Month: September 2018

October 30 2006- Moses Ernest Tolliver

GM – FBF – Today’s story is of a Black artist from Alabama whose work would be seen in a lot of places around the United States. He had fun in what he did and loved his art and people enjoying it. Enjoy!

Remember – “Some folks feel that if your not from a big city that you don’t have an expression and story to tell” – Moses Ernest Tolliver

Today in our History – October 30, 2006, Moses Ernest Tolliver dies.

Moses Ernest Tolliver (July 4, 1918-20 – October 30, 2006) was an African-American folk artist who became disabled as an adult. He was known as “Mose T”, after the signature on his paintings, signed with a backwards “s”.

Celebrated folk artist Mose Ernest Tolliver was one of the most well-known and well-regarded artists to achieve fame in Alabama in what has come to be known as the genre of Outsider Art. His vibrant and colorful pieces often depicted fruits and vegetables, animals, and people and were always signed “Mose T” with a backward “s.” His style fluctuated between the simplistic and pastoral to the abstract and erotic. His body of work is represented in galleries in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York.

The exact year of his birth is unknown, but Mose or Moses Tolliver was born in the Pike Road Community near Montgomery on July 4 around 1920. His parents, Ike and Laney Tolliver, were sharecroppers and had 12 children. He attended school through the third grade until he and his family moved to Macedonia, Pickens County. Eventually, his parents found that they could no longer afford the farming life and moved the family to Montgomery in the 1930s.

Tolliver took on a number of odd jobs to help his family financially. He tended gardens, painted houses, and worked as a carpenter, plumber, and handyman. In the 1940s, he married Willie Mae Thomas, a native of Ramer and a childhood friend. The couple had 13 children in all, but only 11 survived to adulthood. He continued working odd jobs to support his family. Tolliver worked on and off for the Carlton McLendon family for 25 years. In the 1960s, he was injured in an accident at McLendon’s Furniture Company, when a half-ton crate of marble fell on him. He was left unable to work and had to walk with crutches.

Several sources cite Tolliver’s accident as the impetus for his turn to art. Tolliver, however, claimed that he painted well before the accident. His initial works were made from tree roots, which he sculpted and painted. Later, he moved on to painting landscapes, a subject with which, as a former farmer and gardener, he was particularly familiar. The accident provided more time for him to devote to his art. Tolliver also saw paintings by McLendon’s brother, Raymond, which convinced him he could do just as well. McLendon offered to pay for art lessons for Tolliver, but he declined, opting to find his now signature style on his own. Tolliver began selling his art in the 1960s. He hung his finished pieces in his front yard and sold them for a few dollars, believing that the art is done when someone buys it.

His works often feature brightly colored watermelons and birds. His wife was also a frequent subject, and he painted a number of self-portraits, complete with crutches. Some of his more popular paintings were his Moose Lady pieces. The recurring Moose Lady figure is an erotic figure of a woman with spread legs, which is roughly based on an Egyptian piece that Tolliver saw in a discarded book. The picture featured a Ka, the Ancient Egyptian symbol for a soul, ascending from a body with elongated arms. Tolliver occasionally added a little of himself into his erotic paintings, sometimes attaching his own hair to them.

Given his raw, self-taught style, Tolliver’s paintings fall into what is known as the Outsider Art genre. He used house paint on cardboard, wood, metal, Masonite, and even furniture and frequently used bottle caps for mountings. He often used solid colors in his backgrounds and was partial to bright hues, such as red, yellow, and orange. He was particularly fond of purple.

In 1981, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts mounted a one-man show of his work, but Tolliver did not rise to national prominence until the following year. His artwork was featured, along with the work of fellow Alabama Outsider artist Bill Traylor, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The show was titled “Black Folk Art in America: 1930-1980.” Some art critics and historians believe that Traylor, who was discovered after his death in 1947 in Montgomery, was a significant influence on Tolliver.

Tolliver’s work has appeared at such renowned institutions as the American Folk Art Museum in New York, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Tolliver and his artwork were the subjects of two books: Mose T from A to Z: The Folk Art of Mose Tolliver by Anton Haardt and Mose T’s Slapout Family Album by Robert Ely, an English teacher, Montgomery native, and friend of Tolliver’s, who wrote poems to accompany the paintings included in his book. Tolliver’s work has also appeared in books on Outsider Art and African American art.

Early in his career, Tolliver sold his paintings for a few dollars. Later, his prices depended on his mood. Today, Mose T paintings sell for thousands of dollars. By the 1980s, despite painting 10 pieces a day, Tolliver could not keep up with the demand for his work. He hired his daughter Annie Tolliver to duplicate his signature style and subjects and even to sign his name to the pictures. Later, she developed as an acclaimed artist in her own right. Tolliver also encouraged his other children to paint, and his sons Charlie and Jimmy began painting in the early 1990s.

