Monday, October 31, 2011

October in Black History

Each month we'll list daily black history notes for the month.  Here's what happened in October in Black History.

On October 31 in Black History...
In 1945, Educator, Booker T Washington was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.
In 1899, W.F. Burr patented the railway-switching device, Patent # 636,197
In 1893, football player, William Henry Lewis was named All-American.
In 1896, actor and singer, Ethel Waters was born in Chester, Pennsylvania.  Waters was a blues, jazz and gospel vocalist and actress. She frequently performed jazz, big band, and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts, although she began her career in the 1920s singing blues.
Her best-known recordings includes, "Dinah", "Birmingham Bertha", "Stormy Weather", "Hottentot Potentate", "Am I Blue?", and "Cabin in the Sky", as well as her version of the spiritual "His Eye Is on the Sparrow". Waters was the second African American to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Her recordings, "Am I Blue", "Stormy Weather" and "Dinah", were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five yrs old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance."

On October 27 in Black History...
In 1924, Ruby Dee was born, Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio.

On October 25 in Black History...

In 1892, L.F. Brown patented the bridle bit.  1892 Patent No. 484,994

In 1925, biochemist Emmett W. Chappelle was born. From 1950 to 1955 Chapelle served as an instructor of biochemistry at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. From 1955 to 1959, he was a research associate at Stanford University.

In 1958 Chappelle joined the Research Institute in Baltimore, a division of the Martin Marietta Corporation which was famous for designing airplanes and spacecraft. There, Chappelle discovered that even one-celled plants such as algae, which are lightweight and can be transported easily, can convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. This discovery helped to create a safe food supply for astronauts.

Chappelle went to work at Hazelton Laboratories in 1963 as a biochemist. In 1966, he joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a research chemist, and later became a remote sensing scientist, studying natural systems to improve environmental management. Chappelle retired from NASA in 2001. . Some of Chappelle's most interesting work was in the area of luminescence, which is light without heat. While designing instruments for the Mars Viking spacecraft, he became interested in bioluminescence, which is warm light produced by living organisms. Chappelle used two chemicals from fireflies which give off light when mixed with ATP (adenosine triphosphate), an energy storage compound found in all living cells. This could provide a method of detecting life on Mars.

Chappelle proved that the number of bacteria in semen can be measured by the amount of light given off by that bacteria. He also showed how satellites can monitor luminescence levels to monitor crops (growth rates, water conditions and harvest timing).  Chappelle has been honored as one of the 100 most distinguished African American scientists of the 20th Century.

On October 24 in Black History...
In 1994, Dorothy Porter Wesley was presented with the Charles Frankel Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities
In 1948,  - Activist Kweisi Mfume was born.  In 1996 Mfume became president of the NAACP.
In 1935, "Mulatto", the first Black-authored (Langston Hughes) play to become a long-run Broadway hit, opens.
In 1964, Zambia proclaimed independence.  The territory of what is now Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia from 1911. It was renamed to Zambia on the occasion of its independence, in 1964. The new name of Zambia was derived from the Zambezi river (Zambezi may mean "God's river") which flows through the western region of the country.
Zambia ( /ˈzæmbiə/), officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north,Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west. The capital city is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of the country. The population is concentrated mainly around the capital Lusaka in the south and the Copperbelt to the northwest.
Originally inhabited by Khoisan peoples, the region of what is now Zambia was reached by the Bantu expansion by ca. the 12th century. After visits by European explorers starting in the 18th century, Zambia became the British colony of Northern Rhodesia towards the end of the nineteenth century. For most of the colonial period, the country was governed by an administration appointed from London with the advice of the British South Africa Company.
On 24 October 1964, the country declared independence from the United Kingdom and prime minister Kenneth Kaunda became the first head of state. Zambia was governed by Kenneth Kaunda of the socialist United National Independence Party (UNIP) from 1964 until 1991. From 1972 to 1991 Zambia was a one-party state with UNIP the sole legal political party. From 1991 to 2002, Zambia was governed by president Frederick Chiluba of the social-democraticMovement for Multi-Party Democracy during which the country saw a rise in social-economic growth and increased decentralisation of government. Levy Mwanawasa was the third President of Zambia. He presided over the country from January 2002 until his death in August 2008. He is credited with having initiated a campaign to rid the country of corruption, and increasing standards of living from the levels left by Frederick T.J. Chiluba.
The World Bank in 2010 named Zambia as one of the world's fastest economically reforming countries. The headquarters of COMESA are in the capital Lusaka.

On October 23 in Black History...
In 1940, Edison "Edson" Arantes do Nascimento, best known by his nickname Pelé was born in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil,. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. In 1999, he was voted as the Football Player of the Century by the IFFHS International Federation of Football History and Statistics. In the same year French weekly magazine France-Football consulted their former "Ballon D'Or" winners to elect the Football Player of the Century. Pelé came in first position. In 1999 the International Olympic Committee named Pelé the "Athlete of the Century". In his career he scored 760 official goals, 541 in league championships, making him the top scorer of all time. In total Pelé scored 1281 goals in 1363 games.

In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero.He is known for his accomplishments and contributions to the game of football. He is also acknowledged for his vocal support of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor (when he scored his 1,000th goal he dedicated it to the poor children of Brazil). During his career, he became known as "The King of Football" (O Rei do Futebol), "The King Pelé" (O Rei Pelé) or simply "The King" (O Rei).

Spotted by football star Waldemar de Brito, Pelé began playing for Santos at 15 and his national team at 16, and won his first World Cup at 17. Despite numerous offers from European clubs, the economic conditions and Brazilian football regulations at the time benefited Santos, thus enabling them to keep Pelé for almost two decades until 1974. With Pelé within their ranks, Santos reach their zenith by winning the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club competition in South American football. Pelé played most of his career as a centre forward. Pelé's technique and natural athleticism have been universally praised and during his playing years he was renowned for his excellent dribbling and passing, his pace, powerful shot, exceptional heading ability, and prolific goalscoring.Since his retirement in 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and has undertaken various acting roles and commercial ventures. He is currently the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos. He is the all-time leading scorer of the Brazil national football team and is the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning squads.

On October 15 in Black History...
In 1984, Bishop Desmond Tutu, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

On October 6 in Black History...
In 1895, W.D. Davis patented an improved riding saddle.
In 1917, Fannie Lou Hamer was born. Hamer was an American voting rights activist and civil rights leader.
She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, attending the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in that capacity. Her plain-spoken manner and fervent belief in the Biblical righteousness of her cause gained her a reputation as an electrifying speaker and constant activist of civil

On October 3 in Black History...
In 1956, Nat King Cole became the first black performer (of his star power, that is) to host his own tv show. "For 13 months, I was the Jackie Robinson of television," wrote Nat King Cole in a revealing 1958 article for Ebony magazine. "After a trail-blazing year that shattered all the old bug-a-boos about Negroes on TV, I found myself standing there with the bat on my shoulder. The men who dictate what Americans see and hear didn't want to play ball."  Black hosts had been tried before. Hazel Scott (in 1950) and Billy Daniels (in 1952) had each starred in a short-lived and variety show.
In 1949 - WERD, the first Black-owned radio station, opened in Atlanta. Jesse B. Blayton, Sr., was a pioneer African American radio station entrepreneur. Blayton founded WERD-AM in Atlanta, Georgia on October 3, 1949 making him the first African American to own and operate a radio station in the United States.
In 1941 - Chubby Checker, singer, was born as Ernest Evans, in Philadelphia. Checker was best known for "The Twist" a hit song that soon became a style of dance.

On October 2 in Black History...
Justice Thurgood Marshall
In 1967, Thurgood Marshall was sworn in, and becomes the first Black Supreme Court Justice.
In 1942, Bernice Johnson Reagon was born in Albany, Georgia. She became a vocalist, composer and historian. As an historian, she founded "Sweet Honey in the Rock."
In 1937, Johnny L. Cochran, Jr. was born in Shreveport, Louisiana.
In 1935, Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., was born. He became an astronaut and pilot. He was the first African American selected for space travel.
In 1898 - Otis J. Rene was born.  Otis and his brother Leon established Exclusive and Excelsior Records in the 1930's. By the mid-1940's the brothers will be leading independent record producers whose artists will include Nat "King" Cole, Herb Jeffries, and Johnny Otis.
In 1865, North Carolina amends constitution forbidding slavery.
In 1800, Nat Turner, leader of major slave rebellion, born in Southampton County, Virginia.

On October 1 in Black History...
In 1952, Juanita James was born. She is a writer, who has been coined, "the gatekeeper of prose."
In 1960 - Nigeria was proclaimed independent
In 1962 - James Meredith started school, the first Black student at University of Mississippi... after 3000 federal troops quelled riots over his admission.
In 1991, Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, art historian, becomes dean of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
In 1966 - Black Panther party founded in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.

Check out these sites are where I get many of the daily black history info:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Ruby Dee!

"The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within - strength, courage, dignity."
Ruby Dee
On October 27 in Black History...

In 1924, Ruby Dee was born, Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio. Dee, actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter,journalist, and activist, is perhaps best known for co-starring in the film A Raisin in the Sun (1961) and the film American Gangster (2007) for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Dee's love of English and poetry motivated her to study the arts. She attended Hunter High School, one of New York's first-rate schools that drew the brightest girls. While in high school, Dee decided to pursue acting.  After graduation Dee entered Hunter College. There she joined the American Negro Theater (ANT) and adopted the stage name Ruby Dee. While still at Hunter College, Dee took a class in radio training offered through the American Theater Wing. This training led to a part in the radio serial Nora Drake. After college Dee worked as a French and Spanish translator. She knew, however, that the theater was to be her destiny.

In 1946 Dee got her first Broadway role in Jeb, a drama about a returning African American war hero. There she met Ossie Davis, the actor in the title role. They became close friends and were married on December 9, 1948.  Dee made several appearances on Broadway before receiving national recognition for her role in the 1950 film The Jackie Robinson Story. Her career in acting has crossed all major forms of media over a span of eight decades, including the films A Raisin in the Sun, in which she recreated her stage role as a suffering housewife in the projects, and Edge of the City. She played both roles opposite Sidney Poitier. During the 1960s, Dee appeared in such politically charged films as Gone Are the Days and The Incident, which is recognized as helping pave the way for young African-American actors and filmmakers.

In 2007 the winner of the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album was tied between Dee and Ossie Davis for With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together, and former President Jimmy Carter. In 2003, Ruby Dee also narrated a series of WPA slave narratives in the HBO film Unchained Memories, according to IMDB. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2007 for her portrayal of Mama Lucas in American Gangster. She won the SAG award for the same performance.   Dee was also inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and the Theatre Hall of Fame.

"God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear."  
Ruby Dee

In 1953 she became well known for denouncing the government's decision to execute Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for wartime spying. This experience helped Dee realize that racism and discrimination (treating people differently based on race, gender, or nationality) were not exclusively black experiences. Dee and Davis were involved in and supported several other civil rights protests and causes, including Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington.

Ruby and her husband, Ossie Davis collaborated on several projects designed to promote black heritage in general and other black artists in particular. In 1974, they produced The Ruby Dee/Ossie Davis Story Hour for the National Black Network. In 1981, they produced the series With Ossie and Ruby for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). Dee found this work particularly satisfying because she got to travel the country talking to authors and others who could put the black experience in perspective. She believes that the series made black people look at themselves outside of the problems of racism. 

In 1970 the National Urban League honored them with the Frederick Douglass Award for distinguished leadership toward equal opportunity. In 1999 Dee and Davis were arrested for protesting the fatal shooting of an unarmed West African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, by white police officers of the New York City Police Department.

With over 50 years of collaborative works with her husband, the never-acquiescent civil rights activist has shown her willingness to work for the benefit of others. From her arrest during the Amadou Diallo protest to celebrating her wedding anniversary by raising funds for small playhouse theaters, her battle for equal rights has clearly not reached its end.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Langston Hughes' "Mulatto" Hits Broadway!

On October 24 in Black History...

In 1935, "Mulatto", the first Black-authored (Langston Hughes) play to become a long-run Broadway hit, opens.

Written during the summer of 1930, Mulatto is Langston Hughes's first full-length play. It appears to have come to him quickly; its painful and melodramatic depictions of father-son conflict, the power of class and whiteness, the legacy of slavery, and the vicious oppression of African Americans in the South were all preoccupations taken up in his earlier work. Many commentators have noted Hughes's personal investment in his narratives of father-son conflict, and the metaphorical relation of miscegenated family and nation.

The play also seeks to correct the dramatic representation of lynching in such plays as the 1927 Pulitzer Prize-winning In Abraham's Bosom, by Paul Green, in which lynching is the inevitable and unchallenged-although not thereby justified-fate of Abe McCranie, the impetuous and irascible central character. The plots of the two works are similar in many ways, but in Hughes's play the black characters are articulate, rational, and courageous. Not usually understood as an antilynching play, Mulatto is set in Georgia and was written in a year when that state led the nation in lynchings. Cora's accusations that the Colonel is in themob seeking the son who murdered him speak eloquently to the horrifying internecine dimensions of Southern brutality. (In 1961, Hughes wrote regarding some revisions his editor, Webster Smalley, had proposed: "Mulatto might be left timeless, since they still behave like that in the backwoods of Georgia. In the big towns, of course, individual sitins like Bert's have grown to mass-sit-ins. Otherwise, no difference.")

Opening on October 24, 1935, at the Vanderbilt Theatre, Mulatto ran on Broadway for more than a year and toured for two seasons. The Broadway Mulatto was, however, greatly altered by the producer, Martin Jones, who sensationalized an already shocking story. Among other changes, in his version Sallie misses the train and is raped by Talbot in the final scene. No text for the Broadway Mulatto has surfaced.

The version of Mulatto printed here is dated by Hughes's covering remarks as 1942, although the copyright is given as 1932. The cover sheet reads: "from the short story 'Father and Son' in The Ways of White Folks. Original first version of 'Mulatto,' written at Hedgerow Theatre, Maryland Rose Valley, in which no girl is raped. That was added by Mr. Martin Jones for the Broadway production. Langston Hughes, Dec. 28, 1942." On the title page he adds, "This play might also be called 'The Colonel's Son.'" The comment about the short story is puzzling because "Father and Son" was most certainly written later than the play; however, Hughes did, at one point, recommend the short story to Martin Jones, to give him a better sense of the play. The manuscript is actually a photocopy of a typescript on which Hughes pasted minor revisions. The photocopy on which the changes are made is dated 1945 by the Beinecke Library. Internal evidence places the original as having been written between 1934 and 1938. This version differs from the version published in Five Plays by Langston Hughes in several ways, most notably in the last lines of the final scene. It is this version, probably minus the changes on this photocopy, that was the basis for several of the play's translations.

James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Civil Rights Leader, Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth

Rev Shuttlesworth in 2007
"I went to jail 30 or 40 times...for a good thing, trying to make a difference."

Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth

Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, a former truck driver who studied religion at night, became pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1953 and soon was an outspoken leader in the fight for racial equality. He survived a 1956 bombing, an assault during a 1957 demonstration, chest injuries when Birmingham authorities turned fire hoses on demonstrators in 1963, and countless arrests. In his 1963 book "Why We Can't Wait," King called Shuttlesworth "one of the nation's the most courageous freedom fighters ... a wiry, energetic and indomitable man." "When God made Bull Connor, one of the real negative forces in this country, He was sure to make Fred Shuttlesworth." Lowery said Wednesday.

"I didn't give a slap happy about what anybody thought about me"
Fred Shuttleworth in 2010

"My church was a beehive," Shuttlesworth once said. "I made the movement. I made the challenge. Birmingham was the citadel of segregation, and the people wanted to march."
Shuttlesworth was born March 18, 1922, near Montgomery and grew up in Birmingham.  As a child, he knew he would either be a minister or a doctor and by 1943, he decided to enter the ministry. He began taking theological courses at night while working as a truck driver and cement worker during the day. He was licensed to preach in 1944 and ordained in 1948.

On December 25, 1956, unknown persons tried to kill Shuttlesworth by placing sixteen sticks of dynamite under his bedroom window. Shuttlesworth somehow escaped unhurt even though his house was heavily damaged. A police officer, who also belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, told Shuttlesworth as he came out of his home, "If I were you I'd get out of town as quick as I could". Shuttlesworth told him to tell the Klan that he was not leaving and 
"I wasn't saved to run."  The next day, Shuttlesworth led 250 people in a protest of segregation on buses in Birmingham.

