GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was blues legend and one of the greatest guitarists in music history, transitioned last week. With hits such as “The Thrill is Gone” (1969), “To Know You is to Love You” (1973), “Never Make a Move Too Soon” (1978), and “Midnight Believer” (1978), he defined music in America and around the world.His talents influenced countless other artists, including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Rolling Stones. He loved to tour and interact with audiences by telling short stories about loves and loves lost, between songs.He was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. He introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending, shimmering vibrato and staccato picking that influenced many later blues electric guitar players. All Music recognized he as “the single most important electric guitarist of the last half of the 20th century”.He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and is one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname “The King of the Blues”, and is considered one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (along with Albert King and Freddie King, none of whom are blood related). He performed tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing on average at more than 200 concerts per year into his 70s. In 1956 alone, he appeared at 342 shows.He was born on a cotton plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and later worked at a cotton gin in Indianola, Mississippi. He was attracted to music and the guitar in church, and began his career in juke joints and local radio. He later lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, and as his fame grew, toured the world extensively. He died at the age of 89 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 14, 2015.Today in our History – December 15, 2006 – B.B. King receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.Riley B. King was born on a plantation near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi on September 16, 1925. As a child, he sang in local gospel choirs and at age 12, purchased his first guitar for $15.00. King made his way to Memphis, Tennessee where in 1948 he got his big break – performing on the Sonny Boy Williamson radio show on KWEM.His performance led to short 10-minute segments on the black-staffed radio station WDIA. The popularity of the segments prompted King to adopt a catchy radio name. He started using Beale Street Blues Boy, then shorten it to Blues Boy King, and eventually decided on B. B. King. In 1949, B. B. King started recording his songs and touring across the country.At a performance in Twist, Arkansas, two male patrons got into a fight that caused a fire. B. B. King barely escaped the club with his Gibson guitar. After learning that the fight was over a woman named Lucille, B. B. King decided to name his guitar after her, as a reminder to never fight over a woman.In 2006, B. B. King received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. The honor is bestowed to those who have contributed to the national interest of the United States, through actions of world peace, culture, and other significant public endeavors. Resrearch more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion event Producers Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris, and Motown Founder Berry Gordy announced December 14 the complete cast for the new national tour of Motown The Musical, which will launch January 11, 2017, at the Stanley Theatre in Utica, NY.Today in our History – December 14, 2016 – Motown “The Musical” is announced. Reprising their roles for this new tour are Chester Gregory as Berry Gordy, Allison Semmes as Diana Ross, and Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye. The production also stars David Kaverman as Smokey Robinson, with CJ Wright and Raymond Davis Jr. portraying Berry Gordy’s boyhood counterpart and the roles of young stars Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.The company will also feature Michelle Alves, Malcolm Armwood, Erick Buckley, Darilyn Castillo, Judith Franklin, Jeremy Gaston, Alyssa V. Gomez, Garfield Hammonds, Rod Harrelson, Jared Howelton, Louis James Jackson, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Ramone Owens, Devin Price, Alana Randall, Tavia Riveè, Matthew Sims Jr., Kimberly Ann Steele, Doug Storm, Daniel Robert Sullivan, Gabriella Whiting, Galen J. Williams, and Ricardo A. Zayas.Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown The Musical, according to production notes, is the “true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more.” The production features more than 50 classic hits, such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” among many others.The musical also has staging by Schele Williams, choreography by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams, scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Tony Award nominee ESosa, lighting design by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz, sound design by Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski, projection design by Daniel Brodie, hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe, casting by Wojcik | Seay Casting, arrangements and orchestrations by Grammy and Tony Award nominee Ethan Popp, who also serves as music supervisor in reproducing the classic “Sound of Young