· July 5, 1899 Anna Arnold Hedgeman, educator, writer and civil rights leader, was born in Marshalltown, Iowa. In 1918, Hedgeman enrolled at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, becoming their first African American student, and she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1922. For two years, she taught English and history at Rust College in Mississippi where she experienced the humiliation of segregation for the first time. Hedgeman then worked for the YWCA as executive director in Ohio, New Jersey, Harlem, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. In 1954, she became the first African American woman to hold a mayoral cabinet position in New York City history. In later years, she owned Hedgeman Consultant Services and served as lecturer and consultant to numerous educational centers, boards, and colleges and universities, particularly in the area of African American studies. She also authored “The Trumpet Sounds” (1964) and “The Gift of Chaos” (1977). Hedgeman died January 17, 1990.
· July 5, 1902 Panama Al Brown, hall of fame boxer, was born Alfonso Teofilo Brown in Colon, Panama. Brown started his professional boxing career in 1922 and in 1923 moved to New York City. In 1929, he won the World Bantamweight championship, making him the first Hispanic world champion in boxing history. Brown lost the title in 1935 and retired from boxing in 1942 with a record of 123 wins, 18 losses, and 10 draws. Brown died April 11, 1951 and was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.
· July 5, 1915 John Youie Woodruff, Olympic champion, was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. As a 21 year old college freshman, Woodruff won the 800 meter Gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1939 and a master’s degree in the same field from New York University in 1947. From 1941 to 1945, Woodruff served in the United States military, rising to the rank of captain. He re-entered military service during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in 1957 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Woodruff died on October 31, 2007 and an annual 5-kilometer race is held in Connellsvile to honor him.
· July 5, 1923 Naomi Cornelia Long Madgett, Poet Laureate of Detroit, was born in Norfolk, Virginia. Madgett began writing at an early age and published her first book of poems, “Songs to a Phantom Nightingale,” at the age of 17. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia State College in 1945. Madgett moved to Detroit, Michigan and became a teacher in the Detroit Public School System. In 1955, she earned a Master of Education degree from Wayne State University. In 1956, her poem “Midway,” from the book of poetry “One and the Many,” attracted wide attention for its portrayal of black people’s struggles and victories in a time when racism was prevalent. In 1968, Madgett became a teacher in creative writing and black literature at Eastern Michigan University where she taught until her retirement in 1984.
· July 5, 1929 Henry Lincoln Johnson, soldier and recipient of several medals, died penniless and without official recognition from the United States government. Johnson was born in 1897 in Alexandria, Virginia and moved to Albany, New York in his early teens. Johnson enlisted in the army in 1917, joining the all-black New York National Guard unit which was assigned to the French command during World War I. While on guard duty on May 14, 1918, Johnson came under attack by a German raider party. Johnson displayed uncommon heroism when using his rifle and a knife he repelled the Germans, thereby rescuing a comrade from capture and saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. For his actions, Johnson was the first American soldier in World War I to receive the Croix de Guerre with star and Gold Palm from the French government. In 1991, a monument was erected in his honor in Albany and a street was renamed Henry Johnson Boulevard. In 1996, he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and in 2003 the Distinguished Service Cross, the army’s second highest award.
· July 5, 1950 Earl Shinhoster, civil rights leader, was born in Savannah, Georgia. Shinhoster got involved in the NAACP’s Savannah branch youth council at a young age and was president of the council at 16. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Morehouse College in 1972 and later earned his Juris Doctor degree from Cleveland State University College of Law. After returning to Atlanta, he took a staff position with the NAACP where he worked for the next 25 years, including serving as interim director of the organization from 1994 to 1995. During his brief tenure, $1 million in debt was eliminated and membership increased from 600,000 to nearly 1 million. From 1996 to 2000, Shinhoster served as coordinator of voter education for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. There he developed a program to increase voter participation. Shinhoster died in a car accident on June 11, 2000 and the Earl T. Shinhoster Interchange, the Earl T. Shinhoster Bridge, and the Earl T. Shinhoster Post Office are all named in his honor.
· July 5, 1956 James David Lofton, hall of fame football player, was born in Fort Ord, California. Lofton excelled at track, football, and academically at Stanford University. He won the long jump at the 1978 NCAA Track and Field Championships and that same year earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in engineering. Lofton was selected in the 1978 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers and over his 16 season professional career was an eight-time All-Pro selection. Lofton retired in 1993 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003. From 2002 to 2008, he was the wide receiver coach for the San Diego Chargers and from 2008 to 2009 he held the same position with the Oakland Raiders.
· July 5, 1969 Thomas Joseph Odhiambo Mboya, Kenyan politician, was assassinated. Mboya was born August 15, 1930 in Kilima Mbogo, Kenya. In 1950, Mboya joined the African Staff Association and a year later was elected president and began molding the association into a trade union named the Kenya Local Government Workers Union. In 1955, he received a scholarship to attend Ruskin College, Oxford where he studied industrial management and graduated in 1956. After returning from Britain, Mboya won a seat in the Legislative Council but became dissatisfied and formed his own party, the People’s Congress Party. In 1958, at the All-African Peoples’ Conference, Mboya was elected conference chairman at the age of 28. In 1959, Mboya organized the Airlift Africa project through which 81 Kenyan students were sent to the United States to study at U. S. universities. Between 1959 and 1963, hundreds of Kenyan students benefitted from the project, including Barack Obama, Sr. In 1960, the People’s Congress Party merged with the Kenya African Union and Kenya Independent Movement to form the Kenya African National Union with Mboya as Secretary General. After Kenya gained independence in 1963, Mboya became Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and later Minister for Economic Planning and Development, the position he held at the time of his death. A street in Nairobi is named in his honor.
· July 5, 2004 Hugh Lawson Shearer, the third Prime Minister of Jamaica, died. Shearer was born May 18, 1923 in Martha Braie, Jamaica and attended St. Simon’s College. In 1941, he took a job with the weekly trade union newspaper, “The Jamaican Worker”. In 1955, he was elected to the House of Representatives where he served until 1959 and from 1962 to 1967 he was a member of the Senate. He also served as Jamaica’s chief spokesman on foreign affairs as Deputy Chief of Mission at the United Nations. In 1967, he was appointed Prime Minister where he served until 1972. His term was a prosperous one for Jamaica and was marked by the construction of 50 new schools and an upswing in secondary school enrollment. Shearer was defeated in elections in 1972 but did serve as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1980 to 1989. “Hugh Shearer: A Voice for the People” was published in 2005.