Zora and Me

This week, the Zora Neale Hurston Organization is hosting its annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Eatonville, Florida.  This is the 25th year of the festival and it is a week-long celebration with workshops, activities, and other events.  I mention this festival as a segue into my review of the children’s book, Zora and Me.

Zora and Me, written by Victoria Simon and T.R. Simon, imagines the childhood of Zora in Eatonville, Florida.  The story is narrated by Carrie and Zora’s storytelling gives Carrie plenty to say.  When a decapitated body is found on a railroad track, Zora creates a believable yet scary story that she is willing to tell anyone who wants to hear it.  In fact, Zora also believes she knows the murderer, and, recruiting Carrie and her friend Teddy, goes to many lengths to prove her theory.

Zora and Me is beautifully written, with Carrie’s voice that draws one into the mystery.  Carrie and Teddy are fully developed characters and just the right friends for the imaginative Zora.  Other characters are developed, too, and the issues of race, particularly passing, racism, poverty, and equality are woven carefully in the story as the mystery unfolds and reveals the killer.

Zora and Me has won a few awards, including the The Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award.

A discussion guide and lesson plans are available for this book.  The discussion guide can be accessed by clicking here: http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/0763643009.bdg.1.pdf

The lesson plan, and other resources can be found on The Teaching Books.Net: http://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?tid=21622&a=1

Zora and Me, 192 pages.  Hardcover: 978-0763643003; Paperback:  978-0763658144 Grades 5 and up.

 

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January 28 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – January 28 *

1858 – John Brown organizes the raid on the federal arsenal at
Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. The raid was an attempt to
obtain arms and ammunition to free African Americans from
slavery by force.

1901 – James Richmond Barthe’ is born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
Educated at the Art Institute of Chicago, he will begin to
attain critical acclaim as a sculptor at 26. He will drop
the use of his first name when producing his works of art
and will be best known as Richmond Barthe. His first
commissions will be of Henry O. Tanner and Toussaint
L’Ouverture. He will also become the first African
American commissioned to produce a bust for the NYU Hall of
Fame (of Booker T. Washington). He wil join the ancestors
on March 5, 1989.

1938 – Crystal Byrd Fauset is elected to the Pennsylvania House of
Representatives, becoming the first African American woman
to be elected to a state legislature.

1944 – Matthew Henson is a recipient of a joint medal by Congress
for his role as co-discoverer of the North Pole. It is the
U.S. government’s first official recognition of the explorer
who accompanied Commander Robert Peary on his 1909
expedition.

1958 – Brooklyn Dodger catcher Roy Campanella’s career ends when he
loses control of his car on a slick highway. He will become
a paraplegic and be confined to a wheelchair the remainder
of his life. The accident ends his ten-year playing career
with the Dodgers, where he had been named the National
League’s MVP three times, but he will remain a part of the
Dodgers organization for many years. He will join the
ancestors on June 26, 1993.

1960 – Zora Neale Hurston joins the ancestors in Fort Pierce,
Florida at the age of 71. She had been a prominent figure
during the Harlem Renaissance.

1970 – Arthur Ashe is denied entry to compete on the U.S. Team for
the South African Open Tennis Championships due to Ashe’s
sentiments on South Africa’s racial policies.

1972 – Scott Joplin’s Opera “Treemonisha,” published 61 years
earlier, has its world premiere with Robert Shaw and
Katherine Dunham directing.

1986 – The space shuttle “Challenger” explodes 73 seconds after
lift-off at Cape Canaveral, Florida. One of the seven
crew members killed is physicist Dr. Ronald McNair, the
only African American aboard.

