Today in Black History, 2/5/2012
• February 5, 1858 Henry Beard Delany, the second African American bishop elected in the United States, was born enslaved in Saint Mary’s, Georgia. Delany graduated in theology from Saint Augustine’s School (now college) in 1885. After graduating, he joined the faculty of the school where he taught until 1908. Delany joined Ambrose Episcopal Church and steadily rose in the Episcopal Church hierarchy, becoming a deacon in 1889, a priest in 1892, an archdeacon in 1908, and a bishop in 1918, the first African American bishop elected in North Carolina. He was also active in promoting education among North Carolina’s African American community, helping to organize schools for blacks throughout the state. He also worked to bring educational opportunities to black prisoners in local jails. Although not formally trained as an architect, in 1895 Delany designed Saint Augustine’s chapel, the only surviving 19th century building on campus. In 1911, Shaw University awarded Delany an honorary doctorate of divinity degree. Delany died April 14, 1928. He was the father of Sadie and Bessie Delany who in 1993 published their joint autobiography “Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.”
• February 5, 1934 Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron, hall of fame baseball player, was born in Mobile, Alabama. Aaron started his professional baseball career in 1951 with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. In 1952, he signed a contract with the Boston (later to be Atlanta) Braves and made his major league debut in 1954. Over his 21 season professional career, Aaron performed at a consistently high level for an extended period of time and is generally considered one of the greatest players of all time. Aaron was a 21-time All-Star selection, 3-time Gold Glove Award winner, and the 1957 National League Most Valuable Player. On April 8, 1974, Aaron hit his 715th career home run, breaking one of the most hallowed records in baseball which had stood for 39 years. His uniform number 44 was retired by both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. He holds the major league records for most total bases, most runs batted in, most extra base hits, and most consecutive seasons with 150 or more hits. Aaron retired after the 1976 season and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. Aaron was the 1975 recipient of the NAACP Spingarn Medal. Aaron has remained active with baseball, serving in several upper-level positions in the Atlanta Braves organization. In 1990, he published his autobiography, “I Had a Hammer.” In 1999, Major League Baseball announced the Hank Aaron Award to honor the best overall offensive performer in both leagues. In 2001, Aaron was presented the Presidential Citizens Medal by President William Clinton and in 2002 he was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President George W. Bush. Hank Aaron Baseball Stadium in Mobile is named in his honor. It also includes the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum.