GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was a prominent American author and educator. Several of his books were considered standard college texts, including The Negro in Literature and Art in the United States (1918) and New Survey of English Literature (1925). Today in our History – April 22, 1882 – Benjamin Griffith Brawley (April 22, 1882 – February 1, 1939) was born.Born in 1882 in Columbia, South Carolina, Brawley was the second son of Edward McKnight Brawley and Margaret Dickerson Brawley. He studied at Atlanta Baptist College (renamed Morehouse College), graduating in 1901, earned his second BA in 1906 from the University of Chicago, and received his master’s degree from Harvard University in 1908. Brawley taught in the English departments at Atlanta Baptist College, Howard University, and Shaw University.He served as the first Dean of Morehouse College from 1912 to 1920 before returning to Howard University in 1937 where he served as chair of the English department. He wrote a good deal of poetry, but is best known for his prose work including: History of Morehouse College (1917); The Negro Literature and Art (1918); A Short History of the American Negro (1919); A Short History of the English Drama (1921); A Social History of the American Negro (1921); A New Survey of English Literature (1925). In 1927, Brawley declined Second award and Bronze medal awarded to him by the William E. Harmon Foundation Award for Distinguished Achievement Among Negroes: “… a well-known educator and writer, Brawley declined the second-place award because, he said, he had never done anything but first-class work.As a child, Benjamin Brawley learned that all men come from clay and that none of them should look up or down at each other, which kept him from approaching life with a pretentious attitude despite coming from a well-off family. Brawley started developing a deep concern for people as a result of his interactions with children who were less privileged than he was, and his interest in people’s life conditions is believed to have been consequential in his career as a teacher and a scholar. Brawley’s father was an educated man, and Brawley was one of nine children in the family.Because of his father’s position as a church minister, Brawley’s family has had to relocate on many occasions in when he was a child. Brawley’s education started in his home where his mother served as his teacher until his family moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he was admitted into third grade. During his time in Nashville, despite going to a normal school, Brawley’s mother still read Bible stories and verses with him on Sundays. As the son of a minister, Brawley studied Latin when he was twelve years old at Peabody Public School in Petersburg, Virginia, and he learned Greek when he was 14 years old with his father. Brawley’s father introduced him to the story of The Merchant of Venice, and he moved on to read stories, such as, Sanford and Merton and The pilgrim’s Progress in addition to romantic stories that he read outside his family’s library. In his adolescence, Brawley spent most of his summers earning from different jobs; he spent one summer working on a Connecticut tobacco farm, two summers at a printing office in Boston, and he spent some time as a driver for a white physician; besides his working summers, he spent the other half of his free time studying privately to get ahead at school. Brawley entered the Atlanta Baptist Seminary (Morehouse College), where he became aware of the educational discrepancies in the community, at the age of thirteen — most of his older classmates did not know much about classical literature or languages, such as Greek and Latin, which he knew plenty about. During his time at Morehouse, Brawley not only excelled in his studies but he also assisted his fellow classmates by revising their written assignments before they submitted them to their professors. Besides his academic excellence, Brawley displayed significant leadership qualities; he managed Morehouse’s baseball team; he served as quarterback for the football team and as a foreman for the College Printing Office. Additionally, he and another student founded The Atheneum, a student journal that later became Maroon Tiger, in 1898, and this journal featured A Prayer, which Brawley wrote as a response to a lynching that happened in Georgia. Brawley graduated from The Atlanta Baptist Seminary with honors in 1901, and soon after, he launched his teaching career at Georgetown in a one-room school a few miles from Palatka, Florida where he cared for about fourteen children from first to eighth grade. At that school, the term was limited to five months and his salary to no more than thirty dollars a month. While Brawley received a more lucrative job offer right after signing with Georgetown, because he did not want to break a contract at the start of his career, he decided to honor his contract with Georgetown and turned down a contract that would allow him to work for longer school terms and that would significantly increase his monthly pay. After the end of the school term and a year since he began his contract, Brawley headed to Atlanta for a teaching position at his former school, The Atlanta Baptist Seminary, where he continued to teach English for about eight years. While teaching at The Atlanta Baptist Seminary, Brawley pursued a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master of Arts Degree, for which he completed most of the classes during summer sessions. In 1806, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Chicago, and in 1808, he received his Master of Arts from Harvard University. In 1910, Brawley accepted an invitation to become a part of the faculty at Howard University in Washington D.C. where he met a Jamaican lady from Kingston with the name Hilda Damaris Prowd who would later become his wife. In response to their first meeting, Brawley wrote the sonnet First Sight. Prowd and Brawley shared common interests in travels, operas, reading. and hosting friends. Brawley and Prowd left Washington to move back to Atlanta where Brawley was returning to teach English at The Atlanta Baptist Seminary (Morehouse College) and serve as the first dean of the institution. During his first year there since returning, he taught six classes every day in addition to other teaching tasks. Brawley went to the Republic of Liberia in Africa to conduct an educational survey in 1920. Sometime after his trip, Brawley decided to become a minister just like his father in early 1921. Thus, he moved on to serve as a Baptist minister for The Messiah Congregation in Boston, Massachusetts. A year later, he resigned from his position as a minister and returned to teaching because of incompatibility issues with the congregation’s Christianity. After quitting his ministerial position, Brawley went to teach at Shaw University in North Carolina, and a few years later, in 1931, he accepted a teaching position at Howard University in Washington DC where he resided until his death in 1939. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1996 until her death in 2007, representing California’s 37th congressional district, which includes most of South Central Los Angeles and the city of Long Beach, California. She was a member of the Democratic Party.On December 19, 2006, she was named Chairwoman of the House Committee on House Administration for the 110th Congress. She was the first African-American woman to chair the committee. She was also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and of the New Democrat Coalition and was considered a front-runner for the job of Secretary of Transportation if John Kerry had been elected President in 2004.Today In Our History – April 21, 2007 – Juanita Millender-McDonald dies.Millender-McDonald was born in Birmingham, Alabama.She was educated at Los Angeles Harbor College; at the University of Redlands, from which she received a business degree; and at California State University, Los Angeles, from which she earned a masters in educational administration; and the University of Southern California, from which she completed her doctorate in public administration.She worked as a teacher, a textbook editor, and later as director of a nonprofit organization working for gender issues. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Millender-McDonald served as a member of the City Council of Carson, California and was a member of the California State Assembly (after beating two sitting incumbent Democrats that had been reapportioned into the same Carson based assembly district in 1992) before entering the House.She was first elected to the House in a March 1996 special election to replace Congressman Walter Tucker, who resigned due to corruption charges and was later sentenced to 27 months in prison. While she won a difficult nine-candidate primary in her first election run (fellow assembly member Willard Murray came in a close second) she did not face any serious opposition in any of her reelection campaigns.In Congress, she was known for her commitment to protecting international human rights. Millender-McDonald worked to aid victims of genocide and human trafficking. In 1996, she also led an inquiry into allegations that the CIA was working with cocaine traffickers to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Within a week of her requesting a leave of absence to deal with her illness, on April 22, 2007, Millender-McDonald died in hospice care, succumbing to colon cancer at the age of 68 at her home in Carson. She left a husband, James McDonald, Jr., and five adult children. Congresswoman Millender-McDonald’s seat was vacant until Laura Richardson won the August 21, 2007, special election. Under California law, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a special election date of June 26, and because no candidate received more than 50% of the total vote, the candidates with the most votes in their respective parties participated in an August 21 runoff. In the June Primary, State Senator Jenny Oropeza lost to State Assemblywoman Laura Richardson, with Richardson continuing to the August special election, when she defeated Republican John M. Kanaley, Libertarian Herb Peters, and Green Daniel Brezenoff. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was a Tuskegee Airman, he was born on April 20, 1920 in Lovelady, Texas to parents Johnnie C. Morris Wooten and Howard L. Wooten. His father was the principal of the “colored school” in Lovelady, a town 100 miles north of Houston, and his mother also was a teacher there.Today in our History – Howard A. Wooten is born.Howard A. Wooten grew up on a farm near Lovelady and in 1937, at age 17, he entered Prairie View College on a football scholarship. His main interest, however, was in aviation and he attempted to enroll in flight training programs. His father objected because he didn’t think airplanes were safe and because he wanted his son to finish college.Wooten dropped out of Prairie View College in 1940 and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private assigned to a Field Artillery unit. He rose through the ranks, becoming a Staff Sergeant in the 46th Field Artillery Brigade by January 1942.Now 24, and no longer needing his parent’s permission to enter flight training programs, he applied to the Army Flight School at Tuskegee, Alabama in 1944 and graduated in December of that year. After graduation he was assigned to the 15th USAAF Brigade as a fighter pilot, in the 332nd Fighter Group.In January 1945 he was reassigned to the 477th Bombardment Group, where he was one of a select group of Tuskegee pilots who would train to fly North American B-25 Mitchell bombers. Wooten was transferred to Mather Field, California for additional training. Yet Wooten and the other men training on bombers would never see combat, as the war ended before they were sent overseas.Wooten was mustered out of the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1946. He then decided to become an attorney and moved to Seattle, Washington with four brothers and a sister, so as to get as far away as possible from “Jim Crow” Texas. Soon after he arrived, he was hired as a production worker at the Boeing Airplane Company and joined the Aeronautical Machinists Union. While working on the assembly line he met Josephine A. Stratman, another Boeing production worker. They were married in 1947.In 1948 the Machinists Union went on strike at Boeing. Because he and his wife had an infant, Wooten joined the Painters Union and took work painting bridges around Seattle. He died on August 20, 1948, at the age of 28, after he fell 70 feet from a scaffold while painting the 12th Avenue Bridge at the base of Beacon Hill.Long after his death, Howard A. Wooten was memorialized by the U.S. Air Force when his World War II pilot’s photograph was chosen by an advertising agency to represent the famed Tuskegee Airmen. His photo was first seen on Air Force recruiting posters in the 1990s and was later adopted as the official image of the Tuskegee Airmen Foundation. The photograph from the National Archives has also been seen in public media including ESPN, Flight, Ebony, Sports Illustrated, and other periodicals. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American broadcast journalist, most notably serving as co-anchor on ABC World News Tonight alongside Frank Reynolds and Peter Jennings from 1978 until 1983. Robinson is noted as the first African-American broadcast network news anchor in the United States. Robinson was a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.Today in our History – April 19, 1978 – Max Robinson is the first African American to anchor a network news broadcast for ABC.Robinson was born the second of four children (his siblings were his sister Jewell, who became a teacher; his brother Randall, a Harvard-educated lawyer; and his sister Jean, a publicist) to Maxie, a teacher and Doris Robinson in Richmond, Virginia.The schools in Richmond were still segregated when he attended them; after graduating from Armstrong High School, Robinson attended Oberlin College, where he was freshman class president; however, he only stayed there for a year and a half and did not graduate.Robinson briefly served in the United States Air Force and was assigned to the Russian Language School at Indiana University before receiving a medical discharge. He began working in radio early on, including a short time at WSSV-AM in Petersburg, Virginia, where he called himself “Max the Player,” and later at WANT-AM, Richmond.Robinson began his television career in 1959 when he was hired for a news job at WTOV-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia. Robinson had to read the news while hidden behind a slide of the station’s logo. One night, Robinson had the slide removed, and was fired the next day.He later went to WRC-TV in Washington, DC, and stayed for three years, winning six journalism awards for coverage of civil-rights events such as the riots that followed the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was during this time that Robinson won two regional Emmys for a documentary he made on black life in Anacostia entitled The Other Washington. In 1969, Robinson joined the Eyewitness News team at WTOP-TV (now WUSA-TV) in Washington, D.C.Robinson was teamed with anchor Gordon Peterson, becoming the first African-American anchor on a local television news program, and the newscast took off. During that time, he was so well-liked by viewers that when Hanafi Muslims took hostages at the B’nai B’rith building in Washington they would speak