In 1957, he was beaten by a mob when he tried to enroll two of his children in an all-white school in Birmingham.  In the early 1960s, Shuttlesworth had invited King back to Birmingham. Televised scenes of police dogs and fire hoses being turned on black marchers, including children, in spring 1963 helped the rest of the nation grasp the depth of racial animosity in the Deep South.  Shuttlesworth participated in the sit-ins against segregated lunch counters in 1960 and took part in the organization and completion of the Freedom Rides in 1961.

Shuttlesworth(Left) with Abernathy and Dr. King in 1963

Shuttlesworth invited SCLC and Dr. King to come to Birmingham in 1963 to lead the campaign to desegregate it through mass demonstrations–what Shuttlesworth called "Project C", the "C" standing for "confrontation". While Shuttlesworth was willing to negotiate with political and business leaders for peaceful abandonment of segregation, he believed, with good reason, that they would not take any steps that they were not forced to take. He suspected their promises could not be trusted on until they acted on them.

One of the 1963 demonstrations he led resulted in Shuttlesworth's being convicted of parading without a permit from the City Commission. On appeals the case reached the US Supreme Court. In its 1969 decision of Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham, the Supreme Court reversed Shuttlesworth's conviction. They determined circumstances indicated that the parade permit was denied not to control traffic, as the state contended, but to censor ideas.

In 1963 Shuttlesworth was set on provoking a crisis that would force the authorities and business leaders to recalculate the cost of segregation. He was helped immeasurably by Eugene "Bull" Connor, the Commissioner of Public Safety and most powerful public official in Birmingham, who used Klan groups to heighten violence against blacks in the city. Even as the business class was beginning to see the end of segregation, Connor was determined to maintain it. Referring to the city's notoriously racist safety commissioner, Shuttlesworth would tell followers, "We're telling ol' 'Bull' Connor right here tonight that we're on the march and we're not going to stop marching until we get our rights."
Shuttleworth Statue, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

While Connor's direct police tactics intimidated black citizens of Birmingham, they also created a split between Connor and the business leaders. They resented both the damage Connor was doing to Birmingham's image around the world and his high-handed attitude toward them.  According to a May 1963 New York Times profile of Shuttlesworth, Connor responded to the word Shuttlesworth had been injured by the spray of fire hoses by saying: "I'm sorry I missed it. ... I wish they'd carried him away in a hearse."

Similarly, while Connor may have benefited politically in the short run from Shuttlesworth's determined provocations, that also fit Shuttleworth's long-term plans. The televised images of Connor's directing handlers of police dogs to attack unarmed demonstrators and firefighters' using hoses to knock down children had a profound effect on American citizens' view of the civil rights struggle.  

Shuttlesworth's activities were not limited to Birmingham. In 1964 he traveled to St. Augustine, Florida (which he often cited as the place where the civil rights struggle met with the most violent resistance), taking part in marches and widely publicized beach wade-ins that led directly to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1965 Shuttlesworth he was also active in Selma, Alabama, and the march from Selma to Montgomery that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In 1978, Shuttlesworth was portrayed by Roger Robinson in the television miniseries King.Shuttlesworth founded the "Shuttlesworth Housing Foundation" in 1988 to assist families who might otherwise be unable to buy their own homes. Shuttlesworth was was a key figure in Spike Lee's 1997 documentary, "4 Little Girls," about the September 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four black children. He also gained attention in Diane McWhorter's book "Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution," which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002. On July 16, 2008, the Birmingham, Alabama, Airport Authority approved changing the name of the Birmingham's airport in honor of Shuttlesworth. On October 27, 2008, the airport was officially changed to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport
Shuttlesworth & Sen Obama
In 2007 Obama pushed Shuttlesworth's wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma during a commemoration of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march in which club-swinging troopers and deputies beat and turned back marchers at the Edmund Pettus bridge at Selma on March 7, 1965, an attack that became known as "Bloody Sunday" and helped galvanize national support for the voting rights movement.  In November 2008, Shuttlesworth watched from a hospital bed as Senator Barack Obama was elected the nation's first African-American president. 

On October 5, 2011, Shuttlesworth passed away at the age of 89 in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute announced that it intends to include Shuttlesworth's burial site on the Civil Rights History Trail.  

