Category: Inventors/ or firsts

December 18 1917- Ossie Davis

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a person was an American film, television and Broadway actor, director, poet, playwright, author, and civil activist.

He was married to Ruby Dee, with whom he frequently performed, until his death in 2005.

He and his wife were named to the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame; were awarded the National Medal of Arts and were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1994. Enjoy!

Remember – “College ain’t so much where you been as how you talk when you get back.” – Ossie Davis

Today in our History – December 18, 1917 – Ossie Davis was born.

Ossie Davis was a twentieth century renowned African-American film and television artist and Broadway actor. Besides that, he was also known for his work as a playwright, poet and author. Being an actor and author, Davis had a sensitive side which made him conscious of social problems faced by his race which he tried to bring to light as a social activist.

Davis was named Raiford Chatman Davis on his birth. He was born on December 18, 1917, in Cogdell, Clinch County, Georgia. He came to known as Ossie when a country clerk mistaken R. C for Ossie upon his birth. As it was a regular occupation for white people to threaten and bully the blacks, Davis family was no less a victim of this cruelty. His father was threatened to be shot for occupying such a major work post for a black man. Despite facing the extreme racism, Davis had been able to attend school and was later sent to Howard University. However, he dropped out in 1939 in order to follow his dream career of acting but not before he finished a course at Columbia University School of General Studies.

1939 was the year when he first embarked upon his eight decade long journey of his acting career. He had to face the similar problems as all the black community did when they made any meaningful career choice, such as strong resistance from white. They were allowed to play only stereotypical and low-profile characters. Nevertheless, Davis had different plans as he wanted to play something significant following the example of Sidney Poitier. The struggle for a major role was inevitable for a beginner like himself so he was offered roles like that of a butler or porter. In order to make a difference, he took on whatever small roles came his way very seriously and made them non-stereotypical.

After experiencing career as an actor, he aspired to become a director. Eventually, Ossie Davis became one of the stellar directors of his time along with Melvin Van Peebles, and Gordon Parks. He is credited with directing some notable films including the famous action film Cotton Comes to Harlem, Black Girl and Gordon’s Work. He was one of the few African American actors who found commercial success in such a cut-throat competitive industry as Hollywood. He acted along with Sean Conner in the 1965 movie The Hill and in other films including, The Scalphunters and The Cardinal. He was successful but his success didn’t exceed to massive commercial and critical fame that his contemporaries Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier savored.

In addition to acting and directing, Davis also wrote plays for theater. His Paul Robeson: All-American was often performed in various theaters and enjoyed by the youth. It was not until his late acting career that he received recognition by working in films such as Jungle Fever, Do The Right Thing and She Hate Me. Moreover, he worked as a voice-over artist in the early 1990s CBS sitcom, Evening Shade. Having a unique personality, Davis was requested to host the annual National Memorial Day Concert from Washington, DC. His final acting project included numerous guest roles. One that stands out amongst others was the Showtime drama series The L Word. Ossie Davis passed away on February 9, 2005, in Florida. Research more about this great American talent and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 10 1982- Pamela McAllister

GM – FBF – Today’s story takes me back to the Badger state of Wisconsin, where I spent 10 years getting a BA and MFA. Also I started my own business MaddLadd Productions during the beginning of the Disco era and worked on radio stations in Southeast Wisconsin to promote my business and was program director to a few of the most distinguished discotheques in the area including Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, WI. My master’s degree was in Radio & Television Broadcasting which included some journalism classes in which I had an opportunity to meet today’s story headliner. Enjoy!

Remember – “We as black people should be qualified to run any newspaper in America”. – Pam McAllister Johnson

Today in our History – December 10, 1982 – Pamela McAllister Johnson became the first Black woman publisher of a mainstream paper, the Ithaca Journal.

Pam McAllister Johnson, American newspaper publisher, consultant. Member National Association Black Journalists, National Association Education in Journalism, New York State Publications Association, American Newspaper Publications assosiation, New York Association Black Journalists, Ithaca Business and Professional Women.; Club: Zonta.

Johnson, Pam McAllister was born on April 14, 1945 in McAlester, Oklahoma, United States. Daughter of Elmer Reuben and Esther Queen (Crump) McAllister.

Bachelor of Science, University Wisconsin, 1967, Master of Science, 1971, Doctor of Philosophy, 1977. Association professor journalism University of Wisconsin Madison,1971-1978. Associate professor Norfolk State University (Virginia), 1979-1981.

