Monday, February 25, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE - Day 25: A little ahead of her time

I've been focusing on other areas with my blog, but in the last week of Black History Month I wanted to get a few more posts in about extraordinary individuals in black history.  Today, day 25 of Black History Month, I chose to write about Norma Jeane Mortenson.  She, advocated and stood up for someone she adored and in doing so, helped open doors for others to follow.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson this beautiful woman was most famously known as Marilyn Monroe when she legally changed her name is 1956 after she had already become a star. 

Monroe idolized Ella Fitzgerald.  If asked “Who  played an important role in the musical career of Ella Fitzgerald?” you might respond with names like Chick Webb, Louis Armstrong, Norman Granz, and Dizzy Gillespie.  The name Marilyn Monroe, however, might not come to mind.

While touring in the ’50s under the management of Norman Granz, Ella, like many African-American musicians at the time, faced significant adversity because of her race, especially in the Jim Crow states. Granz was a huge proponent of civil rights, and insisted that all of his musicians be treated equally at hotels and venues, regardless of race.

"Once, while in Dallas touring for the Philharmonic, a police squad irritated by Norman’s principles barged backstage to hassle the performers. They came into Ella’s dressing room, where band members Dizzy Gillespie and Illinois Jacquet were shooting dice, and arrested everyone.  They took us down and then when we got there, they had the nerve to ask for an autograph.” - Ella fitzgerald

Regardless of how first-class her talent was, Fitzgerald still suffered from the same injustices so many minorities faced during the time period.  Mocambo, was the premiere nightclub in West Hollywood, refused to allow Ella to perform there because of her race. Ella revealed the story of how a furious Monroe essentially strong armed the club to recognize the error of their ways.

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.” - Ella Fitzgerald

Ella had an influence on Marilyn as well. Monroe’s singing had a tendency to be overshadowed by dress-lifting gusts of wind and the flirtatious “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” not to mentions her movies and marriage to Joe DiMaggio. But years prior to the Mocambo phone call, Monroe was studying the recordings of Ella.

In fact, it was rumored that a vocal coach of Monroe instructed her to purchase Fitzgerald’s recordings of Gershwin music, and listen to it 100 times in a row.

Continued study of Ella actually turned Marilyn into a relatively solid singer for about a decade, but again became overlooked as her famous birthday tribute song to JFK in 1962 ends up being the vocal performance that is widely remembered.

The final years of Monroe's life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for unreliability and being difficult to work with. The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a "probable suicide", the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as of homicide, have not been ruled out. In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth-greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the decades following her death, she has often been cited as both a pop and a cultural icon.

Ella Fitzgerlad put it perfectly by saying that Marilyn was a bit ahead of her time and didn't know it.  Despite her less than perfect upbringing, she faced all sorts of adversities and she became an advocate and force to be reckoned with.  She opened doors for Ella an musicians like Ella who followed.  Marilyn is not black, but, in my opinion, she is definitely worth mentioning during black history month.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE - DAY 18: A Salute to the General

For day 18 of my black history challenge, I chose to write on Benjamin Davis Sr.  Looking back, I should have probably wrote on Gen. Davis prior to writing on Daniel "Chappies" James.  Nonetheless, I'm sure you'll still find his accomplishments nothing short of extraordinary.

Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr. was born on July 1, 1877 in Washington, D.C.  Earlier research is said to show evidence that he was actually born in May of 1880 and lied about his date of birth in order to enlist in the Army without his parent's permission.  Still, all official records, including his gravestone have his birth date as July 1, 1877.

Davis attended M Street High School in Washington where he participated in the school's cadet program.  During his senior year of high school he took some classes at Howard University.  He was determined to take on a military career despite his parent's wishes for him to go to college.

At the start of the Spanish-American War, just after graduating high school; Davis entered into military service on July 13, 1898 as a temporary first lieutenant in the 8th United States Volunteer Infantry, an all-black unit.  This regiment was stationed at Chickamauga Park, Georgia, from October 1898 until the unit was disbanded in March 1899. During the war, Davis briefly served in Company D, 1st Separate Battalion of the Washington D.C. National Guard.

Davis was mustered out on March 6, 1899, and on June 18, 1899, he enlisted as a private in Troop I, 9th Cavalry Regiment (one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments), of the Regular Army.  At his post in Fort Duchesne, Utah, he served first as the troop's clerk and later as squadron sergeant major through 1900.  In late 1900, Davis's unit was commanded by Lieutenant Charles Young, the only African-American officer serving in the US military at that time.  Young encouraged Davis's ambition to become an officer.

Receiving his commission in 1901, Davis was made a second lieutenant in the regular army while serving with Troop F, 10th Cavalry, in the Philippine-American War.   Despite the widespread prejudice against African Americans, he rose up the ranks, becoming a brigadier general - and the first African-American to ever become a general in the regular army - in 1940.

Davis's son, Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr., followed in his father's footsteps in becoming the first black general officer of the United States Air Force in October 1954.

Davis died on November 26, 1970, at Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Davis was pioneer and paved the way for black men & women in the military today.  He played a key role in enabling blacks to move up the ranks.  We salute you General Davis.

