July 2 African American Historical Events

* Today in Black History – July 2 *

1777 – Vermont, not one of the original 13 states, becomes the
first U.S. territory to abolish slavery.

1822 – Denmark Vesey, slave freedom fighter, and 5 aides are
hanged in Blake’s Landing, Charleston, South Carolina.

1908 – Thurgood Marshall is born in Baltimore, Maryland. He
will have the most distinguished legal career of any
African American as the NAACP’s national counsel,
director-counsel of the organization’s Legal Defense
and Educational Fund, and leader of some of the most
important legal challenges for African Americans’
constitutional rights, including “Brown v. Board of
Education” in 1954. In addition to sitting as a circuit
judge for the Second Circuit, Marshall will be named
U.S. Solicitor General in 1965 and associate justice of
the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967, where he will serve for
24 years. He will join the ancestors on January 24, 1993.

1925 – Patrice Lumumba, revolutionary and first prime minister
of the Republic of the Congo, is born in Stanleyville,
Belgian Congo.

1927 – George Fisher is born in New York City of African and West
Indian parentage. He will become an actor and will be
known as Brock Peters. He will set his sights on a show
business career as early as age ten. A product of New
York City’s famed Music and Arts High School, he
initially fielded more odd jobs than acting jobs as he
worked his way up from Harlem poverty. Landing a stage
role in Porgy and Bess in 1949, he will quit physical
education studies at City College of New York and go on
tour with the acclaimed musical. His film debut will come
in Carmen Jones in 1954, but he really began to make a
name for himself in such films as “To Kill a Mockingbird”
and “The L-Shaped Room.” He will receive a Tony nomination
for his starring stint in Broadway’s “Lost in the Stars.”
He will work with Charlton Heston on several theater
productions in the 1940s and 1950s. The two will befriend
each other and subsequently work together on several
films, including “Major Dundee,” “Soylent Green,” and “Two
Minute Warning.” He will join the ancestors on August 23,
2005, after succumbing to pancreatic cancer at the age of
78.

1930 – Frederick Russell Jones is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
A child prodigy who will begin to play the piano at the age
of 3, he will begin formal studies at age 7. While in high
school, he will complete the equivalent of college master
classes under the noted African American concert singer and
teacher Mary Caldwell Dawson and pianist James Miller. He
will join the musicians union at the age of 14, and begin
touring upon graduation from Westinghouse High School at
the age of 17, drawing critical acclaim for his solos. In
1950, he will form his first trio, The Three Strings.
Performing at New York’s The Embers club, Record Producer
John Hammond “discovers” The Three Strings and signed them
to Okeh Records (a division of Columbia, now Sony, Records).
He will change his name to Ahmad Jamal in 1952 when he
converts to Islam. He will be one of Miles Davis’s favorite
pianists and a key influence on the trumpeter’s 1st classic
quintet (featuring John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Red
Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe
Jones on drums). Davis had long admired his use of
space and dynamics. He will score a major popular “hit” in
his version of Poinciana, recorded while live on tour from
The Pershing nightclub in Chicago. His style will change
steadily over time – from the lighter, breezy style heard
on his 50s sides to the funk + Caribbean stylings of the
70s and onto the large open voicings and bravura-laden
playing of the nineties. He will always be distinctive
however for his use of space, his dramatic crescendos, and
for a very staccato orientation with chords. In addition
to being an excellent pianist, he is also very adept
with both the Rhodes electric piano and the Wurlitzer 200
electric piano.

1932 – Samuel Black is born in Paterson, New Jersey. He will become
a singer known as Sammy Turner. He will briefly achieve
fame in the late 50s as a rock ‘n’ roll balladeer, whose
specialty was recycled pop songs of the past, particularly
those by Guy Lombardo. His most notable record was a remake
of a Sammy Kaye hit from 1949, “Lavender Blue” (number 14
R&B/number 3 pop), in 1959. Three follow-ups were similarly
remakes of old pop hits: “Always” (number 2 R&B/number 20
pop), a frequently recorded pop song; “Symphony” (number 82
pop) and “Paradise” (number 13 R&B/number 46 pop). Turner’s
only success in the United Kingdom was with “Always”, which
went to number 26. Although essentially a pop performer,
because of his African American heritage he will also
garner considerable success on the R&B charts. However, he
will be unable to make the transition into the soul era,
and will rapidly fade as a recording artist after 1960.

1943 – Lt. Charles B. Hall of Indiana, flies the first combat
mission of the 99th Fighter Squadron (Tuskegee Airmen)
which was attached to the 33rd Fighter Group flying out of
Fardjouna (Cap Bon, Tunisia). He is flying as wingman on
this first mission to Pantelleria.

1946 – Anthony Overton, lawyer, judge, publisher, cosmetics
manufacturer and banker, joins the ancestors in Chicago,
Illinois at the age of 81.

1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Bill,
which includes public accommodation and fair employment
sections. The Civil Rights Act prohibits segregation in
employment, education, and public accommodation on the
basis of race, sex, age, national origin or religion.

1986 – The U.S. Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in two
rulings.

1990 – “Devil in a Blue Dress”, a mystery novel by Walter Mosley
set in South-Central Los Angeles, is published. Its
realism and strong African American characters will earn
its author enthusiastic praise and a nomination for best
novel by the Mystery Writers of America.

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

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