Category: 1900 – 1949

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 20 1910- Pauli Murray

GM – FBF – Today I want to share with you a story of a black woman, who was well educated and also one of the founders of (NOW) National Organization for Woman. Enjoy!

Remember – “We had been led to believe that American education is inferior. We have been impressed with American technology, however, and through your Constitutional law class—the first time we have ever been taught by an American—we have come to change our views. We used to accept without questioning whatever the lecturer said. Through your class we have learned to inquire.” – Pauli Murray

Today in our History – November 20,1910 Pauli Murray was born on November 20, 1910 in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Agnes and William Murray.

Pauli Murray was born on November 20, 1910 in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Agnes and William Murray. Her father, a Howard Universitygraduate, taught in the Baltimore public schools. Both of Murray’s parents died when she was a child. Her mother suffered from a brain hemorrhage and died in 1914. Her father was the victim of typhoid fever and died in 1923.

Despite such heartbreaking tragedy, Murray pursued her life goals. In 1933 she graduated from Hunter College in New York City, New York. Despite a stellar academic record, Murray in 1938 was denied admission into the University of North Carolina Law School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She later enrolled in the Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. and graduated in 1944. Not long afterwards, Murray sought admission to Harvard University Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts for an advanced law degree but was denied admission because of her gender. She enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley where she received a master of law degree in 1945. Twenty years later, in 1965, she became the first African American awarded a J.S.D. (a law doctorate) from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Her degree was based on her dissertation, “Roots of the Racial Crisis: Prologue to Policy.”

Murray argued that her experiences encountering and overcoming racial and gender discrimination gave her special insight into the nature of racial and sexual hierarchies in U.S. and wrote about its various manifestations in America’s legal history. Murray coined the term “Jane Crow and Jim Crow” to describe the impact of dual discrimination. She also joined both the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. In 1966 Murray was one of the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW) with feminist icon Betty Friedan.

Murray’s life took an abrupt turn when at the age of 62 she entered a seminary and became in 1977 the first black female priest ordained by the Episcopal Church. On July 1, 1985, cancer claimed the life of Pauli Murray in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her autobiography Song in a Weary Throat: an American Pilgrimage was published posthumously in 1987. Research more about black female lawyers and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 18 1994- Cabell “Cab” Calloway III

GM – FBF – Today’s story spans a life time of being up front and on stage from the Big Band Era to doing a MTV Video with Janet Jackson in the 1990’s. This artist played with the best and would not change his Image for anyone. Some say he was arrogant and others a true to his race genius. Enjoy!

Remember –“A movie and a stage show are two entirely different things. A picture, you can do anything you want. Change it, cut out a scene, put in a scene, take a scene out. They don’t do that on stage.” Cab Calloway

Today in History – November 18, 1994 – Cabell “Cab” Calloway III died. He was voted the 39th out of 100 Greatest American Band Leaders (BLACK or WHITE) of “ALL – TIME”!
Cab Calloway, byname of Cabell Calloway III, (born December 25, 1907, Rochester, New York, U.S.—died November 18, 1994, Hockessin, Delaware), American bandleader, singer, and all-around entertainer known for his exuberant performing style and for leading one of the most highly regarded big bands of the swing era.

After graduating from high school, Calloway briefly attended a law school in Chicago but quickly turned to performing in nightclubs as a singer. He began directing his own bands in 1928 and in the following year went to New York City. There he appeared in an all-black musical, Fats Waller’s Connie’s Hot Chocolates, in which he sang the Waller classic “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

In 1931 he was engaged as a bandleader at the Cotton Club; his orchestra, along with that of Duke Ellington’s, became one of the two house bands most associated with the legendary Harlem nightspot. In the same year, Calloway first recorded his most famous composition, “Minnie the Moocher,” a song that showcased his ability at scatsinging. Other Calloway hits from the 1930s include “Kickin’ the Gong Around,” “Reefer Man,” “The Lady with the Fan,” “Long About Midnight,” “The Man from Harlem,” and “Minnie the Moocher’s Wedding Day.”