1997 – The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa
announces that as part of their petition for amnesty,
five Afrikaner police had admitted to killing Steve Biko.
The announcement confirms what his admirers and followers
had never doubted: Steve Biko was a martyr to the struggle
against the apartheid government. Steve Biko was one of
the major figures in the struggle against South Africa’s
system of apartheid. Founder and leader of the Black
Consciousness Movement, the charismatic Biko was the first
president of the all-black South African Students
Organization before organizing the Black People’s
Convention, a coalition of over 70 black organizations
committed to ending apartheid. In 1977, Biko was arrested.
While in custody in Port Elizabeth, on the Indian Ocean
coast, he was apparently severely beaten. He was denied
medical attention and driven in the back of a police van
nearly 700 miles to Pretoria, where he died, naked and
shackled in a police hospital at the age of 29. The police
first claimed that Biko starved himself to death, then that
he died of self-inflicted injuries.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

January 27 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – January 27 *

1869 – William Mercer Cook (later Will Marion Cook), who will become
a noted composer and conductor, is born in Washington, DC.
Beginning study of the violin at age 13, at 15 he will win a
scholarship to study at the Oberlin Conservatory. Among other
accomplishments, he will introduce syncopated ragtime to New
York City theatergoers in his operetta “Clorinda.” In 1890,
he will become director of a chamber orchestra touring the East
Coast. He will prepare Scenes from the Opera of Uncle Tom’s
Cabin for performance. The performance, which is to take place
at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, is cancelled. “Clorindy; or,
The Origin of the Cakewalk” — a musical sketch comedy in
collaboration with Paul Laurence Dunbar — is the next piece he
will compose, in 1898. It will be the first all-Black show to
play in a prestigious Broadway house, Casino Theatre’s Roof
Garden. After this period, he will be composer-in-chief and
musical director for the George Walker-Bert Williams Company. As
he continues to write, he will produce many successful musicals.
Best known for his songs, he will use folk elements in an
original and distinct manner. Many of these songs will first
appear in his musicals. The songs will be written for choral
groups or for solo singers. Some are published in “A Collection
of Negro Songs” (1912). Later in his career, he will be an
active choral and orchestral conductor. He will produce several
concerts and organize many choral societies in both New York and
in Washington, D.C. The New York Syncopated Orchestra, that he
creates, will tour the United States in 1918 and then go to
England in 1919 for a command performance for King George V.
Among his company will be assistant director Will Tyers, jazz
clarinetist Sidney Bechet, and Cook’s wife, Abbie Mitchell. One
of his last shows will be “Swing Along” (1929), written with Will
Vodery. He will join the ancestors on July 19, 1944.

1894 – Frederick Douglass ‘Fritz’ Pollard is born in Chicago,
Illinois. He will become a football star at Brown
University in 1915 and lead them to the first Rose Bowl
game, played on January 1, 1916. This will make him the
first African American to play in the Rose Bowl. He will
also become the first African American named an All-American.
After leaving Brown University, he will become one of the
first African Americans to play professional football and
will become the first African American quarterback and the
first African American head coach, both with the NFL Akron
Indians. When the NFL bans African American players from
its ranks in 1933, Pollard will organize the first African
American professional football team, the Brown Bombers of
Harlem. After fifteen years in professional football,
Pollard will establish the first all African American
investment company in the country, and run New York City’s
first African American tabloid newspaper. He will also be
involved in the production of some of America’s first
all-African American movies. He will join the ancestors on
May 11, 1986.

1915 – The United States Marines occupy Haiti. This occupation
will continue until 1934. Americans will serve as officials
of the Haitian government and control its finances, police
force, and public works.

1930 – Robert Calvin (Bobby ‘Blue’) Bland is born in Rosemark,
Tennessee. He will become a singer and start his career as
a member of The Beale Streeters with Johnny Ace. He will
become a solo artist with the Malaco label and record “That’s
the Way Love Is,” “Call on Me,” “Turn on Your Love Light,”
and “Ain’t Nothin’ You Can Do.” Along with such artists as
Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, he will develope
a sound that mixes gospel with the Blues and Rhythm & Blues.
He will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and receive the Grammy
Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

1952 – Ralph Ellison’s powerful novel “Invisible Man” wins the
National Book Award.

1961 – Leontyne Price makes her debut at the Metropolitan Opera
House in New York City. She sings in the role of Leonora
in “Il Trovatore”. Price is the seventh African American
singer to make a debut at the Met. Marian Anderson will be
the first in 1955.

1972 – Mahalia Jackson, gospel singer, joins the ancestors in
Evergreen Park, Illinois at the age of 60. Born in New
Orleans, Louisiana, she began her singing career with the
Salem Baptist Choir in Chicago, Illinois. She achieved
national fame with her recording of “Move on Up A Little
Higher,” which sold over a million copies. Many considered
her rich contralto voice the best in gospel music.

