Category: Inventors/ or firsts

April 18, 1966- Bill Russell

GM – FBF – “Success is a result of consistent practice of winning skills and actions. There is nothing miraculous about the process. There is no luck involved.” – Bill Russell

Remember – “I hope I epitomize the American dream. For I came against long odds, from the ghetto to the very top of my profession. I was not immediately good at basketball. It did not come easy. It came as the result of a lot of hard work and self-sacrifice. The rewards, where they worth it? One thousand times over.” – Bill Russell

Today in our History – April 18,1966 – Bill Russell is announced to the press as coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team and became the first Black to coach an established team in professional athletics.

William Felton Russell (born February 12, 1934) is an American retired professional basketball player. Russell played center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. A five-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a twelve-time All-Star, he was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty, winning eleven NBA championships during his thirteen-year career. Russell ties the record for the most championships won by an athlete in a North American sports league (with Henri Richard of the National Hockey League). Before his professional career, Russell led the University of San Francisco to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, and he captained the gold-medal winning U.S. national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics.

Russell is widely considered as one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history. He was 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) tall, with a 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) wingspan. His shot-blocking and man-to-man defense were major reasons for the Celtics’ domination of the NBA during his career. He also inspired his teammates to elevate their own defensive play. Russell was equally notable for his rebounding abilities. He led the NBA in rebounds four times, had a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds, and remains second all-time in both total rebounds and rebounds per game. He is one of just two NBA players (the other being prominent rival Wilt Chamberlain) to have grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game. Russell was never the focal point of the Celtics’ offense, but he did score 14,522 career points and provided effective passing.

Russell played in the wake of pioneers like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Sweetwater Clifton, and he was the first African American player to achieve superstar status in the NBA. He also served a three-season (1966–69) stint as player-coach for the Celtics, becoming the first African-American coach in North American pro sports and the first to win a world championship. In 2011, Barack Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his accomplishments on the court and in the Civil Rights Movement.

Russell is one of seven players in history to win an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship, and an Olympic gold medal. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. He was selected into the NBA 25th Anniversary Team in 1971 and the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980, and named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, one of only four players to receive all three honors. In 2007, he was enshrined in the FIBA Hall of Fame. In Russell’s honor the NBA renamed the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy in 2009: it is now the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. Many talk about who is the GOAT in Professional Basketball but to be a player – coach and win an NBA Championship, no one after Bill has done that. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 16, 1908- Allen Allensworth

GM – FBF – “Create sentiment favorable to intellectual and industrial liberty” – Allen Allensworth

Remember – “Can I be of any service to your committee as a speaker driving the campaign?” – Allen Allensworth

Today in our History – April 16, 1908 – All Black Town Is Created!

Allen Allensworth (7 April 1842 – 14 September 1914), born into slavery in Kentucky, escaped during the American Civil War and became a Union soldier; later he became a Baptist minister and educator, and was appointed as a chaplain in the United States Army. He was the first African American to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel. He planted numerous churches, and in 1908 founded Allensworth, California, the only town in the state to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans.

After the army, Allensworth and his family settled in Los Angeles. He was inspired by the idea of establishing a self-sufficient, all-black California community where African Americans could live free of the racial discrimination that pervaded post-Reconstruction America. His dream was to build a community where black people might live and create “sentiment favorable to intellectual and industrial liberty.”

In 1908, he founded Allensworth in Tulare county, about thirty miles north of Bakersfield, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. The black settlers of Allensworth built homes, laid out streets, and put up public buildings. They established a church, and organized an orchestra, a glee club, and a brass band.

The Allensworth colony became a member of the county school district and the regional library system and a voting precinct. Residents elected the first African-American Justice of the Peace in post-Mexican California. In 1914, the California Eagle reported that the Allensworth community consisted of 900 acres (360 ha) of deeded land worth more than US$112,500.

