Month: April 2018

April 18, 1966- Bill Russell

GM – FBF – “Success is a result of consistent practice of winning skills and actions. There is nothing miraculous about the process. There is no luck involved.” – Bill Russell

Remember – “I hope I epitomize the American dream. For I came against long odds, from the ghetto to the very top of my profession. I was not immediately good at basketball. It did not come easy. It came as the result of a lot of hard work and self-sacrifice. The rewards, where they worth it? One thousand times over.” – Bill Russell

Today in our History – April 18,1966 – Bill Russell is announced to the press as coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team and became the first Black to coach an established team in professional athletics.

William Felton Russell (born February 12, 1934) is an American retired professional basketball player. Russell played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty, winning eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Russell ties the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league (with Henri Richard of the National Hockey League). Before his professional career, Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, and he captained the gold-medal winning U.S. national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics.

Russell is widely considered as one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history. He was 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) tall, with a 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) wingspan. His shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics’ domination of the NBA during his career. He also inspired his teammates to elevate their own defensive play. Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. He is one of just two NBA players (the other being prominent rival Wilt Chamberlain) to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. Russell was never the focal point of the Celtics’ offense, but he did score 14,522 career points and provided effective passing.

Russell played in the wake of pioneers like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Sweetwater Clifton, and he was the first African American player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. He also served a three-season (1966–69) stint as player-coach for the Celtics, becoming the first African-American coach in North American pro sports and the first to win a world championship. In 2011, Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments on the court and in the Civil Rights Movement.

Russell is one of seven players in history to win an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship, and an Olympic gold medal. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, and named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players to receive all three honors. In 2007, he was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame. In Russell’s honor the NBA renamed the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy in 2009: it is now the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. Many talk about who is the GOAT in Professional Basketball but to be a player – coach and win an NBA Championship, no one after Bill has done that. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 17, 1823- Miffin Wibstar Gibbs

GM – FBF- ” Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Mifflin Wister Gibbs

Remember – “Thank God for Canada! In the context of this narrative [in Underground] and beyond, Canada was certainly an additional option for the many traveling the treacherous terrain of the Underground Railroad in pursuit of what was perceived as “freedom.” – Mifflin Wister Gibbs

Today in our History –

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 17, 1823, Mifflin Wistar Gibbs apprenticed as a carpenter. By his early 20s he was an activist in the abolition movement, sharing platforms with Frederick Douglass and helping in the Underground Railroad. Black intellectual ferment of the era gave him a superb education outside the classroom, and he became a powerful writer. In 1850 he migrated to San Francisco, California; starting as a bootblack, he was soon a successful merchant, the founder of a black newspaper, Mirror of the Times, and a leading member of the city’s black community.

In 1858 Gibbs moved to Victoria in what is now British Columbia, part of a mass migration of black men and women seeking equality under the British flag. Again he prospered, first as a merchant, then as a property developer, contractor, and elected politician. In 1866 Gibbs was elected to the Victoria (BC) City Council becoming the second black elected official in Canada and only the third elected anywhere on the North American continent.

Gibbs briefly returned to the US in 1859 to court and marry Maria Alexander, who had studied at Oberlin College. In developing a coal mine in the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1869-70, he built British Columbia’s first railroad. A tireless advocate for the black community, he helped to organize the colony’s first militia, an all-black unit known as the African Rifles. As an elected delegate to the Yale Convention, he also helped to frame the terms by which British Columbia entered the Canadian confederation.

Mifflin and Maria Gibbs separated in the late 1860s. Returning to the United States in 1870, Gibbs studied law in Oberlin, Ohio (where his wife Maria had settled, and where four of their five children graduated from Oberlin College). He toured the Reconstruction South and settled in Little Rock, Arkansas, soon becoming the first black elected municipal judge in the United States. His long and sometimes dangerous efforts on behalf of the Republican Party earned him an ambiguous reward: at the age of 74, Republican President William McKinley in 1897 named Gibbs U.S. consul in Tamatave, Madagascar. After four years Gibbs resigned in 1901 at 78 for health reasons. He returned to publish an autobiography, Shadow and Light, in 1902, with an introduction by Booker T. Washington.