Tolliver died of pneumonia on Oct. 30, 2006, at Baptist Medical Center East in Montgomery. His wife, Willie Mae, preceded him in death in 1991. Research more about Black artists and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 30 1975- Virgie M. Ammons

GM – FBF – The story that we will look at today is about a Black female Inventor that you may have never heard of from a state that most people don’t think of going to. I lived and worked there for two years in Morgantown, a University town and the county seat called Monongalia and found the state charming and the people kind and God fearing.

This Inventor took something that was an everyday concern for many people in the state and parts of the nation and discovered a way to prevent it. Like many black inventors there is no record that a manufacturer picked up the patented Invention and used it and it was hard to find out more about this Inventor’s life. Enjoy!

Remember – “You and I may go to Harvard, we may go to York of England, or go to Al Ahzar in Cairo and get degrees from all of these great seats of learning. But we will never be recognized until we recognize our women.” ― Elijah Muhammad

Today in our History – September 30, 1975 – Virgie M. Ammons invented the Fireplace Damper Actuating Tool.

Virgie M. Ammons was born on Dec. 29, 1908, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. At a young age, her family relocated to West Virginia, where she spent the rest of her life. Ammons was a self-employed caretaker and a Muslim woman by faith, attending services in Temple Hills.

Little is known about the life of Virgie Ammons. Ammons filed her patent on August 6, 1974, at which time she was living in Eglon, West Virginia.

Fireplace Damper Actuating Tool – Patent US 3,908,633
A fireplace damper actuating tool is a tool that is used to open and close the damper on a fireplace. It keeps the damper from opening or fluttering in the wind. If you have a fireplace or stove, you may be familiar with the sound of a fluttering damper.

A damper is an adjustable plate that fits in the flue of a stove or the chimney of a fireplace. It helps control the draft into the stove or fireplace. Dampers could be a plate that slides across the air opening, or it could be fixed in place in the pipe or flue and turned so the angle allows more or less air flow.
In the days when cooking was done on a stove that was powered by burning wood or coal, adjusting the flue was a way of controlling the temperature.

Virgie Ammons may be have been familiar with these stoves, given her date of birth. She may also have lived in an area where electric or gas stoves were not common until later in her life. We have no details as to what her inspiration was for the fireplace damper actuating tool.

With a fireplace, opening the damper allows more air to be drawn into the fireplace from the room and convey the heat up the chimney.

More air flow can often result in more flames, but also in losing more heat rather than warming the room.
The patent abstract says Ammons’ damper actuating tool addressed the problem of fireplace dampers that flutter and make noise when gusty winds affected the chimney Some dampers do not remain fully shut because they have to be light enough in weight so the operating lever can open them easily. This makes small differences in air pressure between the room and the upper chimney draw them open. She was concerned that even a slightly open damper could cause a significant loss of heat in winter, and could even result in loss of coolness in summer. Both would be a waste of energy.
Her actuating tool allowed the damper to be closed and held closed. She noted that when not in use, the tool could be stored next to the fireplace.No information was found as to whether her tool was manufactured and marketed.

Virgie M. Ammons, 91, Eglon, WV, died July 12, 2000, as the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident near Aurora, WV. She was a daughter of the late Samuel and Mary (Jones) Claggett. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Charles Ammons, and three brothers, Joseph, Thomas, and Eugene Claggett. Survivors include one daughter, Sharon Ammons, Washington, DC and one sister, Rowena Leva Huggins, Frederick, MD. She was a self-employed caretaker. She was a Muslim by faith and attended church in Temple Hills. Cremation services were provided by the Browning Funeral Home in Kingwood, WV. Research more about this great Black Woman Inventor and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 29 1908- Edward “Eddie”

GM – FBF – On this day a story happened in our History that many people don’t know about not that you missed it but the story was never shared with you. If I say the name Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis or Jesse Owens you can quickly give me the answer of the fastest man in the world for Olympic sprinters.

If I told you there was a black man before all of them would you know his name? I ask you that question because it was asked of me when I participated as one of the public address announcers for woman’s softball in the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, GA. as I was being interviewed by a Chinese reporter and he knew the answer while I had to think and came up with Marquette sprinter Ralph Metcalfe which I knew the story from going to school in Wisconsin but the “Midnight Express”, would go unsung in sports as four years later Adolph Hitler would help make Jesse Owens a worldwide name but even Jesse would find himself racing horses just to feed his family. Learn and remember this great American athlete. Enjoy!

Today in our History – September 29, 1908 – Erward “Eddie” Tolan was born, He was the first non-Euro-American to receive the title of the “world’s fastest human” after winning gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters events at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He passed in 1967 at age 59.

Modern Sprinting, as epitomized by Olympic champion Usain Bolt, is a radically different proposition from what it was in the early 20th century. Then, it was raw talent rather than technique that made champions, whereas today natural ability is augmented with science, biology, nutrition, psychology and vastly improved equipment, all designed to shave every possible microsecond off a sprinters time. While this has led to the excitement of more world records, it has also quashed the individualism that once characterized some of the sports early craftsmen.

