Today in Black History, 11/18/2015 | Harry Tyson Moore - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 11/18/2015 | Harry Tyson Moore

November 18, 1905 Harry Tyson Moore, teacher and civil rights pioneer, was born in Houston, Florida. Moore graduated from Florida Memorial College (now University) with a Normal degree in 1925. He worked as a teacher and principal at several schools from 1925 to 1946. He and his wife founded the Brevard County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1934 and he filed the first lawsuit in the deep South to equalize salaries of Black teachers with White teachers in public schools in 1937. Moore also led the Progressive Voters League from 1944 to 1950 and during that time registered more than 100,000 Black people to vote. The public school system fired the Moores in 1946 and blacklisted them because of his political activism. Moore and his wife were killed on their 25th wedding anniversary by a bomb that went off beneath their home in Mims, Florida December 25, 1951. Moore was posthumously awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 1952. The state of Florida designated the home site of the Moore's a Florida Historical Heritage Landmark in 1999 and Brevard County created the Harry T. and Harriet Moore Memorial Park and Interpretive Center at the home site in 2004. The state of Florida concluded in 2006 that the Moores were victims of a conspiracy by members of a Central Florida Klaven of the Ku Klux Klan and four individuals, all deceased, were named. "Before His Time: The Untold Story of Harry T. Moore, America's First Civil Rights Matyr," was published in 1999.

November 18, 1900 Howard Thurman, author, theologian, educator and civil rights leader, was born in Daytona Beach, Florida. Thurman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College in 1923, his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Theological Seminary in 1926, and his Ph.D. from Haverford College in 1929. Thurman was selected as dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University in 1932 and served until 1944 when he left to help establish the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, the first racially integrated, intercultural church in the United States. He became the first Black dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University in 1953 and served until 1965. A prolific author, Thurman wrote 20 books, including "Jesus and the Disinherited" (1949) which greatly influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. Life magazine rated Thurman among the 12 most important religious leaders in the United States in 1953 and Ebony Magazine called him one of the 50 most important figures in African American history. Thurman died April 10, 1981. "With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman" was published in 1981.

November 18, 1912 Louis Emanuel Martin, Jr., journalist, publisher and civil rights activist, was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee but grew up in Savannah, Georgia. Martin earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Michigan in 1934 and was hired as a reporter for the Chicago Defender in 1936. He returned to Michigan six months later to launch a new Black newspaper, The Michigan Chronicle. Martin served as the editor and publisher of the newspaper for the next eleven years. He was one of the founders of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization of Black newspaper publishers, in 1940 and was a co-founder of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a research organization providing technical support for Black officeholders and scholars, in 1970. Martin was a participant on the national political scene for more than half a century, advising Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter, and becoming known as the "Godfather of Black Politics." Martin died January 6, 1997. His biography, "Walking with Presidents: Louis Martin and the Rise of Black Political Power," was published in 1997.

November 18, 1927 Hank Ballard, hall of fame R&B singer and composer, was born John Henry Kendricks in Detroit, Michigan but raised in Bessemer, Alabama. Ballard moved back to Detroit at 15 and began his singing career. He formed a group known as The Midnighters in 1951 and wrote "Work With Me Annie" (1954) which became the group's first hit. This was followed the same year by "Annie Had a Baby" and "Annie's Aunt Fannie." Each sold more than a million copies despite being banned by the Federal Communications Commission from radio. Ballard wrote and recorded "The Twist" and invented the dance in 1959. It became a number one hit for Chubby Checker in 1960. The group had several more hits, including "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" (1960) and "Finger Popping Time" (1960), before disbanding in 1965. Ballard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1992. Hank Ballard and the Midnighters were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. Ballard died March 2, 2003.