Back in Little Rock, Gibbs launched Capital Citiy Savings Bank, became a partner in the Little Rock Electric Light Company, gained control of several pieces of local real estate, and supported various philanthropic causes. He died in Little Rock on July 11, 1915 at the age of 92. Research more about blacks moving to Canada and share with your babies. Make it a champion day! I won’t be able to respond to any posts today – Speaking at Apalachee High School – Winder, GA. – Thanks for all of your support with the daily History Lessons, I thank You and make it a champion day!

April 16, 1908- Allen Allensworth

GM – FBF – “Create sentiment favorable to intellectual and industrial liberty” – Allen Allensworth

Remember – “Can I be of any service to your committee as a speaker driving the campaign?” – Allen Allensworth

Today in our History – April 16, 1908 – All Black Town Is Created!

Allen Allensworth (7 April 1842 – 14 September 1914), born into slavery in Kentucky, escaped during the American Civil War and became a Union soldier; later he became a Baptist minister and educator, and was appointed as a chaplain in the United States Army. He was the first African American to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel. He planted numerous churches, and in 1908 founded Allensworth, California, the only town in the state to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans.

After the army, Allensworth and his family settled in Los Angeles. He was inspired by the idea of establishing a self-sufficient, all-black California community where African Americans could live free of the racial discrimination that pervaded post-Reconstruction America. His dream was to build a community where black people might live and create “sentiment favorable to intellectual and industrial liberty.”

In 1908, he founded Allensworth in Tulare county, about thirty miles north of Bakersfield, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. The black settlers of Allensworth built homes, laid out streets, and put up public buildings. They established a church, and organized an orchestra, a glee club, and a brass band.

The Allensworth colony became a member of the county school district and the regional library system and a voting precinct. Residents elected the first African-American Justice of the Peace in post-Mexican California. In 1914, the California Eagle reported that the Allensworth community consisted of 900 acres (360 ha) of deeded land worth more than US$112,500.

Allensworth soon developed as a town, not just a colony. Among the social and educational organizations that flourished during its golden age were the Campfire Girls, the Owl Club, the Girls’ Glee Club, and the Children’s Savings Association, for the town’s younger residents, while adults participated in the Sewing Circle, the Whist Club, the Debating Society, and the Theater Club. Col. Allensworth was an admirer of the African-American educator Booker T. Washington, who was the founding president and longtime leader of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Allensworth dreamed that his new community could be self-sufficient and become known as the “Tuskegee of the West”.

The Girls’ Glee Club was modeled after the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, who had toured internationally. They were the community’s pride and joy. All the streets in the town were named after notable African Americans and/or white abolitionists, such as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The dry and dusty soil made farming difficult. The drinking water became contaminated by arsenic as the water level fell.

The year 1914 also brought a number of setbacks to the town. First, much of the town’s economic base was lost when the Santa Fe Railroad moved its rail stop from Allensworth to Alpaugh. In September, during a trip to Monrovia, California, Colonel Allensworth was crossing the street when he was struck and killed by a motorcycle. The town refuses to die. The downtown area is now preserved as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park where thousands of visitors come from all over California to take part in the special events held at the park during the year. The area outside the state park is also still inhabited.

Allensworth is the only California community to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. The founders were dedicated to improving the economic and social status of African Americans. Uncontrollable circumstances, including a drop in the area’s water table, resulted in the town’s decline. Research more about Black towns in America and Share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 14, 1912- Joseph Phillipe Lenmercier Laroche

GM – FBF – “There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers.”-Phillip Franklin, White Star Line Vice-President

Remember – “We the members of the NAACP would like to note that Joseph Phillipe Lemercier Laroche, the only negro (Haitian) who died on the sinking of the great ship R.M.S. Titanic for he will be forgotten or just a footnote in history” – W.E.B. Du Bois

Today in our History – April 14, 1912 – Titanic’s Black Passenger: Creating Historical Fiction From Historical Fact –