America,” with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Tony Award nominee Bryan Crook, and dance arrangements by Zane Mark.Motown debuted on Broadway April 14, 2013, playing through January 18, 2015, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The musical made a short-lived return to Broadway July 12-31, 2016, at the Nederlander Theatre.Motown is produced by Tony winner Kevin McCollum, Chairman and CEO of SONY Music Entertainment Doug Morris, and Motown Founder Berry Gordy, in association with Work Light Productions. Research more about this great American Champion event and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was an African-American singer and political activist. She promoted racial pride through her support and promotion of music education for African Americans.Born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, she learned to play the piano at age three and took voice and violin lessons as a child. Due to her very light skin color and light hair, many people suggested that she try to pass for white in order to further her musical career. She refused to deny her heritage and remained intensely proud of her roots throughout her life. She moved with her parents to Detroit, Michigan where she graduated from high school in 1886. After high school, she worked as an elementary school teacher before meeting and marrying Edwin Henry Hackley, an attorney and newspaper publisher from Denver, Colorado.During her time in Denver she founded the Colored Women’s League and co-founded the Imperial Order of Libyans with her husband. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Denver School of Music in 1900. She promoted racial pride through music. In 1905, she separated from her husband and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she was the music director for the Episcopal Church of the Crucifixion.Later in life, she trained artists such as Marian Anderson, Roland Hayes, and R. Nathaniel Dett. In 1911, she formed the Vocal Normal Institute in Chicago, Illinois.In 1916, Hackley published The Colored Girl Beautiful, a “how to” on becoming a refined African American lady. A special collection, of African Americans in the Performing Arts, was founded in her name at the Detroit Public Library in 1943.Today in our History – December 13, 1922 – Emma Azalia Hackley diedEmma Azalia Smith Hackley was an African American singer and Denver political activist born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1867. Her parents, business owners Henry and Corilla Smith, moved to Detroit where she attended Washington Normal School, graduating in 1886. Smith, a child prodigy learned to play the piano at three and later took private voice, violin and French lessons.Emma Smith worked as an elementary school teacher for eighteen years. During that period she met and married Edwin Henry Hackley, a Denver attorney and editor of the city’s black newspaper, the Denver Statesman. In 1900 Hackley received her music degree from Denver University. In 1905-1906 she studied voice in Paris with former Metropolitan Opera star Jean de Reszke.Hackley was active in black Denver’s civic and social life. She founded the Colored Women’s League and served as executive director of its local branch. She and her husband also founded the Imperial Order of Libyans which fought racial discrimination and promoted patriotism among African Americans.Hackley separated from her husband in 1905 and moved to Philadelphia where she became director of music at the Episcopal Church of the Crucifixion. While there she helped organize the People’s Chorus which later became the Hackley Choral Society. The group proved popular in the Philadelphia area and gave her the opportunity to study voice in Paris in 1905-1906 with former Metropolitan Opera star Jean de Reszke.Despite her stellar training, Hackley did not pursue a professional career. Instead she spent much of the rest of her life training a younger generation of singers including Marian Anderson, Roland Hayes and R. Nathaniel Dett. She did give benefit concerts to raise money for additional training for these and other singers.Following a third European trip in 1909, preceded by her divorce from her husband, Hackley began giving classical music lectures throughout the United States After a brief Canadian tour in 1911 she created the Vocal Normal Institute in Chicago in the hope of providing an institution where artists could develop their professional abilities. Hackley also published her own collection of music under the title Colored Girl Beautiful. When the Vocal Normal Institute failed in 1916, Hackley turned her attention to African American folk music and organized the Folk Songs Festivals movement in black schools and churches across the South.In 1920, despite failing health, Hackley traveled to Tokyo, Japan where she introduced black folk music to an international audience at the World Sunday School Convention. During a 1921 California tour Hackley collapsed on stage while performing in San Diego and was brought back to Detroit. Emma Azalia Hackley died from a cerebral hemorrhage on December 13, 1922 in Detroit. 