1972 – In Columbia, South Carolina, the white and African American
United Methodist conferences of South Carolina — separated
since the Civil War — vote in their respective meetings to
adopt a plan of union.

1984 – Carl Lewis betters his own two-year-old record by 9-1/4
inches when he sets a new, world, indoor-record with a long
jump mark of 28 feet, 10-1/4 inches in New York City.

1984 – Singer Michael Jackson’s hair catches on fire during the
filming of a Pepsi commercial in Los Angeles at the Shrine
Auditorium. Pyrotechnics did not operate on cue, injuring
the singer. Jackson is hospitalized for a few days and fans
from around the world send messages of concern.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

January 26 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – January 26 *

1863 – The War Department authorizes the governor of Massachusetts
to enlist African American troops to fight in the Civil
War. The 54th and 55th Volunteer Infantry are the result.

1893 – Bessie Coleman was born in Altanta, Texas, the tenth of
thirteen children. She will grow up to become the first
African American female pilot (June 15, 1921) and the first
woman to obtain an international flying license (from the
Fédération Aéronautique Internationale). She will join the
ancestors on April 30, 1926, after being thrown from her
airplane in Jacksonville, Florida.

1932 – George H. Clements is born in Chicago, Illinois. He will
become a priest in the Washington, DC area nationally known
for his anti-drug activism and involvement in the group “One
Church, One Addict.” In 1981, he will gain public attention
when he becomes the first Roman Catholic priest to adopt a
child. The same year, he will found the “One Church,
One Child” Program in Chicago at the Holy Angels Church, a
predominantly black Catholic church. His goal will be to
recruit black adoptive parents through local churches. Rev.
Clements will be named to the National Committee for
Adoption’s Hall of Fame in 1989 for his outstanding
leadership and the great interest he generated in black
adoptions. The One Church, One Child program will become a
national recruiting effort in 1988, and 32 states will use
all or portions of the program. Its originally envisioned
mission is to combine the resources of the church and the
state to the end of recruiting black adoptive parents to
provide permanent homes for Black children awaiting
adoption.

1934 – The Apollo Theatre opens in New York City as a ‘Negro
vaudeville theatre’. It will become the showplace for many
of the great African American entertainers, singers, groups
and instrumentalists in the country. The saying will
become common “If you made it… you played it…” at the
Apollo Theatre.

1934 – Huey “Piano” Smith is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will
become a Rhythm and Blues pianist and will be best known for
his recording of “Having a Good Time.” In 2000, he will be
honored with a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues
Foundation.

1943 – Sherian Grace Cadoria is born in Marksville, Louisiana. She
will make her career in the United States Army after
graduating from Southern University in Louisiana. In 1985,
she will be promoted to brigadier general, making her the
highest ranking African American woman in the U.S. military.
She will be the first woman elevated to that rank in the
Provost Marshal Corps. She will eventually become Director
of Manpower and Personnel for the Organization of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff. General Cadoria will say that she has
“gotten more pressure from being a woman in a man’s world
than from being black.” She will accomplish many firsts:
she will be the first woman to command a battalion; the
first woman to command a criminal investigation brigade; the
first African American woman director for the Joint Chiefs
of Staff; and the first woman to attend the Army’s top
colleges, Command and General Staff College and the U.S.
Army War College. She will be the senior African American
female general in the U.S. Armed Forces upon her retirement
in November 1990 after serving 29 years. Following
retirement, General Cadoria will found her own business,
Cadoria Speaker and Consultancy Service. On November 11,
2002, she will become the first woman and the first African
American inducted into the Louisiana Military Veterans Hall
of Honor.

1944 – Angela Yvonne Davis is born in Birmingham, Alabama. Active
in civil rights demonstrations and in the Student Non-
Violent Coordinating Committee, she will be fired twice
from the University of California at Los Angeles because of
her Communist Party affiliation and she will successfully
sue for reinstatement. A philosopher and author, she will
flee the law after being implicated in the 1970 Soledad
Brothers shooting. After sixteen months in jail, she will
be acquitted of all charges.

