Today in Black History, 10/28/2015 | Lenny Wilkins - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 10/28/2015 | Lenny Wilkins

October 28, 1937 Leonard Randolph "Lenny" Wilkins, hall of fame basketball player and coach, was born in Brooklyn, New York. Wilkins was a two time All-American at Providence College and when he graduated with a degree in economics in 1960, was second highest scorer in the college's history. Providence retired his jersey number in 1996, the first alumnus to receive that honor. Wilkins was selected by the St. Louis Hawks in the 1960 National Basketball Association Draft and over his 15 season professional career was a nine-time NBA All-Star and at the time of his retirement in 1975 had the second most career assists in NBA history. After retiring as a player, Wilkins coached in the NBA for 35 years. He was named Coach of the Year in 1994 and retired with the most wins and losses as a coach in NBA history. He also coached the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games Gold medal winning men's basketball team. Wilkins served as vice president of the NBA Players Association and president of the NBA Coaches Association. He is one of three individuals to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. He was inducted into the hall as a player in 1989 and as a coach in 1998. The NBA named Wilkins one of the 50 Greatest Players and 10 Greatest Coaches in league history in 1996, the only person named to both lists. Wilkins was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He won the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, given annually to a coach for his "standard of integrity, competitive excellence and tireless promotion of the game," in 2011. Wilkins founded the Lenny Wilkins Foundation in 1970 "to fund organizations that deliver healthcare and education services to young people while honoring their dignity and sense of self-respect." He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Providence College, Seattle University, and St. Francis College. Wilkins published his autobiography, "Unguarded: My Forty Years Surviving in the NBA," in 2001. He currently serves as a college basketball analyst.

October 28, 1918 Edward Alexander Bouchet, educator and the first African American to earn a Ph. D. from an American university, died. Bouchet was born September 15, 1852 in New Haven, Connecticut. He earned his bachelor's degree from Yale College in 1874 and based on his academic performance was the first Black person nominated to Phi Beta Kappa but was the second elected in 1884. Bouchet returned to Yale and in 1876 earned his Ph. D. in physics. Unable to find a university teaching position due to racism, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he taught physics and chemistry at the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney University) for the next 26 years. Bouchet resigned in 1902 and was director of academics at St. Paul's Normal and Industrial School (now St. Paul's College) from 1905 to 1908. He served as principal and teacher at a high school in Ohio from 1908 to 1913 before joining the faculty of Bishop College in 1913. Illness forced him to retire in 1916. The American Physical Society presents the Edward A. Bouchet Award to outstanding physicists for their contributions to physics and Yale and Howard universities founded the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in 2005. The Edward Bouchet Abdue Salam Institute in South Africa is named in his honor.

October 28, 1951 Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., economist and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund, was born in Washington, D. C. Ferguson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in economics in 1973, his Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, in 1979, and his Ph. D. in 1981 from Harvard University. He served as an attorney in a private law firm from 1981 to 1984 and was a partner at McKinsey & Company from 1984 to 1997. Ferguson was appointed a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 1997 and served as vice chair of the board from 1999 to 2006. He resigned from the board in 2006 and was named president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, the leading retirement provider for people who work in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields, in 2008. Ferguson serves on the boards of a number of institutions, including International Flavors and Fragrances, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Business Higher Education Forum. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and the President's Commission on Jobs and Competitiveness. Ferguson has received a number of honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities, including Michigan State University, Georgetown University, and Washington and Jefferson College.

October 28, 1992 The Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial at the Concord Naval Weapons Station near Concord, California was authorized. It was dedicated in 1994 to the 320 men, including 202 African Americans, who lost their lives July 17, 1944 when an ammunition depot at Port Chicago exploded. This was the largest domestic loss of life during World War II. This led to the largest naval mutiny in history when 258 African American men refused to return to the dangerous work. 208 of the men were convicted of disobeying orders, reassigned to menial tasks, and given bad conduct discharges which meant the loss of all veteran's benefits. The remaining 50 were formally charged, convicted of disobeying orders and making a mutiny, and sentenced to time in jail. President William J. Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, one of the few "Port Chicago 50" still alive, in 1999. "The Port Chicago Mutiny: The Story of the Largest Mass Military Trial in U. S. Naval History" was published in 1993.

October 28, 2003 Marie Maynard Daly, the first African American woman to earn a Ph. D. in chemistry, died. Daly was born April 16, 1921 in Queens, New York. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, in 1942 and Master of Science degree in 1943 from Queens College. She earned her Ph. D. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1947. Daly taught physical science at Howard University for two years before joining the Rockefeller Institute in 1948 to research cell nucleus. She returned to Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1955 to teach biochemistry. She also became a pioneer in studying the impact of cigarette smoking on the lungs. Daly moved to Yershiva University at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1960 and taught and did research in biochemistry until her retirement in 1986. Daly established a scholarship at Queens College for African American chemistry and physics majors in 1988.

October 28, 2005 Richard Ishmael McKinney, philosopher and educator, died. McKinney was born August 8, 1906 in Live Oak, Florida. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and religion from Morehouse College in 1931, Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1934 and Masters of Sacred Theology degree in 1937 from Newton Theological Seminary, and his Ph. D. from Yale University in 1942. McKinney was assistant professor and director of religious activities at Virginia Union University from 1935 to 1944. He became the first African American president of Storer College in 1944. He left Storer in 1950 for Morgan State University where he served as chair of the Department of Philosophy and the Division of the Humanities until his retirement in 1978. After officially retiring, he continued to teach philosophy at Morgan State well into his 90s. He published "Mordecai, the Man and His Message: The Story of Mordecai Wyatt Johnson" in 1998.


First African American woman to earn a Ph. D. in chemistry

Educator and the first African American to earn a Ph. D. from an American university.

Economist and President & Chief Executive Officer of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund

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