Month: March 2018

March 13, 2009- Anne Wiggins Brown

GM – FBF – “I take the world very personally. I take history personally; I want to place myself in the larger context.” – Marianne Wiggins

Remember – “I write on a visual canvas, ‘seeing’ a scene in my thoughts before translating it into language, so I’m a visual junkie.” – Marianne Wiggins

Today in our History , March 13, 2009 – Brown, Anne Wiggins (1912-2009) – The Fist lady to praform “BESS” in the broadway production of “PORGY AND BESS”.

Broadway performer Anne Wiggins Brown was born August 9, 1912 in Baltimore, Maryland to Dr. Harry F. Brown and Mary Wiggins Brown. Her father, the grandson of a slave, was a respected physician, and her mother was of black, Cherokee, and Scottish-Irish decent. Brown was a talented singer from a young age, but when her parents tried to enroll their daughter in a private Catholic elementary school with a music program, she was denied entrance because she was African American.

Brown began her training at Morgan College (now Morgan State University), after which she applied to the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. Once again she was denied admittance because of her race. Brown did not give up and in 1928, when she was just 16 years old, Brown auditioned for and was admitted to the Julliard School in New York, becoming the first African American vocalist to attend the school. While at Julliard, Brown was awarded the prestigious Margaret McGill scholarship.

Brown got her big break in 1935 when she sang the part of Bess in the world premiere of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Colonial Theater in Boston. The play, which featured an all-African American cast, focused on the lives African Americans living in Charleston, South Carolina during the 1920s. After a successful opening, Porgy and Bess was moved to the Alvin Theater in New York in October 1935. Although Brown’s performance was highly praised, the opera received mixed reviews. Many African Americans, including Brown’s father, believed that the play was racist and portrayed stereotypes of black people.

Brown continued to appear on Broadway in such shows as Pins and Needles (1937) and Mamba’s Daughters (1939). The successful singer/actress also continued to play Bess in multiple revivals of Porgy and Bess including the Broadway revival in 1942. Although she had gained fame and success, Brown was still forced to deal with the reality of segregation in America. Brown encountered prejudice on many occasions and was even denied use of a performance hall in Baltimore, her hometown.

Brown’s experiences persuaded her to live in Europe. In 1946, she traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to perform in the Royal Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess and afterwards decided to remain there. Brown began touring from Copenhagen and gave recitals throughout Europe. In 1948, while traveling in Norway, she met and married her husband, the philosopher, journalist, and Olympic medal skier Thorleif Schjelderup. The couple settled in Norway and raised two daughters together.

In 1953, Brown began the transition from performer to voice coach and director, and in 1967 she put on a Norwegian production of Porgy and Bess. In 1998 Brown was awarded the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Music in America by the Peabody Institute as a way to apologize for their admission denial. Anne Wiggins Brown passed away in Oslo, Norway on March 13, 2009. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 12, 2015- Willie T. Barrow

MafGM – FBF – “I am about doing the work of our people in Chicago or the Nation” – Willie T. Barrow

Remember – ” I am proud to with Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH to support the people of our great City” – Willie T. Barrow

Today in our History – March 12, 2015 – Religious leader and civil rights activist Reverend Willie T. Barrow was born on December 7, 1924 to Octavia and Nelson Taplin, a minister. Barrow was raised in Burton, Texas, where as a student she led a demonstration of rural African American schoolchildren against a segregated school system. Barrow later attended Warner-Pacific Theological Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and helped build a church in that city in the 1940s.
Upon graduation, Barrow was ordained as a minister and began her career as both a spiritual and social activist. From 1953 to 1965, she was a field organizer for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where she was responsible for the organization of transportation, shelter, meetings and rallies for demonstrations, including the 1965 March on Selma, Alabama. During the 1960s, Barrow was among the founding members of Operation Breadbasket in Chicago, Illinois, a program that provided spiritual guidance and practical assistance to communities in need. Later, in 1968, she led a three-person delegation to North Vietnam and participated in the negotiation of the Vietnam Peace Treaty.
Barrow went on to serve as co-chair of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the organization that grew out of Operation Breadbasket. At the Coalition, she coordinated activities and served as an aide to Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. Barrow also served as associate minister of the Vernon Park Church of God in Chicago, and was active in the National Urban League and National Council of Negro Women.
Barrow was honored with a Doctor of Divinity degree from Monrovia, Liberia and a Leadership Certificate from Harvard University. She also received awards from the League of Black Women, the Christian Women’s Conference, and the Indo-American Democratic Organization. In September of 1997, a street on Chicago’s South Side was renamed in her honor; and, that same year, the Reverend Willie Barrow Wellness Center was opened to bring affordable and accessible health care to needed areas in Chicago. She authored the book, How to Get Married and Stay Married, which was published in 2004.
Reverend Barrow passed away on March 12, 2015 at the age of 90. Reserch more about the NAACP, SCLC and Operation PUSH and people who are Civil Rights Activeist and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 11, 1959- Lorraine Vivian Hansberry