The 1932 double Olympic champion, African American Eddie Tolan, was a case in point. Born in Denver in 1908, he started off as a football player, until a knee-ligament injury ended his hopes and left him with a limp. After this he took up sprinting, eventually securing a scholarship to the University of Michigan, which had produced Olympic sprint, champions Archie Hahn and Ralph Craig? But these were the days of American segregation, and so Tolan was one of only two black athletes on campus. Nevertheless, he rose above the harsh discriminations of the time and qualified for the 1932 Olympic Games, held in Los Angeles.

Tolan cut a figure like no other sportsman of his era — he was just five-foot-four and 145 pounds, with center-parted short Afro hair, and round spectacles that he wore taped to the sides of his head while running. He had the look of a Baptist minister. He also liked to chew gum while he sprinted, in sync with each step, which he claimed relieved stress and improved his acceleration.

Going into the Olympic games, Tolan, otherwise known as the “Midnight Express”, (sprinters had stage names in those days), was ranked number two behind fellow African American sprinter Ralph Metcalfe, who had won both sprint distances in the Olympic trials. The pair were scheduled to line up against each other in the 100m and 200m sprint finals, in what would become the most talked about rivalry of the 1932 games.

On August 1, 1932, Tolan, a compact, powerful runner with lightning reflexes and a low center of gravity, pipped Metcalfe at the post in the 100m, taking the title in 10.3 seconds, equaling the world record. There was a nothing to separate both athletes at the line, and Metcalfe’s time was also given at 10.3. Metcalfe felt aggrieved, and maintained to his dying breath that the race should have been a dead heat.

But even Metcalfe had to concede two days later, when Tolan beat him in the 200, in a new world record of 21.2 seconds. Metcalfe was magnanimous in defeat, although he claimed that he had inadvertently dug his starting blocks into the wrong place on the track, giving Tolan an advantage of some four-feet.

Although Tolan became the only American track athlete in history to win two gold medals at the Olympic Games, he was never able to exploit his success financially. Back home in Michigan he was supported by his mother. In desperation he finally accepted a job touring the Vaudeville circuit, telling stories about his Olympic career along with the Great Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. The pay was supposed to be $1,500 a week, but the money never came, as the show closed after a few weeks. He also was hired as a high school teacher and track coach in Detroit City Schools but only lasted one school year and was let go After that he drifted through a series of mundane jobs. In 1967 he died of a heart attack at the age of 57. During my research on writing this story I found this article: in the newspaper THE OAKLAHOMAN out of Oklahoma City, OK it reads: The sign is gone.

There used to be a sign on the Southside of Reno near Blackwelder that said “Tolan Park.” The land is still there, with beautiful old trees and neatly mowed grass. It looks like it could be a park. And, once it was. In 1934, the city park board recognized the need for a new park for black residents in Ward 3. A location was chosen, and a naming contest was held. Neighborhood residents voted to name the park for Eddie Tolan. The story from The Oklahoman read: “Eddie Tolan, Negro Olympic champion sprinter of the University of Michigan has been honored by his racial brothers in Oklahoma City. “The new Negro park at West Reno and South Blackwelder avenues Wednesday was officially named the “Eddie Tolan Park” on vote of the city park board. “As the result of a name contest conducted by Negroes in the section, the park board voted favorably on the group’s recommendation.”

Eddie Tolan was a black athlete who in 1932 won two gold medals for sprinting at the 1932 Olympics held in Los Angeles. According to his biography at the African American Registry online, Tolan won 300 races in his track career and lost only seven (one to Oklahoma A&M’s Peyton Glass). He set a world record in the 100-meter of 10.3 seconds. Tolan became a schoolteacher and died in 1967 in Detroit, Mich. Tolan Park had a sorry sort of beginning. The Oklahoman on Dec. 29, 1935, gave this description: “’Tolan park, which at present consists mainly of an old river channel and the vestige of the city junk heap, may yet develop into a recreational center,’ Donald Gordon, city park superintendent, indicated Saturday.
(I have a picture of the park and Eddie Tolan knew nothing of it)

Over the course of his short sprinting career Eddie Tolan won 300 races, and lost only seven — in the process paving the way for a long line of high-achieving black sprinters, the next of whom would be the great Jesse Owens. But despite his incredible achievements he remains largely unknown within black history and sporting circles, and sprinting is all the poorer without his unique brand of funky running. Research more about this great American black athletes and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 28 1946- The Ink Sports Charted With “To Each His Own”

GM – FBF – Today I would like to share with you a singing group that may have been forgotten to our past history. This group was the forerunner to The Platters, Fifth Demotion and the Friends of Distention, just to name a few. They were accepted as a crossover group and made money travled the world and make movies. If you never heard of them play some of their music on YouTube. Enjoy!

Remember – “It takes a long time to write something that is easy to read.” ― Brian McDonald, Ink Spots

Today in our History – September 28, 1946:The Ink Spots charted with “To Each His Own,” reaching #3 R&B and #1 pop. The song was written for the film of the same name but never used in it..