General executive Gannett Company, Inc., Bridgewater, New Jersey, since 1981. Assistant to public The Ithaca Journal, New York, 1981, president, public, since 1981. Director First Bank Ithaca.

Board of directors St. Bonaventure U., Olean, New York, Station WCNY-television, Syracuse, New York. Member of advisory board National Youth Communication, Syracuse, 1983.

Associate professor journalism University Wisconsin, Madison, 1971—1978. Associate professor Norfolk State University, Virginia, 1979—1981. General executive Gannett Company, Inc., Bridgewater, New Jersey, since 1981.

Assistant to public The Ithaca Journal, New York, 1981, president, public, 1981.

Director First Bank Ithaca. Board directors St. Bonaventure University, Olean, New York, Station WCNY-television, Syracuse. Member advisory board National Youth Communication, 1983.

Member of Ithaca Business and Professional Women, New York Association Black Journalists, married Newspaper Publications Association, New York State Publications Association, National Association Education in Journalism, National Association Black Journalists, Zonta.

Married Donald Nathanial Johnson, June 8, 1968. Children: Jason, Dawn.
Father: Elmer Reuben McAllister, Mother: Esther Queen (Crump) McAllister – Husband: Donald Nathanial Johnson, two children: Dawn Johnson and Jason Johnson. Research more about black women in journalism and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 7 1941- Carole Simpson

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about a Black female who was the first of her kind in television both locally in Chicago, IL and nationally on ABC news. After the federal government dropped the requirements for broadcasting in 1977 a lot of people who didn’t understand journalism and still don’t have taken a profession which I loved as a radio air personality who read the news to a Infotainment audience, Journalism as I understood it is dead. All we have now are people giving their opinion and that is not journalism. This lady was one of the last journalists on air, Enjoy!

Remember – “ I use to be proud that I did my body of work in the way it was meant to be and I still Instill this with my students to this day” – Carole Simpson

Today in our History – December 7, 1941 Carole Simpson was born.

Award-winning journalist Carole Simpson was the first black woman television reporter to broadcast radio news in Chicago. She is also the first African American woman to anchor a major television network evening newscast.

Veteran Journalist Carole Simpson, who has spent her three decades as an anchor in the network, has accumulated a lot of fan followings who seem to be mesmerized by her life behind the camera.

The American journalist Carole Estelle Simpson was born on 7 December 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. Born in Chicago, She was the daughter of Lytle Ray and Doretha Viola Simpson. She is currently 76 years of age, and the birth sign is Sagittarius.

In 1958, Carole graduated attended the University of Illinois, and after completing her graduation, she transferred to the University of Michigan where she graduated in 1962 with her B.A. degree in journalism.

Carole was the only black journalism major in her graduating class, and while pursuing her B.A. degree, she received her first media experience by working at a community newspaper during her summer breaks.

Carole, who stands at the tall height, started her first job on the radio at WCFL in Chicago, Illinois, and was later hired at WBBM.

After that, she moved to television at Chicago’s WMAQ and onto NBC News in the year 1975, becoming the first African-American woman to anchor a major network newscast.
She also became the first woman of color to moderate a presidential debate when she moderated the debate held between George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot, at Richmond, Virginia, in 1992. The same year she won the Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Later, she joined ABC News in the year 1982 and was an anchor for the weekend edition of World News Tonight from 1988 to 2003. Though she ended her career at ABC News but had a contract with the network until 2005.

After her retirement from ABC News in 2006, she was hired as Leader in Residence at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts in the year 2007. In 2010, her autobiography, Newslady, was published by AuthorHouse.

Her time in the network has not just rewarded her with name and fame but has also been successful financially. Being the anchor of the ABC News channel, she must have earned a huge amount of salary from her career and has a net worth estimated to be in millions.

Veteran Journalist Carole is married to her husband James Edward Marshall on 3 September 1966. However, neither Carole nor James has revealed the information regarding her wedding reception. There is also no information regarding how they met and how their relationship flourished before marriage.

However, it has come to the limelight that, the couple shares two children together, a daughter named Mallika JoyMarshall, and a son Adam Marshall. Her daughter Mallika is now a physician and her son, Adam is a junior partner in a talent firm in Los Angeles.