GM – FBF – “Seems like God don’t see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams – but He did give us children to make them dreams seem worthwhile.” – Lorraine Hansberry

Remember – “There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing.” – Lorraine Hansberry

Today in our History – March 11, 1959 – A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre – Lorraine Vivian Hansberry – Playwright(1930–1965) was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Nannie Louise Hansberry, a teacher, and Carl Hansberry, a real-estate broker. Her progressive parents examined her birth certificate, and after seeing the word “Negro” printed by the hospital, immediately crossed it out and wrote “Black.” The Hansberry family bought a house at 6140 S. Rhodes Ave. in Washington Park—a white, upper-middle-class neighborhood that the playwright later described as “hellishly hostile.” They were violently attacked by their neighbors, who were constantly trying to get the family to leave the neighborhood. The Hansberrys refused, and agreed to stay in their home at all costs. “I [remember] my desperate and courageous mother, patrolling our house all night with a loaded German Luger, doggedly guarding her four children,” Hansberry wrote.
The Hansberrys’ white neighbors were so intent on pushing them out of the neighborhood (and the family was so intent on staying) that the Hansberry v. Lee case made it to the Illinois Supreme Court. When the state ruled against the Hansberry family, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision, allowing the family to stay in their home. Thanks to the Hansberrys’ persistence, it was no longer legal for white residents in the United States to push African Americans out of their neighborhoods. While writing for the progressive black newspaper Freedom, Hansberry discovered Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem,” published in his book Montage of a Dream Deferred. “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”
The young author began working on a play exploring the struggles of a poor, black family living in Chicago, loosely based on her own family’s story. Originally titled The Crystal Stair (a line from the Langston Hughes poem “Mother to Son”), A Raisin in the Sun centers on the Youngers, a lower-class family who is offered a sum of money to stay away from the white neighborhood where they have purchased their dream home.
A Raisin in the Sun made history, becoming the first play written by a black woman (a 29-year-old, no less) to ever be produced on Broadway. But the journey to the Great White Way wasn’t easy—it took over a year for producer Philip Rose to raise enough funds to bring the play to New York. After short pre-Broadway tryouts in Philadelphia, New Haven and Chicago, A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway on March 11, 1959 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, starring Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee Younger, a struggling son with big dreams, Claudia McNeil as his mother Lena and Ruby Dee as his hardworking wife Ruth. Hansberry wrote two screenplay adaptations of A Raisin in the Sun, but both were rejected by Columbia Pictures for being too controversial. The third time proved to be the charm, and a draft that more closely resembled the stage play was greenlit. Poitier, Dee and McNeil all reprised their roles for the film, which won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival. After a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer, Hansberry died at the age of 34, the same night her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, closed on Broadway. A passage from the play is engraved on her gravestone: “I care. I care about it all. It takes too much energy not to care. The why of why we are here is an intrigue for adolescents; the how is what must command the living. Which is why I have lately become an insurgent again.”
Robert Nemiroff, Hansberry’s ex-husband, became a champion of the late playwright’s work after her death. He adapted many of her unpublished poems, stories and letters into the play To Be Young, Gifted and Black, which premiered off-Broadway in 1968. Singer-songwriter Nina Simone, a close friend of Hansberry, wrote a song of the same name in her memory.
After the success of A Raisin in the Sun on the Great White Way, Nemiroff teamed up with Charlotte Zaltzberg to write the book for a musical adaptation of Hansberry’s groundbreaking play. Judd Woldin and Robert Brittan wrote the score, a mix of jazz, blues, gospel and of course, traditional musical theater. “It is a strange [musical] but a good one,” The New York Times reported. “It warms the heart and touches the soul.” Starring Joe Morton as Walter Lee, Ernestine Jackson as Ruth and Virginia Capers as Mama Lena, Raisin won two Tony Awards, including Best Musical. On the 30-year anniversary of the beloved drama’s Broadway premiere, PBS aired an uncut, three-hour TV adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun starring Danny Glover and Esther Rolle. Director Bill Duke told The Los Angeles Times, “This play transcends time and race. It applies to all poor people. What Lorraine says is something that should be said often: Folks that don’t have money, folks that society looks down its nose at, are some of the noblest spirits among us.”
Raisin returned to the Great White Way for the second time, starring stage and screen great Phylicia Rashad, Tony winner Audra McDonald and rapper-turned-actor Sean “P. Diddy” Combs in his Broadway debut. “At this point of my life, it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever done because it’s so intense, it’s so emotional, it’s so hard,” Combs told the Associated Press. The production made history at the Tony Awards when Rashad was honored with the Best Actress in a Play trophy, becoming the first African-American woman to receive the honor. Director Kenny Leon reassembled his leading players for a 2008 adaptation of the production, which was seen by 12.7 million viewers on ABC.
Five decades after Raisin first opened on Broadway, playwrights still continue to be inspired by Hansberry’s gripping drama. Bruce Norris’ homage to the iconic story, Clybourne Park, was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play. As part of its 50th anniversary season, Maryland’s Center Stage produced Clybourne Park in repertory with the world premiere of Beneatha’s Place, focusing on the untold story of Walter Lee’s younger sister. Dubbed The Raisin Cycle, the new plays have introduced the Younger family to a brand new audience.
Now, director Kenny Leon (who also helmed the 2004 revival) brings the Younger family back to their very first Broadway home at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Why did he want to bring the drama back after only ten years? “This is the play that keeps on giving,” he told “If all the other great American plays—Death of a Salesman, Streetcar, A Moon for the Misbegotten—if they have been done every four or five years, surely [it’s time] to revisit A Raisin in the Sun.” Featuring Denzel Washington as Walter Lee, LaTanya Richardson Jackson as Lena and Sophie Okonedo as Ruth, the new production opened officially on April 3,2014. Research more by watching this great American Play with your babies and make it a champion day!

