Month: November 2018

November 30 1912- Gordon Parks

GM – FBF – Our story today may be new to some but ask your grandparents who know of his pictures of famous black people or landscapes or maybe you watched some of his movies on television and didn’t know that was his work. If you have forgotten him, enjoy!

Remember – “At first I wasn’t sure that I had the talent, but I did know I had a fear of failure, and that fear compelled me to fight off anything that might abet it.” Gordon Parks

Today in our History – November 30, 1912 – Gordon Parks was born. He was a prolific, world-renowned photographer, writer, composer and filmmaker known for his work on projects like Shaft and The Learning Tree.

Born on November 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Parks was a self-taught artist who became the first African-American photographer for Life and Vogue magazines. He also pursued movie directing and screenwriting, working at the helm of the films The Learning Tree, based on a novel he wrote, and Shaft. Parks has published several memoirs and retrospectives as well, including A Choice of Weapons.

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born on November 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, Kansas. His father, Jackson Parks, was a vegetable farmer, and the family lived modestly.
Parks faced aggressive discrimination as a child. He attended a segregated elementary school and was not allowed to participate in activities at his high school because of his race.

The teachers actively discouraged African-American students from seeking higher education. After the death of his mother, Sarah, when he was 14, Parks left home. He lived with relatives for a short time before setting off on his own, taking whatever odd jobs he could find.

Parks purchased his first camera at the age of 25 after viewing photographs of migrant workers in a magazine. His early fashion photographs caught the attention of Marva Louis, wife of the boxing champion Joe Louis, who encouraged Parks to move to a larger city. Parks and his wife, Sally, relocated to Chicago in 1940.

Parks began to explore subjects beyond portraits and fashion photographs in Chicago. He became interested in the low-income black neighborhoods of Chicago’s South Side. In 1941, Parks won a photography fellowship with the Farm Security Administration for his images of the inner city. Parks created some of his most enduring photographs during this fellowship, including “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.,” picturing a member of the FSA cleaning crew in front of an American flag.

After the FSA disbanded, Parks continued to take photographs for the Office of War Information and the Standard Oil Photography Project. He also became a freelance photographer for Vogue. Parks worked for Vogue for a number of years, developing a distinctive style that emphasized the look of models and garments in motion, rather than in static poses.

Relocating to Harlem, Parks continued to document city images and characters while working in the fashion industry. His 1948 photographic essay on a Harlem gang leader won Parks a position as a staff photographer for LIFE magazine, the nation’s highest-circulation photographic publication. Parks held this position for 20 years, producing photographs on subjects including fashion, sports and entertainment as well as poverty and racial segregation. He was also took portraits of African-American leaders, including Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and Muhammad Ali.

Parks launched a writing career during this period, beginning with his 1962 autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree. He would publish a number of books throughout his lifetime, including a memoir, several works of fiction and volumes on photographic technique.

In 1969, Parks became the first African American to direct a major Hollywood movie, the film adaptation of The Learning Tree. He wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the film.

Parks’s next film, Shaft, was one of the biggest box-office hits of 1971. Starring Richard Roundtree as detective John Shaft, the movie inspired a genre of films known as blaxploitation. Isaac Hayes won an Academy Award for the movie’s theme song. Parks also directed a 1972 sequel, Shaft’s Big Score. His attempt to deviate from the Shaft series, with the 1976 Leadbelly, was unsuccessful. Following this failure, Parks continued to make films for television, but did not return to Hollywood.

Parks was married and divorced three times. He and Sally Alvis married in 1933, divorcing in 1961. Parks remarried in 1962, to Elizabeth Campbell. The couple divorced in 1973, at which time Parks married Genevieve Young. Young had met Parks in 1962 when she was assigned to be the editor of his book The Learning Tree. They divorced in 1979. Parks was also romantically linked to railroad heiress Gloria Vanderbilt for a period of years.

Parks had four children. His oldest son, filmmaker Gordon Parks Jr., died in a 1979 plane crash in Kenya.

The 93-year-old Gordon Parks died of cancer on March 7, 2006, in New York City. He is buried in his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas. Today, Parks is remembered for his pioneering work in the field of photography, which has been an inspiration to many. The famed photographer once said, “People in millenniums ahead will know what we were like in the 1930’s and the thing that, the important major things that shaped our history at that time. This is as important for historic reasons as any other.” Research more about this great American hero and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 29 2000- Marvel Cooke

GM – FBF – Today’s story is close to my heart because journalism is what I studied in school. The Black woman that we honor today was one of the best. Enjoy!

Remember – “ People of color need all of the things and opportunity that the white culture enjoys.” – Marvel Cooke

Today in our History – November 29, 2000: Marvel Cooke passed away, aged 97. She was a pioneering American journalist, writer, and civil rights activist. She was the first African-American woman to work at a mainstream white-owned newspaper.

*On this date in 1903, Marvel Cooke was born. She was an African American journalist, writer, and civil rights activist.
From Mankato, Minnesota, Marvel Jackson Cooke was the daughter of Amy Wood Jackson and Madison Jackson. Her family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1907 and in 1925, Jackson graduated from the University of Minnesota at the age of 22. When she got out of college, she moved to Harlem in New York City and was hired as editorial assistant at the Crisis, the NAACP publication. Jackson then went to the Amsterdam News where she was secretary to the women’s editor and a general assignment reporter.

While at the Amsterdam News, Jackson helped organize the first Newspaper Guild unit at a Black-owned newspaper while being the first woman reporter in the Amsterdam News’ 40-year history. She broke her engagement to Roy Wilkins and soon Married Cecil Cooke, internationally famous athlete. The Cookes moved to Greensboro, North Carolina where Marvel taught history, English and Latin in the high school department of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College. Moving back to New York City she returned to the Amsterdam News.

In 1935, she was part of the successful eleven-week Guild strike against the newspaper. She then became assistant managing editor at the People’s Voice, a Harlem-based weekly owned by Adam Clayton Powell.

“I was part of the Bronx Slave Market long enough to experience all the viciousness and indignity of a system which forces women to the streets in search of work,” she once said. Her five-part series for the Daily Compass on the abuse suffered by black domestic workers was a result of this research. Cooke also worked as a reporter and feature writer at the Compass, a short-lived white-owned New York City daily newspaper where she was the first black woman to work at a mainstream white-owned newspaper and the only Black and the only woman reporter. Cooke loved immersing herself in the arts. She read, listened to music, studied art, and went to plays. She felt that Black people in the arts contributed things that were lacking in the regular arts, because the stories and art and music of Black people reflected their life experience.

In the early fifties, Cooke devoted herself to political activism. In 1953, she was New York director of the Council of Arts, Sciences and Professions and appeared before a hearing instigated by Sen. Joseph McCarthy New York and Washington, D.C., defending un-American accusations.

Cooke was national legal defense secretary of the Angela Davis Defense Committee in the late sixties and early seventies. Her husband died in 1978. In her later years, she was national vice chairman of the American-Soviet Friendship Committee. Marvel Cooke died in December 2000 in Harlem, N.Y. Research more about black journalist and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 28 1961- Ernie Davis

GM – FBF – I know that many of you may have seen the movie The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, if you haven’t please see it. Today’s story is about that man, who came from humble beginnings in Elmira, NY. He was an American football player, a halfback who won the Heisman Trophy in 1961 and was its first African-American recipient.

He played college football for Syracuse University and was the first pick in the 1962 NFL Draft. Selected by the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL) in December 1961, he was then almost immediately traded to the Cleveland Browns and issued number 45.

He was diagnosed with leukemia in the summer of 1962, and died less than a year later at age 23, without ever playing in a professional game. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. Enjoy!

Remember – “Someplace along the line you have to come to an understanding with yourself, and I had reached mine a long time before, when I was still in the hospital. Either you fight or you give up.” – Ernie Davis

Today in our History – November 28, 1961 – Ernie Davis became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. (December 14, 1939 – May 18, 1963)

ERNIE DAVIS A MAN OF COURAGE – When all his now-fabulous records are broken, as they surely will be someday, when the story of his personal tragedy is no more than an occasional recollection in the mind of an aging generation, Ernie Davis will still be remembered as the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. This award is given annually by New York’s Downtown Athletic Club to the best college football player. Of all such tributes it has come to be regarded as the most important. Sportswriters and broadcasters across the country select the winner, and the award implies something more than just ability on the playing field. It suggests character, too, a quality that Ernie Davis owned in abundance.

Ernie Davis was only 23 when he died in the Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland. During his short lifetime he had not had time to accomplish anything outside of sport; in fact, he had not even had time to fulfill his prime ambition in sport. From the time of his early athletic successes in high school, Ernie had set his heart and mind on being the best professional football player anywhere. He was a shy and quiet young man, and through football he could articulate his pride and the longing for respect and success that burned inside him like a roaring furnace.

