Today in Black History 07/14/2015 | Sarah E. Goode - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History 07/14/2015 | Sarah E. Goode

  • July 14, 1848 Walter “Wiley” Jones, one of the first wealthy African Americans in the South, was born enslaved in Madison County, Georgia but raised in Jefferson County, Arkansas. When his owner enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861, Jones became a camp servant. After the war, he moved to Pine Bluff, Arkansas and worked as a barber and waiter in a hotel. He saved his money and invested in real estate and opened several businesses, including a successful saloon and horse-racing park. Jones became one of the first African Americans to receive a franchise to operate a mule-drawn streetcar system, the Wiley Jones Street Car Lines, in 1886. Although he never ran for office, Jones was one of the most influential political citizens in Arkansas during the 1880s and 1890s. He was a delegate to several Republican National Coventions and served as Circuit Clerk of Jefferson County from 1892 to 1894. Jones also supported the Colored Industrial Institute and donated land to the St. James Methodist Church. When Jones died December 7, 1904, he was the richest Black person in the state with an estate valued at $300,000.
  • July 14, 1891 John Standard of Newark, New Jersey received patent number 455,891 for an improved refrigerator design. Standard’s refrigerator used a manually filled ice chamber for chilling. He had previously received patent number 413,689 October 29, 1889 for an improved oil stove that was used in places where space was limited. His invention provided attachments which enabled the cooking of a variety of foods at one time and could be used for buffet style meals on trains. Not much else is known of Standard’s life.
  • July 14, 1902 William Still, abolitionist, Underground Railroad conductor, writer and historian, died. Still was born October 7, 1821 in Burlington County, New Jersey. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1844 and began working as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. By the 1850s, Still was a leader in Philadelphia’s African American community. When Philadelphia abolitionists organized a committee to aid runaways, Still became its chairman. Often called “the father of the Underground Railroad,” Still helped as many as 60 enslaved people a month escape to freedom and published “The Underground Railroad Records” in 1872 which chronicled the stories and methods of 649 people who escaped to freedom. He also helped to establish an orphanage for Black youth and the first Young Men Christian Association for African Americans. “Stand by the River” a musical based on Still’s life and rescue of a formerly enslaved woman was produced in 2003.
  • July 14, 1919 Eugene Allen, White House butler, was born in Scottsville, Virginia. Allen worked as a waiter at a resort in Virginia and later at a country club in Washington, D. C. He was hired as a pantry man at the White House in 1952 where he washed dishes, stocked cabinets, and shined silverware. Allen had become maître d’, the most prestigious position amongst White House butlers, by the early 1980s. In his 34 years at the White House, Allen served eight presidents and never missed a day of work. Allen died March 31, 2010. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” a film loosely based on Allen’s life, was released in 2013.
  • July 14, 1923 William Samuel “Willie” Steele, hall of fame track and field athlete, was born. Steele competed for San Jose State College and won the National Collegiate Athletic Association long jump titles in 1947 and 1948. He also won the National Amateur Athletic Union Championship in that event in 1946, 1947, and 1948. At the 1948 London Summer Olympic Games, Steele won the Gold medal in the long jump. Not much else is known of Steele’s life except that he died September 19, 1989. He was posthumously inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • July 14, 1932 Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier, former professional football player, actor, singer and ordained minister, was born in Cuthbert, Georgia. After playing college football at Pennsylvania State University, Grier was selected by the New York Giants in the 1955 National Football League Draft. He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 1963 and became a member of their “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line. Over his eleven season professional career, Grier was a six-time All-Pro. Grier retired in 1967 and worked as a bodyguard for Robert Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign. He was guarding Kennedy’s wife when Kennedy was assassinated. Although unable to prevent the killing, Grier grabbed the gun and subdued the shooter. Later that year, he recorded a tribute to Kennedy titled “People Make the World.” Grier was one of the first football stars to successfully transition to acting, appearing in a number of films and television shows. He has also authored several books, including “Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men” (1973), “Rosey, an Autobiography: The Gentle Giant” (1986), and “Winning” (1990). Grier was ordained a minister in 1983 and co-founded American Neighborhood Enterprises, an organization that works to help disadvantaged people buy homes and receive vocational training. He also serves on the board on the Milken Family Foundation. He received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Oral Roberts University in 1981.