March 10, 1836 – Witherspoon Street Church

GM – FBF – “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” — 2 Corinthians 5:1

Remember – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4

Today in our History – March 10, 1836 – Organized in 1836, the Witherspoon Street Church is one of the oldest African American Presbyterian congregations in New Jersey. On March 10, 1836, 90 out of 131former African American members of the Nassau Presbyterian Church were released from the congregation to form their own church. Nassau had just suffered a fire that destroyed their church. Although slaves and indentured servants were allowed to attend Nassau Presbyterian, they suffered much racism and were forced to sit in the small balcony. Many of them saw this as the opportunity to establish a church they controlled.

The original church name was The First Presbyterian Church of Colour of Princeton. After the first official communion was held in 1840, the church was referred to as Third Presbyterian Church, and later the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church for Colored People in Princeton. The congregation included enslaved, indentured, and free people of color.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Stockton was born enslaved to the Stockton Family in Princeton; she attended Nassau Presbyterian Church and was instrumental in establishing the new church. Betsy Stockton earned her freedom at the age of twenty and traveled to Hawaii as a missionary. She returned to Princeton in 1835 and helped found the First Presbyterian Church of Colour. In 1837 Stockton began teaching African American children in a public school and later established a Sabbath School at what is now the Witherspoon Street Church. A stained glass window in the church is dedicated to Stockton and her work in the church.

In October of 1879, Rev. William Drew Robeson was installed as pastor. Along with his wife, Maria Louisa Bustill of Philadelphia, the Robesons moved into the church parsonage and began their family. That parsonage was the place of birth of twentieth century singer and activist Paul Robeson and is now called The Robeson House. As a former slave, Rev. Robeson fought for the rights of African Americans. His preaching on racial equality was eventually deemed “too radical” by Presbyterian Synod leaders and he was forced to resign in 1901.

Throughout the decades, the Witherspoon Church has been rooted in supporting the community through Emancipation, Reconstruction, two World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1950s, Witherspoon Street Church began to become more inclusive of its changing community, embracing all from every ethnic background. Rev. Benjamin Anderson headed efforts to build Princeton’s first integrated housing project and helped restaurant and hotel workers to unionize. In 2003 the congregation installed its first female pastor, Rev. M. Muriel Burrows.

In 2015 The General Assembly of the Presbytery issued a formal apology to the congregation of Witherspoon Street Church for the unjust removal of Rev. Robeson which had resulted in loss of membership, the sale of the church parsonage, and financial decline. The church repurchased the parsonage in 2005, partly through a grant of $173,000 given by the Synod of the Northeast. Today the church has a racially diverse congregation that has a stong focus and foundation on being stewards of peace and racial reconciliation. When in the Trenton, NJ area, visit historical Princeton and the famous Witherspoon Street Presbytery Church and bring your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 9, 1902- Louise Beavers

GM – FBF – “I’m your mammy child, I ain’t no white mother. It’s too much to ask of me. I ain’t got the spiritual strength to beat it. I can’t hang on no cross, I ain’t got the strength.” – Louise Beavers

Remember – “the third Negro woman in this country to [ever] have my face on the big screen,” – Louise Beavers

Today in our History – March 9, 1902 – A great black actress was born who will be the 3rd only black to be on the big screen and on Television.