Joseph Phillipe Lemercier Laroche, the only passenger of known African ancestry who died on the Titanic, was born on May 26, 1889 in Cap Haiten, Haiti. He was the son of a white French army captain and a Haitian woman who was a descendant of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the first ruler of independent Haiti. Laroche’s uncle, Dessalines M. Cincinnatus, was president of Haiti from 1911 to 1912.
Joseph Laroche grew up among the privileged upper class in Haiti and received his early education from private tutors. Fluent in French and English, he decided on a career in engineering and at the age of 15 traveled to Beauvais, France with his teacher Monsignor Kersuzan, the Lord Bishop of Haiti, for his training. He attended classes in Beauvais and Lille, France, and received his certificate in engineering in 1907.

Laroche married Juliette Marie Louise Lafargue, the daughter of a widowed Paris wine merchant in 1908. They had two daughters, Simonne, born on February 19, 1909, and Marie Louise, on July 2, 1910. Although Laroche worked briefly on the Paris Metro line, he had great difficulty finding and keeping a job in France due to racial discrimination. As a consequence the new family was forced to reside with Juliette’s father. Their youngest child, Marie Louise, had medical problems which also strained the family’s finances and by 1912 they were expecting a third child. This situation led Laroche to decide to return to Haiti where he believed his family’s political connections would guarantee a handsome income for his work.

Laroche’s mother sent the family tickets to return to Haiti aboard the La France. However, the ocean liner’s policy banning children dining with their parents in the dining room led Laroche to exchange their first class tickets for the La France for second class tickets on the R.M.S. Titanic.

On April 10, 1912, Laroche and his family boarded the Titanic from the harbor of Grande Rade near Fort de l’Quest. The Laroches enjoyed the opulent amenities of the ship, dining in the same dining room as its first-class passengers. However, they were subjected to stares and some insults from fellow passengers and crew who frowned upon their interracial marriage. After the sinking of the Titanic, the White Star Line extended a public apology for the racism exhibited by its crew members toward its non-white passengers including Laroche.

As the ship sank in the early morning of April 14, Laroche stuffed the pockets of his coat with money and jewels and took his wife and children up to the boat deck. He wrapped the coat around his wife, and his last words to her were: “Here, take this, you are going to need it. I’ll get another boat. God be with you. I’ll see you in New York.”

Joseph Laroche died in the sinking of the Titanic. His body was never recovered. His wife Juliette returned to Paris with her daughters and gave birth to their son, Joseph Lemercier Laroche on December 17, 1912.

Now you know the rest of the story and not the movie, share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 13, 1997- Eldrick Tiger Woods

GM – FBF – My dad was my best friend and greatest role model. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. – Eldrick Tiger Woods

Remember – “You can win all the tournaments you want, but the majors are what you’re remembered for. It’s how you’re measured as a champion in our sport. The majors are where it’s at.” – Tiger Woods

Today in our History – April 13, 1997 – Eldrick Tiger Woods wins the 61st Masters Tournament in Augustus,Georgia.

Eldrick Tont Woods (born December 30, 1975) better known as Tiger Woods, is an American professional golfer who is among the most successful golfers of all time. He has been one of the highest-paid athletes in the world for several years.

Following an outstanding junior, college, and amateur career, Woods was 20 years old when he turned professional at the end of summer in 1996. By the end of April 1997, he had won three PGA Tour events in addition to his first major, the 1997 Masters. Woods won this tournament by 12 strokes in a record-breaking performance and earned $486,000. He first reached the number one position in the world rankings in June 1997, less than a year after turning pro. Throughout the 2000s, Woods was the dominant force in golf—he won the 2000 U.S. Open by a record 15-shot margin. He was the top-ranked golfer in the world from August 1999 to September 2004 (264 weeks) and again from June 2005 to October 2010 (281 weeks).

Woods took a hiatus from professional golf from December 2009 to early April 2010 in order to focus on difficult issues in his marriage. He and his estranged wife Elin eventually divorced. His many alleged extramarital indiscretions were revealed by several women, through many worldwide media sources. This was followed by a loss of golf form, and his ranking gradually fell to a low of No. 58 in November 2011. He ended a career-high winless streak of 107 weeks when he triumphed in the Chevron World Challenge in December 2011. After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 25, 2013, he ascended to the No.1 ranking once again, holding the top spot until May 2014.

