Today in Black History, 10/30/2015 | Dr. Ossian Sweet - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 10/30/2015 | Dr. Ossian Sweet

October 30, 1895 Ossian Haven Sweet, physician, was born in Orlando, Florida. Sweet witnessed the lynching and burning of a neighbor who had been accused of raping a White girl at six. That memory would haunt Sweet throughout his life. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Wilberforce University in 1917 and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Howard University in 1921. Sweet then moved to Detroit, Michigan where he could not find work at a hospital due to his race. He was able to establish an office in "Black Bottom" where overpopulation and an influx of migrants who lacked medical care caused diseases and created threats to life. Recognizing the need for further medical training, Sweet moved to Vienna and Paris to study in 1923. In Paris, he was able to experience life without prejudice and for the first time was treated as an equal to White people. Sweet returned to Detroit in 1924 and started work at Dunbar Hospital, Detroit's first Black hospital. He bought a house in an all-White neighborhood of Detroit in 1925. The second day after the Sweets had moved in, a crowd of 300 to 400 White people gathered and began to throw stones at the house. Several of Sweet's friends and relatives were in the house and armed. Shots were fired from the house and one White man was killed. All eleven African Americans in the house were arrested. After two trials, Sweet and the others were acquitted of murder charges by an all-White jury. After the acquittal, Sweet's life went downhill due to the death of his daughter and wife and financial difficulties. Sweet committed suicide March 20, 1960. The Ossian H. Sweet House in Detroit was listed on the National Register of Historic Places April 4, 1985. "Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age" (2004) tells the story of Sweet and his battle for equality. His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. 

October 30, 1916 Leon Day, hall of fame Negro Baseball League player, was born in Alexandria, Virginia. Day made his professional baseball debut in 1934 and was one of the top pitchers in the Negro leagues from the mid-1930s through the 1940s. He appeared in a record seven East – West All-Star games between 1935 and 1942 and set a Negro league record by striking out 18 batters in a single game in 1942. Day served in the United States Army during World War II from 1944 to 1946. He retired from baseball in 1955 and later worked as a bartender, security guard, and janitor. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995. Day died March 13, 1995. Leon Day Park in Baltimore, Maryland is named in his honor. 

October 30, 1922 Marie Van Britton Brown, inventor, was born in Jamaica Queens, New York. Brown received patent number 3,482,037 for a closed circuit television security system December 2, 1969. The system used a motorized camera that slid up and down looking through four peepholes. Anything the camera picked up was shown on a monitor viewed by the occupant of the home. An electrical switch allowed the occupant to unlock the door by remote control. Brown died February 2, 1999. Not much else is known of her life. 

October 30, 1930 Clifford Brown, hall of fame jazz trumpeter, was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Brown started playing professionally after briefly attending college. He performed with Lionel Hampton and Art Blakey, among others, before forming his own group with Max Roach. Brown won the Down Beat critic's poll for New Star of the Year in 1954. Albums by Brown include "Clifford Brown: Jazz Immortal" (1954), "Study in Brown" (1955), and "Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street" (1956) which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame 1999 as a recording of "lasting qualitative or historical significance." Brown was killed in an automobile accident June 26, 1956. Despite leaving behind only four years of recordings, Brown had considerable influence on later jazz trumpeters, including Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Wynton Marsalis. Brown was posthumously inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1972 and each year Wilmington hosts the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. Brown's biography, "Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter," was published in 2001. 

October 30, 1930 Samuel Lee Kountz, Jr., the first person to successfully transplant a kidney between people who were not identical twins, was born in Lexa, Arkansas. Kountz earned his Bachelor of Science degree, third in his class, in chemistry from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) in 1952, his Master of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Arkansas in 1956, and his Medical Degree from the University of Arkansas Medical Center's School of Medicine (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) in 1958. While a resident at the Stanford University School of Medicine, he successfully transplanted a kidney from a donor to a recipient who were not identical twins in 1961. Over his career, Kountz performed more than 500 kidney transplant, the most performed by any physician in the world at that time. He performed a kidney transplant live on "The Today Show" in 1976 that resulted in 20,000 viewers offering their kidneys to patients who needed them. He also made the discovery that high doses of a steroid hormone, methylprednisolone, arrested the rejection of transplanted kidneys. This led directly to the current drug regimens that make organ transplants from unrelated donors routine. Kountz had a number of academic and clinical appointments with leading institutions around the country. He wrote 76 professional papers and served as president of the Society of University Surgeons in 1974. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by the University of California in 1970 and honorary Doctor of Laws degrees by University of Arkansas in 1973 and Howard University in 1975. Kountz died December 23, 1981. The World's First International Symposium on Renal Failure in Blacks was dedicated in his honor in 1985 and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People give an annual award in his honor to an outstanding Black student in the sciences. 

October 30, 1933 Warith Deen Mohammed, Muslim leader and author, was born Wallace Delaney Muhammad in Hamtramck, Michigan. Mohammed served as a minister under his father, Elijah Muhammed, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the late 1950s and early 1960s before being excommunicated for denying the divinity of Wallace Ford Muhammad. He was sent to federal prison in 1961 for 14 months for refusing induction into the United States military. Mohammed was accepted by the Nation of Islam as its leader after his father's death in 1975. He introduced many reforms intended to bring the organization closer to traditional Islam and renamed it the American Society of Muslims. Mohammed was instrumental in establishing interfaith cooperation with other religious communities, especially Christians and Jews. He led the largest delegation of Muslim Americans on a pilgrimage to the Sacred House in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1977. Mohammed was cited for exemplary work in the religion of Islam by Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and given The Gold Medal of Recognition, Egypt's highest and most distinguished religious honor, in 1992. Mohammed authored a number of books, including "The Man and Woman in Islam" (1976), "Religion on the Line" (1983), and "Life the Final Battlefield" (2008). Mohammed died September 9, 2008. 

October 30, 1989 Frank L. Mingo, hall of fame advertising executive, died. Mingo was born December 13, 1939 in McComb, Mississippi. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Roosevelt University and his Master of Science degree in advertising from Northwestern University. After graduating, Mingo went to work for J. Walter Thompson where he became their first Black account executive with clients that included Oscar Meyer and Sears Roebuck. Mingo next moved to McCann-Erickson as a vice president and account supervisor. In that capacity, he helped Miller Brewing Company introduce their Miller Lite to the market. Mingo co-founded Mingo-Jones Advertising in 1977 with clients that included Walt Disney Productions and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Jones left the firm and it was renamed The Mingo Group in 1986. Mingo also worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League to expose minorities to careers in advertising. Mingo was posthumously inducted into the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Fame in 1996. 

October 30, 2007 John Youie Woodruff, hall of fame track and field athlete, died. Woodruff was born July 5, 1915 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. As a 21 year old college freshman, Woodruff won the 800 meter Gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1939 and a master's degree in the same field from New York University in 1947. He served in the United States military from 1941 to 1945, rising to the rank of captain. He reentered military service during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in 1957 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Woodruff was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1978 and annually a 5 kilometer race is held in Connellsville to honor him.


​Track and Field Hall of Famer

​Muslim leader and Author

​Invented a closed circuit television security system.

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