* Today in Black History – September 7 *
1800 – The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is dedicated
in New York City.
1859 – John Merrick is born a slave in Clinton, North Carolina.
He will be raised by a single mother and will learn to
read and write in a Reconstruction School. He will later
become a brick mason in Raleigh, North Carolina and learn
the barber trade during a lull in construction.
Subsequently, he will move to Durham where he will own
several barber shops, some of which cater to wealthy
white men. He will become involved in real estate and the
Royal Knights of King David, a fraternal benefit society.
It will be there, that he will get the idea of life
insurance based on activities in these very popular mutual
benefit societies developing in the south. He will
eventually co-found not only the North Carolina Mutual Life
Insurance Company, but assist in establishing Durham’s first
African American bank and drug store. He will also serve as
president of Lincoln Hospital. He will join the ancestors on
August 6, 1919.
1914 – Jean Blackwell Hutson is born in Summerfield, Florida.
From 1948 until she retired in 1980, she will help build
the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in
Harlem into the world’s primary source for books, art,
historical documents and other materials on people of
African Descent. She will also help the center in 1981,
win a federal grant so the collection could move from its
cramped quarters to a more spacious $3.7 million, five-
story building in Harlem. By then, she will be retired as
the institution’s head and will take a job in the office
of library administration at the Public Library’s
headquarters in New York. She will join the ancestors on
February 4, 1998 in Harlem Hospital. At the time of her
death, the Schomburg Collection will hold about 150,000
volumes, 3.5 million manuscripts, the largest assemblage of
photographs documenting Black life, and rare artifacts –
including a 16th century manuscript, “Ad Catholicum” by Juan
Latino, believed to be the first book published by a person
of African descent.
1917 – Jacob Lawrence is born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He
will become one of the leading painters in chronicling
African American history and urban life. Among his most
celebrated works will be the historical panels “The Life
of Toussaint L’ouverture” and “The Life of Harriet
Tubman.” He will join the ancestors on June 9, 2000.
1930 – Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins, jazz saxophonist, is
born in New York City. Rollins will grow up in a
neighborhood where Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins (his
early idol), and Bud Powell were playing. After recording
with the latter in 1949, Rollins begins recording with
Miles Davis in 1951. During the next three years he
composes three of his best-known tunes, “Oleo,” “Doxy,”
and “Airegin,” and continues to work with Davis, Charlie
Parker, and others. Following his withdrawal from music
in 1954 to cure a heroin addiction, Rollins re-emerges
with the Clifford Brown-Max Roach quintet in 1955, and
the next four years prove to be his most fertile. He
will be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972. On
September 7th 2011, he is named as one of the honorees for
the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors. He will be celebrated for
his talent in improvisational saxophone.
1934 – James Milton Campbell, Jr. is born in Inverness,
Mississippi. He will becomes a blues guitar artist better
known as “Little Milton.” He started his career playing
in blues bands when he was a teenager. His first
recording was accompanying pianist Willie Love in the
early 50s. He then appeared under his own name on three
singles issued on Sam Phillips’ Sun label under the
guidance of Ike Turner. His vocal style will be in the
mould of Bobby “Blues” Bland and “T-Bone” Walker. His
hits will include “We’re Gonna Make It,” “Who’s Cheating
Who,” “Grits Ain’t Groceries,” and “That’s What Love
Will Do.” He will join the ancestors on August 4, 2005.
1937 – Olly Wilson is born in St. Louis, Missouri. He will
become a classical composer whose works will be played
by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Oakland City
Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and many
1942 – Richard Roundtree is born in New Rochelle, New York. He
will attend college on a football scholarship but will
later give up athletics to pursue an acting career.
After touring as a model with the Ebony Fashion Fair, he
will join the Negro Ensemble Company’s acting workshop
program in 1967. He will make his film debut in 1970’s
“What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?,” but is still an
unknown when filmmaker Gordon Parks, Sr. cast him as
Shaft. The role will shoot Roundtree to instant fame,
launching the blaxploitation genre and proving so
successful at the box office that it helped save MGM
from the brink of bankruptcy. Thanks to the film’s
popularity — as well as its two sequels, 1972’s
“Shaft’s Big Score!” and the following year’s “Shaft in
Africa,” and even a short-lived television series. He
will also appear in films including the 1974 disaster
epic “Earthquake,” 1975’s “Man Friday” and the
blockbuster 1977 TV miniseries “Roots.”
1949 – Gloria Gaynor is born in Newark New Jersey. She will
become a singer and will be best known for her 1979
hit, “I Will Survive”. The hit tops the charts in both
the United Kingdom and the United States.
1954 – Integration of public schools begins in Washington, DC
and Baltimore, Maryland.
1972 – Curtis Mayfield earns a gold record for his album,
“Superfly”, from the movie of the same name. The LP
contained the hits, “Freddie’s Dead” and “Superfly” —
both songs were also million record sellers.
1980 – Bessie A. Buchanan, the first African American woman to
be elected to the New York State legislature, joins the
ancestors in New York City. Before her political career,
she was a Broadway star who had leading roles in
“Shuffle Along” and “Showboat.”
1986 – Bishop Desmond Tutu becomes the archbishop of Cape Town,
two years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his
nonviolent opposition to apartheid in South Africa. As
archbishop, he was the first Black to head South
Africa’s Anglican church. In 1948, South Africa’s white
minority government institutionalized its policy of
racial segregation and white supremacy known as
apartheid–Afrikaans for “apartness.” Eighty percent of
the country’s land was set aside for white use, and
black Africans entering this territory required special
passes. Blacks, who had no representation in the
government, were subjected to different labor laws and
educational standards than whites and lived in extreme
poverty while white South Africans prospered.
1987 – Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon at
Johns Hopkins University Hospital, leads a surgical
team that successfully separates Siamese twins who had
been joined at the head.
1994 – U.S. Marines begin training on a Puerto Rican island
amid talk in Washington of a U.S.-led intervention in
2011 – Sonny Rollins is named as one of the honorees for the 2011
Kennedy Center Honors. He will be celebrated for his
talent in improvisational saxophone.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.