"My own opinion was that blacks could best overcome racist attitudes through achievements, even though those achievements had to take place within the hateful environment of segregation."  - General Benjamin O. Davis Sr.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" Desegregation: A blessing and a curse?

A question was raised a while back in a black network group that I belong to on LinkedIn.  The question was "Why is it that every race seems to stick together regarding business [except] black folks?"  There were a lot of great answers and a good discussion has been going on about it since then.  That has been an age old question...

My sister and I sold Mary Kay together for a while.  We would meet up once a week and plan to go out and network and try to meet people.  As we would talk about our target market and strategies, sadly, we would always plan to steer clear of predominantly black areas when attempting to network because they tend to offer very little support to their own people.  But Why?  It's still been in question...

I happened upon a picture today titled "The Black Men of Black Wall Street".  It sparked my interest because I've been looking for more black history to write on through the remainder of February.  Anyway, I started researching and I had an epiphany.
"During the oil boom of the 1910s, the area of northeast Oklahoma around Tulsa flourished, including the Greenwood neighborhood, which came to be known as "the Negro Wall Street" (now commonly referred to as "the Black Wall Street")The area was home to several prominent black businessmen, many of them multimillionaires. Greenwood boasted a variety of thriving businesses that were very successful up until the Tulsa Race Riot.  Not only did African Americans want to contribute to the success of their own shops, but also the racial segregation laws prevented them from shopping anywhere other than Greenwood.  Following the riots, the area was rebuilt and thrived until the 1960s when desegregation allowed blacks to shop in areas that were restricted before."
It seems to me that desegregation was both a blessing and a curse to the black community.  I am not saying, by any means, that I am not happy that we do not have to endure what our ancestors did so many years ago and that, for the most part, there is equality in the modern day society.  I am saying, however, that as a black community we have been so eager to shop and do business with people outside of our race to prove a point that we are allowing our black business to fail for lack of support.  Then, we turn around and blame the very people that we are patronizing for keeping black businesses down.  We, as consumers, are the make or break factor in any business.  It goes beyond just saying that "We need to stick together" we need to actually start doing it.  In so many ways, so many of us are still bonded and enslaved with our eyes closed.  We have become the "Uncle Tom's" that no one ever wants to be.  We consistently support and back other races and leave our own out to dry.  While there may be something inside that wants to see black business succeed, if there not enough of our own people openly supporting us you cannot blame others for following suit.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, arguments...

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE - DAY 16: A prestigious 4-Star

General Daniel 'Chappie' James Jr.

I apologize, I've slacked off a couple days on my posting.  Day 16 of the challenge, I chose to write about Daniel James Jr.  'M' and I were watching The Tuskegee Airmen and his name came up.  I decided to read up on Mr. James and what I found was a story worth mentioning.

Daniel "Chappie" James Jr. was born in February 1920, in Pensacola, FL, where he graduated from Washington High School in June 1937.  He attended Tuskegee Institute at Tuskegee, AL, where he received a bachelor of science degree in physical education and completed civilian pilot training under the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program.   He remained at Tuskegee as a civilian instructor pilot in the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program until January 1943, when he entered the program as a cadet and received his commission as a second lieutenant later that July.  Throughout World War II he trained members of the all African American 99th Pursuit Squadron and worked other assignments.  He did not, however, see any combat until the Korean war.  

In September 1949, James went to the Philippines and was assigned to the 18th Fighter Wing, at Clark Field.  In July 1950 he went to Korea where he flew 101 combat missions in F-51 and F-80 Shooting Star aircraft during the Korean War. 

In July 1951, after returning to the United States, James went to Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts where he was assigned as an all-weather jet fighter pilot, and later as the squadron commander.  After assignments in England and Arizona, James went to Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in December 1966.  He flew 78 combat missions into North Vietnam, many in the Hanoi/Haiphong area, and led a flight in the Bolo MiG sweep in which seven Communist MiG-21s were destroyed, the highest total kill of any mission during the Vietnam War. 

In December 1967, James was named vice commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.  In 1969, while still stationed at Eglin, State Jaycees named him as Florida's Outstanding American of the Year.  Additionally, he received the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award.  He was transferred to Wheelus Air Base in the Libyan Arab Republic, in August 1969, as commander of the 7272nd Fighter Training Wing. 

On March 31, 1970; General James became Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and on April 20, 1973 he was designated as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.  

On September 1, 1975; General James was promoted to four-star grade, making him the first African-American promoted to the rank of Air Force four-star general.  He was assigned as commander in chief, NORAD/ADCOM, Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.  He had operational command of all United States and Canadian strategic aerospace defense forces. His last position was special assistant to the Air Force chief of staff.  

He was awarded the George Washington Freedom Foundation Medal in 1967 and again in 1968.  He received the Arnold Air Society Eugene M. Zuckert Award, in 1970, for outstanding contributions to Air Force professionalism. His citation read 
"...fighter pilot with a magnificent record, public speaker, and eloquent spokesman for the American Dream we so rarely achieve."

James retired from active service on Feb. 1, 1978 and died later that month on Feb 25. 