Allensworth soon developed as a town, not just a colony. Among the social and educational organizations that flourished during its golden age were the Campfire Girls, the Owl Club, the Girls’ Glee Club, and the Children’s Savings Association, for the town’s younger residents, while adults participated in the Sewing Circle, the Whist Club, the Debating Society, and the Theater Club. Col. Allensworth was an admirer of the African-American educator Booker T. Washington, who was the founding president and longtime leader of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Allensworth dreamed that his new community could be self-sufficient and become known as the “Tuskegee of the West”.

The Girls’ Glee Club was modeled after the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, who had toured internationally. They were the community’s pride and joy. All the streets in the town were named after notable African Americans and/or white abolitionists, such as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

The dry and dusty soil made farming difficult. The drinking water became contaminated by arsenic as the water level fell.

The year 1914 also brought a number of setbacks to the town. First, much of the town’s economic base was lost when the Santa Fe Railroad moved its rail stop from Allensworth to Alpaugh. In September, during a trip to Monrovia, California, Colonel Allensworth was crossing the street when he was struck and killed by a motorcycle. The town refuses to die. The downtown area is now preserved as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park where thousands of visitors come from all over California to take part in the special events held at the park during the year. The area outside the state park is also still inhabited.

Allensworth is the only California community to be founded, financed and governed by African Americans. The founders were dedicated to improving the economic and social status of African Americans. Uncontrollable circumstances, including a drop in the area’s water table, resulted in the town’s decline. Research more about Black towns in America and Share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 4, 1972- Adam Clayton Powell, Jr

GM – FBF – “The black masses must demand and refuse to accept nothing less than that proportionate percentage of the political spoils such as jobs, elective offices and appointments… They must reject the shameful racial tokenism that characterizes the political life of America today. – Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (U.S. Congressman – NY – D)

Remember – :”Where Negroes provide 20 percent of the vote, they should have 20 per cent of the jobs.” – Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (U.S. Congressman – NY – D)

Today in our History – 
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., (born Nov. 29, 1908, New Haven, Conn., U.S.—died April 4, 1972, Miami, Fla.), black American public official and pastor who became a prominent liberal legislator and civil-rights leader.

Powell was the son of the pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York City. Brought up in a middle-class home, he received his B.A. from Colgate University (Hamilton, N.Y.) in 1930 and his M.A. from Columbia University in 1932. He succeeded his father as pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1937 and eventually built up its membership to 13,000 people. With the church as his power base, Powell was able to build a formidable public following in Harlem through his crusades for jobs and housing for the poor. He won election to the New York City Council in 1941, becoming the first black man to serve on that body. In 1945 he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from Harlem. There he began a long fight against racial segregation. He served 11 successive terms in the House and became chairman of its Education and Labor Committee in 1960. In that capacity he played a leading role in the passage of a minimum wage act, antipoverty acts, and bills supporting manpower training and federal aid to education, about 50 major pieces of social legislation in all.

Powell’s outspoken opposition to racism and his flamboyant lifestyle made him enemies, however, and in the early 1960s he became involved in a lawsuit with a woman who claimed he had wrongly accused her of collecting police graft. He was cited for contempt of court in 1966 for refusing to pay damages, and in 1967 the House voted to deprive him of his seat. He was nevertheless reelected in his district in 1968 but was then deprived by his colleagues in the House of his committee chairmanship and his seniority. In 1969 the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the action of the House in depriving him of his seat had been unconstitutional, but by that time Powell’s health was failing. After his defeat in the Democratic primary election of 1970, he resigned as pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1971 and retired to the island of Bimini in The Bahamas. Research more about this American Hero and share with your babies. Make it a champion day! I am speaking at Kennasaw State Univerity and will not be able to respond to any posts today. Peace!

March 28, 1990- Shirley Chisholm

GM – FBF – First Black Woman to run for U.S. President

Remember – “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” Shirley Chisholm

Today in our History – March 28, 1990 – Shirley Chisholm starts the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom.