Although every college that covets championship football would like to have had Ernie for a student, he chose Syracuse. “I wanted to play in the big time,” he explained, “and a lot of people including Jim Brown persuaded me that I’d have better opportunities there.” When Ernie took over Brown’s old position as the Syracuse halfback, he proudly wore Brown’s No. 44 jersey and during the next three years proceeded to break most of Brown’s records for ground gaining and point scoring.

Ernie followed Jim Brown to the Cleveland Browns as a pro, and, after the financial arrangements had been made, everyone thought that the pairing of these two strong, swift and elusive runners would return the Browns to their former eminence in the National Football League. There was to be a delay, however. Just as that season was about to begin, Ernie Davis was hospitalized with “a blood disorder.” It turned out to be acute monocytic leukemia, the most virulent form of blood cancer.

Davis was treated with a drug known as 6-MP, and within weeks his illness was in a state of total remission. No one knew if it would recur.

Wherever he went in Cleveland that fall, Ernie Davis was as much of a celebrity as if he had been scoring touchdowns for the team. “Hi ya, Ern,” “Hi, Ernie,” “How ya feeling, Ernie?” the fans would shout at him as he hurried, head down, through the stadium on the way to the team’s dressing room. A flicker of a smile would cross Ernie’s usually solemn face as he acknowledged a greeting or reluctantly paused to sign an autograph. He often sat on the bench with the team, one of them in all but uniform. “This is when it’s really frustrating,” he said one afternoon during the Browns’ game with the St. Louis Cardinals. “I’m in real good shape now. But it’s too late in the season to take the time during practice to work me into the setup.”

After the game Ernie went back to the dressing room to congratulate his victorious teammates, and many of the happy players slapped him on the back as if he had been a part of the triumph. Art Modell, the youthful president of the Browns, came up to Davis and said, “Ernie, why don’t you take the Thanksgiving weekend off? You could go spend some time with Helen.” Modeil winked at this reference to Ernie’s girl, Helen Gott, a Syracuse University senior from East Orange, New Jersey.

Later Davis talked about the future in his diffident way, as if every hesitant word were being pulled from within him by the greatest effort. “Starting next year,” he said, “I expect to play 10 or 11 years and then go into business. I’d like to get into purchasing or marketing, something like that where I could use what I learned in college.” Jimmy Brown got Ernie started before the winter was over, helping him land a job with Pepsi-Cola. In his spare time, Ernie played basketball to stay in shape.

Later that week Ernie Davis paid a call on Art Modell at the Browns’ office and said that he had to go into the hospital briefly for some additional treatment. They talked about the future of the football team and how Ernie believed this would be the year the Browns would regain the championship. Ernie apologized, as he often had, for the expense that his medical care was causing the Browns. He entered the hospital on Thursday May 16th and went into a coma on Friday, May 17th.

Early the next morning, Saturday, May 18th he died in his sleep and the news of his death shocked everyone who admires courage and sportsmanship and the many other good, human qualities that Ernie Davis brought to his surroundings. Research more about this great American hero and share with your babies. I will be in executive meetings all day and will not be able to respond to any posts. Make it a champion day!

November 27 1928- Majorie Stewart Joyner

GM – FBF – Many of you might have heard of Madame C.J. Walker, business woman and first black female millionaire. Well today’s story is about the woman who carried on the empire. She also invented a device that helped both black and white women style their hair, which should have made her one of the richest women in America at the time but all of the proceeds went to Madame C.J. Walker’s estate. So she worked with Mary Bethune McLeod in education and founded both a Sorority and Fraternity. Enjoy!

Remember – ““There is nothing a woman can’t do. Men might think they do things all by themselves but a woman is always there guiding them or helping them.” –―Marjorie Joyner

Today in our History – November 27, 1928 – Marjorie Stewart Joyner receives patent # 1,693,515 for a permanent wave machine which could wave the hair of both white and Black people.

Marjorie Stewart Joyner was born in Monterey, Virginia on October 24, 1896, the granddaughter of a slave and a slave-owner. In 1912, an eager Marjorie moved to Chicago, Illinois to pursue a career in cosmetology. She enrolled in the A.B. Molar Beauty School and in 1916 became the first Black women to graduate from the school. Following graduation, the 20 year old married podiatrist Robert E. Joyner and opened a beauty salon.

