* Today in Black History – June 26 *
1893 – Lee Conley Bradley is born in Scott, Mississippi. He
will become a prolific American blues singer, songwriter
and guitarist, better known as “Big Bill” Broonzy. His
career will begin in the 1920s when he plays country
blues to mostly African American audiences. Through the
1930s and 1940s he will successfully navigate a
transition in style to a more urban blues sound popular
with working-class African American audiences. In the
1950s a return to his traditional folk-blues roots will
make him one of the leading figures of the emerging
American folk music revival and an international star.
His long and varied career will mark him as one of the
key figures in the development of blues music in the
20th century. He will copyright more than 300 songs
during his lifetime, including both adaptations of
traditional folk songs and original blues songs. As a
blues composer, he will be unique in that his
compositions reflect the many vantage points of his
rural-to-urban experiences. He will join the ancestors
on August 14, 1958.
1894 – The American Railway Union, led by Eugene Debs, calls
a general strike in sympathy with Pullman workers.
1934 – W.E.B. Du Bois resigns from the NAACP over the
association’s policies and strategies. Du Bois had
been editor of the association’s “Crisis” magazine and
director of publicity and research. The resignation
brings control of the magazine under the leadership of
chief executive Walter White and its new editor and
NAACP assistant secretary, Roy Wilkins.
1938 – James Weldon Johnson, joins the ancestors after
succumbing to injuries received in an automobile
accident near his summer home in Wiscosset, Maine.
1938 – Billy Davis Jr. is born in St. Louis, Missouri. He will
join the 5th Dimension, then called the Versatiles, in
1966. The group’s first big hit will be with 1967’s “Up,
Up and Away”, written by Jimmy Webb. The song will win
four 1968 Grammy Awards and be the title track to the 5th
Dimension’s first hit LP. A year later the group will
record Laura Nyro’s “Stoned Soul Picnic”. A medley of
“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (from the musical Hair)
will reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in April
to May 1969 and will win the Grammy for Record of the
Year. The group’s recording of Nyro’s “Wedding Bell
Blues” will top the Hot 100 in November 1969. He will
sing the male lead on the group’s singles, “Worst That
Could Happen”, “A Change Is Gonna Come/People Got To Be
Free”, and “I’ll Be Lovin’ You Forever”. In 1975, he and
his wife, Marilyn McCoo, will leave the 5th Dimension and
begin performing as a duo. Landing a contract with ABC
Records, they will record their 1976 debut album, “I Hope
We Get to Love in Time.” The first single was the title
track, which will be a mid-chart hit. Their follow up,
“You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)”, will be
an even bigger hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot
100 in January 1977. He and McCoo will be awarded a gold
single and a gold album as well as a Grammy Award for Best
Rhythm & Blues Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
They will become the first African American married couple
to host a network television program, “The Marilyn McCoo &
Billy Davis Jr. Show,” on CBS in Summer 1977. They will
release one more album on ABC in 1978, produced by Frank
Wilson and containing the popular ballad, “My Reason To Be”
by songwriters Judy Wieder and John Footman. The pair will
sign with CBS Records the following year and release their
last album as a duo until October 2008, when the pair
releases “The Many Faces of Love,” a collection of hit
songs from the 1960s and 1970s. The album “Marilyn and
Billy” will feature the track “Saving All My Love for You”,
later sung by Whitney Houston, as well as a disco hit,
“Shine On Silver Moon.” The pair will decide to go solo
professionally in the early 1980s. In 1982 he will record
a gospel album, “Let Me Have A Dream,” with Rev. James
Cleveland. He will follow up that project with a guest
appearance on a jazz/pop album by Scott Scheer.
1950 – The American Medical Association seats the first
African American delegates at its convention.
1952 – The African National Congress begins its Defiance of
Unjust Laws campaign in South Africa.
1956 – Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown joins the ancestors
after being killed in an auto accident on the
Pennsylvania Turnpike. Founder of the Brown-Roach
Quintet with Max Roach two years earlier, Brown had
built a reputation as one of the finest jazz
trumpeters of his day as a major proponent of hard bop.
1959 – Prince Edward County, Virginia, abandons (closes) the
public school system in an attempt to prevent school
1959 – Floyd Paterson loses the Heavyweight Boxing
Championship to Ingemar Johansson of Sweden.
1966 – The 220-mile voter registration march from Memphis,
Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi ends with a rally of
some thirty thousand at the Mississippi state capitol.
1970 – Frank Robinson hits 2 grand slams as Baltimore Orioles
beat the Washington Senators 12-2.
1960 – Madagascar becomes independent from France.
1978 – “Girl,” a single-sentence two page short story of a
mother’s preachy advice to her daughter, appears in the
“New Yorker” magazine. Written by Jamaica Kincaid, the
story will make her a literary celebrity and will be
followed by short story collections and the novels
“Annie John” and “Lucy”.
1979 – Muhammad Ali announces that he was retiring as world
heavyweight boxing champion. The 37-year-old fighter
said, “Everything gets old, and you can’t go on like
years ago.” The “Float like a butterfly, sting like a
bee” act was no more.
1990 – African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela
addresses the U.S. Congress, asking for “material
resources” to hasten the end of white-led rule in South
1995 – During a state visit to Ethiopia, Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak escapes an attempt on his life.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.