Today in Black History, 9/11/2014 - The Charles H. Wright Museum Blog

Today in Black History, 9/11/2014

• September 11, 1890 Euphemia Lofton Haynes, the first African American woman to earn a Ph. D. in mathematics, was born in Washington D. C. Haynes earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College in 1914 and her Master of Arts degree in education from the University of Chicago in 1930. In 1943, Haynes earned her Ph. D. in mathematics from Catholic University. Haynes taught in the D. C. public school system for 47 years and after her retirement in 1959 became the first woman to chair the city’s Board of Education. In that capacity, she was central to the integration of the D. C. public school system. Haynes was also active in many community activities, including the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, the National Social Welfare Assembly, and the Catholic Interracial Council. In 1959, Haynes received the Papal Medal for her service to the Catholic Church and her community. Upon her death July 25, 1980, Haynes bequeathed $700,000 to Catholic University to support a professorial chair and student loan fund in the School of Education.

• September 11, 1922 James Charles Evers, the first African American elected mayor of a Mississippi city since the Reconstruction era, was born in Decatur, Mississippi. Evers served in the United States Army in Europe during World War II and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Alcorn A&M University in 1950. In the early 1950s, Evers became active in the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, a civil rights organization that promoted self-help and business ownership. In 1963, after the assassination of his brother Medgar, Evers took over leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Mississippi. In 1969, Evers was elected Mayor of Fayette, Mississippi and that same year was named NAACP Man of the Year. Evers served many terms as mayor before unsuccessfully running for governor and the United States Senate. He is currently a radio station manager. Evers authored two autobiographies, “Evers” (1971) and “Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story” (1998).

• September 11, 1929 Hystercine Rankin, quilter, was born in Lorman, Mississippi. Rankin began making quilts at 12 for her brothers and sisters and continued making them for her own children. In 1988, she began teaching quilting and passed on her knowledge to many children in the community. Her work has been displayed in many exhibitions and she was a demonstrator at the 1996 Festival of American Folklife. She was presented the National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton September 23, 1997. Rankin died February 10, 2010. Her quilts sale for more than $15,000 today.

• September 11, 1942 Loletha Elaine “Lola” Falana, dancer, singer and actress, was born in Camden, New Jersey. Falana was dancing by three, singing in the church choir at five, and dancing in nightclubs while she was still in junior high school. She made her Broadway debut in the 1964 musical “Golden Boy” and recorded her first single, “My Baby,” in 1965. In 1966, Falana made her film debut in “A Man Called Adam.” Other films that she appeared in include “The Liberation of L. B. Jones” (1970), for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe New Star of the Year – Actress Award, “The Klansman” (1974), and “Lady Cocoa” (1975). In 1975, Falana returned to Broadway in “Doctor Jazz,” a performance that won her a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. By the late 1970s, Falana was performing in Las Vegas and was considered “the Queen of Las Vegas.” At that time, she was earning $100,000 a week to perform, making her the highest paid female performer in Las Vegas. Falana is no longer performing due to a stroke suffered in 1987. She now tours the country with a message of hope and spirituality. She founded The Lambs of God Ministry which is focused on helping children who have been orphaned in Sub-Saharan Africa.

• September 11, 1956 Adriane Lenox, award winning stage and film actress, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Lenox earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in drama from Lambuth College in 1978. She made her Broadway debut in “Ain’t Misbehavin’” that same year. Other Broadway appearances include “Kiss Me, Kate” (1999), “Caroline, or Change” (2004), and “Chicago” (2007). In 2005, Lenox won the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in “Doubt: A Parable.” She also received a 1998 Off-Broadway Theater Award (OBIE) for her performance in “Dinah Was.” Lenox has also appeared in several movies, including “Black Snake Moan” (2006), “The Blind Side” (2009), and “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” 2013). She most recently appeared on Broadway in “After Midnight.”

• September 11, 1970 Taraji Penda Henson, actress and singer, was born in Washington, D. C. Henson earned her bachelor’s degree in theater arts in 1995 from Howard University. She made her film debut in “Baby Boy” (2001) and also has appeared in “Hustle & Flow” (2005), “Four Brothers” (2006), and “Talk to Me” (2007). In 2008, Henson starred in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” which won her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In 2011, Henson starred in the Lifetime television movie “Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story” for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or Movie. She appeared in the films “Think Like a Man” in 2012 and “Think Like a Man Too” in 2014. Henson currently co-stars in the CBS television series “Person of Interest.”

• September 11, 1977 Ludacris, rapper, songwriter and actor, was born Christopher Brian Bridges in Champaign, Illinois but raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Ludacris wrote his first rap song at nine. He recorded his debut album, “Back for the First Time,” in 2000. This was followed by other albums, including “Word of Mouf” (2001), “Chicken-n-Beer” (2003), “Release Therapy” (2006), which won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and included the single “Money Maker” which won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Song, and “Battle of the Sexes” (2010). Ludacris made his film debut in “2 Fast 2 Furious” in 2003. He has since appeared in a number of other films, including “Crash” (2004), “Hustle & Flow” (2005), “Max Payne” (2008), and “Fast 6” (2013). Ludacris started the Ludacris Foundation in 2001 to inspire youth through education, memorable experiences, and youth helping themselves.

• September 11, 1983 Lauryn Williams, the first American female to win a medal at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, was born in Rochester, Pennsylvania. Williams attended the University of Miami where she ran track and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in finance in 2004. In 2009, she earned her Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix. Williams won the Silver medal in the 100 meter race at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the Gold medal in the 4 by 100 meter relay at the 2012 London Olympic Games. In 2014, she won the Silver medal in the two-woman bobsled at the Sochi Olympic Games.

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