GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an American economist, academic, and political administrator; he served as the first United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.) from 1966 to 1968, when the department was newly established by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the first African American to be appointed to a US cabinet-level position. Prior to his appointment as cabinet officer, he had served in the administration of President John F. Kennedy. In addition, he had served in New York State government, and in high-level positions in New York City. During the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, he was one of 45 prominent African Americans appointed to positions and helped make up the Black Cabinet, an informal group of African-American public policy advisers.Weaver directed federal programs during the administration of the New Deal, at the same time completing his doctorate in economics in 1934 at Harvard University.Today in our History – December 29, 1907 – Robert Clifton Weaver was born.Robert Clifton Weaver was born on December 29, 1907, into a middle-class family in Washington, D.C. His parents were Mortimer Grover Weaver, a postal worker, and Florence (Freeman) Weaver. They encouraged the boy in his academic studies. His maternal grandfather was Dr. Robert Tanner Freeman, the first African American to graduate from Harvard in dentistry. The young Weaver attended the M Street High School, now known as the Dunbar High School. The high school for blacks at a time of racial segregation had a national reputation for academic excellence. Weaver went on to Harvard University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degree. He also earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Economics, completing his doctorate in 1934. In 1934, Weaver was appointed as an aide to United States Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes. In 1938, he became special assistant to the US Housing Authority. In 1942, he became administrative assistant to the National Defense Advisory Commission, the War Manpower Commission (1942), and director of Negro Manpower Service. With a reputation for knowledge about housing issues, in 1934 the young Weaver was invited to join President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet. Roosevelt appointed a total of 45 prominent blacks to positions in executive agencies, and called on them as informal advisers on public policy issues related to African Americans, the Great Depression and the New Deal.Weaver drafted the U.S Housing Program under Roosevelt, which was established in 1937. The program was intended to provide financial support to local housing departments, as a subsidy toward lowering the rent poor African Americans had to pay. The program decreased the average rent from $19.47 per month to $16.80 per month. Weaver claimed the scope of this program was insufficient, as there were still many African Americans who made less than the average income. They could not afford to pay for both food and housing. In addition, generally restricted to segregated housing, African Americans could not necessarily take advantage of other subsidized housing.In 1944, Weaver became director of the Commission on Race Relations in the Office of the Mayor of Chicago.In 1945, he became director of community services for the Chicago-based American Council on Race Relations through 1948. In 1949, Weaver become director of fellowship opportunities for the John Hay Whitney Foundation. In 1955, Weaver the first black State Cabinet member in New York when he became New York State Rent Commissioner under Governor W. Averell Harriman. In 1960, he became vice chairman of the New York City Housing and Redevelopment Board.In 1961, Weaver became administrator of the United States Housing and Home Financing Agency (HHFA). After election, Kennedy tried to establish a new cabinet department to deal with urban issues. It was to be called the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Postwar suburban development, following the construction of highways, and economic restructuring had drawn population and jobs from the cities. The nation was faced with a stock of substandard, aged housing in many cities, and problems of unemployment.In 1961, while trying to create HUD, Kennedy had done everything short of promising the new position to Weaver. He appointed him Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency (HHFA), a group of agencies which Kennedy wanted to raise to cabinet status.When Dr. Weaver joined the Kennedy Administration, whose Harvard connections extended to the occupant of the Oval Office, he held more Harvard degrees – three, including a doctorate in economics – than anyone else in the administration’s upper ranks. Some Republicans and southern Democrats opposed the legislation to create the new department. The following year, Kennedy unsuccessfully tried to use his reorganization authority to create the department. As a result, Congress passed legislation prohibiting presidents from using that authority to create a new cabinet department, although the previous Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower administration had created the cabinet-level U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under that authority.He contributed the compilation housing bill in 1961. He took part in lobbying for the Senior Citizens Housing Act of 1962. In 1965, Congress approved the department. At the time, Weaver was still Administrator of the HHFA. In public, President Lyndon B. Johnson reiterated Weaver’s status as a potential nominee but would not promise him the position. In private, Johnson had strong reservations. He often held pro-and-con discussions