Today in Black History, 7/14/2014 - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 7/14/2014

• July 14, 1885 Sarah E. Goode became the first African American woman to receive a patent when she was granted patent number 322,177 for her invention of the cabinet bed, what we today refer to as a hide-away bed. When the bed was folded up, it was a fully functional desk with spaces for storage. It allowed people who lived in small spaces to use their space efficiently. Goode was born enslaved around 1850. She gained her freedom after the Civil War and moved to Chicago, Illinois where she opened a furniture store. Little is known of her life after receiving the patent other than she died April 8, 1905.

• July 14, 1891 John Standard of Newark, New Jersey received patent number 455,891 for an improved refrigerator design. Standard’s refrigerator used a manually filled ice chamber for chilling. He had previously received patent number 413,689 October 29, 1889 for an improved oil stove that was used in places where space was limited. His invention provided attachments which enabled the cooking of a variety of foods at one time and could be used for buffet style meals on trains. Not much else is known of Standard’s life.

• July 14, 1902 William Still, abolitionist, Underground Railroad conductor, writer and historian, died. Still was born October 7, 1821 in Burlington County, New Jersey. In 1844, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he began working as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. When Philadelphia abolitionists organized a committee to aid runaways, Still became its chairman. By the 1850s, Still was a leader in Philadelphia’s African American community. Often called “the father of the Underground Railroad,” Still helped as many as 60 enslaved people a month escape to freedom and in 1872 published “The Underground Railroad Records” which chronicled the stories and methods of 649 people who escaped to freedom. He also helped to establish an orphanage for Black youth and the first Young Men Christian Association for African Americans.

• July 14, 1919 Eugene Allen, White House butler, was born in Scottsville, Virginia. Allen worked as a waiter at a resort in Virginia and later at a country club in Washington, D. C. In 1952, he was hired as a pantry man at the White House where he washed dishes, stocked cabinets, and shined silverware. By the early 1980s, Allen had become maître d’, the most prestigious position amongst White House butlers. In his 34 years at the White House, Allen served eight presidents and never missed a day of work. Allen died March 31, 2010. In 2013, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” a film loosely based on Allen’s life, was released.

• July 14, 1923 William Samuel “Willie” Steele, hall of fame track and field athlete, was born. Steele competed for San Jose State College and won the National Collegiate Athletic Association long jump titles in 1947 and 1948. He also won the National Amateur Athletic Union Championship in that event in 1946, 1947, and 1948. At the 1948 London Olympic Games, Steele won the Gold medal in the long jump. Not much else is known of Steele’s life except that he died September 19, 1989. He was posthumously inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2009.

• July 14, 1932 Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier, former professional football player, actor, singer and ordained minister, was born in Cuthbert, Georgia. After playing college football at Pennsylvania State University, Grier was selected by the New York Giants in the 1955 National Football League Draft. He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 1963 and became a member of their “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line. Over his eleven season professional career, Grier was a six-time All-Pro. Grier retired in 1967 and worked as a bodyguard for Robert Kennedy during the 1968 presidential campaign. He was guarding Kennedy’s wife when Kennedy was assassinated. Although unable to prevent the killing, Grier grabbed the gun and subdued the shooter. Later that year, Grier recorded a tribute to Kennedy titled “People Make the World.” Grier was one of the first football stars to successfully transition to acting, appearing in a number of films and television shows. He has also authored several books, including “Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men” (1973), “Rosey, an Autobiography: The Gentle Giant” (1986), and “Winning” (1990). In 1983, Grier was ordained a minister and co-founded American Neighborhood Enterprises, an organization that works to help disadvantaged people buy homes and receive vocational training. In 1981, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Oral Roberts University.

