Today in Black History, 08/03/2015 | Matthew James Perry, Jr - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 08/03/2015 | Matthew James Perry, Jr

 

  • August 3, 1937 Roland Wallace Burris, the first African American elected to statewide office in  Illinois, was born in Centralia, Illinois. Burris earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Southern Illinois University in 1959 and his Juris Doctor degree from Howard University School of Law in 1963. After graduating from law school, he became the first African American national bank examiner for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for the United States Treasury Department. Burris was employed at Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company from 1964 to 1973 and served as director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services from 1973 to 1977. Burris was elected Illinois Comptroller in 1978, a statewide position he held for three terms from 1979 to 1990. He was elected Illinois Attorney General in 1990, the second African American to hold that post in the United States. He served in that office until 1995. After several unsuccessful runs for other offices, Burris was appointed to fill the Senate seat of President Barack Obama in 2009. Burris did not run for re-election in 2010. He is currently in private practice.
     
  • August 3, 1960 The Republic of Niger gained full independence from France. Niger is located in Western Africa bordered by Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkino Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north, and Chad to the east. Niger is approximately 490,000 square miles in size with a population of 15,300,000. The capital and largest city is Niamey. More than 80% of Niger’s territory is covered by the Sahara desert and more than 90% of the population is Muslim. The official language is French.
     
  • August 3, 1964 Joan Elizabeth Higginbotham, the third African American woman to go into space, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Higginbotham earned her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University in 1987 and her Masters of Management Science in 1992 and Masters in Space Systems in 1996 from the Florida Institute of Technology. She began her career at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1987 as a payload electrical engineer. Within six months, she became the lead for the orbiter experiments on the Space Shuttle Columbia. Two years later, she was promoted to lead orbiter project engineer. Higginbotham was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1996 and logged 308 hours in space aboard STS-116 from December 9 to December 22, 2006. She retired from NASA in 2007, having actively participated in 53 space shuttle launches. Higginbotham now serves as director of community relations at Lowe’s. She also serves on the board of Afterschool Alliance, a national organization working to ensure that all children have access to affordable, quality afterschool programs. Higginbotham received the Adler Planetarium Women in Space Science Award in 2007.
     
  • August 3, 2011 Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith, college hall of fame football player and actor, died. Smith was born February 28, 1945 in Orange, Texas. He played college football at Michigan State University where he earned All-America honors in 1965 and 1966. He was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the 1967 National Football League Draft and was the first African American selected number one overall to actually play in a professional game. Over his nine season professional career, Smith was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and his jersey number 95 was retired by Michigan State in 2006. After retiring from football in 1976, Smith made a number of television and film appearances, including appearing in five of the six “Police Academy” movies.
Today in Black History, 08/02/2015 | Claude Albert...
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