Shirley Anita Chisholm (née St. Hill; November 30, 1924 – January 1, 2005) was an American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, and she represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1972, she became the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

In 2015, Chisholm was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Shirley Anita St. Hill was born on November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York, to immigrant parents from the Caribbean region. She had three younger sisters, two born within three years after St. Hill, one later. Their father, Charles Christopher St. Hill, was born in British Guiana, lived in Barbados for a while, and then arrived in the United States via Antilla, Cuba, on April 10, 1923, aboard the S.S. Munamar in New York City. Their mother, Ruby Seale, was born in Christ Church, Barbados, and arrived in New York City aboard the S.S. Pocone on March 8, 1921. Beginning in 1939, St. Hill attended Girls’ High School in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, a highly regarded, integrated school that attracted girls from throughout Brooklyn. St. Hill earned her Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College in 1946, where she won prizes for her debating skills. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

St. Hill met Conrad O. Chisholm in the late 1940s. He had come to the U.S. from Jamaica in 1946 and later became a private investigator who specialized in negligence-based lawsuits. They married in 1949 in a large West Indian-style wedding.

Chisholm taught in a nursery school while furthering her education, earning her MA in elementary education from Teachers College at Columbia University in 1952.

Chisholm began exploring her candidacy in July 1971, and formally announced her presidential bid on January 25, 1972, in a Baptist church in her district in Brooklyn. There she called for a “bloodless revolution” at the forthcoming Democratic nomination convention. Chisholm became the first black major-party candidate to run for President of the United States, in the 1972 U.S. presidential election, making her also the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination (U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith had previously run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964). By the time of the national convention, the loyalists were seated following a credentials challenge, and their delegates were characterized as mostly supporting McGovern, with some support for Humphrey. During the convention, some McGovern delegates became angry about what they saw as statements from McGovern that backed away from his commitment to end U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia, and cast protest votes for Chisholm as a result. During the actual balloting, Mississippi went in the first half of the roll call, and cast 12 of its 25 votes for Chisholm, with McGovern coming next with 10 votes.

During the campaign the German filmmaker Peter Lilienthal shot the documentary film Shirley Chisholm for President for German Television channel ZDF.
After leaving Congress, Chisholm made her home in suburban Williamsville, New York. She resumed her career in education, being named to the Purington Chair at the all-women Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. As such she was not a member of any particular department, but would be able to teach classes in a variety of areas; those previously holding the position included W. H. Auden, Bertrand Russell, and Arna Bontemps.

At Mount Holyoke, she taught politics and sociology from 1983 to 1987. She focused on undergraduate courses that covered politics as it involved women and race. Dean of faculty Joseph Ellis later said that Chisholm “contributed to the vitality of the College and gave the College a presence.” In 1985 she was a visiting scholar at Spelman College.

During those years, she continued to give speeches at colleges, by her own count visiting over 150 campuses since becoming nationally known. She told students to avoid polarization and intolerance: “If you don’t accept others who are different, it means nothing that you’ve learned calculus.” Continuing to be involved politically, she traveled to visit different minority groups and urging them to become a strong force at the local level. In 1984 and 1988, she campaigned for Jesse Jackson for the presidential elections. In 1990, Chisholm, along with 15 other black women and men, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom.

Chisholm retired to Florida in 1991. In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated her to be United States Ambassador to Jamaica, but she could not serve due to poor health and the nomination was withdrawn. In the same year she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Chisholm died on January 1, 2005, in Ormond Beach near Daytona Beach, after suffering several strokes. She is buried in the Oakwood Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, where the legend inscribed on her vault reads: “Unbought and Unbossed”. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

April 27, 2009- Donna Edwards

GM – FBF – Last day of executive meetings and tomorrow I can start responding to your words about the posts. Today, we remember a brave black women who protested something she felt was wrong. Enjoy!