1930s and 1940s film actress Louise Beavers was merely one of a dominant gallery of plus-sized and plus-talented African-American character actresses forced to endure blatant, discouraging and demeaning stereotypes during Depression-era and WWII Hollywood. It wasn’t until Louise’s triumphant role in Fannie Hurst’s classic soaper Imitation of Life (1934) that a film of major significance offered a black role of meaning, substance and humanity. Despite the fact that Louise was playing yet another of her endless servile roles as housekeeper Delilah who works for single white mother Claudette Colbert, this time around her character was three-dimensional and not merely a source of servitude and/or or comic relief. She had her own dramatic story and brilliantly handled the heartbreaking co-plot of an appeasing single parent whose light-skinned daughter (played by Fredi Washington) went to cruel and desperate lengths to pass for white. While Louise certainly championed in the role and managed to steal the lion’s share of reviews right from under the film’s superstar, the movie triggered major controversy and just as many complaints as compliments from both black and white viewers. This certainly did not help what could have been a major, positive shift in black filmmaking. Instead, for the next two or more decades Louise was again forced to retreat into secondary status with precious few opportunities to shine.

Ms. Beavers was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 9, 1902 and moved with her family to the Los Angeles area at age 11. A student at Pasadena High School and a choir member at her local church, her mother, a voice teacher, trained Louise for the concert stage but instead the young girl joined an all-female minstrel company called “Lady Minstrels” and even hooked up for a time on the vaudeville circuit. A nursing career once entertained was quickly aborted in favor of acting. Her first break of sorts was earning a living as a personal maid and assistant to Paramount star Leatrice Joy (and later actress Lilyan Tashman). By 1924 she was performing as an extra or walk-on in between her chores. A talent agent spotted her and gave her a more noticeable role in Uncle Tom’s Cabin(1927). She went on to gain even more visibility, but was invariably stuck in the background cooking or cleaning after the leads. Despite this her beaming smile and good nature paid off.
Following scene-grabbing maid roles to such stars as Mary Pickford in Coquette (1929) Linda Watkins in Good Sport (1931), Mae West in She Done Him Wrong (1933), Constance Bennett in What Price Hollywood? (1932) and Jean Harlow in Bombshell(1933), Louise received the role of her career. Her poignant storyline and final death scene deserved an Oscar nomination and many insiders took her snub as deliberate and prejudicial. Five years later her compatriot (and close friend) Hattie McDaniel would become the first black actor to not only earn an Oscar nomination but capture the coveted trophy as well for her subordinate role in Gone with the Wind (1939).

Despite their individual triumphs, both ladies continued to trudge through more of the same, albeit steadily. Occasionally Louise was rewarded with such Hollywood “A” treats as Made for Each Other (1939) with Carole Lombard, Holiday Inn (1942) starring Bing Crosby, and especially Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. In The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), she offered lovely moments as the baseball star’s mother.

Although film offers dried up in the 1950s, Louise managed to transfer her talents to the new TV medium, and was one of a number of character actresses hired to play the wise-cracking, problem-solving maid Beulah (1950) during its run. “Beulah” was one of the first sitcoms to star a black actor. She also had a recurring role in Disney’s “The Swamp Fox”. In 1957, she made her professional stage debut in San Francisco with the short-lived play “Praise House” as a caregiver who extols the Bible through song. Her last few films, which included The Goddess (1958), All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960) and the Bob Hopecomedy The Facts of Life (1960) were typical stereotypes and unmemorable.

A long time bachelor lady who finally married in the 1950s, the short and stout actress was plagued by health issues in later years, her obesity and diabetes in particular. She lost her fight on October 26, 1962, at age 60 following a heart attack. In 1976 she was posthumously inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Research more about this great American actress or watch the orgional “Imatation of Life” (1934). Make it a champion day!

March 8, 1954- Mattwilda Dobbs

GM – FBF – “I was so afraid for myself if I would have married” Martin L.King. -Mattiwilda Dobbs

Remember – ” Music that I sing is not for the masses but most for the people who enjoy Opera” – Mattiwilda Dobbs

Today in our History – March 8, – The First black to preform at New York’s Town Hall on March 8, 1954.

Mattiwilda Dobbs (July 11, 1925 – December 8, 2015) was an African-American coloratura soprano and one of the first black singers to enjoy a major international career in opera. She was the first black singer to perform at La Scala in Italy, the first black woman to receive a long-term performance contract at the Metropolitan Opera, New York and the first black singer to play a lead role at the San Francisco Opera.

Dobbs was born in Atlanta, Georgia, one of six daughters of John and Irene Dobbs, who were leaders in the state’s African-American community. She began piano lessons at the age of seven, and sang in community and church choirs.
Dobbs attended Spelman College where she studied home economics and considered becoming a fashion designer. Her teachers encouraged her to study music, however, and she began to study voice, graduating with a degree in Spanish and music in 1946. Following her graduation, she moved to New York City and studied with German soprano Lotte Leonard while completing a Master’s degree in Spanish at Columbia University.

Dobbs won a number of scholarships, including the Marian Anderson Award in 1947, and a John Hay Whitney Fellowship. The funds from these awards enabled her to move to Europe in 1950 and pursue her studies there, notably with Pierre Bernac.