Calloway was an energetic and humorous entertainer whose performance trademarks included eccentric dancing and wildly flinging his mop of hair; his standard accoutrementsincluded a white tuxedo and an oversized baton. He was a talented vocalist with an enormous range and was regarded as “the most unusually and broadly gifted male singer of the ’30s” by jazz scholar Gunther Schuller. Although his band rose to fame largely on the strength of his personal appeal, some critics felt that Calloway’s antics drew focus away from one of the best assemblages of musicians in jazz.

Calloway led a tight, professional unit during the early 1930s, but many regard his band of 1937–42 to be his best. Featured sidemen during those years included legendary jazz players such as pianist Bennie Payne, saxophonists Chu Berry and Ike Quebec, trombonist-vibraphonist Tyree Glenn, drummer Cozy Cole, and trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie, Doc Cheatham, Jonah Jones, and Shad Collins. The decline in popularity of big bands forced Calloway to disband his orchestra in 1948, and he continued for several years with a sextet.

Calloway also had a successful side career as an actor. He appeared in several motion pictures, including The Big Broadcast (1932), Stormy Weather (1943), Sensations of 1945 (1944), and The Cincinnati Kid (1965). George Gershwin had conceived the role of “Sportin’ Life” in his 1935 jazz opera Porgy and Bess for Calloway; the entertainer finally got his chance at the part during a heralded world tour of the show in 1952–54. In the 1960s, Calloway appeared on Broadway and on tour in Hello, Dolly!, portraying the role of Horace Vandergelder opposite Pearl Bailey as Dolly Levi, and he again starred on Broadway in the 1970s in the hit musical Bubbling Brown Sugar.

His best-known acting performance was also his last, as a jive-talking music promoter in director John Landis’s comedy The Blues Brothers (1980). The film featured Calloway singing “Minnie the Moocher” every bit as energetically and eccentrically as he had performed it in 1931. Research more about Black American Band leaders and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 14 1915- Mabel Fairbanks

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about the first Black/Native American woman to excel and be honored for her body of work. She is in the American and International halls of fame in her sport. She was orphaned and homeless but still had a vision of greatness. She was not allowed to try out for the Olympics but she still showed the world her talents. Enjoy!

Remember – “I’VE CRIED ENOUGH FOR ALL OF US” – Mabel Fairbanks

Today in our History – November 14, 1915 – Mabel Fairbanks was born.

Mabel Fairbanks (November 14, 1915 – September 29, 2001) was an American figure skater and coach. As an African American and Native American woman she paved the way for other minorities to compete in the sport of figure skating. She was inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame, as the first person of African American and Native American descent, and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Mabel Fairbanks was born on November 14, 1915 in Florida’s Everglades. Her father was African American while her mother was Seminole and of English descent. In a 1999 interview, she said, “my mother took in everybody – every kid off the street – and gave them a place to stay and something to eat. So I never knew who were my real sisters and brothers, but my older sister told me there were 14.”

Fairbanks was orphaned at the age of eight when her mother died. After staying with a teacher who treated her like a “maid,” she joined one of her brothers in New York City. She worked for him and his wife at their fish market on 8th Avenue in Harlem but they became displeased when, out of sympathy, she gave a family more fish than they had paid for. A wealthy woman saw her sleeping on a park bench and offered her a job as a babysitter at a home overlooking Central Park.

Fairbanks began figure skating around 1925 to 1928. After observing children at the Central Park ice rink, she bought herself used skates, stuffed them with cotton because they were two sizes too big, and began skating at the rink. She said, “Blacks didn’t skate there. But it was a public place, so I just carried on.” She gained further inspiration after seeing Sonja Henie in the 1936 film One in a Million.

In the 1930s, Fairbanks, due to her race, was denied access to the local rink by the cashier but she kept returning util the manager admitted her. Maribel Vinson Owen and Howard Nicholson provided her with technical advice. Fairbanks was not allowed to compete in the national qualifying event for the Olympics or any competition. In a 1998 interview, she said, “If I had gone to the Olympics and become a star, I would not be who I am today.”

Fairbanks performed in shows in New York until the 1940s. She often wore pink or purple skate boots rather than the more common black or white. She practiced on a 6ft by 6ft rink constructed by her uncle Wally in her room. After relocating to Los Angeles, she toured internationally, skating with Ice Capades in Mexico and later with Ice Follies. After returning to the United States, she saw a sign with “Colored Trade Not Solicited” at the Pasadena Winter Gardens. She stated, “my uncle had newspaper articles written about it and passed them out everywhere until they finally let me in.”