The couple, who currently resides in Boston, seems to be happy with their two children and three grandbabies as a family who live in suburban Wellesley. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 5 1784- Phillis Wheatly

GM – FBF – There are some stories in our History that need to be shared as much as possible. Today’s story is one of them. I was blessed to take some of my students from Trenton and Ewing to Houston, Texas and actually did one of our awards ceremonies honoring the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland who was from 5th ward of Houston. He was a graduate of Phillis Wheatley High School where we met the Leland family, Governor Ann Richards and the late U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. The students of Phillis Wheatley High School and our Trenton students did two community events – one serving meals at a soup kitchen and the second was clothing drive at Texas Southern University. We were amazed of how many of Phillis Wheatley’s writings that the students were exposed too. Enjoy!

Remember – “In every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance.” ― Phillis Wheatley

Today in our History – December 5, 1784 – Phillis Wheatley died.

Phillis Wheatley was the first African American poet to publish a book. She was born in 1753, in West Africa and brought to New England, enslaved, in 1761, where she was sold to John Wheatley of Boston. The Wheatleys took a great interest in Phillis’s education and precocity; Wheatley learned to read and write English by the age of nine, and she became familiar with Latin, Greek, the Bible, and selected classics at an early age. She began writing poetry at thirteen, modeling her work on the English poets of the time, particularly John Milton, Thomas Gray, and Alexander Pope. Her poem “On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield” was published as a broadside in cities such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia and garnered Wheatley national acclaim. This poem was also printed in London. Over the next few years, she would print a number of broadsides elegizing prominent English and colonial leaders.

Wheatley’s doctor suggested that a trip might improve her delicate health, so in 1771 she accompanied Nathaniel Wheatley to London. She was well received in London and wrote to a friend of the “unexpected and unmerited civility and complaisance with which I was treated by all.” In 1773, thirty-nine of her poems were published in London as Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. The book includes many elegies as well as poems on Christian themes; it also includes poems dealing with race, such as the often-anthologized “On Being Brought from Africa to America.” She returned to America in 1773.

After Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley died, Phillis was left to support herself as a seamstress and poet. It is unclear precisely when Wheatley was freed from slavery, although scholars suggest it occurred between 1774 and 1778. In 1776, Wheatley wrote a letter and poem in support of George Washington; he replied with an invitation to visit him in Cambridge, stating that he would be “happy to see a person so favored by the muses.” In 1778, she married John Peters, who kept a grocery store. They had three children together, all of whom died young.

Because of the war and the poor economy, Wheatley experienced difficulty publishing her poems. She solicited subscribers for a new volume that would include thirty-three new poems and thirteen letters, but was unable to raise the funds. Phillis Wheatley, who had once been internationally celebrated, died alone in a boarding house on December 5, 1784. She was thirty-one years old. Many of the poems for her proposed second volume disappeared and have never been recovered. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 3 1866- John Swett Rock

GM – FBF – We are proud to be back in New Jersey for today’s story. He was a public school graduate, teacher and later became a dentist and taught blacks the practice of dentistry. He was abolitionist and became a lawyer and helped assemble the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the American War between the States. He became the first African American lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Enjoy!

Remember – “I Will Sink or Swim with My Race” – John Swett Rock

Today in our History – John Swett Rock died in Boston on December 3, 1866.

John Swett Rock was born to free black parents in Salem, New Jersey in 1825. He attended public schools in New Jersey until he was 19 and then worked as a teacher between 1844 and 1848. During this period Rock began his medical studies with two white doctors. Although he was initially denied entry, Rock was finally accepted into the American Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1852 with a medical degree. While in medical school Rock practiced dentistry and taught classes at a night school for African Americans. In 1851 he received a silver medal for the creation of an improved variety of artificial teeth and another for a prize essay on temperance.

At the age of 27, Rock, a teacher, doctor and dentist, moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1852 to open a medical and dental office. He was commissioned by the Vigilance Committee, an organization of abolitionists, to treat fugitive slaves’ medical needs. During this period Dr. Rock increasingly identified with the abolitionist movement and soon became a prominent speaker for that cause. While he called on the United States government to end slavery, he also urged educated African Americans to use their talents and resources to assist their community.

Following his own advice, Rock studied law and in 1861 became one of the first African Americans to be admitted to the Massachusetts Bar before the Civil War. Soon afterwards Massachusetts Governor John Andrew appointed Rock Justice of the Peace for Boston and Suffolk County. In 1863 Rock helped assemble the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first officially-recognized African American unit in the Union Army during the Civil War. Rock would later campaign for equal pay for these and other black soldiers.

