EPMG Black History Month 2014

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  • Table of Contents














  • Timeline 4 Significant Events

    Feature 6 Black History Month

    Profiles 10 Artists Athletes Influencers

    Historical Profiles 36 Artists Athletes Activists Entertainers Musicians Pioneers War Heroes



  • Timeline

    1865, On February 1, 1865, Abraham Lincoln signs the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawing slavery throughout the United States.

    1866, On June 13, Congress approves the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing due process and equal protection under the law to all citizens. The amendment also grants citizenship to African Americans.

    1870, The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified on March 30.

    1896, In September George Washington Carver is appointed director of agricultural research at Tuskegee Institute. His work advances peanut, sweet potato, and soybean farming.

    1907, Madam C.J. Walker of Denver develops and markets her hair straightening method and creates one of the most successful cosmetics firms in the nation.

    1909, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is formed on February 12 in New York City, partly in response to the Springfield Riot.

    1916, In January the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) begins publishing the Journal of Negro History which becomes the first scholarly journal devoted to the study of African American history.

    1917, Nearly 10,000 African Americans and their supporters march down Manhattans Fifth Avenue on July 28 as part of a silent parade, an NAACP-organized protest against lynchings, race riots, and the denial of rights. This is the first major civil rights demonstration in the 20th Century.

    1919, The Associated Negro Press is established inChicagoby Claude A. Barnett on March 2.

    1923, Photographer James Van Der Zee begins his career by capturing images of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA.

    1862, On September 22, President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation and announces that it will go into effect on July 1, 1863 if the states then in rebellion have not by that point returned to the Union.

    1877,President Rutherford B. Hayes appointsFrederick Douglassas the first black U.S. Marshal. His jurisdication is the District of Columbia.

    1895, Booker T. Washington delivers his famous Atlanta Compromise address on September 18 at the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition. He says the Negro problem would be solved by a policy of gradualism and accommodation.

    1901, On October 11, when Bert Williams and George Walker record their music for the Victor Talking Machine Company, they become the first African American recording artists.

    1920, The decade of the 1920s witnesses the Harlem Renaissance, a remarkable period of creativity for black writers, poets, and artists, including among others Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.

    1921, On May 31-June 1, at least 60 blacks and 21 whites are killed in the Tulsa Race Riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The violence destroys a thriving African American neighborhood and business district called Deep Greenwood.

    1926, Carter G. Woodson establishes Negro History Week in February between the Abraham Lincoln and Frederick DouglassBirthdays.

    1931, William Grant Stillbecomes the first black symphony composer to have his music performed by a major symphony orchestra when the Rochester, New York, Philharmonic Orchestra presets The Afro-American Symphony in concert.

    1937, William H. Hastie, former advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, is confirmed on March 26 as the first black federal judge after his appointment by Roosevelt to the federal bench in the Virgin Islands.

    1943, The Detroit Race Riot, June 20-21, claims 34 lives including 25 African Americans. Other riots occur in Harlem, Mobile, Alabama, and Beaumont, Texas.

    1947, On April 10, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers becomes the first African American to play major league baseball in the 20th Century.


  • 1974, On April 8, Henry (Hank) Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th home run surpassingBabeRuthto become the all-time leader in home runs in major league baseball.

    1975, General Daniel Chappie James of the Air Force becomes the first African American four star general.

    1986, On January 20, the first national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is celebrated.

    1988, In September, Temple University offers the first Ph.D. in African American Studies.

    1947, John Hope Franklins From Slavery to Freedom is published. The work will become the most popular textbook on African American history published in the 20th Century.

    1959, Ella Fitzgerald and William

    Count Basie become the first African American performers to win Grammy awards.

    1965, On March 7, six hundred Alabama civil rights activists stage a Selma-to-Montgomery protest march to draw attention to the continued denial of black voting rights in the state. The marchers are confronted by Alabama State Troopers whose attack on them at the Edmund Pettus Bridge is carried on national television. On March 21,Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.leads a five-day, 54-mile march retracing the route of the original activists. The 3,300 marchers at the beginning of the trek eventually grow to 25,000 when they reach the Alabama capitol on March 25. After the protest march, President Lyndon Johnson proposes theVoting Rights Actto guarantee black voting throughout the South.

    1955, Rosa Parks refuses to relinquish her bus seat to a white man on December 1, initiating the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

    1961, On May 4, seven blacks and fourwhites leaveWashington, D.C., for the Deep South on the first Freedom Ride for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

    1962, Ernie Davis, a running back at Syracuse University, becomes the first African American athlete to receive college footballs Heisman Trophy.

    1963, Despite Governor George Wallaces vow to block the schoolhouse door to prevent their enrollment on June 11, Vivian Malone and James Hood register for classes at the University of Alabama. They are the first African American students to attend the university.

    1964, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed by Congress on July 2. The act bans discrimination in all public accommodations and by employers. It also establishes the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) to monitor compliance with the law.

    1967, Solicitor GeneralThurgood Marshalltakes his seat as the first African American Justice on the United States Supreme Court on July 13.

    1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4. In the wake of the assassination 125 cities in 29 states experience uprisings. By April 11, 46 people are killed and 35,000 are injured in these confrontations.

    1980, Robert L. Johnson begins operation of Black Entertainment Television (BET) out of Washington, D.C.

    1983, On August 30,Guion (Guy) S. Bluford, Jr., a crew member on theChallenger,becomes the first African American astronaut to make a space flight.

    1993, Joycelyn M. Elders becomes the first African American and the first woman to be named United States Surgeon General on September 7.

    1997, On April 13, golfer Tiger Woods wins the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. At 21 he is the youngest golfer ever to win the title. He is also the first African American to hold the title.

    2001, In January President-elect George W. Bush nominates Colin Powell to be Secretary of State. Condoleezza Rice is also appointed to the positon of National Security Advisor for the Bush Administration. This is the first time either post has been held by African Americans.

    2002, In March, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington win Oscars for best actress and best actor for their portrayals in Monsters Ball and Training Day respectively.

    2008, On November 4, Barack Obama of Illinois, the only sitting African American U.S. Senator, is elected President of the United States. Obama wins the election decisively and becomes the first African American elected to this office.


  • Feature

    In the following article Daryl Michael Scott,

    Professor of History at Howard University and Vice

    President of Program for the Association for the Study

    of African American Life and History, describes the

    history of the Black History Month Celebration.

    The story of Black History Month begins in Chicago during the

    late summer of 1915. An alumnus of the University of Chicago

    with many friends in the city, Carter G. Woodson traveled from

    Washington, D.C. to participate in a national celebration of the

    fiftieth anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of

    Illinois. Thousands of African Americans traveled from across

    the country to see exhibits highlighting the progress their

    people had made since the destruction of slavery. Awarded a

    doctorate in Harvard three years earlier, Woodson joined the

    other exhibitors with a black history display. Despite being held

    at the Coliseum, the site of the 1912 Republican convention,

    an overflow crowd of six to twelve thousand waited outside

    for their turn to view the exhibits. Inspired by the three-week

    celebration, Woodson decided to form an organization to

    promote the scientific study of black life and history before

    leaving town. On September 9th, Woodson met at the Wabash

    YMCA with A. L. Jackson and three others and formed the

    Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).

    Carter G. Woodson believed that publishing scientific

    history would transform race relations by dispelling the

    wide-spread falsehoods about the achievements of Africans

    and peoples of African descent. He hoped that others would

    popularize the findings that he and other black intellectuals

    would publish inThe Journal of Negro History, which

    he established in 1916. As early as 1920, Woodson urged

    black civic organizations to promote the achievements that

    researchers were uncovering. A graduate member of Omega

    Psi Phi, he urged his fraternity brothers to take up the work.

    In 1924, they responded with the creation of Negro History

    and Literature Week, which they renamed Negro Achievement

    Week.Their outreach was significant, but Woodson desired

    greater impact. As he told an audience of Hampton Institute

    students, We are going back to that beautiful history and it

    is going to inspire us to greater achievements. In 1925, he

    decided that the Association had to shoulder the responsibility.

    Going forward it would both create and popularize knowledge

    about the black past. He sent out a press release announcing

    Negro History Week in February, 1926.

    Woodson chose February for reasons of tradition and reform.

    It is commonly said that Woodson selected February to

    encompass the birthdays of two great Americans who played

    a prominent role in shaping black history, namely Abraham

    Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, whose birthdays are the 12th


    History of Black History Month


  • and the 14th, respectively. More importantly, he chose

    them for reasons of tradition. Since Lincolns assassination

    in 1865, the black community, along with other Republicans,

    had been celebrating the fallen Presidents birthday.

    And since the late 1890s, black communities across the

    country had been celebrating Douglass. Well aware of the

    pre-existing celebrations, Woodson built Negro History Week

    around traditional days of commemorating the black past.

    He was asking the public to extend their study of black history,

    not to create a new tradition. In doing so, he increased his

    chances for success.

    Yet Woodson was up to something more than building on

    tradition. Without saying so, he aimed to reform it from the

    study of two great men to a broader examination of a great

    race. Though he admired both men, Woodson had never been

    fond of the celebrations held in their honor. He railed against

    the ignorant spellbinders who addressed large, convivial

    gatherings and displayed their lack of knowledge about the

    men and their contributions to history. More importantly,

    Woodson believed that history was made bythe people, not

    simply or primarily by great men. He envisioned the study and

    celebration of the Negro as a race, not simply as the producers

    of a great man. And Lincoln, however great, had not freed the

    slavesthe Union Army, including hundreds of thousands of

    black soldiers and sailors, had done that. Rather than focusing

    on two men, the black community, he believed, should focus on

    the countless black men and women who had contributed to

    the advance of human civilization.

    From the beginning, Woodson was overwhelmed by the

    response to his call. Negro History Week appeared across

    the country in schools and before the public. The 1920s

    was the decade of the New Negro, a name given to the

    Post-War I generation because of its rising racial pride and

    consciousness. Urbanization and industrialization had

    brought over a million African Americans from the rural

    South into big cities of the nation. The expanding black middle

    class became participants in and consumers of black literature

    and culture. Black history clubs sprang up, teachers demanded

    materials to instruct their pupils, and progressive whites

    stepped and endorsed the efforts.

    Woodson and the Association scrambled to meet the demand.

    They set a theme for the annual celebration, and provided

    study materialspictures, lessons for teachers, plays for

    historical performances, and posters of important dates and

    people. Provisioned with a steady flow of knowledge, high

    schools in progressive communities formed Negro History

    Clubs. To serve the desire of history buffs to participate in the

    re-education of black folks and the nation, ASNLH formed

    branches that stretched from coast to coast. In 1937, at the

    urging of Mary McLeod Bethune, Woodson established

    theNegro History Bulletin, which focused on the annual theme.

    As black populations grew, mayors issued Negro History

    Week proclamations, and in cities like Syracuse, New York,

    progressive whites joined Negro History Week with National

    Brotherhood Week.

    Like most ideas that resonate with the spirit of the times, Negro

    History Week proved to be more dynamic than Woodson or the

    Association could control. By the 1930s, Woodson complained

    about the intellectual charlatans, black and white, popping up

    everywhere seeking to take advantage of the public interest in

    black history. He warned teachers not to invite speakers who

    had less knowledge than the students themselves. Increasingly

    publishing houses that had previously ignored black topics and

    authors rushed to put books on the market and in the schools.

    Instant experts appeared everywhere, and non-scholarly

    works appeared from mushroom presses. In America,

    nothing popular escapes either commercialization or eventual

    trivialization, and so Woodson, the constant reformer, had his

    hands full in promoting celebrations worthy of the people who

    had made the history.

    Well before his death in 1950, Woodson believed that the

    weekly celebrationsnot the study or celebration of black

    history--would eventually come to an end. In fact, Woodson

    never viewed black history as a one-week affair. He pressed

    for schools to use Negro History Week to demonstrate what

    students learnedallyear. In the same vein, he established a

    black studies extension program to reach adults throughout the

    year. It was in this sense that blacks would learn of their past

    on a daily basis that he looked forward to the time when an

    annual celebration would no longer be necessary. Generations

    before Morgan Freeman and other advocates of all-year

    commemorations, Woodson believed that black history was

    too important to America and the world to be crammed into

    a limited time frame. He spoke of a shift from Negro History

    Week to Negro History Year.

    In the 1940s, efforts began slowly within the black community

    to expand the study of black history in the schools and

    black history celebrations before the public. In the South,


  • black teachers often taught Negro History as a supplement to

    United States history. One early beneficiary of the movement

    reported that his teacher would hide Woodsons textbook

    beneath his desk to avoid drawing the wrath of the principal.

    During the Civil Rights Movement in the South, the Freedom

    Schools incorporated black history into the curriculum to

    advance social change. The Negro History movement was an

    intellectual insurgency that was part of every larger effort to

    transform race relations.

    The 1960s had a dramatic effect on the study and celebration of

    black history. Before the decade was over, Negro History Week

    would be well on its way to becoming Black History Month.

    The shift to a month-long celebration began even before Dr.

    Woodson death. As early as 1940s, blacks in West Virginia, a

    state where Woodson often spoke, began to celebrate February

    as Negro History Month. In Chicago, a now forgotten cultural

    activist, Fredrick H. Hammaurabi, started celebrating Negro

    History Month in the mid-1960s. Having taken an African

    name in the 1930s, Hammaurabi used his cultural center, the

    House of Knowledge, to fuse African consciousness with the

    study of the black past. By the late 1960s, as young blacks on

    college campuses became increasingly conscious of links with

    Africa, Black History Month replaced Negro History Week at a

    quickening pace. Within the Association, younger intellectuals,

    part of the awakening, prodded Woodsons organization to

    change with the times. They succeeded. In 1976, fifty years

    after the first celebration, the Association used its influence

    to institutionalize the shifts from a week to a month and from

    Negro history to black history. Since the mid-1970s, every

    American president, Democrat and Republican, has issued

    proclamations endorsing the Associations annual theme.