Fairbanks coached singles and pairs, including Tiffany Chin, Billy Chapel, Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi / Rudy Galindo, Tai Babilonia / Randy Gardner, Leslie Robinson, Michelle McCladdie, Richard Ewell, Debi Thomas, Atoy Wilson, and Jean Yuna. She also taught skating to the children of many celebrities. In 1997, she became the first African American inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in October 2001.

Fairbanks never married. She was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 1997 and with acute leukemia in mid-2001. She died on September 29, 2001 at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California. She is interred in the ground at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California. Her grave is right at the beginning of the bridge to the Clark Mausoleum. Research more about black female skaters and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 11 1918- World War I Ends

GM – FBF – Today’s story is one of the greatest watermarks in our History November 11, 1918. The day the guns fell silent on the Western Front in Europe and “The War to end all wars was over”. On 11 November 1918 at 1100, the armistice between the Allies and Central Powers went into effect or did it?

My great grandfather from Houston County, GA. served in the 92nd Division which was all black and while returning home from Europe in February, 1919 he stopped in a tavern in Valdosta, GA and was lynched with his uniform on. Not that uncommon for the time, during the summer and fall of 1919, anti-black race riots erupted in ninety-six cities across America. The lynching of blacks also increased from two hundred and eight in 1918 to seven hundred and seven in 1919. (Many say there were more)

At least two hundred and seventy of those victims were war veterans, and some were lynched while in uniform. Today’s story is about the most famous the 396th U.S. Infantry “Hell Fighters” Band and the band leader James Reese Europe. Enjoy!

Remember – “I have come from France more firmly convinced than ever that Negros should write Negro music. We have our own racial feeling and if we try to copy whites we will make bad copies…We won France by playing music which was ours and not a pale imitation of others, and if we are to develop in America we must develop along our own lines.” – James Reese Europe

Today in our History – November 11, 1918 – World War I Ends (Armistice Day)

James Reese Europe, one of the first African Americans to record music in the United States, was born on February 22, 1881 in Mobile, Alabama to Henry and Lorraine Europe. When he was ten, his family moved to Washington D.C. where he began to study violin with Enrico Hurlei, the assistant director of the Marine Corps Band. In 1904, Reese moved to New York to continue his musical studies.

In 1910, Europe founded one of the most well-known African American organizations during that time, The Clef Club, a part union and part fraternal organization which owned a building on West 53rd Street. Europe was the Clef Club’s first elected president as well as the conductor of its symphony orchestra. The Clef Club Orchestra appeared at Carnegie Hall for the first time on May 2, 1912 and later in 1913 and 1914.

The Carnegie Hall concerts gave the Clef Club Orchestra respectability in upper class circles and as a result, they were engaged to play at many of the most elite functions in New York, London (UK), Paris (France), and on yachts traveling worldwide. The Orchestra generated over $100,000 in bookings during the period. In 1913 Europe also made the first of a series of phonograph records for the Victor Talking Machine Company.

At the beginning of World War I, Reese joined New York Army National Guard as a private but shortly after passing the officer’s exam was commissioned as a Lieutenant. He was assigned to the all-black 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment. When his musical background became known he was asked by his commanding officer, Colonel William Hayward, to form a military band as part of his combat unit. Hayward told Europe to get musicians wherever he could, and Reese did just that.

Europe knew that it would be difficult to convince musicians in New York to enlist in the military to play music, so he went as far as traveling to Puerto Rico to recruit the needed musicians for his band. His band became known as the 396th U.S. Infantry “Hell Fighters” Band.

The Hell Fighters Band entertained troops and citizens in every city they visited and was received with great enthusiasm. He was sent from the front to lead his band at an Allied conference in Paris where they were only supposed to play one concert. The crowd’s reaction was so great that both American and French officials asked them to stay to perform for eight more weeks.

