Today in Black History, 11/14/2015 | Lydia M. Holmes - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 11/14/2015 | Lydia M. Holmes

November 14, 1950 Lydia M. Holmes of St. Augustine, Florida received patent number 2,529, 692 for her Knockdown Wheeled Toys. They consisted of several easily assembled wooden pull toys including a bird, truck and dog. The toys were used to encourage concentration in young children. Not much else is known of Holmes' life. 

November 14, 1856 John Edward Bush, co-founder of the Mosaic Templars of America, was born enslaved in Moscow, Tennessee. Bush and his family were freed after the Civil War and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated with honors from Capitol Hill City School in 1876 and served as its principal for two years immediately following graduation. He co-founded MTA in 1883, an African American fraternal organization which by 1930 had grown to international scope, spanning 26 states and 6 foreign countries. It was one of the largest and most successful Black owned business enterprises in the world and Bush was acknowledged as one of the wealthiest Black men in Arkansas. President William McKinley appointed Bush the receiver of the United States Land Office in Little Rock in 1898 and he was subsequently reappointed to four additional terms by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and William H. Taft. Bush died December 11, 1916. 

November 14, 1864 Olayinka Herbert Samuel Heelas Badmus Macaulay, civil engineer and Nigerian political leader, was born in Lagos, Nigeria. Macaulay was awarded a government scholarship to study civil engineering in Plymouth, England in 1890. When he returned to Nigeria in 1894, he worked as a land inspector. He resigned the position in 1898 because of racial discrimination practiced by Europeans in the civil service. Macaulay established himself as a private surveyor and over the years emerged as a spokesman for opposition to British rule. He opposed every attempt by the British to expand their administration, agitated against payment of water rates in 1915, and led the opposition against British plans to reform land tenure arrangements. Macaulay founded the Nigerian National Democratic Party in 1923, the first Nigerian political party. He co-founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons with him as president in 1944. Macaulay died May 7, 1946. He is considered the founder of Nigerian nationalism and his face is emblazoned on the Nigerian one naira coin. There is also a life-sized statue of him in Lagos. The Hubert Macaulay Leadership Institute is named in his honor and there is an annual Hubert Macaulay Memorial Lecture and Merit Award. 

November 14, 1889 A monument honoring Crispus Attucks, the first martyr of the American Revolution, was dedicated on Boston Commons. The monument represents the 5,000 African Americans who fought for America's independence. Attucks was born enslaved around 1723 and was of mixed African and Native American heritage. He escaped slavery in 1750 and by 1770 was a dockworker in Boston, Massachusetts. On the night of March 5, 1770, he led a group of sailors against British soldiers who were occupying Boston. Attucks was the first of four men shot and killed during the fighting. The United States Treasury issued the Black Revolutionary War Patriots Silver Dollar featuring Attucks' image on one side in 1998. There are a number of schools around the country named for Attucks. His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. 

November 14, 1915 Booker Taliaferro Washington, educator, author and political leader, died. Washington was born enslaved April 5, 1856 on the Burroughs Plantation in Virginia. His family gained their freedom at the end of the Civil War and Washington was educated at Hampton Institute and Wayland Seminary. Washington was appointed the first leader of Tuskegee Institute (now University) in 1881 and headed it for the rest of his life. Washington was the dominant leader of the African American community from 1890 until his death. This was particularly true after his Atlanta Exposition speech delivered September 18, 1895 where he appealed to White people to give Black people a chance to work and develop separately and implied that he would not demand the vote. Washington associated with the richest and most powerful businessmen of the era and became a conduit for their funding of African American educational programs. As a result, numerous schools for Black students were established through his efforts. At the invitation of President Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Washington became the first African American to visit the White House for a formal dinner October 16, 1901. Washington authored four books, including his bestselling autobiography "Up From Slavery" (1901). He became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp when the U. S. Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 1940. The Liberty Ship Booker T. Washington was launched in his honor September 29, 1942, the first major ocean going vessel to be named after an African American. Numerous schools around the country are named in his honor. Biographies of Washington include "Booker T. Washington: Educator and Interracial Interpreter" (1948) and "Booker T. Washington and the Negro's Place in American Life" (1955). His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. 

November 14, 1916 Mabel Fairbanks, hall of fame figure skater and coach, was born in New York City. Fairbanks fell in love with figure skating in the 1930s. Despite her ability, she was not allowed to join skating clubs because of her race. She was often told, "we don't have Negroes in ice shows." She eventually left the United States and joined the Rhapsody on Ice Show where she wowed international audiences. When she returned to the U. S., Fairbanks found that the situation had not changed. After retiring from skating, Fairbanks started a skating club and coached many future champions, including Scott Hamilton, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Tiffany Chin. Fairbanks became the first African American to be inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame February 25, 1997. Fairbanks died September 29, 2001. She was posthumously inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. 