With a high-flying tenor floating above their tight harmonies, the Ink Spots were the predecessors of doo-wop. They became so popular that all-white venues integrated to get them in their lineup, a rare occurrence in the Forties.

n the words of soul singer Jerry Butler, a solo artist and founding member of the Impressions, “The Ink Spots were the heavyweight champions of quartet singing.” 
Clyde McPhatter, one-time singer with both the Dominoes and the Drifters, once admitted, “We patterned ourselves after the Ink Spots.” One of the first popular black groups, the Ink Spots can be regarded as forerunners of the doo-wop and rhythm & blues movements that followed. In the wake of their innovative harmonies came a slew of black vocal groups, including the Ravens, the Orioles, the Dominoes and the Drifters.

The Ink Spots formed in Indianapolis in the late 1920s. The original members were Orville “Hoppy” Jones, who was born on February 17, 1905; Ivory “Deek” Watson, who was born on July 18, 1909; Jerry Daniels, who was born on December 14, 1915; and Charlie Fuqua, who was born on October 20, 1910. They had gained early experience performing with such amateur groups as the Peanut Boys, the Percolating Puppies, the Four Riff Brothers and the Swingin’ Gate Brothers. The music of these early groups was influenced by jazz and vaudeville acts.

The group’s original name was King, Jack and the Jesters. The members would improvise vocal harmonies, often simulating wind instruments with their voices. After achieving some Midwestern success as a result of live appearances on radio shows in Indianapolis, Cleveland and Cincinnati, the group relocated to New York in the early Thirties. After a legal conflict with bandleader Paul Whiteman, who had a vocal group called the King’s Jesters, King, Jack and the Jesters changed their name to the Ink Spots.

The Ink Spots made appearances at the Apollo Theater, the Savoy Ballroom and the Roxy, and they got a regular radio gig on New York’s WJZ. In 1935 they signed with RCA Records. Though none of the six recordings they made for RCA sold well, they did earn the group its first tour of England and Europe. The following year they signed a new record deal with Decca Records, and Jerry Daniels was replaced by Bill Kenny. With Watson singing lead, the group’s sound was still very much the same as when the group started out. As Kenny once said, “This style wasn’t getting the group anywhere.”

The Ink Spots were on the verge of breaking up when songwriter Jack Lawrence brought them a ballad called “If I Didn’t Care.” With Kenny singing lead, the record became a million-seller and inaugurated a string of hit ballads, including “My Prayer,” “Maybe,” “We Three,” “Whispering Grass,” “The Gypsy,” “To Each His Own” and “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire.” The Ink Spots toured the world and made appearances with such artists as Lucky Millinder and Glenn Miller. They also landed roles in such movies as The Great American Broadcast (1941). The group remained popular with both black and white audiences through the postwar years and into the Fifties.

During the Forties, the Ink Spots pioneered the breaking down of racial barriers by appearing in previously all-white Southern venues. In 1948 when the group headlined over several white acts at Miami’s Monte Carlo club, Billboard magazine reported: “Format is a racial departure for this territory, for even if Jim Crow laws are largely unwritten and there is no law prohibiting Negro entertainers from working in white places or with white acts, no operator in the Deep South has ever had the nerve to try it.”

By the late 1940s, however, the Ink Spots’ fortunes were beginning to change. Their musical style no longer seemed very fresh, and the group was undergoing numerous changes, beginning with Hoppy Jones’ sudden death in October 1944. There were so many internal conflicts that Bill Kenny seemed to be the only regular member of the group. By 1953 the original Ink Spots were no more.

Even so, the Ink Spots’ music played an important role in the development of the music that would become rock and roll. The Ink Spots were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.

Inductees: Charlie Fuqua (born October 20, 1910, died December 21, 1971), Orville Jones (born February 7, 1905, died October 18, 1944), Bill Kenny (born June 12, 1914, died March 23, 1978), Ivory Watson (born July 18, 1909) Share with your babies and make it a champion day!

September 27 1936- Don Cornrlius

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story of a fellow radio personality because we worked at the same radion station WVON but not at the same time. He is from Chicago, Il. and was set on a mission of expanding his empior in order for the world to see. His T.V. show was awarded one of the best shows to air and watch on television with the honor of being the longest running show beating Gunsmoke. Enjoy!

Remember ” Peace, Love and Soul” – Don Cornelius

Today in our History – September 27, 1936 Don Cornrlius was born.

American television icon Don Cornelius created and hosted Soul Train, which spent more than 30 years on the air.
He started out in the insurance business before going to broadcasting school in 1966. He worked as a substitute radio DJ and on TV’s A Black’s View of the News before pitching his idea for a music television program aimed at young African Americans. Soul Train, inspired by American Bandstand, quickly became popular, and spent more than 30 years on the air.

A natural salesman, Cornelius started out in the insurance business in the 1950s. He went to broadcasting school in 1966, looking to break into the field. To realize his dream, he worked as a substitute DJ, filling in for other on-air personalities, and in the news department of WVON radio in Chicago.