Europe and his band returned to New York on February 12, 1919. Soon after, they began a tour of American cities and started recording their songs in the studio. Through his music, Europe brought ragtime out of the bordellos and juke joints into mainstream society and elevated African American music into an accepted art form. He was a household name in New York’s music world and on the dance scene nationwide.

On the final performance of the band’s American tour, Herbert Wright, one of the “percussion twins,” became angered with Europe and attacked him with a knife during intermission. Europe did not survive the attack and Europe was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Research more about blacks during WWI and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 10 1931- Benjamin Thonton

GM-FBF- Today’s Story is about something that generation x, the millennials and especially generation z doesn’t remember. The greatest generation and us baby boomers this was new to us and many of us still do not like to use it. It is a device that the military and business embraced as a form of modern communication. You will see that it was a black man that invented this technology. Learn and enjoy!

Remember – “I didn’t know how the world would take it but it seemed logical to me” – Benjamin Thornton

Today in our History – November 10, 1931: Benjamin Thornton received a patent for an Apparatus for Automatically recording Phone messages.

The answering machine is arguably the greatest asset to modern communication of the last century. While the telephone was important, one would have to be near it in order to receive and send vital messages. The answering machine changed all of that. With this incredible invention, you could receive communications regardless of whether you took the call first hand or not, and information could be distributed far more effectively. It is almost inconceivable to imagine a world without answering machines. We have all experienced the elation of good news, or the heartbreak of a breakup message. And all of this positivity comes down to the invention, an African American inventor who literally changed the way in which we communicate.

It was 1935, and the telephone had changed the way in which people communicated, did business, and thought about the world. There was one major shortcoming though – telephone owners would have to wait around for calls, and missed calls were permanently lost. Benjamin Thornton recognized this problem, and patented a recording system that allowed people to leave the kind of messages that we all do to this very day. Thanks to the inclusion of a recording device, the caller could leave a message for the phone owner, who could then play the message back, return a call, or jot down the information. It was really a revolution. But Thornton wasn’t done yet.
The etiquette around leaving voice messages had not been developed, and novice phone owners often forgot to give complete messages in their haste and excitement. For example, an urgent message could be left, but if the speaker did not include a time or date, the urgency would be lost, and the message would be rendered ineffective. To stop this from happening, Thornton included a clock mechanism that would alert people to the time that the missed call was made, and the message left. The test of invention is in the ability to endure, and the contribution of Thornton is the epitome of this quality. This is a phenomenal concept that we would never survive without. Thank you Benjamin Thornton!

When you do a search on who invented the automatic answering machine usually the names of Willy Muller or Mueller and Benjamin Thornton come up.

This device used to record phone messages while the receiver remains on the telephone has been referred as an ansafone, an answerphone, or just simply the automatic telephone answering device.

To confuse matters just a little more about who invented the answering machine we find the following pictures on a site called Recording History with this information to support the possibility that Thomas Alva Edison should receive credit for the invention.

“Edison recognized the need right away, developing a technology designed for telephone recording in 1877, merely months later than the announcement of the telephone in 1876. Unfortunately, his first telephone recorder did not work, but fortunately it could be used for other purposes. He called it the phonograph. “

Then in 1900 a Danish inventor named Valdemar Poulson invented the telegraphone. It worked in recording phone messages but not automatically. Edison answered back (no pun intended) in 1914 with a gadget called the Telescribe. Then in the 1920’s several inventors worked on wax cylinder concepts including Truman Steven who patented what could be considered legitimate answering machines.

In 1935 Willy Mueller a Swiss inventor commercialized an innovative invention to replace the old technology used in telephone recording devices. His answering machine was based on clock technology and could both record and send messages. It was however a huge device standing 3 feet in height. Meanwhile in the US Benjamin Thornton makes his contribution in 1936. Ipsophon was introduced in 1936 and worked on a magnetic tape concept. This was the Benjamin Thornton contribution.

Thornton’s patents for the answering machine
• 1931 patent # 1831331 – apparatus for automatically recording phone messages
• 1932 patent # 1843849 – apparatus for automatically transmitting messages over a telephone line
Research more about black Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 9 1935 Robert ” BOB” Gibson

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about one of the greatest Professional Baseball players during his era. He tunned down an opportunity to Play baseball at 17 years and instead went to college. He ensured himself to being a top prospect by starting and playing baseball and basketball which was the first for his college. He chooses baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals but also played with the Harlem Globetrotters to support his income. I saw him pitch when the Cardinals came to Philly to play the Phillies. I remember the 1961 all-star game with Mays, Aaron and Clemente in the field and Gibson on the mound. What a game. Enjoy!