She was introduced to Madame C.J. Walker, a well-known Black businesswoman, specializing in beauty products and services. Walker supplied beauty products to a number of the most prominent Black figures of the time, including singer Josephine Baker. With her fame, Ms. Walker was able to open over 200 beauty salon shops across the United States. After Madame Walker’s death in 1919, Marjorie was hired to oversee the Madame C.J. Walker Beauty Colleges as national supervisor.

A dilemma existed for Black women in the 1920’s. In order to straighten tightly-curled hair, they could so so only by using a stove-heated curling iron. This was very time-consuming and frustrating as only one iron could be used at a time. In 1926, Joyner set out to make this process faster, easier and more efficient. She imagined that if a number of curling irons could be arranged above women’s head, they could work at the same time to straighten her hair all at once. According to the Smithsonian Institute, Joyner remembered that “It all came to me in the kitchen when I was making a pot roast one day, looking at these long, thin rods that held the pot roast together and heated it up from the inside. I figured you could use them like hair rollers, and then heat them up to cook a permanent curl into the hair.” Thus, she sought a solution to not only straighten but also provide a curl in a convenient manner.

Joyner developed her concept by connecting 16 rods to a single electric cord inside of a standard drying hood. Women would thus wear the hood for the prescribed period of time and her hair would be straightened or curled. After two years Joyner completed her invention and patented it in 1928, calling it the “Permanent Waving Machine.” She thus became the first Black woman to receive a patent and her device enjoyed enormous and immediate success. It performed even better than anticipated as the curl that it added would often stay in place for several days, whereas curls from standard curling iron would generally last only one day.

In addition to the success found in Madame Walker’s salons, the device was a hit in white salons as well, allowing white patrons to enjoy the beauty of their “permanent curl” or “perm” for days. Although popular, the process could be painful as well, so Marjorie patented a scalp protector that could be used to make the experience more pleasant. This too proved to be a major success. Despite her accomplishments and success, Marjorie received none of the proceeds of her inventions as the patents were created within the scope of her employment with Madame Walker’s company, which therefore received all patent rights and royalties. Undeterred, in 1945 Joyner co-founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association along with Mary Bethune McLeod.

She tirelessly helped to raise money for Black colleges and founded the Alpha Chi Pi Omega Sorority and Fraternity in an effort to raise professional standards for beauticians. In 1973, at the age of 77, she was awarded a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Marjorie Joyner died on December 7, 1994 at the age of 98. She left behind her a legacy of creativity, ingenuity and selflessness that served to inspire many generations. Research more about Black female business leaders and Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 26 1878- Marshall Walter Taylor

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a Black man who died penniless but was the “Best” in the world at his profession. I should thank the makers of Hennessy; the liquor company for reminding the world that he existed by having an ad campaign recently on television and radio. I did a story on him last year at this time and I try to do someone one you have not heard of or know little about. So, please read about this great talent during a time no one wanted him to be the greatest of all time in his event and will go down as one of the preeminent American sports pioneers of the 20th century. Enjoy

Remember – “I pray they will carry on in spite of that dreadful monster prejudice, and with patience, courage, fortitude and perseverance achieve success for themselves.” “Life is too short for any man to hold bitterness in his heart.” – Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor
Today in our History – November 26, 1878, Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor is born, and would go on to be just the second black world champion in any sport.

