Today in Black History, 2/26/2015 - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 2/26/2015

• February 26, 1922 Bunny Briggs, hall of fame tap dancer, was born in Harlem, New York. Briggs started tap dancing at three and was soon after part of a kiddie dance group that performed in ballrooms around the city. By eight, he was performing in the homes of some of New York’s wealthiest people. In the early 1940s, he began touring with several big bands, including Earl Hines’, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s, Count Basie’s, and Duke Ellington’s. Briggs also performed on a number of television shows, including the “Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Briggs was nominated for the 1989 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance on Broadway in “Black and Blue.” He received an honorary Doctor of Performing Arts in American Dance degree from Oklahoma City University in 2002 and was inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame in 2006. Briggs died November 15, 2014.

• February 26, 1928 Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino, hall of fame pianist, singer and songwriter, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Domino first attracted national attention with the 1949 release of “Fat Man” which is widely regarded to be the first rhttp://4.bp.blogspot.com/_LXqBXJEfW0A/SIl1geW3KSI/AAAAAAAAHhs/1Yt74ICf4Rg/s400/fatsDomino.jpgock and roll record to sell more than a million copies. Over his career, Domino has recorded 37 top 40 singles, including “Ain’t That a Shame” (1955), “Blue Monday” (1956), and “Blueberry Hill” (1956), his biggest hit which was number 1 on the R&B charts for 11 weeks and sold more than 5 million copies. “Blueberry Hill” was voted the 18th most popular song of the 20th century in a National Endowment for the Arts poll in 2001. Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1995, and was presented the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, by President William J. Clinton November 5, 1998. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2006, he released an album, “Alive and Kickin’,” to support New Orleans musicians effected by Hurricane Katrina. Domino has sold more than 110 million records in his career. His biography, “Blue Monday-Fats Domino and the Last Dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” was published in 2006.

• February 26, 1933 Godfrey MacArthur Cambridge, comedian and stage and film actor, was born in New York City. Cambridge won a four-year scholarship to study medicine but instead decided to become an actor. He made his Broadway debut in “Nature’s Way” (1951) and later appeared in “The Blacks” (1961), a performance that earned him the Off-Broadway Theater (OBIE) Award for Best Supporting or Featured Dramatic Actor. His performance in “Purlie’s Victorious” earned him a 1962 Tony Award nomination for Distinguished Performance Actor. He appeared on film in “The President’s Analyst” in 1967 and in “Watermelon Man” and “Cotton Comes to Harlem” in 1970. Cambridge also appeared on numerous television shows as a stand-up comedian. Cambridge died November 29, 1976.

• February 26, 1965 Jimmie Lee Jackson, an unarmed civil rights protestor, died. Jackson was born December 16, 1938 in Marion, Alabama. He was a deacon in his church who had unsuccessfully tried to register to vote for four years. On February 18, 1965, around 500 people attempted a peaceful walk to the Perry County Jail where a young civil rights worker was being held. They were met by Marion City police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and Alabama State troopers who began to beat the protesters. When Jackson attempted to protect his mother, a trooper shot him twice in the abdomen and he died from the wounds a week later. Trooper James Bonard Fowler admitted to shooting Jackson but in September, 1965 a grand jury declined to indict him. On May 10, 2007, 42 years after the crime, Fowler was charged with first and second degree murder for the death of Jackson. In 2010, two weeks before he was scheduled to go to trial, Fowler pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor second-degree manslaughter charge and was sentenced to six months in jail.

• February 26, 1973 Marshall William Faulk, hall of fame football player, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Faulk played college football at San Diego State University and was a three-time All-American. He skipped his senior year and was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1994 National Football League Draft. That year, he was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Over his 13 season professional career, Faulk was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and won the 2001 Bert Bell Award as the Professional Football Player of the Year. Marshall is the only player to have more than 12,000 yards rushing and 6,000 yards receiving over his career. He also holds the NFL record for most games with over 200 yards rushing with 14. Faulk’s number 28 jersey was retired by the St. Louis Rams in 2007 and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Faulk established the Marshall Faulk Foundation “to provide assistance to inner-city youth organizations and underprivileged children” in 1999. Since inception, the foundation has donated more than $500,000. Faulk is currently an analyst for various NFL television programs.

• February 26, 1977 Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White, hall of fame blues guitarist and singer, died. White was born November 12, 1909 between Aberdeen and Houston, Mississippi. He started his career playing the fiddle at square dances. He recorded a number of singles in 1930, including “Jealous Man Blues” and “Mississippi Milk Blues.” From 1937 to 1940, White was imprisoned but still managed to record some of his most popular recordings, including “Shak’em on Down” (1937) and “Po Boy” (1939). From the mid-1940s through the 1950s, White did not record and worked as a laborer. He was rediscovered in 1963 and recorded the albums “Mississippi Blues” (1964), “Memphis Hot Shots” (1968), “Big Daddy” (1974), and “Country Blues” (1975). White was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1990 and his recording of “Fixin’ to Die Blues” (1940) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame as a recording of “qualitative or historical significance.”

• February 26, 1985 Albert Turner Bharucha-Reid, mathematician and educator, died. Bharucha-Reid was born Albert Turner Reid November 13, 1927 in Hampton, Virginia. He published his first paper, on mathematical biology, at 18. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and biology from Iowa State University in 1949. He continued his studies at the University of Chicago but did not finish his Ph. D. because he thought it was a waste of time. Bharucha-Reid held teaching or research positions at a number of universities, including the University of Oregon, Wayne State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Atlanta University. He published nearly 70 papers and six books, including “Elements of the Theory of Markov Processes and Their Application” (1960), “Probabilistic Methods in Applied Mathematics” (1968), and “Random Polynomials, Probability and Mathematical Statistics” (1986). Bharucha-Reid also served as the editor of the Journal of Integral Equations until his death. The National Association of Mathematicians host a lecture series in his name.

• February 26, 1989 Roy David Eldridge, hall of fame jazz trumpeter, died. Eldridge was born January 30, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He originally played drums, tuba, and trumpet. Eldridge moved to St. Louis, Missouri and New York City, where he played in various bands in the early 1930s. From 1941 to 1943, he played in the Gene Krupa Orchestra and later joined Artie Shaw’s band. Recordings by Eldridge as a bandleader include “Nuts” (1950), “Little Jazz” (1957), “Happy Time” (1975), and “Roy Eldridge & Vic Dickenson” (1978). Eldridge was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1971 and was designated a NEA Jazz Master, the highest honor that the nation bestows on a jazz artist, by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982. His biography, “Roy Eldridge, Little Jazz Giant,” was published in 2002.

• February 26, 1990 Cornelius E. Gunter, hall of fame rhythm and blues singer, died. Gunter was born November 14, 1936 in Coffeyville, Kansas. He began recording in 1953 singing backup on Big Jay McNeelly’s “Nervous Man Nervous.” He sang the title song for the movie “The Green Eyed Blonde” in 1957. From 1958 to 1961, Gunter performed as a member of The Coasters 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.

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