Remember – Why do I have to be an example for your kid? You be an example for your own kid. – Bob Gibson

Today in our History – November 9, 1935 – Robert “BOB” Gibson was born.

Famous Major League baseball pitcher Robert “Bob” Gibson was Pack and Victoria Gibson’s seventh child born November 9, 1935 in Omaha, Nebraska. Pack died three months before Bob Gibson was born. Young Gibson suffered with asthma, pneumonia, rickets, hay fever, and a rheumatic heart. He and his family lived in a four bedroom dilapidated frame house in North Omaha and later moved to a segregated government housing project.

By high school Gibson had overcome most of his childhood illnesses and become a multisport athlete at Omaha Technical High School. By his senior year, however, he concentrated on baseball, and in 1952 the Kansas City (Missouri) Monarchs attempted to sign the seventeen year old. When he graduated one year later the St. Louis Cardinals attempted to sign him to a minor league contract. He declined, opting to attend Creighton University in Omaha which extended him a scholarship to play basketball. He would become Creighton’s first African American athlete to play both varsity basketball and baseball.

Gibson joined the St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A farm club as a pitcher in 1957, signing a contract for $3,000 with a $1,000 signing bonus. In the offseason, he played for the Harlem Globetrotters, earning another $4,000 annually. In 1958 Gibson signed a contract with the Cardinals which doubled his salary and eliminated his need to play for the Globetrotters.
The next three years, until mid 1961, he would spend with the Redbird farm system in Columbus, Georgia.

He finished in the majors that year with 12 wins and 13 losses, and struck out 166 batters. He remained with the Cardinals in the Major League from 1962 to 1972 and ranked amongst the best of all major league pitchers. His most notable year was 1968, when he won 22 of the 31 games he appeared in, threw for 305 innings, had 13 shut outs, and struck out a league-leading 268 batters. He finished the season with a record breaking 1.12 ERA for a pitcher throwing for over 300 innings.

Gibson’s achievements would earn him both the prestigious Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player of the Year Award.
Although his career had slowed by 1971, due to various injuries, he continued to play until his retirement in 1975. Six years later in 1981, he was a near unanimous choice for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Gibson finished his career having pitched in 528 games with 251 wins, 174 losses, 56 shutouts, 3,117 strikeouts, and career average 2.91 ERA.

After retirement, Gibson served as pitching coach to the New York Mets in 1981, and with the Atlanta Braves from 1982 to 1984. He returned to the Cardinals organization in 1994 as assistant coach to Manager Joe Torre. In between, he served as a radio announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, ran a restaurant, served as chair of the board of a St. Louis bank and owned interest in a St. Louis radio station. Research more about black baseball players and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 7 1989- David Dinkins

GM – FBF – I hope that you had an opportunity to vote and if you didn’t shame on you. Today’s story is about a man who hails from Trenton, NJ and rose up to become New York City’s 1st Black Mayor, Enjoy!

Remember – “ The sign on my city says “Trenton Make the World Takes” and I am here NY” – Mayor David Dinkins

Today in our History – November 7, 1989 – David Dinkins becomes NYC’s first black mayor.

In 1989, David N. Dinkins defeated his challenger, former federal prosecutor Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani, to become the first African American mayor of New York City.

David Norman Dinkins was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1927. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps at 18 and served briefly in World War II. After the war, he attended Howard University, graduating with a B.A. in Mathematics in 1950. Dinkins moved to New York City and received a law degree from the Brooklyn Law School in 1956. Dinkins is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
David Dinkins’s political career began when he joined the Carver Club headed by a charismatic politician, J. Raymond Jones who was known as the Harlem Fox. Dinkins befriended three up and coming black New York politicians; Charles Rangel, Basil Paterson, Sr., and Percy Sutton.