1958 – Anita Baker is born in Toledo, Ohio. A singer of ballads
and jazz-inspired Rhythm and Blues, her 1986 album “Rapture”
will sell five million copies and earn her a 1987 Grammy.
She will win two more in 1989.

1970 – Kirk Franklin is born in Ft. Worth, Texas. He will become a
Grammy Award winning, platinum-selling musician who will
blend gospel, hip hop, and Rhythm & Blues in the 1990s. He
will release his first gospel album, “Kirk Franklin &
Family,” in 1993, and will be known as the leader of
contemporary gospel choirs such as Kirk Franklin & the
Family, Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation, God’s Property and Kirk
Franklin Presents 1NC. He will integrate hip hop styles
with gospel themes in albums such as “The Nu Nation Project
and God’s Property, which will achieve success on the
Billboard Pop Album, Rhythm & Blues and gospel charts. He
will collaborate with the biggest names in gospel music,
including Mary Mary, Tonex, Donnie McClurkin, Richard
Smallwood, Crystal Lewis, Pastor Shirley Caesar, tobyMac,
Jaci Valesquez, and Willie Neal Johnson. He will also
display a willingness to collaborate with artists from the
secular realm, including Bono, Mary J. Blige, and R. Kelly
on the hit single from his album Nu Nation Project, “Lean
on Me.”

1990 – Elaine Weddington Steward is named assistant general manager
of the Boston Red Sox. She becomes the first African
American female executive of a professional baseball
organization.

2005 – Dr. Condoleezza Rice is confirmed by the U.S. Senate as
Secretary of State. She becomes the first African American
woman to hold this post.

2010 – Paul R. Jones, a collector of African American art who donated
thousands of works to universities in Delaware and Alabama,
joins the ancestors in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 81.
“My goal has been to incorporate African American art into
American art,” he told The Tuscaloosa News in 2008 when he
made his donation to the University of Alabama with a plan for
it to be part of the curriculum. He embraced the school even
though he was turned down by the University of Alabama Law
School in 1949 after it discovered he was Black.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

January 25 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – January 25 *

1851 – Sojourner Truth addresses the first African American Women’s
Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

1890 – The National Afro-American League is founded at an organizing
meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Joseph Price, the president
of Livingston College, is elected the first president of
what will come to be considered a pioneering African
American protest organization.

1938 – Jamesetta Hawkins is born in Los Angeles, California. She
will become a rhythm and blues singer known as “Etta James.”
She will be described as “one of the great forces in
American Music.” She will become a star scoring her first
national pop hit, “Roll With Me, Henry”, at age sixteen, and
be recognized as a master in the fields of blues, R&B, jazz,
and pop, crossing genres time and again. Between 1955 and
1975, Etta will create a dozen Top-10 Rhythm & Blues hits
and more than 25 chart hits. They will include such soulful
performances as “All I Could Do Was Cry” (1960), “At Last”
(1961), “Trust in Me” (1961), “Stop the Wedding” (1962),
“Tell Mama” (1967), and “Security” (1968). She will be
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. She
will be nominated for six Grammy Awards and will win the
award for her 1994 recording of “Mystery Lady,” saluting
Billie Holiday. She will be inducted into the Blues Hall of
Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and
2008. Rolling Stone will ranked her number 22 on their list
of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the
list of the 100 Greatest Artists. She will join the ancestors
on January 20, 2012.

1942 – Carl Eller is born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He will
become a professional football player, spending many of his
years with the Minnesota Vikings. On the Vikings team, he will
play in four Super Bowl games (IV, VIII, IX, XI), in losing
efforts. He will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
in 2004.

1950 – Gloria Naylor is born in New York City. She will become a
Jehovah Witnesses minister and ‘pioneer’ over a period of
seven years. After leaving the Witnesses and suffering a
nervous breakdown, she will read Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest
Eye”, and be inspired to become a writer. She will complete
her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and become a major writer
and is best known for her work, “The Women of Brewster
Place.”

1966 – Constance Baker Motley becomes the first African American
woman to be appointed to a federal judgeship.

1972 – Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm begins her campaign for
President of the United States. Although she will
ultimately be unsuccessful, she will make known the concerns
of African Americans across the country.