only with Robinson.In 1978, when Roone Arledge was looking to revamp ABC News’ nightly news broadcast into World News Tonight, he remembered Robinson from a 60 Minutes interview and hired him to be a part of his new three-anchor format. Robinson would anchor national news from Chicago, while Peter Jennings would anchor international news in London and Frank Reynolds would be the main anchor from Washington. Robinson thus became the first black man to anchor a nightly network news broadcast. The three-man co-anchor team was a ratings success, and launched spoofs regarding how the three would pitch stories to each other during the telecast by saying the other’s name: “Frank”…”Max”….”Peter,” etc.Robinson’s ABC tenure was marked by conflicts between himself and the management of ABC News over viewpoints and the portrayal of Black America in the news. In addition, he was known by his co-workers to show up late for work or sometimes not show up at all, along with his moods, and his use of alcohol escalated. In addition, Robinson was known to fight racism at any turn and often felt unworthy of the admiration he received and was not pleased with what he had accomplished. Together with Bob Strickland, Robinson established a program for mentoring young black broadcast journalists.During most of Robinson’s tenure, ABC News used the Westar satellite to feed Robinson’s segment of WNT from Chicago to New York. TVRO receiver earth stations were also coming into use at the time, and anyone who knew where to find the satellite feeds could view the feed. On the live feed, Robinson could be seen to have a drink or two, but never during the actual aired segment, which led some bars around the country to even have drink specials during the nearly 90 minutes and invited patrons to come in and see the “Max ‘R'” feed. ABC eventually caught on to what was happening and even resorted to hide what was going on by supering a slide with the words “ABC News Chicago” on the screen during the live feed during times that Robinson was not live over the actual WNT broadcast. In addition, Robinson could often be seen being harsh towards those who worked around him during the live feed. Reynolds died in 1983, and shortly afterward Jennings was named sole anchor of World News Tonight. Robinson was relegated to the weekend anchor post, as well as reading hourly news briefs. He left ABC in 1983, and joined WMAQ-TV in Chicago in March 1984; he was the station’s first black anchor. But his tenure with the station was rocky, and he had conflicts with some of his colleagues. He was also frequently absent Robinson retired in 1985.Robinson was married three times. Two ended in divorce, one in annulment. His first marriage was to Eleanor Booker from 1963 to 1968 and they had three children: Mark, Maureen, and Michael. His second marriage was to Hazel O’Leary from 1974 to 1975. Robinson’s final marriage was to Beverly Hamilton from 1977 to 1986, with whom he had another son, Malik. Robinson was the older brother of Randall Robinson.Robinson was found to have AIDS while he was hospitalized for pneumonia in Illinois; but he kept it a secret, refusing to discuss it, despite widespread rumors about why his health was deteriorating. In the fall of 1988, Robinson was in Washington to deliver a speech at Howard University’s School of Communications when he became increasingly ill. Robinson checked himself into Howard University Hospital or a hospital in Blue Island, Illinois (sources differ) where he died of complications due to AIDS on December 20, 1988. He had asked that his family reveal that he had AIDS so that, according to the news reports, “Others in the black community would be alerted to the dangers and the need for treatment and education.” Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion event was in 1931, twelve-year-old Thomas J. Pressly witnessed the lynching of George Smith in Union City, the county seat of Obion County, Tennessee. He was a University of Washington historian and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Pressley describes that lynching in the article below. Professor Pressly passed away on April 3, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.Today in our History – On the morning of April 18, 1931, a friend of mine in Troy, Hal Bennet, five or six years older than I, told me that he had to drive his car to Union City to purchase some parts for the car.When I was twelve years old, I saw the body of a young black man hanging from the limb of a tree where he had been hung several hours earlier. The lynching had taken place in April, 1931, in Union City, the county seat, of Obion County, in Northwestern Tennessee, not too far from the Kentucky line to the north, and from the Mississippi River to the west.I lived in Troy, Tennessee, a town of five hundred inhabitants, ten miles. south of Union City. On the morning of April 18, 1931, a friend of mine in Troy, Hal Bennet, five or six years older than I, told me that he had to drive his car to Union City to purchase some parts for the car, and he asked if I wanted to go along for the ride. I was not old enough to drive, and I was happy to accept his invitation. Neither Hal not I had heard anything about a lynching in Union City, but when we entered town, we soon passed the Court House and saw that the grounds were filled with people and that the black man’s body was hanging from the tree.We were told by people in the crowd that the lynched man was in his early twenties, and that on the previous night, he had entered the bedroom and clutched the neck of a young lady prominent as a singer and pianist, the main entertainer at the new radio station recently established in Union City as the first station in Obion County. The young lady said she had fought off her attacker and severely scratched his face before he fled from her house. Within hours the sheriff and his deputy, using bloodhounds, had tracked down a black man who had scratches on his face. They then brought him before the young woman who identified him as her assailant. Convinced he had the attacker, the sheriff put him in the jail, which occupied the top floor of the Court House. Before long, however, a mob of whites gathered, broke into the jail, overpowered the sheriff and deputy, and hung the victim from the limb of the tree near the jail. I did not know the name of the black man who died that day. I was later told that he was a high school graduate which was unusual for blacks or whites in my county in that period, and that he knew the family of the woman attacked.When my friend Hal and I drove back to Troy later that day, we carried another boy from Troy named Denton who was about the same age as Hal, although neither Hal nor I knew him very well. As we left Union City, headed for Troy, we passed a black man who was waking by the side of the highway. Denton, riding in the back seat, rolled down his window and shouted at the black man, “You better watch out, you black son-of-a-bitch, they will get you next.” Hal immediately stopped the car and said to Denton “If you say one more word like that, you will be out of this car, and will be walking the ten miles to Troy.”Even though I was only a twelve-year-old, I well understood the difference between Hal and Denton, because it reflected to me the primary difference between the whites in Troy. All the adults in Hal’s family and in my family were college graduates, as were the adults in the Moffat family, the Grier family, and in several other Troy families. They were all Scotch Irish Presbyterians. As I learned later when I went to college, these Scotch Irish Presbyterians were equivalent to the 17th century Puritans who settled in Massachusetts and then immediately founded a college, so that the ministers would be educated.The college founded by the early Scotch