James was a recognized civil rights pioneer.  His career spanned three wars and 30 years.  He was one of the great Tuskegee Airmen and he, along with his fellow airmen, paved so many roads for African Americans. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

BLACK HISTORY CHALLENGE - DAY 13: Black History Timeline

I found this timeline and thought it was awesome.  So, my post today isn't about one person in particular.  It is this timeline with a handful of very significant milestones in black history

Photograph of newspaper advertisement from the 1780s
Photograph of newspaper advertisement from the 1780s
The first African slaves arrive in Virginia.
1746 Lucy Terry, an enslaved person in 1746, becomes the earliest known black American poet when she writes about the last American Indian attack on her village of Deerfield, Massachusetts. Her poem, Bar's Fight, is not published until 1855.
Phillis Wheatley
An illustration of Phillis Wheatley from her book
Phillis Wheatley's book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral is published, making her the first African American to do so.
1787 Slavery is made illegal in the Northwest Territory. The U.S Constitution states that Congress may not ban the slave trade until 1808.
1793 Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin greatly increases the demand for slave labor.
Poster advertising $100 reward for runaway slaves from 1860
Poster advertising $100 reward for runaway slaves from 1860
A federal fugitive slave law is enacted, providing for the return slaves who had escaped and crossed state lines.
1800 Gabriel Prosser, an enslaved African-American blacksmith, organizes a slave revolt intending to march on Richmond, Virginia. The conspiracy is uncovered, and Prosser and a number of the rebels are hanged. Virginia's slave laws are consequently tightened.
1808 Congress bans the importation of slaves from Africa.
1820 The Missouri Compromise bans slavery north of the southern boundary of Missouri.
1822 Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African-American carpenter who had purchased his freedom, plans a slave revolt with the intent to lay siege on Charleston, South Carolina. The plot is discovered, and Vesey and 34 coconspirators are hanged.
1831 Nat Turner, an enslaved African-American preacher, leads the most significant slave uprising in American history. He and his band of followers launch a short, bloody, rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. The militia quells the rebellion, and Turner is eventually hanged. As a consequence, Virginia institutes much stricter slave laws.
William Lloyd Garrison begins publishing the Liberator, a weekly paper that advocates the complete abolition of slavery. He becomes one of the most famous figures in the abolitionist movement.
Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
The Wilmot Proviso, introduced by Democratic representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania, attempts to ban slavery in territory gained in the Mexican War. The proviso is blocked by Southerners, but continues to enflame the debate over slavery.
Frederick Douglass launches his abolitionist newspaper.
Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and becomes one of the most effective and celebrated leaders of the Underground Railroad.
1850 The continuing debate whether territory gained in the Mexican War should be open to slavery is decided in the Compromise of 1850: California is admitted as a free state, Utah and New Mexico territories are left to be decided by popular sovereignty, and the slave trade in Washington, DC, is prohibited. It also establishes a much stricter fugitive slave law than the original, passed in 1793.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin is published. It becomes one of the most influential works to stir anti-slavery sentiments.
1854 Congress passes the Kansas-Nebraska Act, establishing the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The legislation repeals the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and renews tensions between anti- and proslavery factions.
Oil painting of Dred Scott
Oil painting of Dred Scott
The Dred Scott case holds that Congress does not have the right to ban slavery in states and, furthermore, that slaves are not citizens.
1859 John Brown and 21 followers capture the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W. Va.), in an attempt to launch a slave revolt.
1861 The Confederacy is founded when the deep South secedes, and the Civil War begins.
Slaves at Cumberland Landing, Va.
Slaves at Cumberland Landing, Va.
President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring "that all persons held as slaves" within the Confederate states "are, and henceforward shall be free."
1865 Congress establishes the Freedmen's Bureau to protect the rights of newly emancipated blacks (March).
The Civil War ends (April 9).
Lincoln is assassinated (April 14).
The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee by ex-Confederates (May).
Slavery in the United States is effectively ended when 250,000 slaves in Texas finally receive the news that the Civil War had ended two months earlier (June 19).
Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, prohibiting slavery (Dec. 6).
1865-1866 Black codes are passed by Southern states, drastically restricting the rights of newly freed slaves.
1867 A series of Reconstruction acts are passed, carving the former Confederacy into five military districts and guaranteeing the civil rights of freed slaves.
1868 Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, defining citizenship. Individuals born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens, including those born as slaves. This nullifies the Dred Scott Case (1857), which had ruled that blacks were not citizens.
1869 Howard University's law school becomes the country's first black law school.
Hiram Revels
Hiram Revels
Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, giving blacks the right to vote.
Hiram Revels of Mississippi is elected the country's first African-American senator. During Reconstruction, sixteen blacks served in Congress and about 600 served in states legislatures.
1877 Reconstruction ends in the South. Federal attempts to provide some basic civil rights for African Americans quickly erode.
1879 The Black Exodus takes place, in which tens of thousands of African Americans migrated from southern states to Kansas.
1881 Spelman College, the first college for black women in the U.S., is founded by Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles.
Booker T. Washington founds the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama. The school becomes one of the leading schools of higher learning for African Americans, and stresses the practical application of knowledge. In 1896, George Washington Carver begins teaching there as director of the department of agricultural research, gaining an international reputation for his agricultural advances.
1882 The American Colonization Society, founded by Presbyterian minister Robert Finley, establishes the colony of Monrovia (which would eventually become the country of Liberia) in western Africa. The society contends that the immigration of blacks to Africa is an answer to the problem of slavery as well as to what it feels is the incompatibility of the races. Over the course of the next forty years, about 12,000 slaves are voluntarily relocated.
1896 Plessy v. Ferguson: This landmark Supreme Court decision holds that racial segregation is constitutional, paving the way for the repressive Jim Crow laws in the South.
1905 W.E.B. DuBois founds the Niagara movement, a forerunner to the NAACP. The movement is formed in part as a protest to Booker T. Washington's policy of accommodation to white society; the Niagara movement embraces a more radical approach, calling for immediate equality in all areas of American life.
W.E.B. Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded in New York by prominent black and white intellectuals and led by W.E.B. Du Bois. For the next half century, it would serve as the country's most influential African-American civil rights organization, dedicated to political equality and social justice In 1910, its journal, The Crisis, was launched. Among its well known leaders were James Weldon Johnson, Ella Baker, Moorfield Storey, Walter White, Roy Wilkins, Benjamin Hooks, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Julian Bond, and Kwesi Mfume.
1914 Marcus Garvey establishes the Universal Negro Improvement Association, an influential black nationalist organization "to promote the spirit of race pride" and create a sense of worldwide unity among blacks.
1920s The Harlem Renaissance flourishes in the 1920s and 1930s. This literary, artistic, and intellectual movement fosters a new black cultural identity.
Scottsboro Boys
Scottsboro Boys
Nine black youths are indicted in Scottsboro, Ala., on charges of having raped two white women. Although the evidence was slim, the southern jury sentenced them to death. The Supreme Court overturns their convictions twice; each time Alabama retries them, finding them guilty. In a third trial, four of the Scottsboro boys are freed; but five are sentenced to long prison terms.
Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball's color barrier when he is signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers by Branch Rickey.
WWI Black Soldiers
WWI Black Soldiers
Although African Americans had participated in every major U.S. war, it was not until after World War II that President Harry S. Truman issues an executive order integrating the U.S. armed forces.
1952 Malcolm X becomes a minister of the Nation of Islam. Over the next several years his influence increases until he is one of the two most powerful members of the Black Muslims (the other was its leader, Elijah Muhammad). A black nationalist and separatist movement, the Nation of Islam contends that only blacks can resolve the problems of blacks.
Pictured from left to right: George E.C. Hayes, Thurgood Marshall, and James Nabrit
Pictured from left to right: George E.C. Hayes, Thurgood Marshall, and James Nabrit
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans. declares that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional (May 17).
Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks
A young black boy, Emmett Till, is brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. Two white men charged with the crime are acquitted by an all-white jury. They later boast about committing the murder. The public outrage generated by the case helps spur the civil rights movement (Aug.).
Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the "colored section" of a bus to a white passenger (Dec.1). In response to her arrest Montgomery's black community launch a successful year-long bus boycott. Montgomery's buses are desegregated on Dec. 21, 1956.
The Little Rock Nine pictured with Daisy Bates, the president of the Arkansas NAACP.
The Little Rock Nine
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights group, is established by Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth (Jan.-Feb.)
Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor Orval Faubus. (Sept. 24). Federal troops and the National Guard are called to intervene on behalf of the students, who become known as the "Little Rock Nine." Despite a year of violent threats, several of the "Little Rock Nine" manage to graduate from Central High.
1960 Four black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter (Feb. 1). Six months later the "Greensboro Four" are served lunch at the same Woolworth's counter. The event triggers many similar nonviolent protests throughout the South.
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded, providing young blacks with a place in the civil rights movement (April).
1961 Over the spring and summer, student volunteers begin taking bus trips through the South to test out new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel facilities, which includes bus and railway stations. Several of the groups of "freedom riders," as they are called, are attacked by angry mobs along the way. The program, sponsored by The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), involves more than 1,000 volunteers, black and white.
James Meredith
James Meredith
James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi (Oct. 1). President Kennedy sends 5,000 federal troops after rioting breaks out.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala. He writes "Letter from Birmingham Jail," which advocated nonviolent civil disobedience.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is attended by about 250,000 people, the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation's capital. Martin Luther King delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The march builds momentum for civil rights legislation (Aug. 28).
Despite Governor George Wallace physically blocking their way, Vivian Malone and James Hood register for classes at the University of Alabama.
Four young black girls attending Sunday school are killed when a bomb explodes at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a popular location for civil rights meetings. Riots erupt in Birmingham, leading to the deaths of two more black youths (Sept. 15).
FBI photographs of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner
FBI photographs of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner
President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. It prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin (July 2).
The bodies of three civil-rights workers are found. Murdered by the KKK, James E. Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner had been working to register black voters in Mississippi (Aug.).
Martin Luther King receives the Nobel Peace Prize. (Oct.)
Malcolm X
Malcolm X
Malcolm X, black nationalist and founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, is assassinated (Feb. 21).
State troopers violently attack peaceful demonstrators led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as they try to cross the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Fifty marchers are hospitalized on "Bloody Sunday," after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them. The march is considered the catalyst for pushing through the voting rights act five months later (March 7).
Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal (Aug. 10).
In six days of rioting in Watts, a black section of Los Angeles, 35 people are killed and 883 injured (Aug. 11-16).
Members of The Black Panthers Party
Members of The Black Panthers Party: Bobby Seale and Huey Newton
The Black Panthers are founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale (Oct.).
Thurgood Marshall
Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall
Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), coins the phrase "black power" in a speech in Seattle (April 19).
Major race riots take place in Newark (July 12-16) and Detroit (July 23-30).
President Johnson appoints Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. He becomes the first black Supreme Court Justice.
The Supreme Court rules in Loving v. Virginia that prohibiting interracial marriage is unconstitutional. Sixteen states still have anti-miscegenation laws and are forced to revise them.
Eyewitnesses to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Eyewitnesses to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. (April 4).
President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing (April 11).
1972 The infamous Tuskegee Syphilis experiment ends. Begun in 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service's 40-year experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis has been described as an experiment that "used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone."
1978 The Supreme Court case, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action, but imposed limitations on it to ensure that providing greater opportunities for minorities did not come at the expense of the rights of the majority (June 28).
1992 The first race riots in decades erupt in south-central Los Angeles after a jury acquits four white police officers for the videotaped beating of African-American Rodney King (April 29).
2003 In Grutter v. Bollinger, the most important affirmative action decision since the 1978 Bakke case, the Supreme Court (5–4) upholds the University of Michigan Law School's policy, ruling that race can be one of many factors considered by colleges when selecting their students because it furthers "a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body." (June 23)
2006 In Parents v. Seattle and Meredith v. Jefferson, affirmative action suffers a setback when a bitterly divided court rules, 5 to 4, that programs in Seattle and Louisville, Ky., which tried to maintain diversity in schools by considering race when assigning students to schools, are unconstitutional.
2008 Sen. Barack Obama, Democrat from Chicago, becomes the first African American to be nominated as a major party nominee for president.
On November 4, Barack Obama, becomes the first African American to be elected president of the United States, defeating Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain.
2009 Barack Obama Democrat from Chicago, becomes the first African-American president and the country's 44th president.
On February 2, the U.S. Senate confirms, with a vote of 75 to 21, Eric H. Holder, Jr., as Attorney General of the United States. Holder is the first African American to serve as Attorney General.
On February 9, the first African American female flight crew took their historic flight, having come together accidentally when the scheduled first officer called in sick. Captain Rachelle Jones, first officer Stephanie Grant, and flight attendants Diana Galloway and Robin Rogers flew together on an Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight from Atlanta to Nashville.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE - DAY 10: Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler


On day 10 of my Black History challenge, I chose to write about Rebecca Lee Crumpler.  A medical pioneer of her time, the first African American woman to earn a degree in medicine as a physician.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was born in 1831 in Delaware.  She was raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania, who spent much of her time caring for sick neighbors and may have influenced Crumpler's career choice. Very little more was recorded about Crumpler's childhood. 

In 1852, at the age of 21, she had moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, where she worked as a nurse for the next eight years.  The first formal school for nursing did not open until 1873, so she was able to work without any formal training. 

In 1860, she was admitted to the New England Female Medical College.  When she graduated in 1864 with an M.D. degree, Crumpler became the first African American woman in the United States to be a doctor, and the only African American woman to graduate from the New England Female Medical College, which closed in 1873.

Dr. Crumpler practiced in Boston for a short while before moving to Richmond, Virginia, after the Civil War ended in 1865. Richmond, she felt, would be
"a proper field for real missionary work, and one that would present ample opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children."
She joined other black physicians caring for freed slaves who would otherwise have had no access to medical care, working with the Freedmen's Bureau, and missionary and community groups, even though black physicians experienced intense racism working in the postwar South.

At the close of Crumpler's services in Richmond, she returned to her former home, Boston.  She entered into the work with renewed vigor, practicing outside, and receiving children in the house for treatment; regardless, in a measure, of remuneration." She lived on Joy Street on Beacon Hill, then a mostly black neighborhood. By 1880 she had moved to Hyde Park, Massachusetts, and was no longer in active practice. 

No photos or other images survive of Dr. Crumpler. The little we know about her comes from the introduction to her book, a remarkable mark of her achievements as a physician and medical writer in a time when very few African Americans were able to gain admittance to medical college, let alone publish. Her book "Book of Medical Discourses", published in 1883; is one of the very first medical publications by an African American.

Although there is very little information on Dr. Crumpler, her accomplishments left a tremendous mark on history. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH - DAY 9: Rising from the ashes

Day 9 of my Black History challenge, I chose to write about Christopher Gardner.  He went from rags, to worse rags and then rose to the top...

Christopher Paul Gardner Sr. was born February 9, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  His childhood was marked by poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse and family illiteracy.  Gardner never knew his father, and lived with his mother, Bettye Jean Triplett (nee Gardner), when not in foster homes.  Gardner said he is indebted to Bettye Jean for his success as she provided him with strong “spiritual genetics” and taught him that in spite of where he came from, he could chart another path and attain whatever goals he set for himself.

Gardner joined the Navy out of high school and after discharge moved to San Francisco where he worked as a medical research associate and for a scientific supply distributor. Christopher Gardner Jr was born in 1981.  As a new father, Sr. was determined to find a career that would be both lucrative and fulfilling.