Woods had back surgery in April 2014 and September 2015] and has struggled since to regain his dominant form. By March 29, 2015, Woods had fallen to #104, outside of the top 100 for the first time since 1996.[12] In May 2016, Woods dropped out of the world top 500 for the first time in his professional career. In July 2017, the Official World Golf Ranking placed Woods at number 1,005, the worst of his career and only time he has ever been out of the top 1,000. He had ranked number one for a total of 683 weeks, more than any other player in history.

Woods has broken numerous golf records. He has been World Number One for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks of any golfer. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record eleven times, the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times, and has the record of leading the money list in ten different seasons. He has won 14 professional major golf championships, where he trails only Jack Nicklaus who leads with 18, and 79 PGA Tour events, second all-time behind Sam Snead (82). Woods leads all active golfers in career major wins and career PGA Tour wins. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam, and the youngest and fastest to win 50 tournaments on tour. Additionally, Woods is only the second golfer (after Nicklaus) to have achieved a career Grand Slam three times. Woods has won 18 World Golf Championships, and won at least one of those events in each of the first 11 years after they began in 1999. Woods and Rory McIlroy are the only golfers to win both The Silver Medal and The Gold Medal at The Open Championship. Tiger Woods is still competing today as a come back this year he has finished stong enough to play on Sunday’s in his last three events. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 12, 1882- Jimmy Winkfield

GM – FBF – The race of kings was controled by Black Men for 4 decades in our history and here is one of the best.

Remember – That went super today. I was a little nervous coming out of the gate – they all came together at one point –but he came out of there in good shape, sat second, and pulled the trigger when Irad asked him. The [1:09.75] was quick today. He did everything right. I think we’re going to stay with the one turn for a while, but that’s up to Rick and the owners. He’s running great sprinting.” – Jimmy Winkfield

Today in our History – Jimmy Winkfield, born on April 12,1882, became famous as an early 20th Century horse jockey. Winkfield, the youngest of 17 children, was born in Chilesburg, Kentucky, a town just outside of Lexington. As a child, he had a routine that included performing chores on the farm where his father was a sharecropper and overseeing the thoroughbred parades down the country roads. He and his family moved to Cincinnati in 1894.

On August 10, 1898, Winkfield rode his first race. Aboard Jockey Joe at Chicago’s Hawthorne Racetrack, he raced his horse out of the gate and rode across the path of the three inside horses, in an effort to get to the rail. This aggressive behavior did not go over well with racetrack officials and he earned a one year suspension. Winkfield learned from his mistake and on September 18, 1899, won his first race. Six months later he rode for the first time in the Kentucky Derby.

In 1901, at 19, Winkfield captured his first Kentucky Derby title astride a horse named Eminence. He went on to win 161 races that year, including key victories in the Latonia Derby on Hernando and Tennessee Derby where he rode Royal Victor. While these were spectacular accomplishments, he returned to the Kentucky Derby in 1902 and won again in the most important race of his career.

In 1903, Winkfield narrowly missed winning a third consecutive Derby. Had he accomplished this feat, he would be the first (and only person) to have ever done so. Riding a thoroughbred named Early, the odds-on favorite, Winkfield, took a 1 1/2-length lead but his mount slowed in the stretch and lost by three-quarters of a length. Winkfield called the loss the worst of his career.

Blacklisted after he dishonored a contract with one horse owner by riding for another, Winkfield accepted an offer to race in Russia, where he rose to fame once again. In Russia he won the Emperor’s Purse, the Moscow Derby twice and the Russian Derby three times. In Germany, Winkfield won the Grand Prix de Baden. In Poland, he won the Poland Derby twice and in France he won the Prix du President de la Republique.

Winkfield continued to race throughout Europe while living in Moscow. When the Communist Party came to power in Russia in 1919, horse racing was outlawed. Winkfield, now a trainer, led 260 horses, fellow trainers and owners overland to Poland during the winter of 1920. During this arduous journey the group survived by eating some of their horses on the way.