Switching to television, Cornelius became a sports anchor and the host of A Black’s View of the News on WCIU in 1968. He got to know the station owners, and pitched them his idea for a music television program. Using $400 of his own money, Cornelius created a pilot for Soul Train, which was named after a promotional event he put together in 1969. Inspired by American Bandstand, the show featured teenagers dancing to the latest soul and R&B music as well as a performance by a musical guest. “Almost all of what I learned about mounting and hosting a dance show I learned from Dick Clark,” Cornelius later told Advertising Age.

Premiering on August 17, 1970, Soul Train quickly became popular. It aired on Saturday mornings, attracting a lot of children and teenagers off from school. An early supporter, businessman George Johnson of the Johnson Products Company, helped Cornelius make Soul Train a national television program. It was syndicated in 1971, but it was initially difficult getting stations sign up for the show. In addition to Chicago, stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco were among the first to air Soul Train.

With his deep voice and distinguished good looks, Cornelius was the ideal host. Over the years, he presented many famous performers to his television audience, including Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Lou Rawls and Aretha Franklin, among others. The show was not always wedded to its soul and R&B focus. Rock acts, such as David Bowie, Robert Palmer, and Duran Duran, also made appearances on the show from time to time as did jazz and reggae stars.
In 1987, Cornelius started the Soul Train Music Awards. Dione Warwick and Luther Vandross served as hosts of the first ceremony, which honored Stevie Wonder with the Heritage Award for outstanding career achievements.

Wintney Houston, LL Cool J, and Run DMC were among the night’s performers. Over the years, other music stars appeared on the show, including Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Usher and Ciara, and more awards were added.
When American Bandstand went off the air in 1989, Soul Train was still going strong. But Cornelius continuously looked for ways to freshen up the show. In 1993, he gave up his duties as host and brought in guest hosts. “I had come to believe . . . that the era of the well-spoken, well-dressed Dick Clark, Don Cornelius-type in a suit and a tie was over … I am just convinced that people want to see people on TV who are more like themselves,” he explained to The New York Times.
In 1995, Cornelius launched the Lady of Soul Awards.

The first honorees were Debbie Allen, who received the Lena Horne Award for outstanding career achievements in the field of entertainment, and Salt-N-Pepa, who received the Aretha Franklin Award. Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, and Brandy performed during that first ceremony. Later on, both Brandy and Queen Latifah won the Aretha Franklin Award.

Getting performers for the show, however, was sometimes a challenge for Cornelius. In 2001, he complained about MTV’s booking practices for its own award shows, which call for acts not to appear on competing programs within 30 days of the event. “It’s anti-competitive behavior that needs to be addressed at the Federal Trade Commission level,” he told the Los Angeles Times. He thought the tactic was especially egregious because of the cable music channel’s early history of not showing videos by African-American artists.

By 2005, Soul Train was being seen in 105 cities, reaching an estimated 85 percent of black households, according to the show’s website. Unfortunately, recent events have put the show’s future in question. In December 2007, the program lost its distributor when Tribune Entertainment closed that division in its company.

After the end of Sould Train, Cornelius told the Los Angeles Times that he was in discussions to create a movie based on the famous franchise. “It wouldn’t be the Soul Train dance show, it would be more of a biographical look at the project,” he said. “It’s going to be about some of the things that really happened on the show.”

But life took a dark turn for Cornelius in 2008, when he was arrested and charged with spousal battery, dissuading a witness from making a police report, and assault with a deadly weapon.He pled no contest to misdemeanor domestic violence, and was sentenced to three years probation. The incident led to a bitter divorce battle between Cornelius and wife, Viktoria, in 2009. During their feuding, which lasted for over a year, Cornelius was also suffering from multiple health issues, including a stroke and several undisclosed ailments that required brain surgery.

The legal proceedings took an emotional toll on Cornelius, who made the statement within his divorce documentation that, “I am 72 years old. I have significant health issues. I want to finalize this divorce before I die.” In 2010, Cornelius was granted his divorce. But the savvy businessman never quite recovered from the turmoil. On February 1, 2012, at approximately 4 AM, police officials discovered Cornelius’ body at his California home. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the head that officials later stated was self-inflicted. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead later that morning. Research more about the great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 26 1929- Meredith C. Gourdine

GM – FBF – Today’s story in our history is a story of pure greatness during his time. He was an was a pioneer researcher and inventor in the field of electrogasdynamics. He also made the U.S. Summer Games in 1952 held in Helsinki, Finland and won a silver medal. His academic curriculum centered on Engineering Physics. I first was first introduced to him when I participated in the Centennial Summer Olympics Games held in Atlanta back in 1996. Enjoy!

Remember – My father always told me – “If you don’t want to be a laborer all your life, stay in school.” Dr.Meredith C. Gourdine

Today in our History – September 26, 1929 – Meredith C. Gourdine was born.

Meredith Charles “Flash” Gourdine was born in Newark, New Jersey. His father worked as a painter and janitor and instilled within his son the importance of a strong work ethic. Meredith attended Brooklyn Technical High School and after classes he helped his father on various jobs, often working eight hour days. However, his father believed that education was more important than just developing into a hard worker and he told him “If you don’t want to be a laborer all your life, stay in school.” Meredith minded his father’s advice, excelling in academics.