1980 – Black Entertainment Television, better known as BET, begins
broadcasting from Washington, DC. Robert L. Johnson, who
established the company with a $ 15,000 personal loan, will
make BET one of the most successful cable television
networks, with 25 million subscribers by its tenth
anniversary and, in 1991, the first African American-owned
company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

1989 – Michael Jordan scores his 10,000th NBA point in his 5th
season, the second fastest NBA climb to that position behind
Wilt Chamberlain.

1999 – Jury selection begins in Jasper, Texas, in the trial of white
supremacist John William King, charged in the dragging death
of African American James Byrd Jr.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

January 24 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – January 24 *

1885 – Martin R. Delany joins the ancestors at the age of 72 in
Wilberforce, Ohio. Delany served as a physician and was
the first commissioned African American officer in the
Union Army during the Civil War. He also was a leader in
the fight to end racial job discrimination. Delany will
encourage African Americans to seek their own identity and
is considered by some historians to be the father of
American Black nationalism. He is the author of “Search
for a Place: Black Separatism and Africa,” and “The
Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the
Colored People in the United States.”

1941 – Aaron Neville is born in New Orleans Louisiana. He will
become a rhythm and blues singer and will enjoy his first
hit in 1967, “Tell It Like It Is.” He will win a Grammy for
his 1990 single, a duet with Linda Ronstadt, “Don’t Know
Much.” He will become equally well known for performing
vocals and keyboards with the group The Neville Brothers,
together with his three musically accomplished siblings.
Their albums, reflecting rock, R&B, soul, and jazz
influences, will be compiled in “Treacherous: A History of
the Neville Brothers, 1955-85” (1986).

1977 – Howard T. Ward becomes Georgia’s first African American
Superior Court Judge.

1985 – Four-term Los Angeles mayor Thomas Bradley is awarded the
NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for his long career as a public
servant and for “demonstrating…that the American dream
not only can be pursued but realized.”

1988 – Forty-eight African American writers and literary critics
sign a controversial statement that appears in “The New York
Times Book Review” supporting author Toni Morrison and
protesting her failure to win the “keystone honors of the
National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize.”

1989 – Reverend Barbara Harris’ election as suffragan bishop is
ratified by the Diocese of Massachusetts. Her election and
consecration occur amid widespread controversy regarding the
role of women bishops in the Episcopal Church. She will be
the first female bishop in the church’s 450-year history.

1993 – Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court
Justice, joins the ancestors in Washington, DC. He will be
buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was one of the
most well-known figures in the history of civil rights in
America and served on the Supreme Court for 24 years.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

January 23 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – January 23 *

1837 – Amanda Berry Smith is born into slavery in Long Green,
Maryland. She will be widowed twice, after which she will
attempt to minister to her people. Unable to preach in the
AME Church, which did not ordain women ministers, Smith
will become an independent missionary and travel throughout
the United States and three continents. She will publish
her autobiography, “Amanda Smith’s Story – The Story of the
Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith, The Colored
Evangelist,” in 1893. She will join the ancestors on
February 24, 1915.

1891 – Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, the first African
American hospital, is founded by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams.
He also establishes the Provident Hospital School of Nursing
around the same time, because Emma Reynolds, an African
American, had been denied admission to every school of
nursing in the city of Chicago.

1941 – Richard Wright is awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for his
book, “Native Son.”

1943 – Duke Ellington’s band plays for a black-tie crowd at Carnegie
Hall in New York City. It is the first of what will become
an annual series of concerts for ‘The Duke’.

1945 – The Army Nurse Corps discontinues its color barrier and
starts admitting nurses without regard to race. This is due
primarily to the pressure applied by the National
Association of Colored Nursing Graduates (NACGN) and other
groups.

1962 – Demonstrations against discrimination in off-campus housing
are staged by students at the University of Chicago for
fourteen days. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
charges that the university operates segregated apartment
houses.

1964 – The 24th amendment to the United States’ Constitution,
abolishing the poll tax in federal elections, is ratified.
The poll tax had been used extensively in the South as a
means of preventing African Americans from voting.

