Today in Black History, 10/23/2014 - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 10/23/2014

• October 23, 1885 Clara Brown, pioneer and philanthropist, died. Brown was born enslaved January 1, 1800 near Fredericksburg, Virginia. At 18, she married and had four children. In 1835, her owner died and she and her family were sold separately to settle his estate. She was sold to a Kentucky plantation owner. In 1856, Brown was granted her freedom but had to leave the state according to Kentucky law. She was able to barter her service as a cook and maid to join families moving westward during the gold rush. Brown ended up in the Denver, Colorado area where she set up the first laundry in Gilpin County. She also worked as a mid-wife, cook, and maid. Brown invested her earnings and within several years was reported to own several lots and houses and $10,000 in savings. She gave generously to the construction of the first Protestant church in the Rocky Mountains and her home was a hospital and general refuge for those who were sick or in poverty. Brown was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989.

• October 23, 1911 The National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes was formed as the result of the merger of The Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, The Committee for the Improvement of Industrial Conditions Among Negroes in New York, and The National League for the Protection of Colored Women. In 1920, the organization was renamed The National Urban League. Today, there are over 100 local affiliates located in 35 states and the District of Columbia with the mission “to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.”

• October 23, 1940 Pele, hall of fame soccer player, was born Edison Arantes de Nascimento in Tres Coracoes, Brazil. Pele began playing for the Brazilian national soccer team at 16 and won his first World Cup, the international championship of soccer, at 17. Pele’s technique and athleticism has been universally praised and during his playing years he was renowned for his excellent dribbling and passing, powerful shot, and prolific goal scoring. He is the all-time leading scorer of the Brazil national team and the only player to be part of three World Cup winning teams. Since his retirement in 1977, Pele has been a worldwide ambassador for soccer and a vocal supporter of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor. The International Olympic Committee has proclaimed Pele “Athlete of the Century” and in 1999 Time Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. Pele was inducted into the American National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1993 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Laureus Academy in 2000. In 2012, Pele was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh for “significant contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes, as well as his sporting achievements.” In Brazil, Pele is considered a national hero. He published his autobiography, “My Life and the Beautiful Game: The Autobiography of Pele,” in 1977.

• October 23, 1957 Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, was born in Ruhango, Rwanda. Kagame began his military career in 1979 when he joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) and spent years fighting as a guerrilla against the government of Uganda. In 1985, Kagame co-founded the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) political party. He became the head of military intelligence for the NRA in 1986. During 1990, Kagame received military training from the United States Army at Fort Leavenworth and that same year became military commander of the RFP. Kagame became President of Rwanda in 2000 and in 2003 won the first national election since 1994. He was re-elected in 2010. Under his leadership, Rwanda has been called Africa’s biggest success story. As a result, Kagame has received many honors, including the 2003 Global Leadership Award in recognition of his “commitment and tireless work to address crises, foster understanding, unity, and peace to benefit all people” and the 2009 Clinton Global Citizen Award in recognition of his “leadership in public service that has improved the lives of the people of Rwanda.” He was included on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2009. Kagame has received honorary degrees from the American University of the Pacific, Oklahoma Christian University, and the University of Glasgow. His biography, “Paul Kagame and Rwanda: Power, Genocide and the Rwandan Patriotic Front,” was published in 2004.

• October 23, 1958 Michael Eric Dyson, academic, author and minister, was born in Detroit, Michigan. Dyson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Carson-Newman College in 1982 and his Master of Arts degree and Ph.D from Princeton University in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Dyson is a longtime professor, lecturer and author who address’ issues of race and culture. He has authored a number of books, including “Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X” (1995), “I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.” (2000), and “Can You Hear Me Now? The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson” (2009). His book “Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster” (2006) won an American Book Award. Since 2007, Dyson has been University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, teaching courses in theology, English and African American studies. Since June, 2011, Dyson has served as a political analyst for MSNBC television.

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