Remember -“Power is getting things done without having to demonstrate that you can bulldoze it through. I’m most effective when I’ve studied an issue, when I can make a credible argument, and then bring people along.” -( U.S. Congresswoman 4th District MD. – Donna Edwards)

Today in our History – April 27, 2009 – Donna Edwards Aressted.

Donna Edwards is a Democratic member of U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 4th Congressional District of Maryland since 2008. Early in 2009 she was among a group of U.S. Congress members who were handcuffed and arrested while protesting the expulsion of aid groups from Darfur in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Edwards earned her BA from Wake Forest University where she was one of six African American women in her class. She later earned a JD from Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire. Prior to her political career, she worked as a systems engineer with the Spacelab program at Lockheed Corporation’s Goddard Space Flight Center. During the 1980s, Edwards worked as a clerk for then district judge Albert Wynn when he served in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Edwards also was involved in numerous community organizations prior to entering political office. She co-founded, chaired, and served as the first executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, a legal support and advocacy group for battered women. She was instrumental in helping to pass the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Edwards also headed the Center for a New Democracy and was a lobbyist for the nonprofit Public Citizen organization. Edwards participates on numerous nonprofit boards including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, and the League of Conservation Voters. Since 2000, she has served as executive director of the Arca Foundation.

After a controversial Democratic primary loss to Rep. Albert Wynn in 2006 in which there were substantial problems with the voting process, she defeated Wynn in the primary in 2008. Later that year, she filled the congressional seat after winning a special election when Wynn resigned mid-term. She serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Science and Technology Committee, and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

On April 27, 2009, Edwards was arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington D.C., during a protest against genocide in Darfur. She and four other members of Congress were protesting the blocking of aid to victims.

March 19, 1969- James Sims Elected President

GM – FBF – “If you were Jewish, African American, Japanese, or Chinese, you lived in that neighborhood,” – Lydia Sims

Remember – “They dreamed of a place where you’d be able to send a kid to whatever school you wanted, you’d be able to buy a house wherever you could afford,” – Lydia Sims

Today in our History – March 19, 1969 – The Spokane, WA Community Action Council elected James Sims president.

During World War II, Lydia Sims moved from Newark, New Jersey, to Spokane with her husband, James Sims, an Army Air Force soldier stationed at Geiger Airfield. At the end of the war, the Sims family decided to remain in Spokane. For 10 years they lived in the Garden Springs housing project, a complex in west Spokane inhabited primarily by former military families. There they raised their sons, James McCormick and twins Ron and Donald. Lydia Sims’s political views were strongly influenced by racial discrimination, which she vehemently opposed. In the 1960s, as a student at Eastern Washington University, she participated in a movement to desegregate schools in Cheney, Washington. Later, she served on the state’s Human Rights Coalition, the League of Women Voters, the Human Rights Council, and the Washington State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

In the late 1960s, she became personnel director of the Spokane Community Action Council, an agency that managed Head Start and various community centers. In 1975 she became the city’s affirmative action specialist, and in 1976 joined the newly established Spokane City Affirmative Action Department. She was eventually appointed human resources director for the city of Spokane, the first African American department manager in that city’s history. In this position Sims helped African Americans, women, and other minority groups find opportunities in Spokane’s job market. In the 1980s, Sims became the first African American female branch president of the Spokane National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

After serving in the military, James Sims, who had a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University and a master’s in history from Gonzaga University, applied for a position with the Washington state Office of Community Development. Although he excelled in the civil service exam for the position, the state denied Sims the job. Sims enlisted the help of renowned Spokane civil rights attorney Carl Maxey and sued the state. He won the case and was employed as a state social worker. He later worked with state employees as a union organizer.

In the 1950s, James Sims served as a minister at the Calvary Baptist Church, and in the mid-1960s, he became pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church. In 1956 Sims was elected president of the Spokane NAACP, replacing James Chase. As president, he often publicly criticized the city for its reluctance to hire African Americans. Sims also exposed restaurants, hotels, automobile repair shops, and banks for not hiring blacks. On March 19, 1969, the Spokane Community Action Council elected Sims president partly because of his year long campaign to get city agencies to hire African Americans.