  • July 14, 1934 Robert Lee Elder, the first African American to play in the Masters Golf Tournament, was born in Dallas, Texas. Elder dropped out of high school and worked as a caddy where he developed his game by watching his clients. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1959 and served until 1961. After his discharge, he joined the United Golf Association Tour for Black golfers where he won 18 of 22 tournaments. Elder gained his Professional Golf Association tour card in 1968 and won his first PGA tournament in 1974. That came at the Monsanto Open in Pensacola, Florida where Elder and other Black players had to change their clothes in the parking lot because the club members would not allow non-White people into the clubhouse. The win gained him entry into the 1975 Masters Tournament. Leading up to that tournament, Elder received a substantial amount of hate mail and threats. Despite the threats, Elder became the first Black person to play in the tournament April 10, 1975. Elder became the first African American to qualify to play in the Ryder Cup in 1979 and he joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1984. Over his career, Elder has won four PGA tournaments and eight senior tournaments. He established the Lee Elder Scholarship Fund in 1974 to offer financial aid to low-income men and women seeking college assistance.
  • July 14, 1941 Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanza, was born Ronald McKinley Everett in Parsonsburg, Maryland. Karenga earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963 and Master of Arts degree in 1964 in political science from the University of California. He earned his first Ph.D. from United States International University in 1976 and his second Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1994. Karenga was active in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s and in 1966 introduced the Seven Principles of Blackness which are reinforced during the seven days of Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1. Karenga has authored several books, including “Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture” (1998) and “Introduction to Black Studies” (2002). Karenga is currently professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at California State College and director of the Kawaida Institute for Pan African Studies.
  • July 14, 1943 The George Washington Carver National Monument was established near Diamond, Missouri. A unit of the National Park Service, it was the first national monument dedicated to an African American and first to a non-president. The site includes Carver’s boyhood home, the 1881 Historic Moses Carver House, and the Carver Cemetery. It is open to the public year round.
  • July 14, 1960 Angelique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, singer, songwriter and activist, was born in Cotonou, Benin. Kidjo began performing in her mother’s theater troupe at six. She recorded her debut album, “Pretty,” in 1988 and the success of the album allowed her to tour all over West Africa. She later relocated to Paris, France and became one of the most popular live performers in the city. Kidjo released “Logozo” in 1991 and it reached number one on the Billboard World Music chart. Other albums by Kidjo include “Oremi” (1998), “Black Ivory Soul” (2002), and “Oyo” (2010), all of which were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album. The albums “Djin Djin”(2007) and “Eve” (2014) won the 2008 and 2015 Grammy Awards in that category. Kidjo is involved in numerous areas of activism around the world. She has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002 and was appointed a Peace Ambassador by the African Union to support the 2010 Year of Peace and Security program. She is the founder of the Batonga Foundation which provides scholarships and builds schools for girls in Africa. Time magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva” and she was the first woman listed on Forbes magazine’s list of The 40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. Kidjo was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by the Berklee College of Music in 2010, the Champion of the Earth Award from the United Nations in 2011, and an honorary Doctor of Arts degree by Middlebury College in 2014. Kidjo published her memoir, “Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music,” in 2014.
  • July 14, 1986 Marian Anderson received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, from President Ronald W. Reagan. Anderson was born February 27, 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She began singing at local functions for small change at six and got her first break when she won a singing contest sponsored by the New York Philharmonic in 1925. The Daughters of the American Revolution refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. As a result, with the aid of President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience of millions April 9, 1939. Anderson became the first Black person to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955 and sang at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She also sang for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration in 1957 and President John F. Kennedy’s in 1961. She published her autobiography, “My Lord What a Morning,” in 1956. The recipient of numerous other awards and honors, Anderson received the 1939 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Lyndon B. Johnson December 6, 1963, the Congressional Gold Medal in 1977, Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991. Anderson died April 8, 1993. Later that year, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor. The 1939 documentary film “Marian Anderson: The Lincoln Memorial Concert” was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2001 as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” A number of biographies of Anderson have been published, including “Marian Anderson: A Singer’s Journey” (2002) and “The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights” (2004). Anderson’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.
  • July 14, 2014 Alice Marie Coachman, hall of fame track and field athlete, died. Coachman was born November 9, 1923 in Albany, Georgia. She dominated the United States amateur high jump competition from 1939 to 1948, winning 34 U. S. National titles and at the 1948 London Summer Olympic Games becoming the first Black woman to win an Olympic Gold medal. Coachman retired from competition after the Olympics and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in home economics from Albany Normal and Agricultural College (now Albany State University) in 1949. She signed a product endorsement deal with Coca-Cola in 1952, the first African American woman to have such an arrangement. Coachman was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1975 and established the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation in 1994 to help proven amateur athletes achieve their full potential and to help former Olympians transition from public celebrities to productive private citizens. Her biography, “Jumping Over the Moon: A Biography of Alice Coachman Davis,” was published in 1993. During the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games, she was honored as one of the 100 Greatest Olympic athletes in history. Alice Coachman Elementary School in Albany is named in her honor.
Camp Africa Commences: The Wright's Weekly Update ...
Today in Black History 07/15/2015 | All-Negro Comi...
Powered by EasyBlog for Joomla!