    What Carter G. Woodson would say about the continued

    celebrations is unknown, but he would smile on all honest

    efforts to make black history a field of serious study and

    provide the public with thoughtful celebrations.



  • 2009 ASALH This copy may be republished electronically with the following acknowledgement and link: By Daryl Michael Scott for ASALH at www.asalh.org

    Sources: Pero Gaglo Dagbovie,The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007); Jacqueline Goggin,Carter G. Woodson: A Life in Black History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993)

    Contributor(s):Scott, Daryl MichaelHoward University

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


  • Profiles


  • Name: Sanya Richards Ross

    Occupation:4 time Olympic Gold Medalist, Entrepreneur, Reality Show Star

    Personal Significance of Black History Month:Black History Month is by far my favorite month, not only because Im born in February, but just because it really gives us an opportunity to reflect on where weve come from and it highlights so many of the heroes in the African American Community. It also gives us a chance to see where we are and where we are going and how much more we have to accomplish. For me, Black History Month has always been very special.

    What was the most poignant moment in Black History month to you?I think of Brown vs the Board of Education when schools were no longer segregated. And for me that always sticks out, because my coach, Coach Clyde Hart, he was actually a part of the first school in Arkansas that became integrated and he always talked about that. Sometimes, I cant wrap my mind around that moment because were so used to being integrated.

    Favorite African-American Icon and Why:My very first role model was Merlene Ottey. She was a Jamaican celebrity sensation, one of the best 100 meter runners in history. I remember thinking as a young kid, I wanted to be just like her. Not only because of her strength and power on the track but she was always so poised, so relatable and did so much in the community in Jamaica. Similarly, my American role model is Jackie Joyner-Kersee. I loved her grit, her determination, and also all of the stuff she has done for St Louis, which is her hometown. To know her personally is a great thrill.

    Follow @SanyaRichiRoss


    Watch Sanya Richards-Ross Interview at www.blackhistory2014.com

    Name: Baratunde Thurston

    Occupation:Co-Founder & CEO of Cultivated Wit, Author and Comedian

    I run a company called Cultivated Wit that uses humor and technology to better communicate, tell stories, and shape technology products. We run comedically-focused digital marketing campaigns for causes and businesses. We make media. We build things including apps, that are fun. Its all very inspiring and exciting.

    Personal Significance of Black History Month:Its like Kwanzaa but longer.

    Favorite African-American Icon and Why:El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. First, every name this brother had was amazing from Malcolm Little to Detroit Red to Malcolm X to his final name. Second, his life (as so beautifully captured by Manning Marable) represents evolution, transformation, and reinvention. These are all themes essential to the survival and thriving not just of the black community but all communities.

    Favorite moment in Black History:Today!

    Follow @baratunde




  • Name: Hank Willis Thomas

    Occupation:Artist at large, Photo conceptual artist, Contemporary visionary

    What is the significance of Black History Month?I think its ever changing, isnt it? Thats the beauty of it. One of the things were becoming more and more aware of is that African-American history is just American history. There was a time in which African-American accomplishments and contributions to American history and culture were kind of undervalued and ignored and now its become part of the everyday experience of American culture in history. And Black history month is becoming a greater celebration of contributions of AA in a much broader sense.

    What was the poignant moment in Black history?I think every day. I think we sometimes forget that history is being made every day by people who arent famous. Were all constantly making history. I think its important to not just highlight the heroes but to also recognize the people that are doing the work with their heads down. There are moments that are happening that arent celebrated that are just as important. I think its important to know that the time is always now.

    Who were the African-American icons you looked up to and why?It sounds clich, but I would say my grandmother. She was a pretty pious and modest person. But she also had strength and courage and her capacity to love. Having grown up in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, I learned about African American icons through osmosis. It was always there, and my father was a Black panther. I also think about photographers like James Van Der Zee, and Gordon Parks would be important. Also of importance would be contemporary peers of my mother like James Baldwin.

    Where do you see the direction of black history?Living in this moment, having a multi-ethnic president of African descent, and recognizing that things that we thought were impossible years ago are a reality today. I would hope that African Americans stop seeing themselves as limited to things that the group is supposed to be good at or care about. Having come back from South Africa and Kenya, recognizing the symbiosis and condensation that has been going on at an international level with African-Americans across the Atlantic, I would like us to think about things on a global scale. I think there is a greater connectivity with the history of progress with human evolution that I think African American history often overlooks. We tend to think a little bit about Mendela and apartheid but we really dont pay much attention to African independence and African movements and progress made in the Caribbean and even Europe. I would hope that in the future we stop being so America-centric and see ourselves more as global citizens and realizing that just as Martin Luther King Jr and his peers had gained a lot of their knowledge through global perspectives, looking at Ghandi for example, that we start to think about ourselves in a global context.

    Follow @hankwthomas




  • Hank Willis Thomas, a prominent photo

    conceptual artist, grew up surrounded

    by art and culture. His father, also

    Hank Thomas, dabbled in many career

    fields and his, mother, Deborah Willis,

    is an renowned art photographer and

    University Professor and Chair of the

    Department of Photography & Imaging

    |at the Tisch School of the Arts at

    New York University . Hank was

    consistently around culture and

    photographs but it was never his

    intent to pursue an art career.

    Hanks interest in art intensified around

    high school. He joined the museum

    studies program which led him to study

    and receive his BFA from New York

    Universitys Tisch School of the Arts

    and his MFA in photography, along

    with an MA in visual criticism, from

    California College of the Arts (CCA)

    in San Francisco.

    [These experiences] gave me a

    great foundation in critical thinking

    and thinking about how images can

    tell stories, said Hank. All of these

    different experiences combined to

    give me a foundation to a career

    where I almost kind of followed in

    my mothers footsteps.

    His work has been featured in several

    publications including 25 under 25:

    Up-and-Coming American

    Photographers (CDS, 2003) and 30

    Americans (RFC, 2008), as well as

    his monograph Pitch Blackness

    (Aperture, 2008). Running themes in

    Hanks works revolve around racial

    and cultural identity, history, and

    pop culture.

    There isnt really a formal process for

    me because a lot of the work comes out

    of research, and experimentation, and

    really involves me coming upon other

    materials and just pondering them for an

    extended period of time and formulating

    this interesting interaction, Hank said.

    His single and collaborative pieces have

    exhibited in galleries and museums

    throughout the United States and

    internationally. Hanks works have

    been showcased in numerous public

    collections including the Whitney

    Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn

    Museum, the Guggenheim Museum,

    and the Museum of Modern Art.

    He collects his inspiration from many

    different resources.

    I get inspiration from pop culture,

    I get inspiration from historical archives,

    I get inspired by everyday people, Hank

    said. Anyone who is open or vulnerable

    or exposes themselves to new ideas or

    exposes their ideas to the rest of the

    world is an inspiration for me.

    One of his more recent collaborative

    works, Question Bridge: Black Males,

    is an innovative video installation

    that initiates a dialogue with over 150

    Black men from different cities across

    the nation. The installation invites

    visitors into a space where they view

    an intimate exchange between the

    subjects of the project. Question Bridge

    constructs a platform for contributors

    to represent and redefine black male

    identity in the U.S.

    If you look at projects like Question

    Bridge: Black Males, its really trying to

    show that there is as much diversity in

    any demographic as much as there is out

    of it. Its really trying to encourage us to

    listen to, and to applaud the people that

    go against traditional measurements of

    success and to recognize that we all have

    something to contribute, said Hank.

    By JD Collins

    Ive never really expected to be interested in art, said Hank. I actually, in a sense, fell into it.

    - Hank Willis Thomas

    OUR ARTISTS Hank Willis Thomas, Conceptual Artist


  • Name: Shawne Merriman

    Occupation:Noted NFL Veteran, 3x Pro Bowl Selection and 3x All-Pro Selection

    What is the significance of Black History Month?Black History Month allows those that have been a positive influence on the world those that I looked up to growing up because they were doing something big to take a month and acknowledge the special things theyve accomplished.

    What was the poignant moment in Black history?If youre talking about sports, then it would be Doug Williams, a quarterback in the NFL who broke barriers. In business, it would be Michael Jordan, as the owner of a NBA team and an all-around business mogul who transcended being just an athlete. Magic Johnson would also be in that conversation, overcoming his personal challenges and going on to becoming an owner of a baseball team.

    Who were the African-American icons you looked up to and why?It was the athletes I just mentioned. I think every athlete always models their dream to other athletes growing up. It wasnt until I was old enough to be in the position theyre in now to realize you can be more than just a player. You have the ability to be an owner. That, to me, means more than any dunk or Super Bowl. Theyre owners of something now. They worked to stake their place in this world.

    Where do you see the direction of black history?

    Its going to keep opening up doors. Obamas election gave people hope to enter many different areas that blacks werent allowed to be in previously. Its incredible what impact the hope alone has done for people nowadays.

    Follow @shawnemerriman




  • From the gridiron to the boardroom,

    Shawne Merriman proves that there is

    life after playing professional football.

    Growing up in a rough and tumble

    neighborhood in Maryland, Shawne

    avoided the negativity and managed

    to channel his energy into something

    positive. He knew that there was more

    out there for him.

    We struggled financially and I

    definitely had a rough upbringing but

    it molded me into the person I am

    today, said Shawne.

    Shawnes outstanding talent in

    football emerged quickly. He earned the

    nickname Lights Out in high school

    knocking out four guys in one football

    game as a high school sophomore. After

    which the name stuck with him through

    college and when he was a first round

    draft pick. Merriman then played in the

    NFL for teams such as the San Diego

    Chargers and the Buffalo Bills.

    I was blessed to even be there

    on this grand stage, and it was

    something I dreamed about

    as a kid, Shawne said when

    reflecting on his career in

    the NFL.

    He also dedicates his

    time to the Lights On

    Foundation which

    hold annual coat drives

    as well as specially

    community projects

    such as rebuilding home for wildfire

    relief in San Diego. As for life after the

    NFL, Merriman says his goal is to Keep

    grinding and building my own personal

    empire and myself.

    He is working on completing his

    MBA, doing commentary work on

    NFL Network, and having roles in

    TV and movies. Shawne is also

    working on a lifestyle line aptly

    named Lights Out which features

    athletic but still fashionable apparel

    for men and women.

    The quote of the company is push

    the limit, its about doing everything

    to the fullest and giving 110%, and

    accepting nothing less, said Shawne.

    Right now, Im working, having fun and

    doing what I love to do.

    After overcoming many adversities,

    the future is bright for Shawne. With

    multiple projects in the queue, along

    with a budding television career, he gives

    his advice to those who endure some

    hardships as he did.

    Keep looking at the light at the end of

    the tunnel, keep looking at people who

    are breaking down the barriers and

    doing stuff that 60, 70 years ago that

    couldnt have been done, said Shawne.

    His recommendation for those that want

    to be the next Shawne Merriman

    Be better than Shawne Merriman, keep

    going, there are no ceilings.

    By JD Collins

    Youre going to have obstacles, youre going to have adversities, but at the end of the day, dont stop, just never stop.

    - Shawne Merriman


    Shawne Merriman, Former NFL Pro Bowler


  • Follow@AllenWest




    Name: Cheryl Contee

    Occupation:Co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics, CEO at Fission Strategy and Co-Founder of Attentive.ly 2010 Most Influential Women in Tech

    Personal Significance of Black History Month:My father was an historian at Howard University and his love of history showed me that there are many sides and stories. Black History Month is an opportunity to explore this history we all share as Americans from a different angle and that is valuable. It enriches our collective knowledge.

    Favorite African-American Icon and Why:Harriet Tubman - she was a Renaissance woman who loved as hard as she fought. She served not only as the Moses who freed many slaves including most of her family but she was brilliant and served as a Union spy during the Civil War to aid in vital intelligence gathering.

    Favorite moment in Black History:Barack Obama becoming president in 2008. No matter what feelings we may experience concerning his administrations triumphs and tribulations, theres no question that specific moment will always be special to all Americans - the election of the first black president.

    Follow @ch3ryl





    Name: Allen West

    Occupation:Former Congressman, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, Author

    What is the significance of Black History Month?The significance of Black History month is immeasurable. When I look at who I am, it is all about black history. When I first put on my army uniform, I go back and remember the 54th Massachusetts Regiment because those were the first black soldiers that was able to wear the uniform of the United States of America. I think of all of the black soldiers, sailors, airmen marines that went on and enabled me to be able to put on that uniform.

    What was the poignant moment in Black history?When I think about the most poignant moment in black history, its very simple. My elementary school was right across the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church. Every single day, I walked by Ebenezer Baptist Church. Every single day, I got to see the resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His impeccable words that he would hope for a country where young men and women would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character; thats the most poignant moment, the most poignant memory that I have when talking about black history month. I was walking, each and every day, looking at black history when I walked past Ebenezer, when I walked down Auburn Ave, I saw black history. So thats why we have to have this month. Thats why we need to have this reflection.

    Who werethe African-American icons you looked up to and why?I think about Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point. I think about Dorie Miller at Pearl Harbor. I think about the 361st Infantry Regiment during World War I. I think about the Tuskegee Airmen. I think about my own dad serving in World War II or my brother serving in Vietnam. I think about the Montford Point Marines.


  • Name: Tony Dungy

    Occupation:Football Analyst, NBCs Football Night in America

    Tony Dungy is the No.1 New York Times bestselling author of Quiet Strength, Uncommon, The Mentor Leader, and The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge. He led the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl victory on February 4, 2007, the first such win for an African American head coach. Dungy established another NFL first by becoming the first head coach to lead his teams to the playoffs for ten consecutive years. He retired from coaching in 2009 and now serves as a studio analyst for NBCs Football Night in America. He is dedicated to mentoring others, especially young people, and encouraging them to live uncommon lives.

