Today in Black History, 3/16/2012 - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 3/16/2012


• March 16, 1846 Rebecca Cole, the second African American woman to become a doctor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Cole graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1863 and earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1867. She practiced medicine for fifty years. In 1873, Cole opened a Women’s Directory Center to provide medical and legal service to destitute women and children and in 1899 she was appointed superintendent of a home run by the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C. Cole fought for the medical rights of African Americans, women, children, and the poor until her death on August 14, 1922.


• March 16, 1877 Thomas Wyatt Turner, biologist, educator and civil rights activist, was born in Hughsville, Maryland. Wyatt attended local Episcopal schools because Catholic schools refused to admit him because of his race. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Howard University in 1901 and 1905, respectively. From 1902 to 1910, he taught at the Baltimore High School for Negroes and from 1914 to 1924 he was Professor of Botany at Howard. In 1921, Turner earned his Ph.D. in Botany from Cornell University, the first African American to earn a doctorate from Cornell. From 1924 to his retirement in 1945, Turner was a professor in the Botany Department at Hampton Institute. Throughout his career, the United States government consulted Turner about agricultural problems. In 1909, Turner was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and throughout the 1920s was active in the black voter registration movement. In 1925, he founded the Federated Colored Catholics to fight racism and segregation in the Catholic Church and promote racial harmony. Turner also wrote for numerous educational, scientific, and religious periodicals. In 1976, the Secretariat of Washington, D.C.’s black Catholics established the annual Thomas Wyatt Turner Award, its highest award, and in 1977 Hampton University named its science building Turner Hall. Turner died April 21, 1978.


• March 16, 1884 James H. Bronson, Medal of Honor recipient, died. Bronson was born enslaved in 1838 in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. After gaining his freedom, he enlisted in the Union Army in 1863 as a private in Company D of the 5th Colored Infantry Regiment. By September 29, 1864, he had risen to the rank of first sergeant. On that date, he was among a division of black troops assigned to attack the Confederates at New Market Heights. The attack was met with intense fire and many of the regiment’s officers were killed or wounded in the charge, including the regimental commander and all of Company D’s officers. Bronson took command of Company D and led a renewed attack which successfully captured the Confederate positions. For his actions, Bronson was awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, on April 6, 1865.


• March 16, 1948 Charlaine Vivian Stringer, hall of fame college basketball coach, was born in Edenborn, Pennsylvania. In high school, Stringer sued her school for not allowing her to be a cheerleader because of her race. She won the case and was given a spot on the cheerleading squad. Stringer earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Slippery Rock University in 1970. She began her college basketball coaching career in 1972 and currently has the third most wins in women’s basketball history. She is the first coach in NCAA history to lead three different women’s programs to the NCAA Final Four, Cheyney State College in 1982, the University of Iowa in 1993, and Rutgers University in 2000 and 2007. She was named National Coach of the Year in 1982, 1988, and 1993. Stringer was also one of the key players in the development of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. In 1993, she received the Carol Eckman Award, which acknowledges the coach most demonstrating spirit, courage, integrity, commitment, leadership and service to the game of women’s basketball. In 2002, the United States Sports Academy renamed its annual women’s coaching award the C. Vivian Stringer Medallion Award of Sport for Women’s Coaching. In 2008, the C. Vivian Stringer Child Development Center was dedicated on the campus of Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. Stringer was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. She published her autobiography, “Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph,” in 2008.


• March 16, 1956 Ozzie Newsome, Jr., hall of fame football player, was born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Newsome played college football at the University of Alabama and was an All-American in 1977. He earned his bachelor’s degree in recreation administration in 1978. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1978 NFL Draft and over his 13 season professional career was a three-time Pro Bowl selection. In 1990, Newsome won the Whizzer White NFL Man of the Year Award for his community service. In 2002, he received the United States Sports Academy’s highest honor, the Eagle Award, in recognition of his significant contributions to international sport. Also in 2002, Newsome was named general manager of the Baltimore Ravens, the first African American named to that position in the National Football League. In 2003, he was named the Walter Camp Man of the Year which annually honors an individual who has been closely associated football as a player or coach. The individual must have attained a measure of success and been a leader in his chosen profession. Newsome was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. Newsome is considered one of the best general managers in the NFL.


• March 16, 1958 Virginia Estelle Randolph, educator, and pioneer of vocational training, died. Randolph was born June 8, 1874 in Richmond, Virginia. She began her career as a teacher when she opened the one room Mountain Road School in Henrico County, Virginia. In addition to academics, she taught her students woodworking, sewing, cooking, and gardening. In 1908, Randolph was named the United States’ first “Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teacher,” becoming the recipient of funding to maintain and assist rural schools for African Americans in the South. As the overseer of 23 elementary schools, Randolph developed the first in-service training program for black teachers. She also authored the “Henrico Plan” which became a reference book for southern schools receiving funding from the Jeanes Foundation. Randolph’s teaching philosophy and techniques were later adopted by Great Britain in their African colonies. Also in 1908, Randolph founded the first Arbor Day Program in Virginia. She and her students planted 12 Sycamore trees. In 1976, the trees still standing were named the first notable trees in Virginia by the National Park Service. Randolph retired in 1949 and in 1954 the Virginia Randolph Foundation was formed to annually award scholarships to Henrico County high school students who will be attending college. In 1976, the Virginia Randolph Home Economics Cottage was named a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. Virginia Randolph Community High School in Glen Allen, Virginia is named in her honor.


• March 16, 1975 Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker, blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter, died. Walker was born May 28, 1910 in Linden, Texas. He started playing the guitar and singing as a teenager. He made his debut recordings, “Wichita Falls Blues” and “Trinity River Blues,” in 1929. Much of his output was recorded between 1946 and 1948, including “Call It Stormy Monday” (1947). In 1971, Walker won the Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording for “Good Feelin’” and in 1985 he was posthumously presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Walker was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix acknowledged that they were greatly influenced by the guitar playing of Walker.


• March 16, 1995 Mississippi became the last state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime. The amendment was actually adopted on December 6, 1865 when it was ratified by the Georgia state legislature, the 27th of the then 36 states.

Voices of the Civil War Episode 2 "Banneker's Lett...
Today in Black History, 3/17/2012


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