* Today in Black History – May 27 *
1863 – Captain Andre’ Callioux and his Native Guard Regiment, which had once
fought for the Confederacy, charge Port Hudson, Louisiana. The Union
Army Guard, intent on disproving white contentions that “Negroes”
lacked the intelligence for combat, will make six different assaults
on the stronghold.
1917 – One African American is killed and hundreds are left homeless in race
riots in East St. Louis, Illinois.
1935 – Ramsey Lewis is born in Chicago, Illinois. While attending Chicago
Musical College, he will form the Gentlemen of Swing (later called
The Ramsey Lewis Trio) with The Cleff’s old rhythm section, Eldee
Young (bass) and Redd Holt (drums). Their weekend gig will catch the
attention of an influential deejay (Daddio-O-Dayle), who convinces
blues record company owner Phil Chess to expand into jazz and sign
the trio. From the start (1958) their records were popular, although
in the early days they had a strong jazz content. In 1958 Lewis will
also record with Max Roach and Lem Winchester. On the 1965 albums
“The In Crowd” and “Hang On Sloopy,” Ramsey will make the piano into
a major attraction and from that point on, his records will become
much more predictable and pop-oriented. In 1966, his trio’s personnel
will change with bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White
(later the founder of Earth, Wind and Fire) joining Lewis. In the
1970s Lewis will often play electric piano, although by later in the
decade, he was sticking to acoustic and hiring an additional
keyboardist. He plays melodic jazz when he wants to, but will stick
to easy-listening pop music during his career.
1936 – Louis Gossett, Jr. is born in Brooklyn, New York. He will make his
acting debut at 17 in “Take a Giant Step” and act in numerous stage,
film and television roles including Fiddler in “Roots,” for which he
will win an Emmy. His portrayal of the tough drill instructor in “An
Officer and a Gentleman” will win him an Academy Award as best
supporting actor in 1982, the third African-American to win an Oscar
1941 – A race riot begins in East St. Louis, Illinois. After four days of
rioting, one African American will be killed.
1942 – Dorie Miller, a messman from Waco, Texas, is awarded the Navy cross for
his heroic deeds at Pearl Harbor. The Cross is pinned on his chest by
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
1958 – Ernest Green graduates from Little Rock’s Central High School with six
hundred white classmates, becoming the first of the “little Rock Nine”
to graduate from high school.
1961 – Ralph Boston of the United States, sets the long jump record.
1963 – Jomo Kenyatta is elected first prime minister of self-governing Kenya.
In the early 1950s, Kenyatta was sentenced to seven years of hard
labor for alleged links to the Mau Mau, a clandestine anti-British
organization. In 1964, Kenyatta will become the first president of
Kenya, remaining in that position until 1978.
1965 – Todd Bridges is born in San Francisco, California. He will become a
child actor and is best known for his roles in the TV series “Diff’rent
Strokes,” and “Fish.”
1968 – The Supreme Court orders schools to present a realistic desegregation
plan immediately. The ruling comes almost 13 years to the day after
the Court’s “all deliberate speed” desegregation order in 1955.
1975 – Ezzard Charles, former heavyweight boxing champion, joins the ancestors
in Chicago at the age of 53.
2011 – Gil Scott-Heron joins the ancestors at the age of 62. He was an American
soul and jazz poet, musician, and author, known primarily for his work
as a spoken word performer in the 1970s and ’80s. His collaborative
efforts with musician Brian Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz,
blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and
political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic
vocal styles. His own term for himself was “bluesologist”, which he
defined as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues.”
His music, most notably on “Pieces of a Man and Winter in America” in
the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African-American
music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. He will be honored
posthumously as a 2012 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.