    Personal Significance of Black History Month:Growing up in the 1960s and seeing our country grow from the days where segregation was the norm to where we are now, Black History Month is very significant to me. My dads first teaching job was in a segregated high school in Virginia. I remember vividly as a young boy watching television and seeing the struggles of African American students who were trying to attend all white schools in the South. I can still hear my dads voice telling me about Joe Louis winning the Heavyweight Championship and Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. Its much different in America today but Black History Month is a time for me to personally reflect on the men and women who paved the way for my generation

    Favorite African-American Icon and Why:It has to be Dr. King. I was 8 years old when he gave the I Have A Dream speech and that galvanized my thinking. My mom and dad were always encouraging us to dream and think about our futures, but that was the first time I ever saw a black man on a national platform saying that. I was in junior high school when he was killed and, again, it impacted me that someone was willing to die for their convictions. In fact, Dr. King said he didnt fear death and he knew he had helped our country, and African Americans in particular, in the fight for equality.

    Favorite moment in Black History:There were a lot of significant moments but Id have to say for me it was in 1966 Texas Western University, playing seven black players beat the University of Kentucky for the NCAA basketball championship. I was only 10 years old and didnt understand the social significance until much later. Those seven African Americans were taking on the establishment and the tradition of Kentucky basketball, and as I look back that game changed a lot of things for college athletics and sports as a whole in our country. It also showed me that years later I could use the athletic field to make social and spiritual points.

    Follow @TonyDungy



  • Name: Grand Master Flash

    Occupation:Noted NFL Veteran, 3x Pro Bowl Selection and 3x All-Pro Selection

    What is the significance of Black History Month?Black History Month allows those that have been a positive influence on the world those that I looked up to growing up because they were doing something big to take a month and acknowledge the special things theyve accomplished.

    What was the poignant moment in Black history?If youre talking about sports, then it would be Doug Williams, a quarterback in the NFL who broke barriers. In business, it would be Michael Jordan, as the owner of a NBA team and an all-around business mogul who transcended being just an athlete. Magic Johnson would also be in that conversation, overcoming his personal challenges and going on to becoming an owner of a baseball team.

    Who were the African-American icons you looked up to and why?It was the athletes I just mentioned. I think every athlete always models their dream to other athletes growing up. It wasnt until I was old enough to be in the position theyre in now to realize you can be more than just a player. You have the ability to be an owner. That, to me, means more than any dunk or Super Bowl. Theyre owners of something now. They worked to stake their place in this world.

    Where do you see the direction of black history?Its going to keep opening up doors. Obamas election gave people hope to enter many different areas that blacks werent allowed to be in previously. Its incredible what impact the hope alone has done for people nowadays.


    Follow @DJFlash4eva


    Watch DJ Grandmaster Flashs Interview at www.blackhistory2014.com


  • There are lots of stories about the birth

    of jazz and the beginning of rock n roll,

    but hip-hop has founding fathers: one of

    them is DJ Grandmaster Flash. In the

    early 70s Joseph Saddler was living in

    the South Bronx and studying electrical

    engineering. However, Saddler, a native

    of the Bronx, had a much deeper passion

    for music; he had been experimenting

    with his fathers vinyl since he was

    an toddler. His knowledge of audio

    equipment led him to an idea that

    would revolutionize the way he

    played music: the turntable

    would become his instrument.

    The career of DJ Grandmaster

    Flash began in the Bronx with

    neighborhood block parties

    that essentially were the start

    of what would become a global

    phenomenon the dawn of a

    musical genre. He was the first DJ to

    physically lay his hands on the vinyl and

    manipulate it in a backward, forward or

    counterclockwise motion, when most

    DJs simply handled the record by the

    edges, put down the tone arm, and let it

    play. Those DJs let the tone arm guide

    their music, but Flash marked up the

    body of the vinyl with crayon,

    fluorescent pen, and grease pencil

    and those markings became his compass.

    He invented the Quick Mix Theory,

    which included techniques such as

    the double-back, back-door, back-spin,

    and phasing. This allowed a DJ to

    make music by touching the record

    and gauging its revolutions to make

    his own beat and his own music.

    Flashs template grew to include cuttin,

    which, in turn, spawned scratching,

    transforming, the Clock Theory and

    the like. He laid the groundwork for

    everything a DJ can do with a record

    today, other than just letting it play.

    What we call a DJ today is a role that

    Flash invented.

    By the end of the 70s, Flash had

    started another trend that became

    a hallmark around the world:

    emcees followed flash to the various

    parts and parties to rap/emcee over

    his beats. Before long, he started his own

    group, Grandmaster Flash and

    the Furious Five. Their reputation grew

    up around the way the group traded off

    and blended their lyrics with Flashs

    unrivaled skills as a DJ and his acrobatic

    performancesspinning and cutting

    vinyl with his fingers, toes, elbows, and

    any object at hand.

    Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

    went Platinum with their single,

    The Message. Meanwhile, the single

    The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash

    on the Wheels of Steel introduced DJing

    to a larger listening audience than it

    had ever known before; it became the

    first DJ composition to be recorded by

    a DJ. The groups fame continued to

    grow with Superappin, Freedom,

    Larrys Dance Theme, and You Know

    What Time It Is. Punk and new wave

    fans were introduced to Flash through

    Blondie, who immortalized him in her

    hit, Rapture.

    The rock n roll hall of fame also

    recognized Flash with an honor no

    one else in hip hop has received:

    Grandmaster Flash and the Furious

    Five became the first hip hop group ever

    inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of

    Fame in 2007. Flash is the first DJ to

    ever receive that honor.

    OUR ARTISTS Grandmaster Flash, Hip-Hop Legend


  • Follow @blackgirlsrun


    Name: Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks

    Occupation:Co-Founder of Black Girls RUN

    Personal Significance of Black History Month:Black History Month is an opportunity to honor and pay homage to African-Americans who have made a significant impact on our history and in our communities.

    Personal Significance of Black History Month:Definitely the Civil Rights Movement. It is a great example of the resilience of our community. Its really been the only time in history that weve come together for the greater good of our people.

    Favorite African-American Icon and Why:W.E.B Dubois and Malcolm X. Both were considered radicals of their time and offered a different way of thinking when it came to the plight of African-Americans.

    Favorite moment in Black History:Unfortunately, I dont believe enough emphasis is put on black history. We now look to reality stars as role models instead of the people who truly make a difference in our community.



  • Black Girls RUN! was created in 2009 by Toni Carey and Ashley

    Hicks in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in

    the African-American community and provide encouragement

    and resources to both new and veteran runners. What started

    off as an online blog has grown to be a nationwide movement

    to include an annual national race and conference, fitness

    clinic tours, national race partnerships, Walk Before You RUN!

    training, and more.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, 51.6

    percent of black women ages 20-74 are considered obese.

    The mission of Black Girls RUN! is to encourage African-

    American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority

    and create a movement to lower the obesity rate among

    women and subsequently, lower the number of women with

    chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and

    sedentary lifestyle.

    To date, Black Girls RUN! has more than 60 running

    groups across the nation with more than 62,000 members.

    The groups include beginner and experienced runners

    and provide a support system to help members reach their

    fitness goals.

    Toni Carey: Native of Lebanon, Tennessee. Carey graduated

    from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro,

    Tenn., with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass

    Communications with concentrations in Public Relations

    and Advertising and minors in marketing and Spanish.

    She also received a Master of Arts and Science degree from

    Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. She has worked

    with Dye, VanMol & Lawrence Public Relations in Nashville,

    Tenn., as an account executive and Avis Budget Group, Inc., a

    Fortune 500 Company located in Parsippany, N.J.,

    as a corporate communications and industry relations

    specialist, as well as CRT/tanka a public relations and

    marketing agency in Norfolk, Va. She currently works for

    Black Girls RUN! full-time, lives in Atlanta, Ga. with her

    husband and two dogs, Legend and Cali.

    Ashley Hicks: Native of Evans, Ga., Ashley attended

    and played soccer at Middle Tennessee State University

    in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She graduated in 2005 with

    a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications.

    She also received a Master of Science in Communication

    from Columbia University in New York. She has worked

    with WRDW-TV as a television director, the South Carolina

    Educational Television as a producer director and as

    a social media, communications manager for a non-profit

    headquartered in New York. She currently works for Black Girls

    RUN! full-time and lives in Atlanta, Ga. with her fianc.

    Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks have been recognized locally

    and nationally for their work to combat obesity in the

    African-American community. They were recently awarded

    the Young Professionals Dream Catchers award from the

    Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professional.

    Also, they were recently profiled by Runners World magazine,

    espnW, The Tennessean and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    and appeared on The Michael Baisden Show. They were also

    named to Ebony Magazines Power 100 list, The Grios Class

    of 2012 list, nominated as Best Blogger by Shape Magazine

    and named as one of the 30 Black Bloggers You Should Know,

    by TheRoot.com.


    Black Girls Run


  • Name: Marcus Stroud

    Occupation:Noted NFL Veteran, 3x Pro Bowl Selection, 3x All-Pro Selection

    Personal Significance of Black History Month:Its the celebration of everyone who paved the way for me to be able to do the things Im doing today. To me, every day we move forward is a celebration of the things African Americans have done to make progress. This is just the month where we officially take time to celebrate all of the great achievements.

    What was the most poignant moment in black history for you?Thats really hard to answer since there are so many moments. I think I would be doing in an injustice if I were to label just one. There are too many pivotal moments to be able to pick just one.

    Favorite African-American Icon and Why:The most obvious ones that I looked up to were Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, for their leadership and for being able to unite people and get them focused. Even though both had different ideas fundamentally, they were able to get people to come together for the greater good.

    Favorite moment in Black History:I still think we have a lot of history to be made. Our story is never done. Theres always somebody that will make a difference every day.





  • A self-proclaimed country boy from South Georgia, NFL

    veteran and philanthropist Marcus Stroud remains humble and

    grateful for his experiences during and after the NFL. Marcus

    was the 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft and played for 10

    years in the NFL for teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars

    and the Buffalo Bills.

    I started playing football my junior year of high school,

    said Marcus. My goal was to go to college and obtain

    a degree first, and if I was fortunate enough to make the NFL,

    it was a bonus.

    His talents and leadership were quickly recognized.

    As a high school senior, Marcus was selected to grace

    the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1996, when he committed

    to play college ball at the University of Georgia, UGA.

    Marcus graduated with his bachelors degree and remains

    a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma, a predominantly African-

    American Fraternity.

    After being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Marcus

    made a name for himself as a rising Defensive all-star.

    He successfully earned a trip to the NFL Pro Bowl for

    three consecutive seasons.

    When asked the most important lesson he learned during

    his tenure in the NFL, Marcus responded Never take anything

    for granted. You always think you can bounce back from an

    injury or something like that and sometimes thats not the

    case, said Marcus. So dont take anything for granted, thats

    my number one lesson.

    In 2008, Marcus was traded to the Buffalo Bills and became

    one of the teams integral defensive talents. He worked hard

    to become the starting Defensive Tackle where he became one

    of the most dominant and versatile players until 2011 when he

    signed with the New England Patriots. In June 2012, Marcus

    signed a 1-day contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars to retire

    as a Jaguar.

    It was a no-brainer. [Jacksonville] is where I played most of my

    career and it was where I had most of my success, said Marcus.

    Even though I embraced other teams like the Buffalo Bills, Ill

    always be a Jaguar for life.

    Marcus has not only accomplished great success on the football

    field, but he also has a passion for entrepreneurial endeavors

    off the field.

    I just obtained my graduate degree, and now Im

    studying to get my insurance license, Marcus said.

    Im still trying to keep my options open, perhaps get

    into broadcasting one day.

    Given his successful career, Marcus also realizes the

    importance of giving back to the community. He has

    contributed countless hours to charity and in 2007, he

    established the Marcus Stroud Charitable Foundation to

    assist under-privileged youth in low-income single parent

    homes. The mission of the foundation is to raise support by

    improving and enriching the lives of under-privileged children

    by offering various academic and athletic programs otherwise

    unavailable to them.

    A lot of people helped along my journey, and I wanted to pay

    it forward and give back, Marcus said. its evolved so much,

    its now at the point where [the foundation] is about bringing

    awareness to the childhood obesity problem, said Marcus.

    Its one of my focus and goals right now.

    An elite yet humble athlete, business-savvy yet philanthropic

    entrepreneur, Marcus continues to make impacts on and off

    the field.

    By JD Collins


    Marcus Stroud, Former NFL Pro Bowler


  • Name: Stefanie Brown James

    Occupation:CEO and Founder of Vestige Strategies, Founder of Brown Girls Lead, In charge of the African-American vote for President Obamas 2012 re-election campaign.

    Personal Significance of Black History Month:Its important to say that black history is American history and its global history. I was just in Morocco a few weeks ago and to see the influence of American culture which really is intertwined and often times shaped by black culture was amazing. From music, to dress, to slang to a lot of different elements, and so much of that has been influenced by those who helped to shape the culture and made sure that black people had a voice and were able to be unique in how we are. Im particularly tied to the more social justice activists of the past. I think one of our proudest moments as it relates to activism was the young people during the civil rights movement that sacrificed a lot and they were only kids and I think its really important that we continue to let our children know about black history, where we come from, and continue to try to shape history even now.

    What was the most poignant moment in black history for you?The founding of the NAACP in 1909, and it was a multicultural group of people who were committed to seeing the advancement of black people in this country. At that time, the biggest things they worked on was anti-lynching laws. Just the bravery that it took for these men and women across the country to form this organization and form chapters across the country was significant. These [people] were in the face of real danger and a lot of people lost their lives, many who we would never know their names or their sacrifices. That bravery element just speaks so much. Almost anything we go through nowadays is nothing compared to what they went through. If they could do, we could do it too. Thats always something very empowering for me to remember as I try to do the work that I do.

    Favorite African-American Icon and Why:Not a shock that many of them are women. Juanita Jackson Mitchell was the founder of the youth and college division of NAACP and she was also instrumental in cases like the Scottsboro Boys case and was just a real pioneer as it relates to a woman who was involved in civil rights. Women like Ella Baker who helped to find the student non-violent coordinating committee who also was a field director for NAACP. She really helped to mold generations after her to be involved in civil right.