He was also an excellent athlete, competing in track and field and swimming during his senior year. He did well enough in swimming to be offered a scholarship to the University of Michigan, but he turned it down to enter Cornell University. He paid his way through Cornell for his first two years before receiving a track and field scholarship after his sophomore year. He competed in sprints, hurdles and the long jump. Standing 6′ and weighing 175 lbs., he starred for his school, winning four titles at the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America championship and led Cornell to a second place finish at the 1952 NCAA Track and Field Championship (The University of Southern California won the meet but boasted 36 athletes while Cornell had only five c).

Gourdine was so heralded that he was chosen to represent the United States at the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. He received a silver medal in the long jump competition, losing to fellow American Jerome Biffle by one and a half inches. “I Would have rather lost by a foot,” he would later say. “I still have nightmares about it.”
After graduating from Cornell with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics in 1953, he entered the United States Navy as an officer. He soon returned to academia, entering the California Institute of Technology, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He received a Ph.D. in Engineering Science in 1960.

During his time at Cal. Tech., he served on the Technical Staff of the Ramo-Woolridge Corporation and then as a Senior Research Scientist at the Cal. Tech. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After graduation, he became a Lab Director for the Plasmodyne Corporation until 1962 when he joined the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, serving as Chief Scientist.
In 1964, Gourdine borrowed $200,000.00 from family and friends and opened Gourdine Laboratories, a research laboratory located in Livingston, New Jersey and at its height he employed 150 people. In 1973, he founded and served as CEO for Energy Innovation, Inc. in Houston, Texas which produced direct-energy conversion devices (converting low-grade coal into inexpensive, transportable and high-voltage electrical energy).

Meredith Gourdine started his qwn company’s performed research and development, specifically in the fields of electrogasdynamics. Electrogasdynamics refers to the generation of energy from the motion of ionized (electrically charged) gas molecules under high pressure. His biggest creation was the Incineraid system, which was used to disperse smoke from burning buildings and could be used to disperse fog on airport runways. The Incineraid system worked by negatively charging smoke or fog, causing the airborne particles within to be electro magnetically charged and then to fall to the ground. The result was clean air and a clear area. He also received patents for the Focus Flow Heat Sink, which was used to cool computer chips as well as for processes for desalinating sea water, for developing acoustic imaging, and for a high-powered industrial paint spray.

Over his career Gourdine held over 30 patents and many of his creations serve as the basis for allergen-filtration devices common to households across the world. He was inducted into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame in 1994. Towards his latter years, he suffered from diabetes, and lost his sight as well as one leg due to the disease.

Meredith Gourdine died on November 20, 1998, due to complications from multiples strokes. He left behind a legacy of research, design and innovation that will continue to have an impact for many years. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 25 1952- Gloria Jean WatKins

GM – FBF – This morning I would like to share with you a story that I first learned about when I was in Wisconsin attending college, then in 2014 while working with a client in Lexington, KY. I heard about more of her works while visiting Berea, KY. Her words were never weak and she has a strong unforgiving writing style that you either like or hate. No matter what she will always be remembered for her publication of “Ain’t I a woman”. If you are still not clear of whom I am talking about read her story. Enjoy!

Remember – “The greatest movement for social justice our country has ever known is the civil rights movement and it was totally rooted in a love ethic”. Bell Hook

Today in our History – September 25, 1952 – Gloria Jean Watkins , better known by her pen name bell hooks, was born. She is 66 years old today.

She is an American author, feminist, and social activist. The name “bell hooks” is derived from that of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.

The focus of hooks’ writing has been the intersectionality of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She has published over 30 books and numerous scholarly articles, appeared in documentary films, and participated in public lectures. She has addressed race, class, and gender in education, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism.

In 2014, she founded the bell hooks Institute at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. Hooks was born in Hopkinsville, a small, segregated town in Kentucky, to a working-class family. Her father, Veodis Watkins, was a custodian and her mother, Rosa Bell Watkins, was a homemaker. She had five sisters and one brother.

An avid reader, she was educated in racially segregated public schools, and wrote of great adversities when making the transition to an integrated school, where teachers and students were predominantly white. She later graduated from Hopkinsville High School in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She obtained her BA in English from Stanford University in 1973, and her MA in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1976.

In 1983, after several years of teaching and writing, she completed her doctorate in literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a dissertation on author Toni Morrison. Hooks’ teaching career began in 1976 as an English professor and senior lecturer in Ethnic Studies at the University of Southern California. During her three years there, Golemics, a Los Angeles publisher, released her first published work, a chapbook of poems titled “And There We Wept” (1978), written under her pen name, “bell hooks”. She adopted her maternal great-grandmother’s name as a pen name because her great-grandmother “was known for her snappy and bold tongue, which [she] greatly admired”. She put the name in lowercase letters “to distinguish

[herself from]

her great-grandmother.” She said that her unconventional lowercasing of her name signifies what is most important is her works: the “substance of books, not who I am.”