November 14, 1936 Cornelius E. Gunter, hall of fame rhythm and blues singer, was born in Coffeyville, Kansas. Gunter began recording in 1953 singing backup on Big Jay McNeely's "Nervous Man Nervous." He sang the title song for the movie "The Green Eyed Blonde" in 1957. Gunter performed as a member of The Coasters from 1958 to 1961 and they recorded "Yakety Yak" (1958), their only number one hit, "Charlie Brown" (1959), and "Poison Ivy" (1959). After leaving The Coasters, Gunter recorded several solo singles. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the other members of The Coasters in 1987. Gunter was fatally shot February 26, 1990. 

November 14, 1954 Condoleeza Rice, professor, diplomat and national security expert, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Rice earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in political science from the University of Denver in 1974, her Master of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975, and her Ph. D. in political science from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in 1981. She served as a professor at Stanford University from 1981 to 1987 and from 1991 to 1992 before being named provost of the university, the first female, first minority, and the youngest provost in Stanford history. Rice was named National Security Advisor December 17, 2000, the first female to hold that position, and was confirmed as Secretary of State January 26, 2005, the first African American female to hold that position. She was ranked the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2004 and 2005 and number two in 2006. She was also listed as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World each year from 2004 to 2007. After her tenure as secretary of state, Rice returned to Stanford as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institute. She became a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy in 2010. Also that year, Rice published a family history, "Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family," and "No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington" in 2011. On August 20, 2012, Rice became one of the first two women to be admitted as members of Augusta National Golf Club and she was selected an inaugural member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee in 2013. 

November 14, 1959 Bryan A. Stevenson, lawyer, educator and equal justice activist, was born in Milton, Delaware. Stevenson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern College (now University) in 1981 and his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School and Master of Public Policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1985. He founded the Equal Justice Initiative in 1989 and serves as executive director. The EJI provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. They have saved more than 100 men from the death penalty. Stevenson has received many honors for his work, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur "Genius" Award in 1995, the National Association of Public Interest Lawyers 1996 Public Interest Lawyer of the Year, the 2009 Gruber Prize for Justice, and the 2010 William Robert Ming Advocacy Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Georgetown University Law School, and Harvard University. Stevenson published "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption" in 2014. 

November 14, 1960 Ruby Nell Bridges Hall became the first African American child to attend an all-White elementary school in the South when she entered William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. This event was commemorated in the Norman Rockwell painting "The Problem We All Live With." After Bridges Hall started school, White parents took their children out of the school and White teachers refused to teach her. Therefore, for the first year Bridges Hall and a single teacher worked alone in a classroom by themselves. Also, Bridges Hall's father lost his job and her grandparents, who were sharecroppers, were kicked off their land. After the first year, things returned to relative normalcy and Bridges Hall went on to graduate from high school. Bridges Hall was born September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi but raised in New Orleans. After graduating from high school, she studied travel and tourism and worked as a travel agent for 15 years. In 1999, she formed the Ruby Bridges Foundation to "promote the values of tolerance, respect and appreciation of all differences." The 1998 made for television movie "Ruby Bridges" told of her struggles during her first year of school. In 2001, Bridges Hall was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, which is given to a person "who has performed exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens," by President William J. Clinton. In 2006, the Ruby Bridges Elementary School opened in Alameda, California. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Tulane University in 2012 and a statue of Bridges was unveiled in the courtyard of William Frantz Elementary School November 14, 2015. Bridges Hall continues to serve as an inspirational speaker against racism. 

November 14, 2003 Frank Martin Snowden, Jr. received the National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush for "work that has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens' engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans' access to important resources in the humanities." Snowden was born July 17, 1911 in York County, Virginia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1932, Master of Arts degree in 1933, and Ph. D. in 1944 from Harvard University. Snowden taught classics at Georgetown University, Vassar College, and Mary Washington College before joining Howard University where he served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Snowden documented that Black people were able to co-exist with the Greeks and Romans because they were considered equals. He authored several books, including "Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience" (1970) and "Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks" (1983). Snowden was fluent in Latin, Greek, German, French, and Italian. He served as cultural attaché at the American Embassy to Rome from 1954 to 1956. Snowden died February 18, 2007. The Frank M. Snowden, Jr. Lecture Series is held annually at Howard.

Professor, diplomat, and national security expert.

Famed figure skater, and coach.

Author, educator, and political leader.

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