    Present-day, I continue to be enamored with Oprah. My husbands probably so tired of me talking about Oprah. I love Oprah. Im hoping to meet her one day. I like her business-savvy and now as an entrepreneur, she is a person who I look up to for being able to really do things her way.

    Favorite moment in Black History:I think one thing thats great with the space that Im involved in now is to literally see my peers who are shaping black history every day. Its very exciting for many unsung heroes who are working very diligently to continue to work towards the advancement of the black community and to work for fairness and justice. I think that there is so many more young people who want to be leaders and they want to make history, American history, world history and our job is to really give back to them. 1) to make sure they know their history and 2) to help them see how they can play a role in shaping what the country is, what we do, and how were viewed in the world.





  • Growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, Stefanie Brown

    James knew that a career in government affairs and civil

    rights was the path for her. She started to get involved in civil

    rights when she joined the Cleveland Youth Council of National

    Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

    She then moved on to a prestigious education at Howard

    University which led to a job opportunity at the NCAAP.

    Ive always been a real history buff, she said. To know where

    we come from, and all the people who sacrificed to make it

    possible for us to experience the freedom that we have today,

    I wanted to be part of that legacy.

    As part of the field staff at NAACP, Stefanie became akin to

    working long hours and after seeing the dedication of everyday

    people, she knew that it was truly an honor to be part of the

    NAACP legacy.

    If you can work at NAACP, you can work anywhere,

    she said. The people I met along the way and who

    assisted me, the passion, the dedication, and what

    they taught me is probably my biggest takeaway from

    my experience at the association.

    In 2013, after a long hiring process, Stefanie was then hired to

    work for the most powerful man in the world, President Barack

    Obama as the National African American Vote Director for the

    2012 Obama for America Campaign.

    To work for the 1st black president, it was an amazing god-

    given opportunity, she said. My experience in working for the

    NAACP prepared me for the position.

    Her duty was to organize the African Americans for Obama

    program and also manage the national strategy to engage

    African American leaders and voters to register and re-elect

    President Barack Obama.

    We worked hard, a lot of effort went into this campaign, she

    said. It wasnt a fluke that African-American voters turned out

    in the highest rates ever.

    President Obamas re-election campaign did not come

    without difficulties. Many members of the African-American

    community were perhaps skeptical or felt let down by what

    they thought the President should have accomplished during

    the first term. It was Stephanies job to change that mindset.

    At the end of the day, you have a choice black people were

    energized because they knew how important voting was to

    their lives and that it made a difference, she said.

    Building upon her career Stefanie is now the CEO and founding

    partner of Vestige Strategies that specializes in grassroots

    community engagement, public affairs and government

    relations as well as being the Founder of Brown Girls Lead,

    leadership development organization focused on building a

    strong pipeline of collegiate, black women leaders.

    Stefanie founded the program after a speaking engagement

    at her alma mater. The female attendees informed her that

    a career in government was not ideal because it wasnt

    attractive to men.

    I was just blown away, this was not our legacy as black women

    at Howard, she said. After talking with my husband, we were

    able to form Brown Girls Lead to help collegiate women in their

    personal, professional, and public lives.

    As Stefanies endeavors continue to grow, she certainly

    recognizes the impact and importance of Black History Month

    to future generations.

    By JD Collins


    Stefanie Brown James, CEO


  • Name: Beverly Johnson

    Occupation:Super Model, Hair Guru, Businesswoman

    What is the significance of Black History Month?Black History Month is our History and if we dont tell it, no one will remember.

    Favorite African-American Icons and Why?I had the opportunity to meet these amazing individuals, President Obama before he was the president, Congressmen John Lewis, Coretta Scott King and Ruby Bridges. All these amazing people have actually molded the world that we live in today.




    Watch Beverly Johnsons Interview at www.blackhistory2014.com


  • The first African American supermodel on the cover of

    American Vogue was Ms. Beverly Johnson. Beverly was

    attending college Northeastern University in Boston, MA when

    she tried her hand at modeling. She quickly landed modeling

    gigs and began working steadily. Johnson would go on to

    appear on magazine covers and fashion runways, including her

    groundbreaking Vogue cover in August 1974.

    Johnsons appearance on the cover changed the beauty ideal

    in fashion, and by 1975, every major American fashion

    designer began using African American models. Now Beverly

    is a considered a pioneer, entrepreneur, and role model for

    women everywhere.

    She is the face and name of The Beverly Johnson Wig and

    Hair Extension Collection with Amekor Industries. During this

    period, her line of wigs, extensions and other hair products was

    the top selling brand in the country.

    This is a true testament to Beverly Johnsons name

    recognition and brand awareness from Multicultural

    clients with a deep respect for top quality hair products.

    Many national publications have dubbed her the Hair Guru.

    As her hair product line continues to flourish, Beverly will

    always be known as THE Super Model that paved the way for

    those that followed her.

    OUR INFLUENCERS Beverley Johnson, Super Model


  • Profiles

    Follow @LouisGossettJr



    Watch Louis Gossett Jr.s Interview at www.blackhistory2014.com

    Name: Name: Louis Gossett Jr.

    Occupation:Academy Award Winning Actor, Activist, Author

    What is the significance of Black History Month?Black History Month is our History and if we dont tell it, no one will remember.

    Favorite African-American Icons and Why?Black History Month has been very valuable to me in the past and will be valuable to me this February 7th. Ill be getting a Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Los Angeles.


  • Born May 27, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY, Lou has a flair for

    projecting quiet authority and has scored well personally in

    a string of diverse and occasionally challenging roles.

    The aspiring actor caught a break at his first Broadway audition

    for Take A Giant Step (1953), where, beating out 400 other

    candidates, the then 16-year-old landed the lead.

    His acting career soon flourished and his work in the

    stage and film versions of the groundbreaking drama about

    African-American family life in Lorraine Hansberrys

    A Raisin in the Sun (1961) proved a watershed. This led

    to numerous appearances on network series in the 1960s

    and 70s culminating in 1977, when he picked up an Emmy

    for his eloquent portrayal of Fiddler in the landmark ABC

    miniseries Roots.

    Meanwhile, his big screen reputation grew with critically

    acclaimed work in such comedies as The Landlord

    (1970) The Skin Game(1971) with James Garner, Travels

    with My Aunt (1972) and the film adaptation of the Tony

    Award-winning drama The River Niger (1975). A riveting

    performance as a drug-dealing cutthroat stalking Nick Nolte

    and Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep (1977) catapulted him

    to wider popularity, but the tough by-the-book drill sergeant

    in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) won him a Best

    Supporting Oscar that consolidated his place in the

    Hollywood hierarchy.

    Following his Oscar, he made numerous big screen and

    television appearances ,being singled out for his work as

    Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in Sadat(1983), the sci-fi

    adventure Enemy Mine (1985) where his lizard-like makeup

    won kudos, and in the action adventure series Iron Eagle

    (1985,1986,1992,1995) which introduced him to a whole new

    generation of moviegoers.

    Still going strong, Lous trendsetting bald head and imposing

    six-foot-four physique served him well in Diggstown (1991)

    where he played a down-and-out boxer, a heroic headmaster in

    Toy Soldiers (1991).

    Lous well thought out and nuanced performances also

    managed to give credibility to socially themed projects such

    as To Dance with Olivia (1997), and the critically acclaimed

    Jasper, Texas (2003)

    The recipient of every known acting accolade, including

    multiple Golden Globes, Emmys, and Peoples Choice Awards,

    Lous performance has connected him with his fans on a

    global scale. Organizations such as the NAACP, CARE, and

    the United States Armed Forces have used his likeness to add

    validity and integrity to their causes.

    Recently, Lou was the new lead on the popular science fiction

    series Stargate SG-1 introducing him to a new generation

    of fans worldwide. Lou has also developed the Eracism

    Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at creating

    entertainment that helps bring awareness and education

    to issues such as racism, ignorance, and societal apathy.

    OUR INFLUENCERS Lou Gossett, Academy Award Winning Actor


  • Profiles



    Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

    Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States.

    His story is the American story values from the heartland,

    a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and

    education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction

    that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.

    With a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas,

    President Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961.

    He was raised with help from his grandfather, who served

    in Pattons army, and his grandmother, who worked her

    way up from the secretarial pool to middle management

    at a bank.

    After working his way through college with the help of

    scholarships and student loans, President Obama moved

    to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help

    rebuild communities devastated by the closure of

    local steel plants.

    He went on to attend law school, where he became the first

    African-American president of theHarvard Law Review. Upon

    graduation, he returned to Chicago to help lead a voter

    registration drive, teach constitutional law at the University of

    Chicago, and remain active in his community.

    President Obamas years of public service are based around

    his unwavering belief in the ability to unite people around a

    politics of purpose. In the Illinois State Senate, he passed the

    first major ethics reform in 25 years, cut taxes for working

    families, and expanded health care for children and their

    parents. As a United States Senator, he reached across the

    aisle to pass groundbreaking lobbying reform, lock up the

    worlds most dangerous weapons, and bring transparency to

    government by putting federal spending online.

    He was elected the 44th President of the United States on

    November 4, 2008, and sworn in on January 20, 2009.

    He and his wife, Michelle, are the proud parents of two

    daughters, Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11.


  • On November 4, 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama defeated

    Arizona Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential

    election. On the night of his historic victory, Senator Obama

    addressed an audience of 250,000 at Grant Park in Chicago.

    The text of his speech appears below.

    Hello Chicago.

    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that

    America is a place where all things are possible, who still

    wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time,

    who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight

    is your answer.

    Its the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and

    churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people

    who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time

    in their lives, because they believed that this time must be

    different, that their voices could be that difference.

    Its the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor,

    Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian,

    Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled.

    Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never

    been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states

    and blue states.

    We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

    Its the answer that led those whove been told for so long by so

    many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can

    achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once

    more toward the hope of a better day.

    President-Elect Barack Obamas Election Night Victory Speech, Nov. 4th, 2008



  • Its been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we

    did on this date in this election at this defining moment change

    has come to America.

    A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily

    gracious call from Senator McCain. Senator McCain fought

    long and hard in this campaign. And hes fought even longer

    and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured

    sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine.

    We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and

    selfless leader. I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor

    Palin for all that theyve achieved. And I look forward to

    working with them to renew this nations promise in the

    months ahead. I want to thank my partner in this journey, a

    man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men

    and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton ... and

    rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-

    elect of the United States, Joe Biden. And I would not be

    standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my

    best friend for the last 16 years... the rock of our family, the love

    of my life, the nations next first lady... Michelle Obama.

    Sasha and Malia... I love you both more than you can imagine.

    And you have earned the new puppy thats coming with us... to

    the new White House.

    And while shes no longer with us, I know my grandmothers

    watching, along with the family that made me who I am.

    I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is

    beyond measure.

    To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and

    sisters, thank you so much for all the support that youve given

    me. I am grateful to them.

    And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe...

    the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best --

    the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the

    United States of America.

    To my chief strategist David Axelrod... whos been a partner

    with me every step of the way.

    To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of

    politics... you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for

    what youve sacrificed to get it done.

    But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs

    to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

    I was never the likeliest candidate for this office.

    We didnt start with much money or many endorsements. Our

    campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington.

    It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms

    of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by

    working men and women who dug into what little savings they

    had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

    It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth

    of their generations apathy ... who left their homes and their

    families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

    It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved

    the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect

    strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered

    and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a

    government of the people, by the people, and for the people has

    not perished from the Earth.

    This is your victory.

    And I know you didnt do this just to win an election.

    And I know you didnt do it for me.

    You did it because you understand the enormity of the task

    that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the

    challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our

    lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis

    in a century.

    Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave

    Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains

    of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

    There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the

    children fall asleep and wonder how theyll make the mortgage

    or pay their doctors bills or save enough for their childs college


    Theres new energy to harness, new jobs to be created,

    new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

    The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep.

    We may not get there in one year or even in one term.

    But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am

    tonight that we will get there.

    I promise you, we as a people will get there.

    AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

    OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are

    many who wont agree with every decision or policy


  • I make as president. And we know the government cant

    solve every problem.

    But I will always be honest with you about the challenges

    we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.

    And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking

    this nation, the only way its been done in America for 221

    years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by

    calloused hand.

    What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end

    on this autumn night.

    This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the

    chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if

    we go back to the way things were.

    It cant happen without you, without a new spirit of service,

    a new spirit of sacrifice.

    So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility,

    where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look

    after not only ourselves but each other.

    Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us

    anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while

    Main Street suffers.

    In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people.

    Lets resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship

    and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics

    for so long.

    Lets remember that it was a man from this state who first

    carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House,

    a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual

    liberty and national unity.

    Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic

    Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure

    of humility and determination to heal the divides that have

    held back our progress.

    As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are

    not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained,

    it must not break our bonds of affection.

    And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn,

    I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices.

    I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

    And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores,

    from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled

    around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories

    are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of

    American leadership is at hand.

    To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will

    defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support

    you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon

    still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the

    true strength of our nation comes not from the might of

    our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring

    power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and

    unyielding hope.



  • Sources: CNNPolitics.com, http://edition.cnn.com/2008/Politics/11/04/obama.transcript/

    Thats the true genius of America: that America can change.

    Our union can be perfected. What weve already achieved gives

    us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

    This election had many firsts and many stories that will be

    told for generations. But one thats on my mind tonights

    about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like

    the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice

    heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper

    is 106 years old.

    She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when

    there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when

    someone like her couldnt vote for two reasons -- because

    she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

    And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her

    century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle

    and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the

    people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

    At a time when womens voices were silenced and their hopes

    dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and

    reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

    When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across

    the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal,

    new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

    AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

    OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny

    threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise

    to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

    AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

    OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses

    in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta

    who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

    AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

    OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came

    down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science

    and imagination.