Winkfield married twice. His first wife, Alexandra, was a Russian baroness who died in 1921.They bore a son, George who died in 1934. His second marriage was to a French woman named Lydia who died in 1958. This marriage also produced a son, Robert, who died in 1977 and a daughter, Liliane Casey, who currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Jimmy Winkfield died on March 23, 1974 in Maisons-Laffitte, France. His family and supporters lobbied for his admission to the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame, so he could join two other African-American jockeys who had already been honored there. On August 9, 2004, Winkfield was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. The award was presented to his daughter Liliane Winkfield Casey by Edward Hotaling, President of the Museum. Research more about the Black Horse Jockeys and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 11, 1972- Elizabeth Cotton

GM – FBF – “What most of us can only strive for—a rich musical heritage and the ability to express that heritage beautifully through my playing.” – Elizabeth Cotten

Remember – “I was just glad to get the Grammy. I didn’t know what the thing was. It’s the honor what I loved.” – Elizabeth Cotten

Today in our History – April 11, 1972 – Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten wins the National Folk 1972 Burl Ives Award for her contribution to American folk music.

Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten (1895-1987), best known for her timeless song “Freight Train,” built her musical legacy on a firm foundation of late 19th- and early 20th-century African-American instrumental traditions. Through her songwriting, her quietly commanding personality, and her unique left-handed guitar and banjo styles, she inspired and influenced generations of younger artists. In 1984 Cotten was declared a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts and was later recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as a “living treasure.” She received a Grammy Award in 1985 when she was ninety, almost eighty years after she first began composing her own works.

Born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Libba Cotten taught herself how to play the banjo and guitar at an early age. Although forbidden to do so, she often borrowed her brother’s instruments when he was away, reversing the banjo and guitar to make them easier to play left-handed. Eventually she saved up the $3.75 required to purchase a Stella guitar from a local dry-goods store. Cotten immediately began to develop a unique guitar style characterized by simple figures played on the bass strings in counterpoint to a melody played on the treble strings, a method that later became widely known as “Cotten style.” She fretted the strings with her right hand and picked with her left, the reverse of the usual method. Moreover, she picked the bass strings with her fingers and the treble (melody strings) with her thumb, creating an almost inimitable sound.

Libba married Frank Cotten when she was 15 (not a particularly early age in that era) and had one child, Lily. As Libba became immersed in family life, she spent more time at church, where she was counseled to give up her “worldly” guitar music. It wasn’t until many years later that Cotten, due largely to a fortunate chance encounter, was able to build her immense talent into a professional music career. While working at a department store in Washington, D.C., Libba found and returned a very young and lost Peggy Seeger to her mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger. A month later, Cotten began work in the household of the famous folk-singing Seeger family.

The Seeger home was an amazing place for Libba to have landed entirely by accident. Ruth Crawford Seeger was a noted composer and music teacher while her husband, Charles, pioneered the field of ethnomusicology. A few years passed before Peggy discovered Cotten playing the family’s gut-stringed guitar. Libba apologized for playing the instrument without asking, but Peggy was astonished by what she heard. Eventually the Seegers came to know Libba’s instrumental virtuosity and the wealth of her repertoire.

Thanks largely to Mike Seeger’s early recordings of her work, Elizabeth Cotten soon found herself giving small concerts in the homes of congressmen and senators, including that of John F. Kennedy. By 1958, at the age of sixty-two, Libba had recorded her first album, Elizabeth Cotten: Negro Folk Songs and Tunes (Folkways 1957, now reissued as Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs, Smithsonian Folkways 1989). Meticulously recorded by Mike Seeger, this was one of the few authentic folk-music albums available by the early 1960s, and certainly one of the most influential. In addition to the now well-recorded tune “Freight Train,” penned by Cotten when she was only eleven or twelve, the album provided accessible examples of some of the “open” tunings used in American folk guitar. She played two distinct styles on the banjo and four on the guitar, including her single-string melody picking “Freight Train” style, an adaptation of Southeastern country ragtime picking.