1976 – Paul Robeson joins the ancestors, as the result of a stroke,
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He had been a world-renown
actor and singer. He was perhaps the best known and most
widely respected African American of the 1930s and 1940s.
Robeson was also a staunch supporter of the Soviet Union,
and a man, later in his life, widely vilified and censored
for his frankness and unyielding views on issues to which
public opinion ran contrary. As a young man, Robeson was
virile, charismatic, eloquent, and powerful. He learned to
speak more than 20 languages in order to break down the
barriers of race and ignorance throughout the world, and
yet, as Sterling Stuckey pointed out in the “New York Times
Book Review,” for the last 25 years of his life, his was “a
great whisper and a greater silence in Black America.”

1977 – The first episode of “Roots,” adapted from the “New York
Times” bestseller by Alex Haley, is aired on ABC. Over the
next several nights, 130 million Americans will be
transfixed before their televisions as the story of Kunta
Kinte is told.

1985 – O.J. Simpson becomes the first Heisman Trophy winner to be
inducted into pro football’s Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys, another Heisman
winner, is also elected, but is after O.J. in the sequence
of induction.

1986 – The first annual induction ceremony for the Rock ‘N’ Roll
Hall of Fame is held in New York City. Among those inducted
were Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Fats Domino.

1989 – In “City of Richmond vs. J.A. Croson Co.,” the United States
Supreme Court invalidates the city’s minority set-aside
program, a major setback for the concept’s proponents.

2003 – Nell Carter, Tony Award winner and television star, joins the
ancestors at the age of 54. She had suffered from diabetes
for years and underwent brain surgery in 1992 to remove an
aneurysm. She recovered and continued to perform, mostly on
stage.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

January 22 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – January 22 *

1801 – Haitian liberator, Toussaint L’Ouverture, enters Santiago to
battle the French Armed Forces.

1891 – The “Lodge Bill,” which called for federal supervision of U.S.
elections, is abandoned in the Senate after a Southern
filibuster.

1906 – Twenty-eight-year-old Meta Vaux Warrick’s sculpture “Portraits
from Mirrors” is exhibited at the 101st Annual Exhibition of
the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Although it is one of the first major showings
of her work, the young Warrick (later Fuller) has already
studied sculpture with the legendary Auguste Rodin and had
her work exhibited in Paris at S. Bing’s Gallery Nouveau.

1920 – William Caesar Warfield is born in West Helena, Arkansas, the
eldest of five sons. He will become a singer and have his
recital debut in New York’s famous Town Hall on March 19,
1950, putting him into the front ranks of concert artists
overnight. His career will span almost fifty years and among
his frequent appearances in foreign countries, this artist
has made six separate tours for the U.S. Department of State,
more than any other American solo artist. He will receive
a Grammy in the “Spoken Word” category (1984) for his
outstanding narration of Aaron Copeland’s “A Lincoln Portrait”
accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonic Orchestra. He is
best known for his role in “Showboat.” He will join the
ancestors on August 26, 2002.

1924 – James Louis (J.J.) Johnson is born in Indianapolis, Indiana.
He will become one of the greatest trombonists and composers
in jazz. He will be originally influenced by Fred Beckett of
Harlan Leonard’s band. Soon thereafter, he will join Benny
Carter. He will play with Count Basie (1945-1946) and record
his first solo improvisation. During the 1954-1956 period,
J.J. Johnson will take a brief break from bands and team up
with Kai Winding for a commercially successful trombone duo.
He will prefer the use of pure tones when playing the trombone,
focusing on line, interval and accent. His solos will show
virtuosity because of their remarkable mobility, which many
artists find difficult to duplicate or imitate. These
endeavors will be fruitless in the early 1950s and for a
couple of years he will work as a blueprint inspector. In the
1970s, Johnson will move from New Jersey to California,
concentrating exclusively on film and television scoring. In
1984, Johnson will reenter the jazz scene with a tour of the
“European Festival Circuit.” He will be voted into the Down
Beat Hall of Fame in 1995. He will join the ancestors on
February 4, 2001, after committing suicide by shooting himself.