Indianapolis, Indiana’s cyclist Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor began racing professionally when he was 18 years old. By 1900, Taylor held several major world records and competed in events around the globe. After 14 years of grueling competition and fending off intense racism, he retired at age 32. He died penniless in Chicago on June 21, 1932.
Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor was born November 26, 1878, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the early years of his life, Taylor was raised without much money. His father, a farmer and Civil War veteran, worked as carriage driver for a wealthy white family.
Taylor often joined his dad at work and became close to his father’s employers, especially their son, who was similar in age. Eventually, Taylor moved in with the family, a radical change that gave the young boy a more stable home situation with opportunities for a better education.
Taylor was essentially treated as one of the family’s own, and one of their early gifts to him was a new bike. Taylor took to it immediately, teaching himself bike tricks that he showed off to his friends.
When Taylor’s antics caught the attention of a local bike shop owner, he was hired to exhibit his tricks outside the shop to attract more customers. Often, he donned a military uniform, which earned him the nickname “Major” from the shop’s clientele. The nickname remained with him for the rest of his life. 
With the encouragement of the bike shop owner, Taylor entered his first bike race when he was in his early teens, a 10-mile event that he won easily. By the age of 18, Taylor had relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts, and started racing professionally. In his first competition, an exhausting six-day ride at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Taylor finished eighth.
From there, he pedaled into history. By 1898, Taylor had captured seven world records. A year later, he was crowned national and international champion, making him just the second black world champion athlete, after bantamweight boxer George Dixon. He collected medals and prize money in races around the world, including Australia, Europe and all over North America.
As his successes mounted, however, Taylor had to fend off racial insults and attacks from fellow cyclists and cycling fans. Though black athletes were more accepted and had less overt racism to contend with in Europe, Taylor was barred from racing in the American South. Many competitors hassled and bumped him on the track, and crowds often threw things at him while he was riding. During one event in Boston, a cyclist named W.E. Becker pushed Taylor off his bike and choked him until police intervened, leaving Taylor unconscious for 15 minutes.
Despite his fame and talent, Taylor was subject to intense racism and discrimination. He was barred from races, turned away from restaurants and hotels, and subjected to racist insults throughout his career. At one point he was banned from a track in his hometown of Indianapolis after defeating white cyclists (and breaking two world records in the process).
Exhausted by his grueling racing schedule and the racism that followed him, Taylor retired from cycling at age 32. In 1910, despite the obstacles, he had become one of the wealthiest athletes — black or white — of his time.
Sadly, Taylor found his post-racing life to be more difficult. Business ventures failed, and he wound up losing much of his earnings. He also became estranged from his wife and daughter. For Taylor, a retired black athlete, there were few options after retirement. There were no speaking engagements or endorsements. With his health deteriorating and his investments dwindling, Taylor eventually fell into poverty and faded into obscurity.
Taylor moved to Chicago in 1930, and boarded at a local YMCA as he tried to sell copies of his self-published autobiography, The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World. Taylor died alone and penniless in the charity ward of a Chicago hospital on June 21, 1932.
Buried in an unmarked grave in the welfare section of Mount Glenwood Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois, Taylor’s body was exhumed in 1948 through the efforts of a group of former pro racers and Schwinn Bicycle Company owner Frank Schwinn, and moved to a more prominent area of the cemetery.
It would be another forty years before Taylor’s accomplishments were more formally recognized. In the 1980s, Taylor was inducted to the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame, and Indianapolis built the Major Taylor Velodrome, naming their new track after the man who had once been banned from it.
More recently, Taylor was posthumously awarded the Korbel Lifetime Achievement Award by USA Cycling, and the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, Taylor’s adopted home, erected a statue honoring Taylor outside their library. Marshall “Major” Taylor was a pioneer black athlete and his incredible achievements are finally receiving the recognition they deserve.

November 25 1992- The Bodyguard Was Released

GM – FBF – Today’s story is just one short glimpse of the talent that this Newark, NJ and later moved to East Orange, NJ native had. She was blessed to be around a family of great singers including her mother and Aunt who had connections into the entertainment world. Enjoy!

Remember – The Bodyguard is a 1992 American romantic thriller film directed by Mick Jackson, written by Lawrence Kasdan, and starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. Costner stars as a former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard who is hired to protect Houston’s character, a music star, from an unknown stalker. Kasdan wrote the film in the mid-1970s, originally as a vehicle for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross.

Today in our History – November 25, 1992 – The Bodyguard was released.

The film was Houston’s acting debut and was the second-highest-grossing film worldwide in 1992, making $411 million worldwide. The soundtrack became the best-selling soundtrack of all time, selling more than 45 million copies worldwide.

The ads for “The Bodyguard” make it look like a romance, but actually it’s a study of two lifestyles: of a pop music superstar whose fame and fortune depends on millions of fans, and of a professional bodyguard who makes his living by protecting her from those fans. The movie does contain a love story, but it’s the kind of guarded passion that grows between two people who spend a lot of time keeping their priorities straight.

The star is Rachel Marron, played by Whitney Houston, and is as rich and famous as . . . Whitney Houston. The bodyguard is Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner), who got his training in the Secret Service and still blames himself for the fact that Ronald Reagan got shot, even though he had an excellent excuse for being away from work that day. Now Farmer hires himself out at $3,000 a week to guard celebrities, and is careful not to get involved.

Of course that’s easy at the outset. He is hired by Marron’s manager after the singer gets death threats. It’s not love at first sight. The conventions of this genre require that the star and bodyguard have to get off on the wrong foot; she doesn’t want him meddling with her lifestyle and freedom, and he doesn’t have any respect for an uncooperative client.

Eventually the tension between them melts, and there is a sort of love affair, based mostly on mutual proximity (they never talk about much but their professional relationship, and the skills of his job). There’s an odd, effective dating scene where she leaves her mansion to visit his cluttered, grim little apartment (and a peculiar moment with a samurai sword and a scarf that is undeniably erotic).