with Roy Wilkins, Executive Director of the NAACP.Johnson wanted a strong proponent for the new department. Johnson worried about Weaver’s political sense. Johnson seriously considered other candidates, none of whom was black. He wanted a top administrator, but also someone who was exciting.Johnson was worried about how the new Secretary would interact with congressional representatives from the Solid South; they were overwhelmingly Democrat as most African Americans were still disenfranchised and excluded from the political system. This was expected to change as the federal government enforced civil rights and the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As candidates, Johnson considered the politician Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago; and the philanthropist Laurence Rockefeller.Ultimately, Johnson believed that Weaver was the best-qualified administrator. His assistant Bill Moyers had rated Weaver highly on potential effectiveness as the new Secretary. Moyers noted Weaver’s strong accomplishments and ability to create teams. Ten days after receiving the report, the president put forward the nomination, and Weaver was successfully confirmed by the United States Senate.Weaver served as Secretary of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1966 to 1968. Weaver had expressed his concerns about African Americans’ housing issue before 1930 in his article, “Negroes Need Housing”, published by the magazine The Crisis of the NAACP after the Stock Market Crash. He noted there was a great difference between the income of most African Americans and the cost of living; African Americans did not have enough housing supply because of many social factors, including the long economic decline of rural areas in the South. He suggested a government housing program to enable all the African Americans the chance to buy or rent their house.In 1945, Weaver began teaching at Columbia University. In 1969, after serving under President Johnson, Weaver became president of Baruch College. In 1970, Weaver became a distinguished professor of Urban Affairs at Hunter College in New York and taught there until 1978. In 1935, Robert C. Weaver married Ella V. Haith. They adopted a son, who died in 1962.Weavers served on the boards of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (1969-1978) and Bowery Savings Bank (1969-1980). He served in advisory capacities to the United States Controller General (1973-1997), the New City Conciliation and Appeals Board (1973-1984), Harvard University School of Design (1978-1983), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund and NAACP executive board committee (1978-1997). Robert C. Weaver died age 89 on July 17, 1997, in Manhattan, New York. 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 Waiting in line to register at her first Continental Congress, she crew stares from some in the throng – “They do when you’re different,” she says. Others came right up and introduced themselves in a gesture of cordiality.”I would think,” says Karen Batchelor Farmer, 26, of Detroit, the first known black member of the 87-year history of the National Society of Daughters of American Revolution, “that they are trying to make me feel at home.”For the Daughters, whose 207,000 members can trace their ancestry back to the Revolutionary War, trying to make Karen Farmer feel “at home” this week is something of a milestone which many Americans once might not have thought possible.Admission of a black to their ranks coupled with an upsurge in youthful members are indicators, be they slight, of the changes in Daughters are undergoing today. One-third of the entire membership is now in the 18-35 age group. But the older members still set the tone for the DAR’s conservative stand on political issues.Daughters of the American Revolution is a very exclusive organization, one that uses a lineage-based membership for its female members. To be eligible for membership, you have to be able to prove that you descend from a person that had ties to the United States’ Independence. Achieving membership is no easy task for some people, and it gets even harder if you have a black lineage. Because of this, DAR was sometimes viewed as a racist organization not out of fact, but out of lack of diversity.Today in our History – December 28, 1977 – Karen Batchelor Farmer is placed in the Daughters of the AMERICAN Revolution. Some of the other requirements once you get past the lineage is that you have to be personally acceptable to society and over 18 years old. The former part is a bit unusual, although there is no record of anyone being turned away for not being personally acceptable. Chapters of DAR exist in all 50 U.S. States and has even found worldwide fame with availabilities in Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and even the United Kingdom. With many other locations on the map, chapters have grown in numbers in the 20th century and now boast over 180,000 members. But back in 1977 on this day of the 28th, they welcomed their first African American member.Karen Batchelor Farmer was admitted after a long genealogical research that started in 1976. It took two years for her to trace her ancestors roots back to William Hood, a patriot who served during the Revolution in the defense of Fort Freeland. Contrary to popular belief, Farmer didn’t reach out to DAR, and it was the other way around. The Ezra Parker Chapter in Michigan contacted Karen and invited her to join the chapter, shattering notions that they were a racist or bigoted organization. This was a huge news story in its day and even made it as a featured story in the New York Times. Along with a couple of interviews and television appearances, this unexpectedly became a big