 30, 1998.
  • July 7, 1920 William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr., the second African American to serve in a United States presidential cabinet, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Coleman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941 and his Bachelor of Laws degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1946. He began his legal career in 1947 and became the first African American to serve as a U. S. Supreme Court law clerk September 1, 1948. Coleman was one of the lead strategists and co-author of the legal brief in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. He earned his Doctor of Laws degree from Bates College in 1975 and that same year was appointed Secretary of Transportation by President Gerald R. Ford, Jr. Coleman served in that capacity for a little less than two years before returning to private law practice. Coleman was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President William J. Clinton September 29, 1995. He was appointed to the United States Court of Military Commission Review in 2004. Coleman was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Gettysburg College in 2011.
  • July 7, 1921 Ezzard Mack Charles, hall of fame boxer, was born in Lawrence, Georgia but raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. As an amateur, Charles was undefeated and won the 1939 Amateur Athletic Union Middleweight Boxing Championship. He turned professional in 1940 but his career was interrupted while he served in the United States military during World War II. Charles won the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in 1950. He lost the title in 1951 and retired in 1959 with a professional record of 96 wins, 25 losses, and 1 draw. Ring magazine named him Fighter of the Year in 1949 and 1950. Charles died May 28, 1975. Cincinnati renamed a street Ezzard Charles Drive in 1976 and he was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. Boxing Magazine designated Charles the greatest light heavyweight boxer of all time in 2009.
  • July 7, 1944 Emanuel Steward, hall of fame boxing trainer, was born in Bottom Creek, West Virginia but raised in Detroit, Michigan. As an amateur boxer, Steward compiled a record of 94 wins and 3 losses, including winning the 1963 National Golden Gloves Championship at 118 pounds. He began training amateur boxers in 1971 and that year his boxers won seven championships at the Detroit Golden Gloves Tournament. Steward was training and managing professional boxers by the mid-1970s and the first of his boxers won a world championship in 1980. World champions trained by Steward include Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Milton McCrory, Michael Moorer, and many others. He was named Trainer of the Year or Manager of the Year several times by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996. Steward died October 25, 2012.
  • July 7, 1950 Theodore “Fats” Navarro, hall of fame jazz trumpeter, died. Navarro was born September 24, 1923 in Key West, Florida. He began playing the piano at six and the trumpet at 13. Navarro moved to New York City in 1946 and his career took off. He played in the bands of Billy Eckstine, Benny Goodman, and Lionel Hampton. He also recorded with Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, and Kenny Clarke. Navarro was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1982. “The Music and Life of Theodore “Fats” Navarro: Infatuation” was published in 2009.
  • July 7, 1950 The Group Areas Act (Act No. 41) was enacted by the apartheid government of South Africa. The act assigned racial groups to different residential and business sections in urban areas of the country. The act led to many non-Whites being forcibly removed for living in the “wrong” area and it caused many to commute long distances from their homes to work. The act was repealed June 30, 1991 by the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act.
  • July 7, 1960 Ralph Lee Sampson, Jr., hall of fame basketball player, was born in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Coming out of high school, Sampson was probably the most heavily recruited basketball prospect of his generation. At the University of Virginia, he earned three Naismith Awards as the National Player of the Year, only the second athlete to accomplish that, and led them to the 1980 National Invitation Tournament Championship. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1984. Sampson was selected by the Houston Rockets in the 1983 National Basketball Association Draft and that year won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Over his 10 season professional career, Sampson was a four-time All-Star. Sampson retired after the 1992 season. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. Sampson is founder and chairman of Winner’s Circle Enterprises and the Winner’s Circle Foundation which works to ensure quality education for children across the country.
  • July 7, 1972 Lisa Deshaun Leslie, hall of fame basketball player and the first player to dunk in a Women’s National Basketball Association basketball game, was born in Gardena, California. By her senior year in high school, Leslie was considered the top female basketball player in the country. While playing for the University of Southern California, Leslie was named the National Freshman of the Year in 1991 and the National Player of the Year in 1994. She was also a 3-time All-American selection. She graduated from USC with a bachelor’s degree in communications and later earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. Leslie was selected in the 1997 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. She played all of her 11 season professional career with the Sparks and was an eight-time All-Star, three-time WNBA Most Valuable Player, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Leslie was named 2001 Sportswoman of the Year by the Women’s Sports Foundation. She became the first woman to dunk in a WNBA game in 2003. Leslie also participated on four Gold medal winning Olympic women’s basketball teams, only the second female basketball player to earn that many gold medals. She was voted one of the top 15 players in WNBA history in 2011. Leslie is owner and president of Lisa L. Enterprises. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
  • July 7, 1975 Frederick McDonald Massiah, engineer and businessman, died. Massiah was born December 12, 1886 in Christ Church, Barbados. He immigrated to the United States in 1909 and earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University). By the early 1920s, he had established his own construction business and began pioneering in reinforced concrete construction. He gained national acclaim in 1925 with the construction of the elliptical concrete dome on the Ascension of Our Lord Roman Catholic church, the first structure of its kind in the United States, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Massiah proceeded to have a 45 year business career that included the construction of the William Donner X-Ray laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, the Trenton, New Jersey Sewage Disposal plant, the Capehart Housing project in Maryland, and the Morton Housing Development in Philadelphia.
  • July 7, 1992 Juanita Elizabeth Jackson Mitchell, the first African American woman to practice law in Maryland, died. Mitchell was born January 2, 1913 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree, cum laude, in education in 1931 and her Master of Arts degree in sociology in 1935 from the University of Pennsylvania. She served as national youth director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1935 to 1938. Mitchell earned her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1950, the first African American woman to graduate from that school and the first admitted to the Maryland bar. Mitchell served as president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP and filed many cases to desegregate public facilities, including restaurants, parks, and swimming pools. She was named to the White House Conference on Women and Civil Rights by President John F. Kennedy and to the 1966 White House Conference To Fulfill These Rights by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Mitchell was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 1987. Annually, the NAACP awards the Juanita Jackson Mitchell Legal Activism Award to a unit for exemplary redress committee activities.


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