She taught at several post-secondary institutions in the early 1980s and 1990s, including the University of California, Santa Cruz, San Francisco State University, Yale, Oberlin College and City College of New York. South End Press published her first major work, Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism in 1981, though it was written years earlier, while she was an undergraduate student. In the decades since its publication, Ain’t I a Woman? has gained widespread recognition as an influential contribution to feminist thought.

Ain’t I a woman? examines several recurring themes in her later work: the historical impact of sexism and racism on black women, devaluation of black womanhood, media roles and portrayal, the education system, the idea of a white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy, the marginalization of black women, and the disregard for issues of race and class within feminism. Since the publication of Ain’t I a Woman?, she has become eminent as a leftist and postmodern political thinker and cultural critic. She targets and appeals to a broad audience by presenting her work in a variety of media using various writing and speaking styles. As well as having written books, she has published in numerous scholarly and mainstream magazines, lectures at widely accessible venues, and appears in various documentaries.

She is frequently cited by feminists as having provided the best solution to the difficulty of defining something as diverse as “feminism”, addressing the problem that if feminism can mean everything, it means nothing. She asserts an answer to the question “what is feminism?” that she says is “rooted in neither fear nor fantasy… ‘Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression'”.

She has published more than 30 books, ranging in topics from black men, patriarchy, and masculinity to self-help, engaged pedagogy to personal memoirs, and sexuality (in regards to feminism and politics of aesthetic/visual culture). A prevalent theme in her most recent writing is the community and communion, the ability of loving communities to overcome race, class, and gender inequalities. In three conventional books and four children’s books, she suggests that communication and literacy (the ability to read, write, and think critically) are crucial to developing healthy communities and relationships that are not marred by race, class, or gender inequalities.

She has held positions as Professor of African-American Studies and English at Yale University, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and American Literature at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and as Distinguished Lecturer of English Literature at the City College of New York.

In 2002, hooks gave a commencement speech at Southwestern University. Eschewing the congratulatory mode of traditional commencement speeches, she spoke against what she saw as government-sanctioned violence and oppression, and admonished students who she believed went along with such practices. This was followed by a controversy described in the Austin Chronicle after an “irate Arizonian” had criticized the speech in a letter to the editor. The newspaper reported that many in the audience booed the speech, though “several graduates passed over the provost to shake her hand or give her a hug”.

In 2004, she joined Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, as Distinguished Professor in Residence,[18] where she participated in a weekly feminist discussion group, “Monday Night Feminism”; a luncheon lecture series, “Peanut Butter and Gender”; and a seminar, “Building Beloved Community: The Practice of Impartial Love”.

Her 2008 book, belonging: a culture of place, includes a candid interview with author Wendell Berry as well as a discussion of her move back to Kentucky.

She has undertaken three scholar-in-residences at The New School. Mostly recently she did one for a week in October 2014. She engaged in public dialogues with Gloria Steinem, Laverne Cox, and Cornel West. Research more about Black woman authors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 24 1957- The Little Rock Nine

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story that is always close to my heart because I was part of the Supreme Court decision of “Brown v Board”. In 1957 I was ready to go to an elementary school that had black teachers for black students (segregation) but with this new law we can now go to a new elementary school in East Trenton called Woodrow Wilson. I hated the school and the teachers who seemed not to want to be there and during lunch many frequented the bar at the end of the corner and took it out on us during the classes in the afternoon. I was told repeatedly that I would not amount to nothing Not knowing that it was part of a national crises at the time and in Arkansas it was no different. Remember and never forget!

Remember – “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” – Chief Justice Earl Warren – U.S. Supreme Court

Today in Our History – September 24, 1957 – The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas, the school boardagreed to comply with the high court’s ruling. Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957.

By 1957, the NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance. Called the “Little Rock Nine”, they were Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942), Thelma Mothershed (b. 1940), and Melba Pattillo Beals (b. 1941). Ernest Green was the first African American to graduate from Central High School.

By the end of September 1957, the nine were admitted to Little Rock Central High under the protection of the 101st Airborne Division (and later the Arkansas National Guard), but they were still subjected to a year of physical and verbal abuse (being spat on and called names) by many of the white students. Melba Pattillo had acid thrown into her eyes and also recalled in her book, Warriors Don’t Cry, an incident in which a group of white girls trapped her in a stall in the girls’ washroom and attempted to burn her by dropping pieces of flaming paper on her from above. Another one of the students, Minnijean Brown, was verbally confronted and abused. She said.

I was one of the kids ‘approved’ by the school officials. We were told we would have to take a lot and were warned not to fight back if anything happened. One girl ran up to me and said, ‘I’m so glad you’re here. Won’t you go to lunch with me today?’ I never saw her again.

Minnijean Brown was also taunted by members of a group of white male students in December 1957 in the school cafeteria during lunch. She dropped her lunch, a bowl of chili, onto the boys and was suspended for six days. Two months later, after more confrontation, Brown was suspended for the rest of the school year. She transferred to New Lincoln High School in New York City. As depicted in the 1981 made-for-TV docudrama Crisis at Central High, and as mentioned by Melba Pattillo Beals in Warriors Don’t Cry, white students were punished only when their offense was “both egregious and witnessed by an adult”. The drama was based on a book by Elizabeth Huckaby, a vice-principal during the crisis. Research more about this and other Civil Rights issues and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 23 1884- Judy W. Reed

GM – FBF – Today, I will share with you as much as I know for at times in our history, we can only go so far. It would have been easier to find another person for today but this history should be know also. Make It A Champion Day!