Irish Presbyterians, the ancestors of those in Troy, was Erskine College and Theological Seminary established in the 1840’s in South Carolina. Erskine College was where most of the college graduates in Troy had gone to school, and the Erskine Theological Seminary was where my grandfather and one of my uncles had received their training for the ministry.I think that there were only thirty or forty blacks in Troy (this was not plantation country), and most of them were maids, cooks, and men who took care of lawns and of pigs, cows, and horses. Clearly, the whites in Troy controlled the blacks, economically and socially, but I had never heard any whites talk to blacks, or refer to blacks, as Denton did on that trip from Union City. There was no church for blacks in the town of Troy, nor was there any school for blacks. I do not know whether Denton had a family, or whether he belonged to any church. If he did attend any church, my guess is that it would have been the Cumberland Church—whose minister was neither a college graduate nor a high school graduate, and who ran Troy’s only butcher shop.Did Troy itself ever have a lynching? So far as I know, it did not, but my mother told me of one occasion (before I was born) when she and my father feared that a lynching would take place. My mother said the occasion was on a Saturday, some time after 1904 (the year in which my father and mother were married). The number of whites in Troy increased greatly on Saturdays, because that was the day on which farmers and their families came into town to buy groceries and clothing, and to see friends and relatives, and to find out local news. On this particular Saturday afternoon, according to my mother, a high-school-age girl (whom my mother did not know and who was probably from one of the farm families), became quite upset and told a great many people that a black man from Troy (I never heard of any black farmers who lived near Troy), when he approached her on the sidewalk in Troy, did not get off the sidewalk and walk in the ditch as she thought he should have done, so that she could have had the entire sidewalk for herself.My mother and father had known the black man she described for some time, and had a favorable opinion of him, and they also thought that the complaint by the young girl was outrageous. When they saw a crowd of whites began to gather around the girl, my father motioned unobtrusively to the black man to slip into my father’s store before the crowd of whites became large. My father and mother then hid the black man under bolts of cloth in their store. As the afternoon wore on, groups of whites searched for the black man in each of the stores, and in some of the surrounding streets. When it began to get dark, many of the farmers left with their families to go back to their farm homes, but there were still a few whites hanging around and searching for the black man.By about ten o’clock, all the stores closed, and my mother made a point of making a lot of noise when she locked the door on their store, and then in leaving their store and walking away toward our home (leaving my father alone in the dark store with the hidden black man).By midnight, there was no one left on the streets. Our store had a back door, not visible from the street, and after an hour or so my father was able to get a horse (the man who ran the livery stable was a friend of my father’s), and bring it to the back door of the store. He gave the horse to the black man telling him that it would probably be unsafe for him to ever return to Troy. The black man got away on the horse without being detected, and about four days later he got word to my father that he was in Kentucky and hoped to make it to Canada.My father and mother never hear from him after that. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion signed a bill Abolition in the District of ColumbiaOn April 16, 1862, President Lincoln signed an act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, an important step in the long road toward full emancipation and enfranchisement for African Americans.Today in our History – April 16, 1862 – President Lincoln ends abolition in the Nation’s capital.“Celebration of the Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia by the Colored People, in Washington, April 19, 1866.” Frederick Dielman, artist; Illus. in: Harper’s weekly, v. 10, no. 489 (1866 May 12), p. 300. The Civil War. The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship.This illustration from Harper’s Weekly depicts the fourth anniversary of the District’s Emancipation Act. On April 19, 1866, African American citizens of Washington, D.C., staged a huge celebration.Approximately 5,000 people marched up Pennsylvania Avenue, past 10,000 cheering spectators, to Franklin Square for religious services and speeches by prominent politicians. Two of the black regiments that had gained distinction in the Civil War led the procession.Before 1850, slave pens, slave jails, and auction blocks were a common site in the District of Columbia, a hub of the domestic slave trade. In the words of one slave who worked for a time in the District’s Navy Yard:…I generally went up into the city to see the new and splendid buildings; often walked as far as Georgetown, and made many new acquaintances among the slaves, and frequently saw large numbers of people of my color chained together in long trains, and driven off towards the South.Charles Ball, “Fifty Years in Chains or The Life of an American Slave External,” 18-19, in First-Person Narratives of the American South ExternalAs slavery became less profitable in the border states, many traders purchased slaves and shipped them to the Deep South.In cities such as New Orleans, slaves often were resold at a higher price to cotton, rice, and indigo plantation owners. Abolitionists petitioned Congress in 1828 to abolish the District’s notorious trade. Yet, despite the efforts of John Quincy Adams and others, Congress gagged discussion of the issue for nearly 20 years.In 1849, Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln attempted to introduce a bill for gradual emancipation of all slaves in the District. Although the District’s slave trade ended the following year, his emancipation attempt was aborted by Senator John C. Calhoun and others.As president, Lincoln was better able to effect the issue. He saw slavery as morally wrong yet held it to be an institution dying under its own weight, to be abolished by voter consent. But, as commander in chief, Lincoln also realized the military expediency of emancipation. He abolished slavery in the Capital five months prior to issuing his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The law he signed eventually provided District slave holders compensation for 2,989 slaves.Twenty-one years later, on April 16, 1883, Frederick Douglass spoke at a commemoration of abolition in the District. He called attention to African Americans’ continued struggle for civil rights:It is easy to break forth in joy and thanksgiving for Emancipation in the District of Columbia, to call up the noble sentiments and the starting events which made that measure possible. It is easy to trace the footsteps of the [N]egro in the past, marked as they are all the way along with blood. But the present occasion calls for something more. How stands the [N]egro to-day?Research more about this great American Champion and shear it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – Today’s American Champion is an American former professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), a record 19-time NBA All-Star, a 15-time All-NBA selection, and an 11-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. A member of six NBA championship teams as a player and two more as an assistant coach, Abdul-Jabbar twice was