• July 14, 1934 Robert Lee Elder, the first African American to play in the Masters Golf Tournament, was born in Dallas, Texas. Elder dropped out of high school and worked as a caddy where he developed his game by watching his clients. In 1959, he was drafted into the United States Army where he served until 1961. After his discharge, he joined the United Golf Association Tour for Black golfers where he won 18 of 22 tournaments. In 1968, Elder gained his Professional Golf Association tour card and in 1974 won his first PGA tournament. That came at the Monsanto Open in Pensacola, Florida where Elder and other Black players had to change their clothes in the parking lot because the club members would not allow non-White people into the clubhouse. The win gained him entry into the 1975 Masters Tournament. Leading up to that tournament, Elder received a substantial amount of hate mail and threats. Despite the threats, Elder became the first Black person to play in the tournament April 10, 1975. In 1979, Elder became the first African American to qualify to play in the Ryder Cup and in 1984 he joined the Senior PGA Tour. Over his career, Elder has won four PGA tournaments and eight senior tournaments. In 1974, he established the Lee Elder Scholarship Fund to offer financial aid to low-income men and women seeking college assistance.

• July 14, 1941 Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanza, was born Ronald McKinley Everett in Parsonsburg, Maryland. Karenga earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in political science from the University of California in 1963 and 1964, respectively. He earned his first Ph.D. from United States International University in 1976 and his second Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1994. Karenga was active in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s and in 1966 introduced the Seven Principles of Blackness which are reinforced during the seven days of Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1. Karenga has authored several books, including “Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture” (1998) and “Introduction to Black Studies” (2002). Karenga is currently professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at California State College and director of the Kawaida Institute for Pan African Studies.

• July 14, 1943 The George Washington Carver National Monument was established near Diamond, Missouri. A unit of the National Park Service, it was the first national monument dedicated to an African American and first to a non-president. The site includes Carver’s boyhood home, the 1881 Historic Moses Carver House, and the Carver Cemetery. It is open to the public year round.

• July 14, 1960 Angelique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, singer, songwriter and activist, was born in Cotonou, Benin. At six, Kidjo began performing in her mother’s theater troupe. She recorded her debut album, “Pretty,” in 1988 and the success of the album allowed her to tour all over West Africa. She later relocated to Paris, France and became one of the most popular live performers in the city. In 1991, Kidjo released “Logozo” which reached number one on the Billboard World Music chart. Other albums by Kidjo include “Oremi” (1998), “Black Ivory Soul” (2002), and “Oyo” (2010), all of which were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album, and “Djin Djin” (2007) which won the 2008 Grammy Award in that category. Her most recent album is “Eve” (2014). Kidjo is involved in numerous areas of activism around the world. She has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002 and in 2010 was appointed a Peace Ambassador by the African Union to support the 2010 Year of Peace and Security program. She is the founder of the Batonga Foundation which provides scholarships and builds schools for girls in Africa. Time magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva” and she was the first woman listed on Forbes magazine’s list of The 40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. Kidjo was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by the Berklee College of Music in 2010, the Champion of the Earth Award from the United Nations in 2011, and an honorary Doctor of Arts degree by Middlebury College in 2014. Kidjo published her memoir, “Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music,” in 2014.

• July 14, 1986 Marian Anderson received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed on an individual artist by the United States, from President Ronald Reagan. Anderson was born February 27, 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At six, she began singing at local functions for small change and in 1925 got her first break when she won a singing contest sponsored by the New York Philharmonic. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. As a result, with the aid of President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience of millions April 9, 1939. In 1955, Anderson became the first Black person to perform at the Metropolitan Opera and in 1963 sang at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She also sang for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inauguration in 1957 and President John F. Kennedy’s in 1961. In 1956, she published her autobiography, “My Lord What a Morning.” The recipient of numerous other awards and honors, Anderson received the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Spingarn Medal in 1939, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Lyndon B. Johnson December 6, 1963, the Congressional Gold Medal in 1977, Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991. Anderson died April 8, 1993. Later that year, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor. In 2001, the 1939 documentary film “Marian Anderson: The Lincoln Memorial Concert” was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” A number of biographies of Anderson have been published, including “Marian Anderson: A Singer’s Journey” (2002) and “The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights” (2004). Anderson’s name is enshrined in the Ring of Genealogy at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

Today in Black History, 7/13/2014
Today in Black History, 7/15/2014
Powered by EasyBlog for Joomla!