After James Sims’s death in the 1990s, Lydia Sims retired to Edmonds, Washington, and continued her advocacy. In 2000, with her son, King County Executive Ron Sims, she co-launched the Healthy Aging Partnership, an information and assistance line for the elderly at the Central Area Senior Center in King County. Lydia Sims died on June 23, 2012. Research more thid great american and share with your babise. Make it a champion day!

March 10, 1836 – Witherspoon Street Church

GM – FBF – “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” — 2 Corinthians 5:1

Remember – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4

Today in our History – March 10, 1836 – Organized in 1836, the Witherspoon Street Church is one of the oldest African American Presbyterian congregations in New Jersey. On March 10, 1836, 90 out of 131former African American members of the Nassau Presbyterian Church were released from the congregation to form their own church. Nassau had just suffered a fire that destroyed their church. Although slaves and indentured servants were allowed to attend Nassau Presbyterian, they suffered much racism and were forced to sit in the small balcony. Many of them saw this as the opportunity to establish a church they controlled.

The original church name was The First Presbyterian Church of Colour of Princeton. After the first official communion was held in 1840, the church was referred to as Third Presbyterian Church, and later the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church for Colored People in Princeton. The congregation included enslaved, indentured, and free people of color.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Stockton was born enslaved to the Stockton Family in Princeton; she attended Nassau Presbyterian Church and was instrumental in establishing the new church. Betsy Stockton earned her freedom at the age of twenty and traveled to Hawaii as a missionary. She returned to Princeton in 1835 and helped found the First Presbyterian Church of Colour. In 1837 Stockton began teaching African American children in a public school and later established a Sabbath School at what is now the Witherspoon Street Church. A stained glass window in the church is dedicated to Stockton and her work in the church.

In October of 1879, Rev. William Drew Robeson was installed as pastor. Along with his wife, Maria Louisa Bustill of Philadelphia, the Robesons moved into the church parsonage and began their family. That parsonage was the place of birth of twentieth century singer and activist Paul Robeson and is now called The Robeson House. As a former slave, Rev. Robeson fought for the rights of African Americans. His preaching on racial equality was eventually deemed “too radical” by Presbyterian Synod leaders and he was forced to resign in 1901.

Throughout the decades, the Witherspoon Church has been rooted in supporting the community through Emancipation, Reconstruction, two World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1950s, Witherspoon Street Church began to become more inclusive of its changing community, embracing all from every ethnic background. Rev. Benjamin Anderson headed efforts to build Princeton’s first integrated housing project and helped restaurant and hotel workers to unionize. In 2003 the congregation installed its first female pastor, Rev. M. Muriel Burrows.

In 2015 The General Assembly of the Presbytery issued a formal apology to the congregation of Witherspoon Street Church for the unjust removal of Rev. Robeson which had resulted in loss of membership, the sale of the church parsonage, and financial decline. The church repurchased the parsonage in 2005, partly through a grant of $173,000 given by the Synod of the Northeast. Today the church has a racially diverse congregation that has a stong focus and foundation on being stewards of peace and racial reconciliation. When in the Trenton, NJ area, visit historical Princeton and the famous Witherspoon Street Presbytery Church and bring your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 8, 1954- Mattwilda Dobbs

GM – FBF – “I was so afraid for myself if I would have married” Martin L.King. -Mattiwilda Dobbs

Remember – ” Music that I sing is not for the masses but most for the people who enjoy Opera” – Mattiwilda Dobbs

Today in our History – March 8, – The First black to preform at New York’s Town Hall on March 8, 1954.

Mattiwilda Dobbs (July 11, 1925 – December 8, 2015) was an African-American coloratura soprano and one of the first black singers to enjoy a major international career in opera. She was the first black singer to perform at La Scala in Italy, the first black woman to receive a long-term performance contract at the Metropolitan Opera, New York and the first black singer to play a lead role at the San Francisco Opera.