In 1965, Dinkins won his first electoral office, a seat in the New York State Assembly. Shortly afterwards Dinkins was offered the position of deputy mayor of New York by then Mayor Abraham Beam. Dinkins could not accept the post when it was revealed he had not paid income taxes for the past four years.

Dinkins did manage to secure the position of city clerk for New York which he held from 1975 to 1985. On his third run for the office, Dinkins was elected Manhattan’s Borough President in 1985. In 1989, Dinkins decided to run for Mayor of New York. He surprised political observers by defeating three time incumbent Mayor Ed Koch in the Democratic primaries. Despite facing a strong Republican challenger in former federal prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani, Dinkins narrowly won the mayor’s race.

Dinkins presided over a city well known for its municipal crises. His term, however, was particularly turbulent because an unprecedented crack epidemic and the resulting drug wars swept through the city. Especially affected were the impoverished African American and Puerto Rican neighborhoods that formed the core of Dinkins’s constituency. The crack epidemic also spawned a crime wave that exacerbated racial tensions.

Two episodes particularly tested the Mayor’s ability to be an effective municipal leader. In 1989, shortly after Dinkins took office, a young white woman was allegedly raped and brutalized by marauding black youth in Central Park. Months later a black teenager was murdered when he ventured into a white ethnic Brooklyn neighborhood. In both episodes Dinkins calmed racial tensions and earned an image as a peacemaker. Although Dinkins presided over a decrease in crime in the city, balanced the city budget by turning a $1.8 billion dollar deficit into a $200 million surplus, and maintained racial peace after the Rodney King verdict sparked rioting in a number of cities across the nation, he never completely shed his image as an ineffective political leader. The 1993 election proved a political rematch of 1989. This time, however, Rudolph Giuliani narrowly defeated David Dinkins for the Mayor’s office.

Former Mayor Dinkins accepted a professorship at Columbia University’s Center for Urban Research and Policy in 1994. Although he has endorsed various political candidates and clashed with fellow New Yorker and Presidential aspirant Al Shapton, Dinkins has not sought elective office. Research more about Black males in politics and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 6, 1900- James Weldon Johnson

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a man who we should know about and one of the most basic black theme songs that was introduced to you when you were young, in school or church. Some of you may have never heard the song but that is alright. He was a composer, diplomat, social critic and civil rights activist. He started a newspaper and studied law but when asked to compose a song for the late United States President Abraham Lincoln that is where his fame came from as the Father of Negro National Anthem. Enjoy!

Remember – “ I was hoping that this song would be sung by every black man woman and child and never forgotten in order that they would be proud of their race” – James Weldon Johnson

Today in our History – November 6, 1900 – James Weldon Johnson composed the song “Life Ev’ry Voice & Sing.”

James Weldon Johnson, composer, diplomat, social critic, and civil rights activist, was born of Bahamian immigrant parents in Jacksonville, Florida on June 17, 1871. Instilled with the value of education by his father, James, a waiter, and teacher-mother, Helen, Johnson excelled at the Stanton School in Jacksonville. In 1889 he entered Atlanta University in Georgia, graduating in 1894.

In 1896, Johnson began to study law in Thomas Ledwith’s law office in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1898, Ledwith considered Johnson ready to take the Florida bar exam. After a grueling two hour exam, Johnson was given a pass and admitted to the bar. One examiner expressed his anguish by bolting from the room and stating “Well, I can’t forget he’s a nigger; and I’ll be damned if I’ll stay here to see him admitted.” In 1898, Johnson became one of only a handful of black attorneys in the state. 
Johnson, however, did not practice law. Instead he became principal at the Stanton School in Jacksonville where he improved the curriculum and added ninth and tenth grades.

Johnson also started the first black newspaper, the Daily American, in Jacksonville. With his brother Rosamond, who had been trained at the New England Conservatory of Music in Massachusetts, James W. Johnson’s interests turned to songwriting for Broadway.

Rosamond and James migrated to New York in 1902 and soon were earning over twelve thousand dollars a year by selling their songs to Broadway performers. Upon a return trip to Florida in 1900, the brothers were asked to write a celebratory song in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The product, a poem set to music, became “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” now known as the Negro National Anthem.