When Rev. Shuttlesworth retired as the pastor of Greater New Light in 2006 at the age of 84, he said in his final sermon:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

MLK's daughter calls for a 'radical revolution of values':

MLK's daughter calls for a 'radical revolution of values':

'via Blog this'

Ten of thousands of people have gathered on a beautiful fall day in Washington to witness the formal dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial that opened in August.
On Deadline will be liveblogging the event.
Update at 9:55 a.m. ET: Martin Luther King III calls for an end of "conservative policies that exclude people." "We must finally get rid of racism."
Update at 9:51 a.m. ET: King III praises the "occupy" economic movement that began on Wall Street, saying, "We must stand up for economic justice."

GALLERY: Photos from the MLK ceremony

Update at 9:48 a.m. ET: Martin Luther King III, King's song, says it is important "not to place too much emphasis on Martin Luther King the idol, and not enough on the ideals of Martin Luther King."

Update at 9:42 a.m. ET: She notes that her father was iactively involved in a poor people's campaign when he died. She says she believe thathe would be supportive now of protests by the poor and the unemployed. "I hear my father say: We must have a radical revolution of values and a reordering of our priorities in this nation. I hear my father say, as we dedicate this monument, we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society, to a person-oriented society."

Update at 9:39 a.m. ET: She also praises her mother, Coretta Scott King, for her work with King, particularly after his death, by continuing to his legacy. Her work, says Bernice , help make "most hated man in America in 1967 to now be one of the most revered and lovedmen in the world so that we might be able to build a monument in his honor. Thanks you, Mama, for your dedication, thank you for your sacrifice."

Update at 9:36 a.m. ET: Rev. Bernice King" says the day "is not just a celebration for African-Americans, but Americans and citizens around the world. No doubt today the world celebrates with us."

Update at 9:34 a.m. ET: Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., says, "It is a great time of celebration and the entire King family is proud to witness this day."

Update at 9:32 a.m. ET: USA TODAY's Carly Mallenbaum reports that spectators are looking for any sort of shade on the open lawn. Families sit in chairs with built-in canopies. Women sit beneath open umbrellas. One woman fans herself with an innovative device: A hand fan that turns into a straw hat.

Update at 9:29 a.m. ET: King's sister, Christine King Farris, refers to Obama, the first African-American president, and says, "All dreams cane come true and America is a place where you can make it happen."

Update at 9:20 a.m. ET: Gray spends much of his speech noting that residents of Washington D.C .do not, under the Constitution, have the right to vote. He calls on President Obama and Congress to end this "yoke of injustice" and "remove the shackles of oppression." The voting restrictions were put in place when the District of Columbia was created. The district does not have a voting representative in Congress.

Update 9:17 a.m. ET: Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington, D.C., says the memorial is "long overdue."

Update at 9:34 a.m. ET: In the crowd, the Free Martin Luther King Jr Memorial baseball caps fit all sizes of heads on Sunday, reports USA TODAY's Carly Mallenbaum. The white hats provided much-needed shade from a strong morning sun during the celebration event. Ruby Johnson, a 64-year-old retired Walmart employee from Danville,Va., disapproved of the free hat color choice ("I can't wear white after Labor Day!"), but was very much in favor of the MLK Memorial event. "I don't have to ride the back of the bus, because of him," she says of the civil rights leader.

Update at 9:11 a.m. ET: Gwen Ifill, managing editor of PBS' Washington Week addresses the crowd as master of ceremonies.

Original post: The striking weather is in sharp contast to the stormy weather driven by Hurricane Irene that forced a postponement of the ceremonies in August.

President Obama will be among those honoring the legacy of the civil rights leader during the four-hour program. Others who will appear include singer Aretha Franklin and poet Nikki Giovanni, who will poem In the Spirit of Martin.

Thousands of people began gathering at dawn at the memorial, which is not far from the Lincoln Memorial. Organizers say they expect as many as 50,000 people to attend today, USA TODAY's Melanie Eversley reports.

King's sister and two of his children are scheduled to speak. The choir from King's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta will sing.

"Although our plans have been scaled back, I am confident Sunday's event will be momentous," said Harry Johnson, head of the foundation raising money for the memorial.

He referred to the dedication as a "long-awaited moment in our nation's history."