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 Negro league baseball catcher. Baseball historians consider him to be among the very best power hitters and catchers in the history of any league, including Major League Baseball (MLB). In 1972, he became the second Negro league player to be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He played for the Homestead Grays from 1930 to 1931, moved to the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1932 to 1936, and returned to the Grays from 1937 to 1939 and 1942 to 1946. In 1937, he played for Ciudad Trujillo in Trujillo’s Dominican League and from 1940 to 1941, he played in the Mexican League for Rojos del Águila de Veracruz. Gibson served as the first manager of the Santurce Crabbers, one of the most historic franchises of the Puerto Rico Baseball League.He was known as the “black Babe Ruth”. In fact, some fans at the time who saw both Ruth and him play called Ruth his name. He never played in the major leagues because of the unwritten “gentleman’s agreement” that prevented non-white players from participating. He stood 6-foot-1 (185 cm) and weighed 210 pounds (95 kg) at the peak of his career. Today in our history – December 12, 1911 – Joshua Gibson (December 12, 1911 – January 20, 1947) was born.Was the myth larger than the reality? Not really.But the applause Josh Gibson received should have been louder. He was considered the best power hitter of his era in the Negro Leagues and perhaps even the majors.Gibson was born on Dec. 21, 1911, in Buena Vista, Ga. His father moved his family to Pittsburgh in 1923 rather than try and continue to nurse a crop from his meager farm.Josh’s education ended after the ninth grade. His introduction to organized baseball came at age 16 when he joined the Gimbels A.C. In 1929, the Crawford Colored Giants, a semi-pro team in Pittsburgh, convinced him to leave the Gimbels and join their squad.He became a professional by accident July 25, 1930 while sitting in the stands. When Homestead Grays catcher Buck Ewing injured his hand, Gibson was invited to replace him because his titanic home runs were already well known in Pittsburgh.“If someone had told me Josh hit the ball a mile, I would have believed them,” said Sam Jethroe, who starred for the Cleveland Buckeyes.His legendary feats with the Homestead Grays have many experts regarding Gibson as the sport’s greatest home run hitter. Negro Leagues statistics of the time are largely incomplete, but the legend of Gibson’s power has always been larger than life.The 6-1, 220-pound Gibson was nearly indestructible behind the plate. He occasionally played left field or third base, but never for more than a game or two.Gibson’s natural skills were immense. His powerful arm, quick release and agility made base runners wary of trying to steal.But hitting is what made Gibson the second-highest paid player in black baseball behind Satchel Paige, another future Hall of Famer.The Sporting News, baseball’s written authority for decades, credited Gibson in 1967 with hitting a 580-foot home run in Yankee Stadium. The ball landed two feet from the top of the bleacher wall.“Josh was a better power hitter than Babe Ruth, Ted Williams or anybody else I’ve ever seen,” said former Cleveland Buckeye pitcher and manager Alonzo Boone. “Anything he touched was hit hard.He could power outside pitches to right field. Shortstops would move to left field when Josh came to the plate.”In 1972, Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame. He passed away on Jan. 20, 1947.Paige may have put it best when describing Josh at the plate: “You look for his weakness and while you’re looking’ for it, he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.”Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was a chairman of the Republican Party in Arkansas, rose from poverty to national prominence when he co-founded the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), an African-American fraternal organization of international scope, spanning twenty-six states and six foreign countries from the 1880s until the 1930s.Headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), MTA became one of the largest and most successful black-owned business enterprises in the nation and the world; it included an insurance company, a building and loan association, a hospital, a business college, a publishing house, and a nursing school.Living most of his early life in the downtown 9th Street district of Little Rock, Bush was widely acknowledged as one of the wealthiest black men in Arkansas and a progenitor of the economic development and progress of black American entrepreneurs.Today in our History, December 11, 1916 – John Edward Bush, died.John Edward Bush was born enslaved on November 14, 1856, in Moscow, Tennessee. In 1862, Bush and his mother and sister werebrought to Arkansas by their owner, who was trying to stay ahead of Union troops. Bush and his family were free at the end ofthe Civil War, but his mother died shortly after their arrival in Little Rock. Bush rose from poverty to national prominence whenhe co-founded the Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), an African-American fraternal organization of international scope.Headquartered in Little Rock, AR, MTA became one of the largest and most successful black-owned business enterprises in thenation and the world. Bush was widely acknowledged as one of the wealthiest black men in Arkansas and a pioneer of the economicdevelopment and progress of black American entrepreneurs.In 1875, Bush worked as a postal clerk for the Railway Mail Serviceand became the first black person to be recommended for the chief clerkship of the division. Bush graduated with honors fromthe Capital Hill City School of Little Rock in 1876 and served as its principal for two years immediately following graduation.Bush served as an executive committee member of Booker T. Washington’s National Negro Business League, and Bush was a dues-payingmember of the Mosaic Templars. President William McKinley appointed Bush as the receiver of the U.S. Land Office at LittleRock in 1898.He was subsequently reappointed for four additional terms by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William HowardTaft. Bush died on December 11, 1916.After Bush’s death, his son Chester succeeded him as the national grand secretary of theMosaic Templars of America, while Aldridge served as secretary and treasurer of its monument department. 