In 1865, with support from Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, Rock became the first African American lawyer to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Previously, Rock’s health had deteriorated in the late 1850s. He underwent several surgeries and was forced to halt his medical practice. Believing he would receive more advanced care overseas, Rock made plans to sail to France in 1858. Rock, however, was denied a passport by U.S. Secretary of State Lewis Cass who, citing the 1857 Dred Scott Decision, claimed Federal passports were evidence of citizenship and since African Americans we not citizens, Rock could not be issued a passport.

Outraged abolitionist supporters in Boston persuaded the Massachusetts Legislature to demand the Secretary of State grant Rock a passport. The State Department relented and Rock sailed to France. French surgeons recommended that Rock give up his speaking engagements and his medical practice. Rock agreed but continued his abolitionist activities. Nonetheless his health continued to worsen.

On April 9, 1866 the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed which enforced the 13th Amendment. Rock enjoyed this honor for less than a year. He became ill with the common cold that weakened his already failing health, and limited his ability to commute efficiently. On December 3, 1866, John S. Rock died in his mother’s home in Boston of tuberculosis at the age of 41. He was laid to rest in Everett’s Woodlawn Cemetery, and was buried with full Masonic honors. His admittance into the Supreme Court is recorded on his tombstone. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 1 1877- Jonathon Jasper

GM – FBF – Our story for today centers on this upcoming Tuesday’s runoff elections that will be held in many states for positions that will impact you a lot closer than Washington, D.C. Please go out and vote for the race is not over yet unless you stay home. Back in the days of reconstruction in the State of South Carolina many people of color came out to vote and did something that the no one expected. Enjoy!

Remember – “I had the opportunity to hear a lot of cases and tried to help as many of our colored people as I could but like in all things everything must change nothing remains the same” – Justice Jonathan Jasper Wright, S.C.

Today in our History – December 1, 1877 – Jonathan Jasper Wright was the first Black state Supreme Court justice. He resigned on this day from the state supreme court in South Carolina after the overthrow of the Reconstruction government.

Jonathan Jasper Wright, the first African American to serve on a state Supreme Court, was born in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and grew up in nearby Susquehanna County in the northeastern corner of the state. In 1858, Wright traveled to Ithaca, New York where he enrolled in the Lancasterian Academy, a school where older students helped teach younger ones. He graduated in 1860 and for the next five years taught school and read law in Pennsylvania.

Wright’s first known political activity came in October 1864 when he was a delegate to the National Convention of Colored Men meeting in Syracuse. The convention, chaired by Frederick Douglass, passed resolutions calling for a nationwide ban on slavery, racial equality under the law and universal suffrage for adult males. When Wright applied for admission to the Pennsylvania bar, however, he was refused because of his race.

In 1865 the American Missionary Association sent Wright to Beaufort, South Carolina to organize schools for the freedpeople. Wright taught and gave legal advice to the ex-slaves. In 1866 he returned to Pennsylvania and was now, with the backing of a new Federal civil rights law, accepted into the bar as the state’s first African American attorney.

Wright returned to Beaufort in January 1867 and worked as a legal advisor for the Freedman’s Bureau. He soon became active in Republican politics and was chosen as a delegate to the South Carolina Constitutional Convention that met in Charleston in January 1868. Later that year he was elected to the South Carolina state senate representing Beaufort. In 1870 the Republican-dominated legislature in Columbia named him a justice of the state supreme court even though he was 30 and had little courtroom experience. He joined two white Democrats on the bench.

By 1876 white conservatives, using fraud, intimidation and violence, managed to gain control over South Carolina’s government. However, it was Wright’s concurrence in a February 1877 decision confirming the authority of a Democratic claimant to the governor’s chair, Wade Hampton, which ended Republican rule, reconstruction in South Carolina and Wright’s tenure as a state Supreme Court Justice. When the new Democrat-controlled legislature attempted to impeach Wright for corruption and malfeasance he at first denied the charges and vowed to defend his name and record. By August 1877, however, realizing he would not win, Wright submitted his resignation.

Wright moved to Charleston where he practiced law, then to Orangeburg where he established the law department at Claflin College. Jonathan Wright died of tuberculosis in Orangeburg in 1885. He was 45 at the time of his death. Research more about Black justices and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 28 1961- Ernie Davis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 27 1928- Majorie Stewart Joyner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 23 2008- Pearl Gartrell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 22 1986- George Branham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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