Dobbs initially performed in Europe as a concert recitalist, however after winning the International Music Competition in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1951, she went on to sing at the major festivals and opera houses throughout the continent. She made her professional operatic debut at the Holland Festival, as the Nightingale in Stravinsky’s The Nightingale, in 1952. She made her debut at the Glyndebourne Festival, as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, in 1953. Her success at this festival led to a performance contract at London’s Covent Garden from 1953 to 1958.

Her La Scala debut in 1953 was at the invitation of conductor Herbert von Karajan. Dobbs performed the role of Elvira in L’italiana in Algeri, which also marked the first time a black artist sang in that opera house. In a review of her performance, the British magazine Opera called her “the outstanding coloratura of her generation”.

She made her debut at the Royal Opera House in London, as the Woodbird in Siegfried, in 1953. She also appeared at the Paris Opéra, the Vienna State Opera, and at the opera houses of Hamburg and Stockholm. In 1954, she sang before Queen Elizabeth II and the King and Queen of Sweden at Covent Garden Theatre.

In the 1960s Dobbs continued to perform in Europe, particularly in Sweden, where she lived with her husband. Her successful, high-profile European career is considered significant in setting an example to younger black female singers such as Leontyne Price, Shirley Verrett, Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle.

Her American Dobbs sang the role of Zerbinetta again in her first appearance in the United States at New York’s Town Hall on March 8, 1954 and received great critical acclaim.Next was a recital with the Little Orchestra Society, in New York City, in 1954. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut, as Gilda in Rigoletto, on November 9, 1956. In a review of her performance, Carl Van Vechten wrote that Dobbs’ was “glorious … a warm and brilliant coloratura, and the best Gilda in my experience.” Although African-American singer Marian Anderson had performed at the Met the previous year, Dobbs was the first African-American to be offered a long-term contract by the Met. In eight seasons, she performed 29 times, including Zerbinetta, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Oscar in Un ballo in maschera. She also appeared at the San Francisco Opera in 1955, where she was the first African-American to play a lead role.

Following the example set by other African-American performers, Dobbs refused to perform for segregated audiences. She later stated that this hurt her career as she declined offers of work in the southern states. When the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium was de-segregated in 1961, Dobbs was the first person to sing to an integrated audience in the city. After de-segregation, she performed in Atlanta in a series of operas produced by Blanche Thebom.
Dobbs retired from performing in 1974, and began teaching at the University of Texas, where she was the first African-American on the faculty. She continued her teaching career as professor of voice at Howard University in Washington, D.C., before retiring to Arlington County, Virginia.
In 1989 Dobbs was elected to the board of directors of the Metropolitan Opera.

Dobbs’s coloratura soprano was praised for its freshness and agility, as well as tonal beauty, and was considered an ideal voice for sound recording. However, she can be heard in relatively few recordings, as she spent her early career in Europe. When she returned to the United States in 1954 Roberta Peters had become a top soprano recording artist.
Dobbs’s notable recordings include Die Entführung aus dem Serail (in English), opposite Nicolai Gedda (who was born the same day as she was, July 11, 1925) and conducted by Yehudi Menuhin, Les pêcheurs de perles conducted by René Leibowitz, and a recital of opera arias and songs, released in 1998 by Testament Records. She sang both Olympia and Antonia in a complete recording of The Tales of Hoffmann featuring Leopold Simoneau and Heinz Rehfuss, and conducted by Pierre-Michel Le Conte, which was issued in 1958 by Epic in stereo in the USA and by Concert Hall in Europe, and reissued on CD in 2008. She also recorded the title role of Zaide under Leibowitz in Paris in 1952, and excerpts from Rigoletto alongside Rolando Panerai.

In 1954, the King and Queen of Sweden awarded Dobbs the Order of the North Star.
In 1979, Dobbs received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Spelman College.
In 1980, the Library of Congress held an exhibition on her life.
In 1983, Dobbs received the James Weldon Johnson Award in Fine Arts from the Atlanta National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Martin Luther King, Sr. wanted his son Martin Luther King, Jr. to marry Dobbs, as her father was an active civil rights activist and a friend of his.
Dobbs was married twice. Her first husband, Spaniard Luis Rodriguez, died of a liver ailment in June 1954, fourteen months after their wedding. In late 1957 she married Bengt Janzon, a Swedish newspaperman and public relations executive. Janzon died in 1997. Dobbs was the aunt of the first black Mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson and sang at his inauguration in January 1978.Dobbs died from cancer on December 8, 2015 at her home in Atlanta at the age of 90. Research more about this great American abd share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 7, 1961- The Selma To Montgomery March

GM – FBF – “How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.: – 
Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.

Remember – ” Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom.” – Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.