story for its time.Lost in the history is the role that the late James Dent Walker played, the former head of Genealogical Services at the National Archives. With this help, it was made possible, and he also served as the inspiration for Batchelor who co-founded the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society in the year of 1979. Karen continues to research her history and is a shining example that black history isn’t always rooted in negative periods like slavery. Research more about this great American Champion and make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an African-American sociologist who founded the Department of Records and Research at the Tuskegee Institute in 1908.His published works include the Negro Year Book and A Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America, a bibliography of approximately seventeen thousand references to African Americans.Today in our History – December 26, 1904 – Monroe Nathan Work – Creates The Negro Year Book. Work was born to former slaves in Iredell County, North Carolina, and moved in 1867 to Cairo, Illinois, where his father pursued farming. At the age of 23, Work entered Arkansas City High School (Kansas), an integrated high school in Arkansas City, Kansas. He graduated 3rd in his class, and after undergoing training at the Chicago Theological Seminary, he enrolled in the University of Chicago to become a sociologist. He did research on the correlation between the highest crime rates among blacks and the large proportion living in slums. His paper on the subject would become the first article published in the American Journal of Sociology by an African American. He finished school in Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Arts degree in Sociology. After graduating in 1903, Work moved to Savannah, Georgia, to become a professor at Georgia State Industrial College. He married Florence E. Hendrickson of Savannah on December 27, 1904, and they had no children. In July 1905, Work attended the conference of the Niagara Movement at the invitation of W. E. B. Du Bois.In 1908, he accepted a proposal by Booker T. Washington to found the Department of Records and Research at the Tuskegee Institute. While there, he would begin the Negro Year Book, a publication that incorporated his periodic summation of lynching reports, which resulted in the Tuskegee Institute becoming one of the most quoted and undisputed sources on this form of racial violence.According to Work’s biographer, these resources were the largest of their kind in an era when scholarship by and about black Americans was highly inaccessible, and overlooked or ignored by most academics in the US. Work received the Harmon Award in Education in 1928 for his research and involvement in the Negro Year Book and his work on A Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America.In 1918, he was elected to the American Negro Academy, which was the earliest major African-American learned society.Work died of natural causes in Tuskegee in 1945. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was a famous African American sportsman. He was known for his professional football career and remarkable performance in 15 seasons of the National Football League.He represented University of Tennessee while playing college football. He was declared NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice.Today in are History – December 26, 2004 – Reggie White dies.Reginald Howard White was born on December 19, 1961 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He received his early education from Howard High School from where he began playing football. He was trained under Coach Robert Pulliam, a former defensive lineman. In his senior year he made a record of 88 solo tackles and garnered All-American honors. The Knoxville News Sentinel claimed he was rated the number one recruit in Tennessee. Upon graduation, he enrolled in University of Tennessee where he played football for three years. His effective defensive techniques during the games earned him the “Andy Spiva Award”, which is given to most improved defensive player of the year.In 1981, it was recorded that White made 95 tackles and blocked three extra-point attempts. During his game against Memphis State, he had 10 tackles and two sacks which earned him the team’s “outstanding defensive player” title.Moreover, he was named “Southeast Lineman of the Week”, after his performance and win in the game against Georgia Tech. In the 1981 Garden State Bowl, he made eight tackles against Wisconsin and received another title for “Best Defensive Player”. After his ankle injury during the 1982 season, his performance dropped off. However, he maintained his reputation of best defensive player and led the team with seven sacks.Subsequent to losing a game to Iowa with 28-22, Reggie White made up his mind to polish his skills. His determination paid off in the 1983 season when he had 100 tackles and record-breaking 15 sacks. In the 1983 Florida Citrus Bowl, his team defeated Maryland with 30-23 score. In the second quarter of the game he sacked heralded Maryland quarterback Boomer Esiason. His spectacular performance rendered him the All-American, SEC Player of the Year. In fact, he became the finalist of a Lombardi Award. While playing at University of Tennessee, he registered 293 tackles, four fumble recoveries and 32 sacks in total which became remained a record for his school till 2013.Upon his graduation from the University of Tennessee, White signed with the United States Football League’s Memphis Showboats. He played for them for two seasons and scored 198 tackles, seven forced fumbles and 23.5 sacks. In 1985, when the Football League collapsed the Philadelphia Eagles brought him onboard. He remained with the Philadelphia Eagles for eight season playing for the National Football League. In a single season, he made a record of registering 21 sacks and became the only player ever to gain 20 sacks in just 12 games. With his outstanding performance, White raised Eagle’s rank among other National Football league’s teams. One of the sports channel credited him with being the greatest player in the history of Eagles’ franchise.After his tenure with the Eagles, White became a free agent during early 1990s. The Green Bay Packers signed him and he played for six seasons with them. Once again, he brought victories for his team and helped them to win two Super Bowls and Super Bowl XXXI titles.He was received the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, in 1998. Reggie White died on December 26, 2004, in North Carolina at the age of 43. 