Today in Black History, 11/21/2012 - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 11/21/2012

• November 21, 1893 Granville T. Woods of New York City received patent number 509,065 for the Electric Railway Conduit. His invention provided a method of supplying electricity to a train without exposed wires or secondary batteries. This eliminated the loss of current due to leakage as well as significantly reduced the element of danger. Woods was born April 23, 1856 in Columbus, Ohio. He was often called the “Black Edison” and over his lifetime was granted approximately 60 patents. Despite these achievements, he died virtually penniless on January 30, 1910. The Granville T. Woods Math and Science Community Academy in Chicago, Illinois is named in his honor.

• November 21, 1904 Coleman Randolph Hawkins, hall of fame jazz tenor saxophonist and bandleader, was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri. Hawkins started playing the saxophone at the age of nine and by fourteen was playing in groups around Kansas. In 1923, he moved to New York City and Joined Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra where he remained until 1934. From 1934 to 1937, Hawkins toured Europe and after returning to the United States played with many jazz giants, including Benny Carter, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sonny Rollins. Albums by Hawkins as leader include “Body and Soul” (1939), “In a Mellow Tone” (1960), and “Sirius” (1966). Hawkins was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1961. Hawkins died on May 19, 1969. His biography, “The Song of the Hawk,” was published in 1990.

• November 21, 1936 James Anderson DePreist, orchestra conductor and poet, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. DePreist studied composition at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1962, he won the Gold medal at the Dimitris Mitropoulos International Conducting Competition. He then became assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic during the 1965-1966 season. In 1969, DePreist made his European debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. From 2005 to 2008, he was permanent conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. As a guest conductor, he has appeared with every major North American orchestra and has more than 50 recordings to his credit. DePreist is currently director emeritus of conducting and orchestral studies at the Julliard School and laureate director of the Oregon Symphony. DePreist has published two books of poetry, “The Precipice Garden” (1987) and “The Distant Siren” (1989). He has been awarded 13 honorary degrees and is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. In 2005, DePreist received the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence, from President George W. Bush.

• November 21, 1944 Vernon Earl Monroe, hall of fame basketball player known as “Earl the Pearl,” was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At an early age, Monroe was a playground legend known as “Thomas Edison” because of the many moves that he invented. In 1967, while playing for Winston-Salem State University, he earned NCAA College Division Player of the Year. That same year, Monroe was selected by the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Draft and in 1968 he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Over his fourteen season professional career, Monroe was a four-time All-Star and won the NBA Championship in 1973. In 1986, his number 15 jersey was retired by the New York Knicks and in 2007 his number 10 jersey was retired by the Washington Wizards. Monroe was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. Monroe serves as a commentator for Madison Square Garden and as commissioner of the New Jersey Urban Development Corporation. Monroe has been active in various community programs, including the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health.

• November 21, 1962 George Branham, III, the first African American to win a championship on the Professional Bowlers Association tour, was born in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up in San Fernando Valley, California. Branham started bowling at the age of six and at the age of 23 joined the PBA tour. In 1986, he won the Brunswick Memorial World Open, becoming the first African American to win a PBA championship. In 1993, Branham won the Tournament of Champions, professional bowling’s most prestigious title. Branham retired at the end of the 2003 tour, having rolled 23 perfect games and won three additional titles. Branham operates a bowling center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

• November 21, 1983 William Boyd Allison Davis, anthropologist and researcher, died. Davis was born October 14, 1902 in Washington, D.C. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree as class valedictorian from Williams College, his Master of Arts degree in English in 1925 and his Master of Arts degree in anthropology in 1932 from Harvard University, and was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1942. In 1948, Davis became the first African American to become a tenured professor at a major white university when he joined the Department of Education at the University of Chicago. Davis was known for groundbreaking field studies such as “Children of Bondage” (1940) and “Deep South” (1941) which used anthropological techniques to explore how race and social class influenced education and learning among children. In 1994, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor.

• November 21, 2010 Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs, poet, artist, and educator, died. Burroughs was born November 1, 1917 in St. Rose, Louisiana, but raised in Chicago, Illinois. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Chicago Teacher’s College in 1946 and her Master of Arts degree in education from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1948. She taught in the Chicago Public School System from 1940 to 1968 and worked as a professor of humanities at Kennedy-King College from 1969 to 1979. In 1961, Burroughs founded the DuSable Museum of African-American History and served as director of the museum until 1985. That year, she was appointed a commissioner of the Chicago Park District. As a poet, Burroughs published “What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?” in 1968 and “Africa, My Africa” in 1970.

Today in Black History, 11/20/2012
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