Today in our History – March 7, 1961 – The Selma to Montgomery march was part of a series of civil-rights protests that occurred in 1965 in Alabama, a Southern state with deeply entrenched racist policies. In March of that year, in an effort to register black voters in the South, protesters marching the 54-mile route from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery were confronted with deadly violence from local authorities and white vigilante groups. As the world watched, the protesters—under the protection of federalized National Guard troops—finally achieved their goal, walking around the clock for three days to reach Montgomery. The historic march, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s participation in it, raised awareness of the difficulties faced by black voters, and the need for a national Voting Rights Act.


Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in voting on the basis of race, efforts by civil rights organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to register black voters met with fierce resistance in southern states such as Alabama.

In early 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC decided to make Selma, located in Dallas County, Alabama, the focus of a black voter registration campaign. King had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and his profile would help draw international attention to the events that followed.

Alabama Governor George Wallace was a notorious opponent of desegregation, and the local county sheriff in Dallas County had led a steadfast opposition to black voter registration drives.

As a result, only 2 percent of Selma’s eligible black voters (about 300 out of 15,000) had managed to register to vote.
EDMUND PETTIS BRIDGE. On February 18, white segregationists attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators in the town of Marion, Alabama. In the ensuing chaos, an Alabama state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African-American demonstrator.

In response to Jackson’s death, King and the SCLC planned a massive protest march from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery, 54 miles away. A group of 600 people, including activists John Lewis and Hosea Williams, set out from Selma on Sunday, March 7.

The marchers didn’t get far before Alabama state troopers wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas rushed the group at the Edmund Pettis Bridge and beat them back to Selma. The brutal scene was captured on television, enraging many Americans and drawing civil rights and religious leaders of all faiths to Selma in protest.

Hundreds of ministers, priests, rabbis and social activists soon headed to Selma to join the voting rights march.


On March 9, King led more than 2,000 marchers, black and white, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge but found Highway 80 blocked again by state troopers. King paused the marchers and led them in prayer, whereupon the troopers stepped aside.

King then turned the protesters around, believing that the troopers were trying to create an opportunity that would allow them to enforce a federal injunction prohibiting the march. This decision led to criticism from some marchers, who called King cowardly.

That night, a group of segregationists attacked another protester, the young white minister James Reeb, beating him to death. Alabama state officials (led by Wallace) tried to prevent the march from going forward, but a U.S. district court judge ordered them to permit it.


Six days later, on March 15, President Lyndon B. Johnson went on national television to pledge his support to the Selma protesters and to call for the passage of a new voting rights bill that he was introducing in Congress.

“There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem,” Johnson said, “…Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negros, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”

Some 2,000 people set out from Selma on March 21, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that Johnson had ordered under federal control. After walking some 12 hours a day and sleeping in fields along the way, they reached Montgomery on March 25.

Nearly 50,000 supporters—black and white—met the marchers in Montgomery, where they gathered in front of the state capitol to hear King and other speakers including Ralph Bunche (winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize) address the crowd.

“No tide of racism can stop us,” King proclaimed from the building’s steps, as viewers from around the world watched the historic moment on television.


On March 17, 1965, even as the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers fought for the right to carry out their protest, President Lyndon Johnson addressed a joint session of Congress, calling for federal voting rights legislation to protect African Americans from barriers that prevented them from voting.

That August, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed the right to vote (first awarded by the 15th Amendment) to all African Americans. Specifically, the act banned literacy tests as a requirement for voting, mandated federal oversight of voter registration in areas where tests had previously been used, and gave the U.S. attorney general the duty of challenging the use of poll taxes for state and local elections.

Along with the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act was one of the most expansive pieces of civil rights legislation in American history. It greatly reduced the disparity between black and white voters in the U.S. and allowed greater numbers of African Americans to participate in politics and government at the local, state and national level. Events like this reminds us of how Important It is to have strong women. Bless of our Mothers, Sisters, Aunts and Daughters who took a moment and converted it to MOVEMENT, make ita champion day!

March 6, 1972-Zoe Dusanne

GM- FBF – Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. – Zoë Dusanne

Remember – “The NAACP in Seatle needs a new vision and I want to help them travel down that road with all of the recources that I can gather” – Zoe Dusanne

Today in our History – March 6, 1972 – the Seattle Art Museum honored Zoë Dusanne with an exhibition of contemporary art.

Described by those who knew her as exotic, flamboyant, and colorful, Zoë Dusanne, was an art dealer and collector who opened Seattle’s first professional modern-art gallery, the Zoë Dusanne Gallery, in 1950 and who worked tirelessly to both introduce modern art to a northwest audience and to promote northwest art and artists to a larger international art community.

Dusanne was born Zola Graves on March 24, 1884 in Kansas to Letitia Denny and John Henry Graves, a stonemason. Although she was self-taught with respect to modern art, her artistic bent was nourished early in life by her parents. When the Graves family lived in Iowa at the turn of the 20th century, for example, Letitia took the young Zoë on summer trips to Chicago to attend the theater and to visit the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1903 Zoë spent one year at Oberlin College followed by a semester at the University of Illinois, Urbana. It was during this time that Zoë met her first husband, George Young, whom she married in 1904. The union produced Zoë’s only child, Theodosia, in 1909. By 1912 Zoë was separated and decided to follow her parents to Seattle. A divorce from George followed after her arrival in Seattle. Zoë’s second marriage, in 1919 to Dr. Frederick Boston, lasted only a few years.