    And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a

    screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America,

    through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows

    how America can change. Yes we can.

    AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

    OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen

    so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us

    ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next

    century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as

    Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress

    will we have made?

    This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

    This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors

    of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote

    the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and

    reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one;

    that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with

    cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we cant, we will

    respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a

    people: Yes, we can.

    Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States

    of America.


  • HistoricalProfiles


  • Revered as one of the most influential

    people of the twentieth century by

    Time Magazine, Rosa Parks is best

    known for her role in the Montgomery

    Bus Boycott in 1956. Born on February

    4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, Parks

    moved with an aunt to Montgomery and

    attended the Montgomery Industrial

    School for girls. Parks worked as a

    janitor each evening to support her

    private school education. Though she

    began Alabama State Teachers College

    High School, she dropped out to care for

    ill family members.

    After marrying barber and local political

    activist Raymond Parks, Rosa joined

    Montgomerys NAACP. An enthusiastic

    Parks served as youth director and

    later as the secretary. In addition, she

    became an advocate of desegregation

    and took pride in being a member of the

    organization that helped develop the

    Brown v. Board of Education case.

    Inspired by African Americans

    who tested the effectiveness of the

    Brown decision, Parks on December

    1, 1955, refused to offer her seat on

    a Montgomery city bus to a white

    passenger after the white only section

    had filled. After being arrested and

    receiving a fourteen dollar fine, Parks

    called local NAACP president, E.D.

    Nixon, and informed him of her arrest.

    Within hours, the Womens Political

    Council (WPC) printed flyers and

    brochures, phoned potential supporters

    and created carpools, marking the

    beginning of the 381 day Montgomery

    Bus Boycott. After a long protest, the

    U.S. Supreme Court declared bus

    segregation unconstitutional in 1957.

    Following the boycott, Parks moved to

    Detroit, Michigan, where she worked

    as an assistant to Detroit Congressman

    John Conyers. In 1987, she founded

    the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute

    for Self-Development, which teaches

    students about the black struggle for

    civil rights and encourages students to

    strive for success.

    Parks received numerous honors,

    including over forty honorary degrees,

    the Medal of Freedom, the Congressional

    Gold Medal of Honor, and two NAACP

    image awards. The State of Michigan

    honors Parks each February 4 on Rosa

    Parks Day. In addition to authoring

    several books about her story, in 2002,

    Parks teamed up with CBS to produce

    a biographical film entitled The Rosa

    Parks Story.

    On October 5, 2005 Rosa Parks passed

    away in Detroit.


    Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Advocate

    Sources: Edna Chappell McKenzie, Rosa Parks. InBlack Women in America: Social Activism, edited by Darlene Clark Hine (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1997); Lisa Hill, Rosa Parks. InAfrican American Women: a Biographical Dictionary, edited by Dorothy C. Salem. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1993); Rosa and Raymond Parks Institution for Self Development.http://www.rosaparks.org/bio.html(Accessed November 11, 2007).

    Contributor:Nichols, CaseyUniversity of Washington

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


  • One of the most visible advocates of nonviolence and direct

    action as methods of social change, Martin Luther King, Jr.

    was born in Atlanta on January 15, 1929. As the grandson of

    the Rev. A.D. Williams, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church and

    a founder of AtlantasNAACPchapter, and the son of Martin

    Luther King, Sr., who succeeded Williams as Ebenezers pastor,

    Kings roots were in the African American Baptist church.

    After attendingMorehouse Collegein Atlanta, King went on

    to study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and

    Boston University, where he deepened his understanding

    of theological scholarship and explored Mahatma Gandhis

    nonviolent strategy for social change.

    King married Coretta Scottin 1953, and the following year

    he accepted the pastorate atDexter Avenue Baptist Church in

    Montgomery, Alabama. King received his Ph.D. in systematic

    theology in 1955.

    On December 5, 1955, after civil rights activist Rosa Parks

    refused to comply with Montgomerys segregation policy on

    buses, black residents launched a bus boycott and elected

    King president of the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement

    Association. The boycott continued throughout 1956 and King

    gained national prominence for his role in the campaign.

    In December 1956 the United States Supreme Court declared

    Alabamas segregation laws unconstitutional and Montgomery

    buses were desegregated.

    Seeking to build upon the success in Montgomery, King

    and other southern black ministers founded the Southern

    Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)in 1957. In 1959,

    King toured India and further developed his understanding of

    Gandhian nonviolent strategies. Later that year, King resigned

    from Dexter and returned to Atlanta to become co-pastor of

    Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father.


    Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Advocate



  • Sources: Martin Luther King,The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., Clayborne Carson, ed. (New York: Intellectual Properties Management in association with Warner Books, 1998); Lerone Bennett,What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.(Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, 1989); Taylor Branch,Parting the Waters: America in the King Years(New York: Touchstone, 1989); Christine King Farris,My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.(New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003). For additional information on Dr. Martin Luther King please seeThe Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute.http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/

    Contributor: Carson, Clayborne Stanford University

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org

    In 1960, black college students initiated a wave of sit-in

    protests that led to the formation of theStudent Nonviolent

    Coordinating Committee (SNCC). King supported the student

    movement and expressed an interest in creating a youth arm

    of the SCLC. Student activists admired King, but they were

    critical of his top-down leadership style and were determined

    to maintain their autonomy. As an advisor to SNCC, Ella

    Baker, who had previously served as associate director

    of SCLC, made clear to representatives from other civil

    rights organizations that SNCC was to remain a student-led

    organization. The 1961 Freedom Rides heightened tensions

    between King and younger activists, as he faced criticism for

    his decision not to participate in the rides. Conflicts between

    SCLC and SNCC continued during the Albany Movement of

    1961 and 1962.

    In the spring of 1963, King and SCLC lead mass

    demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, where

    local white police officials were known for their violent

    opposition to integration. Clashes between unarmed

    black demonstrators and police armed with dogs and

    fire hoses generated newspaper headlines throughout the

    world. President Kennedy responded to the Birmingham

    protests by submitting broad civil rights legislation to

    Congress, which led to the passage of theCivil Rights

    Act of 1964. Subsequent mass demonstrations culminated

    in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on

    August 28, 1963, in which more than 250,000 protesters

    gathered in Washington, D.C. It was on the steps of the

    Lincoln Memorial that King delivered his famous

    I Have a Dream speech.

    Kings renown continued to grow as he became Time

    magazines Man of the Year in 1963 and the recipient of the

    Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. However, along with the fame and

    accolades came conflict within the movements leadership.

    Malcolm Xs message of self-defense and black nationalism

    resonated with northern, urban blacks more effectively than

    Kings call for nonviolence; King also faced public criticism

    from Black Power proponent, Stokely Carmichael.

    Kings efficacy was not only hindered by divisions among

    black leadership, but also by the increasing resistance he

    encountered from national political leaders. Federal Bureau of

    Investigation (FBI) director J. Edgar Hoovers extensive efforts

    to undermine Kings leadership were intensified during 1967 as

    urban racial violence escalated, and Kings public criticism of

    U.S. intervention in the Vietnam War led to strained relations

    with Lyndon Johnsons administration.

    In late 1967, King initiated a Poor Peoples Campaign designed

    to confront economic problems that had not been addressed

    by earlier civil rights reforms. The following year, while

    supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, he

    delivered his final addressIve Been to the Mountaintop.

    The next day, April 4, 1968, King was assassinated.

    To this day, Dr. Martin Luther King remains a controversial

    symbol of the African American civil rights struggle, revered

    by many for his martyrdom on behalf of nonviolence and

    condemned by others for his militancy and insurgent views.



    Louis Armstrong, Entertainer

    Louis Armstrong is perhaps the most important and influential

    person in the history of jazz music, swing music, and jazz vocal

    styling. His virtuosic ability with the trumpet, his distinctive

    gravelly low vocal style, his bright personality, and his band

    leadership abilities helped to build jazz into a popular musical

    genre and influenced nearly every jazz musician after him.

    Louis Armstrong was born August 4, 1901 in New Orleans,

    Louisiana into an impoverished family. In 1912 he fired a pistol

    in the air during a New Years celebration, was arrested, and

    sent to a waifs home. It was here that he learned how to play

    the cornet. He immediately began playing in various jazz bands

    in and around New Orleans. From 1922 to 1924 Armstrong was

    a member of King Olivers band in Chicago, Illinois which was

    the most popular jazz band of the time. By 1924 as his playing

    abilities surpassed Olivers, Armstrongs wife Lillian persuaded

    him to join Fletcher Hendersons band in New York to move

    beyond Olivers shadow.



  • Armstrong brought to New York City a new, flowing,

    improvisational style of jazz that spread rapidly and

    influenced countless jazz musicians who were enthralled by it.

    Soon he began recording backup for blues artists like Bessie

    Smith and Ma Rainey. In 1925 he began his highly successful

    Hot 5 albums. These albums introduced New Orleans jazz

    to a national audience, highlighted Armstrongs virtuoso

    trumpet playing (he switched from cornet in 1927) and

    featured his scat singing style. Among his many hits were

    Heebie Jeebies, Potato Head Blues, West End Blues,

    and Weather Bird.

    By the early 1930s Armstrong had developed his

    talents as a showman as well, leading several big

    bands on a national stage, enjoying commercial

    success, and becoming a household name. He played

    several small parts in movies and took two trips to Europe,

    earning the nickname Americas goodwill ambassador

    for his warm caring demeanor and big heart. In 1947 he

    returned to his small band roots and formed the All-Stars

    sextet, embarking on a constant touring schedule of swing

    standards and Dixieland.

    Although jazz styles changed into the 1940s, Armstrong stuck

    with what he knew best, singing in his low, warm, gravelly

    voice, superior trumpet playing, and an endearing ability to

    appeal to diverse audiences with his personality and smile.

    Armstrong even reached #1 on the pop charts in 1964 with the

    hit Hello Dolly! Louis Armstrong continued to perform until

    his death in 1971.

    Sources: Michael Erlewin,All Music Guide to Jazz(San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 1998); Sam Tanenhaus,Louis Armstrong(Danbury, Connecticut: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989); Thomas Brothers,Louis Armstrong In His Own Words(New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); http://www.satchmo.net/bio/; http://louis-armstrong.net/

    Contributor:Butler, GerryUniversity of Washington

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


  • When Jackie Robinson took the field on April 15, 1947 wearing

    a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform, he became the first African

    American in over fifty years to play on a major league baseball

    team. In the process, he broke through baseballs color line

    that had relegated African American players to the segregated

    Negro Leagues.

    Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the youngest of five children, was

    born in Cairo,Georgiaon January 31, 1919 to sharecroppers

    Jerry and Mallie Robinson. When Jack was a year old his father

    deserted the family, and Mallie Robinson relocated her family

    to Pasadena,Californiawhere Jack grew up. Robinsons athletic

    ability was apparent from an early age. In high school he

    participated in five sports: basketball, football, baseball, tennis

    and track. He continued to play multiple sports at Pasadena

    Junior College, where he graduated in 1939, and then at the

    University of Southern California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

    While at UCLA, Robinson became the first athlete

    to earn varsity letters in four sports. Despite his

    athletic accomplishments, Robinson believed that

    his chances of playing on any major league sports team

    after graduation were slim, given the racism of the era,

    and in 1941 he left college just shy of graduation to take

    a job as an assistant athletic director with the National

    Youth Administration in Atascadero, California. The position,

    however, was short-lived as government funding for the job

    ended the following year.


    Jackie Robinson, Baseball Player



  • In 1942, Robinson was drafted into a segregated Army

    unit where he served two years. He was admitted into

    Officer Candidate School and became a second lieutenant

    in 1943, although his service was marred when he was

    court-martialed for refusing a civilian bus drivers order

    to move to the back of the bus during a trip back to the base.

    After a brief trial, he received an honorable discharge

    in 1944. The incident was played out in a 1990 movie,

    The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson.

    Robinson then joined theKansas City Monarchs, a Negro

    League team. In August of 1944 Robinson was still with the

    Monarchs when Branch Rickey approached him about playing

    for the Dodgers organization. Robinson spent the 1946 season

    with the Dodgers farm team, the Montreal Royals. Also that

    year he married his college sweetheart, Rachel Isum.

    The couple had three children, Jackie Jr. (1946), Sharon (1950),

    and David (1952).

    In 1947 Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers

    becoming the first African American in the 20th century

    to play for a major league baseball team. At the end of

    his first season with the Dodgers, Robinson was named

    National League Rookie of the year. He had 12 home runs,

    a league-leading 29 steals, and a .297 batting average.

    In 1949 Robinson was selected as the National Leagues

    Most Valuable Player (MVP). He also won the batting title

    with a .342 average.

    In ten seasons with the Dodgers, Robinson played in six

    World Series games including the Dodgers 1955 World

    Championship. He played in six consecutive All-Star Games,

    from 1949 to 1954, and retired at the end of the 1956 season.

    In 1962, his first year of eligibility, Robinson was inducted in

    the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

    In retirement, Robinson was an active participant in the

    struggle forcivil rights, working withDr. Martin Luther King

    Jr. and with theNational Association for the Advancement

    of Colored People (NAACP). He also wrote for The New York

    Post and The Amsterdam News.

    Jackie Robinson died of a heart attack on October 24, 1972

    at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. He was 53. On March

    26, 1984, Robinson was posthumously awarded the nations

    highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, by President

    Ronald Reagan. In 1996 the U.S. Congress and President

    Clinton authorized a coin to commemorate the fiftieth

    anniversary of Robinsons 1947 entry into major league

    baseball. In 1997 the U.S. Post Office issued a stamp in his

    honor, and on the 50th anniversary of the date that Robinson

    broke major league baseballs color barrier, Major League

    Baseball retired Robinsons number 42.

    Sources: Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett,I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson(New York: Harper, 2003); Arnold Rampersand,Jackie Robinson: A Biography(New York: Knopf, 1997); Jackie Robinson: Baseballs Barrier Breaker, http://www.jackierobinson.com/; John Vernon, Jim Crow, Meet Lieutenant Robinson: A 1944 Court-Martial,Prologue Magazine, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring 2008); http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2008/spring/robinson.html.