Armed with nothing but his fascination for finance, with the help of a man named Bob Bridges, Gardner applied for training programs at brokerages such as: Merrill Lynch, Paine Webber, E.F. Hutton, Dean Witter Reynolds and Smith Barney - willing to live on next to nothing while he learned a new trade. It appeared that Gardner got his "break" when he was accepted into a training program at E.F. Hutton.  He subsequently quit his sales job so that he could dedicate his time exclusively to training as a stockbroker. Then he appeared at the office ready to work, only to discover that his hiring manager had been fired the week before.  To make matters worse, Gardner's relationship with Chris Jr.’s mother, Jackie Medina was falling apart and she eventually left.  Gardner, despite his circumstances, fought to keep his son because, as he says,
“I made up my mind as a young kid that when I had children they were going to know who their father is, and that he isn’t going anywhere.”

Gardner earned a spot in the Dean Witter Reynolds stock brokerage training program.  However, this offered no salary, apart from selling medical equipment that brought in $300-$400 a month for early 1980's and with no savings, he was unable to meet his living expenses and became homeless.  His perseverance paid off when, in 1982, Gardner passed his licensing exam on the first try and became a full employee of the firm. Eventually, Gardner was recruited by Bear Stearns & Company in San Francisco.

Gardner and his son secretly struggled with homelessness while he saved money for a rental house in Berkeley, California. Meanwhile, none of Gardner's co-workers knew that he and his son were homeless in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco for nearly a year.  Gardner often scrambled to place his child in daycare, stood in soup kitchens and slept wherever he and his son could find safety—in his office after hours, at flophouses, at parks and even in a locked bathroom at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station.

Concerned for Chris Jr.’s well-being, Gardner asked Reverend Cecil Williams to allow them to stay at the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church’s shelter for homeless women, now known as The Cecil Williams Glide Community House. Williams agreed without hesitation.  Today, when asked what he remembers about being homeless, Christopher Gardner, Jr. recalls
"I couldn't tell you that we were homeless, I just knew that we were always having to go. So, if anything, I remember us just moving, always moving."

In 1987, Chris Gardner established the brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co, in Chicago, Illinois, an "institutional brokerage firm specializing in the execution of debt, equity and derivative products transactions for some of the nation’s largest institutions, public pension plans and unions."  His new company was started in his small Presidential Towers apartment, with start-up capital of $10,000 and a single piece of furniture: a wooden desk that doubled as the family dinner table.  Gardner reportedly owns 75 percent of his stock brokerage firm with the rest owned by a hedge fund.  He chose the name "Gardner Rich" for the company because he considers Marc Rich, the commodities trader pardoned by former president Bill Clinton in 2001, "one of the most successful futures traders in the world."  After Gardner sold his small stake in Gardner Rich in a multi-million dollar deal in 2006, he became CEO and founder of Christopher Gardner International Holdings, with offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

As a single parent for 25 years, Gardner has demonstrated his concern for the well-being of children through his work with and on behalf of organizations such as the National Fatherhood Initiative, the National Education Association Foundation and the International Rescue Committee. Gardner is still very committed to Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco; where he and his son received assistance in the early 1980’s.  Gardner is also still very involved with homelessness initiatives assisting families to stay intact, and assisting homeless men and women who are employed but still cannot get by.

Gradner is a true rags to riches story.  He fought against nasty odds and won.  There is so much more to his story, including what was portrayed in "The Pursuit of Happyness", a movie depicting his struggles and eventual success.  Gardner is a hero in his own right and an inspiration.  There are so many black men (and men in general) who feel like they cannot be a father to their children due to circumstances.  Gardner is proof that despite all odds, you can love your children and take care of them in the midst of chaos.  I personally commend Gardner for his "can do" attitude and his desperate passion for success.  He made it and we can too!

There were so many amazing quotes from Gardner that I had to post more than 2...
“We were homeless, we were not hopeless. There’s a world of difference.” - Christopher Gardner
“Do something that you love. Whatever you’re going to do is going to be tough enough. Find something that gets you so excited that the sun can’t come up early enough in the morning because you want to go do your thing.” - Christopher Gardner
 “It’s ok to FAIL it’s not ok to Quit” - Christopher Gardner
 There is no plan B for passion” - Christopher Gardner 

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE - DAY 8: A Pioneer Soaring to New Heights


Day 8 of my Black History month challenge, I chose to write about Bessie Coleman. A pioneer is soaring black women to new heights.

Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman was born on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas.  At 12 years old, she began attending the Missionary Baptist Church in Texas and, after graduating, headed to Oklahoma to attend the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (Langston University), where she was able to complete only one term due to financial constraints.

In 1915, at 23 years old, Coleman moved to Chicago, where she lived with her brothers and worked as a manicurist.  Not long after her move to Chicago, she began listening to and reading stories of World War I pilots, which sparked her interest in aviation.

Coleman longed to fly but could not fulfill that longing because flying schools in the United States denied her entry.  She began attending language classes at night to teach herself French and in November, 1920, Coleman departed for France to attend Ecole d'Aviation des Freres Caudron in Le Crotoy.  In 1922, Coleman broke barriers of both gender and racial discrimination by becoming the first Black woman to earn a pilot's license. 