Dobbs was born in Atlanta, Georgia, one of six daughters of John and Irene Dobbs, who were leaders in the state’s African-American community. She began piano lessons at the age of seven, and sang in community and church choirs.
Dobbs attended Spelman College where she studied home economics and considered becoming a fashion designer. Her teachers encouraged her to study music, however, and she began to study voice, graduating with a degree in Spanish and music in 1946. Following her graduation, she moved to New York City and studied with German soprano Lotte Leonard while completing a Master’s degree in Spanish at Columbia University.

Dobbs won a number of scholarships, including the Marian Anderson Award in 1947, and a John Hay Whitney Fellowship. The funds from these awards enabled her to move to Europe in 1950 and pursue her studies there, notably with Pierre Bernac.

Dobbs initially performed in Europe as a concert recitalist, however after winning the International Music Competition in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1951, she went on to sing at the major festivals and opera houses throughout the continent. She made her professional operatic debut at the Holland Festival, as the Nightingale in Stravinsky’s The Nightingale, in 1952. She made her debut at the Glyndebourne Festival, as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, in 1953. Her success at this festival led to a performance contract at London’s Covent Garden from 1953 to 1958.

Her La Scala debut in 1953 was at the invitation of conductor Herbert von Karajan. Dobbs performed the role of Elvira in L’italiana in Algeri, which also marked the first time a black artist sang in that opera house. In a review of her performance, the British magazine Opera called her “the outstanding coloratura of her generation”.

She made her debut at the Royal Opera House in London, as the Woodbird in Siegfried, in 1953. She also appeared at the Paris Opéra, the Vienna State Opera, and at the opera houses of Hamburg and Stockholm. In 1954, she sang before Queen Elizabeth II and the King and Queen of Sweden at Covent Garden Theatre.

In the 1960s Dobbs continued to perform in Europe, particularly in Sweden, where she lived with her husband. Her successful, high-profile European career is considered significant in setting an example to younger black female singers such as Leontyne Price, Shirley Verrett, Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle.

Her American Dobbs sang the role of Zerbinetta again in her first appearance in the United States at New York’s Town Hall on March 8, 1954 and received great critical acclaim.Next was a recital with the Little Orchestra Society, in New York City, in 1954. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut, as Gilda in Rigoletto, on November 9, 1956. In a review of her performance, Carl Van Vechten wrote that Dobbs’ was “glorious … a warm and brilliant coloratura, and the best Gilda in my experience.” Although African-American singer Marian Anderson had performed at the Met the previous year, Dobbs was the first African-American to be offered a long-term contract by the Met. In eight seasons, she performed 29 times, including Zerbinetta, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Oscar in Un ballo in maschera. She also appeared at the San Francisco Opera in 1955, where she was the first African-American to play a lead role.

Following the example set by other African-American performers, Dobbs refused to perform for segregated audiences. She later stated that this hurt her career as she declined offers of work in the southern states. When the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium was de-segregated in 1961, Dobbs was the first person to sing to an integrated audience in the city. After de-segregation, she performed in Atlanta in a series of operas produced by Blanche Thebom.
Dobbs retired from performing in 1974, and began teaching at the University of Texas, where she was the first African-American on the faculty. She continued her teaching career as professor of voice at Howard University in Washington, D.C., before retiring to Arlington County, Virginia.
In 1989 Dobbs was elected to the board of directors of the Metropolitan Opera.

