* Today in Black History – June 7 *
1863 – Three African American regiments and small detachment of white
troops repulse a division of Texans in a hand-to-hand battle
at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana.
1917 – Gwendolyn Brooks is born in Topeka, Kansas. She will become the
first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize (1950). She
will win this award for “Annie Allen,” which is about the coming
of age of a young African American and her feelings of loneliness,
loss, death and poverty. In 1963-1969 she will teach poetry and
fiction workshops and also freshman English and 20th century
literature. In 1967, she will organize a poetry writing workshop
for a gang, and her home soon became a meeting place for young
people interested in arts and politics. In 1985, she will become
the first African American woman to take the position of Poetry
Consultant to the Library of Congress. Her job will be to give a
lecture in autumn and a poetry reading in the spring. She will
be the 29th and last Poetry Consultant. In 1988, she will become
the second Poet Laureate of Illinois. She also will be inducted
into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She will join the ancestors
on December 3, 2000.
1931 – David C. Driskell is born in Eatonton, Georgia. An artist and
professor of art at several universities, Driskell will be acclaimed
as one of the foremost art historians and curators of African
American art exhibits.
1943 – Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr. is born in Knoxville, Tennessee.
She will become a poet and author that will be known for her
books “Black Feeling”, “Black Talk”, and “Black Judgment,” and the
name “Nikki.” In 1973, she will establish NikTom, Ltd., a
communications company that will edit and publish “Night Comes Softly,”
an anthology of poetry by black women, “Re: Creation,” “Poem of Angela
Yvonne Davis,” and her other prominent works. In the mid 1980’s, her
opposition to the boycott of South Africa will lead to her being
blacklisted by TransAfrica and subsequently to bomb and death threats.
She will receive at least six honorary doctorate degrees and a myriad
of literary awards.
1946 – U.S. Supreme Court bans discrimination in interstate travel.
1950 – U.S. Supreme Court avoids a general ruling on “separate but equal”
1958 – Prince Rogers Nelson is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He
will become a singer and prolific songwriter and producer
known to the public as “Prince.” An incurable movie fan, he
will have a passion for drama (and comedy). His own films
will include “Purple Rain,” “Under the Cherry Moon,”
and “Grafitti Bridge.” “Purple Rain” (1984) will be hailed
by some critics as the best rock movie ever made and earn
Prince an Oscar for best original song score and soundtrack
album. Because of his desire to have complete artistic control
over his music, he will endure several years of a contract
dispute with his label, Warner Brothers, which results in him
appearing in public with the word SLAVE written on his face.
In 1993, he will change his name to “The Artist Formerly Known
As Prince” (TAFKAP or The Artist). He will come out of the
Warner Brothers conflict happily. He will establish a new
relationship with EMI Records that will allow him to record
and produce whatever he wants to release.
1966 – The voter registration march from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson,
Mississippi is continued by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other
civil rights groups and will register almost 4,000 African
Americans. The march had been interrupted the previous day by
the shooting of James Meredith, by a white sniper.
1987 – Mae Jemison, becomes the first African American woman astronaut.
Jemison entered Stanford University as a 16-year-old National
Achievement Scholarship student. She majored in Chemical
Engineering and Afro-American Studies, graduating in 1977. She
then went on to Cornell University to get a M.D. in 1981. She
worked as a medical intern in Los Angeles, California in 1981.
Later, she served as a staff doctor with Peace Corps in West
Africa 1983-1985. Then she worked as a general practitioner
for CIGNA Health Plans of California in Los Angeles from 1985
to 1987. After her internship, she joined the Peace Corps for
two years in West Africa giving medical attention to Peace Corps
volunteers and State Department employees in Sierra Leone and
Liberia. Finally, she became an astronaut for the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston, Texas
1987 – Lloyd Richards wins a Tony as best director for the August
Wilson play “Fences”. The play wins three other Tony awards,
for best play, best performance by an actor (James Earl Jones),
and best performance by a featured actress (Mary Alice).
1998 – In a crime that shocks the nation, James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old
African American man, joins the ancestors after being chained to
a pickup truck and dragged to his death in Jasper, Texas. Three
men, white supremacists, are arrested in the case. The atrocity
will prompt President Clinton to issue a press release condemning
the act. Two of the killers will be sentenced to death for the
crime, a third to life in prison.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.