Meanwhile, Farmer gets to know some of the members of Rachel’s retinue, including her son, her sister, her manager and her obnoxious press agent (Gary Kemp). These people are supported by Marron, and live with her on her terms, creating eddies of jealousy and palace intrigue. She is aware of her power, and tells Farmer she is essentially a nice person who is considered a bitch by a lot of people, and wishes that weren’t so. Houston is effective at suggesting both sides of that personality.

The death threats keep coming in. There is a frightening scene at a charity concert, where Marron places her personal safety in the hands of a mob, and Farmer, with all of his skills, is powerless to protect her. I was less impressed by the scenes where he wires her estate with security cameras, and at one point goes crashing through her shrubbery in pursuit of a suspicious van. What’s he going to do? Leap onto the roof and hammer his way in through the windshield?

The movie was written by Lawrence Kasdan (“Body Heat,” “Grand Canyon”) and directed by Mick Jackson, and contains a little of the Hollywood insider cynicism Kasdan suggested in the Steve Martin character in “Grand Canyon.” The willingness of the press agent to risk anything for publicity is noted, as well as the star’s sense of personal invulnerability. This is Houston’s screen debut, and she is at home in the role; she photographs wonderfully, and has a warm smile, and yet is able to suggest selfish and egotistical dimensions in the character. Costner hugs her with his eyes open, scanning the room for surprise attacks.

The movie was made as a thriller, I suppose, because of box-office considerations. I felt a little cheated by the outcome, although I should have been able to predict it, using my Law of Economy of Characters, which teaches that no movie contains any unnecessary characters, so that an apparently superfluous character is probably the killer.

I thought the basic situation in “The Bodyguard” was intriguing enough to sustain a film all by itself: on the one hand, a star who grows rich through the adulation that fans feel for her, and on the other hand, a working man who, for a salary, agrees to substitute his body as a target instead of hers. Makes you think. Research more about the late American Hero Whitney Houston and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 24 1943- Dorie Miller

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a man who gave his last ounce of courage for the people of black American’s and the
whole of the nation. Many stories about this man’s courage comes out now but during this black man’s time in the Navy during the boming, for his action he a be looked at as a hero and not just a cook, enjoy!

Remember – “”This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I’m sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts. – Dorie Miller

Today in our History – November 24, Dorie Miller dies. He was one of hero of WWII.

Dorie Miller (1919-1943), Hero of World War II
• Serving in a noncombat role in the Navy, Dorie Miller responded heroically when the battleship West Virginia was attacked at Pearl Harbor.

• Because the Navy was segregated, African Americans were not given combat roles or weaponry training, so Miller’s adept ability to shoot down enemy planes was all the more remarkable

• First African American awarded the U.S. Navy Cross
Doris Miller, known as “Dorie,” was born in Waco, Texas, in 1919. He was one of four sons. After high school, he worked on his father’s farm until 1938 when he enlisted in the Navy as mess attendant (kitchen worker) to earn money for his family. At that time the Navy was segregated so combat positions were not open to African-Americans.

On December 7, 1941, Dorie arose at 6 a.m. to begin work. When the Japanese attack occurred, he immediately reported to his assigned battle station. Miller was a former football player and a Navy boxing champ so his job was to carry any of the injured to safer quarters; this included the mortally wounded ship’s captain.
Miller then returned to deck and saw that the Japanese planes were still dive-bombing the U.S. Naval Fleet. He picked up a 50-caliber Browning antiaircraft machine gun on which he had never been trained and managed to shoot down three to four enemy aircraft. (In the chaos of the attack, reports varied, and not even Miller was sure how many he hit.) He fired until he ran out of ammunition; by then the men were being ordered to abandon ship. The West Virginia had been severely damaged and was slowly sinking to the harbor bottom.

Of the 1541 men on board during the attack, 130 were killed and 52 wounded.

On April 1, 1942 Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, and on May 27, 1942 he received the Navy Cross for his extraordinary courage in battle. His rank was raised to Mess Attendant First Class on June 1, 1942.
As happened with other war heroes, Dorie Miller was then sent on a tour in the States to raise money for war bonds, but Miller he was soon called back (spring ’43) to serve on the new escort carrier the USS Liscome Bay. The ship was operating in the Pacific near the Gilbert Islands.