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 African-American newspaper publisher based in Baltimore, Maryland. Born into slavery, he is best known as the founder of the Baltimore Afro-American (also known colloquially/for short as The AFRO), published by the AFRO-American Newspaper Company of Baltimore, Inc. This newspaper is one of the oldest operating black family-owned newspapers in the U.S.AToday in our History – December 25, 1940 – John Henry Murphy Sr. was born.John Henry Murphy was born into slavery in Baltimore, Maryland on Christmas Day 1840. His parents were Benjamin Murphy III, who was a whitewasher, and his wife Susan Colby (or Coby).He is believed to have been enslaved until age 24, when he mustered into the newly organized United States Colored Troops, 30th Infantry Regiment forming in Camp Stanton, Maryland, in February 1864.He eventually served as a non-commissioned officer, reaching the rank of sergeant. (Only whites were allowed to be commissioned officers at the time.)Little is known about young Murphy before his service in the American Civil War. He was among the more than 8,000 Black Marylanders and other states’ residents who mustered into various Black regiments throughout the State of Maryland, after 1863 and emancipation, when the Federal Government decided to accept black recruits in the Army.President Abraham Lincoln announced the “Emancipation Proclamation” in September 1862, giving freedom to all slaves still held within then rebelling Confederate States, and taking effect on New Year’s Day, January 1, 1863. Afterward, the U.S. War Department and state militia officials actively recruited freedmen, free men of color, and fugitive slaves into the Union Army in the U.S.C.T., to serve along with the previous recruited units of various Northern states, such as the famous 54th Massachusetts Regiment.In 1868, Murphy married Martha Elizabeth Howard, a daughter of the well-to-do African-American farmer, Enoch George Howard of Montgomery County, Maryland, who was a free man of color before the war. They met in church. Murphy and his wife Martha settled in Baltimore and had 11 children together; 10 of them survived to adulthood. Among them was their son Carl J. Murphy, who began to work formally with his father on the paper in 1918.After the war, Murphy returned home and worked as a whitewasher, a trade he learned from his father. The development of wallpaper at prices available to the middle class made whitewashing obsolete. Murphy was appointed to the federal civil service in the postal service. He later worked in various jobs: as a porter, janitor, manager of a feed store, and manager of the printing department of the Afro-American, published by Rev. Harry Bragg Sr. for his church.During these years, Murphy became active with Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, founded in Philadelphia in the early 19th century as the first black denomination in the United States. After being appointed as a District Sunday School Superintendent, Murphy used a manual printing press to produce a weekly church publication, the Sunday School Helper, to make copies of materials for students. In 1897 Murphy purchased the printing presses of the Afro-American at auction with $200 borrowed from his wife, who had sold land inherited from her father. He merged the Sunday School Helper with the Afro. In 1900, he acquired another newspaper, The Ledger, and renamed his paper as The Afro-American Ledger. Murphy helped build the African-American community in Baltimore by sharing its news, pressing for civil rights, and reporting on abuses. At first his family worked unpaid for the paper. Later he had up to 100 employees. “He crusaded for racial justice while exposing racism in education, jobs, housing, and public accommodations. In 1913, he was elected president of the National Negro Press Association.” Due to the economic and political power of blacks in Baltimore, who comprised a large community, and the activism of people like Murphy, the Maryland state legislature did not follow the example of other southern states and disenfranchise black voters at the turn of the century. African Americans struggled with discrimination in the city but maintained more freedom and political power than blacks in most other southern states.His son Carl Murphy, by then having a doctorate from the University of Jena in Germany and serving as head of the German department at Howard University, returned to Baltimore in 1918 to work on the paper in his father’s last years. In 1922, after his father’s death, Carl J. Murphy was named as editor and publisher of the paper.After John Henry Murphy’s death on April 5, 1922, his descendants led the newspaper over the course of the next generations, including son Carl J. Murphy for 45 years, and John’s grandson and namesake, John H. Murphy, III. 2008, Murphy was named posthumously to the Hall