In 1928 Zoë and then teenaged Theodosia left Seattle for New York. Sometime during her residence in New York, Zoë began using the last name Dusanne. While living in Greenwich Village, Zoë’s passion for collecting modern art began in earnest. At the height of the Great Depression Zoë found that artists were the first to feel the impact of hard times, and often sold their works at a fraction of their earlier value. Little by little during these years Zoë amassed a collection of modern art which she brought back to Seattle in 1942.

In 1947 at age 63, Zoë built a home overlooking Seattle’s Lake Union that was specifically designed to double as an art gallery, and on November 12, 1950, Dusanne opened her collection to the public. From the mid-1940s until the late-1950s, Zoë was a force to be reckoned with as she worked to introduce modern art to a Pacific Northwest audience and to promote northwest art internationally. She sold and donated her own works to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), and facilitated the donation of many others. She lent works to the Henry Art Gallery and to SAM for exhibition. At Zoë’s urging, Life magazine featured the four artists who would later became known as the “mystical” painters of the “Northwest School”—Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, Guy Anderson, and Morris Graves—in its September 28, 1953 issue. The Life magazine article propelled the “Northwest School” to national prominence. Zoë also traveled to Europe persuading Peggy Guggenheim to donate a Jackson Pollock to SAM.

Despite her influence within the greater Seattle community, Dusanne could not stop the 1958 demolition of her home and gallery necessitated by the building of the Seattle Freeway. In 1959 she reopened in a new location but was unable to recapture the luster and glory of her original gallery. In 1964 she closed the gallery permanently spending the remaining few years of her life with her daughter. In 1977, five years after her death on March 6, 1972, the Seattle Art Museum honored Zoë Dusanne with an exhibition of contemporary art that included works by many of the artists whom Zoë had promoted. It was a fitting way to honor a woman whose influence on culture in Seattle was considerable. Research more About this great woman and share with your bibies. Make it a champion day!

March 5, 1985- Mary McLeod Bethune

GM – FBF – “The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood.” – Mary McLeod Bethune

Remember – “Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.” – Mary McLeod Bethune

Today in our History – March 5, 1985 – Mary McLeod Bethune is Honored With Her Image on a U.S. Postage Stamp.

Mary Jane McLeod Bethune (born Mary Jane McLeod; July 10, 1875 – May 18, 1955) was an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian and civil rights activist best known for starting a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida. She attracted donations of time and money, and developed the academic school as a college. It later continued to develop as Bethune-Cookman University. She also was appointed as a national adviser to president Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of what was known as his Black Cabinet. She was known as “The First Lady of The Struggle” because of her commitment to gain better lives for African Americans.

Born in Mayesville, South Carolina, to parents who had been slaves, she started working in fields with her family at age five. She took an early interest in becoming educated; with the help of benefactors, Bethune attended college hoping to become a missionary in Africa. She started a school for African-American girls in Daytona Beach, Florida. It later merged with a private institute for African-American boys, and was known as the Bethune-Cookman School. Bethune maintained high standards and promoted the school with tourists and donors, to demonstrate what educated African Americans could do. She was president of the college from 1923 to 1942, and 1946 to 1947. She was one of the few women in the world to serve as a college president at that time.

Bethune was also active in women’s clubs, which were strong civic organizations supporting welfare and other needs, and became a national leader. After working on the presidential campaign for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, she was invited as a member of his Black Cabinet. She advised him on concerns of black people and helped share Roosevelt’s message and achievements with blacks, who had historically been Republican voters since the Civil War. At the time, blacks had been largely disenfranchised in the South since the turn of the century, so she was speaking to black voters across the North. Upon her death, columnist Louis E. Martin said, “She gave out faith and hope as if they were pills and she some sort of doctor.”

Honors include designation of her home in Daytona Beach as a National Historic Landmark,[3] her house in Washington, D.C. as a National Historic Site,[4] and the installation of a memorial sculpture of her in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. The Legislature of Florida is expected to designate her in 2018 as the subject of one of Florida’s two statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Research motr about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 4, 1961- The Original 13 Freedom Fighters

GM – FBF – I had a client in Anniston, Alabama for four (4) years. Every visit I always asked where is the monument for the freedom riders who’s bus was set ablaze? I asked hotel workers, local business owners, schools principls, etc. that was 2011 through 2015. I am happy to announce that on January 12, 2017, The Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama opened. Enjoy!