    Contributor:McNally, DeborahUniversity of Washington, Seattle

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org



    Jack Johnson, Boxer

    Jack Johnson, the first African American and first Texan to

    win the heavyweightboxingchampionship of the world, was

    born the second of six children to Henry and Tiny Johnson in

    Galveston on March 31, 1878. His parents were formerslaves.

    To help support his family, Jack Johnson left school in the fifth

    grade to work on the dock in his port city hometown. In the

    1890s Johnson began boxing as a teenager in battles royal

    matches where white spectators watched black men fight and

    at the end of the contest tossed money at the winner.

    Johnson turned professional in 1897 but four years later

    he was arrested and jailed because boxing was at that time

    a criminal sport inTexas. After his release from jail he left

    Texas to pursue the title of Negro heavyweight boxing

    champion. Although he made a good living as a boxer, Johnson

    for six years sought a title fight with the white heavyweight

    champion, James J. Jeffries. Jeffries denied Johnson and

    other African American boxers a shot at his title and he retired

    undefeated in 1904.

    Nevertheless, Johnsons reputation as a skilled ring tactician

    continued to grow as he defeated both black and white boxers.

    Finally, in 1908, Johnson fought a white champion Tommy

    Burns in Australia for $30,000, then the highest purse in

    boxing history. Johnson knocked out Burns in the 14th round

    to become the first African American heavyweight champion

    of the world.

    Johnsons capture of the title initiated a search among white

    promoters for a great white hope to defeat the black champion

    and reclaim the title for white America. They eventually lured

    Jim Jeffries out of retirement to face Johnson. On July 4, 1910,

    in what would be billed as the Battle of the Century, Johnson

    finally fought and beat Jeffries in Reno,Nevadato retain his

    title. Newspapers warned Johnson and his supporters against

    gloating over the victory. Nonetheless, scores of African

    Americans and some whites died as a result of the race

    rioting that broke out in cities across the nation in response

    to Johnsons victory. In fear of more race riots, the Texas



  • Sources:Jack Johnson,Jack Johnson is a Dandy(New York: Chelsea House, 1969); Al-Tony Gilmore, Bad Nigger!The National Impact of Jack Johnson(Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1975); Thomas R. Hietala,The Fight of the Century: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and the Struggle for Racial Equality(Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2002); http://www.pbs.org/unforgivableblackness/about/.

    Contributor:Mack, DwayneBerea College

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org

    legislature banned all films showing the black fighters wins

    over any of his white opponents.

    Johnson also attracted considerable condemnation because

    of his unabashed sexual relationships with numerous white

    women. In 1913, Johnson fled the United States because federal

    officials charged him with violating the Mann Act, which

    prohibited the transportation of women across state lines for

    prostitution, debauchery, or immoral acts.

    While in exile in Cuba, Johnson lost his title in 1914 to little

    known white boxer Jess Willard. Failing to get other matches

    abroad, Johnson returned to the U.S. in 1920 to surrender to

    Federal authorities. He was tried and convicted for violation of

    the Mann Act and sentenced to a year and a day in the Federal

    penitentiary at Leavenworth,Kansas. Ironically, Johnson was

    appointed athletic director of the prison while still an inmate.

    Upon his release from prison in 1921, he returned to the ring,

    participating only in exhibition fights. Promoters never again

    gave Johnson another title shot.

    Jack Johnson married three white women in succession,

    Etta Duryea, Lucille Cameron, and Irene Pineau, but those

    unions failed to produce children. On October 6, 1946, after

    aNorth Carolinadiner denied him service, he stormed out

    of the business and soon afterwards crashed his car.

    Johnson died from the impact. He was 68. The Boxing

    Hall of Fame posthumously inducted Johnson in 1954 and

    he received the same honor from the International Boxing

    Hall of Fame in 1990.



    Arthur Ashe, Tennis Player

    Arthur Robert Ashe Jr., legendary tennis player, human rights

    activist, and educator, was born on July 10, 1943, in Richmond,

    Virginia, to Arthur Sr. and Mattie Cunningham Ashe. At the

    age of four, he began playing tennis at Brook Field, a black-only

    park where his father worked as caretaker.

    Before she died in 1950, Ashes mother taught him the

    importance of education. His father, now a single parent,

    sponsored his early development in tennis. Ashe developed

    into a prodigy in the early 1950s under his lifelong coach

    Dr. Walter Johnson, who also trained professional tennis player

    and golfer Althea Gibson. In 1953, at the age of 10, Ashe won

    the American Tennis Associations National Championship for

    boys 12 years and under. Determined to play in the

    all-white Junior United States Tennis Association (USTA),

    Ashe broke its racial barrier in 1957 when he competed

    in Maryland boys championships. This led to his regular

    inclusion in local summer UTSA tournaments from

    1957 to 1960.

    In 1960, 17-year-old Ashe first gained national recognition as a

    high school student-athlete in Sports Illustrated. The following

    year he entered the University of California at Los Angeles

    (UCLA) on a full scholarship. In Ashes sophomore year he

    made the 1963 US Davis Cup team, a feat he repeated from

    1964 to 1970 and again in 1975, 1976 and 1978. In 1965 Ashe



  • was named the top-ranked amateur player in mens tennis and,

    as team captain, guided the UCLA tennis team to the NCAA

    team championship, winning the individual and doubles titles.

    From 1966 to 1968, Ashe attended the US Military Academy at

    West Point, New York and graduated with the rank of second

    lieutenant. In 1969 he first spoke out against South African

    apartheid which he saw as an extension of his fight against

    Jim Crow in the United States. From that date he became one

    of the most outspoken opponents of apartheid, constantly

    using his own success to challenge South Africa. In 1973 he

    forced concessions which led to his inclusion in the 1973 South

    African Open.

    Ashe became a professional tennis player in 1969. In that year

    he became the first African American to be ranked number

    one, a feat repeated in 1975 after he won Wimbledon. Ashe

    emerged as a leader among professional tennis players, co-

    founding the USTA National Junior Tennis League, which

    exposed inner-city youth to tennis, and the Association of

    Tennis Professionals (ATP). Ashe served as its president in 1974

    following a 78-person boycott of Wimbledon.

    In 1977 Ashe married photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy.

    Nine years later they had their only child, a daughter named

    Camera. Heart complications stemming from a 1979 heart

    attack forced Ashe to retire from professional tennis in 1980,

    with a career record of 818 wins, 260 losses, and 51 titles.

    In 1985 he was unanimously elected into the International

    Tennis Hall of Fame.

    After his tennis career ended, Ashe became a noted journalist,

    humanitarian, and activist. In 1981 he became the first African

    American to be named national chairman of the American

    Heart Association. As a journalist he wrote for Tennis

    Magazine, Time Magazine and The Washington Post. Ashe was

    also a tennis commentator for ABC Sports and HBO Sports.

    He wrote eight books between 1967 and 1995 covering topics

    such as education, tennis, and African American achievement.

    He continued his fight against apartheid and in 1983 became

    the co-founder of Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid.

    In the early 1990s, Ashe became an ambassador for

    AIDS awareness. His concern about AIDS began with

    his HIV infection from a tainted blood transfusion

    during 1983 bypass surgery. By 1988 the infection had

    progressed from HIV into full-blown AIDS. The family

    publically disclosed his condition on April 8, 1992 at a press

    conference. Nearly a year later on February 6, 1993,

    Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. died in New York City. He was

    buried in the Governors Mansion in his native Richmond, an

    unprecedented honor for an African American, and the first

    person to lie in state at the mansion since Confederate general

    Stonewall Jackson in 1863.

    Posthumously, Ashe has been commemorated with many

    awards. Most notable are the Presidential Medal of Freedom

    (1993), a statute on Richmonds Monument Avenue (1996), and,

    beginning in 1997, the US Open has been played in Arthur Ashe

    Stadium in Flushing Meadows Park, New York. Ashe was also

    honored with a US postage stamp in 2005.

    Sources: ArthurAshe.org, http://www.arthurashe.org/; Arthur Ashe and Arnold Rampersand, Days of Grace: A Memoir (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993); Herbert G. Ruffin, Arthur Ashe in Matthew Whitaker, Icons of Black America (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2011); Richard Steins, Arthur Ashe: A Biography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005).

    Contributor:Ruffin II, Herbert G.Claremont Graduate University

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org



    Cold Crush Brothers, Hip-Hop Group

    The Cold Crush Brothers, pioneering hip-hop performers,

    formed as a group in the Bronx, New York City, New York in

    1978. Along with founder DJ Tony Tone, the group originally

    consisted of Easy A.D., DJ Charlie Chase, Mister Tee, Whipper

    Whip, and Dot-A-Rock. As hip-hop stood poised to break out of

    New York, The Cold Crush Brothers were considered one of the

    top crews in the city. Then two of the groups original members,

    Whipper Whip and Dot-A-Rock, left to join the Fantastic

    Five, who would come to be considered to be The Cold Crush

    Brothers top rival.

    After these defections, Grandmaster Caz (a.k.a. DJ Casanova

    Fly) was added to the group. With multiple MCs, the Cold

    Crush Brothers became known for their elaborate vocal

    routines which featured melody and harmony, features that

    were unique for hip-hop groups at the time.

    As hip-hop made the transition from underground movement

    to global cultural force in late 1979 with the release of the

    song Rappers Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang, one of

    The Cold Crush Brothers unwittingly aided this landmark

    single. Big Bank Hank, a member of the Sugar Hill Gang,

    asked Grandmaster Caz to use some of his rhymes in their

    next song. Caz agreed with the understanding that he would

    be compensated later if the song made any money.

    Hank opened Rappers Delight, which charted internationally

    and sold millions of copies, with rhymes Caz wrote but for



  • which he received no credit or compensation. Despite this

    episode, Cold Crush remained one of the premier groups in

    early hip-hop, developing their following by performing in

    all five New York City boroughs as well as other cities like

    Boston, Massachusetts before ever releasing a commercial

    record of their own. Their popularity also spread because

    bootlegged cassette tape recordings of these live performances

    boosted the groups reputation by word of mouth. Over time

    a rivalry developed between The Cold Crush Brothers and

    The Fantastic Five, the other major rap group in New York

    City. This competition would eventually lead to a famous

    $1,000 winner-take-all lyrical battle between the groups

    on July 3, 1981, which was won by The Fantastic Five.

    This rivalry was also featured in the seminal 1982

    hip-hop movie WildStyle. While Cold Crush made an

    impact on the film with footage of one of their powerful

    live performances, their most memorable scene was

    probably a rap/basketball face off staged on a playground

    against their old rivals, The Fantastic Five.

    The Cold Crush Brothers first commercial single Weekend

    was released in 1982, five years after they came together

    as a rap group. This hit was followed by Punk Rock Rap

    (1983), one the first songs to fuse rap and rock music. Cold

    Crushs most successful song was Fresh, Wild, Fly & Bold

    (1984), but initially promising sales were disrupted by a

    dispute between their record label, Tuff City Records and

    the distributor, Profile Records. In the late 1980s the group

    added members Almighty Kay Gee and JDL Ray Money

    and released an album, Troopers (1988, B-Boy Records).

    In 2002, group member JDL Ray Money passed away.

    Cold Crush was among the first acts to export hip-hop

    culture to the rest of the world with tours of Europe and Asia

    in the early 1980s. The group is still active and performs

    live shows. The Cold Crush Brothers early contributions

    to what would become the global popularity of rap

    distinguish them as being the true pioneers of hip-hop.

    Sources: http://fifthelementonline.com/blogs/fifth-element/6270434-redefinehiphop-cold-crush-brothers-recorded-material-part-1-of-2; http://www.coldcrushbrothers.com/index.html

    Contributor: Abe, DaudiSeattle Central Community College

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


  • Eliza Ann Grier was born a slave, but became emancipated

    and eventually earned her M.D., becoming in 1898 the first

    African American woman to practice medicine in Georgia.

    Little is known of Griers early life beyond her growing up in

    Atlanta. In 1883, nearly 20 years after her emancipation,

    Grier entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee with the

    goal of becoming a teacher. She earned a degree in education

    from Fisk eight years later in 1891 because she took every other

    year off to pick cotton and perform other work to earn her

    tuition to continue her studies.

    Shortly before graduating from Fisk, Grier decided she

    wanted to become a medical doctor. She wrote to the

    Dean of the Womans Medical College of Pennsylvania

    requesting information about tuition and the possibility

    of pursuing advanced medical education. Grier indicated

    that she wished to become a medical doctor because she

    could benefit her race more as a physician than as a teacher.

    She hoped for both admission and financial assistance.

    The College admitted her but did not provide any help,

    prompting her to revert to the strategy she employed at Fisk,

    alternately working and studying for eight years until she

    completed her medical degree.

    In 1897 after graduating from the Womens Medical College of

    Pennsylvania, Dr. Eliza Grier returned to Atlanta, Georgia.

    In 1898 she wrote some of the best white doctors in the city

    have welcomed me and say that they will give me an even

    chance in the profession. That is all I ask.

    By 1899, however, Grier moved her practice to Greenville,

    South Carolina where she specialized in obstetrics and

    gynecology. In 1901 she contracted influenza and could not

    see patients for six weeks. Facing the loss of her practice, Dr.

    Grier wrote a plea for financial assistance to Susan B. Anthony.

    The famous suffragist could not help her but sympathetically

    forwarded her request to the Womans Medical College. It is not

    known if the College provided help. Tragically, after struggling

    for eight years to become a physician, Dr. Eliza Ann Grier died

    in 1902 after only five years of medical practice.

    Sources: Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984), http://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_132.html

    Contributor:Daz, SaraUniversity of Washington

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


    Eliza Ann Grier, Doctor




    Ella Baker, Civil Rights Advocate

    Sources: Joanne Grant,Ella Baker Freedom Bound(New York, New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1998); Rosetta E Ross,Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights(Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press, 2003).