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 taken by his parents at the age of two years to Albany, Ohio, where unusual school facilities were offered African-American children. When he was old enough, he was sent to the Albany public schools, and when the Albany Enterprise Academy, a school for African-American children, was erected, he was able to attend it for a short time. Unfortunately, his father died in 1870 and young Berry was compelled, at the age of sixteen, to leave school and help provide for his family, in which there were eight children younger than himself. Today in our History – December 10, 1854 – Edwin C. Berry (1854-1931) is born. He will become an American hotelier who was among the most successful African-American hoteliers in the country during his era. In his search for work he walked ten miles to Athens, Ohio, and was very happy to secure work in a brick yard at fifty cents a day. In a short time, his work improved until he was earning $1.25 a day, the greater part of which he was able to divide with his family. He was never too proud to do any kind of honest labor, and although his work was hard and not inviting, it was the best he could do, and he decided to do it well. During the summers he remained at the brick yard, and in the winters was usually able to find employment in stores or elsewhere as a delivery boy or clerk. It was during these difficult years that he learned to practice economy. He did not use tobacco or intoxicants; because he could not afford them then. He said he was not able to afford them afterward, either.He also learned to seize opportunities which other boys allowed to slip by them. Whenever a circus came to town the other boys eagerly spent some of their hard earned money to see the show, but young Berry turned the circus to profit.He would rig up a refreshment booth and thus make more money than he would had he stayed at the brick yard. Whenever there were excursions, that form of extravagance in which so many of our people sink their savings, Berry would always get the privilege of selling refreshments on the train, thus enjoying the excursion and making a profit at the same time. Speaking of economy, he said once that on many occasions he has walked ten miles to his home so that he might have an additional twenty-five cents for the dear ones there. While he was working at the brick yard, it was his custom to work every day and half the night, thus making the week nine days long.On rainy days when the brick yard was idle he would find some chores to do, or go to the country after cream for the ice cream makers. The first winter after the death of his father he worked at hauling bricks until his hands were cut to the quick by handling the rough surfaces. He was more than rewarded, however, by earning enough to take home four barrels of flour which were all paid for, at $7.80 per barrel. His first indoor work was in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where he was employed as errand boy in a dry goods store at $10 per month. Of this amount he regularly sent his mother $8 every month. It was in Parkersburg that he first secured work along the line in which he was afterwards to make so great a success. He got work in an ice cream parlor, where he served as a waiter. Returning to Athens, he secured employment in a restaurant, where he picked up the profession of catering. He soon became so proficient in this profession that he became personally in demand among the customers of his employers. The thought naturally occurred to him that if he could do so well for others he could do still better for himself. Meanwhile, in 1878, he married his schoolmate, Miss Mattie Madry, and began housekeeping in one room, in which, however, everything was paid for.The idea of setting up in business for himself would not leave his mind, but as he had no capital and no credit, the way seemed dark before him. His wife came to his aid. By her intercession her parents were persuaded to allow Berry to put the three dollars which he had been paying them weekly for his wife’s board into what they called the “business capital.” In a few months he was able to start with his elder brother in the restaurant business with a capital of forty dollars.They commenced as “Berry Brothers”, but, as the business was not large enough for two, Berry bought his brother out and went along alone.When Berry’s employer learned that his best employee was about to set up as his rival, he was angry, and warned Berry that if he failed and returned looking for employment he would not get it, or even a meal if