Today in Black History, 07/30/2015 | The Lott Cary Birth Site - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 07/30/2015 | The Lott Cary Birth Site


  • July 30, 1883 Elizabeth Ross Haynes, the first African American woman to serve on the national board of the Young Women’s Christian Association, was born in Lowndes County, Alabama. Haynes earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University in 1903 and her Master of Arts degree in sociology from Columbia University in 1923. She joined the YWCA in 1908 as the student secretary for work among Black women. Over the years, Haynes promoted the establishment of new branches to help female migrants find job training and employment and was appointed to the YWCA Council on Colored Work in 1922. The following year, she was appointed to the YWCA national board. Haynes work with the YWCA was influential in the board’s decision to integrate in 1946. She also carried out several studies on African American women’s employment for the United States Department of Labor in the 1930s. Haynes died October 26, 1953.
  • July 30, 1926 Betye Saar, artist and educator, was born in Los Angeles, California but raised in Pasadena, California. Saar earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in design from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1949. Most of her work is in the field of assemblage and consists of found objects arranged within boxes or windows. One of her better known pieces is “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima” which consists of a mammy doll carrying a broom in one hand and a shotgun in the other, placed in front of the syrup labels, inside of a box. Saar taught at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Otis Art Institute in the early 1980s. She received artist fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1974 and 1984. Saar has had over 25 solo exhibitions and her work is in numerous museums, including the High Museum of Art, the National Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Art. She has received honorary doctorate degrees from the California Institute of the Arts, the Massachusetts College of Art, and the Otis College of Art and Design. Saar was awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal for her outstanding contributions to the arts in 2014.
  • July 30, 1936 George “Buddy” Guy, hall of fame blues guitarist and singer, was born in Lettsworth, Louisiana. Guy began performing with bands in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the early 1950s and moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1957. His career took off during the blues revival period of the late 1980s and early 1990s with albums such as “Breaking Out” (1988) and “Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues” (1991).  Guy is considered an important exponent of “Chicago blues” and has been called the bridge between the blues and rock and roll. He was an inspiration to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many other guitarists. Guy has won six Grammy Awards for contemporary and traditional forms of blues music, 23 W. C. Handy Awards, more than any other artist, and Billboard magazine’s The Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement. His album “Living Proof” won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Guy was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1985. He was presented the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, by President George W. Bush November 12, 2003. Guy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and received Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. His autobiography, “When I Left Home: My Story,” was published in 2012. His most recent album, “Rhythm & Blues,” was released in 2013.
  • July 30, 1942 James Harvey “Jimmy” Blanton, Jr., hall of fame jazz double bassist, died. Blanton was born October 5, 1918 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He briefly attended Tennessee State University before joining Duke Ellington’s band in 1939. With Ellington, Blanton created some of the first important bass solos in jazz. He also recorded a series of bass and piano duets with Ellington. Although Blanton’s recording career lasted only two years, he can be heard on about 70 recordings by Ellington’s band. He is considered the most influential bass player of the Swing Era and influenced the playing of later bass players such as Charles Mingus, Oscar Pettiford, and Ray Brown. Blanton was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 2008.
  • July 30, 1961 Laurence John Fishburne, III, actor, playwright, director and producer, was born in Augusta, Georgia. Fishburne started acting at 12 in the television soap opera “One Life to Live.” He won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role for his stage performance in “Two Trains Running” and the 1992 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in the opening episode of the television series “TriBeCa.” He is best known for his role in the “Matrix” trilogy (1999 and 2003) and his portrayal of Ike Turner in “What’s Love Got to do With It” (1993), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Other films in which he has starred include “School Daze” (1988), “Boyz n the Hood” (1991), “Akeelah and the Bee” (2006), and “Man of Steel” (2013). Fishburne returned to the Broadway stage in the 2008 one-person production of “Thurgood,” for which he won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show.  He starred in the television crime drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” from 2008 to 2011 and currently stars in “Hannibal.”
  • July 30, 1970 Louis E. Lomax, author and the first African American television journalist, died in a car accident when the brakes failed on his car near Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Lomax was born August 16, 1922 in Valdosta, Georgia. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Paine College in 1942, his Master of Arts degree from American University in 1944, and his Ph. D. from Yale University in 1947. He began his journalism career at the Baltimore Afro-American and the Chicago Defender newspapers. He became the first Black television journalist when he joined WNTA-TV in New York in 1958. In 1959, Lomax and his colleague Mike Wallace (60 Minutes) produced “The Hate That Hate Produced,” a five-part documentary on the Nation of Islam. Lomax was working on a documentary concerning the role of the FBI in the death of Malcolm X and had a 141 page FBI file at the time of his death. Lomax authored five books, including “The Reluctant African” (1960) and “To Kill A Black Man” (1968).
  • July 30, 2005 John Garang de Mabior, Sudanese politician and rebel leader, died in a helicopter crash. Garang was born June 23, 1945 in Bor, Sudan. He joined the first Sudanese civil war in 1962 but because he was so young, the leaders encouraged him to pursue an education. He went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Grinnell College. Garang then studied East African agricultural economics as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow at the University of Dars es Salaam. After the first Sudanese civil war ended in 1972, Garang spent the next 11 years as a career soldier and rose to the rank of colonel. During this period, he also earned his master’s degree in agricultural economics and his Ph. D. in economics from Iowa State University. Garang led the Sudan People’s Liberation Army from 1983 to 2005 during the second Sudanese civil war and following the peace agreement served as First Vice President of Sudan, a position he held until his death.
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