    Contributor:Kealoha, Samantha NicholasUniversity of Washington

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org

    Through her decades of work with theNational Association

    for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)and later

    with theStudent Non-Violent Coordinating Committee

    (SNCC), Ella Baker emerged as one of the most important

    women in the civil rights movement. Baker was born on

    December 13, 1903 in Norfolk,Virginia. After grammar school,

    her mother enrolled her in Shaw University in Raleigh,

    North Carolina. She graduated as the valedictorian of both

    her high school and college graduating classes. The college

    valedictorian honor was all the more remarkable because she

    worked her way through school as a waitress and chemistry

    lab assistant. Baker graduated from Shaw University with a

    B.A. in June 1927.

    After graduation Baker moved to New York City, where she

    became a waitress, and community organizer involved in

    radical politics. Later that year (1927) she became a journalist

    for theAmerican West Indian News. By 1930 she was named

    office manager of theNegro National News.

    In 1930 Ella Baker andGeorge Schuylercofounded the

    Young Negroes Cooperative League (YNCL). She was the

    organizations first secretary-treasurer, and chairman of

    theNew YorkCouncil. In 1931, Baker became the YNCLs

    national director. Schuyler, the organizations President,

    then recommended her to the NAACP.

    In 1941, Ella Baker became an assistant field secretary of the

    NAACP. She also took the post of Advisor for the New York

    Youth Council of the NAACP. By the late 1940s Baker, now a

    Field Secretary, was the NAACPs most effective organizer

    as she traveled the South chartering new branches. In 1956

    she organized In Friendship, a group that raised money for

    theMontgomery Bus Boycott.

    Years of work among young people both inside and outside

    the NAACP led to her assignment in the spring of 1960

    to coordinate a conference to provide direction to the

    spontaneous, rapidly emerging sit-in movement that began

    on February 1 in Greensboro, North Carolina. In April of

    1960 Baker organized a conference at her alma mater, Shaw

    University, which led to the establishment of the Student

    Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Although she

    never joined SNCC, Baker arranged and coordinated sit-ins

    for the new civil rights organization. Baker continued to

    organize students involved in political activism through the

    1970s. In recognition of her work she was awarded a doctorate

    of letters in May 1985 from the City College of New York.

    Ella Baker died on her birthday, December 13, 1986 at the

    age of 83.


  • Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks, born June 7, 1917 in Topeka,

    Kansas, moved to Chicago, Illinois where she was reared and

    launched her literary career. Marrying Henry Blakely in 1939,

    the couple had two children.

    Brookss formal education consists of an associate degree in

    literature and arts from Wilson Junior College but she has also

    received over seventy honorary degrees from several leading

    universities. In her early years, Brooks served as the director

    of publicity for the National Association for the Advancement

    of Colored People (NAACP) in Chicago.

    Individual poems published in the Chicago Defender during

    her high school years preceded Brookss first collection of

    poetry, A Street in Bronzeville (1945). This book focused

    on community consciousness. Brookss Annie Allen was

    published in 1949 with a focus on self-realization and artistic

    sensibility of a young black woman. That volume made her

    the first African American to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in

    poetry. The Bean Eater, her third book, was released in 1960.

    Brooks published Selected Poems in 1963, In the Mecca (1968),

    Riot (1969), Family Pictures (1970), and Beckoning (1975).

    During this period, she began to publish her work through

    small black-run presses such as Broadside in Chicago. In the


    Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks, Author/Poet



  • Sources: Carol F. Bender andAnnie Allen,Masterplots 4th ed. Literary Reference Center(Pasadena: Salem Press, 2010); Charles M. Isreal and William T. Lawlor,Cyclopedia of World Authors 4th ed. Literary Reference Center(Pasadena: Salem Press, 2004); Henry Taylor and Harold Bloom, Gwendolyn Brooks: An Essential Sanity,Blooms Modern Critical Views: Gwendolyn Brooks(New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2000): 161-179.

    Contributor:Johnson, Doris RichardsonJefferson State Community College, Alabama

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org

    Mecca, one of her most important works

    of that period, describes a rather exquisite apartment building

    built in 1891 but leveled in 1952 after it had become

    a run-down tenement building. This collection, like others

    in the late 1960s and early 1970s, reflected the rising call

    for a literature for black people that spoke out against

    white oppression.

    Brooks continued to write poetry into the 1980s. Her Primer

    for Blacks (1980), To Disembark (1981), Black Love (1982),

    The Near-Johannesburg Boy (1986), Blacks (1987), Gottschalk

    and the Grand Tarantelle (1988), Winnie (1988), and Children

    Coming Home (1991), all emerged during this period.

    Brooks also wrote one work of long fiction, Maud Martha

    (1953). Her nonfiction works included The World of Gwendolyn

    Brooks (1971), Report from Part One (1972),

    Young Poets Primer (1980), Report from Part Two (1996).

    Brookss childrens books included three publications:

    Bronzeville Boys and Girl (1956), The Tiger Who Wore

    White Gloves (1974), and Very Young Poets (1983).

    During her lifetime, Brooks received numerous honors and

    served in several prestigious capacities including appointment

    as poet laureate of Illinois (1968), poetry consultant for the

    Library of Congress (1985), honorary fellow of the Modern

    Language Association (1987), two-time winner of the

    Guggenheim Fellowship, member of the American Academy

    of Arts and Letters, Jefferson Lecturer for Distinguished

    Intellectual Achievement in the Humanities (1994), and

    recipient of the National Medal of Art (1995).

    Gwendolyn Brooks died in Chicago at the age of 83 on

    December 3, 2000.


  • Hattie McDaniel is best known as the first black Oscar

    winner. She won the award on February 29, 1940, for Best

    Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in Gone With

    the Wind. McDaniels career began three decades earlier.

    She gave her first public performances as a grade school

    student in Denver, Colorado. Her father, Henry McDaniel,

    traveled through Colorado with his own minstrel show, but

    would not allow his daughter to accompany him and her

    brothers Otis and Sam. McDaniel was allowed to perform

    locally with the traveling minstrel shows staged atEast Turner

    Hall in Denver. In 1910, when she won the Womens Christian

    Temperance Unions recitation contest with her rendition

    of Convict Joe. The audience gave her both a standing

    ovation and the Gold Medal. Although only a sophomore,

    McDanielinsisted that she wanted to perform and convinced

    her parents that she should quit school to join her fathers show.

    She developed a talent for writing songs and dancing. She also

    had an excellent singing voice.

    After Henry McDaniel retired, Hattie McDaniel looked for

    other venues and in the early 1920s began to sing with Denvers

    well-known Professor George Morrison, a classically-trained

    violinist whose color prevented him from joining a symphony

    orchestra. Instead, he developed an orchestra that played jazz

    songs and traveled the Pantages Circuit through the western

    states. McDaniels performing abilities soon had her billed as

    the female Bert Williams. (Williams was an acclaimed black

    performer of Williams and Walker, an internationally known

    vaudeville team.)

    Hattie McDaniel interspersed her travels with the Morrison

    orchestra with venues elsewhere, since star billing eluded the

    majority of African American performers and everyone took

    work wherever they could find it. Her biggest break came when

    she began performing at Milwaukee, Wisconsins Club Madrid.

    Though originally hired as the ladies room attendant, she

    ultimately found her way onto the clubs stage and became a

    featured nightly act. Convinced that her talent could take her

    further, McDaniel moved to Hollywood to join a brother and

    two sisters in 1931.

    Despite the fact that Hattie McDaniel, born in 1895,

    did not live in Denver until she was six and left the city to

    travel while still a teen, Denverites have always claimed her

    as their own. She died on October 2, 1952, and was the first

    African American buried in Los Angeles, Californias

    Rosedale Cemetery.

    Carleton Jackson, Hattie: The Life of Hattie McDaniel (Lanham, New York: Madison Books, 1990); Thomas L. Riis, Just Before Jazz: Black Musical Theater in New York, 1890 to 1915 (Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution, 1989).

    Contributor:Hansen, MoyaColorado Historical Society

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


    Hattie McDaniel, Actress



  • Dorothy Dandridge was the first African American female to be

    nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actress category,

    and Best Actress by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,

    for her role in the film Carmen Jones (1957).

    Dandridge was the second child of Cyril and Ruby Dandridge.

    She was born in Cleveland, Ohio on November 9, 1922. At a

    young age, Ruby began taking her two daughters on the road to

    perform in church revivals and other venues all over the south.

    Known as the Wonder Children, Vivian and Dorothy sang,

    danced, recited poetry and did acrobatics. They eventually

    moved to Los Angeles, California, where Dorothy and her

    sister, Vivian, and a third girl Etta Jones, formed the singing

    trio, the Dandridge Sisters. They performed with Jimmie

    Luncefords Orchestra and Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club.

    After a short-lived marriage to Harold Nicholas, Dorothy

    returned to work singing in nightclubs and finding small parts

    in films like Tarzans Peril (1951) and the Harlem Globetrotters

    (1951). After appearing in the all-black film, Bright Road,

    Dorothy got an audition with Otto Preminger. Preminger was

    to direct Carmen Jones, a film based on the famous Bizet

    opera, Carmen. Carmen Jones rocketed Dorothy Dandridge

    to fame. Receiving rave reviews, she was nominated for an

    Academy Award in the Best Actress category, and Best Actress

    by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. While she did not

    win, she was signed to a three-year contract with Twentieth-

    Century Fox. Unfortunately, they found few roles for her.

    In 1957, she was cast in Island in the Sun (1957), her first

    interracial film relationship. Her few remaining roles included

    interracial love themes, but each time the directors succumbed

    to the pressures of the producers and studios and refrained

    from displaying a kiss or any intimacy between Dandridge

    and her costars. These films included Tamango (1957) and

    The Decks Ran Red (1957). Dandridge died in 1965 from an

    apparent drug overdose.

    Charlene Regester, African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900-1960 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010); Lorraine LoBianco, Starring Dorothy Dandridge http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/114172%7C0/Starring-Dorothy-Dandridge.html 12/10/2013; Federal Bureau of Investigation, Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts: Subject: Dorothy Dandridge.

    Contributor:White, Claytee D. University of Nevada, Las Vegas

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


    Dorothy Dandridge, Actress


  • Malcolm X, one of the most influential African American

    leaders of the 20th Century, was born Malcolm Little in

    Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925 to Earl Little, a Georgia

    native and itinerant Baptist preacher, and Louise Norton

    Little who was born in the West Indian island of Grenada.

    Shortly after Malcolm was born the family moved to Lansing,

    Michigan. Earl Little joined Marcus GarveysUniversal Negro

    Improvement Association (UNIA) where he publicly advocated

    black nationalist beliefs, prompting the local white supremacist

    Black Legion to set fire to their home. Little was killed by a

    streetcar in 1931. Authorities ruled it a suicide but the family

    believed he was killed by white supremacists.

    Although an academically gifted student, Malcolm dropped

    out of high school after a teacher ridiculed his aspirations

    to become a lawyer. He then moved to Bostons Roxbury

    district to live with an older half-sister, Ella Little Collins.

    Malcolm worked odd jobs in Boston and then moved to Harlem

    in 1943 where he drifted into a life of drug dealing, pimping,

    gambling and other forms of hustling. He avoided the draft in

    World War II by declaring his intent to organize black soldiers

    to attack whites which led to his classification as mentally

    disqualified for military service.

    Malcolm was arrested for burglary in Boston in 1946 and

    received a ten year prison sentence. There he joined the Nation

    of Islam (NOI). Upon his parole in 1952, Malcolm was called to

    Chicago by NOI leader, theHonorable Elijah Muhammad. Like

    other converts, he changed his surname to X, symbolizing,

    he said, the rejection of slave names and his inability to claim

    his ancestral African name.

    Recognizing his promise as a speaker and organizer for

    the Nation of Islam, Muhammad sent Malcolm to Boston

    to become the Minister of Temple Number Eleven.

    His proselytizing success earned a reassignment in 1954

    to Temple Number Seven in Harlem. Although New Yorks

    one million blacks comprised the largest African American

    urban population in the United States, Malcolm noted that

    there werent enough Muslims to fill a city bus. Fishing

    in Christian storefront churches and at competing black

    nationalist meetings, Malcolm built up the membership of

    Temple Seven. He also met his future wife, Sister Betty X,

    a nursing student who joined the temple in 1956. They married

    and eventually had six daughters.


    Malcolm X, Minister



  • Sources: Robert L. Jenkins and Mafanya Donald Tryman,The Malcolm X Encyclopedia(Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002); Eugene V. Wolfenstein,The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Karl Evanzz,The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X(New York: Thunders Mouth Press, 1992); Malcolm X with Alex Haley,The Autobiography of Malcolm X(New York: Grove Press, 1965).

    Contributor:Simba, MalikCalifornia State University, Fresno

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org

    Malcolm X quickly became a national public figure in

    July 1959 when CBS aired Mike Wallaces expose on the NOI,

    The Hate That Hate Produced. This documentary revealed

    the views of the NOI, of which Malcolm was the principal

    spokesperson and showed those views to be in sharp contrast

    to those of most well-known African American leaders of the

    time. Soon, however, Malcolm was increasingly frustrated by

    the NOIs bureaucratic structure and refusal to participate

    in the Civil Rights Movement. His November 1963 speech in

    Detroit, Message to the Grass Roots, a bold attack on racism

    and a call for black unity, foreshadowed the split with his

    spiritual mentor, Elijah Muhammad. However, Malcolm on

    December 1, in response to a reporters question about

    the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, used the

    phrase chickens coming home to roost which to Muslims

    meant that Allah was punishing white America for crimes

    against black people. Whatever the personal views of Muslims

    about Kennedys death, Elijah Muhammad had given strict

    orders to his ministers not to comment on the assassination.

    Malcolm defied the order and was suspended from the NOI

    for ninety days.