he were hungry. Berry had the pleasure some time later of materially assisting this man when he himself got into trouble. The business prospered from the first, and by 1880 Berry was able to buy a lot for $1,300. As soon as the lot was paid for, Berry secured a loan of $2,000 and put up his first building, which is to-day a part of the Hotel Berry. He did a prosperous trade as caterer and confectioner and soon had to hire a young man as assistant.Berry’s success continued until 1893, when he decided to enter the hotel business. At first the outlook was gloomy. In the first place, the merchants of Athens met and decided to boycott any traveling salesman who stopped at the Hotel Berry. In July 1893 occurred the great panic, and on many a night Berry closed up with only one guest on the register. He had incurred a mortgage of $8,000 at seven percent interest. and was compelled to apply at the banks to borrow money to meet his notes. On one occasion both banks in the city refused to let him have money. He was almost in despair. As Berry was going out of the second bank a friend of his, who was standing by, seeing the look of distress on his face, asked him what the trouble was. Berry told him. The friend drew $500, the sum needed, from his private deposit and handed it to Berry, telling him to take it and use it without interest until he could repay it. This is the only time in his career, Berry said, that any person offered him any encouragement beyond empty words. The panic subsided, and the merchants were unable to drive the salesmen from Berry’s hotel. One example will show the methods used by Berry to make his hotel popular. At night, after his guests had fallen asleep, it was his custom to go around and gather up their clothes and take them to his wife, who would add buttons which were lacking, repair rents, and press the garments, after which Berry would replace them in the guests’ rooms. Guests who had received such treatment returned again and brought their friends with them. The Hotel Berry became the leading hotel in Athens. As of 1907, the hotel had fifty rooms, with baths and all modern conveniences, and an elevator. The hotel was so popular that men came from considerable distances just to spend Sunday there, and was a landmark on the trail of commercial travelers. Berry never refused to serve African-American men at his hotel — indeed, he said he would rather lose his customers than to be guilty of that sort of disloyalty. Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion was a formerly enslaved person who served as the model for the emancipated slave in the Emancipation Memorial (1876) located in Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C. He was the subject of an 1885 biography, The Story of Archer Alexander, written by William Greenleaf Eliot.Today in our History – December 8, 1880 – Archer Alexander dies.According to Eliot, Alexander was born in approximately 1815 on the plantation of the Ferrell family in Fincastle, Virginia. Archer’s father was sold by Ferrell to pay off debts while Archer was still a child. Shortly thereafter, Delaney died and left Archer Alexander to his son, Tom Ferrell, who moved to Missouri, taking his slave with him. Alexander’s mother, left behind in Virginia, died only a few months later. Alexander himself was hired out by Ferrell to local brickyards in St. Louis, until he needed even more money, when he sold Alexander to a farmer named Richard H. Pitman who lived on the border of St. Charles County and Warren County.Archer Alexander had married an enslaved woman named Louisa, who was owned by James Naylor, and she accompanied him. Alexander was purchased in 1844 and worked for Hickman for more than twenty years. He was sufficiently respected by Naylor that he was given the responsibility of functioning in an overseer capacity on the farm. During this time, Archer and Louisa Alexander became the parents of several children, some of whom Naylor sent away because of their behavior.Before the onset of the American Civil War, Alexander listened to the political discussion and determined that he would flee from his life in slavery if the opportunity arose. In 1863, Alexander covertly notified a group of Union troops that a bridge they intended to use had been sabotaged by Confederate sympathizers. He was shortly thereafter suspected of being the source of this information and had to flee the farm. He was captured by slave catchers, but he broke free and returned to St. Louis.He went downtown to look for work in one of the public markets. Eliot’s wife was there as well, having come to hire a servant. She hired Alexander, and brought him home. Alexander proved to be reticent about his recent history, leading Eliot himself to suspect that Alexander was an escaped slave, which left him in an uncomfortable situation.He had some years earlier stated that he personally would never return a fugitive slave to his former master, and he now faced that very situation. He obtained a certificate to keep Alexander for thirty days, and quickly wrote Hickman, offering to pay Alexander from him. Hickman turned down the offer, vowing he would have the slave back.Two days before the expiration of his certificate, Alexander was found by some slave catchers Hickman had evidently hired. Eliot managed to find Alexander and keep him safe until the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.Alexander