voted NBA Finals MVP. In 1996, he was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time.After winning 71 consecutive basketball games on his high school team in New York City, Alcindor was recruited by Jerry Norman, the assistant coach of UCLA, where he played for coach John Wooden on three consecutive national championship teams and was a record three-time MVP of the NCAA Tournament. Drafted with the first overall pick by the one-season-old Bucks franchise in the 1969 NBA draft, Alcindor spent six seasons in Milwaukee. After leading the Bucks to its first NBA championship at age 24 in 1971, he took the Muslim name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Using his trademark “skyhook” shot, he established himself as one of the league’s top scorers. In 1975, he was traded to the Lakers, with whom he played the final 14 seasons of his career and won five additional NBA championships. Abdul-Jabbar’s contributions were a key component in the “Showtime” era of Lakers basketball. Over his 20-year NBA career, his teams succeeded in making the playoffs 18 times and got past the first round 14 times; his teams reached the NBA Finals on 10 occasions.At the time of his retirement at age 42 in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA’s all-time leader in points scored (38,387), games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), career wins (1,074), and personal fouls (4,657). He remains the all-time leader in points scored, field goals made, and career wins. He is ranked third all-time in both rebounds and blocked shots. In 2007, ESPN voted him the greatest center of all time, in 2008, they named him the “greatest player in college basketball history”, and in 2016, they named him the second best player in NBA history (behind Michael Jordan). Abdul-Jabbar has also been an actor, a basketball coach, a best-selling author, and a martial artist, having trained in Jeet Kune Do under Bruce Lee and appeared in his film Game of Death (1972). In 2012, Abdul-Jabbar was selected by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be a U.S. global cultural ambassador. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.Today in our History – April 16, 1947 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.American collegiate and professional basketball player who, as a 7-foot 2-inch- (2.18-metre-) tall centre, dominated the game throughout the 1970s and early ’80s.Alcindor played for Power Memorial Academy on the varsity for four years, and his total of 2,067 points set a New York City high-school record (that has since been broken). His offensive skill was so developed coming out of high school that the collegiate basketball rules committee, fearing he would be able to score at will, made dunking illegal prior to his enrollment at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1965. Despite the new rule, he set a UCLA scoring record with 56 points in his first game. Playing for renowned coach John Wooden, Alcindor helped lead UCLA to three National Collegiate Athletic Association championships (1967–69), and during his stay at UCLA the team lost only two games. The no-dunking rule was rescinded in the years after Alcindor graduated.Alcindor joined the National Basketball Association (NBA) Milwaukee Bucks for the 1969–70 season and was named Rookie of the Year. In 1970–71 the Bucks won the NBA championship, and Alcindor led the league in scoring (2,596 points) and points-per-game average (31.7), as he did in 1971–72 (2,822 points; 34.8). Having converted to Islam while at UCLA, Alcindor took the Arabic name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1971. In 1975 he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, who won the NBA championship in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988. In 1984 he surpassed Wilt Chamberlain’s career scoring total of 31,419 points.Although Abdul-Jabbar lacked the physical strength of NBA centres Chamberlain and Willis Reed, he brought an excellent shooting touch to the position and a wide range of graceful post moves, including his sweeping, nearly indefensible sky hook. He also was an outstanding passer. Abdul-Jabbar retired at the end of the 1988–89 season, having been voted NBA Most Valuable Player a record six times. By the end of his extraordinarily long career, he had set NBA records for most points (38,387), most field goals made (15,837), and most minutes played (57,446). At the time of his retirement, Abdul-Jabbar had also amassed the most blocked shots in league history (3,189; since broken by Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo) and the third most career rebounds (17,440). He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 and was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996.Away from the basketball court, Abdul-Jabbar pursued interests in acting and writing. He appeared on television and in a handful of films, including a memorable turn as a copilot in the comedy Airplane! (1980). His autobiography, Giant Steps, was published in 1983. His writings on the African American experience also included Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement (1996; with Alan Steinberg), Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes (2004; with Anthony Walton), On the Shoulders of Giants: My Personal Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance (2007; with Raymond Obstfeld), and the children’s book What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors (2012; with Obstfeld). In addition, he wrote Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship on and off the Court (2017) as well as a mystery series (with Anna Waterhouse) about Sherlock Holmes’s older brother, Mycroft: Mycroft Holmes (2015), Mycroft and Sherlock (2018), and Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage (2019). Abdul-Jabbar also did some basketball coaching and consulting, including a stint on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona. In 2016 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 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GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was the first Black professional American football player. He played for the Shelby Blues of the “Ohio League” from 1902 to 1906. On September 16, 1904, he signed a contract with Shelby making him the first Black man contracted to play professional football on an integrated team. He was also the first Black catcher to move from college baseball into the Negro leagues. Today in our History – April 15, 1910 – Charles W. Follis, a.k.a. “The Black Cyclone,” (February 3, 1879 – April 15, 1910) died.The first African American professional football player, Charles W. Follis, was born February 3, 1879, in Cloverdale, Virginia. The Follis family moved to Wooster, Ohio, where he attended Wooster High School and participated in organizing and establishing the first varsity football team. He played right halfback and served as team captain on a squad that had no losses that year.In1901, Follis entered the College of Wooster. Rather than playing football for the college, he played for the town’s amateur football team – the Wooster Athletic Association, where he earned the nickname of the “Black Cyclone from Wooster.”In 1902, Frank C. Schieffer, manager of the Shelby Athletic Club secured employment for Follis at Howard Seltzer and Sons Hardware Store in rural Shelby, Ohio. The six-foot, 200-pound Follis played for Shelby in 1902 and 1903.In 1904, Follis signed a contract with the Shelby Athletic Club, later the Shelby Blues. With that contract, he became the first professional African American football player. Follis played on the team with Branch Rickey, the Ohio Wesleyan University student and future Brooklyn Dodger owner who would sign Jackie Robinson to integrate major league baseball in 1947.Like other players who integrated sports teams, Follis faced discrimination. Players on opposing teams targeted Follis with a rough play that resulted in injuries. At a game in Toledo in 1905, fans taunted him with racial slurs until the Toledo team captain addressed the crowd and asked them to stop. In Shelby, Follis joined his teammates at a local tavern after a game; the owner denied him entry. At the Thanksgiving Day game of the 1906 season, Follis suffered a career-ending injury.Follis turned to baseball, a sport he played for many years in the spring and summer. Having played for the Wooster College and in the Ohio Trolley League, Follis was an experienced baseball player, but could only play in segregated baseball leagues. He played for the Cuban Giants, a black baseball team, as a catcher.On April 15, 1910, at the age of 31, Follis died of pneumonia in Cleveland, after playing in a Cuban Giants game. He was buried in Wooster Cemetery in Wooster, Ohio. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American professional baseball player.Howard on the field was a catcher, left fielder and coach. During a 14-year baseball career, he played in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball from 1948 through 1968, primarily for the New York Yankees. He also played for the Kansas City Monarchs and the Boston Red Sox.In 1955, he was the first African American player on the Yankees roster; this was eight years after Jackie Robinson had broken the MLB color barrier in 1947. Howard was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player for the 1963 pennant winners after finishing third in the league in slugging average and fifth in home runs, becoming the first black player in AL history to win the honor. He won Gold Glove Awards in 1963 and 1964, in the latter season setting AL records for putouts and total chances in a season. His lifetime fielding percentage of .993 as a catcher was a major league record from 1967 to 1973, and he retired among the AL career leaders in putouts (7th, 6,447) and total chances (9th, 6,977).Today in our History – April 14, 1955 – Elston Gene Howard (February 23, 1929 – December 14, 1980) made the Yankees’ major league roster at the start of the 1955 season. On April 14, 1955 (the second game of the season), Howard made his major league debut when he entered the game in the sixth inning as a left fielder. Howard was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Travis Howard and Emaline Hill, a nurse at a local hospital. When he was six years old, his parents divorced and his mother remarried. Howard was a standout athlete at Vashon High School.In 1948, nineteen-year-old Howard turned down college football scholarship offers from Illinois, Michigan, and Michigan State and instead signed to play professional baseball for $500 a month with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League under manager Buck O’Neil. He was an outfielder for three seasons and in 1950 roomed with Ernie Banks. The Yankees signed Howard on July 19, 1950, after he was purchased along with Frank Barnes. They were assigned to the Muskegon Clippers, the Yankees’ farm team in the Central League. Howard missed the 1951 and 1952 seasons due to his military service in the U.S. Army.In 1953, Howard played for the Kansas City Blues of the Class AAA American Association. The next year, the Yankees invited Howard to spring training and converted him into a catcher, despite the presence of Yogi Berra as the Yankees’ starting catcher. He played with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Class AAA International League in 1954, where he led the league in triples, with 16, to go along with 22 home runs, 109 runs batted in and a .330 average, winning the league’s MVP award.The Yankees assigned Bill Dickey to work with Howard in order to develop his catching skills. Howard made the Yankees’ major league roster at the start of the 1955 season. On April 14, 1955 (the second game of the season), Howard made his major league debut when he entered the game in the sixth inning as a left fielder. Howard hit a single in his only plate appearance of the day. He became the first African American to play for the Yankees. Howard was known to be very slow afoot. When Howard first came to the Yankees, Stengel referred to him as “Eightball”. Howard made his first start on April 28, because it was difficult to find room for Howard in the lineup. Berra won his third MVP award in 1955, and Mickey Mantle and Hank Bauer were solid outfield regulars. Stengel used Howard as a backup catcher and occasional outfielder; he competed for playing time with Norm Siebern and Enos Slaughter. He hit .290 with 10 home runs and 43 runs batted in (RBIs) in 97 games played for the season. In the 1955 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Howard hit a home run off of Don Newcombe in his first at bat in the second inning of Game 1. The round tripper tied the game at 2-2, and the Yankees went on to win the game, 6-5. Howard’s ground ball out to Pee Wee Reese in Game 7 ended the Series; it was the first time in six meetings that the Yankees had lost to Brooklyn. In the 1956 World Series against Brooklyn he played only in Game 7, but his solo home run off Newcombe in the fourth inning was one of four Yankee HRs in Johnny Kucks’ 9-0 victory. Against the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series, his three-run homer off Warren Spahn with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 4 tied the score 4-4, though Milwaukee won 7-5 in the 10th inning. As the Yankees again met the Braves in the 1958 World Series, his impact did not become notable until Game 5, when he caught Red Schoendienst’s sinking fly ball in the sixth inning and made a throw to catch Bill Bruton off first base for a double play, preserving a 1-0 lead. In Game 6, he threw Andy Pafko out at the plate in the second inning, and singled and scored with two out in the tenth inning for a 4-2 Yankee lead; the run proved decisive, as the Braves came back to score once in the bottom of the frame.In Game 7, his two-out RBI single scored Berra for a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning, with New York going on to a 6-2 win, completing only the second comeback by a team from a 3-1 deficit in a Series. Howard was later given the Babe Ruth Award, presented by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, as the top player in the Series, although the World Series MVP Award was won by teammate Bob Turley.By 1959, Howard was often playing at first base in order to remain in the lineup. Despite not finding a regular position yet, he was first selected to the All-Star team in 1957, the first of nine consecutive years through 1965 in which he made the squad; he would appear in six of the games (1960–1964), including both 1961 contests.In 1960, Howard finally took over the majority of Berra’s catching duties, although his .245 batting average was his lowest to date. The Yankees met the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1960 World Series, and Howard’s two-run pinch-hit homer off Roy Face in the ninth inning of Game 1 brought the Yankees within two runs, though they lost 6-4. Howard hit .462 in the Series, but did not play in Game 7 after being hit on the hand by a pitch in the second inning of Game 6, and could only watch as the Pirates won the Series, 10-9, on Bill Mazeroski’s home run leading off the bottom of the ninth. In 1961 he raised his average 103 points to a career-best .348 mark on a team that featured Roger Maris’ record 61-home run season; Howard also enjoyed his first 20-homer campaign, along with 77 RBI, as the Yankees set a major league record with 240 HRs. He finished tenth in the MVP voting that year, won by Maris. Meeting the Cincinnati Reds in the 1961 