of Fame, Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, established in 1947, 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 African-American author and biographer. She documented slavery in the United States through a collection of interviews with ex-slaves in her book The House of Bondage, or Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves, which was posthumously published in 1890.Today in our History – December 24, 1853 – Octavia Victoria Rogers Albert was born.She was born Octavia Victoria Rogers in Oglethorpe, Georgia, where she lived in slavery until the emancipation. She attended Atlanta University where she studied to be a teacher. Octavia Rogers saw teaching as a form of worship and Christian service. She received her first teaching job in Montezuma, Georgia.In 1874, at around 21 years old, she married another teacher, Dr. Aristide Elphonso Peter Albert, and they had one daughter together, Laura T. Albert. In 1875 Octavia converted to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a church under the ministry of Henry McNeal Turner, a Congressman and prominent political activist. After her conversion, she then taught because she saw teaching as a form of worship and as a part of her Christian service like her fellow contemporaries. While teaching in Montezuma, Georgia, both she and her husband became strong advocates for education and “American religion” as they used their home to teach reading and writing lessons. Her husband became an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1877. Shortly after the couple married, they moved to Houma, Louisiana.In Houma, Louisiana, Octavia Albert began conducting interviews with men and women who were once enslaved. She met Charlotte Brooks for the first time in 1879 and decided to interview her later, along with other former slaves from Louisiana. These interviews were the raw material for her collection of narratives. Although most of the book focuses on the narrative of Charlotte Brooks, Albert also implemented the interviews from ex-slaves John Goodwin, Lorendo Goodwin, Lizzie Beaufort, Colonel Douglass Wilson, and a woman known as Hattie. Their interviews and experiences shaped her book The House of Bondage, or Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves as a mix of slave stories that would expose the inhumanity of slavery and its effects on individuals. Albert’s goal in writing her book was to tell the stories of slaves, their freedom, and adjustment into a changing society in order to “correct and create history.” The stories of Charlotte Brooks and the others would eventually be compiled into a book after Octavia’s death, published in New York by Hunt and Eaton in 1890. Octavia Albert died on August 19, 1889, before The House of Bondage became widely known. 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 inventor known for her patent for a gas furnace.Today in our History – December 23, 1919 – Alice H. Parker patients the gas furnace.Little is known about Alice H. Parkers life, with most of the information coming from Howard University records of her attendance and her patent. Parker was born in Morristown, New Jersey where she lived most of her life. She attended Howard University, in which she graduated with honors in 1910, and Howard University.Growing up in Morristown, New Jersey, the ineffectiveness of her fireplace in the cold New Jersey winters were said to have inspired her to make a better heating solution.Parker’s heating system used independently controlled burner units that drew in cold air and conveyed the heat through a heat exchanger. This air was then fed into individual ducts to control the amount of heat in different areas. It drew in Parker’s patent for heating furnace was filed in 1919. She received patent No. US132590A on December 23, 1919.At the time of filing, most were heating with either coal or wood, but Parker used gas instead. It was not the first gas patent but was the first to contain individually controlled air ducts to transfer heat to different parts of the building. While never implemented due to safety concerns over the regulation of heat flow, it was a precursor to modern heating systems.With her idea for a furnace used with modifications to eliminate safety concerns, it inspired and led the way to features such as thermostats, zone heating and forced air furnaces, common features of modern central heating. Not only that, but by using gas it heated homes much more efficiently then the wood or coal counterparts.While safety was a concern over the regulation of heat flow, it did eliminate the dangers of leaving a fireplace running through the night in order to keep the house heated.Her filing of the patent preceded both the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement which makes it especially impressive, as these removed many barriers for black women of her generation.Parker and her patent is mentioned in Black women in America: an historical encyclopedia.In 2019, the National Society of Black Physicists honored Parker as an “African American inventor famous for her patented system of central heating using natural gas.” It called her invention a “revolutionary idea” for the 1920s, “that conserved energy and paved the way for the central heating systems”.The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce established the Alice H. Parker Women Leaders in Innovation Awards to honor women who “talent, hard work and ‘outside-the-box’ thinking to create economic opportunities and help make New Jersey a better place to live and work.”