Remember – “Traveling in the segregated South for black people was humiliating. The very fact that there were separate facilities was to say to black people and white people that blacks were so subhuman and so inferior that we could not even use public facilities that white people used.” ~ Diane Nash, Freedom Rides Organizer

Today in our History – May 4, 1961 – The original group of 13 Freedom Riders—seven African Americans and six whites—left Washington, D.C., on a Greyhound bus on May 4, 1961.

Freedom Riders were groups of white and African American civil rights activists who participated in Freedom Rides, bus trips through the American South in 1961 to protest segregated bus terminals. Freedom Riders tried to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters at bus stations in Alabama, South Carolina and other Southern states. The groups were confronted by arresting police officers—as well as horrific violence from white protestors—along their routes, but also drew international attention to their cause.
The 1961 Freedom Rides, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), were modeled after the organization’s 1947 Journey of Reconciliation. During the 1947 action, African-American and white bus riders tested the 1946 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Morgan v. Virginia that found segregated bus seating was unconstitutional.

The 1961 Freedom Rides sought to test a 1960 decision by the Supreme Court in Boynton v. Virginia that segregation of interstate transportation facilities, including bus terminals, was unconstitutional as well. A big difference between the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation and the 1961 Freedom Rides was the inclusion of women in the later initiative.

In both actions, black riders traveled to the American South—where segregation continued to occur—and attempted to use whites-only restrooms, lunch counters and waiting rooms.

The original group of 13 Freedom Riders—seven African Americans and six whites—left Washington, D.C., on a Greyhound bus on May 4, 1961. Their plan was to reach New Orleans, Louisiana, on May 17 to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ruled that segregation of the nation’s public schools was unconstitutional.

The group traveled through Virginia and North Carolina, drawing little public notice. The first violent incident occurred on May 12 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. John Lewis, an African-American seminary student and member of the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), white Freedom Rider and World War II veteran Albert Bigelow, and another African-American rider were viciously attacked as they attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area.

The next day, the group reached Atlanta, Georgia, where some of the riders split off onto a Trailways bus.

John Lewis, one of the original group of 13 Freedom Riders, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1986. Lewis, a Democrat, has continued to represent Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Atlanta, into the early part of the 21st century.

On May 14, 1961, the Greyhound bus was the first to arrive in Anniston, Alabama. There, an angry mob of about 200 white people surrounded the bus, causing the driver to continue past the bus station.

The mob followed the bus in automobiles, and when the tires on the bus blew out, someone threw a bomb into the bus. The Freedom Riders escaped the bus as it burst into flames, only to be brutally beaten by members of the surrounding mob.

The second bus, a Trailways vehicle, traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, and those riders were also beaten by an angry white mob, many of whom brandished metal pipes. Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor stated that, although he knew the Freedom Riders were arriving and violence awaited them, he posted no police protection at the station because it was Mother’s Day.

Photographs of the burning Greyhound bus and the bloodied riders appeared on the front pages of newspapers throughout the country and around the world the next day, drawing international attention to the Freedom Riders’ cause and the state of race relations in the United States.

Following the widespread violence, CORE officials could not find a bus driver who would agree to transport the integrated group, and they decided to abandon the Freedom Rides. However, Diane Nash, an activist from the SNCC, organized a group of 10 students from Nashville, Tennessee, to continue the rides.

U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy, began negotiating with Governor John Patterson of Alabama and the bus companies to secure a driver and state protection for the new group of Freedom Riders. The rides finally resumed, on a Greyhound bus departing Birmingham under police escort, on May 20.

The violence toward the Freedom Riders was not quelled—rather, the police abandoned the Greyhound bus just before it arrived at the Montgomery, Alabama, terminal, where a white mob attacked the riders with baseball bats and clubs as they disembarked. Attorney General Kennedy sent 600 federal marshals to the city to stop the violence.

The following night, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. led a service at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, which was attended by more than one thousand supporters of the Freedom Riders. A riot ensued outside the church, and King called Robert Kennedy to ask for protection.

Kennedy summoned the federal marshals, who used teargas to disperse the white mob. Patterson declared martial law in the city and dispatched the National Guard to restore order.

On May 24, 1961, a group of Freedom Riders departed Montgomery for Jackson, Mississippi. There, several hundred supporters greeted the riders. However, those who attempted to use the whites-only facilities were arrested for trespassing and taken to the maximum-security penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi.

During their hearings, the judge turned and looked at the wall rather than listen to the Freedom Riders’ defense—as had been the case when sit-in participants were arrested for protesting segregated lunch counters in Tennessee. He sentenced the riders to 30 days in jail.

Attorneys from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights organization, appealed the convictions all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed them.

The violence and arrests continued to garner national and international attention, and drew hundreds of new Freedom Riders to the cause.

The rides continued over the next several months, and in the fall of 1961, under pressure from the Kennedy administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations prohibiting segregation in interstate transit terminals. Research more about the summer of ’61 in the south and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!