Series, he and Bill Skowron had solo home runs in the 2-0 Game 1 victory, and he scored three runs in the final 13-5 win in Game 5. He followed up with a 1962 season in which he batted .279 with a career-best 91 RBI, again hitting over 20 homers, and collecting eight RBI in an August 19 game in Kansas City which the Yankees won, 21-7. Although Howard batted only .143 in the 1962 World Series against the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees won in seven games.In his 1963 MVP season, he batted .287 with 28 home runs, 85 RBI and a .528 slugging average, also winning his first Gold Glove. The Yankees were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1963 Series, though Howard hit .333 and drove in the only Yankee run of Game 2.He batted .313 (just ten points behind batting champion Tony Oliva) with 84 RBI in 1964, again winning the Gold Glove and placing third in the MVP vote as Berra took over Ralph Houk’s post as manager. His totals of 939 putouts and 1,008 total chances broke the AL records of 872 and 963 set by Earl Battey with the 1962 Minnesota Twins; Bill Freehan would top Howard’s marks with the 1967 Detroit Tigers. Howard also led the AL in fielding average in 1964 with a .998 mark. Playing in his ninth World Series in ten years against the St. Louis Cardinals, he batted .292 though the Yankees were overcome in seven games; he tied a Series record with three passed balls, including two in the 9-5 Game 1 loss. In 1965, Howard injured his elbow during spring training. He played in four games through April, and then had surgery, missing five more weeks. Howard struggled in 1967. He backed up Jake Gibbs and batted only .198 through the start of August. On August 3, 1967, Howard was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Pete Magrini and a player to be named later (Ron Klimkowski). Though he batted only .147 for Boston, he was effective in handling the pitchers; teammate Tony Conigliaro noted, “I don’t think I ever saw a pitcher shake off one of his signs. They had too much respect for him.” In 1967, Howard also took over Sherm Lollar’s major-league record for career fielding average; Freehan moved ahead of him in 1973.One of Howard’s highlights during his time with the Red Sox occurred on August 27, 1967 when the Chicago White Sox were battling the Red Sox for the pennant. With Ken Berry on third base with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Red Sox leading 4-3, Duane Josephson lined out to Jose Tartabull in right field. Not known for having a strong arm, Tartabull’s throw sailed high and was caught by a leaping Howard who blocked the plate with his left foot as he came down, and swipe tagged Berry ending the game. For Red Sox fans, the play was considered a key event during their “Impossible Dream” season. Howard had his last postseason highlight in the 1967 World Series against the Cardinals when his bases-loaded single in the ninth inning of Game 5 drove in two runs for a 3-0 lead. The hit was crucial, as former teammate Maris homered in the bottom of the inning for the Cardinals before the Red Sox closed out the 3-1 win. St. Louis, however, won the Series in seven games. It was the sixth losing World Series team Howard played on; he and Pee Wee Reese have the dubious distinction for playing on the most losing World Series teams.On October 29, 1968, Howard was released by the Red Sox. Over his 14-year career, he batted .274 with 167 home runs, 1,471 hits, 762 RBI, 619 runs, 218 doubles, 50 triples and nine stolen bases in 1,605 games. His .427 slugging average trailed those of only Dickey (.486), Berra (.482) and Mickey Cochrane (.478) among AL catchers. Defensively, he recorded a .993 fielding percentage as a catcher and a overall .992 fielding percentage. Howard also played at left and right field and first base. His 54 total World Series games placed him behind only teammates Berra and Mantle. Howard is also credited with being the first to use the extended index and pinky finger (corna) to indicate that there were two out in the inning, this being more visible to teammates in the outfield than the usual “two” gesture of the index and middle fingers.Howard returned to the Yankees the following year, where he served as first-base coach from 1969 to 1979. He was the first black coach in the American League. The team won the AL pennant in 1976 and the World Series in 1977 and 1978. During a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in June 1977, Howard and Yogi Berra were peacemakers during a dugout incident between Yankees player Reggie Jackson and Yankees manager Billy Martin.After Howard’s coaching career ended, he became an administrative assistant with the Yankees; however, that position did not last long due to declining health. Howard was diagnosed with myocarditis, a rare heart disease that causes rapid heart failure. He was considering a heart transplant, but his condition quickly deteriorated.After staying a week at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, Howard died of the heart ailment at age 51 in 1980. He was interred at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey.Red Smith, a columnist for The New York Times, reacted by writing, “The Yankees’ organization lost more class on the weekend than George Steinbrenner could buy in 10 years.” In Howard’s memory, the Yankees wore black armbands on their sleeve during the 1981 season. On July 21, 1984, the Yankees retired Howard’s uniform number 32 and dedicated a plaque in his honor for Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. On that day the Yankees also bestowed the same honors to Roger Maris who, unlike Howard, was still living. Howard’s plaque describes him as “A man of great gentleness and dignity” and “one of the truly great Yankees.”Howard is credited with inventing the batting “doughnut”, a circular lead weight with a rubber shell used by batters in the on-deck circle by placing it around a bat to make it feel heavier, so that it will feel lighter at the plate and easier to swing.Its widespread use caused the discontinuation of the practice of hitters swinging multiple bats at the same time while waiting to hit. Howard helped two New Jersey entrepreneurs, Frank Hamilton and Vince Salvucci, to market the bat weight and lent his name to the product.Howard is portrayed in the Broadway play Bronx Bombers. He was also portrayed in the film 61*. Resrarch more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion is a pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, a congregation he led for 36 years, during which its membership grew to over 8,000 parishioners. Following retirement, his beliefs and preaching were scrutinized when segments of his sermons about terrorist attacks on the United States and government dishonesty were publicized in connection with the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.Today in our History – April 13, 2003 – “Speech on confusing God and Government.” By Doctor Jeremiah Wright Jr. Wright, who was Barack Obama’s former pastor, gained national attention in March 2008 when ABC News, after reviewing dozens of Wright’s sermons, excerpted parts which were subject to intense media scrutiny. Obama denounced the statements in question, but after critics continued to press the issue of his relationship with Wright he gave a speech titled “A More Perfect Union”, in which he denounced Wright’s remarks, but did not disown him as a person. The controversy began to fade, but was renewed in late April when Wright made a series of media appearances, including an interview on Bill Moyers Journal, a speech at the NAACP and a speech at the National Press Club. After the last of these, Obama spoke more forcefully against his former pastor, saying that he was “outraged” and “saddened” by his behavior, and in May he resigned his