At 5:10 a.m. on November 24, the ship was hit by a single torpedo fired from a Japanese submarine. The torpedo detonated the bomb magazine on the carrier; the bombs exploded, and the ship sank within minutes. Miller was initially listed as missing; by November 1944 he status was changed to “presumed dead.” Only 272 men survived the attack.

Today there is a Dorie Miller park in Hawaii and a good number of schools and buildings throughout the U.S. are named in his honor. He was also one of four Naval heroes featured on U.S. postal stamps in 2010.

However, many officers and men in the Navy felt that for his actions on the West Virginia at Pearl Harbor, Miller deserved more—that he should have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
Following the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I heard from many people who would like to show their support for Dorie Miller being given the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. Research more about this great American hero. Share with your babies and make it a champion day!

November 23 2008- Pearl Gartrell

GM – FBF – Today’s story is of a black lady who outlived all but one of her children and was first married at 14 years old. She had seen the turn of 1900 and 2000 what a story she had to tell from all that she lived through. If you have an elder in your family or know a person that is 90 or more you need to be sitting down with them and hearing as much of their story that they remember for when they are gone that firsthand knowledge goes with them. Enjoy the story!

Remember – “Keep busy, work hard and don’t worry about how old you are.” – Pearl Gartrell

Today in our History – November 23, 2008 – Pearl Gartrell, dies at one time The world’s oldest person at 120 years old.
She Lived Alone as an Adult until she was 118, Passes at 120 Years of Age.

Pearl Gartrell was born in Tillsdale, Georgia on April 1, 1888 as one of the youngest of 15 children. She lived in Jacksonville, Florida for almost seventy years. She died on Sunday, November 23, 2008.

The Baptist lady gave birth to eight children and has outlived all but one of them. Yet, she refused to move to a facility for the elderly and until two years ago, proved that she did not need anyone to live with her. Actually, no one lived with her totally, but her relatives would alternate their time with her even though her great granddaughter, Doris King, spent much of her time with her trying to make sure things went as her great grandmother wanted them to go.

On Tuesday, November 11, Ms. Gartrell became ill and was taken to the hospital. She was placed in Hospice care on November 13 and died on November 23, 2008.

Ms. Gartrell did not have a copy of her birth certificate since she was not born in a hospital. Her birth was recorded in a family Bible. The Florida State ID card did not show the exact year of her birth because the computer would not activate the year, 1888. However, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs acknowledged that she was perhaps the oldest person living in?Florida until the time of her death.

Ms. Gartrell was very careful about her food and did not like to eat in restaurants because she could not be guaranteed that the workers washed their hands.

The lady did have one habit that she would not give up – her can of sweet snuff that she kept inside of her bottom lip. At 120 years of age, she still had most of her own teeth.

Ms. Gartrell was not a person with sickness but she did have some bouts of illness. In fact, the doctors thought she would surely die in 1991 when she contracted pneumonia at the age of 103 and refused to be hospitalized. She did not like to take medication so when such was prescribed, she would hide it under her mattress. Family members learned to watch her closely when medicine was prescribed for her, to make sure she followed orders.

Ms. Gartrell broke her hip and cracked her pelvis in 1998. Once her surgery was completed and the pin in her hip had been installed, she insisted upon going home, and she did. Within months, she was walking again.

Pearl Gartrell raised her great granddaughter, Lolitha Hill and some of the other relatives. When she talked about her younger days, she talked of her mother, who was a midwife, and worked for the town’s white doctor, of their deep-cooking fireplace and the time her mother covered the faces of all of the children with black soot and had them to hide in the back of the fireplace when the KKK came. She also told of the one-room school house that was attached to the Baptist church in Tignall, Georgia, near Athens, Georgia.

Pearl Gartrell married at the age of 14 but says she cannot remember her husband’s name. This memory loss may stem from the fact that her father, brother and husband were killed in her small Georgia town. What she also remembers of her younger days was when she was forced to be submissive and gave birth to two children by a white man in that town. But, she did not harbor hate, even though she was still very shy when it came to white people.

Ms. Gartrell was filled with wisdom and love. She kept strong belief in God and even though she had cataracts, she always wanted the paper, and always wanted The Florida Star, from its first days.

Pearl Gartrell not only raised her children, she helped with the others that came along and remained a God fearing woman. Of her eight children, one died at birth, three died of heart attacks, two had cancer, one son was murdered and found in the St. Johns River and Tom Gartrell still lives in Jacksonville in a nursing facility.