Though she wanted to start a flying school for African Americans when she returned to the U.S., Coleman specialized in stunt flying and parachuting, and earned a living barnstorming and performing aerial tricks. In 1922, hers was the first public flight by an African- American woman in America.

Tragically, on April 30, 1926; at the age of just 33 years old, Coleman was killed in an accident during a rehearsal for an aerial show.  To this day, she remains a pioneer of women in the field of aviation.

"No one had ever heard of a black woman pilot in 1919.  I refused to take no for an answer." - Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman

"The air is the only place free from prejudices." - Bessie Coleman

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE - DAY 7: The Piano Prince of New Orleans


Day 7 of my Black History challenge, I chose to write about James Booker. 

James Carroll Booker III was one of - if not the- best pianist in New Orleans.  Born December 17, 1939 in New Orleans, LA  Booker was certainly one of the most flamboyant pianist.  He was a major influence on the local rhythm & blues scene in the '50s and '60s. 

Booker's training included classical instruction until age 12, by which time he had already begun to gain recognition as a blues and gospel organist on radio station WMRY every Sunday. By the time he was out of high school he had recorded on several occasions, including his own first release, "Doing the Hambone," in 1953.  In 1960, he made the national charts with "Gonzo," an organ instrumental, and over the course of the next two decades played and recorded with artists as varied as: Lloyd Price, Aretha Franklin, Ringo Starr, the Doobie Brothers, and B.B. King.

The momentum of Booker's promising career came to an abrupt halt when he was convicted of possession of heroin in 1967 and served a one-year sentence at Angola Penitentiary (referred to as the "Ponderosa").
He was given a second chance in 1974 with the rediscovery of "roots" music by college students during the '70s (focusing primarily on "Fess" by Professor Longhair).  He performed numerous engagements at local clubs like Tipitina's, The Maple Leaf, and Snug Harbor.  As with "Fess," Booker's performances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals took on the trappings of legendary "happenings," and he often spent his festival earnings to arrive in style, pulling up to the stage in a rented Rolls Royce and attired in costumes befitting the "Piano Prince of New Orleans," complete with a cape.  They say his performances tended to be unpredictable: he might easily plant some Chopin into a blues tune or launch into a jeremiad on the CIA with all the fervor of a "Reverend Ike-meets-Moms Mabley" tag-team match.

Booker's left hand was simply phenomenal, often a problem for bass players who found themselves running for cover in an attempt to stay out of the way; with it he successfully amalgamated the jazz and rhythm & blues idioms of New Orleans, adding more than a touch of gospel thrown in for good measure. His playing was also highly improvisational, reinventing a progression (usually his own) so that a single piece would evolve into a medley of itself. In addition, he had a plaintive and seering vocal style which was equally comfortable with gospel, jazz standards, blues, or popular songs.

The "Piano Prince" played his final note on November 08, 1983 in New Orleans, LA.  Despite his personal eccentricities, Booker had the respect of New Orleans' best musicians, and elements of his influence are still very much apparent in the playing of pianists like Henry Butler and Harry Connick, Jr. Bruce Boyd Raeburn, Rovi


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"Black Bloggers Connect: BHM ENTRY" BLACK HISTORY MONTH CHALLENGE - DAY 6: HeLa...Unknowingly a Heroine


On day 6 of my challenge, I chose to write about Henrietta Lacks.  There is not a happy ending to her "story" but a bittersweet one.  Nonetheless, she was and is responsible for effecting and saving lives even today...

Henrietta Lacks was born Loretta Pleasant on August 1, 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia, to Eliza and John Randall Pleasant I.  Her family is uncertain how her name changed from Loretta to Henrietta.  Eliza, her mother, died giving birth to her tenth child in 1924.  Henrietta's father felt unable to handle the children, so he took them all to Clover, Virginia and distributed the children among relatives. Henrietta, nicknamed "Hennie," ended up with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks.

Pleasant married her first cousin, David "Day" Lacks (1915–2002), in Halifax County, Virginia. David had already been living with Henrietta's grandfather when she moved there at age 4. Their marriage occurred on April 10, 1941, after their first two children were born (the first when Henrietta was just 14).
At the end of 1941, their cousin Fred Garret convinced the Lacks couple to leave the tobacco farm and have Day work at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrow's Point steel mill. Soon, they moved—Day first, then Henrietta and their two oldest children, Lawrence and Lucile Elsie Pleasant (Elsie)—to Maryland. David bought a house for the family with the money Garret gave Day when he left to go overseas. Their house was on New Pittsburgh Avenue in Turners Station, now a part of Dundalk, Baltimore County, Maryland. This community was one of the largest and one of the youngest of the approximately forty African American communities in Baltimore County.