Dobbs’s coloratura soprano was praised for its freshness and agility, as well as tonal beauty, and was considered an ideal voice for sound recording. However, she can be heard in relatively few recordings, as she spent her early career in Europe. When she returned to the United States in 1954 Roberta Peters had become a top soprano recording artist.
Dobbs’s notable recordings include Die Entführung aus dem Serail (in English), opposite Nicolai Gedda (who was born the same day as she was, July 11, 1925) and conducted by Yehudi Menuhin, Les pêcheurs de perles conducted by René Leibowitz, and a recital of opera arias and songs, released in 1998 by Testament Records. She sang both Olympia and Antonia in a complete recording of The Tales of Hoffmann featuring Leopold Simoneau and Heinz Rehfuss, and conducted by Pierre-Michel Le Conte, which was issued in 1958 by Epic in stereo in the USA and by Concert Hall in Europe, and reissued on CD in 2008. She also recorded the title role of Zaide under Leibowitz in Paris in 1952, and excerpts from Rigoletto alongside Rolando Panerai.

In 1954, the King and Queen of Sweden awarded Dobbs the Order of the North Star.
In 1979, Dobbs received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Spelman College.
In 1980, the Library of Congress held an exhibition on her life.
In 1983, Dobbs received the James Weldon Johnson Award in Fine Arts from the Atlanta National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Martin Luther King, Sr. wanted his son Martin Luther King, Jr. to marry Dobbs, as her father was an active civil rights activist and a friend of his.
Dobbs was married twice. Her first husband, Spaniard Luis Rodriguez, died of a liver ailment in June 1954, fourteen months after their wedding. In late 1957 she married Bengt Janzon, a Swedish newspaperman and public relations executive. Janzon died in 1997. Dobbs was the aunt of the first black Mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson and sang at his inauguration in January 1978.Dobbs died from cancer on December 8, 2015 at her home in Atlanta at the age of 90. Research more about this great American abd share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

March 6, 1972-Zoe Dusanne

GM- FBF – Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. – Zoë Dusanne

Remember – “The NAACP in Seatle needs a new vision and I want to help them travel down that road with all of the recources that I can gather” – Zoe Dusanne

Today in our History – March 6, 1972 – the Seattle Art Museum honored Zoë Dusanne with an exhibition of contemporary art.

Described by those who knew her as exotic, flamboyant, and colorful, Zoë Dusanne, was an art dealer and collector who opened Seattle’s first professional modern-art gallery, the Zoë Dusanne Gallery, in 1950 and who worked tirelessly to both introduce modern art to a northwest audience and to promote northwest art and artists to a larger international art community.

Dusanne was born Zola Graves on March 24, 1884 in Kansas to Letitia Denny and John Henry Graves, a stonemason. Although she was self-taught with respect to modern art, her artistic bent was nourished early in life by her parents. When the Graves family lived in Iowa at the turn of the 20th century, for example, Letitia took the young Zoë on summer trips to Chicago to attend the theater and to visit the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1903 Zoë spent one year at Oberlin College followed by a semester at the University of Illinois, Urbana. It was during this time that Zoë met her first husband, George Young, whom she married in 1904. The union produced Zoë’s only child, Theodosia, in 1909. By 1912 Zoë was separated and decided to follow her parents to Seattle. A divorce from George followed after her arrival in Seattle. Zoë’s second marriage, in 1919 to Dr. Frederick Boston, lasted only a few years.

In 1928 Zoë and then teenaged Theodosia left Seattle for New York. Sometime during her residence in New York, Zoë began using the last name Dusanne. While living in Greenwich Village, Zoë’s passion for collecting modern art began in earnest. At the height of the Great Depression Zoë found that artists were the first to feel the impact of hard times, and often sold their works at a fraction of their earlier value. Little by little during these years Zoë amassed a collection of modern art which she brought back to Seattle in 1942.

In 1947 at age 63, Zoë built a home overlooking Seattle’s Lake Union that was specifically designed to double as an art gallery, and on November 12, 1950, Dusanne opened her collection to the public. From the mid-1940s until the late-1950s, Zoë was a force to be reckoned with as she worked to introduce modern art to a Pacific Northwest audience and to promote northwest art internationally. She sold and donated her own works to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), and facilitated the donation of many others. She lent works to the Henry Art Gallery and to SAM for exhibition. At Zoë’s urging, Life magazine featured the four artists who would later became known as the “mystical” painters of the “Northwest School”—Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, Guy Anderson, and Morris Graves—in its September 28, 1953 issue. The Life magazine article propelled the “Northwest School” to national prominence. Zoë also traveled to Europe persuading Peggy Guggenheim to donate a Jackson Pollock to SAM.