In 1906, Johnson became United States consul to Puerto Cabello in Venezuela. While in the foreign service he met his future wife, Grace Nail, daughter of the influential black New York city real estate speculator, John E. Nail. The couple’s first year was spent in Corinto, Nicaragua, Johnson’s new diplomatic post.

While in the diplomatic service, Johnson had begun to write his most famous literary work, The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man. This novel, published in 1912, became a work of note during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. In 1914 Johnson became an editor for the New York Age. He soon gained notoriety when W.E.B. DuBois published Johnson’s critique of D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) publication The Crisis.

In 1916, Johnson became Field Secretary for the NAACP and dramatically increased NAACP membership and the number of branches. In 1917 he organized the famous “Silent March” down 5th Avenue to protest racial violence and lynching. The march, which numbered approximately ten thousand participants, was the largest protest organized by African Americans to that point. Johnson’s participation in the campaign against lynching continued for the next two decades.

Although he was a nationally recognized civil rights leader, Johnson continued to write and critique poetry in a column for the New York Age. His “Poetry Corner” column, published in 1922 as The Book of American Negro Poetry, became an important contribution to the emerging Harlem Renaissance particularly because of its inclusion of Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die.” Johnson’s other Harlem Renaissance contributions included The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925), God’s Trombones(1927), and Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (1927).

In 1930 Johnson published Black Manhattan, a Social History of Black New York, and three years later (in 1933) his autobiography, Along This Way, appeared. 
Johnson resigned from the NAACP in 1930 and accepted a faculty position in creative writing and literature at Fisk University. He maintained an active life in teaching and public speaking until he died in an automobile accident in Maine in 1938. Research more about black artists and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 5 1901- Etta Moten Barnett

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about one of the great female pioneers of entertainment. She was so focused that she raised her children as a single parent and still finished her college which is tough during any era but in the 30’s was hard. Both Hollywood and New York Theater was honored with her talents, she mentored young black women, was a civil rights advocate and spent time in countries in Africa. She was the first Black Female entertainer to perform at the White House and lived to the age of 102. Enjoy!

Remember – “ I would not accept that my talents were not going to be seen because I was black, I got most of what I sat out for and I am at peace” – Etta Moten Barnett

Today in our History – November 5, 1901 – Etta Moten Barnett was born.

Etta Moten Barnett, singer, actress, civic activist and humanitarian, was born Nov. 5, 1901 to Rev. Freeman F. Moten and Ida Norman Moten in Weimar, Texas. As the daughter of an African Methodist Episcopal minister and a schoolteacher, the church and education were central to Etta Moten Barnett’s upbringing. As early as 10 years old, Barnett instructed Sunday school in her father’s church and performed in the church choir. Barnett was educated at Paul Quinn College’s secondary school for children in Waco, Texas, where she had received a full scholarship in singing. When her father was transferred to a church in Los Angeles in 1914, Barnett attended school there for two years. The family then moved to Kansas City, Kan., and she went to high school at Western University (a high school and junior college combined) in Quindaro, Kan.

At age 17, while attending Western University, Etta met and married Lieutenant Curtis Brooks – a former teacher – and moved to Oklahoma. Together she and Brooks had three daughters: Sue, Gladys and Etta Vee. After six of years of marriage, they divorced and she and her children returned to Kansas. Upon her return, Barnett enrolled in the University of Kansas. With her parents’ help raising her daughters, Barnett studied voice and drama and spent her summers touring with Jackson Jubilee Singers, a popular gospel group in Kansas, to pay her way through school. She also hosted a university radio program, where she sang gospel and popular music, and formed a quartet similar to the Jubilee Singers, which also performed on the university radio station.

Barnett received a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1931. Following graduation, Barnett joined the Eva Jessye Choir of New York. She also appeared on the professional stage in the Fast and Furious , an all-black musical revue written by Zora Neale Hurston, and another musical called Zombie . Zombie played in New York for two months, then toured to Chicago and California. Among Barnett’s other Broadway credits are Sugar Hill and Lysistrata .