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 African-American sociologist, historian and writer. He is noted for his work on African civilizations prior to encounters with Europeans; his major work is The Destruction of Black Civilization (1971/1974). Williams remains a key figure in the Afrocentrist discourse. He asserted the validity of the discredited Black Egyptian hypothesis and that Ancient Egypt was predominantly a black civilization.Today in our History – December 22, 1898 – Dr. Chancellor James Williams (1898-1992) was born.Of the recent towering figures in the struggle to completely eradicate the pervasive racial myths clinging to the origins of Nile Valley Civilization, few scholars have had the impact of Dr. Chancellor James Williams (1898-1992). Chancellor Williams, the youngest of five children, was born in Bennetsville, South Carolina December 22, 1898. His father had been a slave; his mother a cook, nurse, and evangelist. A stirring writer, Chancellor Williams achieved wide acclaim as the author of the 1971 publication, The Destruction of Black Civilization—Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D.Totally uncompromising, highly controversial, broadly sweeping in its range and immensely powerful in its scope, there have been few books published during the past half-century focusing on the African presence in antiquity that have so profoundly affected the consciousness of African people in search of their historical identity. Dr. John Henrik Clarke, now an ancestor and a contemporary of Dr. Williams and one of our most outstanding scholars, described The Destruction of Black Civilization as “a foundation and new approach to the history of our race.” In The Destruction of Black Civilization Chancellor Williams successfully “shifted the main focus from the history of Arabs and Europeans in Africa to the Africans themselves–a history of the Blacks that is a history of Blacks.”The career of Chancellor Williams was spacious and varied; university professor, novelist, and author-historian. He was the father of fourteen children. Blind and in poor health, the last years of Dr. Williams’ life were spent in a nursing home in Washington, D.C.His contributions to the reconstruction of African civilization, however, stand as monuments and beacons reflecting the past, present and future of African people. Chancellor Williams began field research in African History in Ghana (University College) in 1956. His primary focus was on African achievements and autonomous civilizations before Asian and European influences. His last study in 1964 covered an astounding 26 countries and more than 100 language groups. His best known work is “The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D.” For this effort, Dr. Williams was accorded honors by the Black Academy of Arts and Letters.A little known fact about Dr. Williams is that in addition to being an historian and professor, Dr. Williams was president of a baking company, editor of a newsletter, The New Challenge, an economist, high school teacher and principal and a novelist.Dr. Williams remained a staunch advocate that African historians do independent research and investigations so that the history of African people be told and understood from their perspective. Dr. Williams stated clearly, “As long as we rely on white historians to write Black History for us, we should keep silent about what they produce.” Dr. Chancellor Williams joined the Ancestors in 1992. 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 killed during an attack by a group of white men on him and two other black men, in Howard Beach, Queens, New York, United States in a racially charged incident. Two of the black men were severely beaten, including the young man who was killed after being hit by a car as he was chased onto a highway by the mob.The dead youth was originally from Trinidad and had immigrated to the United States in 1973, and lived in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The incident heightened racial tensions in New York City. His death was the second of three infamous racially motivated killings of black men by white mobs in New York City in the 1980s. The other victims were Willie Turks in 1982 and Yusuf Hawkins in 1989.Two days after the event, three local teenagers were arrested, and charged with second-degree murder. On December 21, 1987, they were convicted of manslaughter for the death. In total, nine people were convicted of charges related to the young man’s death.Today in our History – December 21, 1986 – Michael Griffith (March 2, 1963 – December 21, 1986) died.Late on the night of Friday, December 19, 1986, four black men, Michael Griffith, 23; Cedric Sandiford, 36; Curtis Sylvester and Timothy Grimes, both 20, were riding in a car when it broke down on a deserted stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard near the Broad Channel neighborhood of Queens.Three of the men walked about three miles north to seek help in Howard Beach, a mostly white community, while Sylvester remained behind to watch the car. They argued with some white teens who were on their way to a party, then left. By 12:30 a.m. on the 20th, the men reached the New Park Pizzeria, near the intersection of Cross Bay Boulevard and 157th Avenue. After a quick meal the men left the pizzeria at 12:40 a.m. and were confronted by a group of white men, including the group they had earlier confronted. Racial slurs were exchanged and a fight ensued.Sandiford and Griffith were seriously beaten; Grimes escaped unharmed. While trying to evade his attackers, Griffith ran onto a nearby highway where he was accidentally struck and killed by a car driven by a man not involved in the fight. His body was found on the Belt Parkway at 1:03 a.m. Griffith’s death provoked strong outrage and immediate condemnation by then-Mayor of New York City Ed Koch, who referred to the case as the “No. 1 case in the city”. Two days after