and his wife were reunited, if only for a short time. In 1866, Louisa decided to return to Naylor’s house for some things she had left there. Alexander would later find out that Louisa had died, two days after her arrival, of an unidentified disease.In 1869, Eliot was working with a group to build a statue of Lincoln. The funding for an Emancipation Memorial, featuring a statue of Lincoln, had begun with a $5 donation from a former slave, Charlotte Scott, from Virginia. All of the initial funds raised were from donations from former slaves, later matched by donations from The Western Sanitary Commission, a St. Louis-based volunteer war-relief agency. Thomas Ball had an acceptable model made, but Eliot’s group wanted to have a real freedman pose for it. Eliot gave Ball a photo of Alexander, and he was chosen as the model.In 1876, the statue was unveiled, with a number of notable people in attendance, including President Ulysses S. Grant, members of his cabinet, Supreme Court justices, other government figures, and Frederick Douglass, another former slave. However, neither Alexander nor Eliot was present.Eliot and his son, Christopher, were with his friend Alexander when the latter died in 1880 in St. Louis, Missouri. Archer gave Christopher a gold watch for teaching him how to read. Eliot noted that Alexander died thanking God that he had died in freedom.According to DNA research, Muhammad Ali’s paternal grandmother was Alexander’s great-granddaughter. 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 one of the men some 100 survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor will gather in Hawaii today 79 years after the day which drew the US into World War II. The Japanese air and naval strike on the American military base claimed nearly 2,400 lives, destroyed over 160 aircraft and beached, damaged or destroyed over 20 ships. President Franklin D. called it ” a date which will live in infamy” when he addressed the Congress the next day asking to declare war with Japan. Today in our History – December 7, 1941 – Phoenix Nelson G. Mitchell, Jr. helps fight off the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.Nelson was born January 19, 1920 on a family farm in Bivins, TX (Cass County) where he picked cotton, tended a vegetable garden, cared for livestock, and engaged in other daily chores with two sisters and five brothers. There was very little time for play, except for church on Sundays and occasional picnics. He enjoyed baseball and basketball when time allowed.He is preceded in death by his wife, Fannie, his father, Nelson Sr., mother Wafie, sisters Surreah and Marie, and brothers Maurice, Risdon, Leondas (L.K.), William Morris and Roscoe.Nelson joined the U.S. Navy in August 1940—not to see the world—but to provide extra income for his family. In the face of limited opportunities, he served honorably, diligently, and without bluster as a stewards mate and cook.Until his death, it was widely believed that he was the last living African American survivor of the assault on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941. During the attack, he was aboard the Destroyer USS Jarvis. Nelson also spent time aboard the USS Selfridge, the USS Case, and a Navy oil tanker during his eight years in the Navy.Nelson purchased 3.5 acres of land in southeast Phoenix (near the Tempe border) in 1945 and built a “modern” house on the property in 1948-49. He married Fannie Lee Epps of Linden, TX in 1946 before leaving the Navy in 1948. When they put down roots in Phoenix, they raised three children, many cows (including a trio named Blackie, Brownie and Hamburger), hundreds of chickens, and alfalfa.He worshipped at Willow Grove Baptist Church in the South Phoenix Okemah community for more than 50 years.Following his service in the Navy, Nelson spent more than 20 years in civil service at Luke AFB. (Nelson retired in 1970 to care for his ailing wife.)Nelson honed his talents as a horticultural Phenom at his Phoenix home. His yard radiated vibrant color and life with more than 250 rose bushes and other flowers, several pecan trees, and orange, lemon, grapefruit, peach and apricot trees. He won numerous rose show and county and state fair awards for his prowess in the rose garden.In the early 1990s, Nelson moved to Peoria, AZ where he made many new friends and enjoyed his senior independent life. His passion for roses continued at his Peoria residence, and he also raised vegetables that he feasted on almost daily. Neighbors, including kids, frequently stopped by to sample a baked treat (Nelson was an excellent baker of cookies, cakes and pies) or simply marvel at his garden of roses. He became a lifelong consulting rosarian and was a frequent judge at local and regional rose shows. He enjoyed serving with the Phoenix Rose Society, the Valley of the Sun Gardeners club, the West Valley Rose Society, the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society, and the Desert Rose Society, among others.Nelson eventually joined Valley Community Church in Peoria and attended services until health issues made it difficult to continue.For the last two years, Nelson led a quiet and reflective life with his son, Lynwood and his family in Mission Viejo, CA.Nelson is survived by three children, Cynthia V. Mitchell of Phoenix, Nelson G. Mitchell III (and daughter-in-law Barbara) of Tempe, Lynwood A. Mitchell (and daughter-in-law Dora) of Mission Viejo, CA; four grandchildren, Lynwood X. Mitchell, Michael A. Mitchell, Nicole Rosas (Dave), and Tarah M. Mitchell; five great-grandchildren, Jordan Mitchell, Mariah Mitchell, Xavier Mitchell, Jr., Mackenzie Mitchell, and Korbyn Mitchell; and a great-great-grandson, Jaden Mitchell. Research more about these great American Champions who fought during the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor and share them with your babies. Make it a champion day!
GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion is a former American politician who was U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district from 1997 to 2011. She is a member of the Democratic Party. In August 2010 she lost the Democratic primary election to Hansen Clarke, who replaced her in January 2011 after winning the 2010 general election. She is also the mother of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.Today in our History – December 6, 2006 – Carolyn Jean Cheeks Kilpatrick – she was unanimously elected Chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus. Her son, Kwame, was elected to fill her Michigan House seat in 1996. In 2001 he became at 30 the youngest Mayor of Detroit. Born Carolyn Jean Cheeks in Detroit, she graduated from Detroit High School of Commerce. She then attended Ferris State University in Big Rapids from 1968-70 and earned a B.S. from Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo) in 1972. She earned a M.S. from the University of Michigan in 1977. She worked as a high school teacher and was later a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1979-96.In 1996, Kilpatrick challenged three-term incumbent Barbara-Rose Collins in the 1996 Democratic primary for what was then the 15th District. She defeated Collins by a shocking margin, taking 51.6 percent of the vote to Collins’ 30.6 percent. This was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district. She was reelected six times, never dropping below 80 percent of the vote. Her district was renumbered as the 13th District after the 2000 Census. She faced no major-party opposition in 2004 and was completely unopposed in 2006.Her first serious opposition came during the 2008 primary—the real contest in this district—when she was challenged by both former State Representative Mary D. Waters and State Senator Martha Scott in the Democratic primary. Kilpatrick’s campaign was plagued by the controversy surrounding her son and his involvement in a text messaging sex scandal. On the August 5 primary election, Kilpatrick won with 39.1 percent of the vote, compared to Waters’ 36 percent and Scott’s 24 percent.In 2010, she was again challenged in the Democratic primary. Unlike in 2008, her opposition coalesced around State Senator Hansen Clarke, who defeated her in the August 3 primary. “This is the final curtain: the ending of the Kilpatrick dynasty,” said Detroit political consultant Eric Foster of Foster, McCollum, White and Assoc.NPR and CBS News both noted that throughout her re-election campaign, she was dogged by questions about her son, Kwame Kilpatrick, who is in prison on numerous corruption charges.Michigan Live reported that her election defeat could in part be attributed to the Kwame Kilpatrick scandals.Kilpatrick was married to Bernard Nathaniel Kilpatrick, with whom she has daughter Ayanna and son Kwame Kilpatrick, a former Mayor of Detroit. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick divorced Bernard Kilparick in 1981. She has five grandsons including two sets of twins and one granddaughter. Both her former husband and son were on trial, under an 89-page felony indictment. On March 11, 2013, her son was found guilty on 24 of 30 federal charges and her former spouse was found guilty on 1 of 4 federal charges.• She is a member of the Detroit Substance Abuse Advisory Council.• She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sororityResearch 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 singer, songwriter, and musician. An influential figure in popular music, Richard’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll, leading him to be given the nickname “The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll”.Characterized by his frenetic piano playing and raspy singing voice, Richard’s music also played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. He influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop, and his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations to come.Remember – “Gay people are the sweetest, kindest, most artistic, warmest and most thoughtful people in the world. And since the beginning of time all they’ve ever been is kicked. – Little Richard WilliamsToday in our History – December 5, 1932 – Richard Wayne Penniman – died -May 9, 2020, better known as Little Richard was born.Starting with “Tutti Frutti” in 1956, Little Richard cut a series of unstoppable hits – “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up” that same year, “Lucille” in 1957, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958 – driven by his simple, pumping piano, gospel-influenced vocal exclamations and sexually charged (often gibberish) lyrics. “I heard Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and that was it,” Elton John told Rolling Stone in 1973.Although he never hit the top 10 again after 1958, Little Richard’s influence was