1931 – Samuel “Sam” Cooke is born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He will
grow up in Chicago, Illinois, after moving there with his
family in 1933. He will become a singer and be best known for
his recordings “You Send Me” and “Twisting the Night Away.”
Cooke will be one of the most popular singers of the 1960’s.
He will join the ancestors on December 11, 1964. He will be
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 23,
1986.

1960 – Sugar Ray Robinson loses the Middleweight Boxing Championship
to Paul Pender in a 15-round decision.

1961 – Wilma Rudolph, the 1960 Olympic gold medalist and track star,
sets a world indoor mark in the women’s 60-yard dash, with a
speedy 6.9 seconds in a meet held in Los Angeles, California.

1962 – Baseball Writers elect Jackie Robinson into the Baseball Hall
of Fame.

1973 – George Foreman takes the heavyweight boxing title away from
‘Smokin’ Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica in the second round.
Foreman will knock ‘Smokin’ Joe down six times on his way to
victory.

1981 – Samuel Pierce is named Secretary of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD). One of the few African Americans in the
Reagan administration, there will be high expectations for
his potential to effect change, but Pierce’s leadership will
be severely questioned as scandal rocks his department in
1989. An estimated $ 2 billion will be lost due to fraud and
mismanagement during Pierce’s tenure.

1988 – Heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson knocks out former
champion Larry Holmes in 4 rounds.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

January 21 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – January 21 *

1830 – The African American population in Portsmouth, Ohio is
forcibly deported by order of city officials.

1913 – Fanny M. Jackson Coppin joins the ancestors in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. She was a pioneering educator and missionary
and the first African American woman to graduate from an
American college (Oberlin, 1865). Coppin State College (now
University) in Baltimore, Maryland will be named after her.

1938 – Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is founded in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, by Marion Turner Stubbs Thomas. Dedicated to
providing educational, cultural, civic, and social programs
for African American youth, Jack and Jill will grow to have
180 chapters nationwide.

1941 – Richard “Richie” P. Havens is born in Brooklyn, New York.
He will grow up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community, the
eldest of nine children. He will become a folk singer,
influenced in his early days by Nina Simone. It will be as
a live performer, that he will first earn widespread notice.
Richie will play the 1966 Newport Folk Festival, the 1967
Monterey Jazz Festival, the January 1968 Woody Guthrie
Memorial Concert at Carnegie Hall, the December 1968 Miami
Pop Festival, the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival, and of course,
the 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York.

1950 – Leslie Sebastien Charles in born in Fyzabad, Trinidad. He
will emigrate to England at the age of eight and will later
become a popular singer known as “Billy Ocean.” He will
release hits such as “Suddenly,” “Caribbean Queen,” “Get
Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” “When The Going Gets
Tough, The Tough Get Going” (which was featured in the
movie, The Jewel Of The Nile), and “To Make You Cry.”

1963 – Akeem Abdul Olajuwon is born in Lagos, Nigeria. He will
become one of five boys born to his parents with one sister.
He will come to the United States and play collegiate
basketball for the University of Houston. He will be
selected by the Houston Rockets in the first round (first
pick overall) of the 1984 NBA Draft. After twelve years of
play in the NBA, he will be selected in 1996 as one of the
50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Olajuwon will add a “H”
to his first name on 3/9/1991 and become an United States
citizen on 4/2/1993. The University of Houston will retire
his jersey, # 34, on 2/12/97.

1964 – Carl T. Rowan is named director of the U.S. Information
Agency, the highest position ever held by an African
American. By virtue of his position, he also becomes the
first African American to sit on the National Security
Council.

1971 – Twelve African American congressmen boycott Richard Nixon’s
State of the Union Address because of his “consistent
refusal” to respond to the petitions of African Americans.

1982 – Blues guitar singer B.B. King donates his entire record
collection to the University of Mississippi’s Center for
the Study of Southern Culture. The collection includes
about 7,000 rare blues records he played when he worked as
a disc jockey in Memphis. Born Riley B. King, he called
himself the “Beale Street Blues Boy,” later shortened to
“B.B.” B.B. King is considered one of the most influential
blues musicians in history.

1990 – Quincy Jones is awarded the French Legion of Honor for his
contributions to music as a trumpeter, composer, arranger,
and record producer.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.