Update 9:17 a.m. ET: Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington, D.C., says the memorial is "long overdue."

Update at 9:34 a.m. ET: In the crowd, the Free Martin Luther King Jr Memorial baseball caps fit all sizes of heads on Sunday, reports USA TODAY's Carly Mallenbaum. The white hats provided much-needed shade from a strong morning sun during the celebration event. Ruby Johnson, a 64-year-old retired Walmart employee from Danville,Va., disapproved of the free hat color choice ("I can't wear white after Labor Day!"), but was very much in favor of the MLK Memorial event. "I don't have to ride the back of the bus, because of him," she says of the civil rights leader.

Update at 9:11 a.m. ET: Gwen Ifill, managing editor of PBS' Washington Week addresses the crowd as master of ceremonies.

Original post: The striking weather is in sharp contast to the stormy weather driven by Hurricane Irene that forced a postponement of the ceremonies in August.

President Obama will be among those honoring the legacy of the civil rights leader during the four-hour program. Others who will appear include singer Aretha Franklin and poet Nikki Giovanni, who will poem In the Spirit of Martin.

Thousands of people began gathering at dawn at the memorial, which is not far from the Lincoln Memorial. Organizers say they expect as many as 50,000 people to attend today, USA TODAY's Melanie Eversley reports.

King's sister and two of his children are scheduled to speak. The choir from King's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta will sing.

"Although our plans have been scaled back, I am confident Sunday's event will be momentous," said Harry Johnson, head of the foundation raising money for the memorial.

He referred to the dedication as a "long-awaited moment in our nation's history."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Congratulations to 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winners, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee

The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work".

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 73, is Africa's first democratically elected female president(Liberia). Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup d'état, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions. She placed a very distant second in the 1997 presidential election. Later, she was elected President in the 2005 presidential election and took office on 16 January 2006 as the first and currently the only elected female head of state in Africa.  Read more...

Leymah Roberta Gbowee, 39, is an African peace activist responsible for leading a women's peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. This led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president.

An article on Gbowee in O-The Oprah Magazine painted this backdrop:
"The Liberian civil war, which lasted from 1989 to 2003 with only brief interruptions, was the result of economic inequality, a struggle to control natural resources, and deep-rooted rivalries among various ethnic groups, including the descendants of the freed American slaves who founded the country in 1847. The war involved the cynical use of child soldiers, armed with lightweight Kalashnikovs, against the country's civilian population. At the center of it all was Charles Taylor, the ruthless warlord who initiated the first fighting and would eventually serve as Liberian president until he was forced into exile in 2003."

Read the press release here:

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's Our Art

Watts Riot, by Noah Purifoy 1966 
“Places of Validation, Art and Progression” opened at the California African American Museum on last Thursday September 29, 2011 as part of Pacific Standard Time , the museum-wide collaboration highlighting the birth of the Los Angeles art scene. their newest exhibition on display. This exhibit, on display from September 29, 2011, to April 1, 2012, takes viewers on a connected journey of
personal stories and creativity to discover the people and places throughout Los Angeles that
made it possible to experience the visual expression of African Americans in art during the
1940s – 1980s. 

A video of interviews with the artists plays at the entrance of the gallery and sets the tone for the exhibit.

“It’s our art. It’s not anybody else’s art,” says painter Samella Lewis. “We have to validate ourselves if it’s going to be authentic. White folks tend to only validate in terms of their vision.”

Former civil rights activist, now senior lecturer of both African American studies and communication studies at UCLA, is one of three co-curators for the “Places of Validation, Art & Progression” exhibit. According to Von Blum, “Places of Validation, Art & Progression” aims to explore the history of the African American struggles and attitudes that resulted from being excluded from the mainstream art community in Los Angeles. The works in the exhibition span from figurative to political.

For more information on the California African American Museum visit or call (213) 744-7432. Admission is always free.

Read the press release.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

September in Black History

Each month we'll list daily black history notes for the month.  Here's what happened in September in Black History.