As her music became a staple of the folk revival of the 1960s, Elizabeth Cotten began to tour throughout North America. Among her performances were the Newport Folk Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the University of Chicago Folk Festival, and the Smithsonian Festival. Her career generated much media attention and many awards, including the National Folk 1972 Burl Ives Award for her contribution to American folk music. The city of Syracuse, New York, where she spent the last years of her life, honored her in 1983 by naming a small park in her honor: the Elizabeth Cotten Grove. An equally important honor was her inclusion in the book I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, by Brian Lanker, which put her in the company of Rosa Parks, Marian Anderson, and Oprah Winfrey.

Cotten’s later CDs, Shake Sugaree (Folkways, 1967), When I’m Gone (Folkways, 1979), and Elizabeth Cotten Live (Arhoolie 1089), continued to win critical acclaim. Elizabeth Cotten Live was awarded a Grammy for the Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1985.

Elizabeth Cotten continued to tour and perform right up to the end of her life. Her last concert was one that folk legend Odetta put together for her in New York City in the spring of 1987, shortly before her death. Cotten’s legacy lives on not only in her own recordings but also in the many artists who continue to play her work. The Grateful Dead produced several renditions of “Oh, Babe, It Ain’t No Lie,” Bob Dylan covered the ever-popular “Shake Sugaree,” and “Freight Train” continues as a well-loved and recorded tune played by Mike Seeger, Taj Mahal, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, to name a few. Libba’s recordings, concert tours, media acclaim, and major awards are a testament to her genius, but the true measure of her legacy lies with the tens of thousands of guitarists who cherish her songs as a favorite part of their repertoires, preserving and keeping alive her unique musical style. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 10, 1941- Oprah Winfrey

GM – FBF – Please read this great story that became of move with the help of Oprah Winfrey and HBO. A good read.

Remember – Like most young Lackses, Day didn’t finish school: he stopped in the fourth grade because the family needed him to work the fields. But Henrietta stayed until the sixth grade. During the school year, after taking care of the garden and livestock every morning, she’d walk two miles—past the white school where children threw rocks and taunted her—to the colored school, a three-room wooden farmhouse hidden under tall shade trees –

Today in our History – April 10, 1941 – Henrientta Lacks marries her couson.

Henrietta Lacks is best known as the source of cells that form the HeLa line, used extensively in medical research since the 1950s.

Henrietta Lacks was born in 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia. Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951.

Cells taken from her body without her knowledge were used to form the HeLa cell line, which has been used extensively in medical research since that time.

Lacks’s case has sparked legal and ethical debates over the rights of an individual to his or her genetic material and tissue.

Henrietta Lacks was born Loretta Pleasant on August 1, 1920, in Roanoke, Virginia. At some point, she changed her name to Henrietta.

After the death of her mother in 1924, Henrietta was sent to live with her grandfather in a log cabin that had been the slave quarters of a white ancestor’s plantation. Henrietta Lacks shared a room with her first cousin, David “Day” Lacks.

In 1935, the cousins had a son they called Lawrence. Henrietta was 14. The couple had a daughter, Elsie, in 1939, and married in 1941.

Henrietta and David moved to Maryland at the urging of another cousin, Fred Garret. There, they had three more children: David Jr., Deborah and Joseph. They placed their daughter Elsie, who was developmentally disabled, in the Hospital for the Negro Insane.

On January 29, 1951, Lacks went to Johns Hopkins Hospital to diagnose abnormal pain and bleeding in her abdomen. Physician Howard Jones quickly diagnosed her with cervical cancer.

During her subsequent radiation treatments, doctors removed two cervical samples from Lacks without her knowledge. She died at Johns Hopkins on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31.

The cells from Lacks’s tumor made their way to the laboratory of researcher Dr. George Otto Gey. Gey noticed an unusual quality in the cells. Unlike most cells, which survived only a few days, Lacks’s cells were far more durable.

Gey isolated and multiplied a specific cell, creating a cell line. He dubbed the resulting sample HeLa, derived from the name Henrietta Lacks.

The HeLa strain revolutionized medical research. Jonas Salk used the HeLa strain to develop the polio vaccine, sparking mass interest in the cells. As demand grew, scientists cloned the cells in 1955.