November 18, 1944 The United States liberty ship SS Bert Williams was launched in honor of Egbert Austin "Bert" Williams, the pre-eminent Black entertainer of his era. Williams was born November 12, 1875 in Nassau, Bahamas. He moved to San Francisco, California to study civil engineering but instead joined a minstrel show. He formed the team of Williams and Walker with his partner George Walker in 1893 and they performed song and dance numbers, comic dialogues, and skits. They headlined the Koster and Bial's vaudeville house for 36 weeks and popularized the cakewalk dance. Williams and Walker appeared in a succession of hit shows, including "Sons of Ham" (1900), "In Dahomey" (1902), which became the first Black musical to open on Broadway February 18, 1903, and "Abyssinia" (1906). Williams composed and recorded many songs, including "Nobody" which sold between 100,000 and 150,000 copies, a phenomenal total for the era. Walker was forced to leave their partnership due to ill health in 1909 and Williams joined the Ziegfeld Follies as the featured performer amid an otherwise all White show in 1910. By 1920, when 10,000 sales was considered a successful release, Williams had four songs that shipped between 180,000 and 250,000 copies and was one of the three most highly paid recording artists in the world. Williams died March 4, 1922. He was posthumously inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1996. The many books about Williams include "Nobody: The Story of Bert Williams" (1970), "The Last Darky: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora" (2005), and "Introducing Bert Williams: Burnt Cork, Broadway, and the Story of America's First Black Star" (2008). His name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

November 18, 1954 Michael B. Coleman, the first African American Mayor of Columbus, Ohio, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana but raised in Toledo, Ohio. Coleman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati in 1977 and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1980. He was appointed to the Columbus City Council in 1992 and was subsequently re-elected to two terms, serving until 1999. That year, Coleman was elected mayor and he has been re-elected three times. He is the city's longest serving mayor and the longest serving Black mayor in the country. Coleman has focused on public safety and improving the quality of life for families in Columbus neighborhoods during his tenure. He received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Ohio State University.

November 18, 1956 Harold Warren Moon, hall of fame football player, was born in Los Angeles, California. Although Moon was a star high school quarterback, none of the major colleges were interested in him as a quarterback. Therefore, he enrolled in West Los Angeles College where he set a number of records. Based on that performance, the University of Washington signed him and he led them to the 1978 Rose Bowl where he was named Most Valuable Player. After completing his college career and earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1978, Moon was not drafted by any team in the National Football League because he was Black and refused to play any position other than quarterback. Therefore, he signed with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League and led them to five consecutive Grey Cup victories from 1978 to 1982 and was named the 1983 CFL's Most Outstanding Player. He was signed by the Houston Oilers of the National Football League in 1984 and over his 17 season NFL career was a nine-time All Pro and was the 1990 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. At the time of his retirement, Moon held the record for most passes completions, most passing yardage, and most passing touchdowns in professional football. Moon is one of only two people to be enshrined in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (2001) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2006). He is also the only African American quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Moon was named the 1993 Walter Camp Man of the Year. Moon's autobiography, "Never Give Up on Your Dream: My Journey," was published in 2009. He is currently a color commentator for the Seattle Seahawks and president of a sports and entertainment company.

November 18, 1971 Junior Parker, hall of fame blues singer and musician, died. Parker was born Herman Parker, Jr. May 27, 1932 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He started playing on the blues circuit as a teenager. He formed his own band in 1951 and they recorded the hits "Feelin' Good," "Love My Baby," and "Mystery Train" in 1953. Subsequent hits included "Next Time You See Me" (1957), "Driving Wheel" (1961), and "Crying for My Baby" (1965). Parker's success was limited after 1966. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001.