On September 6 in Black History...
In 1988 - Lee Roy Young becomes the first African American Texas Ranger in the police force's 165 year history.
 In 1978 - Foxy Brown was born.
 In 1969 - Macy Gray was born.
 In 1967 - Walter E. Washington was named Walter E. Washington commissioner and "unofficial" mayor of Washington, D.C. by President Lyndon Johnson.
 In 1892 - George "Little Chocolate" Dixon betas Jack Skelly in New Orleans to win the world featherweight title. While some African American citizens celebrate for two days, the New Orleans Times-Democrat says, "It is a mistake to match a Negro and a white man bring the races together on any terms of equality even in the prize ring"
In 1826 - John Brown Russwurm became the first Black to graduate college in America on September 6, 1826 at Bowdoin College. However, just 14 days before Edward Jones graduated Amherst College in Massachusetts.
 In 1968, the Kingdom of Swaziland became independent. Swaziland is possibly unique in Africa as being 99% free of political violence. (One political death since independence.)

On September 5 in Black History...
In 1960 - Leopold Sedar Senghor, poet, politician, was elected President of Senegal.  Senghor was a Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who for two decades served as the first president of Senegal (1960–1980). Senghor was the first African elected as a member of the Académie française. Before independence, he founded the political party called the Senegalese Democratic Bloc. He is regarded by many as one of the most important African intellectuals of the 20th century.
In 1916, Frank Yerby, novelist, O. Henry short story award winner was born.
1859, Our Nig by Harriet Wilson, the first novel published in the U.S. by an African American woman, is published. It was lost for years until reprinted with a critical essay by African American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in 1983.
In 1899 - J. Ross patented the Bailing Press, Patent No. 632,539.
In 1895 - George Washington Murray was elected to Congress by South Carolina.
In 1846 - Secretary of the American Negro Academy, John W Cromwell was born.
On September 4 in Black History...
In 1960 - Damon Wayans was born. 
 In 1923 - George Washington Carver of Tuskegee Institute received the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP's highest award, for distinguished research in agricultural chemistry.
In 1908 - Richard Wright was born.
In 1865 - Bowie State College was established in Bowie, MD. 
In 1848 - Inventor and engineer, Louis Latimer was born.
In 1981, Beyonce Knowles was born.

On September 3 in Black History...
In 1895, Charles Houston, NAACP leader was born.
1n 1970, The first Congress of African Peoples was held in Atlanta, GA.
In 1990, Jonathan Rodgers became president of CBS's television stations division, making him the highest ranking African American in network television. 

On September 2 in Black History...
In 1884, John Parker patents "Parker Pulverizer", U.S. Patent # 304,552 September 2, 1884 "Follower-Screw for Tobacco Presses." Official Gazette of the USPTO v.28, p.883.
Joseph Hatchet
In 1766 - Abolitionist, inventor, entrepreneur, James Forten was born in Philadelphia, PA.  
In 1975, Joseph W. Hatchett was sworn in as first Black supreme court justice in the South in the twentieth century. An even more significant step in ending racial separation was Hatchett's reelection in 1976. He became the first black justice to be reelected to the Florida Supreme Court. In 1979, Hatchett resigned his position a Florida Supreme Court Justice in order to step into another first. In that year Hatchett became the first black justice admitted to a federal court of appeals in the south when he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. When the 5th Circuit split in 1981 to form the 5th Circuit and 11th Circuit, Hatchett went with the 11th Circuit. He remained in this position until 1999 and served as Chief Justice of this body from 1996 to 1999.  Hatchett now works as an of counsel attorney with Akerman Senterfitt in Tallahassee, Florida.

Frank Robinson
In 1966 - Professional baseball player, Frank Robinson was named MVP of the American League. He played from 1956–1976, most notably for the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. He is the only player to win league MVP honors in both the National and American Leagues. He won the Triple crown, was a member of two teams that won the World Series (the 1966 and 1970 Baltimore Orioles), and amassed the fourth-most career home runs at the time of his retirement (he is currently tied for eighth). Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. Robinson was the first African-American hired to serve as manager in Major League history. He managed the Cleveland Indians during the last two years of his playing career, compiling a 186–189 record. He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.

On September 1 in Black History...
In 1975 - Gen. Daniel James Jr. was promoted to rank of four-star general and named commander-in-chief of the North American Air Defense Command.
In 1867, Robert Freeman became the first Black person to graduate from Harvard Dental School.

Check out these sites are where I get many of the daily black history info:

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