Since that time, over ten thousand patents involving HeLa cells have been registered. Researchers have used the cells to study disease and to test human sensitivity to new products and substances.

In February 2010, Johns Hopkins released the following statement concerning the cervical samples that were taken from Lacks without her consent:

“Johns Hopkins Medicine sincerely acknowledges the contribution to advances in biomedical research made possible by Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells. It’s important to note that at the time the cells were taken from Mrs. Lacks’ tissue, the practice of obtaining informed consent from cell or tissue donors was essentially unknown among academic medical centers. Sixty years ago, there was no established practice of seeking permission to take tissue for scientific research purposes. The laboratory that received Mrs. Lacks’s cells had arranged many years earlier to obtain such cells from any patient diagnosed with cervical cancer as a way to learn more about a serious disease that took the lives of so many. Johns Hopkins never patented HeLa cells, nor did it sell them commercially or benefit in a direct financial way. Today, Johns Hopkins and other research-based medical centers consistently obtain consent from those asked to donate tissue or cells for scientific research.”

The Lacks family learned about the HeLa cells in the 1970s. In 1973, a scientist contacted family members, seeking blood samples and other genetic materials–but inquiries from the family regarding the use of HeLa cells, and publications that included their own genetic information, were largely ignored.

The case gained new visibility in 1998, when the BBC screened an award-winning documentary on Lacks and HeLa. Rebecca Skloot later wrote a popular book on the subject, called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Oprah Winfrey and HBO announced plans to develop a film based on Skloot’s 2010 book and in 2017, the network aired the biopic. Lacks’ sons David Lacks, Jr. and Zakariyya Rahman, and granddaughter Jeri Lacks consulted on the film and Skloot was a co-executive producer.

Organizations that have profited from HeLa have since publicly recognized Henrietta Lacks’s contributions to research. The Lacks family has been honored at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Foundation for Cancer Research.

Morgan State University granted Lacks a posthumous honorary degree. In 2010, Dr. Roland Pattillo of Morehouse donated a headstone for Lacks’s unmarked grave.

The HeLa case has raised questions about the legality of using genetic materials without permission. Neither Lacks nor her family granted permission to harvest her cells, which were then cloned and sold.

The California Supreme Court upheld the right to commercialize discarded tissue in the 1990 case Moore v. Regents of the University of California. In 2013, German researchers published the genome of a strain of HeLa cells without permission from the Lacks family.

The Lacks family has had limited success in gaining control of the HeLa strain. In August 2013, an agreement between the family and the National Institutes of Health granted the family acknowledgement in scientific papers and some oversight of the Lacks genome.

Research more about this American story that became a movie and watch the video with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 9, 1950- Juanita Hall

GM – FBF – I love it when I come across a New Jersey talent. Keyport, NJ is where Juanita Hall grew up and Matawan, NJ was laid to rest.

Remember – ” South Pacific was the musical that made me a household name and I enjoyed winning the award. – Juanita Hall

Today in our History – April 9, 1950 – Wins Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress ( South Pacific).

Juanita Hall (née Long, November 6, 1901 – February 28, 1968) was an American musical theatre and film actress. She is remembered for her roles in the original stage and screen versions of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals South Pacific as Bloody Mary – a role that garnered her the Tony Award – and Flower Drum Song as Madame Liang.

Born in Keyport, New Jersey, Hall received classical training at the Juilliard School. In the early 1930s, she was a special soloist and assistant director for the Hall Johnson Choir. A leading black Broadway performer in her day, she was personally chosen by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to perform the roles she played in the musicals South Pacific and Flower Drum Song, as a Tonkinese woman and a Chinese-American, respectively.

In 1950, she became the first African American to win a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Bloody Mary in South Pacific. She also starred in the 1954 Broadway musical House of Flowers in which she sang and danced Harold Arlen’s Slide Boy Slide. She played the role of Bloody Mary for 1,925 performances on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre beginning on April 7, 1949. Her co-stars were Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin. In addition to her role in South Pacific, she was a regular performer in clubs in Greenwich Village, where she captivated audiences with her renditions of “Am I Blue?”, “Lament Over Love”, and Langston Hughes’ “Cool Saturday Night”.