On January 29, 1951, Henrietta went to Johns Hopkins Hospital because she felt a knot inside her. It all started when she asked her cousins to feel her belly, asking if they felt the lump that she did. Her cousins assumed correctly that she was pregnant. But, after giving birth to her fifth child, Joseph, Henrietta started bleeding abnormally and profusely. Her local doctor tested her for syphilis, which came back negative, and referred her to Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins was their only choice for a hospital, since it was the only one in proximity to them that treated black patients. Howard Jones, her new doctor, examined Henrietta and the lump in her cervix. It was like nothing he had ever seen before. He cut off a small part of the tumor and sent it to the pathology lab. Soon after, Jones discovered she had a malignant epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix Stage 1 (cervical cancer).
Lacks was treated with radium tube inserts, which were sewn in place. After several days in place, the tubes were removed and she was released from Johns Hopkins with instructions to return for X-ray treatments as a follow-up. During her radiation treatments for the tumor, two samples of Henrietta's cervix were removed— a healthy part and a cancerous part— without her permission. The cells from her cervix were given to Dr. George Otto Gey. These cells would eventually become the "HeLa immortal cell line," a commonly used cell line in biomedical research.

Lacks returned for the X-ray treatments. However, her condition worsened and the Hopkins doctors treated her with antibiotics, thinking that her problem might be complicated by an underlying venereal disease (she had neurosyphilis and presented with acute gonorrhea at one point as well).

In significant pain and without improvement, Lacks returned to Hopkins on August 8th for a treatment session but asked to be admitted.  She remained at the hospital until her death.  Though she received treatment and blood transfusions, she died of uremic poisoning on October 4, 1951 at the age of thirty-one. A subsequent partial autopsy showed that the cancer had metastasized throughout her body.

The cells from Henrietta's tumor were given to researcher George Gey, who "discovered that [Henrietta's] cells did something they'd never seen before: They could be kept alive and grow." Before this, cells cultured from other cells would only survive for a few days. Scientists spent more time trying to keep the cells alive than performing actual research on the cells but some cells from Lacks's tumor sample behaved differently than others. George Gey was able to isolate one specific cell, multiply it, and start a cell line. Gey named the sample HeLa, after the initial letters of Henrietta Lacks' name. As the first human cells grown in a lab that were "immortal" (they do not die after a few cell divisions), they could be used for conducting many experiments. This represented an enormous boon to medical and biological research.

As reporter Michael Rogers stated, the growth of HeLa by a researcher at the hospital helped answer the demands of the 10,000 who marched for a cure to polio shortly before Lacks' death.  By 1954, the HeLa strain of cells was being used by Jonas Salk to develop a vaccine for polio.  To test Salk's new vaccine, the cells were quickly put into mass production in the first-ever cell production factory.

Demand for the HeLa cells quickly grew. Since they were put into mass production, Henrietta's cells have been mailed to scientists around the globe for "research into cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping, and countless other scientific pursuits".  HeLa cells have been used to test human sensitivity to tape, glue, cosmetics, and many other products.  Scientists have grown some 20 tons of her cells, and there are almost 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells.

In the early 1970s, the family started getting calls from researchers who wanted blood samples from them to learn the family's genetics (eye colors, hair colors, and genetic connections). The family wondered why and this is when they learned about the removal of Henrietta's cells.

In 1996, Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the mayor of Atlanta recognized the late Henrietta Lacks' family for her posthumous contributions to medicine and health research.

Her life was commemorated annually by Turners Station residents for a few years after Morehouse's commemoration. A congressional resolution in her honor was presented by Robert Ehrlich following soon after the first commemoration of her, her family, and her contributions to science in Turners Station.

Events in the Turners Station's community have also commemorated the contributions of others including Mary Kubicek, the laboratory assistant who discovered that HeLa cells lived outside the body, as well as Dr. Gey and his nurse wife, Margaret Gey, who together after over 20 years of attempts were eventually able to grow human cells outside of the body.

On September 14, 2011, the Board of Directors of Washington ESD 114 Evergreen School District chose to name a new health and bioscience high school in her honor. The new school, scheduled to open in the fall of 2013, will be named Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School

Although Henrietta's death was unfortunate and untimely; she, unknowingly, became a hero in her death.  She is thankfully being celebrated for the lives she helped to save in her absence.  Her story is truly bittersweet, heart wrenching and inspiring.

Press Release: "The Takeover" Grammy Celebration


Shanita Miles







February 6, 2013

Los Angeles, CA, February 10, 2013– Midas Touch Event Promotions in association with Top Notch Acquisitions presents: An official 20 year Anniversary – Post Grammy Awards Celebration” February 10, 2013 from 9:00pm – 2:00am.                   

“The Takeover” will feature live performances by Grammy nominated and Multi-Platinum R&B group SWV along with EDM Global Music, LLC recording artist Michel’le as well as other special invited guests.  General admission is $40 and VIP tickets are $75.  This is a celebration for the books!  For more ticket information and purchase visit Grammy Night Takeover or call (877) 319-2224.
The celebration will take place at The Rooftop 3100 located at 3100 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca
Midas Touch Promotions along with Top Notch Acquisitions in association with EDM Global Music, LLC partner up for this explosive celebration.
ABOUT EDM Global Music, LLC
EDM Global Music, LLC (Every Day Miracle Global Music) headed up by Executive Producer Errol Brown is a record label based in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. The label recently signed R&B legend Michel’le. The GOAL of the label is to stretch arms across the Globe and empower, inspire, motivate, and bring all people to a higher level of awareness on individual responsibility for humanity through music.
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Shanita Miles at 909.223.9355 or email at