the event, on December 22, three local teenagers, Jon Lester, Scott Kern, and Jason Ladone, students at John Adams High School, were arrested, and charged with second-degree murder. The driver of the car that struck Griffith, 24-year-old Dominick Blum, was not charged with any crime; a May 1987 grand jury returned no criminal charges against him. The Griffith family, as well as Cedric Sandiford, retained the services of Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, two attorneys who would become involved in the Tawana Brawley affair the following year. Maddox raised the ire of the NYPD and Commissioner Benjamin Ward by accusing them of trying to cover up facts in the case and aid the defendants. After witnesses repeatedly refused to cooperate with Queens D.A. John J. Santucci, Governor of New York Mario Cuomo appointed Charles Hynes special prosecutor to handle the Griffith case on January 13, 1987. The move came after heavy pressure from black leaders on Cuomo to get Santucci, who was seen as too partial to the defendants to prosecute the case effectively, off the case. Twelve defendants were indicted by a grand jury on February 9, 1987, including the original three charged in the case. Their original indictments had been dismissed after the witnesses refused to cooperate in the case.After a lengthy trial and 12 days of jury deliberations, the three main defendants were convicted on December 21, 1987 of manslaughter, a little over a year after the death of Griffith. Kern, Lester and Ladone were convicted of second-degree manslaughter, and Michael Pirone, 18, was acquitted. Ultimately nine people would be convicted on a variety of charges related to Griffith’s death.On January 22, 1988, Jon Lester was sentenced to ten to thirty years’ imprisonment. On February 5, Scott Kern was sentenced to six to eighteen years’ imprisonment, and on February 11, 1988, Jason Ladone received a sentence of five to fifteen years’ imprisonment.In December 1999, the block where Griffith had lived was given the additional name “Michael Griffith Street.” Jason Ladone, then 29, was released from prison in April 2000 after serving 10 years, and later became a city employee. He was arrested again in June 2006, on drug charges. In May 2001, Jon Lester was released and deported to his native England where he studied electrical engineering and started his own business. He died on August 14, 2017 at age 48 of what some suspect was a suicide. He left behind a wife and three children. Scott Kern was released from prison in 2002, the last of the three main perpetrators to be released.In 2005, the Griffith case was brought back to the public’s attention after another racial attack in Howard Beach. A black man, Glenn Moore, was beaten severely with a metal baseball bat by Nicholas Minucci, who was convicted of hate crimes in 2006. The case was revisited yet again by the media, after the death of Michael Sandy, 29, who was beaten and hit by a car after being chased onto the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, in October 2006. 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 is a Broadway musical, with music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen. Based on the show business aspirations and successes of R&B acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and others, the musical follows the story of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called “The Dreams”, who become music superstars.Staged with a mostly African-American cast and originally starring Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine, Ben Harney, Cleavant Derricks, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Obba Babatundé, the musical opened on December 20, 1981, at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. The musical was then nominated for 13 Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical, and won six. It was later adapted into a motion picture from DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures in 2006. The film starred Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, and Keith Robinson.Today in our History – December 20, 1981 – Dreamgirls the musical opened on Broadway in New York City at the Imperial Theater.Dreamgirls had its beginnings as a project for Nell Carter. Playwright Tom Eyen and conductor Henry Krieger first worked together on the 1975 musical version of Eyen’s play The Dirtiest Show in Town. Carter appeared in the musical, and her performance inspired Eyen and Krieger to craft a musical about black back-up singers, which was originally called One Night Only and then given the working title of Project #9. Project #9 was workshopped for Joseph Papp; Nell Carter was joined at this time by Sheryl Lee Ralph and Loretta Devine, who were to play her groupmates. The project was shelved after Carter departed to appear in the soap opera Ryan’s Hope in 1978.A year later, Project #9 was brought back to the table, after catching the interest of Michael Bennett, then in the midst of his success with A Chorus Line. Ralph and Devine returned, and Bennett had Eyen, who was to direct, begin workshopping Big Dreams, as the musical was now known. Joining the cast at this time were Ben Harney, Obba Babatunde, Cleavant Derricks, and twenty-year-old gospel singer Jennifer Holliday as Carter’s replacement (after Carter accepted an offer from NBC to star in Gimme a Break).However, Holliday left the project during the workshopping phase, as she disliked the material and was upset that her character, Effie White, died at the conclusion of the first act. Eyen, Bennett, and Krieger continued to iron out the story and songs. Cheryl Gaines and Phyllis Hyman were both considered as replacements for Holliday.After two mildly successful workshops