Prior to her acting roles, she assembled her own chorus group (The Juanita Hall Choir) and kept busy with performances in concert, on records, in films, and on the air. She auditioned for “Talent 48”, a private review created by the Stage Manager’s Club. Later, she performed on radio in the soap opera The Story Of Ruby Valentine on the National Negro Network. The serial was broadcast on 35 stations, and sponsors of the broadcast included Philip Morris and Pet Milk.

In 1958, she recorded Juanita Hall Sings the Blues (at Beltone Studios in New York City), backed by an astonishing group of jazz musicians including Claude Hopkins, Coleman Hawkins, Buster Bailey, Doc Cheatham, and George Duvivier. In 1958 she reprised Bloody Mary in the film version of South Pacific, for which her singing part was dubbed, at Richard Rodgers’s request, by Muriel Smith, who had played the role in the London production. The same year, Hall starred in another Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway show, Flower Drum Song.

Hall married actor Clement Hall while in her teens. He died in the 1920s; they had no children. Hall, a diabetic, died from complications of her illness. She had been living at the Percy William Actors home in East Islip, New York. Leonard Feather gave a particularly moving tribute to Hall at the time of her death when he proclaimed her “an expert student and practitioner in the art of singing the blues”. Research more about this American Shero and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 8, 1936- The Negro Motorist Green book

GM – FBF – I enjoyed seeing my Father’s side of the family but travel from Trenton, NJ to Perry, GA. still in the late 50’s was tough driving straight through. My Father before he took sick in Dec. ’61 and died in April ’63 only used the Green Book for emergencies.

Remember – ““There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment.” – Victor Green

Today in our History – April 8, 1936 – In time for the spring/summer traveling season. The Negro Motorist Green Book, popularly known as the Green Book, was a travel guide intended to help African American motorists avoid social obstacles prevalent during the period of racial segregation, commonly referred to as Jim Crow. The Green Book listed businesses that would accept African American customers. 
The book was the vision of Victor Green, an African American US postal employee from Harlem, New York. The first guide focused on Metropolitan New York. The next year, in 1937, Green expanded listings to other locations. His book would eventually include every state and several international destinations before ceasing publication in 1964. Before its demise the book was the most popular of several tourist guides created specifically for an African American audience.

These types of travel guides were necessary during the Jim Crow era because African Americans were subject to acts of discrimination and occasional intimidation as many businesses refused to accept them as customers. African American motorists, for example were warned to avoid sundown towns which required minorities to be outside the city limits before sundown, hence the name. African American travel could be fraught with risk and guides like the Green Book were an important resource.

The Green Book also provided a service that made lodging reservations for clients. The listings were verified annually to ensure accuracy. In addition to business listings, the books included travel articles, driving tips, and essays highlighting locations of interest. An important sponsor for the Green Book was the Esso Standard Oil Company, which distributed the books and solicited African American customers through them.

The guide’s format varied and early versions listed a variety of businesses such as hotels, tourist homes, restaurants, barber shops, beauty parlors, service stations, and taverns. As the geographic scope of the guide expanded, entry types were reduced. For example, between 1949 and 1959, listings expanded to all 48 states, with a 13% increase in the number of cities. However, the 1959 Green Book listed only hotels, motels, and tourist homes.

Calvin Alexander Ramsey, book author and playwrite wrote a book “Ruth and the Green Book” and a play “The Green Book – A Play” and started a documentary film on the Green Book which he wanted to do a major film on but competition from other media sources has scaled that project back. You can find on you tube and other outlets mant stories about that time in American History and what black people went through to travel.

Green wrote that his book would not be necessary “when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges.” He died in 1960 and the last edition of his guide was published in 1964. The 1956 creation of the national highway system diminished the need for these travel guides because highways minimized contact with local communities, decreasing chances for discrimination against African American motorists. Eventually, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act made the Green Book and similar publications obsolete, just as Green predicted. Research more about the Green Book or watch a video on youtube and share with your babies. Make It A Champion Day!