When Zombie closed in California in 1932, Barnett decided to audition for film roles in Hollywood. However, at this time, because few parts were available to African American actresses, she found work dubbing vocals for Barbara Stanwyck in Ladies of the House (1932) and Ginger Rogers in Professional Sweetheart (1933). Finally, in 1933, Barnett received her first on-screen part singing “My Forgotten Man” in The Gold Diggers of 1933 . From this film appearance, Barnett won national acclaim for her musical talent, received invitations for lectures and concerts, and in 1934 was invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to sing “My Forgotten Man” at a birthday celebration for President Franklin D. Roosevelt—becoming the first African American woman to perform at the White House.

Barnett was also offered another on-screen singing role in Flying Down to Rio (1933) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In this role, she appeared as a Brazilian singer and sang “The Carioca,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for best song.

In 1934 she married Claude Barnett, founder and director of the Associated Negro Press. She met Barnett in Chicago in 1931 on her way to New York City. Once married, Etta and her three daughters, who had remained in Kansas City with her parents, moved to Chicago to live with Claude. Her daughters eventually changed their surname and were adopted by Barnett. Etta and Claude remained married until his death in 1967.
In 1942 Barnett returned to New York to play the part of Bess in George Gershwin’s opera, Porgy and Bess . Gershwin reportedly wrote the role of Bess with Barnett in mind, but when offered the role Barnett graciously declined the part because it required a soprano. Finally, seven years after the opera’s rather inauspicious Broadway debut in 1935, Barnett agreed to take the role in a 1942 revival. With Barnett in the role of Bess, the opera gained critical and commercial acclaim. It ran for one year on Broadway and then toured throughout the United States and Canada until 1945.

In addition to her accomplishments in Hollywood and on the Broadway stage, she hosted her own radio shows, “Etta Moten Sings,” “Etta Moten – with Music and Conversation” and “I Remember When;” performed with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony; was a soloist on Meredith Wilson’s radio show, “Carefree Karnival;” and served as community relations director for Chicago station WNUS.

Barnett’s influence was not limited to the artistic sphere; she also devoted considerable time to civic affairs, such as the African American Institute (AAI), the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, the Chicago Lyric Opera, the DuSable Museum, the Field Museum, the South Side Community Art Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the National Council for Community Services to International Visitors. She was active in women’s issues as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the Links, the National Council of Negro Women, the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago and the Women’s Board of the Chicago Urban League. She was also involved in the International Women’s Year and United Nations Decade for Women World Conference activities and events throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Along with her husband, Barnett supported African independence and progress. Together they traveled many times to Africa, often as part of official United States delegations to independence ceremonies and presidential inaugurations for Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and Lusaka. In 1958, along with her husband, Barnett attended the All African People’s Conference. She was present at the All African Women’s Conference in 1960. Barnett participated in the Delta International of the Diaspora, a Delta Sigma Theta program to study the lives of people of African descent throughout the world, and represented the AAI as part of the women’s task force in Africa. In 1988 she received a citation from AAI recognizing her many years of service to Africa.

From the Barnetts’ visits to Africa, they amassed an impressive private African art collection. According to one Chicago Tribune reporter, who toured Barnett’s home in the 1990s, “Africa is far more evident than Broadway or Hollywood. In every one of Moten’s 14 rooms, the decor is punctuated with masks and sculptures, ivory and good-luck charms from Benin to Zimbabwe.”

In addition to her AAI citation, Barnett received a citation of merit from the University of Kansas in 1943; a citation for service from the National Association of Business and Professional Women in 1958; a citation in recognition for contributions to Afro-American Music from Atlanta University in 1973; and a 1974 citation from WAIT for her contributions to the City of Chicago. In 1979 she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. She also was the recipient of a Living Legend Award from the National Black Arts Festival, the Order of Lincoln Medallion from the state of Illinois and a host of honorary degrees (Atlanta University in 1976, Spelman College in 1983, University of Illinois in 1987, and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and North Carolina Central University, both in 1989).

She considered her 100th birthday (attended by Harry Belafonte, Studs Terkel, and about 400 others) as her life’s high water mark so no elaborate funeral arrangements were made. She suggested that donations could be given to Chicago’s Second Presbyterian Church Restoration Fund.
After a protracted struggle with pancreatic cancer, Barnett died on Jan. 2, 2004, at the age of 102. Research more about Black female entertainers and share with your babies. Mak eit a champion day!