    Malcolm used the suspension to announce on March 8,

    1964, his break with the NOI and his creation of the

    Muslim Mosque, Inc. Three months later he formed

    a strictly political group (an action expressly banned by

    the NOI), called the Organization of Afro American Unity

    (OAAU) which was roughly patterned after theOrganization

    of African Unity (OAU).

    His dramatic political transformation was revealed when

    he spoke to the Militant Labor Forum of the Socialist Workers

    Party. Malcolm placed the Black Revolution in the context of

    a worldwide anti-imperialist struggle taking place in Africa,

    Asia, and Latin America, noting that when I say black, I mean

    non-whiteblack, brown, red or yellow. By April 1964, while

    speaking at a CORE rally in Cleveland, Ohio, Malcolm gave his

    famousThe Ballot or the Bulletspeech in which he described

    black Americans as victims of democracy.

    Malcolm traveled to Africa and the Middle East in late Spring

    1964 and was received like a visiting head of state in many

    countries. While there, Malcolm made his hajj to Mecca and

    added El-Hajj to his official NOI name Malik El-Shabazz.

    The tour forced Malcolm to realize that ones political position

    as a revolutionary superseded color.

    The transformed Malcolm reiterated these views when he

    addressed an OAAU rally in New York, declaring for a pan-

    African struggle by any means necessary. Malcolm spent

    six months in Africa in 1964 in an unsuccessful attempt to

    get international support for a United Nations investigation

    of human rights violations of Afro Americans in the United

    States. In February 1965, Malcolm flew to Paris to continue

    his efforts but was denied entry amidst rumors that he was on

    a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hit list. Upon his return

    to New York, his home was firebombed. Events continued to

    spiral downward and on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was

    assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in the Washington

    Heights section of Manhattan.


  • Jazz pianist and popular singer Nathaniel Adams Coles was

    born into a musical family in Montgomery, Alabama in 1919.

    His mother was a choir director in his fathers Baptist church

    and his three brothers became professional musicians. Cole

    started playing the piano at age four and organized his first jazz

    group, The Musical Dukes, in his teens.

    Coles unique style of singing has aptly been described as velvet

    and silk. Cole applied it successfully to a variety of musical

    material and thus influenced other performers of the era.

    An arranger-musical director, he formed his instrumental

    group, The King Cole Trio, in 1939 in Los Angeles.

    They attracted wide attention in 1943 with their recording,

    Straighten Up and Fly Right. Cole began to concentrate more

    on singing backed by a larger orchestra, and in 1948-49,

    had his own radio show. By 1952, he was singing more than

    playing jazz, and recorded such favorites as Stardust and

    Aint Misbehavin. He also had hits with When I Fall in Love,

    Where Can I Go, Love Letters, and Mona Lisa. The most

    popular of Coles songs of the era was Unforgettable.

    In 1956 Nat King Cole became the first African American

    entertainer to have his own nationally syndicated television

    show. Ratings were poor and bigotry kept sponsors away.

    He was also a victim of a vicious racist attack by six white men

    in his native state of Alabama that same year while performing

    on stage in Birmingham.

    Cole appeared in popular films, among them China Gate

    and Cat Ballou. He received numerous awards and traveled

    internationally. Nat King Cole died in Santa Monica, California

    in 1965. His two daughters, Carole and Natalie, became

    professional singers.

    Eileen Southern,Biographical Dictionary of Afro American and African Musicians(Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1982) ; Nicolas Slonimsky,Bokers Biographical Dictionary of Musicians(London: Schirmer Books, 1984); Jim Irwin & Colin McLear,The Mojo Collection(NY: Cananongate, 2000).

    Contributor:Spigner, ClarenceUniversity of Washington

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


    Nat King Cole, Pianist/Singer



  • William Harvey Carney was born a slave in Norfolk,

    Virginia in 1840. His father William, Sr. had escaped slavery

    through theUnderground Railroadand eventually earned

    enough money to buy the freedom of his wife and son.

    After freeing his family, the reunited Carneys moved to

    New Bedford,Massachusetts. William Carney, Jr. had

    intended to pursue ecclesiastical training with the intentions

    of becoming a minister. Instead of following the call to preach

    he decided to enlist in theUnion Armyin 1863, following the

    Emancipation Proclamationwhich for the first time in the

    Civil Warofficially authorized the recruitment of black soldiers.

    Recruited out of New Bedford, Carney joined the soon

    to be famous all-black54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

    commanded by 26 year-old Colonel Robert Gould Shaw,

    the son of a wealthy Bostonabolitionist. Carney soon rose to

    the rank of sergeant due to his education and strong potential

    to lead others.

    During the summer of 1863 the 54th Massachusetts was

    sent to James Island,South Carolina, where the unit saw its

    first combat. After two days of sleep and food deprivation

    the 54th Regiment was ordered into battle. Shaw volunteered

    the 54th to lead the charge on the heavily garrisoned and

    fortified Fort Wagner.

    During the battle Shaw was pinned down beneath the parapet

    of the fort and was desperately trying to rally his men forward.

    As Shaw and the flag bearer were mortally wounded and began

    to fall, Carney seized the colors and prevented the flag from

    touching the ground. He struggled up the parapet and, though

    wounded in the legs, chest, and arm, planted the colors at the

    top of the parapet. Despite his wounds and the heavy gunfire

    around him, Carney was able to keep the flag aloft. Carney and

    the rest of the 54th Massachusetts remained pinned down.

    Only after reinforcements arrived was the beleaguered and

    decimated unit able to withdraw. Struggling back to Union

    lines while still carrying the colors, Carney collapsed saying:

    Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.

    After the battle Carney was discharged from the infantry due

    to his wounds. For his act of heroism at Fort Wagner, Carney

    was awarded the highest military honor, the Congressional

    Medal of Honor. Carney was the first African American

    to receive this award. Upon his death in 1908, the flag at

    the Massachusetts state house was flown half mast in his

    remembrance, an honor usually given only to honor a deceased

    governor, senator, congressman or US President.

    Sources: James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton.Slavery and the Making of America. (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005); Jessie Carney Smith, editor.Black Firsts: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement. (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994); American National Biography, http://www.anb.org.offcampus. lib.washington.edu/articles/home.html

    Contributor:Helm, MattUniversity of Washington

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org


    William Harvey Carney, War Hero


  • HistoricalProfiles

    Ray Charles Robinson, a talented musician, singer and

    composer, was one of the first African American artists to

    merge the blues with gospel to pave the way for rhythm and

    blues (R&B) music. Robinson was born September 23, 1930

    in Albany, Georgia. At five he began to go blind and by the age

    of seven his sight was completely gone. In order to help teach

    him to be self-sufficient his mother sent Robinson to the St.

    Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind, a racially segregated

    school in Florida. There he learned to read music in Braille as

    well as to play both classical and jazz music on the piano.

    Robinsons mother passed away when he was 15 years old.

    Now on his own, he decided to move to Seattle, Washington

    where he continued his musical development. By 1948 he had

    become a professional musician, shortening his name to

    Ray Charles, and forming his own trio. Before his 20th

    birthday Robinson had become a local sensation in the bars

    and clubs along Seattles Jackson Street.

    In 1952 Ray Charles signed with Atlantic Records, one of

    the largest labels in the country. Although his initial style

    was influenced by then prominent artists such as Nat King Cole

    and Charles Brown, by 1955 Charles changed direction when

    he recorded the gospel-influenced I Got a Woman, which

    became his first hit. After adding a female backup group

    called the Raelettes to his lineup, Charles recorded Whatd

    I Say in 1959 which made him one of the leading R&B artists

    in the nation.


    Ray Charles, Pianist/Singer


  • Sources: Eleanora E. Tate,Black Stars: African American Musicians(New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000); Ray Charles American Masters. PBS.org. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/charles_r.html

    Contributor:Campbell, BrentUniversity of Washington

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org

    In the decade of the 1960s Charless releases moved between

    pop, R&B and country and western music as he influenced

    artists and developed audiences in each genre. One of his

    compositions during this period, Georgia on My Mind,

    was eventually adopted as the official song for the state of

    Georgia. In 1965 at the peak of his career, Charles took a year

    long break to overcome a heroin addiction following his arrest

    on drug charges.

    Charles also supported the Civil Rights Movement in the

    1960s. He became a friend and financial backer of Dr. Martin

    Luther King and after 1963 refused to play before segregated

    audiences. Charles also composed protest songs such as

    Danger Zone and Youre in for a Big Surprise.

    Ray Charles continued to write and perform well into the

    1990s. Over his long career his accolades included more than

    a dozen Grammies, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of

    Fame, and a bronze medallion from the French Republic in

    recognition of his contribution to world music. Ray Charles

    died on June 10th, 2004.


  • HistoricalProfiles

    Olive Gilbert and Frances Titus, Narrative of Sojourner Truth; A Bondswoman of Olden Time, Emancipated by the New York Legislature in the Early Part of the Present Century; with a History of her Labors and Correspondence Drawn from her Book of Life (1875); Carleton Mabee, Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend (1993); Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (1996), Priscilla Pope-Levison, Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists (2004).

    Contributor: Pope-Levison, Priscilla Seattle Pacific University

    For more information, visit: www.blackpast.org

    Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist, womens rights activist,

    emancipated slave and itinerant evangelist, became arguably

    the most well-known 19th Century African American woman.

    Born around 1791, Isabella (her birth name) was the daughter

    of James and Betsey, slaves of Colonel Ardinburgh Hurley,

    Ulster County, New York. From a young age, she was bought

    and sold several times by slaveowners in New York.

    She married an enslaved man named Thomas, and together

    they had five children.

    On July 4, 1827, the New York State Legislature emancipated

    Isabella, yet her owners at the time, the Dumonts, would not

    comply because they claimed she still owed them work.

    One morning before dawn, with a baby in her arms, she walked

    away from the Dumonts and took refuge with an abolitionist

    family who lived five miles away. During this time,

    she experienced a religious conversion and became active in

    the nearby Methodist church. Eventually, she moved with her

    son, Peter, to New York City, where she worked as a live-in

    domestic. She became involved in a religious cult known as the

    Kingdom, whose leader, Matthias, beat her and assigned her

    the heaviest workload.

    The turning point in Isabellas life came on June 1, 1843,

    when at the age of 52 she adopted a new name, Sojourner

    Truth, and headed east for the purpose of exhorting the

    people to embrace Jesus, and refrain from sin. For several

    years, she preached at camp meetings and lived in a utopian

    community, the Northampton Association for Education and

    Industry, which devoted itself to transcending class, race,

    and gender distinctions. Even though the community lasted

    less than five years, many reform-minded influential people

    visited Northampton, including abolitionist leaders Frederick

    Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Through these

    connections, she began to speak at public events on behalf of

    abolition and womens rights. In 1851, she gave her famous

    Aint I A Woman speech at a Womens Rights Convention.

    In 1857, Truth bought a house with the help of friends in

    Harmonia, a small Spiritualist community near Battle

    Creek, Michigan. She supported herself through speaking

    engagements and selling photographs of herself as well as her

    book, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, written by an amanuensis,

    since she was illiterate.

    When the Civil War began, Truth threw her energy into

    soliciting food and clothing for the volunteer regiments of

    black Union soldiers. Then the plight of freed slaves caught her

    attention, many of whom were living in refugee camps in the

    nations capital. She championed the idea of a colony for freed

    slaves in the American West where they would have a chance

    to become self-supporting and self-reliant. She garnered

    numerous signatures for her petition urging the federal

    government to provide land for this endeavor. Although she

    presented the petition to President Ulysses S. Grant, her dream

    never materialized. Nevertheless, when a large migration of

    freed southern slaves made their way west in the fall of 1879,

    despite her advanced age, Truth traveled to

    Kansas to help them get settled. Sojourner

    Truth died in Battle Creek, Michigan on

    November 26, 1883. She was 92.


    Sojourner Truth, Abolitionist


  • A Letter from the Editor:

    Its about Reach. Its about Impact. Its about Community.

    This Black History Month program serves as tribute to

    the most inspirational and influential black leaders of the

    community, both past and present. As you read through the

    different elements, remember the people and events of the past

    that paved the way for todays present and set the foundation

    for tomorrows future. Recognize them. Appreciate them.

    This program could not have been nearly as successful or

    impactful without the contribution and talents of our partners,

    publishers, and sponsors.

    We, at EPMG and LionHeart Digital, are tremendously grateful

    to those contemporary icons who volunteered their time and

    energy to participate. Their inspiring stories to black history

    gave this project relevant, personal, and motivating insight.

    Allen West

    Baratunde Thurston

    Beverly Johnson

    Black Girls Run- Toni and Ashley

    Cheryl Contee

    Grandmaster Flash

    Hank Willis Thomas

    Louis Gossett Jr

    Marcus Stroud

    Sanya Richards-Ross

    Shawne Merriman

    Stefanie Brown James

    Thank you to Quintard and his team at BlackPast.org for

    providing the historical content. BlackPast.org comprises

    primarily of volunteers who spent countless hours in research

    and we are incredibly thankful for their contribution.

    Without a past, we would not have a present. Speaking of

    present, our writers and bloggers represented the peoples

    voice in this program. They are the speakerphone of todays

    African-American generation.

    Amber Williams

    Briana McCarthy

    Danielle Belton

    Nikki Thompson

    Sharelle D. Lowery

    Yesha Callahan

    The dynamic and riveting video production could not have

    been made possible without David and his very talented team

    at Bravo Media Inc who went above and beyond to produce

    videos with amazing creativity and best-in-class production

    quality. This comprehensive package was beautifully decorated

    and branded with design components from Savacool Secviar

    Brand Communications.

    Our goal was to showcase the influence and power of African-

    American heritage and feature those who have made and still

    make a difference in the community.

    Please join us as we recognize the triumphs of todays most

    celebrated black icons and commemorate those that have

    made a lasting contribution to Black History or better yet,

    American History.

    JD Collins, Editor-in-chief

    Mabel Ng, Associate Editor


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