Despite her influence within the greater Seattle community, Dusanne could not stop the 1958 demolition of her home and gallery necessitated by the building of the Seattle Freeway. In 1959 she reopened in a new location but was unable to recapture the luster and glory of her original gallery. In 1964 she closed the gallery permanently spending the remaining few years of her life with her daughter. In 1977, five years after her death on March 6, 1972, the Seattle Art Museum honored Zoë Dusanne with an exhibition of contemporary art that included works by many of the artists whom Zoë had promoted. It was a fitting way to honor a woman whose influence on culture in Seattle was considerable. Research more About this great woman and share with your bibies. Make it a champion day!

March 3, 1886- Robert Francis Flemming Jr.

GM – FBF – ” Who would have thought that sailors could be in a boat under the water, what will they think of next” – Robert Francis Flemming

Remember – “I know that they had forms of guitars in the old days, like in Africa but my guitar has what they call a aacoustic guitar. I just know that the sound can be controled” – Robert Francis Flemming

Today in our History – March 3, 1886 – A Black Man Invents The First Aacoustic guitar. Robert Francis Flemming Jr. (July 4, 1839 – February 23, 1919) was an African-American inventor and Union sailor in the American Civil War. He was the first crew member aboard the USS Housatonic to spot the H.L. Hunley before it sank the USS Housatonic. The sinking of USS Housatonic is renowned as the first sinking of an enemy ship in combat by a submarine.

Robert Flemming was working in New York City as a marble cutter when he enlisted in the United States Navy on May 14, 1863. He was rated as Landsman (rank), the equivalent of the current naval rating of seaman recruit. His first posting was to the USS Wyoming (1859) the following June; he was present when the sloop engaged the naval forces of the Japanese Empire at the Naval battle of Shimonoseki on July 16 of that year.

The following October, Flemming transferred to the sloop of war USS Housatonic (1861), which was sent to join the blockade of Southern seaports as part of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. On the evening of February 17, 1864, Flemming was on watch when he noticed a strange object in the water about 400 feet off the starboard bow. He alerted the officer of the guard, who dismissed the object as a log. “Queer-looking log,” Flemming replied. Taking a closer look, he soon realized that the “log” wasn’t floating with the tide, but was actually coming at a high rate of speed toward the Housatonic. Shouting that there was a torpedo approaching the ship, Flemming alerted the rest of the crew, who started to get the Housatonic under way. However, it was too late; there was an explosion and, within five minutes, the Housatonic sank in 25 feet of water with a loss of five crewmen. The crew immediately began climbing the rigging or entering life boats as the sloop began to sink; once it hit bottom, however, the masts and rigging were still above the water, and Flemming and others hung on for forty-five minutes until help arrived.

Flemming finished his naval service on the gunboat USS E. B. Hale after June 1865 and subsequently returned to Massachusetts, living and working in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Boston, Massachusetts where he went into business as a guitar manufacturer and music teacher.

Flemming invented a guitar he called the “Euphonica” that he believed would produce a louder and more resonant sound than a traditional guitar. The U.S. Patent Office granted Flemming a patent (no. 338,727) on March 3,1886. He also received a Canadian patent (no. 26,398) on April 5,1887. Flemming then went into business for himself, building and demonstrating his musical instruments from a storefront on Washington Street in Boston.

After 1900, Robert Flemming retired to his home in Melrose, Massachusetts where he continued to give lessons and perform at various functions. In 1907, he composed a “National Funeral Hymn” dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic. A member of the Grand Army of the Republic Post no. 30 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Robert Flemming died in February 1919. He is buried in Wyoming Cemetery in Melrose, MA. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!