membership in the church. On June 9, 2009, in an interview with the Daily Press of Newport News, Wright indicated that he hadn’t had contact with Obama up to that point because “Them Jews aren’t going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he’ll talk to me in five years when he’s a lame duck, or in eight years when he’s out of office.” Wright also suggested that Obama did not send a delegation to the Durban Review Conference in Geneva on racism because of Zionist pressure saying: “[T]he Jewish vote, the A-I-P-A-C vote, that’s controlling him, that would not let him send representation to the Durban Review Conference, that’s talking this craziness on this trip, cause they’re Zionists, they would not let him talk to someone who calls a spade what it is.” Writing for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates characterized Wright’s remarks as “crude conspiratorial antisemitism.” On June 11, 2009, Wright amended his remarks during an interview with Mark Thompson on his radio program, Make it Plain. “Let me say like Hillary, I misspoke. Let me just say: Zionists… I’m not talking about all Jews, all people of the Jewish faith, I’m talking about Zionists.” Wright wrote on his Facebook page apologizing for his remarks on June 12, 2009. He wrote, “I mis-spoke and I sincerely meant no harm or ill-will to the American Jewish community or the Obama administration… I have great respect for the Jewish faith and the foundational (and central) part of our Judeo-Christian tradition.” “In other words”, another Atlantic writer, Jeffrey Goldberg, alleged, “[H]e regrets speaking plainly instead of deploying a euphemism.” The Anti Defamation League released a statement condemning Wright’s remarks as “inflammatory and false. The notions of Jewish control of the White House in Reverend Wright’s statement express classic anti-Semitism in its most vile form.” In June 2011, in a speech at Empowerment Temple in Baltimore City, Wright called the State of Israel “illegal” and “genocidal” and insisted, “To equate Judaism with the state of Israel is to equate Christianity with [rapper] Flavor FlavWright was born on September 22, 1941. He was born and raised in the racially mixed area of Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents were Jeremiah Wright Sr. (1909–2001), a Baptist minister who pastored Grace Baptist Church in Germantown from 1938 to 1980, and Mary Elizabeth Henderson Wright, a school teacher who was the first black person to teach an academic subject at Roosevelt Junior High. She went on to be the first black person to teach at Germantown High and Girls High, where she became the school’s first black vice principal.Wright graduated from Central High School of Philadelphia in 1959, among the best schools in the area at the time. At the time, the school was around 90 percent white. The 211th class yearbook described Wright as a respected member of the class. “Always ready with a kind word, Jerry is one of the most congenial members of the 211,” the yearbook said. “His record in Central is a model for lower class [younger] members to emulate.” From 1959 to 1961, Wright attended Virginia Union University, in Richmond and is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Zeta chapter. In 1961 Wright left college and joined the United States Marine Corps and became part of the 2nd Marine Division attaining the rank of private first class. In 1963, after two years of service, Wright joined the United States Navy and entered the Corpsman School at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Wright was then trained as a cardiopulmonary technician at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Wright was assigned as part of the medical team charged with care of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Before leaving the position in 1967, the White House Physician, Vice Admiral Burkley, personally wrote Wright a letter of thanks on behalf of the United States President. In 1967 Wright enrolled at Howard University in Washington, DC, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1968 and a master’s degree in English in 1969. He also earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Wright holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (1990) from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where he studied under Samuel DeWitt Proctor, a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. His wife is Ramah Reed Wright, and he has four daughters, Janet Marie Moore, Jeri Lynne Wright, Nikol D. Reed, and Jamila Nandi Wright, and one son, Nathan D. Reed. Wright became pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago on March 1, 1971; it had some 250 members on its rolls, but only about 90 or so were actually attending worship by that time. By March 2008 Trinity United Church of Christ had become the largest church in the mostly white United Church of Christ denomination. The President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, John H. Thomas, has stated: “It is critical that all of us express our gratitude and support to this remarkable congregation, to Jeremiah A. Wright for his leadership over 36 years.” Thomas, who is a member of the Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in Cleveland, has also preached and worshipped at Trinity United Church of Christ (most recently on March 2, 2008). Trinity and Wright were profiled by correspondent Roger Wilkins in Sherry Jones’s documentary Keeping the Faith broadcast as the June 16, 1987, episode of the PBS series Frontline with Judy Woodruff. In 1995, Wright was asked to deliver a prayer during an afternoon session of speeches at the Million Man March in Washington, DC. Wright, who began the “Ministers in Training” program at Trinity United Church of Christ, has been a national leader in promoting theological education and the preparation of seminarians for the African-American church. The church’s mission statement is based upon systematized black theology that started with the works of James Hal Cone. Wright has been a professor at Chicago Theological Seminary, Garrett–Evangelical Theological Seminary, and other educational institutions. Wright has served on the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University, Chicago Theological Seminary and City Colleges of Chicago. He has also served on the Board Directors of Evangelical Health Systems, the Black Theology Project, the Center for New Horizons and the Malcolm X School of Nursing, and on boards and committees of other religious and civic organizations. Wright attended a lecture by Frederick G. Sampson in Richmond, Virginia, in the late 1980s, on the G. F. Watts painting Hope, which inspired him to give a sermon in 1990 based on the subject of the painting – “with her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God…. To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope… that’s the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from Watt’s painting.” Having attended Wright’s sermon, Barack Obama later adapted Wright’s phrase “audacity to hope” to “audacity of hope” which became the title for his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address, and the title of his second book.Wright retired as pastor from Trinity United Church of Christ in early 2008. Over the course of his tenure, he brought the Church’s membership from 87 in 1972 to over 8,000 parishioners. Trinity United purchased a lot in Tinley Park, a predominantly white Chicago suburb, and built Wright a 10,340-square-foot (961 m2) home valued at $1.6 million. In September 2016, Wright suffered a stroke which paralyzed the left side of his body and left him confined to a wheelchair; despite the effect on his voice, Wright continues to give sermons on certain occasion. 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