which included Jenifer Lewis as Effie, Holliday returned to the project, now known as Dreamgirls. However, she found Effie’s role had been reduced significantly in favor of Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Deena character, and Holliday eventually quit the project again.After acquiring funding from music industry mogul David Geffen and fellow co-financiers ABC Entertainment, Metromedia, and the Shubert family, Bennett called Holliday back and agreed to rewrite the show’s second act and build up her character. Gender and racial issues are represented in Dreamgirls being a black-cast musical with three female lead roles. Being set in the 1960s, the Black Power Movement was influential on the story line with black artists starting to succeed in the music industry and black music becoming accessible to all audiences, which is a representation of racial boundaries being broken down.The story is based on three women working their way up in the music industry to achieve their dreams while the most powerful people in the industry are men. In the end, the women stand up for their rights and become influential figures.Dreamgirls premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on December 20, 1981, and closed on August 11, 1985, after 1,521 performances. The production was directed by Michael Bennett, produced by Bennett, Bob Avian, Geffen Records, and The Shubert Organization, and choreographed by Bennett and Michael Peters. It starred Sheryl Lee Ralph as Deena Jones, Jennifer Holliday as Effie White, Loretta Devine as Lorrell Robinson, Ben Harney as Curtis Taylor, Jr., Cleavant Derricks as James “Thunder” Early, and Obba Babatundé as C. C. White. Dreamgirls proved to be a star-making vehicle for several of its performers, particularly Holliday, whose performance as Effie received significant praise.Holliday’s recording of Effie’s solo “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” was a #1 single on the Billboard R&B charts in 1982. For the Dreamgirls original cast recording, the producers decided to present the complex musical sequences as individual songs, cutting approximately half of the score. The cast recording won two Grammy awards, Best Musical Album and Best Vocal Performance for Jennifer Holliday’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”.Bennett took Dreamgirls on an abbreviated national tour in 1983, with Jennifer Holliday remaining as Effie, with Larry Riley, Linda Leilani Brown, Arnetia Walker, Lawrence Clayton, and Cleavant Derricks’ twin brother Clinton Derricks-Carroll as her co-stars. Because of high costs, only three cities were played before the road production was dissolved.A second tour began in 1985, with Sharon Brown as Effie. By 1987, Lillias White, Jennifer Holliday’s original understudy, had taken over the role. The tour ended with a Broadway revival at the Ambassador Theatre, which ran from June 28, 1987 to November 29, 1987, and was nominated for the 1988 Tony Award, Best Revival. By this time, Michael Bennett had fallen ill due to AIDS-related complications, and he died on July 2, 1987.A US tour began in 1997 with direction and choreography by Tony Stevens, based on the original direction and choreography by Michael Bennett. The tour was set to open on Broadway in July 1998, however it ultimately closed in Upstate New York while waiting for a Broadway theatre to become available. In 2004, another national tour began starring American Idol contestant Frenchie Davis, who gained praise for her role as Effie.Another US tour began at the Apollo Theater, New York City in November 2009, with direction and choreography by Robert Longbottom, new scenic design by the original set designer Robin Wagner, and new costume designs by William Ivey Long. American Idol alum Syesha Mercado starred as Deena, with Adrienne Warren as Lorrell, Moya Angela as Effie, Chester Gregory as Jimmy, and Chaz Lamar Shepherd as Curtis. This production included a new song for Deena and the Dreams at the top of Act II (“What Love Can Do”), as well as the song “Listen” from the film, which was re-written as a duet between Deena and Effie. In 2011 the creative team took the production to Montecasino, South Africa with a local cast, however it closed early and a planned (what?) never eventuated.In 2001 a concert performance of the show was staged on Broadway at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts starring Lillias White as Effie, Audra McDonald as Deena, Heather Headley as Lorrelle, Billy Porter as Jimmy, Darius de Haas as C.C. and Norm Lewis as Curtis. The concert was in benefit of the Actors Fund of America, and was one of the first major public gatherings to be held in New York City after 9/11. It was recorded and later released in its entirety on CD.In February 2016 it was confirmed that Dreamgirls would have its London premiere at The Savoy Theatre with Amber Riley taking on the role of Effie White. Riley initially performed the role for 7 out of 8 shows per week, but as of August 2017 performs at 5, with Marisha Wallace and Karen Mav serving as alternates (despite the ‘alternate’ title being dropped when Riley was reduced to 6 shows per week in July 2017). Beginning November 20, 2017, Moya Angela, who played the role of Effie in the 2009 US tour, Marisha Wallace and Karen Mav all share the role of Effie. It is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, with Scenic Design by Tim Hatley and Costume Design by Gregg Barnes.In June 2018, it was announced that the production would close on January 12, 2019 and a UK tour of the show would begin later that year. Casting, dates and venues are yet to be confirmed. Research more about this great American Champion event and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!