Remember – “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey

Today in our History – September 23, 1884 – Judy W. Reed received Patent No. 305,474 for her invention.

Judy W. Reed was an American alive during the 1880s, whose only record is known from a US patent. Reed, from Washington, D.C., is considered the first African American woman to receive a US patent. Patent No. 305,474 for a “Dough Kneader and Roller” was granted September 23, 1884. The patent was for an improved design of existing rollers with dough mixing more evenly while being kept covered and protected. It is unknown if she was able to read, write, or even sign her name, as her patent is sighed with an “X”.

Reed may not have been able to read, write or sign her name, 
It should be remembered that during the time of slavery, it was unlawful for slaves to be taught to read and write. Any slaves found reading, writing or teaching others, would be harshly punished or killed.

Since women sometimes used their first and/or middle initials when signing documents, often to disguise their gender, and patent applications didn’t require the applicant to indicate his or her race, it is unknown if there are earlier African American women inventors before Reed.

Besides the patent registration, there are no other records of Reed or her life. There is a possibility that an earlier African-American woman received patent rights; however, since there was no requirement to indicate race, and women often used only their initials to hide their gender, it is unknown. It is also of significance that during the time period, it was illegal for any slaves to be literate, and those found reading, writing or teaching others could be punished severely or killed.

Additionally, the first African-American woman to sign her patent with her own signature (as opposed to making her mark) was Sarah E. Goode of Chicago. Her patent, 322,177, granted on July 14, 1885, was for a Cabinet-bed, ” that class of sectional bedsteads adapted to be folded together when -not in use, so as to occupy less space, and made generally to resemble some article of furniture when so folded.” Research more about Black Woman Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

September 22 1891- Jan Metzeliger

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story that many of you know about but still today as we buy or footwear do we take in mind of his Invention? Today’s controversy with Nike supporting NFL football player Colin Kaepernick and the right to protest is a far cry from what he Invented over a century ago. Enjoy!

Remember – “A shoe is not only a design, but it’s a part of your body language, the way you walk. The way you’re going to move is quite dictated by your shoes” – Jan Ernst Matzeliger.

Today in our History – September 22, 1891 – Jan Metzeliger of Lynn, MA posthumously received patent number 459,899 for improvements in the lasting machine for shoes.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852, in Paramaribo, Suriname—known at the time as Dutch Guiana. Matzeliger’s father was a Dutch engineer, and his mother was Surinamese. Showing mechanical aptitude at a young age, Matzeliger began working in machine shops supervised by his father at the age of 10. At 19, he left Suriname to see the world as a sailor on an East Indian merchant ship. In 1873, he settled in Philadelphia, PA.

After settling in the United States, Matzeliger worked for several years to learn English. As a dark-skinned man, his professional options were limited, and he struggled to make a living in Philadelphia. In 1877, Matzeliger moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, to seek work in the town’s rapidly growing shoe industry. He found a position as an apprentice in a shoe factory. Matzeliger learned the cordwaining trade, which involved crafting shoes almost entirely by hand.

Cordwainers made molds of customers’ feet, called “lasts,” with wood or stone. The shoeswere then sized and shaped according to the molds. The process of shaping and attaching the body of the shoe to its sole was done entirely by hand with “hand lasters.” This was considered the most difficult and time-consuming stage of assembly. Since the final step in the process was mechanized, the lack of mechanization of the penultimate stage, the lasting, created a significant bottleneck.
Matzeliger set out to find a solution to the problems he discerned in the shoemaking process. He thought there had to be a way to develop an automatic method for lasting shoes. He began coming up with designs for machines that could do the job. After experimenting with several models, he applied for a patent on a “lasting machine.”

On March 20, 1883, Matzeliger received patent number 274,207 for his machine. The mechanism held a shoe on a last, pulled the leather down around the heel, set and drove in the nails, and then discharged the completed shoe. It had the capacity to produce 700 pairs of shoes a day—more than 10 times the amount typically produced by human hands.

Matzeliger’s lasting machine was an immediate success. In 1889, the Consolidated Lasting Machine Company was formed to manufacture the devices, with Matzelinger receiving a large amount of stock in the organization. After Matzeliger’s death, the United Shoe Machinery Company acquired his patent.

Matzeliger’s shoe lasting machine increased shoe production tremendously. The result was the employment of more unskilled workers and the proliferation of low-cost, high-quality footwear for people around the world. Unfortunately, Matzeliger was able to enjoy his success for only a short time. He contracted tuberculosis in 1886 and died on August 24, 1889, at the age of 37, in Lynn. In 1991, the United States government issued a “Black Heritage” postage stamp. Research more about black Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!