November 18, 1971 Terrance Hayes, award winning poet, was born in Columbia, South Carolina. Hayes earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Coker College in 1994 and was an Academic All-American basketball player that same year. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997. His first book of poetry, "Muscular Music" (1999), won the Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His second collection, "Hip Logic" (2002), won the National Poetry Series. His fourth collection, "Lighthead" (2010), won the National Book Award for Poetry. His most recent collection, "How to Be Drawn" was published in 2015. Hayes also edited the anthology "The Best American Poetry 2014." He received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur "Genius" Award in 2014. Hayes was professor of creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University from 2001 to 2013 and is currently an English professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

November 18, 1983 Hilton Lee Smith, hall of fame Negro Baseball League pitcher, died. Smith was born February 27, 1907 in Sour Lake, Texas. He attended and played baseball for Prairie View State Normal & Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University) in 1928 and 1929. He made his professional debut in 1932 and was a star pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs from 1937 until his retirement in 1948, winning more than 20 games each year. Over his career, he was a six-time Negro league All-Star. After retiring, Smith worked as a school teacher and scout for the Chicago Cubs. He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

November 18, 1991 Leon Howard Sullivan received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, from President George H. W. Bush. Sullivan was born October 16, 1922 in Charleston, West Virginia. He was ordained a Baptist minister at 18. Sullivan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from West Virginia State College (now University) in 1943 and his Master of Arts degree in religion from Columbia University in 1947. Sullivan moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1950 and became pastor of Zion Baptist Church where he served for 38 years, increasing its membership from 600 to 6,000 and becoming known as "the Lion of Zion." Sullivan led a boycott of local businesses in 1958 with the slogan "don't buy where you don't work" that resulted in thousands of jobs for African Americans over a period of four years. He founded Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America in 1964 to offer job training, instruction in life skills, and assistance in job placement. The organization grew into 60 affiliated programs in 30 states and served over 2 million disadvantaged and under-skilled people. Sullivan led the effort to build Progress Plaza in 1968, the first Black owned and developed shopping center. He joined the board of directors of General Motors Corporation in 1971, the first African American to serve on the board of a major corporation. He developed a code of conduct for companies operating in South Africa during apartheid called the Sullivan Principles in 1977. Sullivan authored several books, including "Build Brother Build" (1969), "Philosophy of a Giant" (1979), and "Moving Mountains: The Principles and Purpose of Leon Sullivan" (1998). He was the recipient of many awards, including the 1971 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights in 1999, and honorary doctorate degrees from more than 50 colleges and universities. Sullivan died April 24, 2001. The Leon Sullivan Health Care Center in Seattle, Washington is named in his honor and the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation empowers underprivileged people worldwide by promoting the principles of self-help and social responsibility. The goal is to bring the corporate and governmental communities together for the economic benefit of all, and invite businesses and individuals to create partnerships with Africa with the ultimate goal of a peaceful, prosperous, and powerful Africa.

November 18, 1994 Cabell "Cab" Calloway III, hall of fame jazz singer and bandleader, died. Calloway was born December 25, 1907 in Rochester, New York. After graduating from high school, Calloway joined his sister in a touring production of the Black musical revue "Plantation Days." He assumed leadership of his orchestra in 1930 and they became the co-host band at the Cotton Club in New York City and began touring nationally. Calloway recorded his most famous song, "Minnie the Moocher," in 1931 and as a result of the chorus became known as "The Hi De Ho Man." He appeared in the 1933 film "International House" and performed his classic song "Reefer Man," a tune about a man who favors marijuana cigarettes. Other film appearances include "Stormy Weather" (1943), "Porgy and Bess" (1952), and "The Cincinnati Kid" (1965). His autobiography, "Of Minnie the Moocher and Me," was published in 1976. The Cab Calloway Museum at Copin State College was established in the 1980s and the Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, Delaware was dedicated in 1994. Calloway was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1987 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, by President William J. Clinton October 7, 1993. In 1999, "Minnie the Moocher" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of "lasting qualitative or historical significance." Calloway was posthumously honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. His biography, "Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway," was published in 2010.

Michael B. Coleman

The first African American mayor of Columbus, OH.

Hilton Lee Smith

Hall of Fame Negro League Baseball pitcher. 

Hank Ballard

Hall of Fame R&B singer and composer. 

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