massive. The Beatles recorded several of his songs, including “Long Tall Sally,” and Paul McCartney’s singing on those tracks – and the Beatles’ own “I’m Down” – paid tribute to Little Richard’s shredded-throat style. His songs became part of the rock & roll canon, covered over the decades by everyone from the Everly Brothers, the Kinks, and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Elvis Costello and the Scorpions. “Elvis popularized [rock & roll],” Steven Van Zandt tweeted after the news broke. “Chuck Berry was the storyteller. Richard was the archetype.”Little Richard’s stage persona – his pompadours, androgynous makeup and glass-bead shirts – also set the standard for rock & roll showmanship; Prince, to cite one obvious example, owed a sizable debt to the musician. “Prince is the Little Richard of his generation,” Richard told Joan Rivers in 1989 before looking at the camera and addressing Prince. “I was wearing purple before you was wearing it!”Born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5th, 1932, in Macon, Georgia, he was one of 12 children and grew up around uncles who were preachers. “I was born in the slums. My daddy sold whiskey, bootleg whiskey,” he told Rolling Stone in 1970.Although he sang in a nearby church, his father Bud wasn’t supportive of his son’s music and accused him of being gay, resulting in Penniman leaving home at 13 and moving in with a white family in Macon. But music stayed with him: One of his boyhood friends was Otis Redding, and Penniman heard R&B, blues and country while working at a concession stand at the Macon City Auditorium.After performing at the Tick Tock Club in Macon and winning a local talent show, Penniman landed his first record deal, with RCA, in 1951. (He became “Little Richard” when he about 15 years old, when the R&B and blues worlds were filled with acts like Little Esther and Little Milton; he had also grown tired with people mispronouncing his last name as “Penny-man.”)He learned his distinctive piano style from Esquerita, a South Carolina singer and pianist who also wore his hair in a high black pompadour.For the next five years, Little Richard’s career advanced only fitfully; fairly tame, conventional singles he cut for RCA and other labels didn’t chart. “When I first came along, I never heard any rock & roll,” he told Rolling Stone in 1990. “When I started singing [rock & roll], I sang it a long time before I presented it to the public because I was afraid they wouldn’t like it. I never heard nobody do it, and I was scared.”By 1956, he was washing dishes at the Greyhound bus station in Macon (a job he had first taken a few years earlier after his father was murdered and Little Richard had to support his family). By then, only one track he’d cut, “Little Richard’s Boogie,” hinted at the musical tornado to come.“I put that little thing in it,” he told Rolling Stone in 1970 of the way he tweaked with his gospel roots. “I always did have that thing, but I didn’t know what to do with the thing I had.”By coincidence, label owner and producer Art Rupe was in search of a lead singer for some tracks he wanted to cut in New Orleans, and Penniman’s howling delivery fit the bill. In September 1955, the musician cut a lyrically cleaned-up version of “Tutti Frutti,” which became his first hit, peaking at 17 on the pop chart. “’Tutti Frutti really started the races being together,” he told Rolling Stone in 1990. “From the git-go, my music was accepted by whites.”Its followup, “Long Tall Sally,” hit Number Six, becoming his the highest-placing hit of his career. For just over a year, the musician released one relentless and arresting smash after another. From “Long Tall Sally” to “Slippin’ and Slidin,’” Little Richard’s hits – a glorious mix of boogie, gospel, and jump blues, produced by Robert “Bumps” Blackwell — sounded like he never stood still.Little Richard also dismantled sexual stereotypes in rock & roll, even if he confused many of his fans along the way. During his teen years and into his early rock stardom, his stereotypical flamboyant personality made some speculate about his sexuality. But that flamboyance didn’t derail his career. In the 1984 biography The Life and Times of Little Richard (written with his cooperation), he denounced homosexuality as “contagious … It’s not something you’re born with.”Yet none of that seemed to damage his mystique or legend. In the 1980s, he appeared in movies like Down and Out in Beverly Hills and in TV shows like Full House and Miami Vice. In 1986, he was one of the 10 original inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1993, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. His last known recording was in 2010, when he cut a song for a tribute album to gospel singer Dottie Rambo.In the years before his death, Little Richard, who was by then based in Nashville, still performed periodically. Onstage, though, the physicality of old was gone: Thanks to hip replacement surgery in 2009, he could only perform sitting down at his piano. But his rock & roll spirit never left him. “I’m sorry I can’t do it like it’s supposed to be done,” he told one audience in 2012.After the audience screamed back in encouragement, he said – with a very Little Richard squeal — “Oh, you gonna make me scream like a white girl!”Research more about this great American Champion and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!