Mrs. King and Mrs. Hill said their great grandmother was the foundation of their family, all the days of her life, and they are eternally grateful. She will truly be missed. Research more about people who live to be over 100 years old and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 22 1986- George Branham

GM – FBF – Today’s story most people would not know the answer to if asked who as a black person won a PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) contest. Enjoy this story!

Remember – “I hope that with my win more blacks will try to shoot for this title” – George Branham

Today in our History – November 22, 1986: – George Branham from Detroit won the PBA Championship (Pro Bowling).

George Branham III is best known as the first African American to win a major Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) title and one of the very few men of color in professional bowling. Branham was born on November 21, 1962 in Detroit Michigan. His father, George Branham Jr., was an avid bowler who began teaching his son the sport in 1968.

In 1977 Branham’s family moved to San Fernando Valley, California where he attended Polytechnic High School. Although a multisport high school athlete, Branham determined that bowling would be his major sport. After high school Branham chose to hone his bowling skills through working in bowling alleys and playing in bowling leagues. In 1983 he won Southern California’s Junior Bowler of the Year and two years later he turned pro at the age of 23.

Branham professional bowling career got off to a quick start as he achieved eight consecutive tournament wins between 1985 and 1987 including the Brunswick Memorial World Open in 1986 where he became the first African American to win a major PBA event.

His career stalled until 1993 when he moved to Indianapolis and soon afterwards won the Baltimore Open. This win qualified Branham to participate in the Tournament of Champions, the PBA’s premiere event of the season.

Branham bowled an average of 238 in eight games and ultimately beat his opponent Parker Bohn III in the tournament’s final round. His victory earned him $65,000 and the title “King of the Hill.”

In 1996 Branham won the Cleveland Open which was his last major PBA victory. He continued to compete professionally until his retirement in 2003. Over his eighteen year career George Branham won five major PBA titles and scored 23,300 game points making him one of the most successful bowlers in modern history.

In 1993 Branham married Jacquelyn Phend. The couple had one daughter, Hadley. After his retirement, he remained devoted to bowling and opened a bowling alley in Indianapolis. Research more about blacks and PBA bowling and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 21 2007- Frances Louise Murphy

GM – FBF – Today’s Story is about a black female who was blessed to be around family that understood the Importance of the spoken word. Her mother was one of the founders of a sorority and a teacher. Her mother was a graduate of my famed University of Wisconsin, so naturally journalism and education were Important to her. She also was named one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine. Enjoy!

Remember – “Education in any form will give strength to a person for life, if the knowledge is sound they will go far in life” – Frances Louise Murphy

Today in our History – November 21, 2007, Frances Louise Murphy, II, died.

Born on October 8, 1922, in Baltimore, Maryland, Frances Louise Murphy, II, grew up in a household that was focused on the newspaper the family published. Murphy’s grandfather, a former slave and Civil War veteran, founded the Afro-American in 1892; her father, Carl, was the editor and publisher of the paper and a professor of German at Howard University.

Murphy’s mother, Vashti, was one of the co-founders of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and was trained as a teacher. Murphy taught until she married Carl Murphy; she then went on to earn her B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1944, where she majored in journalism. In 1958, Murphy earned her B.S. degree from Coppin College, and her M.Ed. degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1963.

During her summers, Murphy worked for the family paper. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Murphy went to work full-time for the Afro-American, and the paper expanded from a single edition to numerous local editions around the country. By 1956, Murphy was the city editor for the Baltimore edition of the paper. After earning her teaching degree from Coppin College, Murphy became an elementary school teacher; she went on to pursue her master’s degree in education. Frustrated with her school assignment, Murphy resigned and began teaching English and working as the director of the news bureau at Morgan State University.

Murphy stayed at Morgan State until 1971, when she was named chairman of the Afro-American. In 1975, Murphy left to become a professor of journalism at State University College in Buffalo, New York, and then on to Howard University in 1985. Murphy became publisher of the Washington Afro-American in 1987, and left Howard University in 1991; she served as editor of the editorial page and wrote the column, “If You Ask Me,” by Frankie Lou for several years.

Murphy was honored by numerous organizations for her achievements; she received the Women of Strength Award from the National Black Media Coalition in 1994 and 1995; the Woman of the 20th Century Award by the National Congress of Black Women; and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine. Murphy served on the boards of the Freedom Foundation, the University of the District of Columbia and the African American Civil War Memorial.

Murphy raised four children, and had seventeen grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
Frances Louise Murphy, II, passed away on Wednesday, November 21, 2007, at the age of eighty-five. Research more about the great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!